Twilight Zone

twilight-zoneI feel like I’m living in the Twilight Zone. I only hope I can find my way back to normalcy soon.

Thursday I flew to North Carolina for a conference. During my flight I was using my laptop to tweak my PowerPoint and my handouts for my workshop. When I got to the hotel and powered up my laptop, the OS refused to boot. I had a black screen with blinking cursor.

I called my tech guy. We ran the computer through a bunch of diagnostics. We tried everything to shock it back to life. No go. There was a tech guy at the conference who was running all the A/V. He worked on my laptop awhile, gave it his best shot. He couldn’t get it to boot either.

Finally I had to let that go, borrow a laptop, recreate my PowerPoint and handouts, and be ready for my workshop on Saturday morning. No problem, everything went great. (I’d neglected to bring a flash drive with my presentation on it as a backup. That’s the last time I make that little mistake.)

Meanwhile, since I had a borrowed laptop, I decided I’d better get my weekend blog posts up. (I’d been planning to do them from North Carolina.) So… I could not get on to my WordPress dashboard. It just kept telling me I didn’t exist. I tried every which way I could think of. No go. So, no blog posts three days in a row.

So today I get home. I’m ready to get Dell on the line to fix my laptop (they’ve always given me quick and good service). I’m also ready to get my blog team on the line to get some help accessing WordPress. (They’re always super helpful too.)

Just for fun, I press the Power button on my laptop which has refused to boot for the last four days.

It boots. Operating system and all.

I click my “favorite” link to access my WordPress dashboard. I get on no problem. And here I am.

Adding fun and excitement to the weekend, Sunday morning I got a phone call at 7am from the airline telling me my flight home from Charlotte had been cancelled and they’d scheduled me on another one, 6 hours later. So my family got to pick me up at the airport at 11:30 last night. They loved that!

I’m home and discombobulated and wondering if I dreamed this whole business trip. Wondering when this Twilight Zone feeling will end.

I’m also wondering when my laptop is going to randomly decide to simply refuse to boot up again. Or when WordPress is going to suddenly decide I no longer exist. Life feels so precarious!

Also, I have work to do. Better get to it.


Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Gardner Literary. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!


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  6. Patti Richter on August 30, 2011 at 12:40 AM

    Just catching up with this blog post I missed from a month ago. But wanted to say my son had the same thing happen to his Mac while downloading something during a flight. Never happened before. Recovered on it’s own after a few days.

  7. Lauren F. Boyd on July 29, 2011 at 8:07 PM

    What a small world! I live in Cary, NC. But sorry to hear that your time in NC was like a technology twilight zone. Hopefully next time, it will be better! 🙂

  8. School Papers on July 28, 2011 at 4:33 AM

    This is my first time i visit here. I found so many entertaining stuff in your blog, especially its discussion.

  9. Lisa Marie on July 27, 2011 at 2:12 AM

    Ah! I thought something had to have gone awry! I received an auto-respond message from your wordserve account, Rachelle — as though I’d sent you an email. Only I hadn’t. :/

    I sort of scratched my head about that, but figured that it either had to be a virus or other type of computer weirdness.

    Go Mac!

  10. HopefulLeigh on July 26, 2011 at 6:47 PM

    Your presentation Saturday morning was great! I had no idea there’d been computer shenanigans.

  11. Kay Mabry on July 26, 2011 at 10:42 AM

    Only one comment — I keep a CD of my boot disk. Sometimes just inserting it will work, if not that along may indicate the power cord problem. Of course, Richard and I are a divided family – Mac and PC. He doesn’t understand the PC and I don’t understand the Mac. Good luck!

  12. Rick Barry on July 26, 2011 at 10:41 AM

    Although I’m sorry all of this happened to you, for me there is some small comfort in knowing that I’m not the only one who sometimes gets singled out by the spirit of Rod Serling. Right now, though, I’m not in the Twilight Zone, just the zombie zone. I’m freshly back from long and wearying trip to Ukraine and Russia, and I’m greatly looking forward to leaving jet lag behind so I can think like a normal human again!

  13. Reba J. Hoffman on July 26, 2011 at 10:31 AM

    Interesting how that NEVER happened when we used typewriters. The only boot we had to worry about is the one on our foot. Ahhh… technology.
    Sorry for your challenges but I’m glad to know Murphy’s Law happens to others. I was beginning to think it was just me.

  14. Susan on July 26, 2011 at 10:24 AM

    I meant cyber life!

  15. Susan on July 26, 2011 at 10:22 AM

    Oh yes, I think many of us have horror tech stories. Hey, wouldn’t that be a great idea for a book? You could name it “Devastating Tech Stories at the Worst Times Possible.”

    I laugh when I think back of at least two times during the past year and half where I pleaded with support to help me fix my blue screen. It’s the truth, there were times when I sounded like Scarlett in a scene from “Gone With the Wind.”

    I was told it could not be done at several points. I refused to believe it and I pleaded: “This computer holds within it, my book (I know I should have backed it up), our family pictures, our entire life, it can’t be dead. It must come back to life!”

    I cringe when I reflect on my behavior. My only hope is that they didn’t keep the recording, although, I admit, it would be an incredible training tape. I can only imagine the trainee’s faces! Comments would rapidly surface such as, “There’s no way this is a real person, right? She has to be an actress, right?”

    The only thing that mattered to me in the end was the single fact that they fixed my computer and I was once again connected to cyper life.

    I refused to give up on my computer, much like Scarlett never gave up on Tara.

    Your post was excellent. You kept the tension going paragraph after paragraph.

    Your post is a great example of how to keep your reader glued to the story!

  16. Catherine Johnson on July 26, 2011 at 9:00 AM

    Sounds like you passed the stay calm under pressure test and the no man is an island test. Hope it behaves for you this week.

  17. Peter DeHaan on July 26, 2011 at 7:36 AM

    I’ve learned the hard way to always have a backup plan when I am making a presentation — and to not rely on technology when I travel.

    I also want to offer you grace over not posting for a few days. Though I could never skip reading your blog, having a break over the weekend was not a bad thing.

    Write on!

  18. Julie Achterhoff on July 26, 2011 at 5:50 AM

    I’ve been getting your blog for some time, just haven’t commented til now. When I took a computer class the teacher said that if you buy a Dell, you’re really only renting it for a few years because they don’t last very long. I had one, which lasted only about four years. When it broke down I went to my tech guys’ store where they only sell Lenovos because they are the best. This is my first laptop and I’ve been thrilled with it since I got it a couple years ago. Lenovos get my vote! I wrote my last book on it, too. Welcome back from the Twilight Zone!

  19. Celia on July 26, 2011 at 3:24 AM

    Love that word ‘discombombulated’. Had to go look it up! 😉

  20. Janette Dolores on July 26, 2011 at 2:02 AM

    It comes in bunches, doesn’t it? Thankfully, everything worked out in the end, and you seemed to have kept your flow despite the monkey wrenches thrown your way. Good for you.

    Have a lovely week.

  21. Hope Clark on July 26, 2011 at 1:08 AM

    Life is what happens when we are making other plans. See? You filled a blog spot with your special moment.

    Hope Clark

  22. KC Frantzen & May the K9 Spy on July 26, 2011 at 12:56 AM

    So glad you’re back, safe and sound, WITH your buddy, the wayward computer. They do have minds of their own, don’t they… *sigh*

  23. Gina Burgess on July 26, 2011 at 12:56 AM

    AH! Perfect example of a kerfuffle.

    I hate it when some technology thing tells me I do not exist. I also hate it when I’m faced with having to enter my password and my mind goes perfectly blank… that kerfuffle happened this evening.

  24. Crystal Laine Miller on July 26, 2011 at 12:55 AM

    You seriously are going to a Mac? I was just going to ask you if you really loved Dell. I am having such troubles with my Toshiba and it looks like I need an external hard drive. Ugh. I hate any tech problems. Like my car, I want to just “go” and everything to work. Blah.

  25. Rose Gardener on July 26, 2011 at 12:55 AM

    Rachelle, I’m sure the tech guy did this simple thing, but if the laptop crashes and won’t re-boot, remove the battery pack, wait 5 mins and replace. Just unplugging it from the mains, it’s as if whatever bug is telling it not to re-boot is stored by the battery back-up short-term. Re-jigging the battery too makes the laptop seek an earlier restore point and hey-presto- it works again.

    A nerdy friend suggested this to me after a professional tech guy couldn’t fix it and advised returning the whole thing to the manufacturer for an over-haul!

    • Rachelle Gardner on July 26, 2011 at 1:02 AM

      Thanks for the tip. Yes, I tried that before ever getting any tech people involved. In any case, there was power going to the laptop. It was the OS that wouldn’t boot.

  26. Beth K. Vogt on July 26, 2011 at 12:51 AM

    Twilight Zone. Never liked that show.

  27. marion on July 25, 2011 at 11:54 PM

    And how many new gray hairs do you have after last weekend, Rachelle?
    OK, don’t answer that.
    What a nightmare.

    Madelia, LOL.

    Was on the edge of the beginning heebie-jeebies of Rachelle blog withdrawal.
    But I still managed to write most of a new revision chapter–yea!

  28. Kathryn Roberts on July 25, 2011 at 11:20 PM

    Holy cow! That’s not fun. Glad it turned out anyway. I’m sure you did great. Wish I could have been there!

  29. colleen laquay urbaniuk on July 25, 2011 at 10:38 PM

    how timely! my internet has been so bad today and my computer doing such weird things that i’ve spent most of my day just trying to figure out how to get “around” everything just so i could get some work done! so frustrating!!! technology…can’t live with it, can’t live without it…

  30. Tirzah on July 25, 2011 at 10:36 PM

    Dunno Rachel. I assumed the battery died too. Well hell. Was a though though wasn’t it?


  31. Glynn on July 25, 2011 at 9:42 PM

    I give a lot of presentations at work, and I’ve gradually started weaning myself from PowerPoint. Not because I don’t think it’s useful, but more because I don’t trust it for the important stuff. Even if it makes you think it wants to cooperate, it will conspire with the computer.

  32. Loree Huebner on July 25, 2011 at 8:06 PM


    One Thursday morning (9:16 am)I received an email in my inbox from you. I was astounded (and VERY excited)to say the least … “What does she want?”

    Well, then I saw that it was a “Out of Office” reply. It had me totally confused. On on Friday afternoon (1:47 pm) I received another Out of Office reply from your email. Mind you, I had not sent you any emails or query letters…so this was getting weird.

    I replied to one of the Out of Office letters, explaining to you about this problem. I didn’t know if your blog was replying when I left a comment, or if someone else used my email and sent you something.

    Anyway it sounds as if others had the same problem. Glad you made it home in one piece.

    • Nancy S. Thompson on July 25, 2011 at 10:18 PM

      Wasn’t that exciting, though? All kinds of screwy scenarios ran through my head. But really, why would RG be emailing ME? I thought maybe she liked my elevator pitch in her comments. That was a hard dream to wake up from. Kind of like dreaming I’m skinny again. Well, at least I have my answer now, such as it is.

    • Prue on July 25, 2011 at 11:33 PM

      Yes yes ! I received an out of office from Rachelle too – weird because I hadn’t emailed her ! There was a freaky computer caper at work for sure ! (Must be related to this blog too – that’s how it got our email addresses. Hope you all deleted the out of office mail before it harmed your PCs ! )

      • marion on July 25, 2011 at 11:51 PM

        I got that e-mail, too. Figured it was nothing personal–unfortunately! I guess I should print it and frame it or something.

  33. Diane Bailey on July 25, 2011 at 7:52 PM

    When the computer came on, did it throw up a sign that said, “JUST KIDDING!” ?

    Children and Electronics, they will trick me everytime. You know, as soon as you take a child to the doctor they are suddenly well, I mean really WELL.

    It is times like this, when the Grace of God seems sweeter than ever. Though one may marvel at the path that reveals such treasures.

  34. Stephanie McGee on July 25, 2011 at 7:37 PM

    Aw, I’m not alone! Technology hates you just as much as it hates me!

    Sorry your trip was so crazy.

    • Stephanie McGee on July 25, 2011 at 7:38 PM

      Also, I, too, got the out of office e-mail. I assumed it was just that you get your comments e-mailed to you and it auto-responded because I have a non-blogger e-mail attached to my comments.

  35. Michael Seese on July 25, 2011 at 6:52 PM

    Sometimes I think our devices are sentient, and just like messing with us. For example, my iPod “loves” to play a song by the Beatles, and then follow it up with a Rutles tune.

  36. otin on July 25, 2011 at 6:52 PM

    It’s North Carolina’s fault! Trust me, I live here. haha.

  37. Nancy S. Thompson on July 25, 2011 at 6:41 PM

    Ah, then perhaps it was actually that ghost in your machine that emailed me Thursday night telling me you were out of the office with limited access to email, because I can’t for the life of me figure out why you’d be emailing me.

    Got me all excited, too! Wahoo, a note from Rachelle Gardner! Oh well, the dream was nice while it lasted anyway. Welcome home!

  38. […] See the original post here: Twilight Zone | Rachelle Gardner […]

  39. Katie Ganshert on July 25, 2011 at 6:24 PM

    Last week, our dishwasher was broken. Completely, totally broken. I had to pull all the dishes out of the dishwasher and wash them by hand (imagine that!). I tried throughout the week. No go. Gave up. Decided it was dead. A few days later, I called my handyman uncle. Told him my dishwasher is broken. He says, “What does it do when you turn it on?” I said, “Nothing. It doesn’t work at all.” Then I hit the start button and guess what? It turned right on.

  40. Ray S on July 25, 2011 at 6:16 PM

    1) Backup.
    2) Backup again.
    3) Mirror critical data, preferably online.
    4) Offload – thumbdrives have a purpose.
    5) Sometimes a computer needs to be slapped up side the CPU.

  41. Tirzah on July 25, 2011 at 6:16 PM

    I do not know if this is the issue BUT every Dell I’ve owned has has the same issue, a short in the powercord near the end/head where it goes into the comptuer. Usually near where the thumb hump is.

    This short will go in and out. Sometimes your computer willw work perfectly. Then there will be days when it will not power up.

    After three technicians and begging to my brother, I figured this out. I bought a new power cord. Problem solved.

    Dell’s also overheat a bit more easily because of where the vents are. But I’m betting this is a powercord problem.

    I HIGHLY suggest replacing the DELL with another brand or at the very least trying a different powercord.


    • Rachelle on July 25, 2011 at 6:59 PM

      But how does that explain the laptop refusing to boot when I was on battery? And the battery was 98% full?

  42. Joelle Wilson on July 25, 2011 at 5:59 PM

    Technology is wonderful when it works. So does that mean your computer is a zombie? lol. Really though glad that it came back to life for you. I’m a little OCD about backing up files, I’ve had too many issues in the past.

  43. Kelly Combs on July 25, 2011 at 5:51 PM

    I was wondering what happened to your blog!

    It was so nice to meet you in person, although I am totally annoyed with ME that I forgot to get a photo with you. Oh well.

    Thanks for spending a few minutes with me. I’m glad you’re home safe and sound, and your PC is up and running.

  44. Krista Phillips on July 25, 2011 at 5:47 PM

    This made me smile… not at your expense, I promise! My weekend was a twilight zone as well… and I sit here today with a firm knowledge of how precarious, and PRECIOUS, life really is too.

    So glad your issues resolved when you got home!!!!

  45. 1000th.monkey on July 25, 2011 at 5:45 PM

    …and that is why I stay far far away from the virus known as *Microsoft*.

  46. Cathy West on July 25, 2011 at 5:44 PM

    Dell? What is this word of which you speak?? You need a Mac!! Then you wouldn’t have these issues.
    Seriously. Been using them forever. Never had a virus. Never randomly stopped working. I love my Macworld. 🙂

    • Rachelle on July 25, 2011 at 5:52 PM

      I thought about this all weekend, Cathy. Yesterday on the plane (my flight snafu meant I got to travel with my friend!) I said to my seatmate Leslie, “I’ve decided to buy a Mac. I’ve had enough of this.” Eventually I’ll also switch to iPhone. And my Kindle will be replaced by an iPad. Seriously. I’m going all Apple.

      • Natalie Sharpston on July 25, 2011 at 8:44 PM

        Cathy is right on the money! Macs are the best! My husband and I have been huge fans forever. We both have laptops – they are reliable, safe, never go kabooky on us, and are virus and twilight zone free. Once you go mac, you’ll never go back. : )

      • Maril Hazlett on July 25, 2011 at 11:04 PM

        Mac = AWESOME.

        (and sorry about all the travel and techno-drama.)

        WordPress has always given me fits, but I also know other users who have never had an issue.

  47. Elias Toscano ben Ximenes on July 25, 2011 at 5:29 PM

    Hi, Glad you survived. I am a musician. My keyboard player says if it isn’t backed up three times it doesn’t exist.
    I would add an internet remote like Carbonite and an emergency reboot disk times three. When you are about to play music for a few thousand people in 10 minutes it has to work. I am a seminary student Dr someday,.. producer, composer, lyricist, thinking of writing/producing on DVD, an evangelical play(?) for churches to perform. My website is our messianic EV rock band with all my jazz refugee pals.
    An honest computer engineer will tell you they don’t know how computers work.
    Shalom, Elias >

  48. David Todd on July 25, 2011 at 5:28 PM

    And people wonder why I say I have Technophobia. Welcome to the club, RG.

  49. Madelia on July 25, 2011 at 5:25 PM

    An IT professional would tell you your problem was the critical sense board.

    That’s the board in your laptop that shuts down when it’s critical that you have access to your system.

  50. Sam Webb on July 25, 2011 at 5:21 PM

    I am blessed to be married to a computer guy who can usually fix anything I break. He has instilled in our whole family the necessity of the back up, and the re-back up, and the saving things over to a card (which isn’t kept near the computer. Maybe a little OCD but it works for us.

  51. Candis on July 25, 2011 at 5:19 PM

    Ah! I had that same problem with my laptop not too long ago. I tried for days to turn it on and it wouldn’t work. Finally, I went out and bought a new laptop. Of course, my old one turned back on the next day. I was glad to get everything I needed off of my old one and put it on my new one, just in case. I was told it was either the power supply or mother-board. Now the old one is for Hubby to use at work and I use the new one! I, too, have learned the importance of a Flash Drive.

  52. Jaime Wright on July 25, 2011 at 5:19 PM

    Hope you can find some time to relax and wind down from the Twlight Zone. Sounds like you deserve a good cup of coffee and a trip to the spa!

  53. Mary Jo on July 25, 2011 at 5:16 PM

    I can relate to this. My computer got a virus recently and had to go into the shop and at the same time I couldn’t get into my Yahoo account. I was completely discombobulated. I didn’t regain my sanity until my computer was fixed!

  54. Sarah Thomas on July 25, 2011 at 5:14 PM

    I was there (and so were you–650 women and I can vouch for it) and I think I’m safe in saying not one of us noticed that you were having technical issues. You were calm and very together for someone who probably wanted to pitch a laptop over the top rail in that beautiful lobby’s atrium.

  55. Wendy on July 25, 2011 at 5:12 PM

    Do do do do.

    I woke up and searched for your post…nothing. My whole morning was thrown. 😉 The Twilight Zone spread across the country!

    Glad you are back home!

    (Maybe it’s all a dream…HA! I never watched another Twilight Zone after the one where a girl didn’t have a mouth…it freaked me & my sister out big time.)

  56. Marji Laine on July 25, 2011 at 5:08 PM

    My mom always told me that its the little foxes that spoil the vine.

    Any of the individual minor annoyances from your weekend would’ve been just that, minor annoyances. But when they all gang up at the same time, it feels like going against a whole football team full of linebackers.

    So glad you can get back to your own comfy place to recharge personal battery while you restore the computer!

  57. Kelley Gerschke on July 25, 2011 at 5:03 PM

    Wow, when it rains it pours, right?

    I can totally relate to the flight thing. Every time I travel on business (and I travel about every other week) I have had an issue with a flight. Every time. It’s a running joke in the office as to who has to travel with me next…

    When I travel for pleasure though, I never have any issues…


  58. Flower Patch Farmgirl on July 25, 2011 at 5:02 PM

    I had a similar weekend, only my glitches were less of the technological variety and more of the absent-minded/O’Hare-is-the-devil variety.

  59. Leah Petersen on July 25, 2011 at 5:02 PM

    Oh, you need to be using Dropbox(.com) At least you’d have your original files no matter whose computer you used, where, when, flash drive or no.

    I can’t remember how I stayed sane using technology before Dropbox.

    (No, I don’t work for them, etc. etc.)

    • Rachelle on July 25, 2011 at 5:08 PM

      Well, I DO use Dropbox. I also frequently email files to myself just for extra safekeeping. This weekend was an anomaly. I guess all of this was just to keep me on my toes.

      • Leah Petersen on July 25, 2011 at 5:56 PM

        Oh, well that’s just scary, then.

      • Michael Wulf on July 26, 2011 at 10:02 AM

        I keep everything important in Dropbox.

        It’s not only great for backups, but you can log into the page via the web and download files anywhere, anytime.

        You can also restore deleted files or old versions and share the files with buddies.

  60. Nikole Hahn on July 25, 2011 at 5:00 PM

    I’m sorry you were having so many problems! Glad everything is working now.

  61. Rebecca Harrison on July 25, 2011 at 4:59 PM

    I would say disaster was averted by your determination to stay calm and focused on the task before you. Bravo. I’m glad everything is working now. Note to self always have a flash drive in my handbag along with all the other daily essentials. 🙂

  62. James Scott Bell on July 25, 2011 at 4:58 PM

    Rachelle Gardner, agent, who thought she was taking a trip to a writer’s conference, but found out her ticket had been punched and her seatbelt securely fastened for a turbulent ride into…The Twilight Zone.

  63. Kim Kasch on July 25, 2011 at 4:56 PM

    Sounds like you passed through the Bermuda Triangle.

  64. Richard Mabry on July 25, 2011 at 4:54 PM

    A friend of mine has named this The Third Law of Thermo-Damnics, and explains it as “the innate cussedness of inanimate objects.”

    Glad you weathered the storm (sort of) with grace and patience. I hear that you never uttered a bad word, but when you walked across the grass, it died beneath your feet. Then again, that may be an exaggeration.

    Welcome home.

  65. David Alan Dickens on July 25, 2011 at 4:53 PM

    That sounds like another genuine laptop nightmare, Ms. Gardner… more importantly, I love how you addressed it… ultimately coming through nicely!

  66. Mary DeMuth on July 25, 2011 at 4:52 PM

    That is bizarre that your computer booted this time? So strange. It’s probably allergic to me, since it came to visit me. Sorry I’m rotten luck! 🙂

  67. Dunx on July 25, 2011 at 4:52 PM

    Time for an urgent backup!

    The WordPress thing is bizarre. I am glad things are back to something near normal.

    • Rachelle on July 25, 2011 at 5:06 PM

      Luckily my entire hard drive IS backed up automatically twice a day.

  68. Heather Sunseri on July 25, 2011 at 4:49 PM

    Rachelle, that’s crazy! That’s a lot of things to go wrong and test you. And for it all to come back up without issue when you returned? Sounds like you handled it all with patience and grace.

  69. Ava Jae on July 25, 2011 at 4:44 PM

    Technology likes to mess with us like that. I had a guy tell me at Best Buy that I’d fried my hard drive and there was no way to fix it only to have my computer magically come back to life a week later with no damage to my hard drive.

    It happens. Glad to hear everything is working again! At least you got one lesson out of it: never leave without your flash drive. 🙂