My 11 year old son loves hockey.  

He lives and breathes hockey.  He watches it, talks about it, and plays it.  He studies it, dreams about it, and quotes statistics.  If you can relate it to hockey, he gets it.

He’s actually been ice skating in leagues or formal skating lessons since he was three.  He’s been ice skating since 2.  He’s been playing hockey since he could walk.  

In May of 2016, he did something he had never had to do before.  He had official tryouts, where he may not make the team, for a travel hockey league.  In preparation for the tryout, we signed him up for the defensive clinic with the coach and other players so they learned who he was.  We paid the fee.

He didn’t make it.

Actually he made the “alternate” list.  

“What is that?” he asked.

“If someone else doesn’t want their spot, they give it to you.”

“They wouldn’t have tried out if they didn’t want the spot.”

“That’s a good point.”

I cried with him.  I cried for him.  Then I talked to him about resilience.  It was a message he received in ways that amazed me.  He returned to the final day of the clinic with the same kids who had made the team and the coaches who didn’t choose him.  He decided to play on the house league again, and make the best of that time.  In fact, his team won the championship this time around.  When tryouts were advertised for the All-Star team, one he actually played on last year before you had to try out, he asked to participate.  

We paid the money.

I saw the hesitation the second he took the ice.  There were 22 kids out there skating.  You could almost see the moment he realized that meant some kids wouldn’t make it.  His first pass along the ice wasn’t his fastest, he was hesitating.  But then he must have shaken it off.  The kid continues to impress me with his ability to keep going.

I wish I could tell you this is a story with a happy ending.  I wish I could say this is a story about a kid who worked his little tail off, didn’t give up, and made the team.  

He didn’t.

He actually was named as the alternate…again.

Today I get to explain it to him.

We will talk about Thomas Edison and the attempts that weren’t lightbulbs.  We’ll talk about JK Rowling and her rejection letters.  We’ll talk about Michael Jordan being cut from his high school basketball team. We’ll talk about one of his cousins and hockey idols, who didn’t play travel hockey until he was older than my son.  We’ll talk about Stephen King, who kept his rejection letters on a nail and filled it.  Maybe we’ll even talk about my file of rejection letters.

Then my son will have to make the decision to dust himself off and keep playing, again.

My 11 year old son loves hockey.  

He lives and breathes hockey.  He watches it, talks about it, and plays it.  He studies it, dreams about it, and quotes statistics.  If you can relate it to hockey, he gets it.

The hardest part of parenting is helping him through those moments when he is reminded that hockey is just a sport, it can’t love you back.

#1linewed 12.28 Edition

A line from a work in progress using the word finish.

“He’s in the news like all the time. He’s super famous. Kind of like…”
He doesn’t finish the sentence. He doesn’t have to.

A comfortable silence wraps around the room as we finish our meal.

“I could just tell the truth.”  My fingers start moving around the letters, typing one at a time.


A line from a work in progress using the word start.

She tips her head toward the ground in the start of a bow.  “Don’t do that.  I’m not a Royal any longer,” I chastise.

I’m actually in my car with the air conditioning on before the tears start.



We all know there are different emotions.


But there’s more to writing emotion than just flagging which one is present.  Emotions have a level.

This puppy is mildly annoyed.
This puppy is full on angry.

For today’s exercise, choose an emotion and give five different levels from low to high.  Ready, GO!


  1. Finding a penny
  2. The perfect cup of coffee
  3. Completing a workout
  4. Receiving a genuine compliment
  5. Accomplishing a goal


  1. No milk for cereal
  2. Rejection letters
  3. Favorite shoes break
  4. Kids experience disappointment
  5. Losing someone


  1. Waiting for someone
  2. Cut off in traffic
  3. Stolen gift or package
  4. An idea stolen or credited to someone else
  5. Someone hurting my kid

Election Lessons 2016 Style

Brace yourself.  The girl who doesn’t talk politics is talking about politics again.  Dang, if I keep this up I may lose my status.  Never mind that, this is important.

I learned 2 important lessons during this election year.  If I don’t share them, you may make the same mistakes.  I don’t want that.  So I’m sharing.  Pass it on.

Important Lesson #1-

Don’t vote by mail in ballot.

I’m actually super sad about this one.  Mailing in my vote 2 weeks early always makes me feel so accomplished and ahead-of-the-curve (where every irrational perfectionist wants to be).  But this year, because of allegations of fraud against my state in the primaries, the news has been all over this vote counting thing here.  Here is the picture: the election is over.  The votes have been called.  Candidates are conceding their races.  Riots have started.  But does the County Recorder here care about getting those early ballots counted?  Nope.  In fact she’s been interviewed on the news saying they’ll “count them when they count them.”

My vote could likely still be sitting there behind her, waiting.

Next year I’ll stand in line.  Maybe I’ll see you there.

Important Lesson #2-

Register with a major party.

Okay, hold on.  Don’t get all up in arms on me yet.  I didn’t say you had to vote for a major party candidate.  In fact, I don’t give a darn who you vote for.  I’m all in favor of Independent and Green parties.

BUT this year we seriously maimed ourselves during the primaries.  You could get your voice in there earlier, help control which people run in the actual election.  But only if you register with a major party.

Now there are some states who claim you can vote in primaries if you are registered independent.  But when all those independent voters turned up to vote in our elections…well, you probably saw the news.  Hello, voter fraud cases.

So I’m glad I registered with a major party, even if it’s only for primaries.


There’s my two cents in regards to voting.  There are more opinions buried in there, but this is enough for now.  Who knows, maybe as I get older I’ll start talking politics.

Stranger things have happened!


I don’t talk about politics.

I was raised by a large family who feel very strongly on both sides. I teach children who bring strong ideals from families on both sides. I see benefits and challenges from both sides. 

I stay out of it.

But when it comes to my ballot, I vote. Always. 

I research and I vote.

Whatever you believe, good for you. 

Just vote next week.



Inspired by a daily challenge (of the same word) and scribbled on the back of an envelope and a flyer…here’s a work of fiction for you.

Sometimes things happen in life.

Hard things.

Bad things.

Things you think you can’t survive.

Last January, it happened to me.  One day I’m a high school Senior, living a life that’s chaotic in all the ways that seem so simple now.  I’m worried about grades, college, boys, drama, and a part-time job.

The next day it’s my family car on the news.  That silver SUV smashed into on the 10, crushed on the passenger side.  You heard about it, I’m sure.  The one that the 2nd car hit after being spun around by the driver who was day drunk.  The one that closed the 10, probably ruined your commute.

One minute I’m pissed at my Mom for putting my sister’s ballet practice above me.  Making me walk myself home from basketball because Emily needed to get to Scottsdale for some recital rehearsal.  The pounding of my feet sends that anger kicking up like dirt in a dust devil.  Emily comes first.  Drop everything for Emily.  Emily.  Emily.  Emily

I arrive at home, unlock the door, toss my stuff around like it’s meaningless, turn on the TV.  Pause.  Check my phone.  Recognize something on the TV.  Hit pause.  Call my messages.  Drop to my knees, start praying to a God who probably doesn’t recognize my voice that I’m wrong.  Call Mom.  I can hear her sobbing the same word I angrily stomped…but somehow it’s completely different.  Emily.  Emily.  Emily.

Now?  Well now I can’t quite figure out what I am.  It’s like I stopped growing when she did.  It’s like everything before, when we were together, is this beautiful memory that I always took for granted.

People say “shell” or “shadow” like they’re hollow or replicas of what they were pre-tragedy.  I don’t say that.  I prefer stump.

Did you know “stump” is defined as part of the tree left projecting from the ground after the trunk has fallen or been cut?  That’s us.  Emily, my forever 14 year old sister, cut down.  Me, the tree that fell hard to the Earth that day.  Maybe I leaned on her more than I thought.  It turns out I am just too weak to stand alone.

Either way, we’re stumps now.  It’s how I feel every day.  We’re still together, but we’re kind of frozen.  

I never appreciated you enough.

I never spent enough time with you.  Now?  Now I’d kill for that chance.


You Hit That Wall

Now What?

It was bound to happen.

I’m a perfectionist.  Often I’m a completely irrational perfectionist; I was that kid in school who would prefer not to turn it in because I thought it wouldn’t earn the A.  When I first started teaching, I had to come to grips with the fact that perfection isn’t attainable in this profession.  There’s always a way to be better, stronger.  There’s always another kid to reach, another skill to teach, another (better) way you could present information.  There’s always another teacher to help, another club to lead, another sport to coach.  It was hard, but I’ve learned it.

Wouldn’t it be nice if that lesson translated to other parts of my life?

When I decided to make a go at this writing thing, I knew it was yet another aspect of my life where perfection would not be attainable.  There is always a better way to say something, another book to write, another skill to learn.  Knowing it and accepting it are two entirely different things.

I’m barely starting out, at only about a year into this journey.  That’s nothing.  In the blip of my entire life on the radar, it’s an eye blink.  When compared with how long some of you have hung in there, it’s a heartbeat.  I get it.

Yet how do I convince my irrational perfectionist core that it’s worth continuing?

I want to tell the stories.

I want to make a go at this.

I want people to read the stories.

I want people to be touched by the stories.

So if you’re like me-and you’re hitting that (figurative, thank the Lord) wall-let’s make a pact to keep writing anyway.

Here’s to us and the books we have yet to write.


Lines from Page 5 (or 16, or 27, or 38)


Like so many of you, I participate in #1linewed on Twitter (@ShipleyTabatha if you’re interested).  I decided to post my lines from yesterday here for those of you who aren’t on Twitter and those who simply missed the lines.  Enjoy!

From an old manuscript I may visit again, page 5:“Maybe we’ll do it again.” I shake his hand and smile politely. He’s only being nice, neither one of us wants to do this again.

From my WIP YA fantasy, page 5: I did it. I finally have the chance to live somewhere else, to try something new, to be a part of something bigger.

From my YA Sci-Fi (currently looking for representation…wink wink), page 38: Mindless work, this table setting. Frees my mind up to waltz back to the subject of my date.

From my completed YA fantasy, book 2 in the series, page 5: “I know you love me, I feel it. But am I competing with him?”

From my completed YA fantasy, book 1 in the series, page 5: “You must focus. The council is going to be waiting on you to err, Eselda. Do not give them that.”

Which one do you think received the most love on this #1linewed?