Monday, September 7, 2015

Stealing Jake by Pam Hillman ends 9/14

 Welcome Pam Hillman! Pam is giving away a copy of Stealing Jake. Be sure to leave a comment. And don't forget to leave your email. If you follow my blog be sure to mention that for an extra chance to win.

The main character in my latest novel, Stealing Jake, Livy O’Brien, is a former pickpocket and street kid from Chicago. In addition, there’s a whole passel of street kids who’ve ended up on the streets of Chestnut, either run out of Chicago or transported as child labor to the small coal-mining town.
As an avid reader, a fan of Oliver Twist, and the orphan trains of the 1800s, the idea of street kids and sweatshops isn’t foreign to me. But I’ve spoken to some readers who seemed shocked that children lived such lives here in the United States then and now.
How do they don’t know this?
How do they not know that there are people—men, women and children—all over the world still living in abject poverty. No food, no shelter, and no way of finding either?
With this question burning in my mind, I started a quest to figure out how this happens in certain parts of the world, specifically in cities like New York and Chicago in the 1800s.
I discovered a book titled How the Other Half Lives by Jacob Riis. Mr. Riis was a journalist and photographer who set out to document the lives of the tenements in New York City in the late 1800s.
During the industrial revolution, scads of poor flooded the cities looking for work in factories. The work was touted as being easier than the back-breaking labor of share-cropping. As the poor flooded the cities, the rich retreated to their country homes, but many still owned homes, buildings, stables, warehouses, businesses in the cities. Some of those turned those buildings into tenements. Sometimes they sold their properties to unscrupulous landlords, and eventually every conceivable space was converted to housing for the newcomers.
Buildings were extended to take in gardens, streets, and alleyways. When greed overtook common sense, landlords looked up. They added two, three, four, (and on and on) stories without regard to foundations that couldn’t sustain such added weight.
And, then because demand for living space was at such a premium, they charged astronomical prices for tiny attic rooms for whole families. It wasn’t uncommon for fifteen to twenty families to be crammed together in a 50’x60’ stable converted into small living space: 6’x7’ bedrooms. Completely unventilated, without windows.
From such unsanitary, close quarters came cholera, small-pox, drunkenness, drug use, and debauchery, depression, and for some, the will to live.
Eventually, New York City form a Board of Health and started making laws to improve these inhumane conditions. But a generation of living in such squalor had taken its toll. Many tenement dwellers had no place to go and couldn’t afford better accommodations.
“Not until five years after did the department succeed at last in ousting the "cave-dwellers" and closing some five hundred and fifty cellars south of Houston Street, many of them below tide-water, that had been used as living apartments. In many instances the police had to drag the tenants out by force.”
Is it any wonder that groups of children found themselves orphaned, abandoned, and homeless as these tenements burst at the seams? Is it any wonder they were referred to as street rats, urchins, gamines, and “street Arabs”? Tragedy, fires that swept entire wards, left children without parents, and no way to find their next of kin. Charities and churches were overburdened and couldn’t afford to take them all in. And, sadly, some felt like these children deserved the hand they’d been dealt.
This is the kind of life Livy O’Brien came from. Below is the life she made for herself.

STEALING JAKE by Pam Hillman. 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.

CBA Bestselling author PAM HILLMAN 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 an 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.


  1. The interview was very good. I think we all need to stop and think about all the poverty and about how so many children have to revert to crime to meet their daily needs. Stealing Jake looks like a wonderful book.
    I am a follower.

  2. I've seen this book advertised and it looks great! jarning67(at)hotmail(dot)com

  3. Would love to win and read this. Thanks for posting about this novel!

    sydneyjames68 [at] gmail [dot] com

  4. I would love a copy of this book! Thanks for sharing it and the chance.
    Nancycooks4u (at)gmail (dot)com

  5. I would love to read this book!!! bcrug(at)myfairpoint(dot)net. I am a follower

  6. Sounds like you've done extensive research for this book & it's one I could really get into! I love historical fiction, I think this one would break my heart due to reading about abject poverty and cruel child labor. But I love when an author has such character depth and rich details that you feel right in the middle of the story as if it were real!! This one would definitely fit the bill, thank you for the chance to win a copy of "Stealing Jake" :-)

    teamob4 (at) gmail (dot) com
    I also follow your blog via email

  7. Interesting, yet sad, post - thank you, Pam!!

    (No need to enter me for the giveaway, I already have this beautiful book.)

  8. This is a heartbreaking bit of information but sure does need to be shared in order for us to be aware. The book sounds wonderful and I would love to have a copy to read. Thank you for offering one. Debbie, I follow your blog.


  9. I would love to win this book - thanks for the giveaway. I follow your blog, Debbie :).
    bettimace at gmail dot com

  10. Thanks for sharing Pam! I know even today there is great poverty basically right under our noses that we are mostly not even aware of. We live in our sheltered little worlds and don't try to reach out to the poor around us.

    I follow the blog via e-mail.


  11. I have heard of your book and only heard good things about it. I love the giveaway and reading about the book which sounds like a great book to read. I do follow this blog to know the latest books. Thank you for the giveaway. mommystuck1(at) optonline(dot)net

  12. Debbie, thank you so much for having me here on your blog. Waving at all your wonderful visitors. Today being Labor Day here in the US, we mostly relaxed, hung out with family, and reflected on our blessings. So many things that we take for granted. I am thankful.