What’s in a name, anyway?

In December, when everyone was here for my birthday, my son-in-law suddenly asked, in a teasing way, “So, how old are you now?”

I had to pause and think about it, as I always do. Part of this inability to remember my age is that my birthday is at the end of the year and it’s not a simple matter of subtracting one year from another, because 11.5 months out of 12 that answer would be wrong. The bigger part of it is that my age doesn’t really matter to me and never has. The entire year I was 39, I told several people I was 40. Only to realize, the next year, that I was . . . 40 again.

Anyway, he laughed at my hesitation and said, “You know, when we [doctors] evaluate people for memory issues, there are two indicators that people are in real trouble– when they can’t remember their age or their name.”

I protested that I did NOT have memory issues. [Note: Quietly deciding not to do something people think you should do and have repeatedly told you to do doesn’t mean you’ve “forgotten” it.] [Yes, I have always been willful.]

He relented and said it wasn’t exact age so much as not being able to remember their birthdate. I’ve never had any problem remembering that, thankyouverymuch.

What I didn’t tell him is that when it comes to my name, I might be in trouble.

There just aren’t very many people who call me by my “real” name, anymore (this is not a complaint). My kids call me Mom. My mom and sisters and a few close friends call me an abbreviated version of my name. My long-time online friends refer to me by the initials BCB, and everyone else knows me by my pseudonym. Honestly, I have to concentrate sometimes to remember which name to use when I’m making an appointment to have my hair cut or my furnace serviced.

Do I need to create some quasi-official ID to reflect all these different names, so when the surely inevitable day comes that someone questions my mental acuity there will be a comprehensive record?

“I know what the chart says, doc, but I’m not confused. Really. I estimate that 80% of the people I know actually do call me KD James.”

*sigh*

Speaking of names, several years ago the standard advice for writers was to create a google search for your name (or your pseudonym). Not sure why everyone thought this was necessary — I don’t really care whether someone online is talking about me — but I did it anyway.

It’s rare that I get a notification. When I do, it’s usually just telling me that I’ve published a new blog post. Or, more likely, it’s to tell me that Kevin “KD” Durant and LeBron James are in the news at the same time. Makes me wonder whether they get notifications when I put up a new blog post.

Several months ago, I got a different kind of notice. Someone had created two new characters for a board game called Dead of Winter: one was named Meryl Wolfe and the other was, ta da, KD James. I was busy and ignored it, but I got another alert a couple weeks ago when someone was selling their game upgrade.

And I started to wonder . . . is this just a weird coincidence or did someone actually name this character after me?

Here’s a screenshsot from Plaid Hat Games’ website:

She looks just like me, right down to the blood-stained jumpsuit I usually wear around the house. Positively uncanny.

It’s hard to read, but apparently the game is about an apocalyptic zombie virus and this character is a “CDC Official.” But I can’t tell what sort of role she plays. Is she a good guy who finds a cure for the virus? Oooh, or maybe she’s a bad guy who spreads the virus? I hope she’s not merely a hapless bystander who dies inelegantly. Or do the players get to change the role each time?

I’m not a gamer — my kids tried to teach me to play Werewolf and it didn’t go well, given I couldn’t stop laughing at the narrator’s oh-so-dramatic voice (honestly, it’s a fun game, you should try it) — so I’m not entirely sure how that works and whether roles even can change.

Now, I don’t think I know any game developers but I guess it’s possible one has heard of me? KD James isn’t a particularly common name, as evidenced by my lack of google notifications.

Nah. It’s probably just a coincidence. But still. Wouldn’t that be cool to have a game character named after you? I suppose I’ll never know. Unless the person who created the character is reading this post . . .

Anyone want to fess up?

 

2 Comments

Filed under just for fun

BOOK REVIEW: His Forgotten Fiancée by Evelyn M. Hill

My dear friend, Evelyn Hill, is starting out the New Year on a high note! Today, January 1st, is the release date of her debut novel, HIS FORGOTTEN FIANCÉE, from Harlequin’s Love Inspired Historical line. SQUEEE!

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Evelyn is my friend and of course I’m going to say Nice Things about her book. Which is true, to an extent. I mean, I almost never review books and I’m definitely making an exception for her.

BUT, here’s what you might not know: I’ve never met Evelyn in person. We’ve never spoken to each other on the phone. I wasn’t even sure what she looked like until sometime last year when she posted author photos.

Everything I know and like about her is based on words she has written.

So it’s not true that I love her writing because she’s my friend. She’s my friend because for years I have loved her writing and her voice, not to mention her dry sense of humour, even when I could only read it in blog comments.

I was absolutely thrilled when she finally admitted she was writing fiction. I am not disappointed by the result.

So, about this book. I admit to feeling some trepidation when I learned it was an inspirational romance, agnostic heathen that I am. I’d never read one before and wasn’t sure what to expect. But that aspect was fine. I didn’t feel preached to or made uncomfortable about my own beliefs. Faith was clearly important to the main characters and it was just part of who they were. It was refreshing.

I loved the premise of a man losing his memory, not knowing who he is, not remembering he’d fallen in love and asked a woman to marry him. And then not being able to explain why he’d vanished for an entire year. I thought that was handled well — his confusion and frustration, even anger at times — and its eventual resolution was believable.

I admired Liza’s strength and courage and practicality. The details of that time period (c. 1850) rang true and fit with stories I’ve heard about the strong pioneering women who were my ancestors. I really enjoyed her sense of humour– and Matthew’s as well. Plus, the kitten was adorable. No, actually, it was Matthew’s interactions with the kitten that were adorable.

The threats and drama in the story were suspenseful even though the perpetrators were readily identified. I liked that there was some ambiguity in how justice was served. Life is often like that, probably more so in that time period.

I’ve got to say, I do prefer more kissing in my books — at times I was like those sea creatures in The Little Mermaid, “Go on and kiss the girl!” — but I can hardly fault the book for being true to conventions of the genre. After everything Liza and Matthew had been through and how their faith in each other had been tested, their happily ever after felt genuine.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and can’t wait to read whatever Evelyn Hill publishes next.

Five shiny (and so very delighted) stars.

 

4 Comments

Filed under book reviews

Joyeux Noël


Wishing you the peace and joy and hope of the season.

May you find beauty in simple things, a light in the darkness, and warmth in your heart. Today and throughout the coming year.

 

2 Comments

Filed under holidays

Exciting News: TAKE TWO

Subtlety is a dying art form. Or it is if I’m in charge of it. Apparently.

There’s an expression in journalism — “burying the lede” — which means, according to Wikipedia: “To begin a story with details of secondary importance to the reader while postponing more essential points or facts.”

Well, in my last post, I buried the important news so deep, only a couple people even figured it out. I thought I was being clever, posting the clearly-not-an-orchid pic of my daughter’s dog with a sonogram propped up against her leg. And a caption that said, “May 2018.”

And tagging the post with, “yes that’s a sonogram.”

It’s a good thing I don’t write mysteries, since apparently I’m less than competent at this whole “leaving clues” thing. Or maybe it was my failure to even point out that there was a mystery to be solved.

Sigh.

So let’s try this again, sans subtlety:

I am excited and happy to announce that my daughter is pregnant!

The baby is due in May 2018, which I hope will give me enough time to get used to the idea of my baby having a baby of her own. And also to the concept of being a grandma. Yikes!

 

10 Comments

Filed under health and well-being

A time and a place for gratitude

Thanksgiving. A time to reflect and be grateful. It should be easy in this land of plenty, right? Except this past year it hasn’t been all that easy. We tend not to be truly appreciative of things we take for granted, and we take a lot for granted, until someone tries to take them away and then we’re all, “Oh, hell no.”

It’s been an “Oh, hell no” kind of year.

. . . and then I wrote several hundred words about things that have transpired this past year to make it difficult to feel thankful . . . until I (gently) slapped myself upside the head and said to myself, “What the hell is wrong with you? No one wants to hear that.”

DELETE DELETE DELETE

So, instead, here are a few things that have succeeded in making me immensely grateful and appreciative in the past twelve months.

I have siblings. No matter how difficult certain losses and situations have been or inevitably will become, my sisters are there to share them. I am so grateful I’m not an only child.

I have writer friends. As much as I love and treasure my non-writer friends, there is a special camaraderie among writers, an understanding that doesn’t need to be explained about the struggles and triumphs of being a writer. I am immensely grateful to have found the community of smart and funny writers over in the comment section at agent Janet Reid’s blog. This is not the only place where my writer friends congregate, but it’s by far the most plentiful and diverse sampling, which has value all on its own. I appreciate that Janet tolerates our neurotic brand of crazy creativity even as she attempts to educate us about an agent’s perspective of publishing.

Speaking of that blog, Janet occasionally hosts flash fiction contests, which I occasionally enter. [WARNING: shameless self-promotion ahead] [someone has to do it] [apparently] The competition is FIERCE and I never expect to win or even be a finalist. It’s great practice, but this is not my forte. I mean, please, I can barely say hello in 100 words, let alone tell a complete story incorporating five ungainly prompt words. Except, this past weekend, my entry DID manage to be a finalist.

These were the prompt words, first names of the authors whose books were the prize:

Tony
Peter
Mick
Nick
Bill

This was my entry, exactly 100 words:

* * *

My brother’s joint was the kind they’d slip you a mickey sooner than start an honest fistfight.

The regulars played billiards in the back, the snick of balls an accent to rough voices. Couldn’t compete with the tony clubs on the north side, but the table felt was immaculate. Priorities.

Conversation petered out as I stepped up to the bar.

“We don’t serve cops.”

“Good thing I ain’t planning to order one.”

We traded hard stares, harder memories.

“Cut bait while you still can, Frank.”

He sneered.

Priorities.

Goddammit.

I held the door for the Feds on my way out.

* * *

These were Janet’s comments (she generously tells us what she liked about each finalist and/or why she chose it, which is remarkably educational):

“That first line is one of the best I’ve seen in a long time. The importance of a good first line can not be overstated. And the ending is sublime. This is a perfect story.”

SQUEEEE. And yet, even with it being a “perfect story,” someone else won. THAT’S how tough these contests are (if you want to see the other finalists and winner, they’re here). But I was just thrilled, to put it mildly. A few words of praise from someone with her experience go a very long way. And for that I am deeply thankful.

Let’s see, what else.

Oh, I know! Some of you might remember that last December my Bossy Older Sister gave me a birthday gift of a year of flowers, specifically orchids. I received the twelfth delivery yesterday and I think they’re the most beautiful of all. Of course, I’ve said that about each month’s delivery. This pic makes them look rather pink, but they’re actually a deep rich cranberry colour.

November 2017

Here’s a shot from above, the colour is a bit better:

I’m grateful for her generosity and creative gift-giving skills. I posted pics of a few of the early months’ orchids last spring but sort of got distracted and forgot to post the rest of them. So here they are, April through October (slideshow):

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Aren’t they gorgeous? What’s that, you say? One of the pics is not like the others? Well, imagine that.

IMAGINE THAT.

Yes, that is yet another thing for which I am grateful and thankful and OMG SO EXCITED ABOUT and very much looking forward to in the coming year.

What have you found to be thankful for in this “Oh, hell no” year?

 

11 Comments

Filed under health and well-being, holidays