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Tuesday, August 31, 2021

If the Light Escapes by Brenda Marie Smith - Book Tour - Guest Post - Giveaway - Enter Daily!

Hello, lovelies!!  It gives me great pleasure today to host Brenda Marie Smith and her new book, “If the Light Escapes,” here on FAB!!  For other stops on her Goddess Fish Promotions Book Tour, please click on the banner above or any of the images in this post.

Be sure to make it to the end of this post to enter to win a $50 Amazon or Barnes and Noble Gift Card!!!  Also, come back daily to interact with Brenda and to increase your chances of winning!!

Thanks for stopping by!!  Wishing you all lots of luck in this fabulous giveaway!!

If the Light Escapes

by Brenda Marie Smith


GENRE:  Sci-Fi (Post-Apocalyptic)



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.




“These northern lights bug the crap out of me,” I tell Alma. “What are they doing here? They’re supposed to be tied to magnetic poles. I saw this show a couple years ago that said the north pole was drifting north, not south. So how did they end up here? The poles can’t drift around randomly. That’s impossible.”

“I don’t know, baby. They worry me, too, but we need to be quiet.”

“They make me feel like something bad is gonna happen. What do you call that? Fore-something.”


“That’s it. I’ll be quiet, now, and just stew in my foreboding.”

“Silly.” Alma reaches up and ruffles my hair.

When we patrol and we can’t cuddle on account of guns, Alma and I could talk all night. It’s not a good idea for us to talk much when we’re patrolling, though. We get all involved and forget to listen for anyone who might be sneaking around, hunting for food or water, or worse: getting ready to kill us for it.

We walk along with our rifles in the night. It’s cool out here, but not cold…

Alma stops and raises her gun.

“Hear that?” she whispers.

“No, what?” I’ve got my gun up, too, and I’m pivoting around, searching. I want to hide Alma, but she would never let me.

“Over there.” She points at the corner by the park. And I hear a jangly noise, like car keys. No one drives cars now, though…



 Critique Groups are Awesome, If You Have the Right One

My first critique group formed from students in an online fiction class we were taking at UCLA online. We connected by email, did writing exercises, and shared the results. It was helpful at first. But then one of the members started yelling at us in all caps, saying that things we wrote were stupid. We dissolved pretty quickly after that. We were new writers. We were learning. You can’t grow in an that kind of environment.

After a novel-writing class at UCLA, four of us started a group to continue our work together, and it lasted for a few years until some of us had to quit writing for a while to deal with other aspects of our lives. The difference in this group and the first one was the respect we had for each other, and we went out of our way to be kind when we pointed out story problems. I learned so much from these writers, and I still think of them fondly. Their unique and powerful stories have stayed with me ever since.

My current writing group is fantastic. There were three of us, all in Austin, Texas, and we got together in 2012. One person moved away and didn’t want to meet online, but we got another member soon after. He was nineteen at the time (I think it was 2014). The two of us in Austin have never met him in person, but we meet with online video chats, we trade pages regularly, and we keep an open chat where we give each other advice and commiserate about our trials and tribulations.

We each have our strengths and weaknesses, and they complement one another nicely. We do several reads of each of our books, but most of the time we break them into pieces and read several chapters at a time. We mark up the manuscripts and leave lots of comments, and we usually write a summation in advance of our meetings. That way, in our meetings, we can focus on the bigger issues and possible solutions one book at a time.

We don’t have a regular meeting schedule; we call meetings when we need them. We used to meet more frequently, but now it’s six to eight times per year. We’re all too busy writing to meet more often, and we’ve improved so much that we can get further on our own now. Since we chat online so much, it works really well.

I’ve heard of critique groups that meet once per week, bring a few pages a piece to the meetings, then read and critique them there. The groups can be fairly large, so no one gets much attention. If it works for them, that’s great, but it wouldn’t work for me. Words and pages can be beautifully written, but if they don’t serve the story as a whole, you don’t need them. I want to see more of the story before I can evaluate whether or not different passages are working.

I honestly believe I could never have become a published author without these two particular critique partners. They were published before I was, they are mega-talented and accomplished, and they are fixing to be famous any day. They make me stick to the narrative through-line, they insist I write to suit the genre, and they point out issues and problems I never would’ve caught on my own. They also encourage me and cheer me on.

All three of us also have other people we trade critiques with on the side. It helps sometimes to get fresh perspectives. More and more often, we have professional editors from our publishers to work with. But before we get books accepted for publication, we have each other, and I couldn’t ask for better than that.

 The most critical ingredient to the success of our critique group: We are compatible, supportive friends who go the extra mile for one another, first, last, and always.



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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Brenda Marie Smith will be awarding a $50 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

**This post contains affiliate links and if clicked and a purchase is made, I may receive a small commission to help support this blog.  This does not cost you anything, it just helps pay for all those awesome giveaways on here**

This contest is sponsored by a third party. Fabulous and Brunette is a registered host of Goddess Fish Promotions.  Prizes are given away by the sponsors and not Fabulous and Brunette. The featured author and Goddess Fish Promotions are solely responsible for the giveaway prize.


  1. What encouraged you to start writing?

    1. Thank you for the question, Kimberly. I've wanted to write novels since I was six years old, but never got the chance to actually do it until after my kids were grown. After studying writing at UCLA and pouring my heart into my first novel, Something Radiates, but not finishing the revisions, I was about to give up. But a friend encouraged me to pick it up again, and my new critique group helped me get the book in shape. They cheered me on and kept me going. I'm so glad that they did.

  2. It's lovely to be back at Fabulous and Brunette. Thank you so much for hosting me and my book. I look forward to chatting with you and your readers.

  3. I want to give some love to these amazing critique partners of mine. Laura Creedle is the author of THE LOVE LETTERS OF ABELARD AND LILY, winner of the Best YA Novel 2017 Award from the Writers' League of Texas. Aden Polydoros is author of THE CITY BEAUTIFUL, coming out October 5th, a queer Jewish historical fantasy thriller that's getting a huge amount of advance buzz. He's fixing to be famous any minute.

  4. Great post! I agree wholeheartedly that finding the right critique group is key. I, too, met my first group through a UCLA extension class :D

    1. Thank you, Peggy. It's great to know that we have that in common. Those UCLA Writers' Program instructors are stellar and really inspired us to get started writing novels.

  5. Thanks again for hosting me today. You have a fun blog, and I've enjoyed being here.