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

Friday, May 23, 2008

The Black Cloister Final Trailer

And thank you for all of your comments and suggestions for the book trailer!!

Click here if you'd like to watch the final version on YouTube.

The Black Cloister is Here!

My box of The Black Cloister books has arrived! After two years of writing and editing, it was so much fun to rip open the box and see the FINAL version.

The Black Cloister is a suspense novel about two young women—one who is traveling across Germany in search of answers about her past and another who is trapped in an abusive religious cult and doesn’t know how to break free.

The idea for this story was sparked a few years ago while my family and I were living in the former East Germany. As I visited Martin Luther's Wittenberg and learned about the Reformation, I was intrigued by Katharina von Bora (Martin Luther's wife) and her daring escape from a German abbey.

When we returned to the States, I met a woman who had been raised overseas in an abusive religious cult. I began researching cults, and the initial idea about Katharina's escape grew into a contemporary novel that exposes the corruption and spiritual abuse of cult leaders as well as illustrates the balance of God's grace with obedience and service to Him.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Oregon Coast Hike

On Sunday afternoon we escaped to the Oregon coast and found an incredible trail north of Lincoln City. We climbed up a steep hill, ducked under a leafy tunnel, and then hiked over a green pasture. At the top of the mountain were fields of purple and white wildflowers, grazing elk, and an incredible view of the Cascade Head bay and Pacific Ocean. Waves crashed against the boulders and cliffs below us, and clouds rolled over the green peaks in front of us.

The girls made it the four miles up and back with only a few scrapes. Jon's heart about failed when he almost stepped on a fierce black snake (that would be a garter snake, we think...). And I have tire-esque tracks embedded on my chin and left knee to commemorate my very ungraceful tumble down the hill. Everyone's bones are intact though so all is well.

After our hike, we ate clam chowder, fried scallops, fish & chips, and chicken strips on the beach--nothing like good seafood to top off a perfect hike and make you forget about your bumps and bruises.

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Black Cloister Give-A-Way

Last week I created my first book trailer so I could put a video clip about The Black Cloister online. I showed my version to Jon, and my wonderful husband took one look at it, cleared his throat, and said, “uh…do you mind if I take a shot?” ☺

He took quite the shot! After a couple all nighters, he worked his magic to compose music and produce a trailer more amazing than I could have ever imagined. I realize, of course, that I’m a little biased about the “amazing” factor so if you have time to review the trailer, we would both love to hear any comments or suggestions you have on how to make it more compelling.

Click here if you'd like to watch The Black Cloister trailer.

And if you review the trailer this week, please include your comment on as well to register for a free copy of the book.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Invisible Moms

My stepmom sent me this beautiful story today. If anyone knows who wrote it, please let me know so I can credit them.

Happy Mother's Day to all of you wonderful, hardworking, and often invisible moms!

"I'm Invisible"

It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of
response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room
while I'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store.
Inside I'm thinking, "Can't you see I'm on the phone?"
Obviously not. No one can see if I'm on the phone, or
cooking, or sweeping the floor or even standing on my
head in the corner because no one can see me at all.
I'm invisible. The invisible Mom.

Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more:
Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this?

Some days I'm not a pair of hands, I'm not even a human
being, I'm a clock to ask, "What time is it?" I'm a satellite
guide to answer, "What number is the Disney channel?"
I'm a car to order, "Right around 5:30, please."

I was certain that these were the hands that once held
books and the eyes that studied history and the mind
that graduated summa cum laude -- but now they had
disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again.
She's going, she's going, she's gone!

One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating
the return of a friend from England. Janice had just gotten
back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on
about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking
around at the others all put together so well. It was hard
not to compare and feel sorry for myself as I looked down a
t my out-of-style dress; it was the only thing I could find that
was clean. My unwashed hair was pulled up in a hair clip
and I was afraid I could actually smell peanut butter in it. I
was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with
a beautifully wrapped package, and said, "I brought you this."
It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe. I wasn't
exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription:
"To Charlotte, with admiration for the greatness of what you
are building when no one sees."

In the days ahead I would read -- no devour -- the book. And
I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing
truths, after which I could pattern my work: No one can say
who built the great cathedrals -- we have no record of their
names. These builders gave their whole lives for a work
they would never see finished. They made great sacrifices
and expected no credit. The passion of their building was
fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.

A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came
to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw
a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He
was puzzled and asked the man, "Why are you spending
so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered
by the roof? No one will ever see it." The workman replied,
"Because God sees."

I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It
was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, "I see you,
Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when
no one around you does. No act of kindness you've done, no
sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is too small
for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great
cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become."

At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction, but it is not a
disease that is erasing my life, it is the cure for the disease
of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong,
stubborn pride. I keep the right perspective when I see myself
as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job
that they will never see finished, to work on something that
their name will never be on. The writer of the book went so
far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our
lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice
to that degree.

When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend
he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, "My mom
gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and
then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses
all the linens for the table." That would mean I'd built a shrine
or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come
home. Then, if there is anything more to say to his friend,
I'd like him to add, "You're gonna love it there."

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be
seen if we're doing it right. One day, it is very possible that the
world will marvel, not only at what we built, but at the beauty
that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible

Friday, May 09, 2008

Ten years later...

Jon and I are celebrating our anniversary today! Ten years ago we walked down a dusty, makeshift aisle in an old Colorado lodge and said our vows, as our pastor Kelly said, "in the eyes of God and this buffalo head" (which was peering down over our heads as he spoke).

We almost didn't get married under that buffalo head...

Two nights before, Jon and I had a huge fight at rehearsal because he wanted to change the order of our ceremony, and I could NOT handle one more change!! And then I bawled.

What we didn't know was that we had both secretly written each other a song, and that we both wanted to sing it (well, actually my dear friend Tosha, sang mine) at the same time. Of course, we couldn't tell each other our secret so we fought--and learned our lesson early about keeping secrets.

Fortunately Kelly and Tosha both knew what was going on, and Kelly assured Jon and I privately that he would give us an opportunity for the songs. Thank God for Kelly! No one canceled the wedding.

Our reception was held the night before our big day--a country dance at a ghost town museum--and then we woke up to blue sky and fresh snow on Pikes Peak. We ran into another little glitch, though, right before the ceremony. Seconds after the music began, my dad began having second thoughts about the whole wedding thing. He started crying, and I started crying, and it wasn't pretty. When we didn't show up at the doorway, Jon started to worry. I finally tugged on Dad's arm and pulled him to the door and down the aisle toward the buffalo head and my now quite worried groom. Jon thought he might have to wrestle me free, but when Kelly asked, Dad (reluctantly) gave me away.

Kelly forgot to bring our wedding vows (and, apparently, didn't want to tell me. hmm...I wonder why he was scared?). The thing was, though, I never even noticed that he revised our pre-written vows. I only remember saying "I do," listening to Tosha sing my song, and then Kelly turning with a smile and saying, "Now Jon has a surprise." My husband-to-be played his guitar and sang his beautiful song. And then I cried again, but this time for a different reason. I was one happy bride!

I never could have imagined ten years ago about the amazing adventure I was about to embark on that day. It has been an incredible journey...

I'm grateful for the godly, wonderful man who is my husband. I'm grateful for all of you who danced at our "pre-ception," celebrated with us on our wedding day, and have stuck with us now for ten more years. And I'm grateful, Dad, that you finally walked me down that aisle! :)

Monday, May 05, 2008

Spring is (finally!) here

Jon woke up irritated around 5 a.m. this morning and growled, "What is that noise?" I listened and glanced outside the window. That "awful" sound was birds chirping in the trees outside. We laughed, slept a few more hours, and re-woke to a sunny day. Praise God! Blue sky. Warm temps. Short sleeve shirts!! Beside our zoo day last weekend, we haven't have much sunshine this spring. I dusted off my sunglasses and watched the girls jump on the trampoline that Jon recently brought out of hibernation. This was our first full winter in Oregon, and even though the cloudy and rainy days weren't as bad as we'd anticipated, we're grateful for the sunshine. And we're all hoping that it's finally here to stay...