Last August Amanda Socci, my friend and creative writing "drill sergeant" had profiled me and posed 9 questions to me for each of my five blogs (3 of which are retired), as part of her 10 month "I know I Can" training series for Nina Amir's Write Nonfiction Now and Write Nonfiction in November efforts.
I am now answering those questions at last (Series introduction).
(1) What is meant by “the 500th edition of Carnival of the Cats”? You have hosted this event 500 times? How often do you host this event? Would you consider compiling all the information you learned in all 500 editions into a separate resource guide written for an audience of cat enthusiasts?
For us cat bloggers the Carnival is a chance to discover blogs we might never have heard of, on subjects of all kinds related to cats! The carnival is the oldest, continuously published, weekly post sharing event by, for and about pets and animals on the internet. It was founded in 2004 and the founder eventually left it to others, in 2007, to carry on and to be caretaker of the archive links.
While I discovered it early on I didn’t contribute until July 2005 and didn’t begin hosting until March 2008. In the early years each week would see 30 to 60 submissions but in the years since 2008, when a 3rd caretaker took over, it has not been easy to get 10 to 20 submissions a week. On my hosting days I usually look up past regulars, if no or few submissions were received.
The people and kitties who are the Carnival Hucksters are volunteers. There’s no advertising, so no one is making any money off it. We do it because it’s fun and we love cats. As the years went by I (and my cats) began to host more and more until we host almost half the yearly entries, with home site caretaker Susan Strong hosting the next most via her several blogs.
I and my cats have hosted more than 80 editions.
Sadly, due to the founder deleting his original blog and others discontinuing or moving blogs, many links to carnivals and related submissions, from the early years, have been lost.
(2) Your pages and categories are entertaining but also confusing. You seem to write these titles using specialized insider language that only a select few in the cat community would understand. For example, what is: “A healthy pussycat is a happy pussycat” and “Elvira factor – enter the no bull zone”? Do you think you might gain a larger audience if you modified the titles of your pages and categories a bit?
I’m satisfied with the 30 archive categories and the 20 page titles, as they currently stand.
I think part of the problem is that I cover so many things and thought each needed their own category. Not sure how best to refine or consolidate and adding a sentence or 2 of description might only serve to clutter up the sidebar.
The “healthy pussycat” one is medically themed and the “Elvira Factor” posts will be familiar, in style, to both fans and detractors of Fox’s O’Reilly Factor talk show.
(3) What do you hope to gain with your blog, Opinionated Pussycat? Is this blog purely for entertainment purposes to share your creative vision of your cats? Or do you eventually plan to compile your observations into a book?
Even though I first gave creative voice to Nikita in 1998, then 2002 on my first blog, it took 5 years, I think, for my vision to really begin to grow and evolve into the character that eventually inspired me to give him his own blog to begin 2010.
I think that the process that finally led me to the decision to give Nikita his own place was the first time I remotely thought of doing more than just blog, not just about my cats, but other things of interest (remember I have 7 yrs. of bike blogging behind me, too). From that point to now I have done so many new things, met and been encouraged by so many new friends, that the notion of trying to do new things with my archives and my creative talent has become something I’ve begun to seriously think more about.
That being said, I’d like to gain an audience, be taken seriously when I reach out to local rescues, shelters and others (The first time I made a concerted effort, in my former home in California, 4 years ago, it went nowhere), and to finally make the blog into something that may, someday, be judged worthy of consideration by the annual Petties and Nose-to-Nose pet blogging awards.
I am extremely proud of the unique nature of the content I’ve produced, what attention it has managed to receive and of the many compliments it has gotten over the years, but I’ve let so much going on in my life distract me from doing more and better.
(4) Have you made any serious progress with the possibility of turning your already-written blog posts into a book? If not, what do you think is holding you back? Are you able to devote even just one hour per day to make this publishing dream a reality?
No progress has been made on this front and that hurts. My employment, financial and medical issues have played their part in holding me back, that and being unsure how to learn and do what I need to proceed with things such as editing and organizing.
This is all unfamiliar, new, territory for me and I know I have much to learn compared to many of my fellows who have made the journey before me.
(5) You use a lot of clever language on your blog. Things like “felinity assembled” and “Nikita Institute” are among my favorites. Would you ever consider formalizing some of your witty language into a formal brand?
I have thought of that but trademarks, copyright, and other related issues are new to me. I also need to learn more about what “branding” means.
I have owned my blog urls for years and I guess that’s a start.
(6) You made one video of your cats, but that information was buried in a blog post. It does not appear to be highlighted. Do you think you would get more viewers if you highlighted your videos somewhere? Any plans to make more videos?
My few videos are on You Tube and one of my category archives has posts that share links to those videos. The best of the lot were made via computer classes taken in 200 and 2011. I do not know how to promote the videos better than that.
As for making more videos…I would have to have a new and better camcorder before considering that idea.
(7) Your “Street Seens” blog posts are a fascinating series of photos and details from a cat’s point of view. People seem to really like photos of cats. Perhaps you can find a ready-made audience by extracting the “Street Seens” photos and details into a picture book written from a cat’s point of view. With a ready-made market and already-written material, would you consider turning these into a book?
Those and the “Seen and Heard” series of photos of other animals overheard by me “discussing” cats in some way would most certainly lend themselves to such an idea.
(8) Even after reading through many blog posts, it is not always clear that the purpose of this blog is to amuse audiences with witty pictures and words coming from a cat’s mouth. Technically, that is not even possible, but you make it happen through clever writing and bubble captions. Do you think it might be helpful to write a clear “about this blog” page to describe the purpose of the blog to new readers?
In 2010 I created a description of sorts:
“Nikita Cat: Proud feline pundit; You giva me no trouble, I giva you no smack! Miss Elvira: Bold, fresh, with tortitude to spare!
The creative writing, experiences, outspoken observations & opinions, on life, & the world around them, taking 1 step at a time on the journey of discovery, & enlightenment, that comes with having 9 Lives to work with.”
That, however, was not even close to a full explanation of what the blog is about.
Maybe it’s about time for an update, ya think?
Since that description was created...
I have been a runner-up in the innauguaral Purina Cat Chow Correspondent Search, and sponsored to attend a red carpet charity event, I have attended the annual Blog Paws Pet Bloggers Conference, been sponsored to become a professional member of the Cat Writers' Association, had a story win an online contest, and another at least considered for publication in an anthology, and my cats recently were interviewed by a popular online cat magazine. I have also been paid, for the first time, for my writing for a series about a new cat food on the market.
(9) Your “World Mews Repurrts” are a clever and original way of highlighting cat-related news. Certainly your fanbase may appreciate a tidy collection of these Internet news clippings from you. Would you consider turning these into a downloadable e-book? Do you think this e-book could net you some profit.
There is so much of my material that people, including yourself, have encouraged me to consider turning into ebooks, chapbooks and regular books;
I freely admit the idea of taking these steps in a bold new direction is a bit overwhelming to contemplate.
Would doing so earn me some money? I believe they could. Cat themed books have been around for at least well over 110 years and are/have been extremely popular, as novels, non-fiction, picture books, poetry collections, humor and reference books, not to mention newspaper comic strips.
I have 3 in my own growing cat book collection:
A reprint of a 3 volume series by Soseki Natsume (Originally published between 1905 and 1911 in various forms).