Thursday, October 08, 2009

Deadlines, Do-Overs and. . . Dedham

By Paula Matter

*Deadlines as in I didn’t make mine. Well, unless I work twenty hours a day for the next week, I won’t make it. I don’t know if everyone here knows or not, but after 8-10 days of revising, I lost my manuscript. Gone. Kaput. Outta here.

I had a few people do their best to find it, but no luck. I mourned for about four days. I went through four of the five stages of grief in 96 hours. When the Geek Squad Guy couldn’t locate it, I knew I’d done all I could and I moved on into acceptance, the final stage.

Unfortunately, denial kept coming back and I’d spend time searching my computer again and again. Too much time wasted. And I was beginning to scare myself over how damned obsessive I’d become. Wasn’t pretty at all.

*Do-overs as in I wish we were still allowed them. I’d go back to September 18, 2009 7:36 PM. (A time in which I had no business being in my office because I had already worked for over 8 hours that day. And I was beyond tired, getting real close to punchy. And, no, I have no friggin’ clue what I did when I went to turn off my computer that evening. And, yes, I now have an external hard drive installed. And, yes, I certainly am getting over my obsession, thank you very much).

Anyway, that’s what I’d do if do-overs were available.

*Dedham as in Massachusetts. As in the location of the Crime Bake conference. As in I’m all registered and official.


This will be my first time attending this conference, and I’ve been looking forward to it. I know a handful of people who’ll be there and registration is capped at 225 -- a nice size. Nice as in this shy person will feel comfortable around all these new-to-me people. (I heard that, Annette! I am shy and I try to behave around new people).

Knowing well how running a conference can be, I even signed up to volunteer. As of this writing, I don’t know what I’ll be doing. Probably timekeeping during a panel. One of the options was to pick up someone at the airport. Uh uh. I’ll be lucky if I manage to get myself to the hotel in one piece. This will be my first road trip to Massachusetts by myself. I love my road trips and haven’t been on one since late June.

So. That’s my update. Whatcha y’all been up to? Who else is going to Crime Bake? Anyone else have writing horror stories to share?


Annette said...

Okay, so yes, I snorted when you said you were shy. Sorry.

I'm so so sorry to hear about the computer losing your story. You've already had the Geek Squad out, so I'm sure there isn't anything else to be done. BUT I remember reading somewhere that there's a way to restore your computer to a date in the past if you do something to foul it up. Maybe I dreamt it, though. I'm definitely not techno savvy. I have to borrow my friend's teenaged son when I get stuck.

Anyway, have fun at Crime Bake, Paula. I envy you your roadtrips.

Sherry said...

Paula! I am so sorry about your loss. I've been there. I grieved for a lot longer over my lost manuscript. Anyone want a lightly used Alphasmart? I tried to reconstruct the book, but to no avail. So finally I sat down and rewrote it. That book is currently being looked over at Avon. So time does, indeed, rush on.

Have fun at Crime Bake! I'm dying to get there some year.


John said...

Paula, if you could make it to CT, you can make it to MA! I hope you have a great time at the conference--I haven't yet been but heard it's fantastic. And again, my sympathies on your loss. You are a better person than me--after experiencing the stages of grief, I probably would have gone out and killed somebody! ;-)

Wilfred Bereswill said...

Paula, I have a bit of advice. Never, ever, ever call the Geek Squad. Now I know they might have a few decent youg guys that really know their stuff, when I went to the one here in St. Louis to cleanse my computer of a horrid virus downloaded by my daughters, they kept it 3 days and finally told me they had to wipe my hard drive and start over. They said none of my data was retrievable.

I had all my tax records and financials on it. I paid them $200 to tell me that and refused to pay the additional $150 to reload Windows. Any idiot can do that, including me.

I then called a local computer company. They came to my house picked it up and brought it back the next day like there was never a thing wrong with it. All my data was back, even my screensaver. Cost me $150 for the personal service.

I went back to Best Buy and raised hell. All they did was give me a $50 gift card to shut me up.

My adice, look around for a local company that specializes in home computers.

BTW, I've chosen B'Con as my conference to go to this year. I would have loved to come up to Crimebake though.

Joyce Tremel said...

Sorry about your manuscript. That's one reason why I'm obsessive about back ups. I keep at least 3 back ups of my books.

I agree about Geek Squad. I have a relative who works with computers and he said they have no idea what they're doing. Little or no training.

What Annette mentioned is the System Restore function on a computer (Control Panel, System, System Restore). If you have it turned on, sometimes you can take your computer back to a previous working condition. I don't know if it would work in a case like yours, though. (I usually keep System Restore turned off because it uses too much memory and slows down the computer.)

Annette said...

I've been boycotting Best Buy for years, so I didn't realize the Geek Squad was so bad.

Time for a commercial endorsement. For backing up my computer, I use an online service called Carbonite.
It backs up everything on my PC daily without me having to do anything. If I'm working on the computer during the backup, it backs up slower so your computer doesn't grind to a halt. If the computer is idle, it backs up really fast. The service costs about $50 per year, but the sense of security is priceless. Better than an external hard drive because if your house happened to burn down, you'd still lose that. But all my photos, finances and manuscripts are safe.

End commercial endorsement. And, no, they don't pay me to sing their praises.

Joyce Tremel said...

Annette, I see you've been reading the new FTC regulations, too.

Jenna said...

OMG, Paula, I'm SO sorry about your loss. I lost 45 pages of my WIP once, and tried everything too, with no luck. Just had to do-over. It's been long enough that I'm over it, mostly, but I'm still freaked out at the thought that it might happen again. I was writing on WordPerfect at the time, and someone told me it's a feature of that particular program. Apparently it drops things...

Recently, though, my computer crashed (one of the Windows updates I installed didn't work right) and I thought I'd lose everything on the hard drive. I used the system restore that Annette mentioned and Joyce explained, and it worked. So it's worth at least looking into.

Wish I could make it to CrimeBake. My books are set in Maine and I have a new publisher in New Hampshire, so I really need to make it up that way sometime...

Kathy Otten said...


I heard once that Herman Melville lost a completed mss. once and had to rewrite Moby Dick from scratch. Have fun at your conference.

Wilfred Bereswill said...

My big mistake was saving to a flash drive. I was out of town and worked on a remote computer and saved my work on a flash drive.

Worked all day Saturday writing around 10,000 words. The next day I checked out of the hotel and got on a plane and headed straight to a golf course to play in a tournment. I guess I left the flash drive in the golf cart. Next day I went back and searched 300 golf cart to no avail. I posted notes around the clubhouse and no body turned it in.

Had to recreate a day's work, but it was only one day.

Now I have several flash drives and a networked external hard drive.

Anonymous said...

Kathy is right. I lost the original manuscript for Moby Dick. I had to rewrite it from memory. I remember my original opening line was something like,

"That what was a bad-ass mother."

As I wrote it a second time, I thought twice about it and replaced it with,

"Call me Ishmael,"



Annette said...

Hey, Herman! Welcome to Working Stiffs! LOL!

Anonymous said...

Thank you Annette. As you can see, I'm still learning this contraption you call a keyboard. Whale begets What! Give me a quill, ink bottle and quality piece of parchment any day.

I thought I would start the book with "Call me Hermy," but it did not have a good ring to it.



Ravenredhead said...

Have fun at the Crime Bake, sounds like a fun event. I love creative events to get the juices flowing.

Sorry all the tricks of the trade didn't work to bring back your manuscript. Usually, System restore is always the last resort, because it doesn't affect data files, only system files. But it was worth a shot.

Welcome back to the world - Sunshine ;) and let's have a real good time...


PatRemick said...

I'll be at Crime Bake (moderating the U is for Unconventional panel and running around as part of the planning committee) and I'm looking forward to meeting you there! Glad you're already registered-- thanks to a great reputation and Sue Grafton,
we've had the best response ever despite the economy and are fearful of running out of slots.

Re your manuscript -- I agree with all -- so many things can be retrieved from computers in crime fighting, why not your manuscript? Find a good computer company and go there! AND -- you don't need to have it done to pitch to an agent at CB!

Cheer up -- we all have hope for you!

And thanks Annette -- I'm looking into carbonite!

Cheryle said...

I always email a copy of my latest day's output, to myself at my Yahoo account.