Interview: Lorie Huston

Lorie Huston is veterinarian and writer. She is the perfect example of someone who noticed a problem (the lack of accurate information about pet care) and decided to fix it. She began writing articles that pet owners could refer to, and her writing career grew from there. Now, she’s not only providing great information but also promoting a great cause.

Find out more in the interview below.

You’ve been a veterinarian for over 20 years and also write a number of online columns about pet care. What drew you to the writing world?

What drew me to the writing world initially was a growing frustration with the amount of misinformation being published about pet care online. My original purpose was to create a base of online articles that pet owners could count on to offer accurate and up-to-date information. My career is still about that in large part, but my goals have grown since then too.

You’re the perfect example of someone having a passion in one area, and then turning that expertise into a writing career. Any recommendations for others in a similar position who are interested in pursuing a writing career? Care to share your early lessons or tips?

Initially, I started writing solely about pet care and pet health topics. At first, I was writing mostly for content sites like Suite101.com and Examiner.com. And I still write for those sites and intend to continue.

But, at some point, I started blogging. And when I did, I discovered a whole pet community online, a community that is incredibly supportive of one another and extremely passionate about helping animals. I started making friends on twitter and on facebook and I started talking to lots of different people. And I came to realize that this particular community is not only capable of creating huge changes to help animals, we are actually in the process of doing it! And that’s something I’m very proud to be part of and am very passionate about.

We all go about “being the change” in different ways. I still write primarily about pet care issues, giving pet owners the information they need to make wise choices for their pets. But I also support my online friends in any way I can. I feature their websites and blogs on my blog. I retweet their links and comment on their blogs. And they do the same for me. Doing so has created a huge network of friends and contacts. And that in turn has boosted my career immensely.

So, that would be my recommendation to others interested in pursuing a writing career. Connect with other people with similar interests. Promote and support each other. Leverage twitter and facebook to make friends and create a network of like-minded people that you feel comfortable working with and who are willing to work with you. Don’t try to “go it alone”.

What’s been your favorite article to write so far and why?

Actually, my favorite is not so much a single article as it is a series of articles. I am part of the Never Shock a Puppy coalition. Our primary goal is to raise public awareness of positive dog training methods that do not involve shock collars, choke collars and the like. Our secondary goal is to raise $2500 which will be donated to the Humane Society of Boulder Valley’s No Choke challenge, which will give head halters and harnesses to those dog owners willing to give up their shock collars and choke collars.

As part of this challenge, all of us in the coalition are blogging weekly on the topic for a period of eight weeks. As I write this, we are entering our third week. I think this is my favorite because I feel like it can make a difference in the lives of at least a few dogs. It means a few dogs that won’t be shocked, choked or hurt but will be taught their boundaries through other more humane training methods. If we are successful in raising the $2500, it will purchase roughly 165 head halters and harnesses. That’s 165 dogs that won’t be hurt as part of their training process. And that’s why it’s my favorite.

Share some of your writing goals. What’s next for you?

I intend to continue to write online at Suite101, at Untrained Housewife and on my blog. I would also like to become more successful in marketing to traditional media sources. I’ve had a few pieces published in smaller newsletters and publications but would like to “break into” some of the bigger pet publications. I have also been considering book publishing.

What’s the most interesting book you’ve ever read?

In my field, Am I Boring My Dog: And 99 Other Things Every Dog Wishes You Knew by Edie Jarolim.

In the field of fiction, I think my favorite book is still Gone with the Wind (Margaret Mitchell), though it’s been a long time since I read it.

Favorite authors?

Terry Brooks, Ann Rice, David Eddings, JRR Tolkien, sometimes Stephen King

Book you’re currently reading?

RED HOT INTERNET PUBLICITY: An Insider’s Guide to Promoting Your Book on the Internet by Penny C Sansevieri. (See, I told you I was thinking of writing a book.)

Any type of writing ritual you have?

I don’t have any specific rituals. I work full-time as a veterinarian so I write when I find the time. I do tend to find myself writing at night most often and sometimes into the early hours of the morning.

In your opinion, what’s the measure of a successful writer?

I think it depends on what the writer’s goals are. Success can be measured in many different ways. For some, publishing that first article online might be a measure of success. For others, seeing their first (or second or third…) book on the bookshelves or on Amazon may be their measure of success. It doesn’t have to be the same for everyone. Set your own goals and do your best to accomplish them.

For me, being asked to be a speaker at BlogPaws West 2010 was a small measure of success though I have many more goals to accomplish. For those of you not familiar with BlogPaws, it is an organization that supports the online pet community. Their primary purpose is to help improve animal lives, especially in the area of rescue and solving the shelter problem. Their goal is to provide information to help us be better bloggers and writers and ultimately to help us accomplish our individual goals. If you’re involved with the pet community and you’re not part of BlogPaws, you really need to be, in my opinion.

Advice for other writers?

My best advice is to just keep writing. Your goals may change over time. Mine have. And that’s fine. There may be rough spots in your career, times when you wonder whether anyone is reading what you’re writing. There may be financial rough spots as well. Don’t expect to start a freelance career and make a full-time living immediately. It takes time to build a reader base. It takes time to build a network. But with time, hard work, patience and a little vision, I think it’s possible.

Where can we learn more about you?

You can find me at my blog, Pet Health Care Gazette, or my writer’s site, Lorie Huston. You can also find me at Suite101.com, at Examiner.com and at UntrainedHousewife.com.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Thank you, Cherie, for giving me the opportunity to tell my story and offer some advice and suggestions to new writers. It’s been a fun experience.

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