Sorry if I'm getting on someone's nerve with my preaching: it is not unusual that otherwise unexplainable problems are caused by a conflict of a drive's firmware and/or burn software with proprietary IDE drivers.
Especially nVidia chipset drivers don't have the best reputation, and my own VIA drivers were giving me trouble without end.
Now that I've reverted to plain M$ drivers (my box is also running on 98SE) everything works like it should. If you're using Nero, you might find some hints to what's wrong in your history file.
Regards, Martin A