Nicole Sharp

Writes

Author: Nicole Sharp (page 1 of 12)

How old is the tooth fairy?

This is an old post, and one of my favorite stories. It is also the most popular of my blog entries. So I thought I would throw it back out there for another spin. Enjoy!

The tooth was loose.

This is my brother’s child’s first loose tooth, my nephew.  He fell at school and knocked it loose.  The idea was to let the tooth fall out by itself but it was just hanging there, and my nephew, 4 ½, couldn’t eat his dinner because the tooth is in the way and is annoying him and the tantrum to get it out begins.
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Changing it up…

IMG_1187If you are a regular visitor to my site, or have been for any length of time, you’ll notice a few changes in the look of things. It’s time for an upgrade, a change, an update. I am setting up a website for the writer side of my life and will link to my writing moose life here. Now you are in the know! When I launch everything, you’ll be able to check it out.

As always, thanks for following me and enjoying my meanderings.

Southern Lights…

My beautiful picture

By Grandpa Sharp


My life is bookmarked by the country. You see, I grew up in small Georgia town and now I find myself living in Idaho. (Look, when you tell people you live in Idaho, they automatically think small town, and compared to the New Yorks’ and Los Angeles’ of the world, it is small town.)

There is a childhood I spent in Southern California, but otherwise, I’ve always been a country girl at heart. John Cougar Mellencamp sang my theme songs, blue jeans and a t-shirt were my comfy clothes, and wide open spaces with drawn out sunsets have been my badge of courage.

And yet, in small town Georgia and now in Idaho, I am still big city.

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Just…

CYMERA_20150602_151445

I just went through my manuscript, the final clean up before it is requested to become a query in the long line of emails on an agents desktop.

And then whisked away to become number one on the New York Times best seller list.

Right?

Well….

First things first.

The damn book is written. I have just edited said damn book for the fourth time. And now, it just needs to be metaphorically Febrezed and rolled with a sticky lint roller brush thingy so I can send it off.

So I do a little housekeeping on said manuscript, my final steps in my process. I always search for the word seem, seemed, seems…it’s just something I’ve done because an old fiction writing teacher who said if you use that word once then you’re not a real writer. The delivery was pompous, but it is kind of a good rule. So I search for those words and just replace them. Because something isn’t going to just seem like a shit storm, it is a shit storm.

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My procrastination has a first name, it’s O S C A R…

scarletHello procrastination, how are you? What’s it been, a week, two? Oh that’s right, dishes three days ago, we kept away from those in rare form, didn’t we? What was it? Cleaning out the bathroom drawers to keep from doing dishes, that’s right. Kind of a lame move, but hey…what are you going to do. I realize you weren’t feeling well. Weren’t at the top of your game. How is your cold? Good, so glad to hear you’re feeling better.

So what should we do today?

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Patio Musings

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Ahhhhh.

I have officially moved outside for the season.

I have loved the backyard patio for as long as I can remember.

For that matter, I’ve loved said patios best in the early morning hours.

I’ve sat and contemplated life all over the world on various patios, and none of them have disappointed.  The only problem I’ve ever come across with my patio musings is that the morning is over all too soon.

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Writer’s write…

I have found that if you are going to call yourself a writer, you need to do the work. No matter what. No matter the circumstances, no matter your schedule, no matter how you’re feeling, you have to write. Writer’s write, as they say, everyone else makes excuses.

So I write, and sometimes it’s not easy. But here is my process, more or less. Some day’s it’s more, some days it’s less.

I wake up early, at least an hour before the rest of the house gets up, I tiptoe downstairs and make my coffee, open all the blinds in the house and arrange my laptop just so in order to be ready to write.

Coffee made, seat taken, I check email, bank account and then Pinterest. Then after several sips of coffee, I demand of myself, “You are wasting time, this is it, all you get. You gotta write now because soon everyone will be awake and this little spell of free time will be broken.”

*Right-o chap!

I open my most recent work and read the last page I wrote, make changes, and then remember that I wanted to defrost the chicken for dinner tonight. So I go take that out of the freezer.

Small detour. Back to the writing. Okay, after making several more changes to a few sentences, I have my characters at the train station in Paris and they need to go south. Fast.

How fast do those trains go? I pull up ye old interwebs and search how to get from Paris to Montélimar, (small medieval town in southern France known for their almond nugget candy. But that’s not why my characters are going there.) Ah, here it is. I find the train schedule and find that the fast train goes 187mph and will get my characters to their destination in three hours. Cool.

Back at the train station with them, they are running late and they have no idea what they are looking for as far as the signage goes. Neither do I. I was in Paris eleven years ago, but my tour group didn’t take a train. And the only other movie I’ve seen set in the Paris train station that comes to mind is French Kiss. God I loved that movie. Whatever happened to Meg Ryan? She was the romantic comedy icon for a long time then. Didn’t she marry John Cougar Mellencamp? Huh. I bet the train station has changed since that movie, okay, I’ll keep it generic. They run late and get on a train, that’s fine. We can use supposition or figure it out in editing later.

Flip back to the interwebs, search for videos of people traveling from the main Train station in Paris. God, looking at these videos and pictures remind me of the trip I took to Italy when my sister got married. Twelve of us went from Florence to Rome for the day on a fast train, it took us an hour to get there. Or was it an hour and forty five minutes? Hmmm. I’ll look that up to. What was the name of the train line we used? Had a picture of a rabbit. Ah, here.  The train line was called Italo and it took an hour and half. That was a good trip, I should look at the pictures and videos for that, might spark some descriptive ideas.

Okay. Finished with that, time to get down to the business of writing.

Characters board the train, they find their seats, they describe the train, they spark a little conversation about speed and how trains follow the spine of a city. “They passed through the backbone of the city, the tracks tucked down alleyways and side streets, giving the view of the dust and underbelly of a European city.”

That’s decent.

Uh oh, some little voice upstairs is awake. Quick break to take care of that.

*Fifteen minutes later.

Alrighty then. Writing. My little one is watching a show and finishing waking up, that should give me about thirty solid minutes to write, okay twenty if I’m lucky.

Where we were, on a train in Paris. No, a little further. Hmmm. What needs to happen here, is it just transportation or should this be a big moment of self-discovery among characters?

Okay, turns out I had ten minutes. Breakfast time. “How about a bowl of cereal?” Cool, easy, sold!

That should give me another few minutes. Back to the keyboard! Did I ever send that email to that gal who asked for those book recommendations? Hmm, better do that while I’m thinking about it.

Right, Paris, characters on a train. Talk about scenery. Characters share coffee service. Hmmm, can’t remember what the French country side looks like.

Interwebs!

“Mommy what are you watching?” the little voice wafts over me.

“Videos of a train ride through the French Country side.”

“Why?”

“I’m writing about it.”

“Why?” a little squeak.

“Because. What do you need?”

“I’m still hungry.”

“Why?”

“My cereal is all gone.”

“What do you want?”

“Ice cream.”

I glance at the clock: 8:30a.m. How badly do I want a bit of free time to myself to write?

“Vanilla or strawberry?”

*Crack of fingers, ready to get serious about this now.

“The gray sky that had been a companion in Paris the past few days was breaking apart, rays of sunshine drifting down onto the countryside as if this was a front row seat for the very moment that summer bowed gracefully to the coming autumn.”

*phone rings.

I’m not going to answer it, whoever it is can wait.

“Hello?”

*Fifteen minute conversation with my sister; done. Back to ye old awesomeness of writing.

The words come fast now, the sluff of the morning to-do’s is easing, a lull in the rhythm.

My fingers fly across the keyboard, I have a bit of direction, I can feel that abyss that can sometimes pull me under so I’m cradled in a cocoon of my words and this book I’m writing lately has me inspired, as long as I give into the momentum, it’s bound to chug right along.

“He’s the king of the castle.”

Wait, what? The gentle hum and rocking of the train soothes my characters into their own exhausted thoughts.

“Fly! Fly little rollie pollie from the castle.”

Wha? Beside them the French countryside has opened up before them.

“The fish food is a castle! Be the king! He’s winning.”

I stop my fingers and shake off the world I had emersed myself to find my little one writing her own story next to me. Three rollie pollies have been selected from their various sectors and brought into the house, all precariously placed on top of a bottle of fish food, apparently vying for place as king of the castle in a three year old’s version of the hunger games.

I try to type another sentence, but then the requests for more food, for help getting paints down, are joined with requests from the other member of our small household who has decided that now would be a great time to ask me random questions about bills, cars, and dinner plans with friends.

I laugh, write a last scentence, punctuate it and close my laptop.

The morning portion of my writing time has come to an end.

(The secret? I love how it all works out sometimes.)

Messing around with Paris

ParisSometimes, I love messing around with description:

Paris at night is intoxicating. And Paris at night in the fall; mesmerizing.

Simply calling something the City of Lights is one thing, but seeing it, immersing yourself in it is another thing. Lights abound and wrap the whole of the city with a hum of excitement. Every bar, café, night club stirs with life. The Seine reflects the sparkling bits of light as they give a graceful twirl and wink and then disappear into the murky waters.

The Eiffel Tower stretches her long neck further into the sky when lit and every hour she shimmers with blinking lights, turning the fair beauty into a sparkler at the center of an abundantly lit cake.

The enormity of the history spotlighted in the darkness inspires poetry; it itches for the average person to become something greater. Simple moments dissipate like laughter in the air and add their mark on history of this fair city. Every group of fashionably clad women drifting down famous streets, every set of lovers that sit drowning in each other’s gazes, and every local that emanates their world class “je ne sais quoi” is a piece of art.

This land where bourgeois and bohemian attitudes collide to create ever evolving art that rests on the shoulders of those that came before them hovers in soften glow just beyond the famous lights.

A person could get lost in the mists of it all.

Mindful of a terrible man…

If I had a drug of choice it would be peyote. No, not really.

Wait, maybe it might be. If I were in the right time and the right place. Say, the 70s in the middle of the desert with Jim Morrison. Or wait, maybe Absinthe is my drug of choice. Ohhh. The Green Faerie, drunk in a bar in Paris in the 1920s with artist of the day, my arm slung around Hemingway as I drunkenly sing a pithy song of the day and he grudgingly tolerates me. Hmmmm.

Honestly though, I do have a drug problem. My drug of choice: words.

Good words strung together just so create a chemical reaction in my brain from which tingly little neurons speed to my legs and arms emanating back to my heartstrings which in turn cause an audible sigh to escape from my mouth in almost orgasmic delight.

Good Lord I love good words.

I have been thinking about good words after reading a gentleman’s blog called Terrible Minds by one Mr. Chuck Wendig. I have been obsessively medicating myself with his words for the past few days now, getting a good junky high from his phrasing. I’ve been walking around in a daze, intoxicated by his insights, euphoric by his phraseology, and downright inspired by the terrible mind of the man.

I heard about him through Ms. Margaret Atwood, who mentioned his website during the question and answer session of a lecture of hers I was lucky enough to attend. I wonder if he knows she is a fan of his. I would think I would like to know if Ms. Atwood were a fan of mine.

Mr. Wendig…though after reading his blog and other works, I wonder if he would prefer to be called something else. Mr. seems so formal and he comes across crass, funny, insightful, possibly drunk, but not formal.  What would I want folks to call me if they didn’t know me and didn’t want to be formal? “Hey You”? Maybe.

Okay, so Wendig is my latest obsession. I am so hell bent inspired my skin itches with it.  And I want to write about him writing about writing, which is slightly redundant, if not some strange oxymoron. Still, the man’s words are inside my soul. And he’s a prolific writer, I clicked that little button to follow his blog and I’ve received a new blog every day this week.

Damnit man, don’t you know that you’re tearing me apart?!

But it is a good thing. So very good.

“I do it (blog) because I am a mouthy shitknuckle who wants to blog. I don’t blog because I think it’s essential to my brand or my career, I blog because I really, really like blogging. I like having a place where I can get up onto my rickety scaffolding made of digital bones and squawk fruitlessly into the void. This blog began as — and often continues to be — me yelling at me about me. And sometimes, I yell at you, too. I have thoughts and this is where I share them.” – Wendig

Okay, so between my itchy skin, the amazing ramblings of Wendig and my personal interaction with Ms. Atwood last week (well, me and 1000 other people, very intimate evening you see.) It’s put me in mind to think a lot about language and words.

My hero Madeline L’Engle, in her memoir A circle of Quite, wrote about an argument she had with her husband when the world was on the ‘God is Dead’ bandwagon. He went one further and said not only is God dead but so is Language. “If language is to be revived or, like the phoenix, born of its own ashes, then violence must be done to it.”

Madeline L’Engle went on to say that “To do violence to language…is not to use long words, or strange orders of words, or even to do anything unusual at all with the words in which we attempt to communicate. It means really speaking to each other, destroying platitudes and jargon and all the safe cushions of small talk with which we insulate ourselves; not being afraid to talk about the things we don’t talk about, the ultimate things that really matter. It means turning again to the words that affirm meaning, reason, unity, that teach responsibility rather than selfish love. And sometimes, doing violence to language means not using it at all, not being afraid of being silent together, of being silent alone. Then, through the thunderous silence, we may be able to hear a still, small voice, and words will be born anew.”

Reading that stuck with me and still resonates in my bones. The meaning of it has changed as I have changed. Doing violence to language. It’s changing again as I think about the words and the technologically driven world we live in now.

I have many reasons why I don’t tweet and bookface and Instagram. I am not against others using it. You have to understand, it is highly personal with me. And I’ve said before that I know (fear) the day will come that I must join the masses. But while I wait and since my drug of choice is words, I prefer to know that I am getting the stuff that has some back bone to it.  I don’t want dribble that is ejaculatory and mindless. I want the pure stuff, I want ‘Blue Ice’.  I want to be so indebted to the writer of the words I could lick the spoon clean.

Look, I do a lot of my reading on line, and realize that it is part of the delicate tightrope I walk in using and rejecting technology in this day and age. But social media, I worry about the words, about the language in those forums. Is it just being used to be then thrown away seconds later? Is it any different than newspapers of old that would report shocking news one day and then be used the next to line wastebaskets? But isn’t that the thing? Human nature is in the need to express ourselves, to be able to insist that ‘we were here.’

I suppose in rejecting social media for as long as I can, I am doing my own personal violence. Being quite in the hopes that perhaps my own voice will be born anew and I can find that the language I use will become a phoenix, stronger, more radiant that it had been before.  Then again I could argue that to say nothing at all is a naiveté in and of itself. But is it naïve if I know what I’m standing for with the actions I don’t take?

Now there’s a thought to ponder while shampooing my hair.

Alas, I’m going to pack away my metaphors and wonderings today because I need to go write more of my own personal dribble that has me coming apart at he seems. But first, why lie? I’m headed back to the words for another hit.

First impressions…

I was lucky enough to hear author Margaret Atwood speak last night. She’s a Canadian author who, at her glorious age, probably has about fifty plus years of impressive credentials, titles, and awards that can be placed after her name. I didn’t know what to expect. I was just excited to get out of the house and have a night of words and literature to myself. I’ve read a handful of her essays and her book The Handmaiden’s Tale. She is prolific and sensory in her writing, but apart from her titles, I didn’t know much about the author herself.

At first glance, from the tenth row where I sat, Ms. Atwood looked thin and possibly frail. When she walked out, an eruption of applause caused me to crane my neck so I could catch a glimpse. All I saw was a small gray afro of tight gray curls. Once on stage, she smiled and thanked us for the warm welcome, arranged her papers and pulled gently on the azure blue scarf draped around her neck, the only hint of color against the black suit she wore. Her eyes, I realized, matched the scarf, for even where I sat, I caught the glimmer of their blue fierceness.

And she was, fierce. Fierce in the way Maggie Smith playing Violet Crawley in Downton Abby is fierce. Ms. Atwood is smiling and funny, proper and insightful, strict and unafraid to voice her opinion or the truth of the state of the world as she sees it.

But she was also funny. Delightfully so. She spoke about words, about language, about the phrases we choose to express ourselves every day, to distinguish ourselves, to convey ourselves. She had a full audience packed in like sardines laughing uproariously when she talked about an app called “Clean Reader” that takes out the suggested ‘offensive’ language and replaces it with acceptable words.

She wondered if this was helping or hindering and to illustrate her point, read excerpts where the word ‘breast’ had been changed to ‘chest’, and wondered at a youthful reader who might come upon a character frying up some “chicken chests”.  Or how the word “wiener” (and any subsequent mention to a male genital) was changed to ‘groin’, leaving some to scratch their heads as to why any character would opt to put mustard on a groin dog and take a bite.

Amid the laughter was one of her suggestions for keeping offensive writing away from people who might find it offensive. If you don’t like what is written between the pages of the book, take one cover you hold in your right hand, one cover you hold in your left hand, bring your hands together and you will no longer be offended by what is ‘in’ the book. She goes on to opt that if one wanted, they could then take their frustration out by throwing the book against the wall, or burring the book altogether.

Her comments were pithy and comedic, but you could tell she has spent a very long time giving proper through and care as to her own views on censorship, on the use of language, on how it is within our own human nature to react to others language and chosen use of it.

She covered a variety of topics that are still resounding in my mind, to be brought back later after they’ve marinated a bit more. She took questions and when asked by a young woman how to keep the dream of being a writer alive, Ms. Atwood replied, don’t let anyone ever get in your way, in your head, and tell you that you can’t do something.

As a writer of future worlds, she was asked what she thought of social media and its effects on our modern world and the written story. I loved her answer. She repeated the question and said it would be one thing if it were new, but it’s not. Tweeting has been around as long as man.  She used the city of Pompeii as an example, when it was dug out, there was a tavern in which the writing on the walls was preserved, and there were short quips about politics, about sex and jokes about friends.

Human Nature it seems doesn’t change, just the vessel in which to express itself.

Another question to Ms. Atwood was what she thought of fan fiction. She shrugged, like this was not an important question and pointed out that folks have been writing fan fiction since they could write as well. Point and case, Homer wrote a little story called The Odyssey and a few years later, a guy named Virgil wrote another little work called The Aeneid. While debates reign over Virgil’s work, one thing is clear, he was, in essence, writing fan fiction.

She said she liked fan fiction and in fact, gave a little plug for a piece she’s recently written for The Guardian about Game of Thrones. (Begins again this Sunday, May 12!!)

The lecture was over all too quickly, she graciously took questions and then stayed for a book signing. I did not stay. I left the lecture in a daze of wonderful thoughts about words, about hope, about writing, about good people who come together to celebrate an author whose books have moved us, made us think, and whose words were still causing this fan to sigh contentedly.

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