Tag Archives: reluctant readers

An Excerpt from Raw Talent

28 Aug

I’m very happy to share an excerpt of my new book, Raw Talent, about a girl who wants to be a pop star but suffers from stage fright, published by Orca in their Limelights performing arts series. CM magazine gave Raw Talent a 4**** Highly Recommended review and called it “A timely story, well written.”

Copyright © 2018 Jocelyn Shipley. All rights reserved. 

From Chapter Three:

I pour myself a glass of water from the pitcher next to the plate of cookies. Then I sit on the sofa and take a sip. It helps, so I take another.

“Always good to stay hydrated,” Maxine says, reaching for a cookie. “Mmm, so good. Craig is an amazing baker. And Sunita, well, she makes living here a real pleasure. Honestly, I don’t know how I’m going to leave when my home renovations are done.”

“Yeah, Riverside House is awesome.”

Maxine finishes her cookie. “Now, tell me about your singing. Ever had any lessons?”

I shake my head. “I thought about it once, but then, well, it just didn’t happen.” That awful audition. So humiliating.

Maxine shrugs. “It doesn’t necessarily matter. Lots of popular singers are self-taught and don’t even read music. Anyway, Jasmeer tells me you’re going to sing at Farmshine?”

“Well, I want to. But I have this problem with stage fright.”

Plus, I’m a total fraud for not signing up.

Maxine reaches for another cookie. “Okay, let’s talk about that. First, I want you to name it. Call it what it is—performance anxiety. Second, I want you to know that performance anxiety is common and manageable. You can learn to accept it as a challenge, rather than a threat, and channel it into performance energy.”

Wow. She makes it sound like there is hope after all. “But what if I can’t?”

“If you want to succeed in show business, you will.”

Her stern tone indicates she won’t tolerate me wimping out and feeling sorry for myself. “Okay,” I say. “But do you really think I can do this?”

“Of course. That’s why I agreed to coach you. Trust me—I’ve been there and know how hard it can be.”


“Yes. Performance anxiety can happen to the most experienced performers. Suddenly, out of the blue, you panic. Your mouth goes dry, your heart starts racing, and you think you’re going to die.”

Maxine pours herself some water and takes a long drink. “I’m going to tell you something you may find hard to believe. I actually found it hard to go from film, where you can always do a retake, back to live theater, where you can’t,” she says. “Things got so bad for me at one point that I almost quit.”

“Really? So what did you do?”

“I had to face my fear and admit I had a problem. And then I went back to basics.”

“And those would be?”

“It all starts with proper breathing.”

“You mean, like, just take a deep breath?” “As long as you’re doing it properly. Have

you ever heard of something called diaphragmatic breathing? It’s also called belly breathing or deep breathing.”

“Um, maybe? But not exactly, no.”

“Shallow breathing won’t help you relax, and it doesn’t help you sing well. But deep breathing will calm you and give you a supported sound.” Maxine stands and places one hand on her stomach. “Like this. First exhale with a big sigh to get rid of all your air. Then, when you breathe in, take air into your belly.”

“Shouldn’t the air go into my lungs?”

“It will, but focus on expanding the belly instead. Let it fill like a balloon. Breathe through your nose, not your mouth.” She demonstrates.

“In for a count of ten…then out for ten.” She smiles and says, “Okay, now you try. Stand up.”

I feel silly at first. But once I get going, I start to relax.

“You’re getting it,” Maxine says. “I want you to practice at home every day and come back next week.”

“That’s it? Just practice breathing?”

“Do five sets in a row, several times a day, and work your way up to ten.” Maxine slides onto the piano bench and starts playing softly again.

I guess the lesson is over. “Thanks so, so much!” I say, heading out the door.

“You’re welcome,” she calls after me. “And don’t worry. You’ll be fine.”

I happy-dance down the hall to the study. “Oh my god, that was fantastic!” I tell Jasmeer. “Maxine is sooooo awesome!”

“Yeah, I know,” Jasmeer says. “But my mom being celebrity obsessed is quite enough.”

“No worries. It’s not like she’s Denzi. But somehow Maxine made me feel like I can do anything!”

Like signing up to sing at Farmshine.

Want to read more? Raw Talent is available through online and independent bookstores and directly from the publisher.




An excerpt from Impossible

9 Feb

I’m very happy to share an excerpt from Chapter Two of my new book, Impossible, published by Orca in their Soundings series for ages 12 and up. Resource Links (December 2017) called Impossible “… perfect for reluctant readers in either a literature circle setting or as an independent read.”

 Copyright © 2018 Jocelyn Shipley. All rights reserved. 

“I take the stairs, not the elevator, so there’s less chance of being noticed. I can’t risk anyone telling Wade they saw me going out without Violet.

What a relief the cooler night air is. I glance around as I cross the street, to be sure nobody’s hiding in the shadows. This area is pretty safe, but I always check, even in broad daylight. Have to watch out for a certain guy I never want to see again.

It’s been over a year since I escaped, and he hasn’t shown up. But he’s not the kind of guy to just let me go.

I don’t see anyone lurking, so I cut across the park, keeping clear of the party. Wouldn’t want to be tempted to join in. I focus on reaching Ready Go.

Luckily, the store isn’t busy. I resist the smokes, but break down and buy a carton of chocolate-fudge ice cream along with the diapers. When the cashier checks me through, she says, “Love that top. Where’d you get it?”

“Thanks. Old Navy final sale.” I don’t make eye contact, just hurry from the store. So far I haven’t been gone longer than it would take to load three washing machines and put in the coins. But what if Violet wakes up? What was I thinking, leaving her alone?

Back out on the sidewalk I see a kid from our building, Kwame Mensah, riding his bike. Hope he doesn’t see me and stop to say hey, like he does when I have Violet with me. That’s all I need.

I flatten myself into the doorway of a building to hide. I’m not completely out of sight, but it works. Kwame rides right on by.

Whoa! That was close.

I step back onto the sidewalk.

And then, out of nowhere, a black SUV with windows wide open blasts past. I catch a split-second glimpse of the driver as the vehicle squeals around the corner.

Just as Kwame reaches the intersection, a guy leans out the passenger window.

He’s got a gun.

He fires.

Kwame and his bike go flying. The bike crashes into the curb. Kwame lands on the pavement with a sickening thud.”

Want to read more? You can buy Impossible from independent and online bookstores, or directly from the publisher.

An excerpt from Shatterproof

17 Oct


I’m so happy to share an excerpt from Chapter 3 of my new book Shatterproof, published by Orca Book Publishers in their Currents Series for reluctant readers aged 10 – 14. Hope you like it!

Copyright © 2016 Jocelyn Shipley. All rights reserved. 

“She blushes and can’t speak. Her friends urge her on. “Okay,” she finally says. “Here goes. Are you, um, are you Bo Blaketon?”


“Are you Bo Blaketon? You know, from Shatterproof?”

Whoa. How I wish I was.

I glance over at Lug. His eyebrows have shot way up and his mouth hangs wide open. He’s probably thinking what I am. This is too weird. Dakota said the same thing in the car.

“Yeah, I know that show,” I say. “But no, sorry. I’m not him.”

The girl tilts her head and squints at me. “Are you sure?”

I snort. “Last time I checked.”

“Oh come on,” she says. “You’re him. But don’t worry, we won’t invade your privacy.”

“No really, I’m not.”

She gives me a flirty smile and fluffs her hair. “I heard that Shatterproof is filming in North Van next week.”


“So that’s why you’re in town. And you’re from here, so it all makes perfect sense.”

“Well, it would if I was Bo Blaketon. But I’m not.”

The girl touches my arm gently. It feels like an electric shock. “It’s okay,” she says. “We won’t announce it to the whole world. But can you get me on your show?”

“No way!”

“So you are him!”

“No, I meant I can’t get you on that show. Because I’m not Bo Blaketon”

“Oh please?” She actually flutters her eyelashes and pouts her lips. “Just as an extra?”

“Hey,” Lug butts in. “He might be able to make that happen.”

I frown and shake my head at him. “What are you doing?”

“He-he,” Lug says. “Can’t blame these pretty things for trying.”

“But I’m not Bo Blaketon!”

They all stare at me like I’m lying.

Even Lug.

“Let’s go.” I stride away. “This is ridiculous.”

The girl follows, her friends behind her. “Look, I’m sorry,” she says. “I should have respected your privacy. But can you please just sign my arm?” She pulls a purple marker out of her purse. “Then I promise I’ll leave you alone.”

She’s wearing a flowery shirt, open over a tank top. She slips one sleeve off. Thrusts her shoulder at me. Points at her bicep. “Here,” she says. “Please?” She hands me the marker.

I can’t not take it. And then I’m scrawling on her smooth skin: Bo B. It kind of looks like BoB, which makes me laugh. It’s a nervous laugh though. What was I thinking?

“Ohmigod!” She actually starts to cry. “Thank you so much!”

Her friends gather close to take pictures. Lug steps in and shields my face with his hand. “Ladies, please! Privacy!”

The girl wipes her tears and grabs her marker back. “If you change your mind about me being an extra, here’s my number.” She writes it on my hand.

“Sorry, but we have to go.” I pull Lug away with me.

The other girls call after us, “Hey Bo, come back! Sign us, too!”

I break into a run.”

          Shatterproof is available from Orca or online bookstores.