I’m kicking off our Mostly YA Fab Author Summer Extravaganza (MYFASE, for those of you wanting to show your support through tattoo art or embroidered pillows.) with Nicole O’Dell. I met Nicole a few years ago through a mutual writing friend, and we have been good buds ever since. Nicole is a freakin’ super hero though and just hearing her “What I’ve Done Today” list (versus my “What I’ve Shoved Off On Tomorrow” list) always wears me out. She is the mother of six, including toddler triplets, yet still manages to host a radio show, be a mom, speak, and write a book an hour. Or something like that.And stay tuned til the end of the Q&A, where we’ll tell you how to win a signed copy of Nicole’s Swept Away, a two-in-one novel that would be great for your tween or teen.
AND to sweeten the pot (because if any pot is crying out to be sweetened, it’s the MYFASE Pot), if you leave a comment on every blog post during MYFASE, beginning today and running through July 11th, when we wrap up with Sandra Byrd, then you will also be entered in a drawing for an ARC of There You’ll Find Me AND a $25 gift card to Barnes and Noble. Woo!
Let us begin. Okay, Nicole, your kids are writing your bio. What would it say?
Mommy’s great! She gives us chocolate cake. While we watch Barney. For the third time. And she lets us all wear headphones so we can hear better. She even ties us to the couch so we don’t fall off. But, poor, Mom. We watch her across the room, typing on her computer because she can’t watch her TV shows while we watch Barney. Isn’t she great?
Tell us about your average day.
With Barney background music, my typical day involves waking up with the triplets at around 7am. I feed them some sort of nutritious breakfast like fruit loops. Then I spend a little while scraping them from the floor beneath the high chairs and plucking them from the back of my hair.
A few diaper changes later, Daddy takes over and I go work for a few hours of bliss. Upon re-entry, I do some laundry, cook, more diapers, answer a million questions, tuck the littles in and then get back to work. I either write a book or answer an interview like this one, plan some blogging, do some web design, plan a new proposal…or whatever.
How do you balance it all?
You mean it isn’t obvious that I don’t? Sweet! I really don’t have an answer to the how question, because I don’t feel like I do a very good job of balancing. I get done what I need to, but it’s not always without a few casualties along the way.
However, I do want to give glory to God for enabling and equipping me to do what He’s called me to do.
Any tips for those with a job, a family, and writing?
Just so we understand each other, by me giving a tip, you don’t assume it means I have it licked, right? lol
Tip #1: Leave margin–room for unexpected things and for rest. My friends are howling with laughter right now because they know that I write in the margins and use the back side and sometimes even pull a crumpled receipt from my purse to finish the margin spillover of my life.
Tip #2: Allow failure. Yeah, now my buddies are wiping the coffee off their screens because they know this is a big problem for me. Seriously. I know that in order to truly give God glory for the amazing things He’s done in my life and in my work, I need to get myself out of it. By being a perfectionist or not being able to let go or say no, I’m making it all about me. My advice? Don’t do that.
Why do you write for teens? (Besides the big bucks…)
The big bucks notwithstanding, I just love ’em. That and I’m afraid of them. I figure if I can get them on my side, they’ll watch my back.
In all seriousness though, I reach out to teens because of my own teen experiences. It was the time in my life when I suffered the most hardship, made the most mistakes, and felt the greatest pull of God on my life. I want to help other teens wade through all of that, however it looks in their lives.
Swept Away contains two books: High Stakes, which deals with cheating in school, friendship, loyalty, and honesty, and Essence of Lilly, which covers dating relationships and purity.
Here’s “the blurb”:
In High Stakes, seniors and best friends, Amber and Brittany, are neck and neck in a good-natured com- petition for a car being given away by a local business. In Essence of Lilly, sophomore Lilly Armstrong is always looking for ways to escape the confines of her unhappy home. She “invents” youth group activi- ties just so she can hang out with her boyfriend, Jason—the only one in Lilly’s life who makes her feel special. What happens when Amber and Lilly are faced with making difficult choices? How will they handle the risky business? Readers help Amber and Lilly make the difficult decisions and see how their choices create consequences with life-altering results.
In Essence of Lilly, a fabulous story, you deal with some tough issues. I know this was important to you to write about, but a worry. You handled the hard scenes so well. What do you want teens to know about the issues in this book?
Essence of Lilly deals with issues of purity. There is so much that goes into the choices a teenager faces about sex: self-esteem, joy, peace, faith, commitment, etc. I think it’s one of the hardest lines to draw and stay committed to, but it’s also the one choice that has permanent effects.
I made lots of mistakes related to this issue when I was young. I know how far-reaching the effects of poor choices can be. By putting the reader in Lilly’s shoes and letter her choose for Lilly, my hope is she’s begin to wrap her mind around the weight and permanence of those choices.
Handling this topic was a real concern for me. I wanted to be real–otherwise, what good would it do? But I didn’t want to offend anyone or open young girls minds to something before she was ready. It took a lot of prayer and guidance from friends. In the end, my publisher, Barbour, has been so supportive. They realize that the scenes had to be written as they were–not to sensationalize the issue, but to drive home the gravity of it.
I love the choose your ending idea of the series. Tell us why this concept is so cool for your readers.
I think the alternate endings give the reader the opportunity to put herself in the character’s shoes and feel more of the weight of the choice and even share some of the responsibility for it. By making the choice, the reader is then able to really imagine the scenario in her own life and commit to making good choices when the situation crops up later on. At the end of each story, there’s a little contract and a prayer where the reader can really solidify that commitment.
Thanks, Jen! This series is loosely based on my experiences as a teen resident of Teen Challenge. Many authors speak of the “book of their heart”. For me, this series holds that title.
The Wishing Pearl, releases on 10/1/11, and is available for pre-order now:
Sixteen-year-old Olivia Mansfield dreams of a land far, far away. . . A land far away from her stepfather’s abuse and torment.A land far away from her mother’s blind eye.A land far away from the haunting memories of her past. Olivia can’t wait to escape the confines of her home, which promises nothing but perpetual torment and abuse from her stepfather while her mother turns a blind eye. She dreams of being accepted into a prestigious music school far, far away. . .but until she graduates from high school, Olivia must make the best of her dire situation. When poor choices lead her to the brink of a complete breakdown and she finds herself dealing with the unexpected death of her best friend, Olivia comes to a crossroads. Will she find the path to ultimate hope and healing that her heart longs for? Or will the demons from Olivia’s past prove too much to bear?
Where can readers find you and keep up with the million and one things you’ve got going on?
Everything I do is linked through my website www.nicoleodell.com. You can find the archives of Teen Talk Radio shows, book information, my blog, a link to sign up for my newsletter, my social stuff like facebook and twitter, bookstore…and much more.
Okay, bonus round. Now for the TOUGH questions.
1. Dream car?
A boat–if I lived on a lake and needed my boat to get to the general store. Ahhhh.
2. Most favorite book ever?
Lineage of Grace, Francine Rivers Deadline, Randy Alcorn
3. Favorite 80s song?
In honor of Swept Away, we’ll go with “Papa Don’t Preach.” JOKING! lol I was a big Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith fan–actually all of the mainstream Christian artists of the 80’s. Stryper–not so much. I was also a big Chicago fan.
4. You get $500 to shop for yourself. Where do you go?
My computer! That’s where all the deals are, plus I can search for coupon codes. I’m still holding out for a visit by What not to Wear, though.
5. Favorite TV show?
I love reality TV. The cooking shows, real estate shows, American Idol (not anymore!), The Voice (thanking God for The Voice!), Say Yes to the Dress, Shark Tank, etc. I’m NOT a fan of the bachelor shows.
6. I could TOTALLY see you on Shark Tank. Not sure which side of the desk though. Okay, you have tickets to any concert. Who do you see?
Third Day. No question! If Chris Tomlin, Kari Jobe, or Casting Crowns opened for them–I’d be heaven! In fact, I put in a request for them to be worship leaders in heaven.
7. Taco Bell or Subway?
8. A chef is cooking your breakfast. What do you order?
If I had no allergies? A lobster/asparagus omelet with hollandaise. My allergies would eliminate the lobster, the hollandaise, oh, and the eggs. So, I’ll go with Taco Bell.
9. What is one physical attribute you’d steal from a celebrity?
EASY! Carrie Underwood’s legs.
10. Favorite magazine?
Do I have to be honest? In Touch, Life & Style…any of those. They’re a Friday night, soaking in a tub guilty pleasure of mine.
11. Nicole, there’s no magazine judgment here. Though my favorite is People The Wall Street Journal. Favorite show your kids watch?
Toy Story 1, 2, 3 and Tangled.
That’s it! You may now step out of the Mostly YA Fab Author Summer Extravaganza hot seat. Thanks so much for stopping by, Nicole!
Thanks so much for having me over to your awesome site for such a fun interview!
Guys, to get in the running for a signed copy of Swept Away, just leave a comment by Sunday eve at dusk-thirty-two, answering the following question: What is YOUR favorite fast food restaurant? Winner announced July 13th.
See you Wednesday when we talk about a super fun writing conference, then Friday when we chat it up with YA author Stephanie Morrill!