Dobsons 411

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

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.

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. 


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

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.

The clue for this stop on the hunt is CHESTERTON.

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

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

Thanks for stopping by! 


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)

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.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Stepping Back Two Hundred Years

One of my favorite parts of writing historical fiction is the wondering—what would happen if...? The story for The Courier of Caswell Hall began brewing twenty years ago, when I was a graduate student at Regent University in Virginia Beach. Often I would escape to one of my favorite places in the world--the quaint cobblestone streets of Colonial Williamsburg. At the time I didn't have enough money to tour the old houses and shops, but I would splurge on Welsh rarebit (melted cheese and bread) and cider at Chowning's Tavern.

The beauty of Colonial Williamsburg is its simplicity. Candlelight flickers in the night, and in the off season, I could find a quiet bench under a tree or slip back into the cemetery behind Bruton Parish to rest and think.

One of my favorite memories of my time near Williamsburg was staying with friends at an old plantation home along the James River. As I wandered the riverbank, my mind wandered as well, dreaming about what might have happened along the water during the Revolutionary War and in the years after. Like the candlelight in Williamsburg, the story for this novel began to flicker in my mind. I didn't begin writing it though until last summer when I returned to Virginia with my nine-year-old daughter to explore.

Karly and I toured Williamsburg, Yorktown, Jamestown, and the Shirley Plantation on the James River. I finally had enough money to go INSIDE the colonial buildings so we toured the Governor's Palace and George Wythe's home and then sipped dark chocolate mixed with cinnamon, cayenne pepper, and nutmeg at R. Charlton's Coffeehouse. While my imagination was tangled up in the story of Williamsburg, Karly was fascinated with how things were done. Her favorite stops—the blacksmith and wigmaker. 

Together we talked about our country's heritage and the freedom that I often take for granted. Together we talked about the past and dreamed about the future.  

The Courier of Caswell Hall is a story about the past, and yet as people read it, I pray they remember the people who gave their lives for freedom and then dream about the future as well.

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Friday, December 21, 2012

Beautiful Christmas Tribute to the Children of Sandy Hook

Twas' 11 days before Christmas, around 9:38 when 20 beautiful children stormed through heaven's gate. 
Their smiles were contagious, their laughter filled the air. 
They could hardly believe all the beauty they saw there. 
They were filled with such joy; they didn't know what to say. 
They remembered nothing of what had happened earlier that day. 
“Where are we?" asked a little girl, as quiet as a mouse. 
“This is heaven" declared a small boy. "We’re spending Christmas at God's house”. 
When what to their wondering eyes did appear, 
but Jesus, their savior, the children gathered near. 
He looked at them and smiled, and they smiled just the same. 
Then He opened His arms and He called them by name. 
And in that moment was joy, that only heaven can bring those children all flew into the arms of their King and as they lingered in the warmth of His embrace, one small girl turned and looked at Jesus' face. 
And as if He could read all the questions she had He gently whispered to her, "I'll take care of mom and dad. “then He looked down on earth, the world far below He saw all of the hurt, the sorrow, and woe, 
then He closed His eyes and He outstretched His hand, 
“Let My power and presence re-enter this land! 
“May this country be delivered from the hands of fools” 
“I’m taking back my nation. I'm taking back my schools!"
Then He and the children stood up without a sound. 
“Come now my children let me show you around."
Excitement filled the space, some skipped and some ran. 
All displaying enthusiasm that only a small child can.
 And I heard Him proclaim as He walked out of sight, 
“in the midst of this darkness,” I AM STILL THE LIGHT."

-written by Cameo Smith, Mt. Wolf, PA

In memory of: 

Olivia Engel, 6 
Emilie Parker, 6
Charlotte Bacon, 6
Ana Marquez-Greene, 6
Dylan Hockley, 6
Madeleine Hsu, 6
Catherine Hubbard, 6
Jesse Lewis, 6
James Mattioli, 6
Jack Pinto, 6
Noah Pozner, 6
Caroline Previdi, 6
Jessica Rekos, 6
Avielle Richman, 6
Benjamin Wheeler, 6
Allison Wyatt, 6
Daniel Barden, 7
Josephine Gay, 7
Chase Kowalski, 7
Grace McDonnell, 7
Anne Marie Murphy, 25
Victoria Soto, 27
Rachel Davino, 29
Lauren Rousseau, 30
Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung, 47
Anne Marie Murphy, 52
Mary Sherlach, 56

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Scavenger Hunt Stop #11

Thanks so much for stopping by for the Fall Christian Fiction Scavenger Hunt! The hunt begins at noon (MDT) on October 25th and ends midnight (MDT) on October 28th. I'm number 11 on 31 stops of authors who have new or soon-to-be released novels. The rules are simple: 

1)  Begin at Stop #1 and collect the clue in red on the bottom of each post.
2)  After you collect all the clues, fill out the Rafflecopter form on Stop #32.
3)  On October 29th, the winner will receive an email. If you receive the email, be prepared to provide the completed clue quote (the words you will have gathered from all 31 stops). If the winner doesn't send the completed clue quote in 24 hours, another winner will be selected. 

Here are the prizes for this hunt:

 Grand Prize: A new Kindle Fire, plus 31 new novels!   
2nd  and 3rd Prizes: $50 Amazon, B and N, CBD or gift certificate 

(Contest is open to international entrants. If the winner lives outside the United States, they will win the equivalent in gift certificate funds to the prize in US dollars.)

I'm so thrilled to have my friend Ruth Axtell as a guest today! Ruth has published thirteen historical romances, and she has lived all over the world including Paris, the Canary Islands, and the Netherlands. She now lives on one of my very favorite places (the coast of Maine) and her latest novel Her Good Name will take you on a journey back more than a hundred years ago to a small town in her beautiful home state.  


(Holliston, Maine, 1892)No matter how striking she is, a fisherman’s daughter doesn’t stand a chance with Warren Brentwood, the heir of the local lumber empire. So in an effort to better her life and eventually catch Warren’s eye, Espy takes a job at the local professor’s home. But when the professor begins to tutor her, the rumors begin to fly.

Scandal turns Espy’s world upside down and she flees town in disgrace. Alone and penniless, Espy has nothing left but her faith when she is rescued by a missionary family. Espy longs to return home freed from the lies that surrounded her departure. But will anyone–particularly Warren–believe in her professed innocence?

Her Good Name

I love being swept into another time period and place, and Ruth sweeps away readers in her latest novel Her Good Name. I hope you enjoy reading a bit of the "story behind the story" as much as I did. When you comment below, Ruth would love to know which historical period you enjoy reading about!


The thriving logging town of Holliston in 1890 downeast Maine is the main setting for Her Good Name. Here are some photos and a short video of the town it was based on. I took some liberties with the geography but from these photos you can get an idea of some of its primary features.

Click here to watch a video of Holliston. 

The bridge spanning these rapids in the Machias River (aka “Holliston River”) was a covered bridge in 1890. Here Warren and Espy cross each other’s path a few times. You can experience its deafening roar in the short video I filmed—hard to make romantic conversation there. One of Warren’s father’s sawmills was located right by the bridge, alongside the river. Remains of the actual mills are still visible.

You can see how calm the river is farther upstream. This wooded area shows where the logs came downstream during the spring river drives.

I’ve also taken a picture of one of the original churches right in town. This is the church Espy and Warren attend and where they work together with a young people’s club.

I hope this makes the setting for Her Good Name come alive for you. I love walking the streets of old towns and cities, imagining characters back in time. For more information about my historical romances, visit me at

You can purchase Ruth Axtell’s novel, Her Good Name, at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, CBD, BAM, or at your local bookstore. 

Which historical time period is your favorite to read about?

Before you go, write down this STOP #11 clue: MUST
Your next stop is Ruth Axtell’s own blog! 

I'm also giving away ten copies of my new novel, Where the Trail Ends. If you want to enter to win a copy, please click here. You can also click here to sign up to receive giveaway information when my new books are released.

Thanks so much for playing with us!