T/L: Tell us about your blog, Pet Peeves.
I became inspired to start Pet-Peeves.org as a place for people who experience frustration with their pets can find answers to puzzling behaviors and also to just share stories with other sympathetic pet owners.
As a mom of seven sons I’ve been a pet mommy to all types of pets I personally wouldn’t choose – like the two twelve foot Burmese pythons that lived in my basement for about four years. And the two leopard geckos we now have. I prefer my pets with fur on.
T/L: How did you get started writing a blog about pets?
I call it my “accidental writing project.” My husband, Steve Miller, writes for three blogs. In order to help him become more successful with his blogs I attended Hollis Gillespie’s Blog Workshop in February 2010. I dutifully wrote down all of her great tips on how to make your blog one that people will want to read, never dreaming that I’d ever use the tips for myself.
I’d been “blog-burned” if you will back in Grad School. One semester I had to write a blog every day and it was terrible. To have an assignment without any idea of what to write about is terrible. So I never had any desire to have a blog.
But shortly after attending Hollis’ workshop, my husband removed our 17 year old cat from our bed and said, “Should I move our biggest pet peeve?” and something just clicked.
T/L: What are some of the pet peeves that you have with your pets?
Right now I have a rescue American Bulldog named Lucille that I love with all my heart. But, she’s treating our new deck as one big chew toy. When I first saw the board that was nibbled to a nub, I thought we might have had a stray beaver visiting, because we live by Lake Alatoona. But, one day I while watching her out the window, I saw her noshing on one of the support railings and I discovered my culprit.
And, this one is kind of embarrassing, but we have another dog who one of our son’s girlfriends brought over to our house. She saw her as a puppy in a box outside of a Kroger and thought we needed more excitement in our lives. So Maggie joined our family about 6 years ago. I admit this is more my fault than hers, but Maggie is an escape artist. If she gets any opportunity whatsoever to run to the lake, she takes off. And she’s terrible to catch. She won’t come, she avoids any of our carefully laid traps, etc. I’ve tried everything, even an electric dog fence, but she’s so motivated by a swim in the lake, she’ll plow right through it. As I’m chasing her around the neighborhood I’m usually muttering to myself. I have a darn Masters Degree and I cannot catch this dog, until she wants to be caught. There’s always a point when Maggie is loose that she decides on her own that she’ll sit and allow me to clip her leash to her collar. But until Maggie makes up her mind, she’s not coming in. One day our neighbor asked if she was a hyena – because of her brindle coloring. And, maybe her wildness.
T/L: What does it take to be a successful writer and blogger?
One great idea, a niche, time and some fearlessness. I’ve been writing for about twenty years. For eight years I wrote a weekly syndicated column called “Kidding Around.” That taught me the discipline of writing every week and coming up with ideas. Then I earned my Masters in Professional Writing from Kennesaw State, which added skills to my toolkit. Since I graduated in 2007 I’ve published two books and have another one I co-wrote with my husband coming out in May.
T/L: What are some of the more interesting articles and advice that our listeners can find on your blog site?
Since I’ve written for my blog for over a year, I did an evaluation recently and found that people really liked two things: guest bloggers and pet events. Actually, Tim, you’ve written a couple of guest posts for me and yours have been very popular. I really liked the one you wrote on how to take care of feral cats. It was practical and filled with information that people can really use.
T/L: I’ve got a couple of great articles coming out in May.
One is from a pit bull rescue on how to stop dog fights. Sometimes when you have more than one dog in a family, squabbles can break out. When my husband and I blended our family into seven sons, I never dreamed that our dogs wouldn’t blend. But his Golden Retriever and my Chow never, ever got along. We ended up building a fence down the middle of our backyard to separate them so they wouldn’t tear each other up. These types of situations can be very frustrating as a pet owner and I attempt to solve some problems to make it less likely that a pet owner will dump a distressing dog or cat.
T/L: You have a page on your blog that promotes animal rescues and their upcoming events. Tell us a little about this page and how they can submit information to you for this page?
Through my research I found that a lot of people liked to hear about pet events – so I started putting these up to promote pet rescue organizations. I’m attending two in the coming weeks:
· I’m also attending a couple of pet rescue events in April that I’m looking forward to writing about after I meet the organizers. This Saturday, April 23, I’m attending “Pawsta for Overpopulation Prevention” Dinner and Silent Auction in Acworth sponsored bySpay/Neuter Coalition run by Lesha Martin.
· Then on May 1 I’ll be attending the Pet Cotillion hosted by Vicki Locke of B98.5 and benefiting PALS (Pets are Loving Support). I’m looking forward to meeting Victoria Stilwell, from Animal Planet’s It’s Me or the Dog. I love that show.
T/L: What types of articles do you like to write or post on the blog Pet Peeves?
My very favorite type of writing is always humorous. I have a few entitled “Why I have Grey Hair” that tells about the time I had to call the pediatrician for advice when our son was bitten simultaneously by his snake and a rat. I bet they don’t get calls like that very often!
My husband also wrote a tongue-in-cheek post about the southern version of the Ididatrod called the You’all Diderod which is very, very funny.
T/L: In addition to writing for Pet Peeves, you work at Kennesaw State University in the Masters of American Studies program and have a Masters in Professional Writing. How does writing a blog help support these areas?
Actually I called Pet Peeves my “practice” blog. My bosses at work thought it might be a good idea to have a blog for American Studies. Now that I’ve been a blogger for an entire year, I’m thinking it might not be such a great idea. A blog is all about content. And, content that people want to read. That’s a difficult assignment. So, I’m still thinking about it. But one of the things a blog has done for me is it’s making me known outside of the campus, and that’s always a good thing.
T/L: You are the President of the Georgia Writers Association (a nonprofit committed to authors, education and literary events throughout the state of Georgia). How have bloggers been viewed or accepted among authors?
Publishing is in such a state of flux right now. In fact, that’s one of the reasons Steve and I wrote our next book, Sell More Books! It’s to help authors navigate the ever changing landscape of publishing. I think blogging is a wonderful boon to authors who want to write about a niche topic. It’s available to anyone and you stand or fall on your writing skills. The best thing is the more you write the better you are. So my advice is to blog away!
To find out more about Cherie Miller and to read all of the interesting articles and advice posted on the Pet Peeves blog, please visit her site: www.pet-peeves.org