Thursday, September 13, 2012

Bewitching Book Tours Guest Post & Book Review: Laura Bickle - The Hallowed Ones

Today we are welcoming Laura Bickle, author of The Hallowed Ones to A Chick Who Reads!

Writing a novel is a lot like falling in and out of love. It's a relationship with stages. There's flirting, bliss, angst, reconciliation, and letting go. There are beginnings, middles and ends. And also sometimes shouting and tears.

Beginnings are tough for me. Nothing intimidates me more than staring at a blank page. There's absolutely nothing there but a sea of white. I chew on my lip and doubt myself. Can I conjure something from blankness? What if it never comes together? Beginnings are anxious.

I reluctantly tap out a first line. A hook. It’s like saying “hello.” I squint at it, chew on my lip some more.

Is this concept worth pursuing? Is it attractive enough to chase through the next several months, through research and dreams and headaches? Will it still love me when I get the flu? Is it going to be one of those easy relationships, with effortless flow? Or will this one be like pulling my own teeth? Will there be door-slamming and crying?

There's no way to know. It could be wonderful, or it could put me in a funk for months. I futz and mumble to myself and stare at the first five pages, dawdle around the first chapter. I fret aloud and talk to the cat about the new relationship.

The cat usually ignores me. I screw up the courage to take the plunge. I decide that I like the idea. I flirt with it a bit, chase it around like a butterfly. I court it. Sometimes, I can be trusted to even put on a clean T-shirt and a pair of jeans that does not have holes in it while typing. I'm trying to impress it. I even make an outline. There is lipstick and also chocolate.

And it flirts back with me...with snatches of phrases. Images. I type and scribble notes, fearful of losing anything. Typing, typing...

And then I'm suddenly at the middle. I'm all of a sudden in a committed relationship with the book. I can feel it taking shape, developing a life of its own. It starts to have its own moods. Sometimes, it's cloying. Sometimes distant.

But we fall into a rhythm, greet each other at the same time every day. A standing date.

We start using the “love” word. Usually, it’s a showdown to see who will say it first.

We talk. We do more than that. The book and I have discussions. In the middle, there are multiple ways for things to go. I try some things that work. I try some that don't. I pull out the note cards, fuss with my outline. I spread cards out on the floor all around me, trying to analyze and dissect what's working, what's not. I get frustrated, gossip about the book with my friends, seeking outside advice.

Sometimes, it's a test of endurance, pushing through. But I can see to the end. When I have the ending firmly structured, the last ten thousand words fly. It's bliss. I see where all the tendrils of thought and plot threads I had developed in the beginning curve back around. I think I understand the story, now: the hidden symbols, the growth of the characters. I understand what it is about the story that attracted me to it. I understand what I'm afraid of about it.

The end is the best part. It gathers momentum, takes wing.

And flies right out of my hands. I type THE END on the last page.

And I feel a pang of sadness. It's gone. It's moved out of my life, out of my mind and my heart. There's still some tweaking to be done. Editing. Smoothing. But that part feels like the post-mortem of the relationship. At this point, I’m just looking at old photographs.

The story's gone. I did what I needed to: I gave the story a voice. And it left me. The nest's empty. Lonely.

And the only solution is to fill it again, with another egg of a story. Another beginning.

Laura Bickle
Reading level: Ages 12 and up
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Graphia (September 25, 2012)
ISBN-10: 0547859260
ISBN-13: 978-0547859262
BUY: Amazon

THE HALLOWED ONES By Laura Bickle If your home was the last safe place on earth, would you let a stranger in? In this captivating thriller, an Amish settlement is the last safe haven in a world plagued by an unspeakable horror… Katie is on the verge of her Rumspringa, the time in Amish life when teenagers are free to experience non-Amish culture before officially joining the church. But before Rumspringa arrives, Katie’s safe world starts to crumble. It begins with a fiery helicopter crash in the cornfields, followed by rumors of massive unrest and the disappearance of huge numbers of people all over the world. Something is out there...and it is making a killing. Unsure why they haven’t yet been attacked, the Amish Elders make a decree: No one goes outside their community, and no one is allowed in. But when Katie finds a gravely injured young man lying just outside the boundary of their land, she can’t leave him to die. She refuses to submit to the Elder’s rule and secretly brings the stranger into her community—but what else is she bringing in with him?

   Advance Praise for THE HALLOWED ONES "This is a book to make you fear the shadows--a horrifying and gruesome tale of faith, and things that blink red eyes in the night. I began reading in the daylight, and read on into the late hours, leaning close, biting my lip. I could not look away; I was obsessed. Katie is an unbreakable soul." --Lauren DeStefano, New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author of the Chemical Garden Trilogy

Review: This book has so much going for it, that it is impossible not to want to read it.




Now there's a combination!

And guess what?

It works!

Katie isn't a typical Amish teen! She wants her Rumspringa (running around years). She wants to experience the world outside. And when bad things start to happen, she wants to know why.

She felt like a typical teenager, and I have to admit, I loved reading a story about the Amish that wasn't Christian fiction. Sure God and the religion a huge part of the story, but it isn't a constant praying thing. This makes the characters, Katie and Elijah come across as more human. That makes this book a whole lot easier to read than some works of Amish fiction.

Oh and did I mention Katie has...GASP SEX!

I know, perish the thought, but how do you get more Amish people if you don't have sex?

Then there are the vampires/monsters/darkness!

They are super scary and they don't sparkle!

The other character that you really have to mention is Alex, the guy she brings into the Amish community when he is injured. He's an Englisher from Canada and he's much more likable than Elijah, the boy Katie is best friends and thinks she's going to marry.

Katie is a typical teen in this book, but she also grows and shows a great strength of character, especially when the vampires get into the community and wipe out Ruth and her family.

The ending leaves you hanging a bit, so I hope this book is going to be part of a series, because I really want to know what happens to Katie.

Rating: 5 Flowers

 About the Author Laura Bickle's professional background is in criminal justice and library science. When she's not patrolling the stacks at the public library, she can be found reaming up stories about the monsters under the stairs. She has written several contemporary fantasy novels for adults, and THE HALLOWED ONES is her first young adult novel. Laura lives in Ohio with her husband and five mostly-reformed feral cats. For more about Laura, please visit her website at:

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Michelle Stockard Miller said...

I totally agree. Wasn't it great? It was a five star read for me too. Great review!

Laura Bickle said...

Thanks so much for hosting me today, Andrea! I'm over the moon that you enjoyed THE HALLOWED ONES - thanks so much for taking the time to read and review my book! :-)

Michelle, I'm super-excited that you enjoyed the book, too! Thank you! :-)

Johanna said...

I just finished reading this on the weekend and LOVED it! I hope to spread the word to as many as possible :)

Laura Bickle said...

Thanks so much, Johanna! I'm so pleased that you enjoyed it! :-D

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