Writing Inspiration- Character Doppelgangers

When I first started writing The Red String, I joined the National Novel Writing Month regional group near me. We met once a week for write-ins during November. One of the writers I befriended made a habit of finding a doppelganger for her imaginary characters. I thought it was a cool idea, so I found some!

Here’s my doppelgangers for…

Liang Griffin (Taiwanese actor Vanness Wu)

Ainsling Reid (British actress Hannah Spearrit)

Ellen Cheng (S. Korean actress Yoon Yoo Sun)

The Captain (CSI actor Robert David Hall)

Dr. Jay Griffin (Politician Mitt Romney)

Stanley Reynolds (British actor Martin Freeman)

Aaliyah (Actress Nicole Beharie)

You can get a good sense of my television watching habits from these choices also. I enjoy everything from Taiwanese dramas, Korean dramas, and British shows, to some good old American murder-mystery and medical dramas. Please don’t assume anything about my politics from this list. Some people just look the part. =)

I wonder if any other writers use doppelgangers to inspire them, either for their physical or character traits…do you?



The Writing Head Game

I call this the “where’s my super-suit?” approach…

writing Young Adult fiction

rock This is the rock that Claire gave me.

MFAC is over. Now the writing is supposed to begin. I haven’t worked on my young adult novel since this summer when I wrote the first six chapters. During the Fall, I took a poetry class, and mostly wrote sad adult poems about the Titanic. Therefore, I don’t exactly remember what happened in those six chapters. I have 40 pages of writing due at the end of February, and it took two glasses of wine just to convince myself to read what I’ve already got.

This is my biggest writing problem: the head game.

Should I write now? Am I in the right mood? First though, I should pick up my office, organize the files on my computer, or clean the blinds with q-tips. Etc. 

At the Hamline MFAC, Claire Rudolf Murphy taught a Writing Life lecture. She’s a spunky children’s…

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Book Review- The Fault in our Stars by John Green

Is it bad that I am so impressed by author John Green that I begin to make things up to be impressed about, like for instance, his name. Only a humble, incredibly talented, un-auspicious person would use the simplest form possible of his first and last names as his author name. The fact that he doesn’t spell Green with an unnecessary ‘e’ on the end makes me sigh. It’s ridiculous.

Wait- isn’t this a review of The Fault in our Stars, not a confession of my weird author crush? Okay, focusing…

The Fault in our Stars is everything you’ve heard it is- and more. I knew what I was getting into when I opened this book. I bought the box of tissues recommended to accompany the reading. (And, yes, I used it.) But, for those of who have celebrated double digit birthdays, you are probably mature enough to know there is this thing called ‘a good cry.’  The Fault in our Stars is happy to facilitate that for you. The theme itself, the ultimate existential question, ‘what is this life?’ will always be accompanied by tears of some shape and size. I was ready. I thought so anyway.

The tears were a given, but this book also made me angry. I got angry that cancer exists, that children have it and die from it every day, that parents have to be the spectators of their children’s suffering, that true love is so rare and heart-wrenching, that God doesn’t provide easy answers, that people sometimes suck, and that this book forced me to see a world I had been satisfied to ignore. Again, just as there is this thing called ‘a good cry,’ there is righteous anger. It lends a scar to remind us to truly love people. Never let that righteous anger die. Questions that do not have easy answers still need to be asked. It’s okay, okay?

In between the tears and the spurts of anger, I spent the rest of the time laughing. These characters were some real characters, if you get my meaning. Sarcastic, sardonic, sincere, and silly. The friendship portrayed between the two main characters was inspirational and yet so authentic. If you don’t know, that’s how it’s supposed to be. If you can’t joke around with the person you love, um, why are you together? Life is a terminal condition. With all the heavy, laughter is a balance.

Thank you, John Green.

“Oh, I wouldn’t mind, Hazel Grace. It would be a privilege to have my heart broken by you.”
― John GreenThe Fault in Our Stars

*Side note- It was a pleasant surprise to learn that I actually had seen John before on You Tube. (Again I am crushing!) …anyway, John and his brother, Hank, have a channel that is definitely worth taking the time to watch- and sans Kleenex. Check out the Vlogbrothers!

Follow John Green on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads.


Questions for you…

1.) How is the movie version?

2.) What other John Green books do you recommend?

3.) What other books make you cry, angry and/or laugh?


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Sight Unseen

I am fortunate enough (or old enough) to have heydays. “Back in the day” I was in a band with 3 dudes in Lincoln, NE. I still marvel at their acceptance of me into their group- the lone girl. Anyway, this video and song recording happened before I had the pleasure of their company, but it was one of my faves. I played an elementary level violin part and possibly some vocals eventually, but this is sans violin/girl harmony.

For those of you who had read The Red String, you will know why this title alone fits the soundtrack….shhh…don’t tell.

Ben Carson- “She made us read books…”

On Sunday, we met Dr. Ben Carson! It was quick, but we were happy to wait in line for the honor. I wish we could have really talked, but so did a thousand others and it would have been crazy for Dr. Carson! Here’s the picture from the meeting- http://drcarsontour.com/system/photos/images/000/008/583/original/image.jpg?1402344673

Author D. Marie Prokop- YA Sci/Fi and Children's Fiction

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No Summer at All… June 4,1989

Pushy, desperate governments reliant on control, control, control are bound to treat their citizens as chess pieces. This is also a characteristic of the fictional government in the Days of the Guardian, the Economic Crisis Containment Office  (E.C.C.O.)  The need for rescue becomes dire. Don’t forget- China has not changed much since this incident. They still demand control, control, control. What is next?

(Words and Music by Joan Baez)

(Link to the video)

In the month of May, in the glory of the day
Came the descendants of a hundred flowers
And their fight it did begin with the aging Mandarin
And they fought with an extraordinary power
Everyone was smiling, their hearts were one
In Tiananmen Square

But it seems that the Spring this year in Beijing
Came just before the Fall
There was no summer at all
In Tiananmen Square
China… China

There’s peace in the emerald fields, there’s mist upon the lakes
But something is afoot in the People’s Hall
The spirit of Chu Ping is alive in young Chai Ling
And the Emperor has his back against the wall
Black sun rising over Tiananmen Square
Over Tiananmen Square

But it seems that the Spring this year in Beijing
Came just before the Fall
There was no summer at all
In Tiananmen Square
China… China

In the month of June, in the darkness of the moon
Went the descendants of a hundred flowers
And time may never tell how many of them fell
Like the petals of a rose in some satanic shower
Everyone was weeping in all of China
And Tiananmen Square

But it seems that the Spring this year in Beijing
Came just before the Fall
There was no summer at all
In Tiananmen Square
China… China

And even the moon on the fourth day of June
Hid her face and did not see
Black sun rising over Tiananmen Square

And Wang Wei Lin, you remember him
All alone he stood before the tanks
A shadow of forgotten ancestors in Tiananmen Square

And my blue-eyed son, you had no one
You could call a hero of your age
You have the rainbow warriors of Tiananmen Square, singing
China Shall Be Free
China Shall Be Free
China Shall Be Free

© 1989 Gabriel Earl Music (ASCAP)


Did You Know?
Since China began enforcing the One-Child Policy in 1980, over 37 million girls have disappeared in the world’s largest gendercide and over 336 million forced and coerced abortions have occurred under the policy’s reign. But there is hope! Check out the All Girls Allowed movement and find out how you can join what God is doing to bring an end to these injustices!


Chai Ling, one of the student movement’s leaders (as mentioned in the song above) began the charity organization, All Girls Allowed. Join me in the fight! Rescue begins with one.

Chai Ling’s book, A Heart for Freedom, can be found at Amazon.

Book Review- Lois Lowry’s Gathering Blue


Gathering Blue was an interesting, simple, and light read. It was written for the adolescent market, but is universal in its appeal. The simplicity of the story is notable in Lowry’s sparse description of the dystopian world of the protagonist, in the slow pacing, and in the characters’ points-of-view. The story portrays ignorant people living a primitive life.  There is a shroud over the complexity underneath the surface that stays in place till the very end when the truth changes everything.

The embroidery iGathering Bluemagery, portraying history in thread pictures, drew me in. I am a fiber artist and appreciate the analogy, though those without a wool thumb will still enjoy the story. The tying together of the embroidery theme with the slow unraveling of the mystery was wonderful to experience. And the absence of and desire for the color blue in a world hiding the truth was a wonderful use of symbolism.

I also appreciated the author’s push toward the importance of the truth. Truth is worth sacrificing for- even if the sacrifice requires that we stay behind and live in the dark in order to be a light and create a new future.

The parallels in this book with my own, The Red String- Days of the Guardian were stupefying- because they were unintended, having read Gathering Blue two years after writing The Red String.It appears Lois Lowry and I both appreciate using color as symbolism. As with The Hunger Games, Divergent, and other dystopian novels, there are common threads and ideas common to all dystopian worlds. This time, the oppressive government character in Gathering Blue shared a similar title to The Red String’s character of government resistance- “Guardian.” It is delightful how the same word is used by both Lowry and me, though not redundant in the meaning. The most surprising similarity of the two novels would force me to reveal spoilers to each, so I can only recommend reading them both. Then we can share in the secret knowledge and be satisfied in the knowing. Hints? Family, outcasts, and community.

Gathering Blue is brief and easy to read. For those who have never read dystopian fiction, this would be a nice, noncommittal tasting.

(Full disclosure- I have not yet read The Giver, of which Gathering Blue is considered a companion novel. From what I have read in other reviews, this fact could be considered a good thing or a bad thing. I simply thought you should be aware.)

“”He gestured toward her twisted leg. “Like you. Some don’t walk good. Some be broken in other ways. Not all. But lots. Do you think it maken them quiet and nice, to be broken?”

Puzzled by his description, Kira didn’t answer. Pain makes you strong, her mother had told her. She had not said quiet, or nice.

“Anyways,” Matt went on, “them got blue, for certain sure.”

“For certain sure,” Kira repeated.

Gathering Blue, Lois Lowry



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