Nicole O’Dell, founder of Choose NOW Ministries and host of Choose NOW Radio: Parent Talk and Teen Talk, is a youth culture expert who writes and speaks to preteens, teenagers, and parents on preparing for life’s tough choices. The mother of six, including toddler triplets, she’s author of YA fiction, including the popular Scenarios for Girls interactive fiction series and the Diamond Estates Series, and non-fiction for teens including Girl Talk, 2/1/12, based on the popular advice column she writes with her two daughters. Hot Buttons, O’Dell’s non-fiction series for parents pre-empts peer pressure by tackling tough issues. Visit www.nicoleodell.com.
Congratulations on the release of your novella “Welcome Home, Love” in the collection Rainbow’s End. Please tell us a bit about this novella and how it came to be.
After winning her life-long battle to get fit, Hadley Parker thinks it’s time for a reward. The couch potato is gone; now it’s time to say goodbye to the wallflower. Determined, and about to turn thirty, Hadley signs up for the annual Rainbow’s End Treasure Hunt as a gift to herself. Unskilled in handling attention from good-looking men, Hadley nearly makes a huge mistake by falling for Brad, a fellow competitor and confirmed bachelor. Youth pastor and hunt director, Noah Templeton, tries to warn her before things go too far, but Hadley mistakes his sincerity for jealousy. Will she see past the syrupy compliments of the ill-intentioned womanizer? And will Noah manage to remind Hadley that the treasures she truly seeks are already within her . . . and right in front of her?
Is this your first/only release? If not, what has released recently or about to be released that our readers would like to know about?
No, I actually have nine releases happening this year. The first one was in February with the release of Girl Talk, an advice/Q&A book I wrote with my two daughters based on our Girl Talk blog.
Next came the release of The Embittered Ruby on April 1st. It’s book two in the Diamond Estates series based on my own experiences at Teen Challenge as a teen.
June 1st welcomes the first two Hot Buttons books with the third and fourth to follow in October.
From drugs to bullying, from Internet activity to dating, Hot Button issues have saturated youth culture . . . and may have challenged your teen. This accessible, quick-reference series is a practical guide for discussing these Hot Buttons with your child, before the issues become a problem.
What special something do you try to bring to every story you write?
Whether I’m writing fiction for teens or women, or nonfiction for teens or parents, it’s all about choices. Our pasts, our mistakes, our insecurities. . .they’re all a very real part of who we are, but they’re nothing about who He is. I strive to show readers that the patterns embedded within us because of sin, doubt, or fear, are choices we make. Through the power of Christ, we can rise above every human frailty, and live victorious in Him. We can Choose NOW.
Have you ever been to the setting of your novella?
Yes, I have actually. I traveled there with my grandparents when I was very young. I remember visiting Meramec Caverns very clearly, but that’s about all I remember of the trip. Unfortunately, those were in the dark ages before digital photography.
What does a typical writing day look like for you?
With toddler triplets in the house, there is no such thing as typical. I steal moments when I can and stay up late when necessary. I don’t often get up early because, well, I’ve usually stayed up too late.
What’s the best part about writing for you? The hardest?
The best part is connecting with readers! I love to get notes via email, Facebook, twitter, or to meet someone at an event. As far as the actual writing, I love tweaking sentences and scenes into vivid word pictures—at least that’s always my goal. And I love, love, love crafting strong characters that stick with the reader long after THE END.
The hardest part is just the publishing industry as a whole. The wait–the not yets—those can be difficult sometimes.
What’s one small bit of you that’s in your novella’s main character?
I knew nothing about geocaching when we started this project. But, like my character, Hadley, in “Welcome Home, Love,” I’ve struggled with physical issues over the years. In fact, I once lost well over 100 pounds and reached a fit and trim size four. Then, just as I’d started to get used to my new size and started believing I was actually the new me, I got pregnant with triplets and the doctor told me I needed to gain 100 pounds. No joke.
It’s easy to see why Hadley’s body image and self-esteem issues are near and dear to my heart.
What dish are you most likely to take to a potluck?
I’d love to say I’d bring my award-winning chili as spotlighted in The Embittered Ruby, but those days are on hold for me. The days of languishing for hours over my kitchen counter with mounds of fresh peppers and jars of spices are a distant but distinct memory that I hope will find its place in my life again.
Right now, though, getting to a potluck with a store-bought tub of potato salad and a few bags of rolls, with three fully dressed and freshly scrubbed toddlers in tow is about the best I can come up with.
If you were a color, what color would you be? Why?
I’d be clear. I’m so bad at these kinds of questions. I think you have to have poetic tendencies to say something poignant to connect color with a persona.
If you could go on an all-expenses-paid month-long vacation anywhere in the world, where would you go? What would you do there?
I’m torn between an Alaskan cruise and a cruise of the Greek islands. I know there’s a ton to do in Alaska and it’s been on my list for a long time, but my husband and I went to see an Imax movie about Greece once and I’ve wanted to do that trip ever since. It’s so beautiful!
Where or how do you like to connect with your readers?
Twitter: Nicole O’Dell
Twitter: Hot Buttons
Twitter: Choose NOW Radio
Thanks so much for letting us get to know you a little!