Technology Glitches Strike Again

Schedules are just that, schedules and we, as humans, work to meet the dates and commitments in them. They are one of the ways we gain some control of the world around us. Its part of life and its part of the publishing process.

Without getting into the details, we originally scheduled Moscow Airlift to be released by the end of March 2018. The cover was completed back in February, the final draft was ready for me to approve so we could make a March date and then things started to go haywire. March 31st went by the boards and Penmore Press and I were confident we could get it out by the end of April.

Earlier this month, Mr. Murphy decided to make an appearance probably cued by the Gods that rule Microsoft Office and like to play with the minds of its users. That’s a story for another time and place.

Moscow Airlift takes place almost entirely in the Soviet Union, just before it dissolved into the Russian Federation. As I wrote it, I pasted information from Internet sources, mostly Wikipedia into the text and use it either as a reference or to ensure that I have the right title and spelling. Most of what was in the manuscript was the correct spelling of a name or location in Roman letters, not Cyrillic script. If I used text, I’d re-write it so that it fit the needs of the scene. To be honest, in Moscow Airlift, I did this more than in any other book.

Unbeknownst to me, even when I thought I’d deleted the text from an Internet site, it left behind formatting instructions or what programmers like to call code. Even selecting “clear formatting” doesn’t erase the code entirely. What you see on your screen may be “clean,” but some or all of the code remains embedded in the document, hidden from the user’s view.

Penmore was at the point where it was about to turn the Word document into a book format when the embedded code raised its ugly head in the form of little blue boxes, underlining, blue text, symbols and other annoying symbols. The only solution we found that worked was to delete the offending text or entire passages and re-type them into the book.

Supposedly, buried in the minds of those who really know MS Word, there is a command or a series of commands that will remove the embedded code. That technique is not in the help that MS provides as part of is software.

The good news is that we got past that crisis which took us three days of what the Brits call “tooing and froing,” a lot of frustration and many cuss words to get through it. As I type this blog, I think we’re back on track to get it released this month. Unless, of course, Mr. Murphy pays the schedule another visit or the Microsoft Word Gods strike again.

Marc Liebman

April 2018

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