Wednesday, May 11, 2011

YA Author Nicole O'Dell Stops by

I'm delighted to have my friend Nicole O'Dell drop by today. My oldest adores her Scenarios books. These great books set up a situation in which a teen has to make a choice. Then the book sets out the options: what happens with each choice. These books cover great topics from drugs to drinking to cheating to sex.

Please share about your newest releases.
Dare to Be Different and Risky Business are 2-in-1 repacks of the first four books in the Scenarios series. Swept Away is the anticipated 2-in-1 brand new release of books five and six in the series. In Swept Away, seniors and best friends, Amber and Brittany, are neck and neck in a good‐natured competition for a car being given away by a local business. When Amber cheats on her final exams to win the car and Brittany gets blamed for it, Amber is torn. Will she let her friend take the fall? Or will she admit she cheated and face the consequences? The second story finds sophomore Lilly Armstrong facing the question, “How far is too far?” with her boyfriend. When Jason convinces Lilly to lie to her parents about a church overnighter so she can stay at his house while his parents are out of town, how far will she let things go?

Each issue-driven Scenarios book has alternate endings that allow the reader to make an important moral decision for the main character and follow the consequences of her choice. They’re designed to help girls make their choices before they find themselves unprepared and face-to-face with peer pressure and end with a contract and prayer to help solidify her commitment to Godly choices.

Dare to be Different contains Scenarios for Girls books one and two: Truth or Dare and All that Glitters. (lying, peer pressure, boys, alcohol)

Risky Business contains Scenarios for Girls books three and four: Magna and Making Waves. (Stealing, loyalty, performance-enhancement drugs)

Swept Away contains the never-before released Scenarios for Girls five and six: High Stakes and Essence of Lilly. (cheating, loyalty, purity, honesty)

These are great books, but I know it's not all you're writing. What else are you working on right now?
I’m continuing on in the Diamond Estates series and the Drama Ensues series. I’m also wondering why I named them both with DE titles? Isn’t that a strange coincidence? They’re very, very different series—I hope you check them both out. Diamond Estates deals with troubled girls in a group home, to state it very simply. The Wishing Pearl, book one in Diamond Estates, is releasing on October 1, 2011. You can check it out on my website. Drama Ensues starts its appearance in 2012. It has a different style—quirky, drama club, artsy—yet it’s compelling in its coverage of the issues.

What interests do you have outside of writing?
Diapers? No, seriously, I love what I’m doing. I’m living my dream. I’ve given up a lot of outside things to give more time to my passion. How many people can say that about their work? Someone brilliant once said that if you’re able to do what you love, you’ll never work another day in your life. I’m grateful to God for what he’s given me, and I happily give my spare moments to my writing and all that goes along with it. I do exercise. Sometimes.

Oh, and I speak at events, lead a local writing group, and teach a publishing course at the community college. I also host Teen Talk Radio—a weekly radio show where I bring guests on to talk about anything and everything today’s teens might be interested in. You can find it at

You are one crazy busy lady, Nicole. How do you choose your settings for each book?
I wish I could say that I got inspiration for my stories from my exotic travels. But it’s more based on the characters. They speak to me. I tried to have Carmen from The Embittered Ruby (book two of Diamond Estates--coming soon) hail from Virginia. But try as I did, that girl was from New York, no matter how hard I tried to make it otherwise. I love it when that happens!

You've been writing for awhile now. What is the one thing you wish you had known before you started writing novels?
Honestly, what comes to mind is the one thing I’m glad I didn’t know. I had no idea how difficult the process was supposed to be. I didn’t know about people enduring years of rejection letters. I didn’t know that many writers had unpublished manuscripts gathering dust in the corners of their offices. I hadn’t heard the stories of pitches and near misses. I just had some stuff to write. So I did.

I often wonder if the results—or even my efforts—would have been different if I’d known how rough it was supposed to be. I’m thankful I was protected from both the knowledge and the experience.

Now one last question, one I've wondered the answer to for awhile: Why Teenagers?
Well, I didn’t choose this age group for my focus—God did. Honestly, it’s difficult. It’s heartbreaking sometimes, and exhausting a lot of the time. I often ask myself if I’m too old or too out of touch to minister to teens. But then I get a letter or an email from someone who was touched by something I did or said. I’m reminded in those moments that God has called me to reach out to teens, probably because those were the years of my deepest personal spiritual battle.

In my teens, I was pulled hard to both extremes. God wanted big things for me, and satan wanted the opposite. My struggles, my failures, my pain—those things drive me to want more for today’s teens. I want to spare them from some of the heartache I endure and help them tackle the temptations and peer pressures head on, confidently, secure in their Savior’s love.

They’re the future.

She writes. She talks. She reads. She changes diapers. Nicole O'Dell is a mom of six--including a set of toddler triplets who may or may not be potty trained sometime in 2011. Jury's still out on that one. She is the author of a bunch of YA books, including the popular Scenarios for Girls interactive fiction series and the upcoming Diamond Estates Series. She's also the host of Teen Talk Radio. You can find her books and links to all the fun social stuff at

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