Dobsons 411

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

The author of fourteen contemporary and historical novels, Melanie Dobson lives with her family in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Her latest novels are Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor and Chateau of Secrets. More info at

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Celebrating Fish

Kiki just turned two, and we celebrated with a visit from Pop Pop along with Nemo cake, Nemo napkins, Nemo-colored balloons, and a new fish that was quickly named… Nemo (shocking). No Nemo birthday can be complete without a trip down to Sea World so we battled five hours of traffic last weekend to watch “Shampoo” burst out of the water and soak the audience with a flick of his tail. Kiki can spend hours in the aquarium—giggling and waving at the fish and kissing the glass tanks.

The irony is—I hate fish. Don’t like to eat them. Don’t like to touch them. If I’m really honest, even the tiniest ones terrify me. On a very courageous vacation day years ago, Jon and I went snorkeling in the Caribbean. I love to look at the beautiful coral. I even like to look at the fish from afar. But then one slimy, yellow critter started tailing me. I went right. He went right. I went left. He went left. Creepy! Jon thought it was hilarious. I almost had a heart attack.

But even though I despise anything fishy, it’s a delight to watch my two two-year-olds as they develop their unique interests. I’m amazed at how God plants these passions in our hearts from the time we are born.

As she gets older, I’ll cheer for Kiki as she pursues her love for anything that swims because even though I hate fish, I love my little girl. And I have a feeling, I’ll be spending a lot of time learning to love fish as well in the days/years to come.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The Secret Life of Becky Miller

Faster than a speeding minivan, able to leap piles of laundry in a single bound. It’s a bird, it’s a plane. It’s Supermom!

Supermom Becky Miller is the quirky and endearing main character in Sharon Hinck's debut novel. Sharon is a great friend, a talented writer, and a fellow Regent grad. Below are her answers to questions about her new series as well as the delicate balancing act of being a writer and a mom (more info about her work is at

Congrats to Sharon for writing an entertaining novel packed with encouragement and insight for stressed-out moms~

In your new novel, The Secret Life of Becky Miller, Becky Miller is under a lot of pressure to support her husband, raise perfect children, nurture her friendships, and become a woman of God. Yet in the midst of all this pressure, you've created a funny, empathetic character with grandiose daydreams. How will your new series inspire mothers of all ages who, like Becky Miller, may be disappointed by the chaos in their life and missed opportunities?

I hope readers will giggle as they recognize things about themselves in Becky. I hope readers will get a glimpse of how their life looks from God’s loving perspective and push aside the other measuring rods we use to beat up on ourselves.

And I hope Becky’s adventures help us realize that it’s not about us doing Big Things for God. God can do amazing things through our flawed and ordinary lives and the little daily choices we make. Each of our lives has tremendous value to God – not for what we accomplish but because He loves us.

You multi-task as much (if not more) as the main character in your new series. How do you juggle taking care of four kids as well as managing your craft business, writing both fiction and non-fiction, marketing your work, speaking, playing the organ, and volunteering at your church? Okay, scratch the bit about juggling--how do you stay sane??

Um....Sanity is highly overrated.
Here’s where I should plead the fifth. Like Becky, I have trouble juggling it all. My family members are all passionate about their faith and the arts, so they’ve been supportive of me through this journey. But there are days that I don’t get my writing done because of family priorities, and there are days when I have to say no to family activities because of writing responsibility. It’s an exercise in showing up each morning and asking God where He wants me moment by moment through that day, and being open to His zigzags.
Oh, and I don’t play organ anymore. :-)

Most stay-at-home moms can relate to Becky Miller's frustration with the mundane of life. What would you say to encourage moms who want to pursue their passions and dreams yet can barely muster the energy to get through another day?

We live in a hyper-success-driven culture. Women try to measure up to crazy unrealistic models of doing it all and doing it perfectly. We’re also very number obsessed and measure success by income, or degrees, or amount of activities. We lose sight of God’s upside-down measuring system—how a cup of cold water given in love is a precious act of ministry in God’s eyes, and how a widow’s mite is treasured by Him.

What makes me sad is that as Christians we have God’s grace available, but we often drive ourselves as viciously as though who don’t know Jesus...and even ADD the pressure to save the world and achieve spiritual greatness (however we define that) to our agenda. Becky defines spiritual greatness as Billy Graham, Mother Theresa, or an award-winning Christian singer. In her mind, anything less falls short.

Here’s my cyber-hug to other moms reading this: When you’re exhausted and feel broken and useless, remember that God does His best work through the weak and flawed. Ask God for eyes of faith that can catch glimpses of the glorious among the diapers and playgroups, field trips and dirty dishes.

In the midst of writing about Becky Miller, what did you learn in your personal journey with the Lord?

At first, when things go wrong in Becky’s life, she works even harder to figure out God’s plan and fix everything in her own power. As she describes it, she’s addicted to the attempt of analyzing God’s reasons for allowing each trial in her life. Eventually she runs out of answers and comes to a deeper place of trust and surrender in her life. She begins to see that God’s grace is sufficient, and even made perfect in our weakness.

The theme of God working MORE powerfully through our lives when we DON’T have it all together developed as I wrote Becky’s story. It wasn’t part of my original intent—just one of those threads God kept bringing in. I so much want to give God a strong, shiny, gifted person for Him to work with. Instead He’s called me to come to Him in all my quirks, flaws, and fears and let HIM be my strength. Each thing He is able to do (in spite of my emotional weakness, spiritual wobbles, and physical limitations) is a true miracle. In many ways I feel MORE frail the longer I go in my Christian walk – yet that isn’t a bad place to be because I have deeper trust in God’s mercy and strength. It’s much smarter to rely on Him than on myself!

You've received incredible reviews for any novelist--not to mention a first-time novelist.
"An exceptional read that will touch your heart and your funny bone."
"Rarely does an author possess the ability to merge good storytelling with good word flow and still touch deeply into the heart of the reader. Sharon Hinck has done all three at one time."
"Wonderful! Clever and heartwarming. From Becky's wild adventures to her daily drama to her spiritual poignancy, Sharon Hinck draws a story that captures the heart of the Christian mother, and speaks to the wannabe superhero in all of us."

What advice do you have for women who are pursuing their dream of writing fiction?

Thanks for sharing these warm words. It’s so encouraging.
My husband said the other day, “Your industry is not for the faint of heart.”
I answered. “That’s the problem. I AM faint of heart.”
For those writers who feel scared to craft a story, terrified to show it to a critique group, paralyzed at the thought of submitting it to a publisher...those are normal feelings. Choose to do the courageous work of writing IN SPITE of your emotions, because your emotions may ricochet all over creation. On my website I list some of my favorite writer’s resources, so be sure to check that out. One of the most valuable bits of wisdom given to me early on was to write the next book, and the next, and the next. THE SECRET LIFE OF BECKY MILLER was the fifth manuscript I completed. And of course, write for the joy of writing—because when God calls us to do something, we don’t always know how that will play out. I told Him that I thought writing forty hours a week for several years would be a huge waste of time if I never got a novel published. He reminded me that my time is His to waste. :-) As long as you are where God has called you, you can trust that the writing has a purpose in His plan, whether or not it gets published.

What are your future plans for Becky Miller? ?

RENOVATING BECKY MILLER is releasing in March, 2007. Here’s a bit about that sequel:

Becky Miller believes in fixing things: children, friends, mother-in-law, sister, church . . . and her husband. So renovating a run-down farmhouse is right up her alley--the perfect antidote for the pressures of modern life.

But Becky’s pursuit of the simple life is soon threatened. Her mother-in-law moves in, her son finds trouble at school, her sister arrives for a visit, her best friend is acting weird, all while work stresses mount. Worst of all, her marriage is in need of some major remodeling of its own.

Cinematic daydreams provide Becky with heroic drama. Maybe that’s why she escapes into the scenes so often. In real life, everything is a muddled mess.

Who knew one old house could lead them to the brink of bankruptcy? Or that Becky’s physical handicap could threaten to steal their dream?

Can Becky stop fixing everyone else and let God renovate her heart so she can find her own happy ending?

Thursday, June 08, 2006

It's here!!

It’s been my dream to write (and publish) fiction since I attempted my first Nancy Drew-esque novel in junior high. Six years ago, I began to seriously pursue fiction writing, but after completing three manuscripts (and still not finding a publisher), I was discouraged. It seemed like this dream had been a waste of time.

Then Kregel Publications picked up my third novel—the story of a woman's search for the son she lost in a failed adoption. The whirlwind began…contracts, rewriting, marketing, more rewriting. But the process didn’t quite seem real until I received my first copy of Together for Good in the mail this week and opened the cover. My novel. Amazing.

I thank God for His faithfulness. And I’m grateful for the friends and family who’ve supported and prayed for me during this journey.