Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Pam Hillman ~ For the Love of a Child: An Ode to Will

Please join me in welcoming Tyndale author Pam Hillman who was born and raised on a dairy farm in Mississippi and spent her teenage years perched on the seat of a tractor raking hay.

In those days, her daddy couldn’t afford two cab tractors with air conditioning and a radio, so Pam drove the Allis Chalmers 110. Even when her daddy asked her if she wanted to bale hay, she told him she didn’t mind raking. Raking hay doesn’t take much thought so Pam spent her time working on her tan and making up stories in her head. Now, that’s the kind of life every girl should dream of!

Her work has placed in dozens of writer’s contests, including being a four-time finalist in Romance Writers of America’s prestigious Golden Heart contest for unpublished novelists with Claiming Mariah, her second novel, winning the coveted Golden Heart. Her debut novel, Stealing Jake, is a 2013 Epic eBook Awards finalist.

Now that you've read this, you'll glean a bit more about Pam from her post below:

Will Woods was our milk man when I was a little bitty squirt. And by milk man, I don’t mean he picked up those small 5 gallon milk cans. He drove a milk tanker and transported a gazillion gallons of milk every day.
 We lived down a long dead-end country road, and I could hear a car coming from a mile away. So it was no wonder that I could hear Will comin’ long, long before he got there.

Will gave me my first tricycle. Mama said Will didn’t have kids at that time, so I don’t know where he got the tricycle, but I distinctly remember that he brought it to me in the cab of his tractor-trailer for my birthday. I loved Will with all the passion of a pre-schooler who didn’t see anybody other than my parents and older brothers all week. Since my parents both worked on the farm, I didn’t go to pre-school or daycare: the dairy was my daycare; my brother, the dogs, cats, and newborn calves my playmates.

Will picked up our milk every other day, but I was too young to process how often “tomorrow” really meant, so I’m sure I drove Mama crazy asking when Will would be there. But I was old enough to know that if Mama and Daddy were done with the milking, it wouldn’t be long before Will showed up.

I have a good imagination (I’m a writer, after all), and this is kind of hazy, but I seem to recall sitting on the cement steps at the barn many a morning on those off days, and then trudging to the house when I realized Will wasn’t going to show up that day.
One Sunday morning, Mama was getting us all ready for church, rushing around as only a farm mother can do after getting up at five am to milk a herd of Holstein cows, and next thing she knew, I came flying out of the back room like a wild cat. She made a grab for me, but I tore out of the house toward the barn, yelling “Will’s comin’! Will’s comin’!” 

She hadn’t heard a thing. But I had. 

I’d heard that big motor, and those big wheels bringing my friend to me. And it didn’t matter that on some days all he brought was a tootsie roll or a piece of gum. He’d remembered me, and I was happy. 

While I had a loving, Christian family with roots deep in the red clay hills of Mississippi, my friendship with Will reminds me of Jimmy Denton’s relationship with Slade and Buck Donovan in Claiming Mariah.

Jimmy’s home situation isn’t the best: His pa is a drunkard, and they live in a shack that is falling down around their ears. Slade and Buck Donovan see a bit of themselves in the little boy, and they befriend Jim. Eventually, the caring and acceptance of the Donovans touch the entire Denton family, allowing healing and family to mend. Jimmy’s story is not the main thread in Claiming Mariah, but it is an important part. Jimmy weaves himself into Slade and Mariah’s story and finds a home there. Right where he belongs. 

Back to my friend, Will Woods. In my young mind, I assumed Will lived far, far away. As I wrote this blog post, I couldn’t remember his last name, so I called my mother. Mama told me she’d recently seen Will at a Wildlife Jamboree in our community. Over forty years after he ran the route as our milk man, some little nugget prompts me to write an article to honor the attention a man showed a little girl who lived on the back side of nowhere, only to find out he lives right here in my community, and not far, far away as I’d always thought. 

That God. He’s amazing, isn’t he? 

And so are the men and women who take time for a child.

In light of her father’s death, Mariah Malone sends a letter that will forever alter the lives of her family. When Slade Donovan, strong willed and eager for vengeance, shows up on her front porch, Mariah is not ready to hear his truths: her father’s farm, the only home she’s ever known, was bought with stolen gold. With Slade ready to collect his father’s rightful claim and force Mariah and her family out on the streets, Mariah must turn to God for guidance. Though Mr. Fredrick Cooper, a local landowner, promises to answer her financial woes if she agrees to be his bride, Mariah finds herself drawn instead to the angry young man demanding her home.

With the ranch now under Slade’s careful eye, he will unearth more than he ever imagined as a devious plot of thievery, betrayal and murder threatens more than the well-being of the ranch, endangering the lives of those who hold it dear. With days dwindling until the rest of the Donovan clan arrive to the Lazy M ranch, Mariah and Slade must rise above the resentment of their fathers and see their true feelings before greed alters their futures forever.

          B&N link:
          CBD link:
Goodreads link:
And if you want to contact Pam, here are numerous ways. 
Twitter: or @PamHillman

Thanks Pam, for visiting with us, and I hope you all enjoyed her stay here.




  1. Leslie, so excited to be your guest today.

    And your readers will get a sneak peek at how Slade Donovan and Jimmy Denton meet on your blog on Saturday.

    What fun to tie today's post and an excerpt from Claiming Mariah together! :)

  2. Will be travelling today, so want to try out my new iPhone. :)

    Here goes nothing!!

  3. Cool! Will try to stay in touch.

  4. Hi Pam,
    Thank you for being with us today. And Saturday for your excerpt from Claiming Mariah!

    Isn't technology great? Now you can be in touch on almost anything with a phone. Kinda scary as well.

    Wonderful story, your Ode to Will.


  5. What a lovely story! I'm so glad you Will to enrich your life. It does mean a lot, what a single caring person can do for others.

    Congratulations on winning the Golden Heart and on your story. I'm sure your stories will reflect the wonder and love of your childhood.

  6. Great, great post, Pam! No wonder you're a master storyteller. You pulled me right in to this snippet of your childhood make me want to know more : ) Wood really Will's last name, or is that the product of a child imagining he drives through the woods?

    I loved your first book, Stealing Jake. Claiming Mariah will be just as terrific.

    Keep it up, Pam!

  7. Ha, I was so giddy over seeing Pam here, I forgot to thank you, Leslie for hosting her!!!

    THANK YOU!!!!

  8. Well, I found out it was a lot harder to get online with my phone than I thought.

    Not that I couldn't get online part of the time, but goodness, there was no TIME to do it while eating at the Hibachi Grill, then shopping at the mall, and did I mention that I had to drive, in spite of the fact that I had PLENTY of help from back seat drivers.

    Ellis & Audra, so glad to see you here! And yes, Woods is his real last name. :)

  9. Hi, Pam!

    I must say that I got lost in your storytelling because of your wonderful way with words and because, for a short spell, you brought me back in time to my childhood. I may not have lived on a farm, but I was surrouned by them, and I often happily gave up play to voluntarily lend a hand stacking bales of hay, preparing vegetables for roadside sale, etc. I remember once when I brought a new friend home, they called me the "corn-fed girl from cow country." I found that endearing, and it was meant in this regard. Anyhow, I too had a person such as your "Will" who I looked forward to seeing every day--she mentored me along and taught me to be the tomboy that I still am today.

    Anyway, I can see why your writing has garnered so many awards, and I wish you even greater success in the future.

    Oh, and thanks, Leslie Ann, for another great post!

  10. Ellis, Audra, Lisa and Pam,

    I truly believe one of the greatest things about blogs is the community it can inspire. Lisa, I didn't realize you'd grown up in around farms. See?

    We live in a diverse wonderful world and are so lucky to be authors and allow bits of that world to color and enhance our stories.


  11. Yup, I did, Leslie Ann! You wouldn't believe all of the activities the gaggle of kids in my neighborhood dreamed up to do. And those are the memories this post brought back to me that I savored along with my cup of coffee this morning and that jumpstarted my day in a positive direction. I often wonder how I could bundle all of those lovely adventures into a full-length novel.