Stealing Jake…and a Kindle Giveaway with Pam Hillman

To get your name in a drawing for the KINDLE Pam Hillman is giving away to celebrate the release of her ebook, click the picture above and obey. But go there, and then COME BACK HERE to learn more about Pam’s exciting new western romance. Pam is also giving away an ebook copy of Stealing Jake to P & P readers today. You do NOT have to have a Kindle or other reading device to win, but read on to find out details.

Now here is Pam Hillman talking about her visit to:

The Natchez Trace


I called my mother and said, “I’m going on a research trip. Wanna come along?”

She jumped at the chance, and the two of us spent a couple of days in Natchez, Mississippi, established in 1716 and one of the oldest European settlements in the lower Mississippi River Valley. We traveled down the Natchez Trace, stopping at some of the sites along the way. I video-taped much of what we saw, and have this long-running commentary in my Southern drawl that definitely needs editing!

Here are a few of the stops along the way with pictures, and part of my running monologue, with a few of my mother’s thoughts on our adventure thrown in.


This is part of the old Sunken Trace, also known as the Natchez Trace and The Devil’s Backbone. This spot is about 40 miles North of Natchez. In one area, the trace forked, then came back together. I can only assume that at some point the road had become so bad that travelers carved out another route, then merged back into the original road.

The trace began as a series of paths for hunters. By 1733 the French had mapped the land showing an Indian trail linking Natchez to the northeast. Ohio River Valley farmers floated their crops and products down the Mississippi river to Natchez and New Orleans, sold the flatboats for lumber, then returned via the trace.

To give you a better idea of how worn this trail had become before falling into disuse in the early 1900’s, here is a picture of my mother standing at a distance on the trail itself. You can see where the road merges back together on the left of this picture.


We were there about nine in the morning on July 9. It was very still, and the temperature was still fairly comfortable, but getting a little steamy. There were no birds, no squirrels, or other animals out and about at that time of day. Mama informed me that if we had gotten there earlier, we would have heard the birds chirping, possibly seen squirrels running around, so I bow to her wisdom. But deep in those canyon walls of the trace, the crickets and grasshoppers created a constant chirping like the muted roar of a distant stream.

I can just imagine all sorts of trouble on that trail. Can’t you?

Our next stop was Mount Locust. It is one of the only inns left standing that dotted the old trace along the 500 mile route between 1785-1830. It has been restored to its 1810 appearance when travel on the trace was at its peak. Mount Locust is about 15 miles north of Natchez and was the first stand on the road toward Nashville. We arrived at Mount Locust about 10 in morning and the temperature had climbed with the sun. It was hot and muggy, and you could cut the humidity with a knife. 

Ranger Rick was on duty at the gift shop, and he and I had a great time chatting about the area. My poor mother had to put up with me traipsing all over the grounds taking pictures and videotaping. Her self-guided tour ended before mine, and she high-tailed it back to the gift shop to wait me out with Ranger Rick and the AC!

Mount Locust was considered lavish for a frontier home of the time period since most homes were crude one room log cabins. A couple of things I’d like to point out. The beautiful green fields surrounding Mount Locust were probably filled with crops when it was a working plantation and a stop for weary travelers.


I also included the picture of the table setting. The small table in the back is set with horn cups. Little things like horn cups seem to get lost in the big picture when writing historicals. But just as little foxes can spoil the vine, little details can make your story shine.

 And my favorite picture of the entire trip is this one that I took of the arbor. I fell in love with the arbor. The canopy of trees plus the greenery over the arbor created a cool breeze even on such a steamy hot day. This picture is now my wallpaper on my laptop.

And when I get a chance to work on my wip

set in the area, all I have to do is look at that picture and I am IN Connor and Marie’s world.

Split Rail Fence

I could go on and on, but I’m afraid this has gone too long already.

My mother and I enjoyed the rest of the trip immensely, touring King’s Tavern, Ellicott Hill (1797), Natchez Under-the-Hill, and a host of other places.
Mary, thank you for inviting me to Petticoats and Pistols. I’ve had a blast transcribing my video footage for the P&P readers. Just wish I could have shared more, but y’all meet me under the arbor.

Wooden Cantine

 We’ll share a cool glass of lemonade chilled in the nearby well and chew the fat until the sun goes down.

Stealing Jake

When Livy O’Brien spies a young boy jostling a man walking along the boardwalk, she recognizes the act for what it is. After all, she used to be known as Light-fingered Livy. But that was before she put her past behind her and moved to the growing town of  Chestnut, Illinois, where she’s helping to run an orphanage. Now she’ll do almost anything to protect the street kids like herself.

Sheriff’s deputy Jake Russell had no idea what he was in for when he ran into Livy–literally–while chasing down a pickpocket. With a rash of robberies and a growing number of street kids in town–as well as a loan on the family farm that needs to be paid off–Jake doesn’t have time to pursue a girl. Still, he can’t seem to get Livy out of his mind. He wants to get to know her better . . . but Livy isn’t willing to trust any man, especially not a lawman.

The winner of the Kindle will also receive 8 books (and counting) on the Kindle.
And read Pam’s blog Calico Trails

Award-winning author Pam Hillman writes inspirational fiction set in the turbulent times of the American West and the Gilded Age. Her debut book, Stealing Jake, won the American Christian Fiction Writer’s Genesis contest and was a finalist in Romance Writers of America’s prestigious Golden Heart contest. She lives in Mississippi with her husband and family.  


Pam on the web:

My website:

My blog:

Group blog:


Stealing Jake is an ebook ONLY. But, you do NOT have to have a Kindle or Nook or device like that to get it. It will download to your computer if you get the Kindle/Nook/etc app for your PC, MAC, iPad or cell phone. Leave a comment to get your name in the drawing for a ecopy of Stealing Jake.

Or…click the cover below to buy.


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52 thoughts on “Stealing Jake…and a Kindle Giveaway with Pam Hillman”

  1. Pam, I’ve always been fascinated by the Natchez Trace, a part of history that many know nothing about. And you describe that quiet, heading-into-steamy morning so accurately. Don’t you just love research trips where you come back with your mind buzzing with story ideas and alive with the setting?

  2. Mary, I know how you feel. I live in Mississippi and it’s HOT, so I really don’t want to go outside for much of anything. But I’ll brave even the heat for a good research trip and great food!

  3. Pam, what a fascinating research trip. Don’t you just love trying to feel the life of your characters?

    I could imagine the arbor through your description and the photo. I think I want one of those. LOL! I’ll sneak it onto hubby’s to-do list : )

    Stealing Jake is an awesome read and I applaud Tyndale House for taking the initiative to step out and be a pioneer – so to speak – in this new publishing industry.
    Way to go, Pam!

  4. Cara and Glynna, I typed out a nice long comment, and then lost it. Grrrr! lol

    The modern Natchez Trace Parkway, built in the 1930s, parallels the old trace. It’s a wonderful scenic route from Nashville, TN to Natchez, MS. Travel “the trace” as we call it in Spring or Fall, see the sites, and visit the Spring or Fall Pilgrimage in Natchez to get a real flavor of life in the 1800s.

  5. Diana, you are a brave woman to attempt to read Stealing Jake on your phone!

    Speaking of research trips, I really, really want to go up into Illinois and poke around the area South/Southwest of Chicago. That’s where Jake is set. I’ve been through there, and did plenty of online research and read books, but I’d love to tour some coal mines while I work on the next book. Glynna, like you said, it sure makes the story come alive when you can do that. If my cowboy doesn’t want to go with me, I might corral Mama again! lol

    Cowboy loves to travel, but he gets a little shifty if he thinks I’m going to do research because he knows I’m going to stalk complete strangers and probably be quite annoying! lol

  6. Audra, we enjoyed the trip. I just wish I would have allowed another day or two, and I do want to go back in the Springtime. Not sure I want to go for Spring Pilgrimage because there will be so many people it is unreal, but we’ll see.

    And I loved the arbor too. Just loved it. The rustic feel of it. The visual. Nice!

    Let us know how it pans out on hubby’s to-do list! lol

  7. The old trace has an extremely violent history. It’s known as The Devil’s Backbone because of the many travellers who lost their lives to American “highwaymen” in the 1700s.

    Before the steamboat arrived in the early 1800s, merchants floated their wares down the Mississippi river to Natchez and New Orleans, sold (or abandoned) their flatboats, then headed back North on the trace, their pockets flush with their earnings.

    Enter men such as the Harpe brothers. Big Harpe and Little Harpe were some seriously violent outlaws. Some of the things they did to their victims will make your skin crawl!

  8. Fascinating, Pam! But couldn’t you have chosen a cooler time of year for this tour? ;>D I bet it’s gorgeous in spring or fall.

    Is the inn at Mount Locust still functional, or just for exhibit? I love it when historic locales are maintained as close to their original era as possible.

    Finished STEALING JAKE last week and thoroughly enjoyed it! Congratulations again, Pam!

  9. I agree, Myra! But I was in the throes of plotting the first book in a series, and needed to go right that MINUTE. lol

    But I’m only about 30 miles from the trace, and a couple of hours from Natchez, so it’s not that difficult to plan another road trip. So, we’ll go again.

    Mount Locust is mostly for exhibit right now, but many of the historic homes in Natchez do have attendants in historical garb during Spring and Fall Pilgrimage. It’s a huge affair twice a year, every year.

  10. Great photos, what a wonderful research trip. I would love to read Stealing Jake, it sound like a great read. Thanks for sharing with us today, and for the wonderful contest.

  11. Quilt Lady, so glad you stopped by.

    Hey, everybody, don’t forget…since P&P is such a special place, I’m giving away a copy of Stealing Jake, so make sure you let us know if you’d like to be in the drawing. It’s available as a ebook for Kindle or Nook, and if you WIN, we’ll find out which version you need.

  12. Sherri, I just scratched the surface of the drop in the bucket about maybe 1/20th of my trip, which was about 1/millionth of the history of the trace and Natchez.


  13. Pam, a big welcome to the Junction! We’re thrilled to have you. Looking at the pictures of Natchez Trace I started imagining all sorts of stories. It looks likes such a neat place. I’d like to go there one day and experience it for myself. There’s one called Trammel Trace that begins here in Texas (far East Texas) and runs into Arkansas. I’ve seen it and loved every minute. Actually it stirred my imagination so much that I wrote it into one of my books the title of which was Redemption.

    Hope you enjoy your day.

  14. What do you mean, you’re “afraid this has gone too long already”? This is absolutely fascinating, and I loved every word you wrote about it. I wish there were more!!! No wonder you’ve gotten such great reviews on Stealing Jake. Your sense of history and detail make you a better writer. Thanks for sharing this with us. I absolutely loved it! Petticoats and Pistols has become one of my favorite places to visit (along with Seekerville). Thanks, again!

  15. Oooh, Linda, now I want to travel the Trammel Trace as well! When I was standing in (as you can see from the pictures, you don’t stand ON it) the old trace, my imagination went wild, thinking of all the people who had travelled that road. The lives and loves lost and gained. So many stories to tell….

    Oh, and I forgot to mention earlier that the modern Natchez Trace has a speed limit of (55), I think. And biking is very popular.

  16. Pam,

    This was a fascinating post! Really wonderful. I’d love to visit the Natchez Trace so much history the imagination runs wild.

    Thanks for sharing, and continued success with STEALING JAKE a great read.


  17. Loved Stealing Jake and if you haven’t read it yet, you need to grab it. It’s truly unique. I love your site and all these beautiful pictures. What an interesting one. Blessings for success, BJ

  18. Kirsten (love your name!) and Barabara, so glad you both stopped by today, and that you loved Stealing Jake.

    I’ve been so blessed with such sweet comments from people who enjoyed the story. Since it’s my debut, this is my first time at the rodeo, but I’m loving it!

  19. Yeah, Tracy, we don’t get any writing done because we hop from blog to blog, thinking what cool idea that is, then we spend the rest of the day plotting a story set in a new locale with new characters.

    I saw yesterday’s blog post here titled, “Say Cheese”. Had to force myself not to start making up stories about all the characters in that picture!

    So tempting! lol

  20. Your research trip sounds so exciting. I would love to visit historical sites and towns, a place where things are mostly unchanged. The Southern drawl in books are fun 🙂

  21. Tamara!!! We posted on top of each other and somehow I missed your comment. My bad. SO glad you stopped by. Isn’t history fascinating? I don’t know why I wasn’t more enamored with it in school. Maybe it was because I took off on those rabbit trails making up stories about the unknown characters in the pictures instead listening to the teacher talking about the famous ones in the text.

  22. Na, I’d love to take more research trips too. But I’m afraid that type of thing is pretty boring to my family members. I’m always looking for my next mark on who’s going to travel with me.

  23. Pam,

    Your trip sounds wonderful! Great pictures and I love your descriptions. 🙂 I love visiting historical sites. 🙂

    I’m working on my very first historical western romance and just found this site. There is a wealth of information here and I’m getting such a kick out of reading through the archives. I even sent this link to my friend Gary Goodnight who is a direct descendant of Colonel Charles Goodnight.
    I’m so excited about this new writing journey. I’ve always written contemporary but I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE reading historical romances especially westerns. I don’t know why I waited so long to try my hand.

    Thanks for letting me gush,


  24. I know this makes me a dork, but I really love that table. All those tin plates. I want to touch them!!!!
    That is a slice of life as it was back then. Tin everything. That one glass bottle. I can just stare and stare and STARE.

  25. Pam, loved reading all about your trip along the Trace. I’ve been to Natchez but misssed Mount Locust! Fascinating photos! Made me feel like I was right there with you.

    Stealing Jake was the first book I downloaded when I got my Kindle! Great story! Congrats!

  26. This was so interesting! The Devil’s Backbone that I know of is a geographical feature…kind of like the plates on the back of a dinosaur. So this was neat to learn a little something else about the name.

    I already have Stealing Jake, but would love to be entered to win the Kindle!


  27. The pictures are wonderful! Would love to see The Trace someday.

    Stealing Jake sounds like a great read.

  28. Thanks for the photographs and the historical information on this little-discussed area. I
    love having authors share their research trip
    stories. Please include me in the drawing and
    thanks for your generosity to us, the readers!

    Pat Cochran

  29. Hi, Pam, Thank you for the wonderful pictures of the Natchez Trace. I had no idea the trail had been worn so deeply into the earth. A trip to explore it has been on my wish list for several years now. Once my husband retires, soon, we will be able to take trips like that when we feel like it. I am so looking forward to it. This is just the type of trip we enjoy and take locally when we can.
    Congratulations on your Golden Heart nomination for STEALING JAKE and for its winning the Am. Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Award. Not bad for a debut book : ) Sounds good.

    Best of luck with your writing career.

  30. I enjoyed the blog. My parents and sister went there several years ago and I remember them saying how beautiful it was on the trail.

  31. Sorry I was AWOL for a while. Had a speaking gig at a benefit for Austin, a young friend with cerebral palsy. The turn out was great, and they’re having an auction tonight, with a lot of stuff to auction off. I’ve got to post some pics I took at the benefit, then I’ll catch up on comments.

    So glad to see everyone gathered here. Is there any lemonade left???

  32. Cher, welcome to the dark side. ha

    Isn’t P&P amazing? I learn so much every time I stop by. Okay, I sorta skimmed the post about the dental work because those implements looked downright painful!!!

  33. I know, Mary, me too. And as I was walking around videotaping with my little monologue going on.

    Then some STRANGERS came into the house to look around. A mother, some kids, nine-ten’ish.

    So I had a choice. Stop taping and talking to myself or keep going.

    And it was getting hotter by the minute.

    Rreally hot!

    So, I just kept recording and talking and in one place, the woman and I have this discussion about something in one of the rooms. She probably wondered what in the world I was doing.

  34. Ah, a first for Debby! Yay! Thank you Debby.

    Jeannie, make sure you go to my website, click on CONTEST and register to win the Kindle. And I’m so thrilled you’ve already got a copy of Stealing Jake! Thanks girl!

  35. Okay, P&P peeps, I’m gone again! Sorry about that. Got another event for another couple of hours, but I’ll be back to check in later.

    And I posted pics on my facebook page of my little friend at his benefit today. He looks really cool with all his biker friends!

  36. Ilove reading about the research you gals do for your craft. It often sends to do my own reading research about these places. Thank you.

  37. Love the pictures! I love driving the chase, too! It’s so peaceful! This past spring my sis and I were asked to dress up as one of the southern belles for the Spring Pilgrimage, but something came up and we couldn’t. I wanted to so bad! Puts me in mind of the movie Tammy and the Bachelor.

    Really enjoyed the post. Thanks for giving us a glimpse of Natchez trace history!

  38. Pat, so glad you stopped by.

    Research is fun for some of us that are ‘tetched in the head. Must be the blistering heat of the sun bearing down on me that makes me enjoy it so much. Sometimes I get so caught up in the research, my word count suffers. Not a good trade-off for sure!

  39. You’re in the drawing, Apple Blossom!

    Patricia B., isn’t it amazing. Makes me think of the ruts the wagon trains made going West. Sad to think of so many of those begin bull-dozed or homes built on them. This area is part of the parkway now, but can you imagine losing that history to developers? Makes my heart lurch just a bit to think about it!!!

  40. Tretha, it is beautiful, and peaceful. But standing there in the quiet, though, I could imagine the jingle of harness, the snort of a horse, the stomp of hooves on the ground.

  41. Thanks Vicky! I hope you enjoy it.

    Connie, we do suffer for our books, don’t we? But somebody has to do it, so I suppose I shall muster on.

    Natalie, wouldn’t it be so fun to be a southern belle at Spring Pilgrimage? Of course I’d have to be a matron at my age. But I’d also be afraid people would ask me way too many questions that I wouldn’t have answers for, so I think I’ll just be the one asking questions for now.

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