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Writer’s Window–Nicole O’Dell

Monday, March 28, 2011

Joining us today for Writer’s Window is young-adult fiction author Nicole O’Dell.

One lucky commenter* will win a signed copy of Nicole’s latest release, Swept Away, a 2-in-1 featuring two of Nicole’s innovative “interactive” young adult novels: High Stakes and Essence of Lilly. Deadline for leaving a comment to enter the drawing is Friday. To enter the drawing, you must answer the question posed by Ann at the end of the interview. Only one comment per person will count toward the drawing. You do not need to include your e-mail address in the body of your comment—just make sure it’s correct when you sign in to leave your comment. The winning name will be drawn next weekend and announced on the next Writer’s Window post. Congratulations to Amee, who won the drawing for last week’s featured book.

      *U.S. residents only, void where prohibited. If you win the drawing, you will be ineligible for the next three drawings, though hopefully you will still come back and join in the discussion.


Decisions, decisions! How is a girl supposed to choose? Lessons of right and wrong are put to the test in the Scenarios series, where you can test your decision-making abilities in an eye-opening, but safe, way. Each book follows a character up to the point where she has to make an important, life-changing decision—then it’s your turn to choose. Will your choices lead to a happy ending?

In High Stakes, 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. In Essence of Lilly, sophomore Lilly Armstrong is always looking for ways to escape the confines of her unhappy home. She “invents” youth group activities 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? Readers help Amber and Lilly make the difficult decisions by choosing between alternate endings, and then see how their choices create consequences with life-altering results before Amber and Lilly get SWEPT AWAY!

Click here to view the video trailer.

Welcome, Nicole!
What do you like best about being a writer?

    I love change. I couldn’t stand doing the same thing every single day for a long period of time. So I love that writing gives me the opportunity to make any kind of change I want to. I get to tell any story I want to tell and, beyond that, I get to wear the hats of many different people. One day I’m a writer, the next I’m an editor. Then, next week I might be a marketer, promoter, speaker, teacher, etc. It’s perfect!

What do you like least about being a writer?

    There is a limit to what a person can do. I think I’ve reached my limit for this year as I now have 400k contracted words to write before December 1 (hopefully by the time this interview posts it will be closer to 300k). The thought of that scares me a bit, but it also excites me to no end. Still, it’s frustrating that there’s absolutely no room for any new projects right now. Or the flu. Or. . .

Pop, Soda, or Coke? What do you call it, and what’s your favorite variety?

    As a Chicagoan, it’s definitely Pop!

What’s your favorite dessert?

    Gummy bears. 🙂 I really love the white ones best. But if I were at a restaurant ordering a real dessert, it would be something gooey covered in hot fudge.

What’s the most fun/interesting/crazy/scary/unique hands-on research you’ve done for a book?

    Right now I’m researching for a book for parent about their teens and online activity. It’s taken me deep into the archives of Let me tell you, it chills e to the bone to face the reality of what goes on out there.

What’s your favorite movie from childhood?

    Hmm, from childhood…Ice Castles and E.T.

    Ice Castles was also a book—I wore my copy out and had to buy a second one. With E.T., I remember being in the theater watching as he soared over the moon on that bicycle. 🙂

If you were to write a novel about what your life would have been like if you’d become what you wanted to be at eight years old, what kind of character would the story be about?

    A pediatric Doc Hollywood who rid the world of childhood illness and had fun doing it.

What makes you happy?

    Well, I’ll be honest. I’ve had some serious angst lately over the very real phenomenon known as Writer’s Hiney. It seems to be contagious and spreads like wildfire. Spreads—get it?

    Anyway, I found this amazing contraption on Amazon called Surf Shelf. It attaches to my treadmill and I’m able to strap my laptop on and walk while I work. As I’m answering this interview, I’m walking the last bit of my two hours for today. In the past six days, I’ve walked over 30 miles. It makes me happy because I don’t like feeling like a sloth!

What makes you nervous?

    Did I mention those 400k words?

What’s your biggest dream for the future?

    Six successful, happily married kids, and at least a dozen grandkids.

Tell us about your newest release and what you’re working on now.

    My Scenarios interactive fiction books for girls are releasing in a 2-in-1 format. Books 1 and 2 (Truth or Dare and All that Glitters) are in the 2-in-1 called Dare to be Different. Books 3 and 4 (Magna and Making Waves) are in the 2-in-1 called Risky Business. And releasing at the end of this week, Scenarios 5 & 6—Swept Away.

    Diamond Estates is a new series I’m doing with Barbour.
    The first book, The Wishing Pearl, releases on 10/1/11:

      Sixteen-year-old Olivia Mansfield can’t wait to escape the confines of her home, which promises nothing but perpetual torment and abuse from her stepfather. When poor choices lead her to the brink of a complete breakdown, Olivia comes to a crossroads. Will she find the path to ultimate hope and healing once she moves into Diamond Estates?

    I’m also working on various projects to go along with the enhanced eBooks we’re doing for Scenarios. Those will release this August.

Where can people find out more about you/connect with you online?

Now it’s your turn to ask the question. What question do you want to ask the commenters to answer?

    Are you watching American Idol? I’m polling everyone! What do you think of the judges? How about the contestants? If you don’t watch AI, which reality shows do you like?


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, 10/11. She’s also the host of Teen Talk Radio at You can find her books and links to all the fun social stuff at

  1. Charmaine Gossett permalink
    Monday, March 28, 2011 9:55 am

    It amazes me that she can find time to write with six children. My two were a hand full. She is an inspiration. Good interview.


  2. Amee permalink
    Monday, March 28, 2011 11:11 am

    I love Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez as judges, but I don’t really like any of the contestants this year. I’m not really watching anymore either. I watch if I’m home and there’s nothing else on (but it’s more background noise while I read! lol).


    • Monday, March 28, 2011 9:26 pm

      I like the judges, too. I feel like they were too soft at first, but seem to be coming around a bit. 🙂


      • Gift permalink
        Monday, February 25, 2013 4:49 pm

        i love your books Mrs. o’dell! they’re wonderfull. oh and BTW(by the way) i am 11 years old


  3. Monday, March 28, 2011 5:08 pm

    Im amazed you get so much done with triplet toddlers.
    I dont watch american Idol its on one of the channels we cant get where I live in Australia.
    We are now getting the Amazing race but are behind like we have only had 2 episodes. But I do like it and I like Survivor. In Australia I like to watch the Aussie Biggest Loser, Masterchef and we have one called Conviction Kitchen where some people who have been in trouble with the law have been given a second chance to work in a restaurant and get a real job from it Oh and I like under cover boss.
    Dont enter me as im an aussie.


    • Monday, March 28, 2011 9:27 pm

      Conviction Kitchen!?!?! I would totally watch that! LOL


      • Tuesday, March 29, 2011 2:47 am

        Nicole its really good and inspiring one of Australias top Chef has 12 people who have either just been released from prison or are on probation and parole. 6 training to be chefs and 6 front of the house staff. 2 will get fulltime work in this Chef’s Melbourne restaurant. There has been one chef who walked out and one front of house left cos of conflict with looking after her kids and working but she did get experience. Its actually inspiring seeing the change in several of the people and the confidence. A couple are still having issues but its amazing how much they have changed. The Chef himself got into trouble when he was young and turned his life around and wants to help others by giving them a chance.


  4. Monday, March 28, 2011 5:42 pm

    I don’t watch reality TV at all, I’m afraid. 🙂


    • Audry permalink
      Monday, March 28, 2011 5:46 pm

      whoo, I’m not the only one 😀


  5. Monday, March 28, 2011 5:43 pm

    Wow, toddler triplets – now that’s novel-worthy:) Thanks for the insights into your writing and all around life, Nicole. I’m a huge YA fan and Ann Rinaldi books are taking over my ofice… It’s refreshing to see what you’re writing about as it’s so needed today. Love the cover and title:) As for Idol, I’ve watched a couple of times but find it’s so painful (must remind me of my writing rejections), that I usually can’t bear more than a few minutes at a time. Simon makes me cringe… Thanks for taking time here with Kaye. It blesses us!


    • Monday, March 28, 2011 9:27 pm

      LOL I’d write the novel, but no one would think it was believable! 🙂

      Thanks for the comment!


  6. Audry permalink
    Monday, March 28, 2011 5:45 pm

    I may be the oddball, but not only do I not watch American Idol, I’ve never seen even one episode. In fact, I’ve never seen an episode of any reality TV show. I haven’t had cable since I stopped living in my parents’ house, and until this past Christmas my ancient TV wasn’t one that managed to pick up any broadcast stations either. My in-laws gave us money to buy a new flat panel TV (we do watch movies!) and it picks up a few broadcast channels, but most of the time I forget they’re even available.


    • Monday, March 28, 2011 6:38 pm

      That’s more or less how we do it as well. We have a pretty nice TV that we bought this past Christmas with money from three of my relatives, but before that we had a friend’s hand-me-down. We did have DirecTV for awhile, but it just wasn’t worth the price when most of what we watch was on network TV anyway. But Netflix…that’s another story:)


    • Monday, March 28, 2011 9:29 pm

      Not one episode, huh? WOW! lol I turned off the TV for one whole summer once…it was great. 🙂


  7. Monday, March 28, 2011 5:45 pm

    Hi from another mom of 6! Fortunately, all mine are potty trained :0)

    Haven’t been watching AI this season, but I will (blushingly) admit to watching “16 and Pregnant/Teen Mom 2” on MTV. Every week, it strengthens my resolve to pour God’s word into my children and pray His protection over them.


    • Monday, March 28, 2011 9:30 pm

      I watch Teen Mom, too. It’s interesting in light of the teens I work with on a regular basis. Some of those teen moms totally depress me, some of them really impress me, too, though!


  8. Monday, March 28, 2011 6:05 pm

    400K words with toddler triplets. Okay, I’m going to stop whining (even in my heart since try not to do it aloud) about how busy writing makes life. I have no excuse whatsoever. My hat’s off to you, Nicole!

    The only thing that comes close to reality TV that I like is that show where celebrities trace their ancestry, called Who Do You Think You Are? It’s very scripted, obviously, but I hope what they are presenting is factual research, and not completely fabricated. In any case I enjoy getting the history surrounding their ancestors (being a historical fiction writer), and got a kick out of having two celebrities (so far) cross their ancestral paths with mine. Both on my mother’s side, from some of the oldest families of southern Virginia. And, alas, their slaves. That much I could verify from my own family history, finding the same names/persons in my lineage that were mentioned on the show.


    • Monday, March 28, 2011 9:32 pm

      I haven’t heard of that show–but I just heard of one called “What would you do?” where they stage scenarios just to see how the public will react–jump to help a stranger or pretend to ignore…sounds super interesting!

      Thanks for visiting and commenting! 🙂


  9. Monday, March 28, 2011 6:09 pm

    AI is one of the reasons I can’t stand “reality” TV—it’s created such a sense that it’s not only okay to judge others—it’s great, and if you can throw some mockery in there with it, all the better. No, thank you.

    The Amazing Race and (though it shames me to admit) America’s Next Top Model are my two favorite “reality” competition shows.


  10. Kav permalink
    Monday, March 28, 2011 6:16 pm

    You have toddler triplets and you have time to write all those books???????????????
    You have toddler triplets and you have time to watch American Idol???????????????

    I watch American Idol and I’m enjoying it this year. I like the new judges — love the way they really get into the music. I think there’s a much more postiive energy between them and it extends to the contestants. Also like that they didn’t belabor the embarrassing hopefuls that didn’t make it scenes in the beginning of this season. Much more tasteful, I think.

    You have toddler triplets and you have time to answer questionnaires???????

    You must be super woman…or super mom or super wrtier…or super something.

    (don’t enter me in the draw — I’m from Canada)


    • Monday, March 28, 2011 9:34 pm

      LOL yeah, I’m very blessed that they go to bed at 6:30 and sleep until 7:30 am. It gives me plenty of time for AI but I’m usually pretty brain dead by then and can’t formulate a coherent written sentence. But, I’m blessed with a supportive husband who will be sainted.


  11. Monday, March 28, 2011 6:31 pm

    How cool!?! I have to go out and buy one of your books now just to check out the format. That has got to be an interesting way to write.

    And I can’t believe Kaye asked the pop/soda/Coke question. That cracked me up. When I lived in Michigan, everybody called it pop. Drove me insane. Sorry, but it’s Coke… even when it’s Mountain Dew. 🙂


    • Monday, March 28, 2011 9:35 pm

      LOL See…I call Mountain Dew pop. It’s all pop unless it’s Coke. Then it’s Pepsi. 🙂


  12. Charmaine Gossett permalink
    Monday, March 28, 2011 6:44 pm

    Sorry, I don’t watch Americn Idol. Project Runway is a reality show, the only one I watch. But I have just discovered THE CLOSER and have become a glutton watching it. I watch every day at 1 p.m.; Monday nights at 8 or 9 p.m.; and even Saturday mornings at 10 and Saturday nights at 10:30. I think it is so well written, has humor, not too gory, realistic and I am facinated. For me it is a good model for writing to today’s market. Being 78 years old might explain some of my preferences.


    • Monday, March 28, 2011 9:36 pm

      Totally forgot about Project Runway–love that one, too. I also like anything with Chef Ramsay–potty mouth ignored–and I like that show Shark Tank.



  13. Monday, March 28, 2011 7:14 pm

    White Gummy Bears?
    Really? I’m so out of touch.

    The idea of an interactive novel is amazing. YA is such an important, and growing, genre of Christian Fiction. I’m so happy for your success, Nicole. Your article was a cute as you are. (I can say those kind of things because I’m a granny.)

    I’m not watching AI or Amazing Race or any thing else for that matter. I wish I could but, yes, I’m such a dedicated writer…
    seriously, I’ve given up TV to get my book ready to send out. Thanks for asking, though.


    • Monday, March 28, 2011 9:37 pm

      You’re so sweet! Thanks so much! 🙂

      And yes, the white ones are awesome. My kids know to hand them right over! 😉


  14. Monday, March 28, 2011 7:17 pm

    What a great theme for your books! Your writing sure is a valuable ministry. And its presented so well with the great cover, the 2 in 1 books, and the trailer is well done.
    I enjoyed getting to know you in the interview. You sure do have to wear a lot of hats, including being a mom! Wow!

    So, about that American Idol question. I’m afraid I only watch it occasionally. The same with Dancing with the Stars. I don’t watch TV a whole lot, but I do like House and Castle, which are on tonight!


    • Monday, March 28, 2011 9:39 pm

      Thanks so much for the sweet words. Barbour has done as awesome job with the packaging! I’m thrilled with how they turned out. 🙂


  15. Monday, March 28, 2011 7:27 pm

    Gummy Bears!!!!! We must be secret sisters or something! I absolutely LOVE them and buy them all the time. I quite bringing them to work, because with the stress of my job, I can eat a whole bag in one sitting!

    You are one busy lady! I cannot imagine having the amount of words you have to write AND you walk two hours a day???? Goodness! That is AMAZING. You are my hero. 🙂


  16. Monday, March 28, 2011 8:19 pm

    Yay, someone else who calls it pop! I get into an “argument” all the time with one of my friends about whether it is pop or soda.

    I’m another one who uses an antenna and only gets the broadcast channels, of course it doesn’t like me very much right, and doesn’t seem to want to work. The only reality show I really like is Dancing with the Stars. Not happy that I’m missing it tonight, as my antenna and the ABC station don’t seem to be on speaking terms tonight. But it’s also, I’ll catch the dances I want to watch on youtube tomorrow.

    Neftlix though, I love netflix, so many documentaries for a history geek such as myself. 😀


    • Monday, March 28, 2011 9:45 pm

      You could watch on too. I caught Cele Apprentice that way the other day. watched it while on the treadmill. Worked great! 🙂


  17. Monday, March 28, 2011 9:13 pm

    Thank you for sharing a great interview. We were just at our local library today trying to find some good books. The YA librarian has even enlisted my daughter in helping her to find good YA books for our library. Great project for her because she is such a picky reader. This looks like it might be something she would really enjoy.

    Although we do not watch American Idol, we do enjoy a few reality shows including Survivor, Amazing Race, America’s Got Talent, Shark Tank, and we used to like American Inventor, though haven’t seen that around in ages.


    • Monday, March 28, 2011 9:46 pm

      So glad to hear you’re using your librarian! 🙂

      Love Shark tank, too! Fun show!!!


  18. Monday, March 28, 2011 9:31 pm

    a) praying that you have time to both potty train 3 toddlers and write in the upcoming months!! 🙂

    b) you ROCK for mentioning the surf shelf. Guess what I’m putting in my Amazon cart right now??

    c) we’re not watching American Idol because we moved to the country…well, 3/10 of a mile past the cable hookup so we get NOTHING. Yes, I could watch it on the internet, but did I mention we don’t have cable anymore? s.l.o.w. You can tell I’m not bitter and handling it well, can’t you?

    d) but if I could watch a reality show, it would be American Idol. Steven Taylor freaks me out a little though…those lips are just odd and strange and a little creepy.


    • Monday, March 28, 2011 9:47 pm

      Steven Tyler is really sweet. 🙂

      Go for it with the Surf Shelf!!! You’ll love it!


      • Tuesday, March 29, 2011 8:02 pm

        I ordered my Surf Shelf last night! Just recommended it to a friend too! 🙂


  19. Monday, March 28, 2011 10:23 pm

    400k words? That’s 30k+ words per month. I assume your children are now raising completely independent, fully-functioning beings. LOL!

    I have no doubt you’ll make it. I continue to be awed by your dedication, not to mention your organizational skills. Did I mention I was reducing my reading load? You’re not helping…


    • Tuesday, March 29, 2011 9:15 am

      LOL you’re sweet, Patricia. I would love to have more time to read, though.


  20. Tuesday, March 29, 2011 2:45 pm

    Great interview….thanks for sharing some of “you” with us. Sounds like a busy, fun household!

    Watched a couple of episodes of AI, but only with our kids (all adult & married). I have viewed a few of the “My Big Redneck Wedding” shows….but am not really interested in reality shows…I know too many of those folks! We’re mostly news junkies…history channel and love, love Masterpiece Theater!

    And in the Ozarks, it’s “soadie pop”….


  21. Friday, April 1, 2011 8:26 am

    I’m not watching AI. We don’t even have a TV in our house. But I’d still like to be included in this giveaway thanks

    ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com



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