Finally, after so many, many months, the book my father asked me to "help" him with before his diagnosis of stage four prostate cancer is done. Originally it was just going to be a collection of his experiences with the Old Order Amish in Lancaster, PA, but life had other plans. After the summer of 2015, it turned into an inspiring tale of his diagnosis and amazing recovery, which was nothing short of miraculous. It's available as a paperback on Amazon.
In early December I was tying up all the loose ends as the second of my two proofreaders finished up. Right before I uploaded the manuscript to order copies, I decided to do on more thing: get rid of the double spacing after the ends of sentences that I learned to do in 7th grade typing class and can't seem to unlearn. I didn't want to look like an old dog, so I did what I had done successfully in the past: I did a search and replace. However, this time I was using a different program then before. It worked as expected for the period space space, but when I got to the question mark space space all Hell broke loose. At first it said it found no instances, which I knew was impossible. I tried it again, and it found many like I had expected. Then I did the same with an exclamation point. Same thing as the question mark. But, again after the second go, it worked... or seemed to.
Then I looked at my manuscript. It wasn't apparent at first, no. After skimming through one last time I noticed that a few tabs at the beginning of paragraphs were replaced with periods. "That's weird," I thought. "How did I miss that?" A few pages later I noticed a double period, then a question mark period, then an exclamation mark period. I don't know why I didn't just undo. Maybe my program crashed (which was not unusual) or maybe I closed out the program first before my last look through, I don't know. It's all a blur. I began to frantically search and replace for the weird combination of punctuation that was now present in my once near error-free manuscript. After I couldn't think of any more combinations to search for and no more time to do it if I wanted to get it to my house before having to leave for Christmas in Oxford. I saved it, uploaded it, and ordered 50 copies paying an extra $20 in shipping to get it to my house before I had to go. Another day and I would have had to pay an extra $50. Two more days and I would have missed my deadline.
It arrived and I flipped though it, relieved that it looked normal since I'd heard horror stories. I packed it up and headed to Oxford. Dad had a party with all his family and friends, and they all bought a book. Some had already read it, it having been available for weeks on Amazon almost as soon as I uploaded it. One man said, "It was great. I laughed, I cried. Everyone here needs to buy one." Of course, he's one of my dad's best friends and is actually in the book. :-)
Days after the party while at Mom and Dad's house, I began to read the book and noticed that a few sentences that had periods at the end needed question marks. "How did I miss that?" I thought. "How did both of my proofreaders miss that?" Then I kept reading. More sentences that were questions or exclamations that only had periods. I remembered my search and replace debacle and wondered if that had anything to do with it. It wasn't like all question marks were missing. In fact there was one paragraph with several questions, and one one or two had a period where a question mark would be. Then there was a missing word here and there that could have been overlooked by all of us.
Back at home after the holiday, I brought up the proofed manuscript still on Google Docs. Sure enough, the punctuation was correct. When I found a couple words with a period in place of a letter, it convinced me to read all the way through again slowly. I got out my red pen, and corrected my physical copy of the book. Not only did I fix the incorrect punctuation, but I reworded some things and cleared up others. It's odd how when reading your own work in a different format, you can catch other errors, or suddenly discover better ways to say what you were struggling to say. I corrected the manuscript, too, and uploaded it. Now if you order a copy now, it is even better than before. Aren't you glad you waited? Of course, if you got one of those 50+ first copies you can say you got a special version. :-)
Currently I'm trying to convert it into an ebook, specifically for Kindle. The easy way Amazon provides did not generate the all-important table of contents in the way I had wanted it, so I'm doing it from scratch. Since it's mostly in HTML/CSS and I've worked as a web designer and fluent in the mark-up language, I felt like I shouldn't take the easy way out. I'm almost there. It won't be long.
Afterwards, I can't wait to start back on my original manuscript that sparked my interest in writing: Through The Winter. A story about a man who leaves his high-tech job in the city in search of a more meaningful life.