Dickens and All Things English

Second Hand Clothing Dealer

Are you watching Downton Abbey? Most of us are enjoying a glimpse into the aristocratic lives of our favorite characters in season three, while the downstairs staff intrigue us with their style of living.

Charles was born 200 years ago. To celebrate, San Francisco presented a bicentennial Dickens fair at the Cow Palace. We interacted with sailors on the London docks, ragpickers in the stews and alleyways, and junk dealers with dented silver from the swells.

My favorite characters were the chimney sweeps, filthy in black clothing, who handed out gold coins for luck (with a picture of Thomas Jefferson on one side and George Washington on the other. Go figure.)

Professional singers and actors and real shops with period merchandise for sale enchanted our senses and brought us a sense of belonging to another time.

Why the craze for all thing English right now? Do you know? And why was the London pickpocket texting on his smart phone?

Have You Ever Tweaked a House Plan?

We’ve met with our architect and reviewed the house plan. How did the square footage get away from us? At the rate we’re going, we’ll end up with the Taj Mahal if we’re not careful. But if we cut footage, then there’s no room for this, can’t have that. Decisions, decisions.

We’re thinking of livability, construction costs, and that awful phrase … property taxes.

And come to think of it, how did we collect so much stuff? And why does it take on such sentiment when it’s a family piece?

Would my grandmother tell me to keep her stuff or pitch it? She was the soul of practicality, but then she had to be. She homesteaded in the Wyoming sagebrush.

So we’re back to the drawing board. Trying to redesign a plan that includes everything we need, but in a tighter footprint.

I understand cutting words. I edit my novels, keeping it tight, highlighting the real meaning.

So how do you edit square footage and still include the essentials? Does anybody have any advice? What do we do now?

The Real Colleen Coble

October 2012

by Marilyn Rhoads
Colleen is keynoting at Oregon Christian Writers’ Fall Conference this Saturday, October 13th, at Multnomah University in Portland.
(Marilyn): What was your original goal when you began writing?
(Colleen): I wrote my first story in the first grade. The teacher praised it, and the dream that I might write someday was born. All I wanted was to have ONE book in the library! Just one!
(M): What inspired you to write?
(Colleen): In 1990, my brother, Randy, died when struck by lightning. It made me realize if I was ever going to accomplish my dream, I had to start.
(M): Do you have a writing tip for us?
(Colleen): Encourage one another and be grateful. A Barnabas attitude will give you a lasting impact. Let your journey change you.
(M): What is something personal our writers don’t know about you?
(C): I love coffee. In fact, I’m obsessed with coffee. It’s a sad state, but I’m a total snob about it too. It has to be good coffee. But you all understand. You’re from the Northwest, where good coffee originated!
(M): How would you describe yourself to Northwest writers?
(C): I’ve never met a stranger! I love it when I can get out of my cave and interact with other people.
(M): What is your greatest regret?
(C): My grandmother died without reading one of my books. She made me believe I could do anything. I know she’s looking down from heaven though and is so proud of me.
(M): Tell us about your latest release, Tidewater Inn. I started reading it and couldn’t put it down. You hooked me from the start.
(C): I was standing in the St. Croix harbor about to board a boat to go snorkeling at Buck Island. I noticed a harbor cam, so I called my parents and told them to log on and we’d wave at them. I suddenly wondered what would happen if something happened to me while they watched from thousands of miles away. That was the seed for the start of Tidewater Inn.
(M): What about Lonestar Angel?
(C): I think it’s my favorite in the series. I wondered what would happen if a young woman thought she was divorced but wasn’t. And what if the child she thought had been killed in a kidnapping attempt gone wrong wasn’t really dead? I had to write it!
(M): Congratulations on winning a Carol Award at the ACFW Conference this September. We’re so pleased for you!
(C): Thanks so much! I was thrilled!
Meet Colleen in person or take one of her workshops: “Layers: Connect with Your Reader” and “Romancing the Idea.” Buy an autographed copy of one of her books.
For more details, please see www.oregonchristianwriters.org and register for Saturday’s Fall Conference online.