Welcome to Readers Write to Know! I asked you, my readers, what questions they would ask their favorite authors if given the chance, and the authors visiting my blog answered them! This week, I am happy to bring you author Gail Pallotta. I really enjoyed getting to know Gail in this interview – and I have to say, I LOVE her book title and cover! It looks like so much fun! And to know that the characters were inspired by real life makes it all the more interesting!
Tell us a little bit about yourself. I’m a wife, Mom, swimmer and bargain shopper who loves God, beach sunsets and getting together with friends and family. I’ve worked as an editor, copywriter and freelance writer and published six books. I’ve always enjoyed writing and am humbled that one of my books, Barely Above Water is a 2017 Reader’s Favorite Award Winner and Hair Calamities and Hot Cash, my latest novel, is a TopShelf 2020 Book Awards Nominee. I’m thankful for my church, good books, tea and chocolate.
Tell us about your current release. Hair Calamities and Hot Cash has its roots in a small town at the foothills of the North Carolina Mountains, where my mother owned a beauty shop. (No pun intended). The story’s set at a higher elevation to allow for breathtaking scenes, but the spirit of the community remains the same. Those who frequented her shop had close friends, acquaintances, people they tolerated and those they kept at a distance. As in most small environments, they gossiped and could be nosey. However, when someone grieved for a loved one, suffered from an illness or any other crisis, prayers went up and casseroles went out whether the person was a best friend or someone held at a distance.
In the book a New York stockbroker crashes his car into Eve Castleberry’s beauty shop…on the same day the young widow’s defective hair products are causing wild hairdos. Soon Eve finds herself helping the handsome stranger hunt the thieves who stole his client’s cash…and hot on the trail of two of the F.B.I.’s most-wanted criminals! Romance blossoms amid danger, suspense and Eve’s hair-brained plan to get back the money.
How do you push past the fear of your writing being average and be bold enough to sell it to a publisher (or agent or audience if you self-publish)? That’s a good question, especially in a world where opinions on good and bad writing so often are just that. We do have standards and guidelines for writing sentences, articles, books, essays, poems, etc. However, I realize following those doesn’t guarantee writing that’s above average, so I’m always searching for ways to make mine better. It’s ironic because the more I learn, the more I hesitate to let go of a book. However, I’ve found two reasons to finally send out the manuscript. One, if it ends up in the hands of a good editor or publisher, I’ll learn more. Second, I can’t not write. If I’m compelled to do it then God must want me to do something with it.
What is your personal, most effective way to get past writer’s block? I most often get writer’s block when I have to stop working on a book because something else requires my attention. If it’s been a long time, I read the first part of the book. Sometimes that inspires me to get busy and tell more of the story. Other times I start by writing one scene, or doing research. I often grow enthusiastic when I discover facts I didn’t know and am eager to work them into my story.
Do you have your plotline and character development already laid out before you begin writing a book, or do they develop as you write? Both. I have a rough outline of the plot as well as physical descriptions and personality traits for the characters. As the book goes along one thing leads to another and I add to the plot. The same happens with the characters. Something occurs and they react in a way consistent with who they are, but not in a way I planned.
I’m always intrigued by how writers get started…did you always have these books inside you and knew that you wanted to write them or did the idea just pop into your head one day and you decided to put pen to paper? I’ve written about things I’ve seen or heard in life that made an impression on me. The theme for my teen novel, Stopped Cold, rattled around in my head for several years. I’m not sure if it crossed my path more than that of others or not, but I knew several young people who suffered devastating results because they weren’t always winners. I kept thinking we don’t have to be number one for God to love us. Finally, I put it in a book.
Almost the same thing with Hair Calamities and Hot Cash, my latest book. My mother created a cozy, friendly atmosphere in her beauty shop. Wonderful people who cared about and looked out for each other came there. I thought for many years I’d like to put characters like them in a book.
The need for information about Lyme disease motivated me to write Barely Above Water. I have it, but I have a wonderful alternative doctor who’s helped me stay active. As people learned that I had the malady and had found help, they told others. I received emails and phone calls from some who sadly had not found treatments. Some were even told it was all in their heads.
Do you remember where you were or what you were doing when you started this story? Yes, very well. I had an idea for a plot for Hair Calamities and Hot Cash in the back of my mind when I attended a week-end workshop with James Scott Bell in Nashville, Tennessee. I started the book there.
Here is where you can find Gail online:
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/AuthorsandMore
Twitter – https://twitter.com/Hopefulwords
Website – https://gailpallotta.com
Gail is giving away a paperback copy of Hair Calamities and Hot Cash to a reader! See below how to enter to win:a Rafflecopter giveaway