Monday, November 29, 2010

I'm moving!

I won't lie. It hurts my heart a little to move this blog. But I'm a sentimental girl, and I tend to get weepy over things that need not be wept about. Like websites. Or blogs. So I won't lie to you--my eyes glaze just the tiniest bit when I think about moving this internet home to another address. Will it ever have the same, homey feel? Will my readers and friends follow me or forget about me? Will this be a prelude to a new, exciting season or will I regret the move?

Okay, now I'm getting downright melodramatic. It's a URL address for pity's sake. But I do want to give you time to prepare so that you don't just show up here on Wednesday and find a cold wind blowing through the pixels of my bloggity-blog. Did you catch that? The big moving day is Wednesday, December 1. When you come back in two days, there will be a link to a new blog, a new site, and the first of three big giveaways. I'm hoping to brighten your Christmas season just a little. Consider it a small way that I can say "thank you" for reading. Thanks for the encouragement, the connection, the many ways that we have been able to uphold each other. It's been awesome. And it's my hope that it'll only get better.

Hope you're enjoying the last few days of November! 2010 is drawing to a close...


Saturday, November 27, 2010


Happy Saturday! (The day after Black Friday? Cyber-Monday Eve Eve? I can't keep up with all these so-called holidays.)

I'm in the middle of putting up my Christmas tree and trying to clean my house (always a fun endeavor), but I wanted to quick pop in and start getting you all geared up for December. It's just around the corner, you know! I'm not really into the whole commercialized Christmas thing, and my holiday season usually tends to be a little slow. Maybe even just smidge subdued. But this year I have a bunch of things all piling up at once and I'm going to have to go with a more upbeat Advent... My hubby is coming home from two weeks in Liberia, we have a barrage of parties and holiday events on the calendar, I'm launching a new website, preparing for a book release (and a deadline), and making the switch from Blogger to WordPress. Yup, my blog is on the move. It was a tough decision for me to make (I'm not much of a techie and haven't really had a problem with Blogger), but it seemed like the right thing to do as so many other things in my writing world are changing (from website to publishing house to vision).

Sooo... As of December 1, I will no longer be blogging here. :( Sad, isn't it? In fact, I'll be making a clean cut and starting fresh--though I will archive this blog and make it readily accessible from my new site. That way you can still find my Apple Pudding recipe if you need to. (Haven't tried it yet? Oh, you're missing out!)

In an effort to make the move fun, I'm going to be giving away three separate holiday packages on my blog. The first package will feature all of my books, including Beneath the Night Tree (ARC copy), and a sneak peek of the first chapter of my new book, Far From Here. For good measure I'll be tossing in a bag of my favorite creme de menthe chocolates and some bubble bath just for fun. The second package will be a library collection of four wonderful books (Susan Meissner's Lady in Waiting, Inspy Award nominated Lucky Baby by Meredith Efken, the fun and frothy Split Ends by Kristen Billerbeck, and my own The Moment Between.) You'll get a historical, a contemporary story with a little magical surrealism, a chick-lit romp, and something a bit more literary. Oh, and some chocolates and bubble bath. The final package will be all about awareness and include a pair of t-shirts from our non-profit, One Body One Hope, some of our homemade goat milk soaps, and a copy of the book One Million Arrows: Raising Your Children to Change the World by Julie Ferwerda. And, of course, chocolates and bubble bath.

Stay tuned! I'm excited to launch my new site and new blog and I truly hope that you will join me. I have loved getting to know you through our discussions and interactions, and I hope that we can continue in a new (more conversational) format.

Thanks so much for reading!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm too exhausted to be creative and come up with some snappy Thanksgiving post. I ain't got no snap right now. However, I do have an eye twitch. Does that count? Anyway, a few of the things I'm thankful for...

-Two amazing college students who came over to my home the other day and just plain blessed me. Being a single mom right now is so hard, and they eased the burden by playing with my kids, vacuuming my house, and engaging in adult conversation with me. I showered. It was bliss.

-Dark chocolate. Oh, and creme de menthe chocolate, too. Mmmmm...

-My grandma. Not only is she an amazing woman of God, she has a beautiful Dutch work ethic. This fall she cleaned my windows, shampooed my carpet, and varnished some of my weather-beaten woodwork. I sound like a slave-driver, don't I? You gotta believe me--she begged to do it! Oh, how I love you, Grandma.

-Modern medicine. As a dear friend undergoes cancer treatment today, I'm thankful for developments in radiation, chemotherapy, and all the other medicines used to treat this horrible disease. I'm praying for a cure.

-Bargain bin wine at Fareway.

-The fact that I get to write for a living. Sometimes I get lost in the deadlines and business end of things (never mind marketing and publicity--two things I hate), but I love my job. Love, love, love it. I feel so blessed.

-Good books. Most notably (or most recently?): The Likeness, The Historian, Stieg Larsson's trilogy, and  Neverwhere.

-All the usual stuff that everyone always says but also always means with all their heart and soul: family, friends, warm clothes, a roof over my head, food in abundance... and the list goes on.

Your turn: What are you thankful for?

PS - I'm thankful for YOU! So much so that I'm giving away an Advanced Reader Copy of Beneath the Night Tree on my Facebook author page. All you have to do is follow the link and leave a comment.

PSS - Do you know why I chose the photo above to be my Thanksgiving graphic? Brownie points and bragging rights if you do!

Monday, November 22, 2010

You know you're a mom if...

After a long and beautiful (sunny and warm) autumn, winter has finally hit the midwest. We woke up this morning to a wonderful world of ice--and no school. Apparently the roads are better suited for ice-skating than driving. Anyway, in addition to my three boys, I'm watching a friend's kids this morning--and marveling at the amazing women who have five or more kids. Kudos to you! My mommy hat is off to you.

So far this morning we've baked muffins, read books, played Playmobil, made a train, danced to Go Fish, and fed our stuffed animals a morning snack (and the kids, too!). Right now I'm enjoying a little break as we're all cuddled on the couch watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Do you know the hot dog dance? You should. It would enrich your life in ways you can only begin to imagine. ;)

In case you haven't already picked this up, I've got motherhood on my mind today. And thanks to The Mom Song by Go Fish, I'm thinking about all the things that motherhood is. So, this is my version.

You know you're a mom if...

-Easy-peasy lemon-squeezy is a part of your everyday vocabulary.

-The "S" word and "F" word are banned in your home. Of course, the "S" word is "stupid" and the "F" word is "fart."

-You sometimes go an entire day without peering once into a mirror. And when you do, it's downright scary.

-A shower is a mini-vacation.

-You're so exhausted you could sleep through a fire alarm, but if your infant so much as rolls over in his crib, you're wide awake and at his side in two seconds flat.

-You spend more time talking about the frequency, consistency, and ease with which your child goes poo than any other topic of conversation in your repertoire.

-You get more hugs, kisses, snuggles, and love in one day than all the years before you became a parent combined.

-You wouldn't trade it (all of it--the moments when they're sleeping like angels and the ones when you wish a traveling band of gypsies was wandering past your front door) for anything.

Your turn! Finish the sentence: You know you're a mom if....

Friday, November 19, 2010


People write for a thousand different reasons. But I believe that when we as storytellers distill everything down, we can all say that we write (tell stories) for the same basic reason: passion. We're passionate about our characters or the message or the words themselves. We want to say something. We want to be heard. We feel something fervently and life just can't go on until we share.

This little sweetheart knows how to spin a story. And it's obvious that she's pretty passionate about her subject matter. I hope this makes you smile today.

The story of Jonah from Corinth Baptist Church on Vimeo.

Question for you: What sparks your passion???

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


No, I'm not gaseous. This is me tooting the horn of some pretty amazing people. They're talented, creative, and just plain wonderful. And I think you should know about them.

Randy Ingermanson is a "deranged physicist and award winning author." He's brilliant and artistic, and he's one of the kindest, most selfless people I know. I deeply respect him. And I'm excited to let you all know that Randy's best-selling book, Writing Fiction for Dummies, is a FREE Kindle download right now. Got an e-reader? Wanna write a book? Go download it now!

I was first introduced to Laurell's music via a Facebook link. One of my former students and his wife own an agency called Streetlight Creative that produced one of her music videos. Anyway, I followed the link and found I really love her music. It's bright, happy pop for the most part, but her vocals have a certain folksy feel that I'm a sucker for. What can I say? Gotta love Canadian music. And while I'm at it, let me toot the horn of Adrian and Heidi, the brains behind Streetlight Creative. Wow, are they ever amazing. I bet it was the influence of their high school English teacher. ;)

The guys behind Brand New Graphics are a duo of brilliant, market-saavy men who take your web-design needs seriously. They're the masterminds of my current website, and they're in the process of redesigning Not an easy task, let me tell you. It's hard to create a one-dimensional website that embodies everything you are and hope to be, but Jamin and Brady work hard to make that a reality. Need a website? I can't think of a better place to go.

Last but not least, let me introduce you to the board of One Body One Hope. Well, some of the board members anyway. This is an exciting week for OBOH because our Capital Campaign is finally coming to a thrilling conclusion. Our container is in Monrovia, our team leaders will be landing in Africa tonight, and the rest of the crew leaves on Saturday. Many people both on our board and beyond have been working tirelessly this past year to raise $60,000 and prepare Christ Our Hope orphanage for a new dormitory, a drinkable water line, a new latrine, a library, steel windows and doors, and much, much more. Would you take a moment to say a prayer for our team and the kids at Christ Our Hope? God is moving in big, big ways and it just takes my breath away to see it all coming together.

Your turn: Whose horn do you want to toot today? Everyone deserves a little woot-woot from time to time. :)

PS - Want to win one of the One Body One Hope t-shirts you can see in the photo above? Well, I feel like giving some away! Just go to our blog and become a new follower. You will be automatically entered in a drawing for a t-shirt. They have our logo on the front and a really cool Spend Yourself graphic on the back. I'll be drawing two names one week from today (next Wednesday). Tell your friends!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Far From Here

So I'm working on my sixth book. Yup, you read that right. My fourth book, Beneath the Night Tree, will hit stores in the new year. And my fifth book, a quasi-mystery called Sleeping in Eden, is cooling its heels awaiting the completion and publication of the manuscript I'm currently working on. I feel like I have my little fingers in a bunch of different pots right now. But only one book is consuming my every waking minute (and much of my nighttime dreams as well).

Far From Here is a story that began with a picture. When I was a little girl my dad kept a photograph in his bedroom of a young man in front of an airplane. He's a handsome guy with longish, dark hair and a dimpled half-smile. He's standing almost shyly in front of a small red and white aircraft, the glint in his eyes at once awe-filled and somehow tinged with disbelief. He seems very happy (and a little surprised) to be exactly where he is: standing on a tarmac in some tiny Alaskan town.

Apparently, I met him once. I was a couple of days old and my dad's best friend stopped in to hold the baby (me) and say congratulations. Then he took off for Alaska where he had just accepted a job as a bush pilot. On his first ever solo flight, he disappeared out of Kotzebue and was never seen again.

Doesn't that just send a shiver down your spine? Me, too. I think it's so true what they say: truth is stranger than fiction. And though I never, never want to take advantage of anyone's pain or loss, I can't help but see stories wherever I look: in relationships, tragedies, joys, and even the mundanities of life. So that dog-eared, much beloved photograph was a starting point for me, a launchpad for my next book, Far From Here. It really has nothing at all to do with my dad's best friend, but my imagination was sparked, and this book has been weaving itself in my mind for over a decade. I can't wait to tell you more about it. Stop back later this week as I share my slant on a story of love and loss.

Your turn: What life event from your own history could you see turning into a book or movie? I'd love to hear where you draw inspiration!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Random Thoughts...

I'm in a weird mood, so you're stuck with a bizarre rant today. Remember Deep Thoughts with Jack Handey? Any SNL fans out there? Well, consider this my take on his surreal one-liners. Without further ado, random thoughts, fears, observations, trivialities, and musings...

- Cryptic Facebook status updates suck.

- I love British slang. Bollucks, codswallop, and whinge... scrummy and snookered and twee, oh my!

- Believe it or not, Shel Silverstein is even funnier as a parent. My kids adore him, but for me it's true love.

- "Getting in shape" is a slippery, impossible thing that ranks down there with "achieving self-actualization." Sorry, never gonna happen.

- I'm not sure life would be worth living without chocolate. And steak and warm cookies and beer.

- I think my children are smarter than me. I still add on my fingers...

- I don't doubt God, but sometimes I doubt his love for me.

- Everyone needs a little silence in their day. Five minutes without background noise--no television, radio, cell phone, chatter, the rhythmic clicking of your fingernails on the keyboard... Just stillness.

Your turn. What random thought is stuck in your craw today? 

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Million Miles: The End!

It's Monday, Monday, Monday... And I'm loving it. I'm one of those strange people that actually digs Monday. It's a fresh start, a new beginning, a chance once more to get one week right. Granted, I've never achieved that goal yet, but I'm always up for giving it another shot. This week feels clean and bright and full of possibility. It might have something to do with the forecast for today: 70 degrees in November, thank you very much.

Anyway, it seems fitting on such a lovely morning to finally draw our A Million Miles in a Thousand Years discussion to a close. It's been a fun journey, and I've enjoyed your participation so much. Some of those early posts logged comments worthy of publication. Your stories and heartfelt musings were a beautiful thing to behold. But it's time to lay this baby to rest.

Instead of directly discussing the final chapters, I want to share a bit of what I've gleaned from the past months of digging deep into this book. We've already talked about so many things, and I'm sure some of wisdom that I'm taking from Miller's words are the result of our own wrestlings instead of his penned insight. Either way, I truly believe I can say this book changed the way I look at my life. I'm so grateful for that.

So, what have I taken from this book, this discussion, this period of wrestling with life and what it means to live abundantly? I've learned that the little things matter: unexpected snowfalls, conversations with strangers, a shared plate of fruit. I've discovered that if I want to live a meaningful life, all I really need to do is be present for it--to not forsake people for my favorite television show, or moments with my children for a couple extra minutes checking Facebook. I believe a meaningful life is in the details, in surprising yourself, saying "yes" when you want to say "no," being kind, opening your heart and your life and your home. It's about allowing yourself to experience every day with the sort of wide-eyed awe of a child, to laugh when God sings over you and take delight in the unexpected. And when life hurts, when it's hard and miserable and broken, I think you have to embrace that, too. Press it tight against you and hold with all you've got until you push through to the other side where you can accept that the light is brighter because of the darkness around it. I think most of all I learned that I don't have to make my life meaningful--it's already full of significance--all I have to do is open my eyes.

How about you? What have you ultimately taken away from this book? Any parting words or wisdom? Also, would you be interested in doing something like this again? Any suggestions for books or other ideas you'd like to throw out there for conversation? I really enjoyed doing this and would be open to doing it again. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

E-Books vs. The Real Deal

Hi, all. I'm conducting a little online survey. My interest is both personal and professional... I have an idea rolling around in my head that I'd like to explore a bit with you. This is the first step. Would you be so kind as to take a moment and answer the following question?

Do you have a Nook, Kindle, or other e-book reader? Do you like it?

And for those of you who are dyed in the wool paper book fans (like me!), here's a site you might get a kick out of. Thanks to Sherry for providing the link. Too funny!

Monday, November 1, 2010

This is a test...

...of the emergency broadcast system. The Nicole Baart Blogger emergency broadcast system. Apparently it doesn't work because nothing was broadcast here while I was in emergency mode. System failure.

Oh, well. Sorry I've been absent. Last week was one of the hardest I've ever experienced. No, I can't really tell you about it; it's not my story to tell. But I cried more tears than I thought possible, and there was honestly a day when I believed, "We won't get over this. We will never get over this." And you know what? We won't. It'll always, always be with us, but I am starting to feel in tiny glimmers that we just might be better people on the other side. Softer, more compassionate. Capable of deeper love.

Anyway, thanks for being patient with me as I cried myself to sleep and ignored my computer for a week straight. I'm getting back into the swing of things. Slowly. Stay tuned this week for our final Million Miles post and some more thoughts on hurt and waiting and hope. It's there, isn't it? I have to believe that it is...