Gail Pallotta joins us today to talk about her new novel, Stopped Cold. She’s offering to give away one digital copy of this book so please make sure and leave a comment for her below. (We need at least ten comments to make a contest.)
Thanks, Sherri, for inviting me to your wonderful blog and asking me to write about the theme and inspiration for my teen novel, Stopped Cold.
The theme rattled around in my head for a long time before I finally coined it into a sentence. We don’t have to be number one for God to love us.
During my new adult years, as today’s terminology would have it, I saw lots of heartache when people weren’t able to be number one. In several instances the drive pushed them to destructive behavior. At the time I kept thinking of the pain they must have gone through and how their God-given talents were wasted simply because they weren’t “the best.” There’s a huge difference in being the best one can be and always having to win or be number one.
Like everyone else, I also looked for meaning in my life. As my new adult peers and I finished our educations, some found satisfaction in power, wealth or fame. I didn’t have any of those things and sometimes I wondered where I’d failed. In moments such as those I’d return to something I’d learned as a child. My life already had meaning because I was created in God’s image. The Westminster Shorter Catechism said “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” I’d tell myself it didn’t matter what I did as long as I did it for God’s glory. I didn’t need to be the best or number one—just do the best I could.
Then I married, had a daughter and began to spend lots of time with children at church, at school, in after-school programs, with extra-curricular events and sports. I started to see aching little hearts as some of the youngsters participating in these activities didn’t live up to “being the best.” I wasn’t able to discern whether the pressure came from within, siblings, peers or parents, but no matter where it originated it often resulted in sadness.
I’m not sure if this phenomenon of having to be the best rather than do one’s best has crossed my path more than the paths of others or not. But some of the problems I witnessed associated with it were so terrible they touched my heart in a sad way that never left me.
In no way do I believe competition is bad. After I wrote Stopped Cold, I also published an article, “Youth Succeeding, Win or Lose.” It tells how to have a healthy competitive spirit and points out that competition approached the right way can push a person to greatness. It encourages competitors to do the best they can with their God-given gifts, give God the glory, and rejoice in the successes of others. Stopped Cold includes this advice. In one scene the heroine states that her Sunday school teacher told her God has given each of us a gift or gifts to use for Him. At several swim meets shown in the book the kids rejoice in the success of others.
Even though there are opportunities for winning in everything from quilting to pie-baking contests, lots of people think of sports when they think of being number one. We often hear about athletes taking steroids to stay at the tops of their games. When I pondered these facts, I considered writing about them. As a young person I loved reading Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. I decided to come up with a sports mystery with amateur sleuths. It became Stopped Cold.
I’ve gotten some interesting feedback. Here’s what some people have said.
Stopped Cold is filled with emotion, strong characters, teenage romance, adventure, danger and the intricate workings of modern day high school studies and sports. Ms. Pallotta blends all this together for a convincing story. Our hearts are touched by a family’s concern for Sean who lies in the hospital non responsive. We see the story from Sean’s young sister, Margaret’s viewpoint and the feelings she fights to keep bottled up and maintain her Christian principles. The author is obviously well versed in swimming competition. Supporting characters are well done and fuels the emotions between close friends. I highly recommend this novel. A review by Larry Hammersley, a reader and author.
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An excerpt from a review: Gail Pallotta did a superb job of keeping it mysterious to the end. I held my breath in many instances of danger for the kids. It was obvious from the beginning that Margaret was blaming her dad for Sean’s bad choice of taking the drug.
When does a child first become aware of God being there for them? The beauty of Margaret’s spiritual growth and trust in God grew like a beautiful fragrant flower. Her mother was a believer and she learned much about the Lord from her; however she didn’t understand the behavior her dad displayed toward attending church and spiritual beliefs. She didn’t expect miracles, but she prayed for one……or two. Gail Pallotta has my admiration and some jealousy toward her creative talent of character development. They are as finely tuned as a lovely stringed instrument, each having a different song to play in the story. Barbara Shelton, Book Reviewer.
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This is a great read. I recommend it for teens or adults alike. It certainly kept me turning the pages to see what would happen next when Margaret, Jimmy, and their friend Emily go out looking to stop dangerous drug dealers. There’s plenty of action and emotion. Connie C., a reader.
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.
A brief excerpt from Stopped Cold
Jimmy’s voice sounded protective.
My heart melted. I let my eyes meet his. They looked caring and sincere like those of a friend. I stopped tearing up the leftover napkin. “So–what happened while I was gone?” I tried to sound laid-back.
“In class, the usual, homework, tests, same old stuff.” Jimmy shifted in his seat and moved his arm.
Had something unusual happened outside of class? Did he know anything about Winstrol V? That would be strange because Mike said he didn’t, and he played football. I wanted information so bad. “What about sports?”
Jimmy leaned back and wrinkled his brow. “Funny you would ask I’ve heard some athletes are taking steroids.”
I stopped breathing. Emily’s eyes grew wide as she leaned across the table.
Jimmy raised his blond eyebrows. “Yeah, a couple guys mentioned it after we played soccer.”
I took in air. My insides raced as if someone turned my nerves on high, but I had to stay calm. I needed answers. I didn’t know Jimmy played soccer. “Are the soccer players taking them?”
“You’re awfully interested. Do you two want to buff up?”
I gagged and couldn’t speak.
Emily gasped. “No. Of course not. We’re just curious, that’s all.”
Jimmy shrugged his shoulders. “I have no idea. I overheard the conversation, but I didn’t join it.”
I ripped the rest of the napkin into tiny bits. “Well think. Exactly what did you hear?”
Jimmy propped his elbow on the table and put his chin in his hand.
Trying to appear collected, I took a few bites of my burger.
“Want a french fry?”
Jimmy moved his elbow. “Yeah, thanks.” He took two.
“Several other guys and I work out with the soccer players when they compete for fun. We aren’t good enough to be on the team.”
“I bet you’re being modest.” I interrupted.
Jimmy flashed a wide smile. “No, but thanks.” He thumped his fingers on the table. “It was after a scrimmage. A soccer player was talking to one of his teammates. He said, ‘We can get steroids at the Buddhist Temple in the woods. If we beef up now next year we can play first string.’ I don’t know their names.” Jimmy tilted his head. “I didn’t know there was a Buddhist Temple around here.”
Emily sat straight up and snapped to attention like a soldier. “It’s a log cabin built in the early 1900’s. Monks migrated here to live a reclusive lifestyle. It’s deserted now.
At least that’s what I’ve been told.”
“Where is it?” Jimmy asked.
“I don’t know. I’m Buddhist, but I’ve never gone to it.”
Emily’s voice trailed off as though she regretted her words.
I didn’t expect her to know where the temple was. I did fear more than ever someone had told Sean a bunch of lies to make him think he could out- perform Harold Gravitts, if he took Winstrol V… but who?
Bio: Award-winning author, Gail Pallotta is a wife, Mom, swimmer and bargain shopper who loves God, beach sunsets and getting together with friends and family. She’s been a Sunday school teacher, a swim-team coordinator and an after-school literary instructor. A former regional writer of the year for American Christian Writers Association, she won Clash of the Titles in 2010. Her new teen book, Stopped Cold, is a best-seller on All Romance eBooks. She’s published short stories in “Splickety” magazine and Sweet Freedom with a Slice of Peach Cobbler. Some of her published articles appear in anthologies while two are in museums.
Buy Links for Stopped Cold
All Romance eBooks: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-stoppedcold-1157330-176.html