Friday, December 28, 2012

Nicole O'Dell: Choosing Not To Soften Edges For A Reason

Everyone's Story welcomes author and multi-talented Nicole O'Dell as its last guest for 2012. Nicole is a very fitting guest to end the year on a blog whose aim is to uplift and encourage readers, writers, and all those in-between. That's because the starting point for the love of story is with a child and that's where Nicole's heart is. A true advocate for children, Nicole will share with us this week her thoughts on edgy fiction vs. the edgy life of teens. Nicole also answers a few interview questions, and check out the awesome book giveaway she offers. 

May your New Year be one of joy and peace.

Book Giveaway:

Nicole is graciously offering one copy of her recent release in the Diamond Estates Series, THE SHADOWED ONYX, to one randomly chosen commenter. The winner will be announced next Friday, on January 4th, between 4-5 EST. For convenience, please insert your email address within the body of the comment. Thank you!

Is It My Goal To Be Edgy? by Nicole O'Dell

My question, whenever this comes up, is who determines the edge? And the edge of what? Maybe if I were writing in a time when aprons were in style and teens still said yes ma’am to their teachers.  Or in a time when parents were allowed to hold other people’s kids accountable for disrespect and bad behavior. And even today, I suppose calling my books edgy is fair when the view is from the center of a church pew on Sunday morning.
Sadly, that’s not where the majority of teenagers, even Christian teens, (and most of their parents) are building their frames of reference. According to their lifestyles and their threshold for shocking, even sinful things, the stories I tell are far from the edge. In fact, they’re smack-dab in the center of reality as most of them (and us) know it.
For example, my recent Diamond Estates series…
Diamond Estates. Three girls are on a journey to find hope and healing. Each coming to Diamond Estates seeking solace… Each with her own unique set of struggles… And each capturing hearts and challenging the faith of teen girls.
In the three books in this series, a troubled teen is plucked out of the mire of poor choices and the consequences that resulted, and dropped into Diamond Estates, a Christian counseling residence for teen girls, where they seek truth and grace. The road to forgiveness–mainly accepting it for themselves–is a difficult one. But the light of Jesus shines the brightest against the backdrop of their despair.
Which is exactly what I want to teach confused, hurt, and angry teens about their own realities
Am I being edgy just for the shock value?
Oh, no. I would hope and pray that is never my motivation. Ever. There is no storyline in any of my books that isn’t there for a reason--never shock value. In fact, I have taken scenes or descriptions out when I didn’t trust my own motives for putting them there. I am human, after all, and I sure don’t want to get in the way of what God’s doing with the work.
So then what is the goal?

Well, in the first Diamond Estates book, The Wishing Pearl, 10/1/11, Olivia dealt with off-screen sexual abuse by her step-father as she struggled to heal from the death of her dad years before. She turned to the wrong crowd, alcohol, and drugs in search of oblivion.
In The Embittered Ruby, 4/1/12, Carmen Castillo faces the divorce of her parents that forces a relocation from upstate New York to a rougher part of New Jersey. She goes from country club tennis lessons to gang fights. Deciding to take matters into her own hands, Carmen becomes a master manipulator.
The Shadowed Onyx, 12/1/12, deals with occult activity and spiritual warfare as Joy Christianson tries to make sense of her best friend’s suicide.
Each of these books takes a hard-hitting look at real-life things teens face. The goal is simply to show them the way through that mire and point them toward the cross of Jesus Christ.
There is no other goal.
But do Christian parents want their teens reading about that stuff?
Well, if their teens are seeing it all lived out in front of them on a daily basis. What they might not see, however, are the consequences of those poor choices or the redemption that can only be found in Jesus. They see the sparkle of sin and the glamour of rebellion, but rarely do they realize what it’s like to hit bottom. . .until they do.
My goal is for readers to choose a different path by reading these stories. Maybe as a result of reading these stories, they’ll decide to start their personal choices at the end of the book and skip all the pain along the way. Or perhaps they’ll find inspiration to reach out to someone who needs to see truth against the backdrop of lies. To that end, I believe in facing the hard issues, talking about them before they actually arise, and making a plan to combat the peer pressure before it hits.
Parents shouldn’t be afraid of the issues; they should be afraid of what happens when they ignore them.
The Diamond Estates series might seem edgy, but it’s on the edge where the miracles happen. 

3 Questions for Nicole:

In my mind's eye, you are synonymous with helping children thrive and for shaping a healthy relationship between parent and child. Where did this passion come from?

Thanks, Elaine. The drive I have to help parents and teens build bridges and then cross them came about because I experienced a big communication breakdown between me and my parents when I was a teen. If we'd been able to heal through that time, I believe that I'd have stayed stronger in my faith and closer to my parents. That's my goal for today's families.

Please share with us about Choose NOW Ministries,  Choose NOW Radio, and Choose HER.

Choose NOW Ministries is an umbrella entity that encompasses all the resources (Choose NOW Radio network, Choose NOW blog network, Choose HER mother/daughter ministry, books, events, and messages) that we offer parents and teens. If you visit www. or, you'll find a network of ministry partners who share a similar passion as mine and bring their own expertise to a certain topic each month. People like Tricia Goyer, Mary DeMuth, Sheila Gregoire, and many others! Be sure to check it out! 

Care to reveal your secret source of energy when it comes to balancing being a wife, a mom of six children, an author, and your dedication to your ministries?

I wish I knew! :) Honestly, I try to simply be a vessel and let God accomplish whatever he wishes to do through me. I can tell when I'm operating under my own will and steam because I come up short--and tired. But when it's all Him, everything comes together.

Author Bio:
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 and was recently endorsed by Focus on the Family. Visit for access to her bustling blog network and other resources.


  1. I loved meeting Nicole. She has an awesome ministry. As for her stories being edgy? Seems to me they come straight from the headlines. I worked in the Abstinence program for 10 years, so I'm familiar with what teens are seeing. I wish every girl I talked to could read Nicole's books and their message of redemption.
    pat at ptbradley dot com

    1. Pat, welcome back to Everyone's Story. I agree--teens today are not naive and appreciate a good fiction book where they can relate to characters who experience what they experience.

  2. Thanks, Elaine, for having me here! Fun interview! :)

    Thanks for the comments, Pat. It's true that teens are facing huge issues. We need to be willing to talk about those things and prepare those teens for what they're facing.

    Blessings and Happy New Year!

  3. Edgy? Only people who are unaware of what today's teenagers face would label Nicole's books edgy. Realistic fiction has the power to impact lives for eternity. Three cheers for Nicole and her efforts!

    1. Beth, a warm welcome to Everyone's Story. Your comment echoes a FB-conversation I was having with a friend who is a long-time teacher: the extent of what children know & have to deal with these days can make the proverbial hair on our necks stand on end. Like you, I'm glad there are authors like Nicole who show it like it is!

    2. Thank you, Beth! Christian parents can be so nervous about these subjects, but they need to realize that if they aren't talking about them and providing good resources for understanding choice and consequences, their kids are going to figure it out some other way.

      Thanks again!

  4. Nicole, I admire you for your ministry to teens, both in person and through books. They're probably the toughest audience in the world. I pray that you reach hearts through both ministries.

    1. Welcome back, Norma. I cherish your visit.

  5. Nicole, thanks for appearing on Everyone's Story, especially during a holiday week. Your segment enjoyed quite a few hits. I wish you continued success bringing crucial stories to many a child's hearts. Thanks too for your sweet giveaway novel...

    The winner of Nicole's giveaway book, THE SHADOWED ONYX. is Norma. Yea, Norma! Both Nicole and I will contact you in direct emails.

    Norma is a blogger as well. Visit her fascinating blog where she shares her thoughts on the American Dream: In Search of The American Dream

    Happy New Year!


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