Today I want to introduce you to Nicole O’Dell. She is offering a giveaway of her new book so please leave a comment below (with your email address). We have to have at least ten people in order to have a giveaway, so invite your friends to read!
Okay Nicole, tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a married mom of six—three of whom are three-year-old triplets. The other three range from 12 to 20. I founded Choose NOW Ministries and host Choose NOW Radio: Parent Talk and Teen Talk, all of which allow me the opportunity to write and speak to preteens, teenagers, and parents about how to prepare for life’s tough choices.
I’ve written a bunch of YA fiction including the Scenarios for Girls interactive fiction series and the Diamond Estates Series, and non-fiction for teens including Girl Talk, 2/1/12, which I wrote with my two daughters based on our popular advice column. You can visit www.nicoleodell.com for more info or to find me on any of the social sites.
My hat is already off to you because you’re raising triplets. Now tell us three things about you that our readers wouldn’t know.
- I’m allergic to more foods than I can actually eat.
- I’m a member of Mensa.
- To avoid wasting time on a doctor visit, I once soaked a cast in water and then cut it off with a butcher knife. Does that void #2?
Yes, this voids #2, haha! No, you have to be pretty smart to think up doing something like that. Were you an avid reader as a child? What did you read?
Oh, you have no idea! I read and read…devoured is more like it. I found ways to read while I was doing anything and everything. I’d even read in the bathtub and have to drain water and refill it with hot so I could finish my book. Four or five books a week was pretty typical.
I read romance, suspense, historical…all of it. Not so much in the fantasy, sci-fi, spec-fiction genres, but I’ve grown to appreciate them now.
I’m with you on the fantasy and sci-fi. What is your favorite genre to read now?
I still like them all and read equally among the genres. I don’t have time to read four or five books a week anymore, but I often have a few books going at the same time.
As a child or teenager, did you ever dream of being an author?
Actually, as a child, I was an author. I won a district-wide contest in elementary school for writing and illustrating a book. It got “published” and put in all the libraries in my school district. It was called The Girl on the Runaway Pogo Stick.
After that, I was hooked. I knew I wanted to write forever—but it took many decades for me to actually pursue any sort of publication.
How many books do you have published?
Well, I have several more releases in 2012, so by the end of the year, it will be 19 books between YA fiction, YA non-fiction, parenting non-fiction, and one adult contemporary fiction.
That is amazing! Congratulations. You inspire me! Tell us about your latest book.
Sixteen-year-old Carmen Castillo desperately wants her parents to restore their marriage so she can return to her once-lavish life. But when her dad lets his new girlfriend turn Carmen’s bedroom in a dressing room, her last bit of faith in her parents, and in God, shatters. Her only hope is to create a family of her own with Nate—no matter that his political family finds her ethnicity distasteful. When that plan fails, Carmen packs up her resentment and anger, and heads to Diamond Estates seeking healing for her embittered soul. Concluding there is no such thing as ruby slippers, Carmen wonders if she’ll ever find happiness and wholeness.
What inspired you to write this particular book? It sounds amazing!
This series is near and dear to my heart because much of it is pulled from real-life experiences I had as a resident of Teen Challenge when I was a teenager. I either took from my personal experiences or those of other girls who were in the TC program with me. I could probably fill six more books with what I saw and heard while I was there!
I love how you write from your experiences. If you could interview any character in The Embittered Ruby what might that character say? Why?
Carmen Castillo could easily be misunderstood. Sure, she makes a lot of horrible choices, but it may appear that she’s completely unconcerned about people’s feelings. She’d love to be interviewed so she could have the opportunity to explain herself. But first she’d have to figure out what’s really happening in her heart and mind. We, as readers can see why Carmen is suffering and struggling, but it’s not as easy for her to identify her own motivations.
She sounds very real! How do you get to know your characters?
I’m a big believer in letting the characters speak to me. I want them to tell me their stories. That’s probably the major reason that I’m not an outliner or plotter. I just prefer to learn from the characters as the story unfolds. When I feel like a character isn’t speaking to me, I do an in-depth interview to try to figure out what’s really going on.
What are your favorite themes to write about?
Issues. I’m told my books are edgy—but that’s not my goal. My passion is to expose issues and face peer pressure and other concerns, help readers see what consequences result from good or bad choices, and then reveal the truth found only in the grace of God.
I love that! We need more writers like you. Are you a plotter, a pantster, or somewhere in between, and can you elaborate on your answer?
I’m more of a three-steps-forward, two-steps-back kind of writer. I don’t outline or plot, but I also don’t do a full first draft. I’ll write three chapters (approximately), then back up and fine-tune, edit, tweak. Then I’ll move ahead again, and back up again, overlapping with some of the work I’d previously edited. Doing it that way, I feel like I’m able to let the characters drive the story, but I also have ample opportunity to layer in details and subplots without having to planning it all out ahead of time.
What is your writing schedule and where do you write?
Whenever. Wherever. However. I wish I had more of schedule, but that time will come. Right now, with all these little kids afoot and teenagers in the house, I just have to roll with it and do the best I can.
I am surprised you have any time to write! How do you balance it?
Not always with the grace and flexibility I’d like to have, but I try. Then again, sometimes too much flexibility makes it difficult to meet deadlines. There has to be a balance and the only way to achieve that, in my opinion, is to communicate it with the family.
It’s interesting because I can tell when I’m moving in accordance with God’s will. When I am, things come easily and fit among everything else I have going on. But when I go too far or step outside of that perfect plan, it becomes very difficult to keep it all going. It’s a nice way to take inventory of my motives and figure out what needs to go and what needs to stay.
I find the same to be true in my life. What are you working on right now?
I have some non-fiction I’m working on right now and a super-fun fiction proposal being shopped around to publishers. I have some upcoming book releases that I have to focus a lot of attention on after this one. For example, the first two books in my parenting non-fiction series called Hot Buttons release on 6/1.
Does your faith affect your writing? How?
It absolutely does. It’s really the reason why I write at all. To me, stories are the vehicle for me to share some very valuable truths about choices, consequences, grace, forgiveness, and unconditional love.
Do you have a favorite scripture? If so, why is it your favorite?
Philippians 1:6 “…he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
As a Christian parent, and as someone who works with families, I love to know that the work doesn’t have to be finished. We can’t expect the perfect work to be complete until the day we (or our kids) stand before Jesus. He started it; He’ll finish it in His timing. Ah…talk about relieving the pressure!
Amen, sista! I have enjoyed having you on my blog so much. You are passionate about so many of the same things I am passionate about.
Where can fans find you or your books on the internet?
My books and all of the other resources offered by Choose NOW Ministries can be found at www.nicoleodell.com or www.choose-now.com. My books are also sold on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and anywhere else books are sold. If your local store doesn’t have them on the shelves, they’ll order them in for you.
Okay friends, leave a comment for a chance to win Nicole’s new book. Don’t forget to leave your email address.