Nicole Sharp

Writer, Wanderer and Coffee Lover living "la dolce vita"

Category: The Writing Moose (page 1 of 18)

Evolution of a Tradition

The Evolution of a Tradition

My mom ruined holidays for my husband. And my sister’s husband. And my Brother’s wife.

And she knows it so this isn’t news that will come as a shock to her or make you uncomfortable while reading. So, how did my mom do this? Glad you asked.

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Why Italy…

I have three books set in Italy. As I work on publishing them, I find that I write these interesting bits as random exercises to help shake out some of the story writing angst I suppose.  This one doesn’t deserve to be closed away in a dark notebook. It needs light.

I love Italy. Or perhaps I’m called to Italy.

I began to dream of Italy after seeing Roman Holiday when I was in my developmental teenage years. The black and white film ignited something in me, and I’m glad it was that film that did the job. Because, as would seem apropos, after that first brush with The Eternal City, everything went from black and white into gorgeous Tuscan color.

I was seventeen when I went to Europe for the first time. Of all people, I went with my High School Choir. We ended our European tour in Italy, visiting Florence and Rome. I fell in love with everything Italian then.

But it was on the steps of Santa Croce, the church where men like Machiavelli, Galileo and Michelangelo are buried, that I truly began my love affair. It was June and warm, tourists swarmed around us, flies attracted to the honey of history. Sweat pooled in my lower back and I fanned myself with a cheap fan I broke down and purchased. No longer caring if my peers were going to make fun of me, it was hot.

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Ms. Austen, A few thoughts…

I love Jane Austen, and I am not alone.  My sister and I adore her.  We’ve read all her book, and often return to our favorites. My favorite is Persuasion. I first read that book in the Philippines, the farthest you can get from Jane Austen’s England. But it worked somehow; I now recall both the book and the Philippines with great fondness.

While I am a lover of Austen, I am not a member of any of the societies.  Did you know there are hundreds of Jane Austen Societies around the world? There’s The Jane Austen Society of North America, one in Australia, Brazil, Buenos Aires, and of course England.

I’ve had to fight for Jane all my life, because you see, my father, the English Teacher, theater teacher, and actor, hates Jane Austen. I’m sure the continual exposure we forced on him didn’t help. My sister and I were among the major contributors to help further his hatred. For example, every Christmas, my sister and I reconvened in our childhood home, and always watched the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice together.

All 5 hours.

In one sitting.

“Why are we watching this shit again?  How many times have you girls seen this?” Good ‘ol tormented dad would inquire; though he wasn’t ever really watching it, he was just trying to find out when we would free his TV form it’s anguish. Continue reading

The Ultimately Achievable List of Resolutions for a New Year!

The Ultimately Achievable List of Resolutions for a New Year!

As New Year’s Day opens up before me, I find my skin is itching with an insatiable need to reorganize my whole house before the calendar says January 2. Lose 50 lbs in the next eight hours. Paint the upstairs bathroom before dawn tomorrow. Minimize my ‘stuff’ by maybe, throwing it all on the front lawn. Trash collection comes tomorrow. Write something spectacularly literary in the next three hours. And last, figure ‘it’ all out and wake at least by the 2nd day of the New Year with a clean, peaceful slate.

Alas, none of that will happen, but it’s okay.  We’re preconditions to do this to ourselves in the light of a New Year. To do some sort of reassessment of ourselves and find that everything we ‘meant’ to do, never quite got done the way we’d hoped, finds us here (wherever here is) again, and we find that lack of motivation we meant to have the previous year has left us, well, lacking.  But this  year, THIS YEAR, will be our year and we’re gonna go get it! (Whatever “it” is.)

Personally, I say we put an end to this cycle. That is why, my dear friends, as 2020 opens up before us, I am going to gift myself and you, with the Ultimately Achievable List of Resolutions for a New Year!

Ready? Let’s go.

1)      Drink at least one glass of water every ten days.

2)      Remember at least one family member’s birthday on the day it happens. No need for a phone call or to send a belated card, it was remembered in time.  That is all that’s needed.

3)      Gain at least 2 lbs by the end of the year.

4)      Sit on the sofa at least 2 hours a night watching TV while doing nothing productive.

5)      While we’re on the topic of productivity.  Do one productive thing, every two months. Dishes were done and laundry folded before Monday? Bam! Two months off baby.

6)      Start smoking.

7)      Learn nothing new.  If someone offers information that causes me to learn something new, I will immediately let the information go and not retain it at all.

8)      Eat at least one starch with each meal and a full serving of dessert every day. This will help fulfill resolution number 3.

9)      Don’t move…and if movement should happen, no calling it exercise.

10)   Stress out over every little thing.

11)   Don’t volunteer…to drive anyone anywhere, to do anything, to bring anything, to take anything…just don’t volunteer.

12)   Put dishes, clothes, items away in the wrong place so as to spend the entire year UNORGANIZED.

13)   Don’t finish any

Italian Stories…

The song “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” by Simple Minds just came on over the speakers at the coffee shop where I’m writing. It seems out of place as most everyone else in town is pumping Christmas music into the air this season. I’m in the thick of writing about a woman on her way to Venice to see about a man. She’s speeding across September waves in a vaporetto, (a Venetian water taxi). The wind is twirling her hair and the butterflies of excitement in her stomach. She could have sat inside the covered part of the boat, but  she wanted to stand outside and feel the journey on her skin. She can still feel the phantom caresses of the man’s hand. There is a certain thrill as the distance between the two of them closes with each passing breath.

The whole jumbled mess of feelings crescendo as the boat slows and turns onto the main waterway that runs through Venice, The Grand Canal.

The song fits this moment. I remember my own longings to be more than I was, the blush of discovering life and love and the juvenile naivete of life I thought I had figured out and at the same time was so foreign add the cresendo of such simple lyrics “I said oh la, la la la la, don’t you, forget about me.”

Its perfect because I’m taking my character back to those days. She had forgotten about that life she once was so in touch with and in deep contact with a world outside of her own that was laden, for too long, with darkness. The darkness was shades of giving up on life and resigning to a magic-less existence.

But now, she found it again. And it was Italy that brought her back to life. The Tuscan country side that attached life saving paddles to her heart and shocked her back to the land of the living. It might be dramatic reading that alone as is it now, but trust me, 300 pages into the book, it’s pretty fucking dramatic and fun.

And yes, I’m aware that I am talking about Italy again. I have four books set in Italy. I have a history degree and worked my ass off studying the Italian language so I could communicate with my Italian nieces, and I’ve been lucky enough to really immerse myself in Florence over the years, so when all these elements meet up with the writer side of me, I write books set in Italy.

That being said, while I don’t have a chapter of said book I mentioned above for you to read just now, I do have a chapter of another book that always makes me happy.  It’s mostly about driving in Rome. One of my favorite memories of Rome is riding in a taxi with my grandma and when the driver would get too close to other cars, which was every other second, grandma would put her hands out to steady herself on the seat in front of her and and in her very New York way say, “Woah, whoa, whoa.” Each whoa growing more distressed.

My sister tried to sidetrack her, “Grandma, don’t focus on the traffic, look at something else…” just then she spied a truck with racks of dresses being wheeled down a ramp, “Like that. Look at the dresses.”

“Oh, those are nice. do you think they’re expensive?” She pondered for only a matter of seconds before a slamming of the breaks brought out another “Whoa!” Continue reading

Always Christmas…

Thanks Giving

I wrote this last year a few days before Thanksgiving, but I could have easily just written it today. The sentiments remain, even if the date has changed. Merry Happy Holidays to you my friends. Maybe my words will help you find a moment of peace to let in the unexpected this holiday season. Because the thing I wish you all is a moment of peace in this hectic spinning world.

I’m in the middle of climbing laundry mountain, playing at chopping and prepping food like I’m a contestant on Top Chef, and trying to figure out the Martha Stewart logistics to having 18 people in my house for the Thanksgiving holiday. Oh yeah, and I’m looking for my gratitude. Cuz that’s what this holiday is all about, gratitude. But for some reason I stopped being grateful between cleaning the mildew spots off the ceiling in the bathroom and being elbowed too many times in the diary aisle of the grocery store.

Having everyone to my house for the holiday was my idea. I’m the Clark Griswold in my family. You know the scene, from Christmas Vacation. When Ellen and Clark are in bed and she tells him she’s worried, “you build thing up in your mind…you set standards no family event can ever live up to.”

I do that. For parties, weddings, anniversaries, holidays, graduations, vacations….just like Clark. It such a joke in my family, that when I hosted my own family for five glorious days a few years ago over Christmas; one by one (my dad, mom, brother and sister) they all called to ask if I was going to be okay. And I swear, they all quoted that same line…”you have expectations no family can live up to.”

But I love traditions. Love the crap out of them!

Then I read a beautiful essay a few weeks before everyone was to arrive that Christmas. And it slowed me down, gave me pause and allowed my normal expectant self to take two steps to the right and just breathe. And I want to share that with you, but first, let me explain why I love the traditions so much.

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Reading Material…

Reading Material

Here’s something random to read for a cold winter day.

I wrote a book called Thirty. It’s about Ali, a writer who has become disenchanted with her life. Her 30th birthday “party” is a torturous dinner with her parents and grandparents who don’t hold back their opinionated dissertations on her failings so far. In reply, Ali sneaks out of the restaurant and walks for a long time. She had the idea that she would just go find herself. What she finds is a strange adventure and a cast of characters that propel her forward on her journey.

When editing this book, I cut out large chunks when I finally found the voice of the main character. The following writing never made it into the final version of the book. When I re-read it, I thought it was entertaining but too angst filled perhaps, even though it has my brand of humor and sarcasm. But I realized it was like seeing the two sides of my worst fears (at that point in my life) visit with each other. Ha! So why not share… Continue reading

Time Flies

Time flies for the book writer…

Carlton Alfred Smith 1888 “Recalling the Past”

This past November I spent my time on the personal quest of writing 50,000 words in 30 days. Otherwise known as National Novel Writing Month. This was my ninth year.

This November I was also doing research for a 3,000-word article. The research consisted of two, four hour interviews, sifting through old newspapers articles online for hours at a time and attempting to put family folklore in order.

Furthermore, on the monthly calendar were visits from family and friends and Thanksgiving.

The other part of my life consists of producing content for my blogs, the continued work of updating my websites, editing my book La Bella Luna and writing content for another book. The last two weeks of November, I let this group of ‘things to do’ slide dramatically because I was having a difficult time keeping up with my word count. I tried to give up several times. The kid got sick. I got sick. The calendar was packed for the month…but then my word count was 38,000 words. And yes, that means there was only 12,000 words left. And I’d come so far. But there were only five days left to write 12,000 words. But there were still five days left.

My friends, from 38,000 words, you can see the top of the mountain.

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I have all these things I want to share and write about. That’s the whole reason I have a blog to begin with. So this week, it was going to be about the old adage, the cream rising to the top. It’s almost done, and it’s insightful and fun.

But something else demanded to be spoken of. Slipped in at the seams. I have a plan to write about Joy Harjo, the first female Native American Poet Laureate of the United States for 2019-2020. I turn to her poem “Perhaps the World Ends Here” every Thanksgiving.  The thing is, I’m not ready to write about her yet. I’m still getting to know her. So in an attempt to do that, I played her inaugural reading at the Library of Congress Sept. 19, 2019 while I was doing a static back stretch. (That’s where you lay on your back on the floor with your legs up on a bench or chair.)

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Stuff and Things…

Hello and Happy Monday!

A few announcements you might be interested in:

  1. I woke this morning to an email announcement that my short story “Mornings” has been published on line at the Literary Yard. Check it out here!
  2. My new pet project (and excuse to write about coffee) is up and running. Always A Cappuccino is my place to put my pretty pictures of all my cappuccinos and talk about the art of coffee, local coffee shops, far away coffee shops and offer a few how to’s. That’s found here!! (And also at the link in the menu above that says, Always A Cappuccino.). I will endeavor to have a new post every Wednesday on that site.
  3. I have an Instagram and am doing something fun every Monday. I call it Monday’s with Master Shakespeare. You see, I’ve acquired a Shakespeare cut out that comes with an insult for every day. Oh, I’ve got such plans for him! If you’re interested in following his journey, you can do that here. The link is also found above.
  4. I have new blog posts planned for this site at least once a week. Subscribe to be informed when my new words ‘drop’. Invite your friends to follow me.
  5. Last but not least, my writing has come to live symbiotically with Italy, coffee, and the very art of writing. You will begin to see, I hope, a lovely fluidity of those three topics revolving around my world in an effort to entertain you!

As always, thank you for your continued support!!!

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