Sunday, August 05, 2007

Going for Broke by Melanie Dobson


Melanie Beroth Dobson is a freelance writer, publicist, and author of Going for Broke (Cook 2007), Together for Good (Kregel 2006), and Latte for One and Loving It! A Single Woman’s Guide to Living Life to Its Fullest (Cook 2000).

Melanie has worked in the fields of publicity and journalism for fifteen years. Prior to launching Dobson Media in 1999, she was the corporate publicity manager at Focus on the Family and a publicist at The Family Channel. She received her undergraduate degree in journalism from Liberty University and her master’s degree in communication at Regent University.

After moving extensively during the past three years with her husband’s work, Melanie and her family have recently settled in Portland, Oregon. When she’s not moving, writing, or entertaining their two young daughters, Melanie enjoys exploring ghost towns, traveling, hiking, and reading inspirational fiction.

More information about Melanie and her family’s adoption story is available at


Why did you become a writer? Was it a dream of yours since you were younger or did the desire to write happen later in your life?
When I was seven, I started writing in a little red journal, and then I pounded out a very short "autobiography" on my parent's typewriter when I was nine. As I grew older, I wrote for every yearbook, newsletter, small-town newspaper, and magazine that would let me publish. Payment, of course, was optional. :)

What do you love about being an author? Is there anything you dislike?
I love meeting my characters and compiling scattered thoughts into a plot. I love telling a story that I hope will impact the way people think and believe. Sometimes the stress of deadlines can feel a little overwhelming, but I consider it an honor and privilege to be able to do what I enjoy so much.

How do you balance your personal and writing time?
I write whenever I can! My issue is not about finding time to write, it’s about finding time to live around my writing. :) I write early mornings, nights, Saturday mornings at the local coffee shop, during my girl's nap time, and sometimes I hire a babysitter to help when I'm on deadline. But
no matter how busy it is, I always try and take Sundays off to worship God and spend time with my family.

How do you write? Do your characters come to you first or the plot or the world of the story?
I usually get a glimpse of a plot through a personal story I hear. For example, a friend of mine grew up in a religious cult, and the more I talked to her about her experiences, the story for The Black Cloister began to form in my mind. Once I have a general idea for the plot, I develop my characters and let them take over.

What genre(s) do you write? Why do you write the stories that you write?
I write general inspirational fiction which includes elements of mystery, suspense, and romance. I love writing inspirational fiction because even in the darkest moments, there is a thread of faith and hope.

What is the biggest misconception about being an author?
I thought I would have hours and hours of uninterrupted time to contemplate and write, but there is a lot of time that goes into the "business of writing" as well as the many interruptions I now have as a mom of two young girls. I've discovered that I MUST outline my novels even if
the outline changes during the writing of the book. That way I can sit down for ten minutes of writing time and know exactly where I am in the story and where I'm headed next.

Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?
My imagination and a wonderful "cheat sheet" resource called "45 Master Characters." This book helped me turn my flat characters into people who live and breathe (at least in my mind).
Out of all the characters that you've written, who is your favorite and why? Tough question, but it was probably Abby in "Together for Good." I understood her pain and anger at God, and I actually cried (in a coffee shop, quite embarrassing) as I discovered the wonderful thing that happens to her and her daughter in the end. That's another thing I love about writing--the discoveries in the midst of your story. You are cheering for your characters as much as your readers are!

Do you have any advice for beginning writers in regards to writing a book?
Persistence is essential in this business! Keep reading and learning the craft and pushing ahead in spite of the discouraging days and rejections. I wrote (and rewrote) three complete novels before my third one was acquired by a publishers.

What are you reading right now?
"Deliver Us from Evelyn" by Chris Well, and I'm rereading "Plot and Structure" by James Scott Bell.



Leia Carlisle can't tell anyone her secret. After a debilitating ski injury, Leia turns to gambling for its empowering adrenaline rush until her obsession consumes her. If she doesn't overcome this addiction, the game will destroy her family, her faith...and her life.


What inspired you to write Going for Broke?
When my husband and I toured an elaborate Caribbean casino on our vacation, I saw an elderly woman with an oxygen tank pull the handle of a slot machine over and over, her eyes empty and sad. I wanted to know why she would spend her golden years, not to mention her vacation, throwing money away in a lonely casino. I could see the longing on her face and it was for more than just a win. She seemed to be using the machine as an escape and perhaps to numb her pain. Then I began to hear other stories about women who’d bankrupted their family through gambling, church leaders who hosted poker nights, and a friend who’d lost his home due to his father's gambling debt. As I researched the dark side of gambling, I realized that this addiction has no respect for age, gender, profession, or religion, and I wrote a story about a Christian woman who succumbs to its allure.

In this novel, Leia Carlisle is confined to her home after a knee injury. Could you relate to her feeling of isolation?
While I was writing Going for Broke, I was marooned in a small flat in the former East Berlin, during the gray German winter, with two toddlers who were dying to be outside. On the days that I felt like I was going crazy, I could identify with Leia’s fear of entrapment and the subsequent depression brought on by her confinement.

How can a follower of Christ become addicted to gambling?
Leia Carlisle is a woman who thrives on risk, and her career as a commercial pilot feeds her need for adrenaline until she’s forced to stay home. As she puts on a façade to cover her anger and discontent, she withdraws from both her relationship with God and her Christian community. Instead of seeking help from other Christians who love her, she turns to gambling for excitement, contentment, and escape.

If Leia had been honest with her husband, would she have lost so much?
Ethan has strong convictions and one of his greatest challenges is that he judges people’s actions before he listens to their story. Because he is so opposed to gambling, Leia feels like she has to hide her growing obsession from him. If she had been honest with him from the beginning, it would have kept her from hurting both of them.

Leia is ashamed of her mother because she has been arrested several times for shoplifting. How does her mother’s addiction impact Leia and her problem with gambling?
Leia doesn’t realize that her mother has a problem with compulsion, and she also doesn’t realize that impulse-control disorders are hereditary. Even as she condemns her mother for her weakness, Leia believes she is too strong to be overpowered by an addiction…until it’s too late. Recognizing that she is too weak to overcome her gambling addiction is Leia’s first step to recovery.

Are people really willing to risk their life for gambling?
Many compulsive gamblers become desperate and often suicidal when they realize how much money they’ve lost through gambling. And many of them, like Leia, have secretly taken out loans and embezzled money to cover their gambling losses. Because they still can’t stop gambling on their own, suicide often seems like the only way out. Approximately one in five compulsive gamblers attempt suicide.

How many women are problem gamblers?
I read a story last week in our local newspaper about a successful and otherwise upstanding career woman who had embezzled almost $800,000 from her company to gamble. While no one will ever know exactly how many men or women are pathological gamblers, approximately two to three percent of adults (six to nine million) have a gambling problem, and between one and two percent of the adult population are compulsive gamblers. Women succumb to gambling nearly three times faster than men.

What do you hope readers will take away from Going for Broke?
I hope Leia’s story will be a reminder that without God’s power in our lives, none of us are strong enough to fight sin and addiction. And as children of God, our Father desires to love and protect us even when we fail.

Where can someone get more information about gambling addiction?
There are several great organizations that help men and women recover from problem and compulsive gambling. Gamblers Anonymous is a fellowship for gamblers while Gam-Anon is an organization for their spouse, family, and close friends. There is also a ministry called Gambling Exposed! that alerts the church to the deceptive, predatory nature of gambling and gives hope to those with a gambling problem. Additional resources are available on my Website at


Going for Broke is a fast-paced read and an addiction of its own. Melanie brilliantly captures the allure of “just one more try” and the slippery slope that leads from entertainment to destruction. Take a gamble on this book—you’re sure to promise yourself, “Just one more page!”—Alison Strobel, author of Worlds Collide and Violette Between

In Going for Broke, Melanie Dobson pens a tale that is both touching and devastating. Through each page-turning chapter, the tension builds, pulling the reader into the very core of the heroine’s struggle with the addiction of gambling. A very powerful, compelling read that had me cheering at the end.”—Nancy Jo Jenkins, author of Coldwater Revival

In Going for Broke, Melanie Dobson artistically paints the secret life of the compulsive gambler and then shines the bright light of help and hope. Bravo!—Mary Hunt, author of Debt-Proof Living

“I was amazed at the insight Melanie Dobson had regarding this hidden addiction. Her sensitivity, yet witty portrayal of the main character captures the reality of what many female gamblers experience. Going for Broke is a must read for anyone who has a friend or family member with a gambling problem.”—Eileen Fox, Gambling Counselor

Purchase Going for Broke by Melanie Dobson HERE!!!

posted by Rachelle
at 2:30 PM