Saturday, October 11, 2008

The life of an author, or anybody who depends on having a computer stay alive, or at least give warning when it's about to implode: do not, ever, walk away from yours without backing up whatever you've been doing on it. And never forget just because the machine seems to be in great shape!

Blue, my cat, has taken up guarding my machine now that I have it back, or rather now that I have a new one and several thousand dollars less in the bank. He probably has more sense than I did when I forgot one of my own unbreakable rules and forgot to back up my works in progress for a disastrous period of three weeks. :(

Two works in progress, one almost finished, the other about half completed. Poof. Gone one hot night in late August when Tampa Electric had an inexplicable power surge and outage while we slept. Next morning, the computer was making funny noises, intermittent beeping. As I shut it down, I heard sizzling noises. FRIED. I took a deep breath, hauled the machine to my guru...and prayed.

'Twas all to no avail. The machine was gone. Wires melted into motherboard. Fans melted and seized up. Worst of all, the slave hard drive where I kept my finished books along with works in progress, was destroyed beyond recovery although the gurus tried very hard to get even bits and pieces of it back. The good thing: I had an 80 gig external drive to which I was supposed to back up all this data weekly (the chore I'd forgotten to do for two disastrous weeks. The bad thing: I hadn't been switching off to my laptop for a while and hence had not copied the works in progress over there, and I'd also neglected to put the WIPs onto a flash drive I often use to load onto the laptop.

My bad! I can blame the electric company for frying the computer, but I can only blame myself for the month of computer hell I've gone through. I'd have written this warning sooner, but I've been doing a 24/7 marathon,(or almost) rewriting the lost manuscript that was due in to my editor first. The second one, I start reclaiming on Monday. At least I have the old book on which it's to be very loosely based.

Don't ever, ever get yourself into such a position! BACK UP. Re-back up. Do it every day, even if it begins to seem like wasted effort. Computer hell is as hot and unpleasant as any form of torture the real devil might come up with down in his fiery pits!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

ROMANTIC TIMES CONVENTION REVISITEDIt was five days’ worth of fun, meeting new friends and getting reacquainted with ones I’d met at earlier conventions. Not to mention getting to know EC's cover model entrant for Mr. Romance, John Fish. and to see the great costumes (Tawny Taylor shown, right, in her outfit for the Faery Ball).
Sure, there were some possibly newsworthy happenings…the kinds of things that always draw the attention of vultures of the tabloid press and their readers alike. If you’re interested, you can learn all the details, fully embellished, at various online blogs. Let’s address some of those juicy bits and move on to the many good things that went on last week.

Yes, a cover model and an unidentified woman apparently did a little impromptu dance after the official program at the EC Fantasy Party that offended some attendees. Yes, there were reports of some groping going on, both by cover models from different publishers and by a few women who wanted to get a little too close to the hot young men. And yes, one of the Mr. Romance contestants went off the deep end and had to be taken by ambulance to the hospital on Saturday night. (He was not an EC model, by the way.)

These were isolated happenings. For the most part, the convention was a great celebration of the romance genre where the RT staff and publishers created venues where readers, booksellers and authors could get together and celebrate a mutual love for the genre in its many forms. I enjoyed every minute of networking, sharing news and just plain schmoozing with old friends and new acquaintances.

On Wednesday, I joined 70-some-odd Ellora’s Cave authors in stuffing goodie bags for the EC Fantasy Party. Then, off to dress for the newest RT event, the ebook expo, where I gave away chances on a Sony E-reader to every buyer of one or more of the books in my Heart of the West series. It didn’t hurt, having the gorgeous cover flats EC had made to promote each of its authors’ ebooks being featured at the expo, especially when those covers featured the hot faces and bodies of the EC Cavemen on scene! I consider myself lucky to have had not one but two covers (one ebook, one print one) featuring John Fish.

Then there was the party. Each EC author was recognized with his/her own star on the Walk of Fame. The Cavemen escorted us onstage, so we could show off gowns in the tradition of the Golden Years of Hollywood. While we sipped mimosas and snacked on fruit dipped in a chocolate fountain, we were treated to a skit set to “I’m Proud to Be an American” that recognized the heroism of the men and women of the military during the years following 9/11/2001. Dancing followed, to the lively music provided by a DJ.

Mixers, workshops and panel discussions consumed most of Thursday and Friday during the day, with a break for the RT Reviewers’ Choice awards luncheon. No, I didn’t get one, but hopefully next year…

Thursday night was the Faery Ball, this year with an undersea theme. First prize for costume went to Kevin Beard of the RT staff. He dressed as King Neptune. EC’s own Tawny Taylor got second place for her gorgeous outfit that had the look of rippling waters, tied with another attendee whose outfit was unique (but whose name I don’t know). I didn’t enter—just put on a beach-y layered skirt and a top intended to look like seaweed. I’m not big on talent as a seamstress, needless to say!

Friday morning was the EC breakfast, where all of us authors were presented with our stars from the Wednesday night party…and attaches with all the pockets we could possibly ever need. Hearing about EC’s plans for the future and meeting management face to face was one event I always look forward to, and this breakfast was no exception!

Heather Graham and Helen Rosburg put on the Monster Mash on Friday night. We enjoyed a steak dinner before being treated to an elaborate skit featuring members of Heather and Helen’s families. Dancing followed…and so did a visit to the hotel bar.

Saturday was the print booksigning taking up all morning and part of the afternoon. I sold out of d’Argent Honor: Full Circle, thanks to John being there to autograph copies of it (he’s on the cover). Later, the Mr. Romance competition was the highlight of the day. John won readers’ choice and contestants’ choice awards. John’s number one as far as I’m concerned—I like my cover models big and rugged, and John’s all that and more. He’s a real gentleman, and his smile would melt an icy heart!

Sunday, things wound up. Samhain hosted a party, and there were activities surrounding "Psychic Sunday", but I didn’t attend because I was anxious not to miss my flight home. By the time I got back to Tampa I was wiped out—hence the four-day delay in writing this report! See you next year in Orlando… I wouldn’t miss it for anything!