Monday, November 21, 2011

Author spotlight: Shelley Workinger & The Solid series + Giveaway

ReaderGirls welcomes independent author Shelley Workinger to our blog today. Shelley has written Solid and  Settling, the first two books in her YA series, with the third, Sound, scheduled for publication next summer. 

Book blurb: Teens who discover they were secretly genetically altered before birth are brought together at a classified site where they forge new friendships, find love, develop "super-abilities," and even unearth a conspiracy.

Guest Post: Writing the Solid series
When I began writing the Solid series, I was sure of four things:

1. The heroine’s life would not revolve around a boy. (There is a love interest, but Clio can function without him.)
2. She would eat. Real food. Without obsessing over it.
3. She *gasp* had to have a great relationship with her mother. (Specifically, a mutual respect.)
4. She would be a complete mess.

Okay, that last one I threw in for fun. ;) No, Clio’s not a total disaster, but she’s miles from perfect and she definitely makes mistakes (including one I’ve gotten many reader letters about, but had to happen!) because she’s real.

You see, the teen and tween girls I know aren’t necessarily represented in current popular fiction. In their evolving state of self-discovery and finding where they fit in the world, they don’t always make the best choices. Or even consistent ones. They may be confident in some situations, but wholly insecure in others. Yet, even when their behavior contradicts itself, they remain true to the people they are becoming. 

That’s why I believe Clio’s greatest strength is her weakness – since she’s not worldly and experienced, and she doesn’t have all the answers, her actions and reactions are spontaneous and relatable. She makes mistakes, sometimes trusts too readily or not at all, but then she learns from the fall-out and at least makes different mistakes in the future. I think that’s the most interesting and beautiful kind of mess to be. ;)

Excerpt from Solid:


As per his nighttime routine, he checked the security panel to ensure that the system would alert him of any intrusions on the perimeter he’d set around the lab. The doctor was putting in a late night, also consistent with his normal regimen, successfully employing the strategy of hiding in plain sight.

After engaging the lock and closing the blinds over the glass door, he crouched behind his desk, feeling around the legs until he’d released each of the four latches holding it in place. It was easy then to slide the desk two and a half feet toward the door and expose the hatch while still keeping it concealed from anyone entering the room, not that there was any real possibility of a visitor.

Next, he unlocked the bottom left drawer of the desk, removing a brown leather journal and replacing it with the Army service garrison he’d pulled from his head. He took care to collapse the cap along the crease, the polished silver eagle pinned to the top. Although Colonel was undoubtedly a commendable distinction, he did consider the PhD at the other end of his name the more honorific of his titles. But he didn’t need reminding that both ranks were necessary to conduct his ground-breaking research. He released the rope ladder at the top of the opening, paused for one more visual sweep, and made his descent.

Once his feet landed on the concrete floor, his hand reached out automatically to flip the wall switch. The fluorescent hum was quickly drowned out by the scurrying of little feet against glass and shavings as the inhabitants of the repurposed bunker came to life. Roll call, as he liked to think of it, began to the immediate right of his entry point and would proceed clockwise around the four walls – forty-eight feet of cages stacked three high.

He flipped to the next blank page in his journal, almost at the end of this eighteenth volume of copious notes, and used the standard issue Get The Lead Out ball-point to tap a friendly greeting on the glass of specimen 92-9A13. His tiny, whiskered subject hardly needed encouragement; he was literally bouncing off the walls – and ceiling – of his cage as if the floor was made of rubber.

“Take it easy, Jordan,” the doctor chuckled in a fatherly tone as he let his eyes pass briefly over the mouse’s equally buoyant neighbors. Though their freakish agility would have astounded anyone else, it failed to merit more than a passing glance from their designer. These, his earliest and most successful creations, were well-established and gave him no surprise. They were ready.

He continued past a stretch of clean and empty cages before reaching the next section. The specimens along this second wall earned the same friendly but tepid response as he’d given the others, though their eerie stillness stood in sharp contrast to group one. The only movement came from furry subject 92-9I71 who, while showing no reaction to the human observer, continued tapping out a heavy rhythm along the back wall with her tail. The doctor followed her unwavering rodent gaze to the spitting serpent at the far end of her cage. Instead of feeling guilty for having forgotten to put back her safety wall, his eyes glittered with anticipation. The smooth, black snake first coiled to attack, then dove forward to strike, only to stop an inch short of its target as if blocked by an unseen force.

If his hands hadn’t been full of pen and journal, the doctor would’ve clapped his hands in approval. Instead, he rewarded her defensive maneuver with a rare bit of compassion. “Let’s give you a night of rest, my Ludi,” he said, and dropped a partition down the center of the cage to separate the combatants. The denied viper continued to spit in the mouse’s direction, but her opponent had already curled up in a protective ball to recuperate from the extended period of intense concentration.

“I know you’re in there,” the doctor called teasingly as he next approached group three - a line of seemingly unoccupied cages. His ears perked up immediately at the rustling response and he bent at the waist to peer into a cage on the lowest level marked 92-9M129. His eyes lit up to see the shavings part as if by an invisible breeze. “Ah, Griffin, there you are,” he purred, tracing one finger down the glass and making a brief rubbing gesture near the disturbed spot. “I know you hate being woken up at night, but you know how much I love not seeing you.” He laughed at his own private joke.

It was then with near giddiness that he proceeded to the fourth section, quickly closing the journal and placing it atop 92-9Q224. He put his hands on either side of the glass enclosure to peer within, intent as if searching the gaze of his beloved. The shimmering creature inside nearly took his breath away and he absently stroked the enclosure as he cooed, “You’re going to blind Dr. Heigl one of these days, Siri.” She was his prize; his crowning achievement, his star. It took several minutes for him to tear his eyes away from her, straighten up, and reclaim his journal.

Like a lovestruck boy at the end of a dance, he backed toward the exit, reluctant to leave and end the enchanted evening. It was only after he’d placed a hand on the ladder that he realized he’d overlooked someone. He turned back to address the lone occupied cage to his immediate left, 87-9X.

“Hey, didn’t mean to pass you by, little man.” The gray mouse sat up on its hind legs to lock beady eyes as the doctor continued, “It’s time, old friend. They’re ready.” He made a sweeping gesture to include all of the other subjects and ended with a winking salute. Then he turned back toward the exit, hit the lights, and climbed up.

After deftly replacing the desk to camouflage the secret door and once again securing the journal in the locked drawer, he looked up and caught his reflection in the window glass. He jauntily flicked his stiff cap with one finger, his mouth widening in a fiendish grin as he unabashedly admired the face of the soon-to-be most revered geneticist in, not just military or medical, but, in fact, world history. 

Find Solid at: Amazon paperback /Kindle / Barnes & Noble paperback /Nook

About the author: Shelley Workinger grew up in Maine, graduated from Loyola University New Orleans, currently resides in New Jersey, and considers all of them home.

Solid is her first YA series.

She'd be thrilled to hear your thoughts on the story at

Author links:

Shelley is offering ONE free ebook of Solid (pdf or Kindle format) to one lucky commenter (don't forget to leave your email address).

We thank Shelley Workinger and hope to read Solid soon.


  1. Shelley,

    SOLID sounds like a great, "solid" read! And I love the 4 decisions you made before beginning the story!
    Here's a question: what's one fascinating fact you learned while researching this story?

    I wish you much success!

    ~Roni Lynne
    YA Adventures in the Paranormal...and Beyond!

  2. I'd love to read this. Sounds really interesting. Thanks for the giveaway! Gloria

    geschumann at live dot com

  3. As an old geneticist this sounds interesting.

  4. I enjoy YA books about genetic manipulation. I love that the protagonist has a good relationship with her mom. : )
    karlatrx AT gmail DOT com

  5. My thirteen year old daughter thinks it "sounds cool." As a mother, I am always looking for books that are challenging, enjoyable WITHOUT sex for my teen. I like that Clio makes mistakes and learns from them.

    books4me67 at

  6. Thanks for the interview and giveaway! The story sounds really interesting.
    msmjb65 AT gmail DOT com

  7. Boy, that excerpt had me hooked. I put it in my wish list at amazon, and will def be checking it out. I see really good reviews for it and the kindle price is great. Thanks for hooking me up with a new series!!

    Artesia at comcast dot net

  8. Oh this sounds really good! I've read good things about Solid and added it to my wishlist! Thanks for the chance to win!

    linaramz at yahoo dot com

  9. Wow, this sounds super good. How is it I've never heard of it before? *lowers head in shame*.... thanks for the giveaway, count me in!

    Diana M.

  10. This one has been on my list for a while. I'd love to win a copy.
    tressa dot sherman at hotmail dot com

  11. Thanks so much for the giveaway! I would live to read this book!

  12. This sounds like a great read, thanks for the chance to win


  13. Thank you so much to the Reader Girls for hosting me, and to all of you who are interested in my "Solid" series!

    @Roni - I couldn't really nail down one most fascinating fact, but I loved digging into chromosomes and what they do. I won't bore you by going on and on (and I've also kept the books science-light for the same reason), but despite all that we know about chromosomes and genes, there's so much more that we DON'T know, which really opens up the possibilities for researchers, scientists...and fiction writers like me, of course!

    Thanks again to all of you for checking out my work and the thoughts behind it ;)

    Happy Reading and Happy Holidays :)
    Shelley W.

  14. Thanks for the giveaway!!


  15. I have heard wonderful things about Solid, and have been looking forward to reading it!

    TaraTagli at gmail dot com

  16. Hope I get to check this out soon. :) Thanks for the giveaway.


  17. I like the list, especially number 3. So many books have horrible parent-child relationships.
    Thanks for the giveaway.

    wingedpersephone at gmail dot com