Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Day Two With Pam Hillman

We welcome back Pam Hillman, author of Stealing Jake and the recently released, western romance, Claiming Mariah. Both novels are published through Tyndale House.

Pam, what sparked the idea for Claiming Mariah?

Several years ago, I read a novel where a bank robber tosses a sack of stolen money in the back seat of a hand-to-mouth college student’s car. She kept the money and eventually started a very successful business. She justified her actions because she anonymously created a charity to help destitute young women get back on their feet. But, as the old saying goes, two wrongs don’t make a right, and that wasn’t quite right from a Christian’s perspective, was it? I based Claiming Mariah on the following question: “What would a Christian do if they found out their whole livelihood had been based on a lie?” Mariah does the right thing by writing to Slade’s father asking for forgiveness, but the consequences of her actions end up being way more than she bargained for.

Are you a full-time writer or do you hold a day job? What is the biggest challenge/obstacle you face in protecting your writing time?

Until very recently, I worked a day job as a purchasing manager for an OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) company. But after holding down a full-time job, a part-time job as conference treasurer for ACFW, writing, and being a wife and mother, (I figure all of that together constitutes 3.5 jobs. Wouldn’t you agree?) I now only have 2.5 jobs. And, the scary part is I’m just as busy as I when I worked outside the home. The biggest challenge for me is to not have tunnel vision so bad on one task that other equally important tasks don’t get done on time.

When starting a new project, do you tend to begin with a time period or event and create the characters to live it, or do you start with characters and then find their story?
I generally start with an event, or a story question. For Claiming Mariah, it was the question mentioned above, “What would a Christian do if they discovered their whole livelihood was based on a lie?”

Stealing Jake started out as a novella proposal for a Cowboy Christmas anthology for Tyndale House. Interesting that it didn’t make the cut as a novella, but ended up as my debut novel with them, huh?

What is the biggest misconception beginning writers have about being published?

I can’t speak for others, but before I started writing (many years ago), I thought writers created stories as the plot, character, and events unfolded in their imagination. That’s how real life happens, isn’t it? We don’t have a clue what’s going to happen in the next second, the next minute, let alone hours, weeks, or years.

Nope, doesn’t happen that way. A well-crafted story doesn’t just happen. The storyteller builds it, from the ground up. Otherwise, it will crumble like a sand castle in a hurricane.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

First: Believe in yourself. I tamped down the dream until I was almost thirty years old because the author bios and the glamour shots on the back of the books in the bookstore intimidated me. Who was I to think I could compete with such poise, such sophistication, education, and competence? Surely those authors came from wealth and power. But sometimes that glamour shot might be an illusion, the bio polished a little too brightly. You, dear writer friend, are just as worthy as the next person.

Second: If you’re writing Christian fiction, join ACFW. Develop friendships with other writers, not just connections, but true-blue, ask-me-anything, I’ve-got-your-back friends. It took me years to find those friends because I’m a fairly private person. I don’t open up to others very well, but those friends are the very reason I can be this candid with you today. Find them. Embrace them.

Pam Hillman, it has been a pleasure having you as our guest at Novel PASTimes! We look forward to reading more of your engaging western romances.

Readers, don't forget to leave a comment and answer these questions from the author to be entered in a drawing to win a digital copy of Claiming Mariah:

 What intrigues you the most about historicals? The geographical location? The time period? The history? The characters? The plot? The cover? Give examples of books you still remember years and years later.

In celebration of her release of Claiming Mariah, Pam Hillman is on a Blog Tour offering more free gifts. You can visit her Facebook event page for more details. Click here.


debbie curto said...

I like all the time period, the characters and the plot and the book covers
Gone with the Wind
And Annie Of green Gable series

Pam Hillman said...

Debbie, great to see you here. Have a seat and stick around, friend. Right here by Elaine. (She's a sweetheart!)

Would you like coffee? Tea? Some juice. Cookie's got flapjacks, eggs and bacon in the cookhouse ready and waiting.

Gone with the Wind is a timeless favorite, isn't it? You can't beat Rhett and Scarlett! :)

karenk said...

thanks for the chance to read this beautiful story

kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Sarah said...

I like the Nancy Drew series.
I would love to win,Enter me!!
Thanks for the giveaway and God Bless!!
Sarah Richmond

Pam Hillman said...

Karen, thanks for dropping in. Drizzly, rainy day here, but I'm snug inside.

Sarah, loved Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys. Great stuff. Just thinking about either of those series transports me instantly to the library, my home away from home as a kid. Ah, sweet memories!

Have some coffee, ladies. Cookie's coffee is strong enough float iron, but Slade likes it that way. We'll just add some hot water when Cookie's not looking...

Elaine Marie Cooper said...

That Cookie can brew up some STRONG java! :) You talk to him, Pam, while I secretly add extra milk to dilute. Don't want to offend him...he's such a sweet guy.

Nancy Drew takes me back to my childhood days of (literally) holding the flashlight under the bedcovers so Mom wouldn't know I was still reading! The library never seemed to have enough volumes of my favorite sleuth.

Another childhood favorite was "Jane Eyre." I still love window seats. ;-) And, actually, I still love the story!

Pat Jeanne Davis said...

Thoroughly enjoyed this interview with Pam and the opportunity to get to know her and the writing process that she uses when starting a project. Especially appreciated the advice to writers, particularly to seek true blue friends not just connections. I feel Pam would be such a person. The historical west hasn't been my favorite time period. But very recently when it was available on NetFlix, I watched all the seasons of the 1960's tv series The Virginian. I love it. Congratulations on the release of Claiming Mariah, Pam, and God's blessing upon you and your writing.

Pam Hillman said...

Elaine, Cookie just puts the pot on the cookstove and let's it boil.

And that flashlight??? I remember reading ALL night one night. I put a towel under the door so the light wouldn't show through. Mama and daddy had to get up about 5:00 am to go milk, and I remember hearing somebody stirring in the kitchen. I hoped out of bed, heart pounding, and rushed to turn out the light.

I probably had to work in the hayfield that day, but I don't remember being tired. I was probably too anxious to get back to my book to think about sleep! lol

Window seats...lovely...sigh...

Pam Hillman said...

Pat, you are too sweet! Connections are wonderful, and yes, we need them in any walk of life, but when it comes down to it, nothing beats a true-blue friend.

I don't have any sisters, but I have The Seekers, women who are my sisters of the heart!

Diana Flowers said...

PAM, I'm always amazed when I hear of you women that seem to do it all! If I can keep the bills paid, the house cleaned and supper cooked, I feel like I've really done something! And keep my reviews written, of course! lol

I answered your question yesterday, but when I was reading a new book last night, I realized how important setting is to me, and also the description of that setting. I was mesmerized by the author's description of the island in the book -- from the parrots, monkeys, coconut trees, the aquamarine water, etc. I love being able to see the setting when I read. I used to skim descriptions when I was young -- what was wrong with me? lol


Joanne Bischof said...

This is a lovely, lovely cover. Just stunning! I tend to get drawn in by the characters. I love getting to know a group of characters and that's always what makes me return to a book, eager to see what's going to happen next. :) Lovely interview, ladies!

Viktor Steiner said...

Mainly, it's the characters, but they have to fit into the historical setting; I also want to learn what life was like in that time and place.
"Nothing Else Matters" by Patricia St John made a deep impression on me many years ago.
Cheers, Viktor

Diana said...

Loved the review. I love the people in a book but then again place and time plays a part also. Guess I like it all. I love LOve comes softly series I have read them many times and also watched the movies of. Thanks for the chance to win. I really love your cover picture.

Elaine Marie Cooper said...

Pam, thank you again for being such a gracious guest. I so enjoyed getting to know you better and I know our readers did as well. And yes, your advice to writers to find true blue friends was spot-on. They are the best source of encouragement in this difficult profession, and by encouraging them back, we are drawn out of being self-focused. Thanks for your insights...and for a delightful read!