A solar electromagnetic pulse has fried the U.S. grid. Now, northern lights are in Texas—3,000 miles farther south than where they belong.
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Author Guest Post
A Day in My Life as a Writer
Not every writer stays up until 4:00 a.m. most days of her life, but I do. I would guess that I’m not the only one, surely, but one of the few. Then again, not every writer has the luxury of sleeping until noon. But my kids are grown, I’m partly disabled, I can set my own work schedule, and I’ve earned the right to set my inner night owl free. I come from a long proud line of them.
I wouldn’t defend this practice or recommend it as a lifestyle. It’s just what I do and have been doing since the pandemic started. Before that, I went to bed and got up an hour or two earlier.
I have this mind that gets stimulated and then will not turn off. I have to stop reading, writing, talking, or texting for hours before I can sleep. I’ve been like this since I was a teenager, but it got worse during COVID isolation, and even though things are looking up COVID-wise, I haven’t been able to shake this habit. Not that I’ve tried super-hard, but I did cut down on caffeine. These hours seem to be engrained in my bio-rhythms now.
My husband works from home. He wakes me up when he starts his lunch break at noon, and lets the cat inside so I can pet her for a while. I take some decaf coffee to my office in our remodeled garage. It’s a nice, big room. We installed a new door with two rows of windows so I see treetops from my desk. We added lots of electrical plugs and light fixtures, comfy furniture, pretty paint colors, a split-system A/C, and a big TV on the wall. There are two desks, two printers, and several computers and laptops. (I also do income taxes and bookkeeping.)
I normally spend a couple of hours checking in on Twitter and Facebook, handling email, talking with clients, doing book marketing tasks, and taking care of personal business. Then I get clean and dressed, have lunch, and tackle my writing—on most days anyhow. If I have income taxes or bookkeeping to do, I do that instead. I don’t try to write every day. I prefer to write when I have time to immerse myself in it.
I often listen to news or political podcasts while I write. Sounds kind of crazy, I know, but I need noise stimulation, and, since I’ve been writing apocalypses lately, the news has been setting the right ominous tone. Unfortunately.
Around 6:30 p.m., the awesome hubby brings me dinner, we watch an episode or two of whatever sci-fi show we’re into at the moment, and he goes to bed by 8:30, if not sooner. Then I usually write or edit some more, or work on income taxes, communicate with clients, or read for my critique partners. By 11:00, I get ready for bed, but I come back to my office and read books for a couple of hours, then I binge-watch episodes of European drama, more often than not, but I also watch other types of shows.
I hurry to bed by 4:00 a.m., just as the hubby is getting up for work. One could say we’re like ships passing in the night, but it works for us. He’s at home all day, we see each other, we chat on Facebook, and we spend good time together every evening—longer on weekends. My weekend schedule doesn’t differ much, though I might lounge around more, and I often work on different tasks, such as building my website, posting a blog, setting up an Instagram or YouTube account. Once in a while, I even help clean the house. If we visit with friends and family, it usually happens on weekend nights or Sundays.
While I write or do my other work, I also play mindless video games. I’m an antsy kind of person, and need to do more than one thing at a time to keep my mind engaged. You could call me weird, but I prefer the term unique.
At this point in my long life, I’m just thankful to have a mind that is capable of staying engaged. And I’m thrilled that I’m finally getting published after all these years.
About the Book
If the Light Escapes
by Brenda Marie Smith
Published 24 August 2021
Southern Fried Karma, LLC
Genre: Post-Apocalyptic Science Fiction
Page Count: 257
Add it to your Goodreads TBR!
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…
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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