Fab Author Summer: Nicole O’Dell+Giveaway!

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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.

-2 Tell us about Swept Away. I like the covers–how the teens look age appropriate and…normal. These could be the girls at my church, the students in my classroom.

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.

-1In 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.

nj9z_9781616264543_1In October, you have The Wishing Pearl coming out. I got a sneak peek and it's well worth the summer wait. Tell us about the Diamond Estates series.

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?

Taco Bell.

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!

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 70 comments
Suzanne Schaffer - June 27, 2011

I avoid fast food as much as possible. It it’s my only option then I’ll choose Wendy’s.

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Judy - June 27, 2011

My favorite fast food is Subway. I can choose a healthy veggie sub..no cheese..plenty of veggie’s on wheat!

judyjohn2004[at]yahoo[dot]com

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Jenny - June 27, 2011

Fazoli’s – yum!

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Sharon - June 27, 2011

KFC for sure! most of my family has an unhealthy obsession with their hot wings. we go there far too often randomly late at night…they definetly make a lot of money off us.

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Kelly - June 27, 2011

Dairy Queen for sure

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CarolM - June 27, 2011

Chick-fil-A. No question. And I worked there for 10 years but still eat there regularly. That’s a good sign.

Would love this book. Have three girls [and one boy] I’m going to have to help navigate through these waters before long – and I need all the help I can get…

carol at carolmoncado dot com

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Robin - June 27, 2011

Culvers – especially since they now have sweet potato fries!

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Dakota - June 27, 2011

Chickfila!! Their waffle fries are the best! And the sweet tea makes me feel Southern, though I live in MD. And though I COMPLETELY respect their policy abut not opening on Sundays, that’s mostly the day when I really want to stop by. I’ll get all the way there and then have to turn around and go to Wendys.

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Mississippi Mama - June 27, 2011

Fun interview!

I want to sound all healthy and say my favorite is Subway (which I do love), but let’s be honest: my heart belongs to Chick-Fil-A. Mmm.

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Reagan - June 27, 2011

oh, definately KFC.
their macaroni and cheese is to die for 🙂

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Catrina - June 27, 2011

Taco Bell! 🙂

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Nicole - June 27, 2011

Great interview and contest!
I just moved to Arizona, so I would have to say my favorite fast food place is In-N-Out! =D

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Heather aka Dynamic Uno - June 27, 2011

I can only choose one?!

Chic-fil-a it would be then. I love their “summer” milkshakes. This year’s banana pudding shake is great–although I still think last year’s peach was the best! The sandwiches are yummy and the waffle fries and sweet tea–downright heavenly.

Gotta go–I hear the cows telling me to eat more chicken.

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kiersten - June 27, 2011

You know, although I could probably blindly taste a French dry from every major fast food chain and tell you where it came from and the state the potato grew in (french fries are my guilty pleasure, and ice cream, oh and cookie dough)… I really have a craving for a roast beef sandwich and some insanely calorie dense curly fries. So at the moment I’d have to go with Arby’s.

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Laura J - June 27, 2011

Chick-Fil-A is the best. Where do they find those polite kids to work there? Why didn’t I ever have any of those polite kids when I was a teacher?

After teaching middle school for so long, YA is my favorite. I can’t believe I’ve never read Nicole’s books. I’m going right now to Amazon!

laurelprincess12 (at) gmail (dot) com

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Ali - June 27, 2011

My favorite restaurant is probably Olive Garden cuz they have the BEST BREADSTICKS EVER!!!!! 😀

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Kristin - June 27, 2011

Either Chick-fil-A or Subway. =)

~Kristin

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Tonya - June 27, 2011

Dairy Queen- only for the blizzards!

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Paige McQueen - June 27, 2011

Great interview! I would have to say Braums and Taco Delight!!!
Thanks so much!!!

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macy muray - June 27, 2011

Thank you Jenny for doing MYFASE!!! I must have lived in a whole all my life but I am so glad to hear about Mrs. Sharon! Her books sound soo cool! Anyway my favorite fast food restaurant would have to be Chick-fil-A! I could eat everyday! My family likes it so much that my brother did a school project on the founder/owner and he got to meet him!! He is really old but I thought it was cool I got to meet him! Btw his name is Truett Cathy! Thanks for doing this Jenny! Your books and blog mean a lot to me! 🙂

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macy muray - June 27, 2011

Woops! I put mrs. Sharon!! I meant Mrs. Nicole! I was thinking about something else hehe

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Cheryl Olson - June 27, 2011

Taco bell 🙂 I could eat tacos every day and not grow tired of them .

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bookwyrm14 - June 27, 2011

Yeah MYFASE!!!! Ms. O’Dell’s book sounds really interesting. So I’m here, pumped and ready to win some giveaways! 🙂

I’m pretty old-fashioned and slightly cliche. My fav fast food restuarant is McDonalds. French fries and McFlurries are my comfort food…for my mind, not my hips. 🙂

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HopefulLeigh - June 27, 2011

Taco Bell. I love their 7 Layer Burrito!

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Joy - June 27, 2011

I love Say yes to the dress. I like my fair wedding and four weddings too. When what not to wear or say yes to the dress are not on tv.

Favorite fast food? Hmm…. I should say Burger King considering I’m the assistan manager at one, but I can’t. My town only has four fast food joints (Traveling is such fun, if only for trying different fast food): Bk, McDonald’s, Subway, and Quiznos. I like the three (yes, three) for different reason’s. Today, and probably if pressed, I’d say McD’s. They just got an AMAZING mango pineapple smoothie. Love it.

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Joy - June 27, 2011

whoops typos ‘assistant’

I really like Quiznos too. It’s not fair to poor Quiznos (or my money spent) not to mention that. Good food.

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Caitlin - June 27, 2011

I hardly ever eat out any more, since I can’t eat gluten. 🙁 But before that I think it was Taco Bell. Even when it didn’t like me.

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Lauren - June 27, 2011

steak ‘n shake.
it’s the greasiest, probably most unhealthy fast food out there…i love it. the perfect way to rid your feelings of “oh, i really shouldn’t of…” is wash it down with a super healthy cookie dough shake (it’s dairy, right?) and BAM. guilt free.

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Bethany Ellis - June 27, 2011

The Wishing Pearl sounds wondeful. Can’t wait to check it out 🙂

My favorite fast food would be Chick-Fil-A (*DUH*) 😛

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Nicole O'Dell - June 27, 2011

You guys are so much fun! Thanks for having me over here for a visit, Jen! 🙂

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Katie P. - June 27, 2011

Ok, not to be totally blah here, but I have to say McDonalds! Salty french fries… (sigh)

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Joy Andrea - June 27, 2011

I would have to go with Taco Bell–it’s healthy and GOOD!

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Mikayla - June 27, 2011

Chick-fil-a by far is the absolute best fast food restaurant ever created! Not only is it deliscious but it has shake! Cookies and cream shakes that equal even more yumminess when combined with their fries. The fact I love is that they blast Christian music and are closed on Sunday which is super cool… And super annoying because I always want to eat it on Sunday.

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Clare - June 27, 2011

I love a good many fast food restaurants to be honest. There’s just something so completely good about greese, salt and sugar. My favorite would probably be Wendy’s, because of their frosties. And if you get a side order of french fries and dip them in the frozen chocolaty goodness, you’re pretty much in heaven. 🙂

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Jenny - June 27, 2011

What??? No takers for Sonic…who can pass up tater tots and grape slushes…mmmm!

My husband and I have supported Teen Challenge on a monthly basis for more than 15 years…so I’ll be putting The Wishing Pearl on my wish list.

Thanks for letting us hang with all these authors during MYFASE, Jen…and for letting us have a chance to win some goodies. =) Blessings!

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capillya - June 27, 2011

Oh my goodness. The baby bio absolutely cracked me up! Also, I’d take Carrie Underwood’s legs in a HOT MINUTE.

Oh, and THIS: “the scenes had to be written as they were–not to sensationalize the issue, but to drive home the gravity of it.” THIS makes me want to read her work. So glad she’s got a supportive pub!

And my favorite fast food restaurant would definitely be Chick-fil-A. Diet lemonade, 3-piece chicken strip and a small fruit cup please! And don’t you dare try to steal my mandarin oranges! =)

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Sarah - June 28, 2011

I’m gonna say McDonald’s I have an obsession with their fries plus they have these Oreo mc.flurries that put me in heaven!!!

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Rachel - June 28, 2011

Most definitely Qdoba. Naked burritos are the way to go. Mmmm….cilantro lime rice 🙂

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Kristen - June 28, 2011

Now I really wanna read her books! I’d have to say that Taco Bell is probably my favorite…so gross, but so good…

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Lauren - June 28, 2011

Chick-Fil-A! The hot chicken sandwiches, salty waffle fries, and chocolatey milkshakes are to die for! I also love how the employees are so kind and helpful.

My second choice would have to be Arby’s. Their French Dip sandwiches are absolutely delicious, and paired with their greasy curly fries, can only be beat by Chick-Fil-A!

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Krista - June 28, 2011

I’m not a huge fast food person… but I do love Baja Fresh every once in awhile.

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Jess - June 28, 2011

I love me some Taco Bell…but since I can’t have gluten anymore, I (sadly) stick to Wendy’s baked potatoes.

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Debra Weiss - June 28, 2011

Favorite fast food joint? Probably Subway but I’m not the healthy sandwich kinda girl. I’m more of the ‘drench it in oils and fats’ type of girl. 😉

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bookwyrm14 - June 28, 2011

Can we say more than one? Cause I had a whole day to think about the question, and I have decided that I love McDonalds, Wendy’s, and Burger King equally. It’s like choosing between your children. Sure, one is prettier than the other, and another one may be smarter than the other, but you love them all equally…or in this case, Wendy’s is healthier than Burger King or McDonalds, but McDonalds fries are the best, but Burger King burgers are AWESOME!!! 🙂

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Kelly - June 28, 2011

Chick-fil-a all the way! I love how they aren’t disgusting fatty/greasy with any of their foods! CHICKIN ROOLZ, BURGERZ DRUL. And they do so many great offers and specials all the time. Then, there’s the best: they play Christian music and aren’t open on Sunday. Did you know the creator of Chick-fil-a is a Christian (kind of obvious) he did so many great things for the community, like building a kids’ church camp?

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Erin McFarland - June 28, 2011

In-N-Out!!
And Nicole you are my hero! Toddler triplets!! My-o-my. Convinced us work at home mommas survive on two things: chocolate and the grace of God.

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Nikki - June 29, 2011

Chipotle!

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Casey - June 30, 2011

I have been seeing Nicole’s books in several places lately! My sister is a YA youth/reader and we were JUST talking last night that so many of her books have language in them. Not, not, not good! I’ll have to check your books for her. Thanks for the post! 🙂

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Molly - June 30, 2011

hoosong and larrys! its this great restaurant like beaches…. its heaven 😉

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Elizabeth - July 1, 2011

Totally Chick-fil-a! They have the BEST Cookies and Cream milkshake! I also love how Chick-fil-a is Christian based business.

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