Guest Blogger!

Please help me welcome Rae Renzi who’s latest release is “Dog Daze”, and please feel free to check out her website and her other books!

Why Training a Dog is Easier than Training a Man (or Woman).

In my newest book, DogDaze, there are scenes that deal with dog training.  While writing them, I naturally thought about the difference between training a dog (with which I’ve had some success) and training a human (with which I’ve had no discernible success).

From my point of view, training a dog is easy if you know his motivation and how his brain works. The motivation part is simple—nothing is more important to your dog than pleasing you. All you have to do is tell him how.

This is where the brain comes in. A dog’s brain works best when a single line can be drawn between cause (stimulus) and effect (response). The desired situation is for you to make a request (like “sit”), your dog to immediately respond with the appropriate action (dropping his hind end onto the ground), thereby incurring your pleasure.

To accomplish this, you only have to remember the cardinal rule for training: one command, one action, no variation. People go astray when they muddy up commands with other irrelevant words, like “come on, damn it, sit!” which forces the dog to try to sift through the words to find the right one. Possibly worse is using a different string of words each time for a single command. A dog will have trouble understanding that “Buddy, sit!” means the same as “Come on, sit, you mangy mongrel!” or “Sitsitsit!” A similar problem on the other end is mapping the words to the action. At any given moment your dog is wagging his tail, panting, whining, dancing around or, possibly, sitting. He can’t know which one you want unless you make it clear. In the dog’s case that means showing him what you expect immediately after making the request (once!), and doing so consistently.

The most important point here, in terms of relationships, is that you probably have no expectation that the dog will sit unless you tell him to. That is (and this is key), you have no expectation that your dog will read your mind, no matter how brilliant he is.

Not necessarily the case with humans. We tend to forget that we are animals, too. Just like in dogs, the human brain responds best when there is a clear and reliable link between cause and effect. Like dogs, we like it when there is no ambiguity in the request, no expectation of mind reading, and an immediate reward for the desired response.

I’ve had more than one baffling experience of communication and expectation going astray, but one of the most memorable was when my boyfriend (who was in medical school then, and busy much of the time) became upset because I’d seen a particular movie with my sister instead of waiting to see it with him. This, in spite of the fact that he’d never mentioned the movie to me, and seldom wanted to see movies. His complaint was that I should have just known that he wanted to see the movie. Essentially, he expected me to read his mind. Unsurprisingly, I didn’t.

Dogs can teach us a lot about relationships, and not only about unconditional love, for which they’re famous. We’re all, dogs included, just a collection of stimuli and responses.  It’s worth noting that we’re governed behaviorally by many of the same rules, and if we pay attention to that, life just might be simpler.

Rae Renzi is the author of the award-winning novel RiverTime, and a brain and behavior scientist. Her newest book, DogDaze has just been released at, Barnes & Noble, and other bookstores. When she’s not writing or delving into the mysteries of the mind, she enjoys gardening, bike riding and seeking out graffiti/street art. Visit her at



Ditsy Tarkington, a feisty, modern-day British aristocrat, thinks family ties are tantamount to slavery, but the love of her life, Nocona Wiley, a former soldier with unknown parentage and uncertain ancestry, holds family sacred. Assaulted by cultural prejudice and family responsibilities, the lovers are torn apart, but a pair of canny canines, a coveted job opportunity and the terrifying fallout of a drug-running scheme bring them back together to learn that where there is love, there are no barriers.


Loading to Smashwords – Self Publishing

We’ve covered loading to Kindle and loading to Nook.  Today, I’ll be interviewing Jack, president of ODonnell Books, about how to upload our manuscript to Smashwords.

He says that Smashwords accepts Microsoft Word documents.

Your manuscript has been edited and you have gone through so that the story is brilliant! Save it as a Word.doc file.

Set paragraph format style, first line indent by 0.3 inches, just like for the Kindle and Nook.  Use page breaks at the end of a chapter.

Check and remove any bookmarks or hidden bookmarks.  Check for errant spacing in the document.  Check your paragraph style to make sure they are all consistent.  Times New Roman 12 is what he uses.  Put a page break between each chapter, using no more then 2 hard returns at the end of each chapter or prior to a new chapter.  Use the Heading 1 style for title and chapter titles.  He says this will help create the table of contents.

You do not need the cover in the word doc file for Smashwords.  You will upload the cover in a separate process on Smashwords.

Manually create Bookmarks for the Table of Contents, the same as you did for the Nook (as an example highlight Chapter 1, click insert bookmark and label the bookmark Chapter 1 and so on for all the chapter titles, the about the author, anything tagged with Heading 1). He said this is a long, tedious process.

Now you need to remove any hidden bookmarks, if they are in your document. To do this click anywhere in the document, click insert bookmark. On the bookmark window that pops up you’ll see a check box for hidden bookmarks in the lower left corner. Check that box. You may not see any hidden bookmarks, but if you see bookmarks that are not any of the bookmarks that you have manually created, then these are the hidden bookmarks you need to remove. Don’t remove the bookmarks you’ve just added! Hidden bookmarks will usually start with an underscored H followed by other letters and numbers. Highlight each hidden bookmark and delete them.

Then in your manually created Table of Contents, highlight chapter 1, for example, and click insert, hyperlink. An insert hyperlink window will pop up. Click the bookmark button in the bottom right hand corner. Find your bookmark that you’ve labeled Chapter 1. Select it and hit ok. Then hit ok. This will bring you back to the insert hyperlink pop up window. Hit the okay again. You should see an underlined, often in blue font which is the standard hyperlink color, Chapter 1. Now when you click chapter 1 in your table of contents it should jump you right to the chapter 1 of your book.

Now do it for the rest of them! Check and double check all of your table of contents links to make sure they are going to the chapters they should be going to.

Once again click anywhere in your document. Click insert bookmark, and again look for hidden bookmarks that you need to remove. Why? Because when you are double checking your hyperlinks, Microsoft word will often throw in hidden bookmarks, which you then need to remove. Once you have double checked your hyeprlinks and removed all hidden bookmarks do not click any more hyperlinks. Consider it done and leave it alone.

He said he highly recommends you read the Smashwords style guide, a free ebook publishing guide written by the creator of Smashwords, Mark Coker.

You have to create an account on Smashwords.

When you want to add a new book, you hit Publish on the top and follow the prompts.

Smashwords publishes to IBooks, Nook, Sony, Kobo, Diesel and several library systems. Also, Smashwords itself sells books. If you want a one stop shop for all your epublishing, except for Kindle, then Smashwords is a great place to start.

Thanks, Jack, for letting me pick your brain about the self publishing process!