Tuesday, April 29, 2008

PW Review

Well, this week marks the official release date (May 1) of Summer Snow. How exciting! My second novel is in stores! Wow. Sometimes that thought just floors me. Anyway, I found it incredibly appropriate yesterday to discover that the Publisher's Weekly review of Summer Snow was posted. And it's a good one! Phew. Aaron keeps telling me that someday I'll write a book that will get terrible reviews and I just have to prepare myself for it. But I'm happy that although his insight may be true, it doesn't have to be true for my second book!

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Summer Snow Nicole Baart. Tyndale, $12.99 paper (384p) ISBN 9781414316239

In her sophomore outing and excellent follow-up to After the Leaves Fall, Baart continues her saga of Julia DeSmit with the same careful prose and enjoyable storytelling she showed in her debut. Julia’s pregnancy is starting to show and she’s dropped out of college to live with her grandmother and work at Value Foods in a small Midwestern town. Her beloved “boy next door” is marrying another, and the father of her coming child is out of the picture. But when the unexpected happens, Julia discovers the bitterness of being unforgiving, the possibility of second chances, and the place in her life that only God can fill. Baart communicates deep spiritual themes with a light touch, and some scenes, such as Julia and a friend watching cottonwood fluff (“summer snow”) blow over a lake at sundown, are lovely. She also has a knack with characterization, and wise words come from both expected and unexpected places. This is a treat for faith fiction readers, and proves Baart is not just a one-hit wonder. (May)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Novel Journey Article

Whoops! I completely forgot that a few months ago I wrote an article for the website Novel Journey. Novel Journey is filled with book reviews, author interviews, and tons of advice for readers and writers both published and aspiring. In fact, they recently received the distinction of being one of Writer's Digest 101 most valuble websites for writers. Anyway, a while back the ladies at Novel Journey asked me to collect a few of my suggestions and ideas for writers. The article was posted on Wednesday. Just click on the link to read about the five things that influence my writing the most!


I had the distinct privilege of watching an excellent movie last night. Although I love a good film, I willingly admit that I am a bit picky... It takes a lot (great acting, an excellent story, artful cinematography, etc.) to impress me. There are lots of movies that I like, but few that I love. Juno is one of the few that managed to delight and surprise me.

Diablo Cody's screenplay is somewhat common in it's premise: girl meets boy, girl gets pregnant, girl deals with ensuing fall-out. But what made Juno stand out was its quirky characters and almost reverent undertones. Juno (Ellen Page), the sixteen-year-old mom-to-be, was exquisitely real as she tried to mask her fears in teenage bravado. Though her decisions seem hasty and almost childish at times, the underlying motivation behind everything she does (and doesn't do) is the wellbeing of her unborn child. It was refreshing and inspiring to see the sacrifices that Juno was willing to make for her baby.

The film was hilarious in parts, heartbreaking in others. I laughed out loud and I cried until the tears dripped off my chin. Best of all, when the final credits of Juno began to roll, I wanted to start all over again. Maybe I'll watch it again tonight. :)

Monday, April 21, 2008

Home From Festival

I'm finally home from the Festival of Faith and Writing and filled to overflowing with all I learned and experienced. What a weekend. I knew that the Festival would be good, but I didn't expect it to exceed my expectations so thoroughly. Some highlights:

-Rekindling my passion for poetry. Before I was a novelist I was a poet, but since I signed my book contracts I've drawn away from that first love. Hearing the enchanting poet Luci Shaw speak was positively transcendent. Thus, I think it's time to breathe new life into that sleeping poetess...

-"Camping" with the lovely Lisa McKay. Lisa and I have been e-friends since she emailed me a few months ago. Our stories are quite similar: we're nearly the same age, we're both debut novelists who hit the scene this past fall, and we share a passion for truth-telling through fiction. We had a spectacular weekend and forged what I hope will be a lifelong friendship.

-Listening to inspiring lectures. I particularly enjoyed Michael Chabon (he is so intelligent it's frightening), Yann Martel (equally brilliant but very accessible and down-to-earth), Katherine Patterson (who encouraged us to play and earned a standing, tear-filled ovation), and Elizabeth Berg (composed, beautiful, and charmingly funny) among many others. I took countless pages of notes.

-Meeting some people whom I have long admired: Francine Rivers (a truly amazing woman--smart but humble, prolific yet modest and kind), Tracy Groot (the brains behind the compelling Christy winner, Madman), and Leslie Layland Fields (a Renaissance woman through and through).

-Spending time with one of my editors from Tyndale. Stephanie is so fun and easy to be with--I treasured the hours with her.

-Bumping into old friends. You know who you are!

Whew. I get tired just remembering it. But it was exceptional in every way and I'm already looking forward to going again in two years. All I have to do in the meantime is try to process it all...

Monday, April 14, 2008

Gone Festivalin'

I'm afraid it's going to be a boring week around here. I'm on my way to Grand Rapids for the Calvin Festival of Faith and Writing. In addition to attending awesome seminars and hearing some incredible authors speak, I hope to finish (or at least come close to finishing) my third novel. And I've set up some pretty strict rules and regulations for myself. One of which is: no blogging. It's too tempting to put off what I need to do by blogging, writing emails, staring off into space, fixing a snack... You get the idea. Anyway, I hope you have a great week. I'll let you know how mine goes!

Monday, April 7, 2008

1st Review!

Summer Snow is on its way to a bookstore near you, and today I received the very first review. It's a little different this time around--when Leaves was released there was lots of early buzz and plenty of good reviews before the book ever hit stores. Not so with Summer Snow. I haven't heard an ounce of feedback from anyone other than family, friends, and publisher. So I was thrilled this morning to learn that Romantic Times Book Reviews gave Summer Snow a four-star rating! After the Leaves Fall earned a three-star rating ("enjoyable - a pleasant read"). Since one of my biggest goals for the sequel was to write a better book the second time around, I'm so happy that Summer Snow is considered a "compelling - page turner." Here are some highlights of the review:

"Baart's sequel is... beautifully written. The prose will resonate with readers... The author's grasp on the maturity and thought processes of young-adult Julia is stunning..."

How exciting! But before I get too wrapped up in a good review, I suppose I should get back to working on book #3. I'm shooting for a four and a half star review: "fantastic - keeper."

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Books and Banisters

Sorry it has been so quiet around here lately. My silence has mostly been because things are nowhere near silent around my house these days...

Three weeks ago we embarked on a small reno project in our living room that was supposed to be done in a week. Since we started three weeks ago I'm sure you've ascertained that our small project somehow turned into a much larger undertaking than we anticipated. Anyway, after painting our entire main floor, switching the direction of a staircase, and laying new carpet, we are finally (almost) done. Whew. Glad that's over. And I'm thrilled with the way it turned out. I love home projects!

As I struggled to choose a banister, pick out the perfect carpet, and decide on paint colors, I received quite the surprise... Summer Snow showed up on my doorstep in all it's spring-green glory! It is such a beautiful book, and I can now officially say that the experience of opening the box of book number two is no less exhilirating than the first time around. Wow. I am still in awe. So in awe that I took a dorky picture of my new book and my new banister. I am such a nerd. Oh well, at least I can admit it.

PS - My evening with Club 31 at their Spring Event last night was a blast! I had a wonderful time--and I didn't even get nervous. :)