Story: Life with Dogs and Cats Writing Process

“Tag, you’re it!”

That’s what it felt like when Kate O’Brien of invited me to participate in the Writing Process Blog Tour. It was a combination of “Yay, I get to play,” and “Oh, great, now I have to write about how I write.”

Actually, I was quite honored to be included in her list of three blogs that she likes. I’m a big fan of both blogs: SlimDoggy and SlimKitty. In fact, she doesn’t know it but those blogs were the inspiration for me to get my pups and kitties to slim down. I’m so pleased now when I go to the vet and she says my pets weigh exactly what they should.

SlimDoggy is a great place to go to for information on keeping your dog fit and healthy. I particularly like their Dear Labby column–written knowledgeably and with humor and warmth. And I plan on doing a review of their SlimDoggy app some time in the future; I think it’s a great way to keep track of your dog’s exercise and eating.

My Writing Process

The “rules” of the tour are that I’m supposed to answer the following three questions:

  1. Why do I write what I do?
  2. What am I working on?
  3. How does my writing process work?

Then I’m supposed to nominate three other blogs and explain why I chose them.

Why do I write what I do?

I write because I am a writer. I cannot remember a time when I wasn’t writing, thinking about writing, wishing I could write or reading other writers.

I write about dogs and cats because I love them and because I live with them. My site is called Life with Dogs and Cats for a reason.

If you’ve explored my site, you’ll see that my writing isn’t just straight prose. I also write text messages from my dogs and cats. I take lots of photos. Sometimes I write on them. And I write haiku.

Why do I write text messages and photo captions and haiku?

Because I can. Because it’s fun. Because when someone smiles or laughs or is in any way moved by my work, I am tickled every shade of pink–from the lightest shade of pale pink kitty noses to the deepest pink of happy, shlorby dog tongues.

What am I working on?

Everything. All at once. I keep a list of ideas. Actually, I keep several lists, which I wouldn’t recommend others emulating. Some are in a Google document. Some are on my iPhone in my Notes. And I admit there are several scattered on scraps of paper in my car and in my kitchen and floating in piles on my desk. Because I have a terrible memory. If I don’t write it down, I won’t remember it five minutes (sometimes five seconds when I’m stressed or in the middle of something) later.

So, what am I working on really right now?

  • A story about a blind dog who inspired his owner to come up with a way to help other blind dogs. It’s part of a series I’m working on called Special Pets & Their People. I have so many ideas for that one. I was inspired by some of the people and pets I’ve met both online and in person (at BlogPaws) and have begun interviewing people who have special pets–a cat with cerebellar hypoplasia (read about Sophie) or  a three-legged dog for example. Most particularly, I’m looking to focus on the positives. My thinking is that maybe somewhere I’ll open someone’s heart to the idea of adopting an animal that might have seemed unadoptable at first glance. If you know of someone who might be a candidate for this series, please let me know.
  • A story about learning how to really read your pets, how to study and be able to interpret their behavior.
  • A story about cats and boxes. Because. Cats. Boxes. Because the interwebs can never have enough cats and boxes. And I have about 7,432 pictures of my cats in, on, under and around boxes. (Wait, I published that one already. I was still writing it when I began this post.)
  • A story about why I’m glad I have pet insurance, inspired by a recent trip to the emergency vet with Lilah.
  • More Haiku by Dog and Haiku by Cat. My goal is to find a way to publish them in a book someday.
  • A story about Elsa Clair helping my son with his laundry, if by helping I mean jumping in, on, under and around his laundry basket.
  • A story about the flying squirrels who live in the forest near my home, and visit my bird feeders every night. I have lots of pictures. (I posted that one, too. This is a perfect example of how I work on several stories at once, and sometimes some “ripen” before others.)
  • Reviews of a new brand of kitty litter, and a  couple of cool pet apps and websites.
  • And more…much more. There just isn’t enough time to write them all.

In addition to my blog, I am also working on several children’s picture books and a workshop for bloggers on how to write engaging content.

How does my writing process work?

I’ll be darned if I know how it works. I come up with ideas. I write them down. I craft a story. Then I edit, edit, edit.

I think, though the essence of the question is to relate how that happens, what’s the secret sauce.

I can share a few things that I’ve learned that might be helpful to others.

Most of my ideas pop up:

  • When I’m in the shower
  • When I’m driving with the radio off
  • When I’m reviewing the recent pictures I’ve just downloaded into my laptop
  • When one of my dogs or cats does something interesting, funny or sweet–something I think my readers might learn from, laugh at or identify with.
Writing can be a challenge if there's a cat sitting on your laptop

Where the “magic” happens. Sometimes my furry family is an inspiration. Sometimes, it’s a little harder to get the writing done.

I try to keep notepads or my cell phone nearby at all times so when I get an idea I can write it down before I forget. Of course, this is why I have ideas scattered in several places, but at least they’re captured. (BTW, I have a waterproof notepad I keep in the shower just for that purpose. One of my favorite writer tools.)

For the haiku and the texts, I usually start with a photo and then imagine what my dog or cat might be saying. I think most of us who live with pets do this without thinking. I “speak” on behalf of my pups and kitties all the time. I even have different voices for each of them. C’mon, tell me you’ve never done that!

Editing is key. I tighten my work, remove extraneous words–even in the shortest of posts. I’ll go through and check for clarity. I read each post out loud. I add more “show, don’t tell.” (If that’s not familiar to you, Google it and you’ll learn a lot.) I do an SEO check, but that doesn’t drive my writing.

Then I post, setting my word-babies free.

I check the post when it’s live, reviewing it in context. Sometimes, I check it again and make changes after it’s posted. Can you tell I think editing is important?

One of the best parts of blogging is getting feedback and comments from the people who stop by and visit. I appreciate everyone who takes the time to comment–even if I don’t always have time to acknowledge it. I also try to visit the blogs of people who leave a note; I want to support them.

And the nominees are:

The Hailey and Zaphod Chronicles

I first met this crew back when there was an blog author’s tour. Admittedly, I was attracted at first by the name of the blog. “Aha!” said I to myself and the two cats on my desk. “This person is a science fiction fan who obviously knows all about Douglas Adams and the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy series.” Turns out “Phod,” as Kristen (the human behind the dogs) calls him, came with that name. But once I started reading the blog, I got hooked. Hailey and Zaphod are great, fun-loving catahoula mix pups. (We’re partial to that type of hound here, as we believe Jasper may have some catahoula in him.) They live with a couple of cats, too, so that makes the group a little similar to ours.  I like the photography and writing on this blog–and the touch of humor–and highly recommend it.

The dogs of the Hailey and Zaphod Chronicles often have to deal with wildlife–just like Jasper, Lilah and Tucker. Here’s a post where a chipmunk invaded their deck under the watchful eye of Hailey.


Kristen, Hailey and Zaphod

Kristen, Hailey and Zaphod


Tenacious Little Terrier

The fabulous Mr. N is the star of this blog; the tagline on the site describes him as “seven pounds of pure terrier”–and he lives up to that promise. Mr. N seems to be everywhere, all at once, with his human, April. He poses wonderfully, and plays with the big dogs, completely unaware that he is about the size of their heads. I love a few things about this blog: April’s tell-it-like-it-is writing style, combined with tons of photography (so many pictures featuring that tiny adorable terrier) make this a really fun site. Mr N never seems to tire; and as a reader and fan, I’m so glad of that, because I’ll follow him on any adventure. I just don’t know if I can keep up.

An example of one of Mr. N’s recent adventures was when he accompanied April and “the boyfriend” to a local Shakespeare in the Park production. He behaved quite well, except for the zombies. (Who knew there were zombies in Shakespeare?)

Mr. N from Tenacious Little Terrier

Mr. N looks good anywhere.


 Kitty Cat Chronicles

I’ve been a fan of Emily’s blog for awhile. She has five cats, one of whom I featured in my series on Special Pets & Their People. A musician, Emily’s blog sings of creativity. There’s always something new or interesting on her site; she writes in her voice, but sometimes her cats take over (and they can pawty with the best of them!) Her topics can range from the tiny black spot on her cat Sampson’s tail, to the drain monster that Delilah is obsessed with to a heartfelt and informative series about her cat Sophie, who was born with cerebellar hypoplasia.  (BTW, a video of Sophie was nominated for a Pettie in the best video category; it’s worth watching–and voting for.)

Funny thing; we both asked each other to participate in the writing tour–and both of us had already been asked by someone else–but we both also shared a challenge getting people to respond to our requests (and so many folks already joined the tour), so we decided to include each other anyway. It’s hard to tell who’s participated, so if you’ve haven’t had a chance to share your writing process, let me know and I’ll add you to the list!

Sophie, a cat with cerebellar hypoplasia, captains a boat on Lake Juliette

Emily with her cat Sophie on Lake Juliette.


If you’re not familiar with these sites, they’re all worth a visit or two or several; maybe you’ll become a fan like me!


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Vote for Life with Dogs and Cats for Best Overall Pet Blog at the Petties

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And while you’re there, don’t forget to vote for Kitty Cat Chronicles for best video post!
Thank you, tail wags, and purrs!


15 Comments on "Story: Life with Dogs and Cats Writing Process"

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  1. LOVE IT! This was a lot of fun to read. I’ll be looking forward to reading the projects you are working on. You’ve got a lot of neat things in the works — especially your haiku book! And by the way, I read my posts after they’ve gone live too, usually multiple times, and edit them more. Thanks for your kind words about my blog – I really appreciate it. Coming from you, it means a lot! Thanks for the Petties shout out too — I can’t believe I forgot to mention that about your blog in my post. Going back to add that in now (an example of post-post editing)! Thanks again for accepting my invite. I really enjoyed reading about your process!

  2. Wow, loved your process. I don’t think I am dedicated to writing enough to keep a notepad in the shower lol! I usually just yell to my husband to make a note or to remind me later (most of my great ideas hit me in the car, so I leave myself voicemail).

    While I am not a huge Sci-Fi fan, I do love the book Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (remembering to pack a towel saved my sanity when I was freaking out about a 3 month assignment in Tokyo) and my hubby is a true sci-fi, horror type guy.

    I was honoured that you thought of us. I really write mostly for myself, so it is thrilling that others enjoy reading what I write.

  3. jan says:

    I love what you did with the topic. I almost fell off my chair when I read about the waterproof notes in the shower, but yes, that is a great place for thoughts to come to you. I used to keep a notebook by my bed, but so many of the notes read like: Umbrage to the xmxys fo ghriage. At the time of writing they must have made sense but not so much at the time of reading.

  4. slimdoggy says:

    Love this post and so glad we invited you (thanks for the shout out). I love reading about other’s process and so gald to know I’m not the only one with multiple lists – although I don’t have a waterproof one in the shower…YET. Thanks for the intros to the other blogs. I’ll have to check out that kitty one…hadn’t visited that one before.

  5. Ann Staub says:

    Well, you really are a fabulous writer and have a wonderful way with words. And it looks like you are not at a loss for ideas to share with everyone which is awesome. I’ve had a lot of ideas brewing lately too, which is a good thing. It’s no fun when you get stuck.

  6. Great post. Love your haikus. Maybe I should try a few in Rita’s words… (And, yes, we do have a voice for her that we imagine her speaking in.)

    I had a special needs girl – a tri-pawwed pup. She was my heart dog. Doing a little tribute post to her tomorrow. Look forward to your special pets series! (And if you want to interview me… I’m just an email away.) 🙂

  7. What a fun post! We’re glad that the head peep isn’t the only one who has multiple lists of ideas in different places. But she doesn’t have one in the shower, so you’re ahead of her there. That’s a great idea, though!

  8. Rama's Mama says:

    Loved this post. I could relate to a lot of it. I thought my “current” box was full! Whew! You’ve got me beat! 🙂

  9. Dogs N Pawz says:

    Great post! You have so much going on! I’m impressed and I love your blog!

  10. Jen Jelly says:

    “Then I post, setting my word-babies free.”

    This is the best quote ever. It’s so true, I love it. After they’re set free it’s up for grabs for anyone and everyone to see and comment on.

    I love that you have a notepad for the shower, that shows your great dedication and intuitiveness to know when you’re inspiration pops up you gotta capture it.

    I love this article, such nice insight into your world. Keep up the great work, you do have an amazing way with words.

  11. Rebekah says:

    I am loving reading about everyone’s writing process. I really enjoy your haiku, and text message posts!

  12. meowmeowmans says:

    Thank you for sharing your writing process! We love your creativity, and the obvious thought and care that go into each of your posts. 🙂

  13. Wow! You have a lot going on these days! I really enjoyed reading your writing process. SlimDoggy did a post about a man that created a beeping ball for his blind dog that was inspirational! Very creative idea. I love that you have a waterproof shower pad!

  14. Thanks again for inviting us! Mr. N is lucky if he’s the size of their head! We’re in a class with a Great Dane and St. Bernard right now and I think he’s paw-sized.
    I bought the boyfriend a waterproof notebook (for when it rains and he’s working outside) but didn’t think about re-purposing it for the shower!

  15. Pawsum posty. Weez luved learnin’ mowe ’bout yous. Weez luv dat Sophie tu. Can’t wait tu wead all ’bout yous pet insuwance. Mommy can’t decide ifin weez oughtta get iit or not.

    Luv ya’


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