Welcome to day 16 in the Settling Blog Tour. Today happens to be release day for Settling and Shelley has honored me by bringing to everyone an exclusive excerpt for Settling (Chapter 1....squeal). To celebrate the release of Settling, Shelley is giving away a copy of Settling on each of her tour stops (including this stop). And if that isn't enough for you Shelley is hosting a giveaway on her own Solid Series web page. You so will not be disappointed in my opinion. So without further ado I give the floor to Shelley.
First is worst. What I mean is that the first chapter is the absolute worst one to write, particularly if you’re not going to open with a hugely dramatic scene or an interest-piquing prologue. For “Settling,” I didn’t want to use any such “tricks of the trade” – no opening acts, if you will – I just wanted to greet the readers, escort them to their seats, and start the show. Really, I see myself as kind of an usher in the “Solid” theater, so Chapter One is like our walk down the aisle after intermission; I give you a recap of Act One (“Solid”) and set the tone for Act Two (“Settling”) without boring you by spending too much time on either. I hope that I’ve found the right balance and that readers enjoy the show!
Why rush? I reminded myself, purposely slowing my steps toward the dining hall. Not that I was worried about the food; it was actually a million times better than I’d expected at an Army camp. No, my relax today, race tomorrow motto had nothing to do with dinner and everything to do with Monday morning. I may not be embarking on some exotic global adventure, but my new assignment would be my-world changing and today was sort of feeling like the last day of vacation.
And a well-deserved vacation at that. It felt like my whole life had been on fast-forward since I got to campus. I’d started the summer by moving a thousand miles from home along with a hundred other kids; we’d taken the same leap by coming to this strange place, also strangers to each other, showing up for the first day of school where every kid was the new kid.
When I thought back to those first couple of weeks on campus, I felt like so much had happened so fast that I must have missed half of it. The camp of self-discovery we’d signed up for had quickly turned from an inviting lake to a whirlpool of secrets and super-abilities, friends and villains. We’d all kind of clung to the first solid things that floated by just to keep our heads above water.
But once the current had calmed – and the danger of being eliminated by Janet for revealing her secret had subsided – I’d looked around at what I’d grabbed hold of in my panic and felt enormously lucky. Of all the people I could’ve surfaced with, I’d somehow found the best five fish in the pond. One may be a barracuda, another a clown fish, and the others various species in between, but we made up a swimmy school.
I burst out laughing at my own ridiculous thoughts. Now all I could envision were my friend’s faces photoshopped onto scaly, neon bodies with giant cartoon eyes and puckering lips. I guess I had my mom to thank – it was her imagination that I’d inherited, after all. It used to bother me that while I’d gotten her creativity, and even her knack for picking up vocabulary, her ability to put ideas into lyrical prose had skipped right over me. And as for what happened by the time my tangled thoughts hit the air, forget about it.
But the unfortunate breakdown that occurred somewhere between my mind and my mouth was a worry for another time. Today was about all the good things I had going on, and I readily returned my focus to them.
Yup, Calliope Grace Kaid, I said to myself, your life is pretty freaking awesome.
Even the survivor-like metaphor I’d been relating to – before I’d distracted myself with the fish – hadn’t been all that bad. Going back to that brainwave, I reminded myself how once the wild water had cleared and I could let go of all the life preservers I’d grabbed onto, I hadn’t wanted to. It was only the rapids themselves that had been rough, not other people and equipment. I still may not know the how and why of a lot of those early days, but I was pretty happy with the right now.
And now that life was moving in real-time instead of warp-speed – now that we’d begun to settle a bit – we could actually just be here without constantly stressing over those hows and whys. To be honest, sometimes I almost forgot the reason we’d been brought here in the first place, because the here was no longer the secret and hidden unknown that’d it been when we’d first arrived. The campus had become a familiar place, full of friends. A home.
I knew it must seem totally bizarre to people beyond the gate to think of a classified Army camp full of military kids as any kind of homey environment, but that’s how it felt to us. And that we all felt the same way spoke volumes.
With every kid on campus a genetically-altered freak of nature – or in our case, crazy scientific experiment – the playing field sort of evened-out, as Garrett would say. Finding a place where everyone was so different – in every sense of the word – that nobody stuck out was like a gift to kids who’d spent their lives constantly moving and thus always sticking out.
I blended so well into my new surroundings that being able to vanish, to make my solid self disappear, wasn’t even that exciting anymore. Besides that, like sixty other kids could do it, too; when compared to some of the other latent talent, vanishing wasn’t even that impressive of a skill. In the shadow of lighter-than-air jocks, stone-walling heavies, and blindingly brilliant stars, disappearing almost, well, disappeared.
And really, the invisibility hadn’t changed my life all that much. I was still seventeen, heading into my senior year of high school; I still needed to get my driver’s license and apply for college.
Plus, it’s not like I used my ability on a daily basis. In actuality, I’d probably used it more in my old life, before I’d even known what I could do or how to control it. So many times I’d wished my gym teacher would pass me by, repeating in my mind, You don’t see me; I’m invisible, until she’d picked someone else to play. At the time, I thought I’d gotten lucky; now I knew better. Although here, I no longer had anything to hide from. So ironic.
And even though it sounded nuts, figuring out that I could disappear had been kind of eclipsed by everything else that had happened to me at the same time. Finding a place to belong, real friends, a boyfriend – the new experiences were so entangled that it was hard to single any one thing out as the best.
Now, as I looked through the doorway into the crowded dining room, I felt a rush of excitement at what I’d become a part of – and what’d also become a part of me. The positive buzz shared by every student here was like nothing I’d experienced at any of the schools I’d gone to.
Not that this was a school. Not yet, anyway. But if everything worked out, that would change come September. Our campus was about to turn into a very small, very private boarding school with only one real admission requirement – a seriously messed-up ninth chromosome.
I could hardly wait.
Hopefully that made you want to run out and get Settling for yourself, if no read my review of Settling Here and you will definitely be convinced (in my opinion). This has been an amazing blog tour with some fantastic stops along the way. I am so excited to be included on this fantastic tour. If you have read Solid you already know what a phenomenal book it was and I am sure you are salivating for Settling. If you haven't read it then go or log on to your favorite store and pick them both up.
Next blog stop on the blog tour is at Books With Bite. If you would like to check out the remaining blog stops on the tour click Here.