Dobsons 411

Hanging on for the ultimate ride--God's great adventure.

www.melaniedobson.com
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Location: Oregon

The author of thirteen contemporary and historical novels, Melanie Dobson lives with her family in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Her latest novels are Chateau of Secrets and The Courier of Caswell Hall. More info at www.melaniedobson.com

Friday, June 06, 2014

Welcome to the D-Day 70th Anniversary Blog Tour

 
This month ten authors of inspirational World War II novels are commemorating the brave men who stormed the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944. Thank you for joining us as we remember their heroism and sacrifice!

Our novels illuminate different aspects of the war from the Holocaust to the Pacific to the US Home Front. Each day we will share about our stories, our research, and our unique settings, and with each blog post, you'll have the opportunity to win that author's novel, plus a chance to win a packet of all ten featured novels!

Giveaway Details 

For a chance to win ALL TEN novels featured on our blog tour, please visit each blog listed below, collect the answers to the questions and enter the Rafflecopter giveaway on the BLOG TOUR PAGE. You have a new chance to enter each day of the tour! The contest opened June 2 and closes June 13, 2014 at 11 pm PST. The winners will be announced on Monday, June 15. Several of the titles will not be released until later in the year--these copies will be mailed to the winners after the release dates.

To win the prize of all ten books, you must collect all ten answers. The winner must be prepared to send all ten answers within 24 hours of notification by email or a new winner will be selected. 

You can enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway once each day! The more often you visit, the more entries you receive. To collect the ten answers, you may want to download the Word document answer sheet on the BLOG TOUR PAGE.

A huge thank you to two talented ladies--Sarah Sundin for all of her hard work organizing this tour and Kristy Cambron for gifting all of us with the beautiful artwork to accompany it. Here is a bit of my story:

The Soil of Normandy

As I stood on the shore of Utah Beach last spring, watching waves from the English Channel brush over the golden sand, I tried to imagine the more than twenty thousand troops storming this stretch in the early morning hours of June 6, 1944. Twenty thousand incredibly brave men, young and old, many of them seasick, cold and terrified.


I thought about the courage of Captain George Edick, the father of a friend, who arrived on this beach eight days after the surprise invasion in 1944 and helped push back the Germans through France. I thought about the strength of the French people who resisted the Germans from the inside of their country and protected Allied paratroopers from the enemy. And I thought about another friend's mother-in-law, a French noblewoman named Genevieve de Saint Pern who rescued downed Allied airmen even as the Germans occupied her family's home.

For a week, two girlfriends and I explored Normandy, and on our journey, we heard story after story of courageous men and women who stood up against evil and risked their life to save others. One elegant woman named Marie-Charlotte told us about her parents who led the local French resistance.

Afternoon with Serge and Marie-Charlotte
As a girl, Marie-Charlotte delivered the counterfeit ID cards for American pilots while her parents helped transfer Allied airmen and gather information for the Americans before D-Day.

Marie-Charlotte didn't speak much English but her husband Serge did.

The soil in Normandy is damp with American blood.

This is what Serge told us as they shared their memories. Then he brought out strips of soiled nylon he'd found nearby, pieces of a parachute used by an American trooper seventy years ago. He honored us, thanking my friends and I as Americans for what we had done to help save France.

My friends and I weren't there in 1944. I wasn't even born for another twenty-plus years. Thousands of Allied and French men and women died that June in Normandy, and in that moment with Serge and Marie-Charlotte, holding the nylon and other gifts they gave us, I felt guilty. I had done nothing to deserve this while Marie-Charlotte, her parents, and so many others had done so much.
"Chateau of Secrets" before the war

But then I realized that more than anything, our new friends honored us not just because of the past. They honored us because of what they desire for the future. They want Americans to remember the stories of the courageous men and women who fought for their country.

When I returned home, I sat down and wrote a story about the courage and tenacity of the French people during that occupation and about the Allied men who helped them. A story that I hope will help people remember some of the forgotten heroes of World War II.

Today, seventy years after the Allied forces landed on the beaches of Normandy, I want to honor Serge, Marie-Charlotte, George Edick, Genevieve de Saint Pern and every man and woman
who defied the evil that had overtaken France and
risked their life to save someone else.

Chateau of Secrets

"Amazing characters, deep family secrets, 
and an authentic French chateau make Dobson's story a delight."
RT Book Review (4 1/2 stars)

Overview: Chateau of Secrets is about a courageous French noblewoman who hides members of the French resistance in the tunnels under her father's chateau even as the Germans occupy her home. Seventy years later, her granddaughter Chloe Sauver returns to the chateau to work with a filmmaker to unravel her family's story, and the secrets they uncover will change both of their lives forever.



More information about Chateau of Secrets can be found here:

As well as giving away Chateau of Secrets at the end of this tour, I will be giving away a copy of this novel to readers here. If you would like to enter this giveaway, please leave a comment with your email address below or sign up for my newsletter at this link. Thank you for stopping by!

Blog Tour Question: The soil of Normandy is damp with what?
 

Schedule for the D-Day 70th Anniversary Blog Tour 

(Links below will go live on the post date)

June 2: SARAH SUNDIN, author of In Perfect Time
June 3: LIZ TOLSMA, author of Daisies Are Forever
June 4: MURRAY PURA, author of London Dawn
June 5: CARA PUTMAN, author of Shadowed by Grace
June 6: MELANIE DOBSON, author of Chateau of Secrets
June 7: KRISTY CAMBRON, author of The Butterfly and the Violin
June 9: TRICIA GOYER, author of Chasing Mona Lisa
June 10: PATTY SMITH HALL, author of Hearts Rekindled
June 11: CATHY GOHLKE, author of Saving Amelie
June 12: SIGMUND BROUWER, author of Thief of Glory

Monday, May 12, 2014

Giving Away Ten Copies of Chateau of Secrets

Chateau of Secrets is a "time slip" novel about a French noblewoman named Gisele Duchant who hides the French resistance in tunnels under her family's medieval chateau even as the Nazi Germans occupy her home. Seventy years later, her granddaughter Chloe Sauver returns to the Chateau d'Epines and is shocked as she and a filmmaker named Riley Holtz begin to uncover the secrets of her family's past.

Chateau of Secrets was based on the courage and faith of a real life French noblewoman named Genevieve de Saint Pern Menke.

You can read more about Genevieve's courageous story in my last blog. 

Chateau of Secrets releases today and to celebrate the release, I will be giving away a copy to ten different readers. If you would like to sign up for this drawing, please leave your email address in a comment below or subscribe to my newsletter at this link on my website. 

I will email the winners after the giveaway closes on May 27th. Thank you for celebrating with me!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Chateau of Secrets


Last year I had the privilege of visiting Normandy with several girlfriends to research for my next time-slip novel Chateau of Secrets (releases in May). On a snowy March evening, Ann Menke gave us a tour of the medieval Château d’Agneaux set on jagged cliffs above the River Vire. 

The chateau had been bombed during World War II so only half of the thousand-year-old structure remained, but it has been beautifully restored with antique furnishings and modern appliances. It was a remarkable place, brimming with history and mystique, but even more remarkable than the house were the stories Ann told us about her mother-in-law who’d lived in the Château d’Agneaux during the war.

Genevieve de Saint Pern Menke was a French noblewoman who grew up at the Château d’Agneaux outside Saint-Lo. Under her family’s home was a tunnel where—according to family legend— her ancestors hid during the French Revolution. When the Nazi Germans occupied Genevieve's country and ultimately her home, she risked her life to hide downed Allied airmen and members of the French resistance in this tunnel underneath the chateau.

Genevieve joined the Red Cross in her early twenties and drove an ambulance to assist wounded soldiers in France. After the war, she was awarded the French Croix de Guerre medal for carrying soldiers to her ambulance while under fire from automatic weapons and mortars, the Red Cross Medal of Honor for treating soldiers on the battlefront, and a second Croix de Guerre for courageously and successfully negotiating the release of the French villagers in Germolles before they were executed by firing squad. During the hours of negotiation, she told the German officer that “an honorable man would not kill innocent people.”

While we were in France, we biked around the village where Genevieve once lived and spent our nights in the Menke family's renovated manoir with its old stone tower and elegant paintings of ancestors on the walls. The people of Normandy welcomed us warmly, and we spent an afternoon dining with Serge and Marie Charlotte Letourneur, a beautiful couple who shared their memories of the war with us. Marie Charlotte's father and mother had both been leaders in the local French resistance, and Serge gave us pieces of nylon from an American parachute that he'd found after D-Day. They honored us because we were Americans, and we were completely humbled by their regard.

Chateau of Secrets is based on the heroic true stories of the French and German people who fought against Hitler and his regime from the inside. Genevieve Menke passed away in 2010, but her legacy of courage and compassion lives on through her five sons, her many grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and I hope now as well through these fictional characters inspired by her heroism. 

Here are few pics of Genevieve and my adventure with friends in France:

Herman and Genevieve Menke outside the family's manoir

Chateau d'Agneaux before it was bombed during World War II















Genevieve de Saint Pern in the 1940s

Mary Kay Taylor and Ann Menke by the lake below the chateau

Seventy years after the war and crops still won't grow where the bombs hit

Afternoon with the delightful Serge and Marie Charlotte


Looking down on the valley and river Vire below the chateau


Wish we could have kayaked on the Vire like my characters!

Stairs down to the old wine cellar (cave) and tunnel



A lovely dinner with Mary Kay Taylor, Ann Menke, and Darwin and Emmanuelle Menke in Paris

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Spring Scavenger Hunt Stop #32

I hope you've enjoyed the Spring 2014 Scavenger Hunt! The hunt ends in the next post at Midnight MT on Sunday, April 6th. If you’re new to the hunt, please click here to begin collecting the red-marked clues at 33 stops with unique content and giveaways. The hunt is open to international entries and prizes include a Kindle Fire HDX, a $100 gift certificate, and copies of the latest releases from all the participating authors.

ROBIN LEE HATCHER
It is with great honor that I introduce the last guest on the scavenger hunt—Robin Lee Hatcher. A best-selling novelist, Robin is known for her heartwarming and emotionally charged stories of faith, courage, and love. Robin is actually one of the authors who inspired me to begin a career writing fiction. Fifteen years ago I read her novel The Forgiving Hour, and this incredible book put the desire in my heart as well to write compelling, truth-filled, page-turning stories that could change a reader’s life.

Robin is now the author of seventy novels and novellas with more than five million copies of her stories in print. She has won many awards including the Christy, RITA, Carol, Inspirational Reader's Choice, and she is the recipient of the prestigious RWA Lifetime Achievement Award. 


A PROMISE KEPT BY ROBIN LEE HATCHER

God was going to save her marriage, Allison was sure of it.
But neither her husband nor her marriage had been saved. What had become of His promise?

Tony Kavanagh had been Allison’s dream-come-true. They were in love within days, engaged within weeks, married and pregnant within a year. Her cup bubbled over with joy . . . but years later, that joy had been extinguished by unexpected trials.

The day Allison issued her husband an ultimatum, she thought it might save him. She never expected he would actually leave. She was certain God had promised to heal; it was clear that she’d misunderstood.

Now living in the quiet mountain cabin she inherited from her single, self-reliant Great Aunt Emma, Allison must come to terms with her grief and figure out how to adapt to small town life. But when she finds a wedding dress and a collection of journals in Emma’s attic, a portrait of her aunt emerges that takes Allison completely by surprise: a portrait of a heartbroken woman a lot like herself.

As Allison reads the incredible story of Emma’s life in the 1920s and 1930s, she is forced to ask a difficult question: Does she really surrender every piece of her life to the Lord? For a woman accustomed to being someone else’s savior, that will be even harder than it sounds.

A Promise Kept
is Robin Lee Hatcher’s most intimate work yet and an emotionally charged thanksgiving to a God who answers prayers—in His time and His own ways. A Promise Kept is  available on these links at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Christianbook.com.

KINGS MEADOW: GROWING A TOWN 
By Robin Lee Hatcher

When I came up with the idea for my latest novel, A Promise Kept, I knew that it would take place in an Idaho mountain community. As a writer, I love to create a fictional place and plop it down in the middle of reality. Usually I have a real town or location in mind as I invent the one that fits my story. That was true of Kings Meadow, too.

I had a lot of photographs on my computer to help me envision the long, boomerang-shaped valley, surrounded on all sides by mountains, where Kings Meadow began to grow. I love the true history of the area (many of my books have been set in the mountains of southwest Idaho), and I also fell in love with the history I created for the town of Kings Meadow and the people who live there.

It tickles me, how many reviewers and readers of A Promise Kept have mentioned Kings Meadow. Several have said they wish they could go live there themselves. This just makes me so happy.

And because I grew so fond of the town and its people, I realized I couldn't let go of 
either of them yet.
So, with my editor's blessing, I set aside the historical series I'd planned to write. The first contemporary novel in the Kings Meadow Romance series, Love Without End, will release in November 2014. I think readers of A Promise Kept will be glad to know that Chet Leonard is the hero of this new novel. (I owed him a happy ending after giving him so much sorrow in A Promise Kept.) Each of the books in this series will include an historical thread about the town and its people. I'm loving that so much.

Most authors spend months and months with their characters and setting for a novel. It's much more enjoyable when they become real in our minds, the way Kings Meadow has become real to me.

I hope you'll join me there, first in A Promise Kept and then in the Kings Meadow Romance series, beginning with Love without End.


SCAVENGER HUNT INFO
 
The clue for this stop on the hunt is CHESTERTON.

The next stop (#33) is Robin Lee Hatcher’s site.


BONUS GIVEAWAY
In addition to the Scavenger Hunt grand prizes, I am giving away five copies of my upcoming novel Chateau of Secrets. To register for this giveaway, please leave a comment below with your email address or subscribe to my newsletter list here on melaniedobson.com.

Thanks for stopping by! 

~Melanie

Friday, January 10, 2014

Serving in Uganda


One year ago, God put a burning desire in my nine-year-old daughter's heart to love on orphans in Uganda. My husband Jon and I had been wanting to serve someplace as a family for a long time, but we didn't think we could go to Africa until Karly was much older.

God, however, had other plans.

We met with the missions pastor at our church and shared that we thought God wanted us to serve in another country as a family. The first thing he said was, "What do you think about Uganda?" Karly cheered. Jon and I smiled. And our journey began.
We still had many hurdles to jump before we said a final "yes" to Africa. Miracles began happening. Jon's boss said he could take three weeks off work. Money for our plane tickets came in unexpectedly. My dear friend Tosha said she could care for our youngest daughter since Kiki wasn't ready to go to Africa (she's scared of cheetahs...). And Karly and our 14-year-old friend Christianna (Tosha's daughter) could take time off from school so we could spend two weeks before and then a week during Christmas break with children who don't have families.

As God began piecing together our plans, none of us were certain exactly what we would DO once we got to Uganda. We aren't doctors, teachers, or professional speakers, but we were willing to do whatever He asked. And God used the unique gifts of our entire team in ways we could never have imagined.

During our three weeks, we spent time at six different children's homes, and God was able to use our seemingly random talents--the widow's mite we offered--in fun, unexpected ways.


Karly used her love of creativity to teach kids how to make rubber band bracelets and other crafts, her love of people to make locals laugh, her love of babies to hold and feed newborns for hours, and her hard work this fall to make enough money to buy Christmas gifts for 120 kids.

God gave Christianna the perfect tools needed to teach kids and their caregivers how to bake an American cake (over a fire), blow bubbles and make crafts with dozens of kids, sing beautiful songs, design a creative T-shirt that people both at home and here love, and make friends all across Uganda with her infectious smile.

Jon used his hands to wash dishes and move firewood, his heart to love on children and an extremely ill and neglected woman who needed a godly man to protect and pray for her, his words to encourage people wherever we went, his technical abilities to play music through all sorts of sound systems, and his computer skills to answer questions and encourage people who work with computers. 


And me--I was at a loss for a few days as to how God could use my skills. I love to coordinate trips but I wanted to do more than just organize our team's schedule. Then at our first children's home God prompted me to cut out simple hearts from construction paper for the 50-plus kids. The children loved the hearts and the stickers and coloring pages we brought, and I loved playing Uno and other card games with them. When the older kids found out I wrote books, they quizzed me on writing, and at Bless a Child for children with cancer, the teacher asked me to teach creative writing to children who don't have the opportunity to go to school. I sang "Jesus Loves Me" dozens of times and folded laundry and kissed hundreds of children on the head and told them that God loves them. And, oddly enough, He used all of our love for dancing to teach children across central Uganda how to do the Macarena and Cha Cha Slide. We never imagined that God would use this seemingly random skill to open doors, but the African people love to dance and it was pure joy for us to dance with them. 

Most of all, God used all of our hands to grasp the hands of orphans and our laps to cradle the smallest ones.

We aren't doctors, but God used us to bandage wounds and get medication for people who were sick.

We aren't teachers, but God used our little team over and over to teach.

We aren't professional speakers, but we quickly realized that serving in Africa means speaking sometimes in front of hundreds of people, encouraging the adults in their hard work here and sharing Jesus' love with the kids.

When we said "yes" to what God clearly put together, he paved the road before us. He showed us when to act, when to pray, when to speak, and when we needed to say "no".

So we end our time in Africa with grateful hearts. We have met so many wonderful people--friends for a lifetime--and developed a love for Uganda's children. In spite of our fears, we are so glad we allowed God to weave together our time here, in His perfect way.


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Giving Away Ten Copies of The Courier of Caswell Hall

The Courier of Caswell Hall releases this month! I thoroughly enjoyed writing this story about a young Loyalist woman who becomes a courier and spy during the Revolutionary War. 

To celebrate the release of this novel, I will be giving away a copy of The Courier of Caswell Hall to ten readers on October 7th. If you'd like to put your name in for this drawing, please leave a comment with your email address below (or you can comment and email your address to comments(a)melaniedobson.com).


Here is a little more information about the story:

An unlikely spy discovers freedom and love in the midst of the American Revolution. 

As the British and Continental armies wage war in 1781, the daughter of a wealthy Virginia plantation owner feels conflict raging in her own heart. Lydia Caswell comes from a family of staunch Loyalists, but she cares only about peace. Her friend Sarah Hammond, however, longs to join the fight. Both women’s families have already been divided by a costly war that sets father against son and neighbor against neighbor; a war that makes it impossible to guess who can be trusted.

One snowy night Lydia discovers a wounded man on the riverbank near Caswell Hall, and her decision to save him will change her life. Nathan introduces her to a secret network of spies, couriers, disguises, and coded messages—a network that may be the Patriots’ only hope for winning the war. When British officers take over Caswell Hall and wreak havoc on neighboring plantations, Lydia will have to choose between loyalty and freedom; between her family's protection and her own heart's desires.

As both armies gather near Williamsburg for a pivotal battle, both Lydia and Sarah must decide how high a price they are willing to pay to help the men they love.