Eden

Oh, happy day, callooh callay!

It’s May 21 and I’d be a big, fat liar if I said I haven’t been anticipating this day for a very long time. As I’m sure you already know (I may have talked about it a bit), it’s the pub day for Sleeping in Eden, the book that has been a part of my life for ten years. Wow. Big wow. Big sigh. Break out the champagne?

Hardly. I’m an optimist by nature, but I am also a realist, and the truth is pub days are always a little bittersweet. All this work — all this blood, sweat, and tears (literally, the sweat and tears part) — culminates in a day, and then a couple of days, a few weeks, and a month or two when the object of your obsession, a tiny slice of your heart offered up for public consumption, is tasted by an audience of strangers. Some will love it. Some will hate it. Some won’t give two hoots that you poured yourself into something and presented it to them as a gift. The conversation will be dropped. Or carried on in your absence. Or maybe you’ll be lucky enough to get an email from a reader who is wrestling or wondering or in some small way changed.

Honestly? It’s a deep, deep joy. The good stuff and the bad. And it’s a lot of fun to have a book release and dream about what it might do out in the big, wide world.

But it’s also just another day.

It’s my husband’s birthday today. The love of my life, the father of my children, the man who can always, no matter what, make me laugh, and who believes, heart and soul that I am beautiful, is celebrating 37 years on this planet. How can a book release compare to that? I want to celebrate Aaron today and that man that he is, the amazing husband, father, and pastor. Oh, how I love him.

And it’s another moving day. Did you know that we’re moving? The Baarts are in the midst of a major life overhaul, and part of that slow transformation has been selling our big, beautiful house and simplifying. Our new home is smaller, sweeter, and just right for us. We love it, and we love how it frees up our hearts to have less to clean and decorate and pay for. But moving sucks. I’m more creative than I am organized.

And it’s another waiting day. Our adoption is so close to being finalized. But it’s hard to be patient, and in the interim I read blog posts and articles about the ethics of adoption and somehow feel guilty that we’re taking our daughter out of her native country and culture. Never mind that she’s sick and will die without proper treatment. Never mind that she is a true orphan (both of her parents are gone) and that she longs for us just as much as we dream about her. It’s agonizing, the wait, and it stirs up so many emotions. There isn’t an hour that goes by that I don’t think about her and wish that I could wrap my arms around her. She has never known a mother and that breaks my heart in ways I can’t begin to describe.

And while we’re on the topic of brokenhearted mothers… Today is also a day of grief. For the families in Oklahoma who lost loved ones, and the rest of the country that mourns along with them. For the people affected by the factory collapse in Bangladesh. For the friends and family of Tim Bosma, a young man connected to me by six degrees of separation who was tragically and senselessly killed last week. And these stories, my friends, are just the tip of the iceberg.

Man. It’s enough to make me think it’s not such a happy day after all.

And yet, it is, isn’t it? Because either the sun is shining where you are or the clouds are a perfect dove gray. Or a dark, kohl-edged slate that casts fine shadows in all the places where light peeks through. And somewhere someone is baking a pie that will ease suffering by the slightest, honeyed degree, or reaching out with a tender, unexpected touch. We cry with each other and we share a smile when the time is right, laughter when we can. We rejoice that the tulips have finally broken the ground, bright cups against black soil that turn their faces toward the sun and splash color against a renewed landscape. And we lean toward each other, searching for moments when we can make sense of all that we face, the good and the bad and the hard and all the lovely, confusing things that piece together the patchwork of this achingly wonderful, precious life. Oh, I love it. The book, the birthday, the move, the little girl, the hands that hold when everything seems beyond redemption… Because nothing is ever beyond redemption.

And that’s exactly what I write about. That’s the story of Sleeping in Eden and the “one big thing” that I want everyone who reads it to walk away knowing: everything will be made new.

On second thought, I’m totally breaking out that champagne. I’ll drink it while I paint a second coat of Winter Gate on the walls of our new master bedroom. And while I wait for an email from our adoption agency and text my husband little love notes. Of course, I’ll be sure to toast you, for I am forever grateful for the love and support that you show me, both personally and professionally. Thank you doesn’t seem adequate, but it’s all that I have. Thank you.

Oh! And I suppose I could spare a sip or two of that champagne for the book events I have scheduled for today… I’m participating in a Goodreads Featured Author Group all day. Feel free to stop by and ask me a question (any question!). And I’ll be giving away a gift basket on my Facebook page as soon as I reach 1,000 likes. I’m at 999. ;-) There might be some other stuff going on, but frankly, I’ve been too busy to take much notice. I know, bad Nicole. But hey, if you see some buzz online I’d love it if you’d tell me about it! And, of course, in shameless self-promotion style I’d also love it if you’d take a minute today to spread the word about Eden. It’s a story I’ve been looking forward to sharing for a very long time. It’s the first book I ever started to write. For me, it is quite literally the story that changed everything.

But then, I’m all about transformation. ;-)

 

 

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Intro #3: William Kent Krueger

Today I get to introduce you to an American literary hero. William Kent Krueger is a New York Time’s best selling author who is probably best known for his Cork O’Conner crime series. But to say that he only writes crime fiction would be, well, a crime. When I first encountered his writing many moons ago (my dad gave me a copy of Mercy Falls) the primary thing I noticed about William’s writing was not that it is taut with suspense and cleverly plotted (which it is), it was that his prose is lovely and the sense of place, the thick atmosphere in his books is so rich and heavy I felt utterly transported. Ah, delight. My two favorite things in a book: gorgeous words and a compelling story. (Thus my utter disdain for books of the Twilight ilk).

But William Kent Krueger? The whole enchilada, baby. I love his writing. And not just his writing… We happen to share an agent (I know, right?!), and she graciously orchestrated a meeting between me and WKK last year during the Heartland Fall Forum in Minneapolis. And guess what? Not only is he a superstar author who writes phenomenal books, he is also an amazing man. Absolutely top notch. Kind and thoughtful and not the least bit hoity-toity (great term, huh?) even though he has every right in the world to consider himself all that and a bag of chips.

(Moi, William Kent Krueger, and Rebecca Kanner at the Forum)

And though I love all of William’s books and whole-heartedly recommend every one, I am so excited about his most recent offering, Ordinary Grace. If the starred reviews and the fact that it debuted at #19 on the NYT hardcover bestseller list aren’t enough to convince you, let me try… It’s achingly beautiful. Tender and heart wrenching. In the words of the cover copy: “…an unforgettable novel about discovering the terrible price of wisdom and the enduring grace of God.” Buy it. Read it. You will not be disappointed.

What William had to say about Sleeping in Eden:

“Nicole Baart has written a novel that satisfies on every level. Sleeping In Eden is a compelling mystery, a tragic love story, a perceptive consideration of the callous whim of circumstance and, perhaps most important, a beautiful piece of prose. I guarantee this is a book that will haunt you long after you’ve turned the last page.”

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Intro #2: Anita Hughes

The party continues this week with the lovely and talented Anita Hughes, the first person who deigned to endorse SLEEPING IN EDEN. Can I just tell you how agonizing it is to send out your book baby to people you really admire and hope (pray?) that they don’t hate it? I hardly dared to dream that they would like it, much less love it and say such nice things about it! But Anita was there at the very beginning and I can’t tell you how much it meant to me that she read so quickly and endorsed so eagerly. She soothed all my fears with just a few little words. Darling woman.

ANITA HUGHES

I have to admit that I didn’t know Anita, nor had I read her work, before I met her online. But her kind and selfless spirit quickly spoke for itself as I saw her encouraging other authors and being a cheerleader for their accomplishments, big and small. She reached out to me almost immediately and made me feel welcome in an online world that honestly left me a little bewildered. You gotta love a heart like that. Anyway, after “meeting” Anita I had to check out her books–and I fell for MONARCH BEACH, her debut novel and a Target Emerging Authors Pick. It’s a fun, beachy read that has a lot of heart. Just like Anita. I can’t wait to dig into her newest offering, MARKET STREET, and the upcoming LAKE COMO. Love the cover. You can find Anita on Facebook and Twitter. Happy reading!

What Anita had to say about SLEEPING IN EDEN:

“Sleeping in Eden mesmerized me from the first heart-stopping page. Nicole Baart draws her characters beautifully while crafting a plot that kept me up all night. A highly emotional and gripping read.”

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Intro #1: Heather Gudenkauf

Happy May Day! And happy snow day (in some areas)! Gag, I know. Snow? Are you kidding me? I just re-learned how to shave my legs. It’s been a long winter, peeps. But, new month and fresh snow aside, happy May! I love May, truly I do. I graduated high school and college in May, married the love of my life (May 8, the day after my college grad), commemorate the birthday of said love of my life (May 21), and now I get to add my new daughter’s birthday to the list of awesome events in May (the 31st). Oh, and do I have a book coming out soon? I think I do! It’s my pub month! Woot-woot!

To celebrate all these fun May festivities, I’m going to spend the month introducing you to some fantastic authors. It’ll be like a virtual party! Some of them might be old friends and favorites, a few might be new to you. But they are all AMAZING people who write phenomenal books. And it just so happens that they all endorsed SLEEPING IN EDEN. Can I let you in on a little secret? Save one person (who is so fabulous I didn’t dare to reach out on my own) I approached every one of my endorsers personally because I know their work, admire them immensely, and love their books. A terrifying endeavor, let me assure you. But authors are a supportive, gracious bunch and I have been overwhelmed by the kind encouragement of so many of my literary heros! I adore these people! And since I adore them, I know that you will, too. I hope that you check them out. Buy their books. Fall in love like I have… Who doesn’t need a good read or two (or ten!) this summer?

HEATHER GUDENKAUF

It seems appropriate to begin with Heather Gudenkauf, a New York Times and USA Today bestseller and the author of the blurb that appears on the cover of SLEEPING IN EDEN. Someone once asked me how those quotes are chosen, and though I can’t speak for every author, I can say that when we decided to go with Heather’s kind words on the cover of EDEN, it was because she is the author I most closely resemble (or, more accurately, would like to resemble). Heather writes literary, suspenseful books that often feel like they could have been ripped from the headlines. I love her taut, atmospheric stories that are (so far) all set in Iowa… Are you sensing a theme here (or several)? I am completely smitten by Heather’s work and have been captivated by her books ever since my cousin let me borrow THE WEIGHT OF SILENCE. I highly suggest you buy and read them all, but if I had to choose just one to recommend I would have to say ONE BREATH AWAY is my favorite to date. I promise, you will not be disappointed. Please, check out Heather on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads. Tell her I sent you. ;-)

What Heather had to say about SLEEPING IN EDEN (yes, I’m still pinching myself):

 “Sleeping in Eden is intense and absorbing from the very first page. Written in lovely prose, two seemingly different storylines collide in a shocking conclusion.”

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Game Plan

I never quite know how to begin blog posts when I’ve been absent for a while. Howdy? My deepest apologies for dropping off the face of the earth? How’s it hanging? Maybe just a simple:

Hello. *waving emphatically*

I’m going to be honest with y’all up front and tell you that this post is part explanation, part plea, and part heartfelt apology. What I’m doing, why I’m doing it, and why it makes me cringe… Curious? I hope so. I plan to write a juicy tell-all today, a sensational post that bares all, names names and… Okay. Not really.

What I am doing is prepping you for the weeks to come. In just over one month, my next book releases. As I’m sure you already know, it’s called SLEEPING IN EDEN and I’m pretty tickled about it. What you don’t know is that my publishing house (Simon & Schuster) is in a dispute with Barnes & Noble (read more here). And as a result, my books will likely not be carried in any brick and mortar B&N stores. Maybe that doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it is. That means no placement of my newest release in B&N stores. No front table or beach read table or book club table sightings of SLEEPING IN EDEN. No B&N workers hand selling my books to eager customers (and I have some lovely, loyal B&N workers who graciously do just that). No casually browsing racing into B&N myself to take pictures with my hot off the press book baby. *Sniff* I love Simon & Schuster and I love Barnes & Noble. I feel like the kid caught in the middle of her parents’ divorce. And, just like a kid caught in the middle of her parents’ divorce, I will certainly feel some of the repercussions of this dispute.

Why I’m doing this (telling you about such a behind-the-scenes issue) is because I want to prepare you for a whole lot of book talk. If you’ve been around my blog or Facebook page for any amount of time you know that I’m not a big fan of self-promotion. I’m not good at it and I don’t like it. But I kind of don’t have a choice this time around. So I’ve been working on some ways to help promote SLEEPING IN EDEN, and you’ll see a lot of them in the next coming weeks. There will be sneak peeks, giveaways, a book trailer, and more. You’ll hear me talk about the endorsements I received (and rave about the authors who were gracious enough to say nice things about my book) and watch me post little visuals like the one at the end of this blog post. Whew. I’m exhausted just thinking about it. Which brings me to…

Why this makes me cringe. Well, like I’ve already said, I don’t like self-promotion. But I also don’t like doing what I’ll undoubtedly be doing a lot in the next 4+ weeks: asking you to help. Believe it or not, there are actually a lot of things that you can do to help me and other authors affected by this dispute. So, here I go, hat in hand, cringing all the while… Some ideas:

  1. If you see a Facebook status, Tweet, or blog post that catches your attention, “like” it. Share it. Comment on it. Send it to your friends in an email. As I’m sure you know, everything you like, share, or comment on in turn gets shared with your friends. If one of those friends decides to “like” it, the spark catches. You get the drift.
  2. Sign up for the giveaways that will be happening and alert your friends. For example, did you know that FAR FROM HERE (my last release) is only $1.99 on Nook and Kindle? It would be so great if people would hear the news and take advantage of this offer.
  3. Buy the book. So many of you have already done this and I am (and forever will be) grateful. Seriously. Every sale counts.
  4. Review the book. If you read it and like it, awesome. If not, that’s okay, too. Reviews can drive sales and help people make wise choices when they’re purchasing their next book. And if you have a blog? Consider posting your review on your own site in addition to Goodreads, Amazon, B&N, etc.
  5. Tell your friends. Word of mouth is still the most powerful tool we have. Most of the books that I read are suggested to me by friends who I trust. All the great reviews in the world pale in comparison to a good friend’s recommendation.
  6. Don’t take me too seriously in the coming weeks. I know I’m not all that and a bag of chips. (Believe me, I know.) And I know my book isn’t the best thing since sliced bread (like my cliches?). But I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place (nice, eh?) and I find myself in a sticky situation (ha!) where I have to go above and beyond my comfort zone. Believe me, I’d rather talk about adoption, orphan ministry, Liberia, the simple life, simplifying, family, kids, balance, and the best lasagna recipe in the world (I just got done making a double batch. Yum!), but for a little while I’m going to have to focus on another aspect of my life: my career. Thank you in advance for being patient with me.

Well, that’s my game plan for the next few weeks. I feel like we just had a huddle and we should shout “Go team!” Or something. I don’t know. This whole thing makes me feel all queasy and shy. But since I promised a graphic, I’d better carry through. Oh, month before publication, here we go…

All best to you and yours.

Hugs,

Nicole

 
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