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February 22, 2009

The Google Alert That Wasn't

The Tarts are delighted to welcome guest blogger Meredith Cole, winner of the 2007 St. Martin's/Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery competition!  Meredith's winning book, POSED FOR MURDER, just came out.  Buy it here,and visit Meredith at her website or her blog.  (Before she began writing mysteries, Meredith wrote screenplays and directed feature films!)



The Google Alert That Wasn't

by Meredith Cole 

To get myself ready for the release of POSED FOR MURDER, I set up a "Google alert" for my name.  Anytime anyone reviews my book on the web, or mentions my name in a news story or blog, I get an email that tells me where I can find it.  I would be embarrassed about the whole thing if I hadn't found so many gems so far. 

It's the misfires that have proved most amusing.  Anytime "Meredith" and "Cole" are mentioned in a story or post, I am alerted.  I get alerted when somebody named Meredith posts about her son named Cole.  And I get the report on last night's game between the Cougars and the Spartans because somebody whose first or last name is Meredith and somebody whose first or last name is Cole are on the same high school basketball team.

But my favorite alert so far was when I found out I was a character in a movie -- THE FEAR INSIDE -- and a copy was for sale on Ebay.  Huh?  I've directed several feature films, so I thought at first it was just a mistake.  I clicked on the link and found out it was a made-for-TV movie that I missed when it aired in 1992.  Christine Lahti played a character named Meredith Cole, "an agoraphobic children's book illustrator."  Here's the plot summary from IMDB: my namesake is "trapped inside her home by two young psychos-in-love (Dylan McDermott and Jennifer Rubin), who terrorize her. It's only when her young son (Thomas Ian Nicholas) is threatened that she manages to overcome her paralyzing fear and leave her home to save him."

I don't know if the movie was good or not, but I thought the tag line was pretty funny.  Instead of "there's nothing to fear but fear itself," or something equally inspiring, it's "The greatest fear is . . . the fear inside."  I guess that's technically accurate, since our feelings of fear come from inside our brains, but I think anyone would (and should) be afraid if they suddenly had two terrorizing psychos in their house.

I know that writers routinely auction off character names at conventions, and readers bid on the honor of being in their books.  But I have never done it.  So I wonder how the filmmakers settled on my name given the million other possibilities out there.  Cole is a pretty common last name, but Meredith doesn't show up every day.  Perhaps they, like my parents, just thought the two names sounded good together.  But now I wonder about all those times somebody said my name sounded familiar.  Was it just because they'd seen the movie?

Has anyone else had strange Google alerts or had their "twin" show up when they least expected it?  I'd love to hear about it.


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Welcome, Meredith.
My late mother and I have the same name. I had to find another doctor because an ob-gyn office kept mixing up our records.
When I write a book, I do a Google name search for many of my characters, especially if they are baddies. I don't want someone to find out they have the same name as the perv in my Dead-End Job book.

Hi Meredith and thanks for guesting at TLC!

I get the 'twin' thing all the time - I have that kind of face that reminds people of their high school classmate/cousin/person at the grocery store.

Plus, there's that WNBA confusion. (That one's a joke - I'm very short.)

Checking out your book now - thanks for the link to Mystery Lovers Bookshop. Have you heard about the Festival of Mystery? It's fantastic!

There's a TV reporter in Ohio named Lorna Barrett, and I get a lot of google alerts on her. I wonder if she gets annoyed at getting so many google alerts about me?

Hi Meridith! I saw that movie when it was on TV, and I loved it- perfect MOTW fare- I love Christine Lahti in anything though.

Hi Meredith, and welcome! We're so excited to have you here and can't wait to check out your new book. Congrats on winning the contest. What an honor!

Unfortunately my name twin was the evil kind. After years of sweat paying off my own student loans, I started getting the bills of somebody else with my name who was defaulting. It was obvious we had different social security numbers and address histories, but somehow it managed to take the loan company about a year to acknowledge this -- a year filled with anxiety, annoyance and frustration for me.

I kept ex#1 name because of the kids. Plus it should make things easier in this area, but when I call to order pizza & the idiot asks me "how do you spell that?" Scott, like that big freaking Air Force base down the road! Geez!
Since the internet I've found another Rita Heeney,(maiden name) a singer in Ireland, and probably distantly related.
Good luck with the book!

My last name is not common, Purtle. When Dear Hubby & I got married, his father & he were the only Purtles in the phone book. Now there are about 10. But there is another Pam Purtle, spelled the same way, here in town. We follow each other everywhere. We see the same eye doctor, ob/gyn, internist, even hair salon. We have not run into each other yet. It is my understanding that she is about 11 years older. YES!!!!

Thanks so much for having me as a guest today!

I'm glad I'm not the only one who has had mix ups and strange twin experiences. I used to have a Meredith Cole who lived just blocks away from me in DC and she used to get my phone calls a lot (she was in front of me in the phone book) and then there was another one in Brooklyn who was unlisted--so I got calls from her landlord telling me that he would be down to fix my shower soon!

I kept my married name also, because I liked it better (or I wouldn't have taken it in the first place) and because at the time I was a Prudential agent and didn't want to confuse my clients. I do Google myself sometimes, and there are many others . . .
There is another Mary Garrett in St. Charles, and we do cross paths. Last summer my library wouldn't give me my reserve copy of _Sweet Love_, kept bringing it out and then saying, "No, it's for the other Mary Garrett." The librarian who took the reserve must have entered it wrong, but they wouldn't believe me. My favorite library volunteer made me feel better later by telling me, "As far as I'm concerned, you're the ONLY Mary Garrett." Love him!
Once on a first visit to a new eye doctor, he walked in with a file two inches thick; I told him he must have the other Mary Garrett as a patient.

I have one set up for my (my husband's) last name, as all with that name in the US are somehow related to him. The other day, 3 days after his birthday and nearly 4 years after he retired from the Civil Service, I got an alert with a total rant about him during his working years on a website of an obviously disturbed person. When I fwd'ed it to spouse, he immediately knew who had written it even though the guy wasn't using his real name. Hopefully now for a while we'll be back to the cousin who's a college IT guy in Michigan and the one who has a band in Seattle....

I was going to an ob/gyn many years ago and found that I was one of three patients with the same name. Not a twin, a triplet!! What an ego buster. It's almost enough to make one go back to one's maiden name. However, when I think of all the work involved in doing that, I'd rather be a triplet.

Welcome Meredith! Thanks for being our guest!

I had no idea about that Google alert thing. But with a name as common as mine, I'd get a jillion alerts every day. There's another Nancy Martin who writes about Labrador retriever and one who writes about quilting. Then there's the real estate agent who owns nancymartin.com which is really annoying. Too many!

Looking forward to grabbing your book!

I often get phone calls for a teacher in Ft. Zumwalt District -- the second digit in our numbers is the only difference, and people misdial it frequently. One year they put my number on the snow chain list. I found out that even when retired, there's a special little smile at the news of a snow day. Once I figured out what was happening, I stuck Cheryl's number on a label on my phone so I can redirect the calls (with a request to tell her hi from me).
I'd like to meet her sometime, and the other Mary Garrett!

Oh, Nancy, you remonded me -- there's a Michelle with two L's Martinez (I have one L) who owns MichelleMartinez.com. She's a model in California and for a while had some wet T-shirt pictures up there. Nobody who mistakenly found her site while looking for mine was ever disappointed.

It's amazing how your name feels so unusual when no one can spell it correctly, but turns out to be common enough to have more than one of you in the same town.

That's really funny about the wet t-shirt model, Michele. And the teacher in the snow chain, Mary. I got rid of my home phone once and for all when a take-out place opened nearby with a number one away from ours. People kept waking up my baby during naptime with their burrito orders...

There was a time when the phone number of a children's play place, Fun Zone or something, had a number one digit off from mine. I put their correct number on my phone and told it to callers, with praise for a well-run and fun business. When one of my nieces came to stay, I called and asked if my work on their behalf was worth a free day for her -- and they said yes!

My last name is Christman, and whenever I get Google alerts on my name they include anyone named Shannon who writes about Christmas!

I don't have trouble with the name thing, I have trouble with strangers coming up to me and starting conversations. I've started saying, I'm sorry, but your name has completely slipped my mind. What's really awful is when they start asking how my parents are doing and if they're still living in -------(you fill in the name) and I say no, my parents are still living in Springfield, where they've live their entire lives. That always throws them. Apparently, I've got a face that everyone seems to know. My ob/gyn told me once that they could see me if I didn't have my medical card, at the time, I didn't know what that was and believe me I needed my birth control pills! Had to beg them to recheck their records, that Dot was 53 years old.

My husband's twin got arrested for murder, we had to get our phone number changed and unlisted, the creeps that were calling--very scary. Had one ask how he got out of jail and he was coming over to make it 'right', had to call the police for that one.

Thanks for the great blog Meredith (your name must be gaining in popularity--two Merediths at our local high school and a whole family of Coles).

Uh, oh, Dot. You mean it's going to get worse?

I laugh when someone yells "Cole" at the playground (a very popular boys name these days) because it always reminds me of being back in gym class when our last names were printed on out T-shirts...

Many thanks to everyone for coming by and commenting--and to the Tarts for having me here. It was a lot of fun!

Meredith, don't go! I'm late to the party, but you just gave me the best laugh I've had all day -- ""The greatest fear is . . . the fear inside." I guess that's technically accurate, since our feelings of fear come from inside our brains, but I think anyone would (and should) be afraid if they suddenly had two terrorizing psychos in their house."

I'm sitting here giggling maniacally.

Oh: and if I have a twin, I don't want to know. And if I have a couple of psychos surrounding my house right now, I don't want to know that either.

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