Interview and Giveaway With Nicole O’Dell

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Today I’d like to welcome to the blog Nicole O’Dell, author of the Scenarios for Girls series! Nicole is a great author with a heart for teens, and someone I’ve enjoyed getting to know. Stay tuned for info how you can win a signed copy of one of her latest releases Magna and Making Waves.

Jen:  Tell us about your newest releases.
Nicole: Magna and Making Waves are both part of my interactive fiction series, Scenarios for Girls, in which the reader gets to make a life-changing moral decision for the main character and choose between two alternate endings.
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Magna: Molly Jacobs isn’t sure what she should do: Should she follow through with stealing some clothes for her friends from Magna the trendy girls clothing store where she works? Or should she do what she knows is right, even if it means losing her friends? Girls ages 10 to 15 make the choice in this interactive story and see how the consequences change Molly’s life. Includes a contract and prayer to remind the reader of the importance of making godly decisions.

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Making Waves:Kate Walker joins the swim team and becomes obsessed with practice and making it through the championships with flying colors. With a scholarship on the line and pressure from everyone, what will Kate do when she’s faced with pressure from her teammates to take an illegal substance that will help her swim multiple events in their championship meet? Girls ages 10 to 15 make the choice in this interactive story and see how the consequences change Kate s life. Includes a contract and prayer to remind the reader of the importance of making godly decisions.

J: I got to read Making Waves recently and really enjoyed it. Okay, Nicole, describe yourself Twitter-style in 140 characters or less.
N: @Nicole_Odell loves doing impossible things and showing how big God is. Laundry and dishes r not big things. Gotta go, baby fell off the couch…….
J:  Finish this sentence. I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing:
N: Stirrup pants (I hear they’re coming back), plastic shoes, a bikini (I had triplets, folks).
J: And this one: I would step in front of a bus before eating:
N: Brussels sprouts.

J:  Good call. Ick. So now you’re on a stranded island with only one book. What is it? (And they have a Bible in every coconut tree, so it can’t be that one.)
N: A photo album of my kids. Oh? That’s not what you meant? Randy Alcorn’s, Deadline. I love that book! I’ve read it several times. He has such a way with heaven and if I were stranded on an island alone, I’d want to think about heaven.

J: Your books are like Choose Your Adventure. Tell us why you went with this approach to your series.
N: I didn’t just want to tell a story about cause and effect. I wanted the reader to be able to live out the consequences of her own moral decisions. I believe she’ll learn from her choices–both options–by putting herself right in there and taking responsibility for what the main character does.

J: You can check out the series trailer HERE. But Nicole, why in the world are you writing for teens?  (Like, who would do something crazy like that?)
N: I like them…and they scare me. Equally. 😉
J: You REALLY need to come hang out at our high school. It would be (quotey fingers) fun (more quotey fingers).

J: If you could go back and talk to your high school self, what would you say?
N: This, too, will pass.
J: Like zits? Or the ability to eat a whole pizza without gaining a pound?
N: Seriously. Everything is so grave at that age. It’s all so life-shattering and everything has to be in such a rush. I would love to tell my teen self to slow down and enjoy the fun moments and don’t rush the adult ones. Oh, and that Scott Davis isn’t going to be very cute later on–so don’t waste the tears.

J:  What advice would you have for teens who want to write?
N: Just start writing. Take classes like Creative Writing, Literature, etc. See if your church or a local club has a writing group that meets regularly. It’s a great way to get around people at varying stages of writing. The main thing is to just enjoy the process and not worry so much about the mechanics at these early stages. Just put words on a page and enjoy it!
J: I love that–just enjoy it. And I’d add–just be yourself. I always tried to write like authors I admired, but I wrote terrible stuff until I started writing like me. (Now it’s only semi-terrible…) What’s the best part about writing for YA? The hardest?
N: The best part is that I get to talk to lots of teens, I get to do fun events, and it totally keeps me young–ish. The hardest is knowing whether it’s still okay to say things like “it totally keeps me young.” I ask my youth group about words I’m unsure of. They keep me in touch with today’s teens–unless they’re just toying with me to see what they can get me to put in print. That’s a distinct possibility.

J: My four year old niece has been using the world totally like a pro since she was three. She would make a great valley girl. So what is your most  embarrassing high school or jr. high memory? I don’t have a single one, so I have to live vicariously through others….
N: OH! I was in 10th grade and we had just gotten our yearbooks. I had a big crush on Dave, so I turned to the page where his football picture was. In diagonal lines all the way down the page, except for where his picture was, I wrote I *heart* Dave! over and over again. Then, class ended and some friends and I traded yearbooks to sign. Somehow, Dave got in the mix and wound up with my yearbook. Of course, he turned to his page to sign it by his picture…naturally, right? He just signed his name and handed it back to me. I wanted to crawl under a desk.

J: I hear Dave now lives in his mother’s basement and still pines for you. So what are your favorite TV shows?
N: I’m a reality show junkie. American Idol. Project Runway. Top Chef. The shows where people buy houses. I love them all.  Not a fan of the Real Housewife type, though.

J: LOVE American Idol and those HGTV “buy a house” shows. So any hobbies or guilty pleasures?
N: Life is so full or writing and being a mommy…I also take online classes. and lead a youth group. I don’t have a lot of extra time for personal hobbies right now. I try to get in some exercise several times a week, and I love to read and go biking.

J: If you could meet anyone famous, who would it be and why?
N:I’d love to meet Jillian Michaels–she needs to whip me into shape! I’d also love to hang out with YOU!
J: BAH! I said famous. Not “would you like to hang out with a stressed out teacher/writer with bad eating habits?”  I’d love to hang out with Jillian Michaels too. I just ordered her new cookbook. I’m going to enjoy reading it and pretending like I cook… Thanks so much for stopping by the blog, Nicole. I’m excited about your new releases. Don’t forget you can check out Nicole’s website and super-informative blog HERE.

Finally, let’s give away a copy of Magna and Making Waves. To enter the drawing to win one of the two books, leave a comment and answer this question: Since Nicole likes to read, but doesn’t have a lot of spare time, what’s a book you’ve read and enjoyed lately that you’d recommend she read? (No sucking up by mentioning books by authors with the last names O’Dell or Jones…)  You have until next Thursday, 8 pm central time to enter. Two winners will be announced on next Friday’s blog.

Have a great weekend!

JEN