Category: Blog

BOGO Books!

Hi, friends.

We’re just over a month away from the release of You Were Always Mine. This book is so near and dear to my heart. I’m equal parts excited and terrified to share it with you. I hope you love it. And honestly, this sentiment hasn’t changed for eleven years now…

On September 19 of 2007 my debut novel was released. I had absolutely NO IDEA what I was doing. The publishing world was mystifying and wonderful and thrilling and incomprehensible. I bumbled my way through for many years before I began to feel like I had a handle on the industry–and then I promptly realized that any wisdom I had attained was largely obsolete by the time I could put it to use. Still, it’s been such a wonderful journey, friends! Thanks so much for joining me along the way.

Because this month feels so momentous (and not at all because I have boxes of reminder books in my basement 😉), I’d like to give a little something back to my readers. If you pre-order You Were Always Mine before I celebrate the 11-year anniversary of After the Leaves Fall on September 19, email me the receipt at and I’ll send you a copy of my debut novel. This is a hold-in-your-hands real, live paperback, not an ebook. Please include your snail mail address and write BOGO BOOKS in the subject line so your email doesn’t get lost in my enormous inbox. My supply is limited, so if this interests you, order today! Once the books are gone the offer is over.

Happy reading!

xoxo – Nicole

You Were Always Mine ARC Giveaway!

Hey, friends. This has not been the best week at the Baart house. Massive flooding in our area derailed an oil train (and caused ecological chaos), evacuated sections of several different towns, and trickled water into countless basements–including ours. Our week in numbers:

  • 4 Shop Vacs
  • 6 fans
  • 1 dehumidifier
  • 1 giant squeegee
  • lots of friends and family (also known as the world’s best helpers)
  • 1 swollen ankle (mine, the floors are incredibly slippery)
  • hundreds and hundreds of gallons of water hauled out of our basement
  • 2 delicious meals delivered by kind souls
  • 2 completely exhausted Baarts (Aaron and me)

The water has finally stopped leeching in (praise the Lord and hallelujah!), and thankfully it was just clean groundwater. All in all, we are blessed beyond measure as so many people had it so much worse than we did. Still, I need a little light in my life right now. I’m weary and sad…

But books make me happy! And I have some to give away. Want an ARC of You Were Always Mine? Good. I’d love to share one with you. Just use this handy-dandy Rafflecopter giveaway engine to earn some entries. Best of luck, friends! I can’t wait to share this book with you!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Every Word Matters

I was in kindergarten (the age I am in this photo!) when I knew I wanted to be a writer when I grew up. Books were already entertainment and wonder and escape. A million different worlds I wanted to explore. And I didn’t just want to experience each story, I wanted to create my own. What an impossible dream! Even then I realized I had no right to such fantasies. Who was I to wish so boldly? To aim so high? But when I shared my dream with my parents, it changed everything. They started to introduce me by saying: “This is our daughter, Nicole. She’s going to be an author someday.” And because I didn’t know any better, I believed them.

Recently I had the opportunity to share with over 100 young authors and their parents, and it made me feel all the feels… I remember being a young writer at the very same dessert social, my handwritten story clutched in trembling fingers and my heart in my throat. I remember how much the words meant to me and how afraid I was that I would never have the chance to share them. But then my dad or my mom would squeeze my hand, a teacher would offer praise, a friend would tell me she loved my story, and hope would bloom. Maybe. Maybe they’re right.

Every word mattered. Every time someone shared the smallest shred of encouragement it watered that fledgling little maybe. Friends, you may never know the impact you have. You may never be told “thank you” for words that sunk deep and made a secret hope flourish. But you have the power to make a difference in the life of a child. And the life of an adult. Someone struggling and someone thriving. Young, old, rich, poor, happy, sad, it really doesn’t matter. We all need kindness like sunshine–everyday in a myriad of different ways. May our words be rich and golden, filled with love and life, with compassion and grace. And may we lift each other up, over and over again, until our dreams come true. #bekindalways #lovehard #speaklove #throwback #nofilter

Mama Bear

*Post first appeared on Facebook and Instagram

#TBT to one of my favorite photos of all time. This sweet gem was taken by my friend Ellenvelde Photography nearly four years ago in a park not too far from our home. I’m cradling my “miracle baby,” and for those who know the story you know that I’m not employing hyperbole when I call this darling wonder a living, breathing miracle.

Mother’s Day is just around the corner, and to say that motherhood is on my mind these days is a bit of an understatement. This year has been so full of change for our family, and something tells me the Lord’s not done with us yet. (Is he ever?) I’m trying to ride the wave, to live and love each and every day that I’m gifted, but it’s hard not to be swept along sometimes. To feel like you’re drowning in details. But it’s the details I want to remember. The way his skin smelled. His lisp. Her husky little laugh when it first bubbled up for us. I don’t ever want to forget.

This might sound strange, but writing fiction is one of the ways I remember. I include moments and memories in the pages of my books, hiding them like treasure. #LittleBrokenThings is a story about motherhood in all its forms. It’s an ode to women who are biological mothers and those who are not and never will be–but who still shepherd the hearts of children.

I would love to bless a woman in your life this Mother’s Day. If you purchase a copy of Little Broken Things for your mother, sister, aunt, friend, or any Super Woman in your life, message me a screenshot of the receipt. Next week I’ll draw two winners and send you both a package to include with the book. You’ll receive a sea glass necklace that was specifically designed by ViBella Jewelry to complement Little Broken Things, a journal, and some of my favorite chocolate–along with some bookmarks and fun extras. Just a little way for me to say “thank you” for all the ways you love each other well. Be brave, Mama Bears. We’ve got this thing.

xoxo – Nicole

love on its knees

Years ago I made this the prayer of my heart: “Break my heart for what breaks yours.” And God very faithfully answered that prayer. But I’ve learned that pity and compassion are not the same thing, and the difference can be summed up in a single word: understanding. Pity condescends from a distance. Compassion is love on its knees. And we can’t get to that place of brokenness, of entering into the suffering of others, without putting ourselves in their place.

Words are so powerful, friends. They have the spark of the eternal, the ability to give and take away. They crush hearts and create worlds and breathe life. Maybe most important of all, they teach us compassion. Help us understand what life is like for our brothers and sisters, neighbors and friends. Even for our enemies.

May we be well read. May we seek out books that challenge us, that shake us to our core. May we reach for books that are written by people who are marginalized, silenced, ignored. May our hearts be open and unafraid, humble enough to be changed.

It would mean so much to me if you would leave a book recommendation in the comments. What book has moved you? Changed you? Made you see the world from a different perspective? I’ll leave a few of my favorites there, too. Have a gorgeous Tuesday, friends. Be bright.

xoxo – Nicole