Life Imitates Art Imitates Life Imitates …


The question writers get asked most is “Where do you get your ideas?” I don’t mind that, but the one I wish people would ask is, “What ideas do you wish you’d get credit for?”, because this weekend I read this article from the Associated Press:

Deaths of gamers leave their online lives in limbo

By PETER SVENSSON – 1 day ago

NEW YORK (AP) — When Jerald Spangenberg collapsed and died in the middle of a quest in an online game, his daughter embarked on a quest of her own: to let her father’s gaming friends know that he hadn’t just decided to desert them.

It wasn’t easy, because she didn’t have her father’s “World of Warcraft” password and the game’s publisher couldn’t help her. Eventually, Melissa Allen Spangenberg reached her father’s friends by asking around online for the “guild” he belonged to…

For the rest of the article, go here.

The article discusses two services – and – that will notify your loved ones and associates when you pass away. requires subscribers to enter passwords on a regular schedule; if you don’t enter the password, it assumes you’re dead, and lets your virtual social circle know.

What’s uncanny about this is that it is exactly like a service I thought up for my forthcoming book, VANISHED – except that I called mine (and yes, bought the domain). In VANISHED, provides key information about a character who’s missing. Is he dead? Well, you’ll have to read the book. (Out in August, thanks for asking.)

In the meantime, I wish I could figure out how the people at are tapping into my ideas – and whether I should ask for royalties.