‘You don’t have to be number one’

Pam Griffin
Gail Pallotta will sign copies of her book “Stopped Cold” from 12-4 p.m. Oct. 20 at Bad Ass Coffee, 1708 Scenic Gulf Drive in Destin, and 12-4 p.m. Oct. 26 at San Gelato at Silver Sands Premium Outlets.

Danger, suspense, first love — and spiritual talk.

Gail Pallotta’s new book, “Stopped Cold,” is a young adults novel about teens solving real problems in a real world — a Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys-style mystery with a touch of romance.

Set in a small town in the mountains of North Carolina, the heroine, Margaret McWhorter, and her brother, Sean, try to excel in sports like their father who was a great college quarterback. Sean suffers a stroke from taking steroids and ends up unconscious in a hospital. Even the cop on the case can’t keep Margaret and her two friends from searching for the drug dealers.

In the midst of the chase and the heartache, Margaret learns an important truth — you don’t have to be No. 1 for God to love you.

“That rattled around in my head for a long time after I saw instances in which the drive to always be the best grew to a destructive force,” Pallotta told The Log. “I’m not sure if that’s a phenomenon that crossed my path an unusual number of times or not. But witnessing it touched me in a sad way and caused me to see a difference between being the best one can be and having to be Number One.”

When the part-time Destin resident and award-winning Christian author started writing “Stopped Cold” she thought of athletic games when naming the book, and the idea of putting together sports and a crime to solve intrigued her.

“Then I thought, what if one of the athletes took steroids? It dawned on me that some people might think of taking steroids as a game, so I called it ‘A Dangerous Game,’ ” she said. “But, one day as I was re-writing a scene I said to myself, ‘Boy, Sean, the young man who took steroids, was stopped cold.’ I changed the name right then.”

Pallotta’s research for the book, already a best-seller on All Romance eBooks, included reading library books, The Physicians’ Desk Reference and other online material.

“I also consulted several policemen, including an undercover detective and a narcotics officer,” she said. “Many steroids, even though legal, carry devastating side effects our teens need to know about.”

Always a writer

Pallotta grew up in a small town in North Carolina at the foothills of the mountains with a small-town atmosphere much like the setting for “Stopped Cold.” She attended college at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, N.C., where she received a degree in English and professional writing.

“I’ve been writing as long as I can remember and I can’t not write,” Pallotta said. “My first printed work appeared in a grammar school newspaper a friend and I put out. And my writing professor in college had a tremendous impact on my writing. My husband says I have pretend people running around in my head, and they have to get out.” 

Pallotta describes her books as literary, Christian with mystery and a touch of romance and suspense. She is now working on two adult Christian books, one a romantic comedy with suspense, and the other a romance set in Destin.

“Plots come from life,” she said. “I tend to start something I’ve observed or experienced, ask what if, and go from there.”

The wife, mother, swimmer and bargain shopper 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.

Pallotta has vacationed in Destin from Georgia for 25 years and attends First Presbyterian Church in Fort Walton Beach when she is here.

“My favorite spot in Destin is the beach,” she said. “I love either walking by the shore or watching the sun set over the ocean.”

As a sports mystery with amateur sleuths, “Stopped Cold” is “a fun read and meaningful, and I hope readers will find some take-away value that makes their lives better. Believe in God’s love, power and goodness.”