Cover blurb: Margaret McWhorter enjoys a laid-back Freshman year in high school flirting with Jimmy Willmore, swimming and hanging out with friends—until that day. Her brother, Sean, suffers a stroke from taking a steroid. Now he’s lying unconscious in a hospital. Margaret’s angry at her dad for pushing Sean to be a great quarterback, but a fire of hatred burns inside her to make the criminals pay. Looking for justice, she takes Jimmy and her best friend, Emily, through a twisted, drug-filled sub-culture. A clue sends them deep into the woods behind the school where they overhear drug dealers discuss Sean. Time and time again they walk a treacherous path and come face to face with danger. Even the cop on the case can’t stop them from investigating. All the while Margaret really wants to cure Sean, heal the hate inside, and open her heart to love.1) How did this story come to you?
First of all, I wanted the book to entertain young people. The most fun books I read were Nancy Drew/ Hardy Boys mysteries. The three amateur sleuths in Stopped Cold are reminiscent of the famous teen detective.
Through the PTA, I worked with children in grades one through eight. I’ve been a Sunday school teacher, swim team coordinator and an after-school literary instructor. I’ve seen a lot of pain when a child couldn’t live up to being number one. Whether the pressure came from within, peers, siblings or parents, the need to “be the best” rather than “do your best” often hurt and sometimes led to destruction. I wanted to let young people know they don’t have to be number one for God to love them. He’s given each of them a gift or gifts to use for Him.
Children today face a number of problems, but I wrote about steroids. One reason teens say they take them is to enhance athletic performance, which indicates they have a drive to be number one. Even though the use of steroids is going down, according to the latest statistics I could find on the internet there are around 125,000 who say they’ve used them. I imagine there are some who’ve used them, but didn’t say they did.2) Tell us about the journey to getting this book published.
This book insisted on being published. I wrote a draft for it ten years ago. Then I polished it up and took it to a writer’s conference, where I met an editor who liked it. Unfortunately, it wasn’t right for her list. However, she edited my proposal and encouraged me not to give up on this book, but to keep writing and re-writing until it was ready to be published.
I followed her advice then attended another writers’ conference. There I met an author who advised me to send it to an editor she knew. The publishing company kept the book for one year then rejected it. I tossed it in a drawer, where it stayed gathering dust until I joined American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) two years ago.
After my ACFW critique group finished the book I was working on, I had nothing to submit, so I pulled out Stopped Cold, and they critiqued it. Then I sent out a few queries, and Stopped Cold was accepted. When I received the publisher’s contract, it asked for a fee, so I declined to sign it. Later I attended the James Scott Bell writing seminar in Nashville, Tennessee. I took another book to work on while I was there, but when I came home, Stopped Cold called to me once again, and I made changes to it, applying what I’d learned from Mr. Bell. Then Lisa Lickel and I started critiquing. After I made a few more corrections, I emailed queries to several publishers as well as a couple agents. Now the book’s where it was meant to be—with Madison Connors at Front Porch Romance.3) Tell me three things about yourself that would surprise your readers.
I’m an Elvis Presley fan.
In college I had a friend who owned a small airplane. He picked me up in the sheep pasture in a valley near the mountain college we attended, flew to a town about fifty miles away, and took me out to dinner.
When I tried to learn to cross-stitch, I sewed the picture I was working on to the leg of the jeans I was wearing and had to snip the threads to get it off.4) What are you working on now?
I have a couple short stories coming out soon. I just finished a romantic comedy with mystery and suspense and am writing a book about a young woman with a mysterious, undiagnosed illness.
5) Parting comments.
Two things. I was excited to learn last week that Stopped Cold is a best seller on All Romance E Books, and I appreciate you having me on your lovely blog.
6) Where can fans find you on the internet?
My Web site is http://www.gailpallotta.com
My blog is http://www.gailpallotta.blogspot.com