It’s that time of year again. Everyone is going back to school and so is Laura Bickle’s Katie from The Hallowed Ones.
If your home was the last safe place on earth, would you let a stranger in?
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 Elders’ rule and secretly brings the stranger into her community—but what else is she bringing in with him?
Make sure you stick around to the end. We’ll be giving away a copy of The Hallowed Ones.
Katie’s Last Day (In Sunshine)
I remember walking to school as I always did, in the early light of morning. I walked with my little sister, Sarah, carrying our books and our lunches. Mist was rising from the farmland, shrouding the fields in pearly green. Corn and soybeans were sprouting. It’s beautiful land – green and gold and studded with tidy white houses and speckled with cattle.
Plain people believe that we should hold fast to the way of life we lived when we came to this country in the early 18th century. My sister and I wore the same kinds of clothing that our ancestors did: simple dresses in dark colors, with white bonnets and aprons. Ahead of us, we saw the other girls dressed the same as we are. The boys were wearing shirts and black britches and suspenders, with straw hats. It is a uniform, of sorts. We were taught not to be prideful in our appearance.
We walked up the gravel road to our school house. It was built by our community in the 1970s. There was a court case in 1972 that gave Amish the right to educate their children in the name of religious freedom. Plain people have a much different educational philosophy than the English (non-Amish people) do. Children are educated through eighth grade and then receive vocational training afterward. That’s sufficient for Plain children to grow up into productive members of our community. The other students were Plain children I knew all my life. There were no strangers among us.
In my community, the children were taught together in a one-room brick schoolhouse. Our school house, like all Amish buildings, did not have electricity. Our beliefs forbid us to have tangible connections, like power lines, to the outside world. We settled in behind our wooden desks and turned our faces toward our teacher, who stood before a blackboard illuminated by daylight. We worked on lessons quietly while the teacher focused on children in small groups.
My teacher was the older sister of my best friend. She was eighteen, and had been educated in the same Amish system. Teachers in our community do not go to college or high school. It’s believed that a smart young woman can teach what she has learned, and the focus was on the basics reading, writing, and arithmetic. My teacher was to be married in fall, after harvest, and she would be replaced.
I loved school. I truly did. I was a good student. I excelled at math and reading, and my handwriting was impeccable, both in English and our Deitsch language. I was giving serious consideration to becoming a teacher. I had my own library card, and I had spent a good deal of time at the county library, learning about things that were not taught. I had seen books with pictures of dinosaurs and maps of exotic countries. I knew that I would never be able to teach those things, but I had an insatiable desire to learn.
I was always a little headstrong that way. Questioning. As I copied a sentence from my textbook in my careful handwriting, I found myself daydreaming. I was fourteen. I wondered what was ahead of me. I knew that I would continue to work for my family, caring for the house and the farm until I was married and had a house and farm of my own.
But sometimes I looked outside the window, as I did now, and I daydreamed. I wondered what else was out there. I wondered what else was in books and in the world beyond the fence.
I closed my eyes for a moment and felt the warm sun on my face.
It felt like this was the last tangible day of my childhood, that I would be an adult after this. It felt like childhood was a bit too short, and I wanted to remain in this familiar routine. I wanted to cling to the sunshine and the smell of floor wax and chalk dust, to the sound of my pencil scratching on paper.
There were things I could not know. I could not know that the end of my world was just around the corner, that sunshine would be eclipsed by darkness. Everything would change, and I would crave the memory of that safe, simple time so much more.
But for that one, fleeting moment, everything was perfect.
Meet Laura Bickle!
Laura Bickle’s professional background is in criminal justice and library science, and when she’s not patrolling the stacks at the public library she’s dreaming up stories about the monsters under the stairs (she also writes contemporary fantasy novels under the name Alayna Williams). Laura lives in Ohio with her husband and five mostly-reformed feral cats. THE HALLOWED ONES is her first young adult novel. More information on her work is available at www.laurabickle.com
Dark Oracle (writing as Alayna Williams)
Please help spread the word: Tweet: Go back to school with 30 authors while #giveaways ensue during #SchoolsIn (Sept 1-30) http://tinyurl.com/LESchoolsIn – #paranormal #contests #UF
Thank you Laura for taking part in Literary Escapism’s School’s in!
Laura is giving away a copy of The Hallowed Ones. To enter, all you have to do is answer this one question: What was your most memorable last day of school? Remember, you must answer the question in order to be entered.
Even though I’m not giving the additional entries any more, you can still help support the author by sharing their article, and this contest, on your blog, Twitter, Facebook, or anywhere you can. After all, the more people who are aware of this fabulous author ensures we get more fabulous stories.
The winner must post a review of the novel someplace. Whether it is on their own blog, Amazon, GoodReads, LibraryThing or wherever, it doesn’t matter. Just help get the word out.
All School’s In contests will remain open until October 7th at which time I’ll determine the winner with help from the snazzy new plug-in I have. Have you checked out the other Black Friday contests yet? Check out the Master List to see all the Black Friday giveaways
I have not been contacting winners, so you will need to check back to see if you’ve won.