October’s Author Highlight & Giveaway with Award-Winning Author, Patty Smith Hall

Terri Gillespie Author Highlight 3 Comments

Really, I have to pat myself on the back. Getting this author to sit down for essentially TWO interviews was no small feat. Not only is she an award-winning author, but she’s an editor, speaker, teacher, caregiver, but she has recently returned to the halls of academia to earn another degree. 

Guess what, you won’t see all that in her bio. Why? Well, that’s Patty Smith Hall. When something needs to be done, well, she doesn’t talk about it, she just prays, gets the okay, and does it. Here’s her official bio:

Multi-published author Patty Smith Hall lives near the North Georgia Mountains with her husband, Danny, her two daughters, her son-in-law and her grandboys. When she’s not writing on her back porch, she’s spending time with her family or working in her garden.

See what I mean? Well, let’s get to know this amazing woman, shall we?

What did you read as a child? Or, what did/do you read to your children/grandchildren?

I read everything! Particularly newspapers! The library was quite a distance from our house which meant we only went once a month. The newspaper came every day so I would dive into it, reading it front to back even at the young age of six. When I finally went to school, the school library was my happy place. It was there I discovered history and Louisa May Alcott’s books.

As far as my daughters and my grandsons, I make sure they always have something to read. My grandson, Carter is just starting to read so I provide him with TONS of books.

Be sure and check out my 5-Star Review on Book Reviews with Terri

I love that! How interesting that the feature book, The Librarian’s Journey, for my YouTube episodes was about the packhorse librarians. Most were women who risked their lives to bring books, magazines, and newspapers to some of the most remote regions in below the Mason Dixon line. Sounds like that would have come in handy with your family.

Do you have any strange writing habits/quirks?

I write my first draft longhand. For years, I tried to write it on my laptop, but my internal editor would rear it’s ugly head and I’d barely get anything down. It doesn’t help that I spent my typing class in high school flirting with the guy next to me rather than learning how to type! Longhand gives me to the freedom to just write without hunting for keys or editing while I go. Every one of my books except for the first two were written longhand.

I totally understand both reasons you write your first draft in longhand, but I still laughed at the flirting bit.

Do you have any unusual research habits for your books?

I really get into research because I love history. But for me, I deep-dive into it, going as far as to physically do some of the things my characters do in my books. For example, I’m finishing up a book now where the heroine pans for iron (iron is commonly found alongside gold) in the Georgia Goldrush of 1830. So, what did I do? I took a panning class where I waded into the waters of the Etowah River with my plastic pan and practiced gold mining. Let me tell you—if you don’t have upper body strength, panning is hard to do! The next day, everything ached! I knew exactly how my heroine would feel after a day of mining.

Another crazy thing I did was learn to take off and land a Spitfire for my WWII novel, Hearts in Flight. Like I said, I deep-dive.

Yo! That is real deep-diving, Patty! I might tackle the panning for iron/gold, but the touch and go with a Spitfire! Wow! But, then that’s why your books have such an authentic feel.

What is the story behind The Librarian’s Journey?

My novella in the collection, For Such a Time, is based on the Pack Horse Librarians who would take books into the mountains of East Kentucky during the height to the Great Depression. The residents there were some of the poorest and undereducated people in the country.  The president felt it would not just put someone to work but educate the workforce so that when jobs were available, these people might have a better chance of securing one.

I put a little spin on the story by setting in Pine Mountain, Georgia. This is the area around the Little White House where FDR went to rest and take in the springs at Warm Springs.  Of course, he had friends there including Cason and Virginia Callaway (of Callaway Garden Fame) who were very community-minded, and well…before I knew it, I had Ruth and Will’s story.

I love that! I knew President Franklin D. Roosevelt went to the springs for his polio therapy, but didn’t know it was in Georgia. Very interesting.

What is something God taught you while you wrote your featured book?

I’m going to tell on myself here. I’m a terrible procrastinator when it comes to writing. Trying to put words on that blank page just overwhelms me at times. This means I’m always running late in my writing schedule which causes me to become a bear to live with at times. My novella in The Librarian’s Journey was no exception. In the months leading up to my deadline, my husband had two surgeries, our daughter who lives with us had a month-long battle with COVID-19 and my mother’s health deteriorated. The truth is I didn’t start writing until the day my book was due.

But this time, I couldn’t lose it—too many people needed me. After praying about it, I sat down and wrote. No craziness, no losing my mind. I just wrote, and the beautiful thing is I turned this story in three days before my editor’s second deadline. It was the most peaceful writing experience I’ve ever had!

Sigh. The most peaceful place is being with Jesus in the boat while the storm is raging. Thanks for sharing that bit of encouragement, Patty.

What are you working on now?

First, I’m finishing up the novella based in the Georgia Goldrush for a January release. Then, I’m writing a Christmas novella that takes place in a Woolworth’s Five and Dime in 1880. And I have another project I can’t talk about that I’ll work on after that.  Throw in family and college and it makes for a busy life!

See what I mean! Patty is a dynamo! And we’re blessed with the fruits of her labors.

What is the best writing tip you ever received? Why?

The best advice I ever got was to set a daily word count. For years, I thought if I didn’t put down four or five thousand words a day, I was a failure. Then I went to a class at the ACFW conference in 2008 where the speaker spoke on this subject.

I had no clue that most writers only wrote a thousand or two thousand words a day! That doesn’t mean there aren’t some who can write five or six thousand words a day, but the average was around fifteen hundred.

That piece of advice was such an encouragement. My usual word count is a thousand words a day when I first start a book, but as I get to know my characters, the count can go as high as twenty-five hundred words.

That bit of information from that conference was a relief. My goal is a thousand words a day. But, you’re right, when I get into the story, the word count does increase.

What is the least helpful writing tip you ever received? Why?

Wait until you have a contract before you start the next book! Someone told me that when I first started writing, and it really crippled me when I finally got a contract. The publisher wanted a series of books, and I just had the one! So, I spent the first few years of my career playing catch up.

I understand why someone would say that, but a writer has to write, regardless of whether or not we have a contract.

What do you hope readers know about you and your books?

I hope my readers know that my writing is an extension of the person I am. My characters love the Lord with all their heart, but they screw up just like me. Sometimes, my struggles show up in their stories like handling with my mom’s dementia or dealing with the fallout from a lie. A piece of me is in every story. I only pray I show how God works through those things to grow mine as well as my character’s faith.

I think readers know that, dear Patty.

A friend who once asked me, “What is important to you? What are you so passionate about that you cry out and pound your fist on the table?” What is your pound-on-the-table passion?

Both my husband and I have a passion for feeding the hungry. I mean, how can we talk about a loving Savior when a person is hungry or cold? For many years now, Danny and I have supported our local food bank as well as provided food for the poor through a ministry in Honduras.

Thank you and Danny for your service. It is much needed. Thanks for this great interview! But wait there’s more, readers!

The October’s Author Highlight Giveaway!

That’s right! Patty has graciously offered three copies of her latest release, The Librarian’s Journey. Four novellas  by four award-winning authors, all in one book!

To enter, post a comment below about the interview. On Friday, October 15th, Tweetie will randomly select three winners! 

And if you haven’t already, I hope you’ll subscribe to my monthly newsletter below — I have two special surprises for you. And, you’ll have another entry into the giveaway!

THREE Winners! So be sure and tell your friends and family, too. Remember the drawing takes place on Friday, October 15th!


Check out my YouTube Author Highlight interview with Patty. In the video interview she will answer different questions, and you don’t want to miss one very exciting little known fact about Patty. By Liking and Commenting you will have one more entry. Sharing the video, another entry. Subscribe, and you have TWO entries for the chance to win.

Remember the deadline is October 14th!
Author Highlight with Terri & Patty

That means, my friends, if you comment and subscribe -– or are already a subscriber -– to my blog, then watch the video and LIKE, SHARE, and COMMENT, then Subscribe to my YouTube Channel, your name will be entered SIX TIMES!

Be sure to tell your friends! See you there!

Thanks so much for stopping by. I hope you enjoyed getting to know my new friend Patty and her amazing books. Next month’s Author Highlight is award-winning author, Cynthia Ruchti

God Bless and Keep Reading!


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