River’s Issues: escapism

River has started escaping from the yard. We do have a fence. A lovely, five foot fence that we had installed with our dogs in mind. But it doesn’t stop him. Nope. He climbs it.

He might not be designed for the job but this dog gets up that fence like he’s possessed by an evil squirrel. At the top, he balances his body precariously for a second, then tumbles over and lands on the snow. Once on the other side, he’s off running for the hills.

Of course, we’ve tried to stop him. Thinking it was the high level of snow, we chiselled our way through the solid ice base until we hit grass. This took hours of backbreaking work that involved lifting the ice chunks and throwing them out of the yard–and a lot of cursing of dogs in general and akitas in particular.

He still got out.

My lovely husband decided to involve psychology and put ‘mental’ barriers in the form of debris on the snow outside the fence.

He still got out.

We tried training him to stay in the yard with treats…and he still got out.

Our friends suggested an invisible fence, but the idea of shocking him didn’t go well with us. So, instead, we’re going to install a system of metal bars that lean into the yard at a 45 degree angle from the fence. They’re connected by a metal cable and, since that’s further into the yard than the fence, River would have to hang from the cable to get over it. Since he doesn’t have opposable thumbs, we’re hoping this will stop his Houdini act.

It will also make our home look a lot like Alcatraz.

Then there’s the issue of Spring. When it comes and the ground thaws, River will have a new option as his escape plan. Digging.

Maybe we need to consider something else completely…

Formatting ups and downs.

I’m deep inside the world of formatting. The idea is to somehow meet the rules of the Smashwords Premium Catalogue and hopefully get the book on other publishers free. Excellent theory…the application is somewhat more turbulent.

I should explain that I’m not a computer genius. I would describe myself as mildly competent. For example, I don’t try to fix a type-o on my computer with white out, but I don’t know how to fix any real issues on my computer. And that includes formatting issues on my documents.

The Guide that Smashwords has for formatting is actually really helpful, friendly even. But trying this out by myself is pretty daunting. There are times when I stare at the screen and wonder what on earth they mean and the only one at my side is my faithful akita. She’s good in the snow but not so great with computers.

Simple things become monumental tasks in Formatting World. For example, you can’t change something as easy as the font by clicking on the font button. In fact, according to the Guide, this is a mistake you should never, ever do (never is in capital letters, then bolded and then repeated just in case you missed it the first few times). Basically, if you use the button provided by Word for that exact purpose, your manuscript will warp itself into something illegible for ebooks, it’ll never be admitted into the Premium Catalogue (the reason for this entire Formatting Nightmare) and all your worse fears will materialize.

Now that wouldn’t be an issue, if the Guide told me how to change the font properly. But there’s no second choice. Just a warning in dire letters of horrid consequences if you should risk touching the clearly labelled font button.

In spite of all this moaning on my part, I think I’m making some sort of progress. I’ve still got a long way to go. I’m certainly not close enough to even start making a table of contents, but I think I might have an idea on how to create a ‘style’. No, in our fun, Formatting World, style doesn’t mean clothing style or hip-style, it means writing style as in indents and bullets and so on. Don’t laugh but I had to figure that out too.

It’s a steep learning curve but, I figure, in a week or so, either I’ll have a perfectly formatted document so clean it’ll shine brighter than the Empire State Building or I’ll be talking to Ocean in doggie language.

Oh and I will definitely pass on anything worthwhile that I learn along the way…like how on earth to change that dratted font.