Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Virtual Book Tour and Giveaway: If the Light Escapes by Brenda Marie Smith

Welcome to my stop on the virtual book tour for If the Light Escapes by Brenda Marie Smith. This book tour was organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. On my stop, I have an excerpt from the book as well as a very helpful guest post from the author. There's also the tour wide giveaway for a chance to win a $50 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card. Be sure to visit the other stops on the tour for more content. Enjoy!
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Title: If the Light Escapes
Author: Brenda Marie Smith
Publication Date: August 24th 2021
Print Length: 257 pages
Genre: Post-Apocalyptic Science Fiction
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A standalone sequel to IF DARKNESS TAKES US

A solar electromagnetic pulse fried the U.S. grid fourteen months ago. Everything’s gone: power, cars, running water, communications, all governing control and help—gone. Now northern lights have started in Texas—3,000 miles farther south than where they belong. The universe won’t stop screwing with eighteen-year-old Keno Simms.

All that’s left for Keno, his family and neighbors is farming their Austin subdivision, trying to eke out a living on poor soil in the scorching heat. Keno’s still reeling from the the death of his pregnant sister. His beloved Nana is ill, Grandpa’s always brandishing weapons, and water is far too scarce. Desperate thieves are hemming them in, yet he can’t convince his uncle and other adults to take action against the threat.

Keno’s one solace is his love for Alma, who has her own secret sorrows. When he gets her pregnant, he vows to keep her alive no matter what. Yet armed marauders and nature itself collude against him at every turn, forcing him to make choices that rip at his conscience. If he can’t protect Alma and their unborn child, it will be the end of Keno’s world.

IF THE LIGHT ESCAPES is post-apocalyptic science fiction set in a near-future reality, a coming-of-age story told in the voice of a heroic teen who’s forced into manhood too soon.

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EXCERPT:
A huge sliver of moon rises to the east, lighting up the park and Alma’s face with an orange-yellow glow. We pull ourselves up and sit wrapped together on top of the monkey bars like we rule the planet, gazing into our dark subdivision, on the southern edge of our emptied-out city, in the middle of the scary*** world.

“Keno? Alma?” Bobby Carlisle calls from the street... “Y’all come home. Now! ...

The crickets and tree frogs have gone silent. I hear Bobby cock his rifle thirty yards away. …Alma and I gape at each other, and then we run.

When we reach Bobby in the street… I scan the trees behind the swings and monkey bars, half a football field away.

Before the sun zapped us, those trees would’ve seemed pretty. Tonight, they’re creepy. I’ve been too worked up about Tasha and Mom to even think about watching the tree line. As bad as things sometimes get around here, I’m still not totally used to life post-apocalypse and the never-ending vigilance.

“I don’t see—”

“Shh!” Bobby aims his rifle...

I shudder and run my eyes back and forth among the trees. With all the different-sized trunks in the deep shadows, people could be hiding in there and blending in.

“There!” Bobby hisses, pointing to the north edge of the trees. And I see—what?... Two pairs of feet... Then …metal flashes in the moonlight. Behind me, Alma gasps. I pull my Glock, flick off the safety, and aim.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Brenda Marie Smith lived off the grid for many years in a farming collective where her sons were delivered by midwives. She’s been a community activist, managed student housing co-ops, produced concerts to raise money for causes, done massive quantities of bookkeeping, and raised a small herd of teenage boys.

Brenda is attracted to stories where everyday characters transcend their own limitations to find their inner heroism. She and her husband reside in a grid-connected, solar-powered home in South Austin, Texas. They have more grown kids and grandkids than they can count.

Her first novel, Something Radiates, is a paranormal romantic thriller; If Darkness Takes Us and its sequel, If the Light Escapes, are post-apocalyptic science fiction.

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GUEST POST:
Curing Those Writing Vices
by Brenda Marie Smith


One way to stop making the same writing mistakes is to have an editor who won’t let you get away with them.

I have a plethora of writing vices, but fortunately, most of them don’t make it past the cutting room floor (an old journalism term for when we had to paste up bits of pages with actual glue). But there I go again with one of those vices, using outdated and cliché terminology, since I am, in fact, old.

I wrote my second novel, If Darkness Takes Us, in the voice of a grandmother named Bea, only a little bit older than I am. Her voice came to me naturally, because it’s basically my own, though more polite and proper. When I drafted the standalone sequel, If the Light Escapes, in the voice of Bea’s eighteen-year-old grandson Keno, I was thrilled that his fresh voice came pouring out of me so easily. However, in the process of revising the book, I let some old-fashioned terms slip in. My son, who’s in his mid-forties and has a boatload of kids ages 11-21, pointed out to me that phrases such as “blow a gasket”, “fuss over”, and “skitter down the stairs” sound more like Grandma Bea than they do a teenager, and that they might turn off younger readers.

The best cure for that particular peccadillo is to get feedback from younger readers, and I am surrounded by them between my critique partners, editors, and grown kids. But I also need to pay more attention myself, and I am working on it. Is “boatload” one of those terms? Probably so.

I have a critique partner in his early twenties who writes absolutely beautiful historical novels that immerse you in the details of a period and culture. But every once in a while, because he’s so young, he doesn’t realize that certain ways of saying things weren’t around until a later time. A character in the 1890s doesn’t crash (a 1960s term), he sleeps—that kind of thing. Luckily, my partner has me to come to his rescue, not that he needs much of it. The man writes like a dream.

Another problem I have, again due to age and also from being partly disabled and stuck at home, is that, though I have never been homophobic or sexist, I’m not always up on the latest terms related to gender. I sometimes commit unintentional micro-aggressions. God, I hate when I do that. It’s so wrong and so embarrassing. But I have non-normative and generally smarter beta readers to tell me when I mess up, thank goodness.

One of my biggest problems over the long haul has been my tendency to “write the white space” as my editor calls it. I had so many scenes where I said what was about to happen, then showed it happening, and then summed It up. According to my editor, I was using three times as many words as needed. “All you need is the scene,” he said. “If you have to write it that way in order to see it, go ahead. Just be sure to go back and cut off the beginning and end.”

It was a big revelation and very hard to train myself out of this habit. But it made for a much more readable book. I had known the book was dragging, but I didn’t know why. Most of the dragging evaporated with that one series of changes.

I do have one piece left of that quirk that I haven’t let go of, and I’m not sure I will. Often, I like to end a scene with a short, sharp remark from the narrator about what just happened. To me, it adds punch, and my editors have either seen my reasoning on the matter, or they’ve given up on correcting me. I did make the concession of using that tactic more sparingly.

In general, the way to cure those writing vices is to get lots of feedback from various kinds of people, and to avoid being defensive about mistakes. Writing is hard. We pour out our hearts, get our words slapped down, and then we get back up and do it all over again. That’s how we learn, and if we come to see it that way, we can keep improving throughout our writing careers.
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GIVEAWAY:
One randomly chosen winner, via Rafflecopter, will win a $50 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card. Good luck!

(All the Ups and Downs is not responsible for this giveaway, its entries, or the prize. Goddess Fish Promotions assumes all responsibility.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

71 comments:

  1. Looks like an interesting book.
    Thanks for the contest. 

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    1. Thank you, Siehan. I hope you get to read it. Good luck with the contest.

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  2. This book sounds really great.

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    1. Thanks for your kind words, Peg. For some reason, I can no longer comment with my author name and have to use an old handle of mine. But it's Brenda Marie Smith, commenting as Groovy Girl.

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  3. thanks this sounds like a wonderful book

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    1. Very kind of you to say, Wendy. I hope you get a chance to read it.

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  4. The cover is great!

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    1. Thank you, David. Olivia Hammerman is the award-winning cover artist. I'm very lucky to have her and her talents working on my books.

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  5. Sounds wonderful, cheers on your tour.

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  6. Cover looks awesome! Excerpt is intriguing. Great work!

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    1. Thanks, Thomas, for your encouraging words. Olivia Hammerman is the cover artist.

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  7. Thank you, Calvin. I always appreciate it when people cheer me on.

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  8. Thank you for hosting me and my book on your blog today. You have a lot of engaged readers. I'm enjoying chatting with them and hope to chat more throughout the day.

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  9. sounds like a great book, thank you for a chance to win!

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    1. Thanks for the kind words. Good luck with the drawing!

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  10. Sounds like a great read. Looking forward to reading the book.

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    1. Thanks for the kind words. I hope you enjoy the story.

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    1. Thank you, Wendy. That's exciting for me to hear. I hope you like it.

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  12. This sounds like an interesting book and I also like the cover.

    abfantom at yahoo dot com

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    1. Thanks, Ann. I'm so lucky to have Olivia Hammerman for the cover artist. The book is getting good reviews. I hope you get a chance to check it out.

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  13. It sounds like a really interesting book. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. Thank you, Diana, for your interest. Happy to share anytime.

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  14. Do you prefer writing in the cooler weather months?

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    1. Not really.. I live in Texas where we only have a few cool weather months. My office is in a remodeled garage which is very nice but it has a cement floor that freezes my feet in the winter. I pretty much write year-round, though less so during income tax season because I do income taxes for a living.

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  15. The book sounds interesting, nice book cover.

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    1. Thank you, Deb. I feel very fortunate to have Olivia Hammerman to design my book covers for this series.

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  16. Thanks again for hosting me and my book here today. A very enjoyable blog with lots of fun readers to talk with.

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  17. I have a friend who would love this book!
    Thank you for sharing it with us.

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  18. What an awesome excerpt. Looks like the perfect book for me

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  19. The excerpt is interesting. Thank you for sharing it.

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  20. Sounds like a great book! Can’t wait to read it!

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  21. Do you carry a notebook with you when you are out to jot down thoughts about the book you're writing?

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  22. Sounds like a really interesting book. I look forward to checking it out.

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  23. What was your summer like?

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  24. If you could go anywhere, where would you go/

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  25. Have you always wanted to be a writer & what helped you to decide on it?

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  26. What do you drink while you're writing?

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  27. What is your favorite thing to do in the Fall?

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  28. Do you take weekends off from writing?

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  29. What is your favorite book you've written?

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  30. What's the scariest thing that's ever happened to you?

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  31. Do you write short stories too?

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  32. What made you come up with this story? Do you plan another book along the same lines?

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  33. Are you a planner or a panster kind of writer?

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  34. What's your favourite keyboard shortcut?

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  35. What is one thing on your bucket list?

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  36. What would be your best advice for someone who wants to become a writer?

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  37. Have you ever won a giveaway before?

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  38. Do you ever experience deja vu?

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  39. Do you take time off from writing?

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  40. Where do you get your inspiration from?

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  41. sounds like a fun one

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  42. How much help have you received from other authors?

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  43. Sounds great, thanks for sharing.

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  44. Tell me about the best day of your life.

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  45. This sounds like my kind of read and I love the cover.
    Heather hgtempaddy

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  46. LAST DAY
    Thanks for the contest.

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