Title: A Sister’s Secret (The Reeve’s Sisters)
Genre: African American/Women’s Fiction/Romance
Synopsis: In the wake of a major loss, five sisters agree to meet on the regular to keep it real. But secrets they never saw coming will challenge them and everything they counted on . . .
Savvy and decisive, Burgundy Reeves feels blessed with a good husband and a successful career. She is the sister everyone envies. Since her beloved mother’s death, she’s given troubled youngest sister, Elyse, a stable home when she needs it most. And she’s taken it on herself to keep her contentious siblings together. Under her guidance, they all meet bi-monthly on “Sister Day,” a time when they get together to bond, to receive a challenging “assignment”, and to cope with a range of things—including their many differences . . .
Among the sisters’ most challenging assignments: tell the truth. But truthfulness leads to an unveiling of secrets that may destroy lives. Burgundy is struggling to show Coco the real deal about her unreliable baby daddy. If she and level-headed Drucilla can also convince hard-headed eldest sister Alita to give Coco more love than tough talk, that might heal a longtime rift. But it’s teenage Elyse’s truth that will shatter Burgundy’s perfect world beyond repair. And putting the pieces back together could make the sisters stronger together than ever—or pull them apart for good.
Cydney Rax, Author
CH: Today’s Guest Author is Cydney Rax. She said, “It’s amazing how a love for reading about characters that talk and look like me caused me to want to be an author.” Welcome to my blog, Cydney.
CH: Can you give us a brief synopsis of the book?
CR: A Sister’s Secret is about women and men, the challenges of love, the tough decisions, family secrets, and the power of upholding each other, no matter what we go through.
CH: After a major loss, five sisters agree to meet on a regular basis to keep things on tract. How did you come up with the premise for this book?
CR: Truthfully, a few years ago, an idea about five sisters came to my mind. And the very unique aspect of the story was the fact that they had this thing called “Sister Day.” That’s the basic premise. I started writing down what I was feeling on the inside about all the ladies. I’d work on the story here and there. And one main thing that stood out for me, were all of the characters. Although, I ended up working on other projects during and after this story came to me, I found myself going back to it. I could not abandon it. It’s a basic, yet, very involved family story filled with characters that I wanted to explore.
CH: With that in mind and the fact that the sisters are all ages, was it hard creating believable situations and issues or did you take them from real life and elaborate?
CR: In the majority of novels, I love to introduce characters from a wide age range—from babies, toddlers, and kids, to young folks, to the elderly. And it wasn’t super hard. I just really think about my characters and try to tune into who they are and what they’re about. They reveal themselves to me, so to speak, as I work on the novels. And for certain characters, I do have to conduct some research to try and be realistic in terms of their age group. People have reviewed A Sister’s Secret and said that it has realistic situations and that was a happy surprise, because I wasn’t even thinking along those terms while writing.
CH: How did you come up with the premise for this series?
CR: A couple of years ago, I presented maybe 150 pages of the book to my editor and a few weeks later Kensington Publishing Corporation accepted the novel, but wanted a series. I was like “Whoa. Seriously?” LOL.
And this would be my second series ever and writing them are certainly challenging. As an author. you have to come up with subplots and enough material to fill three books. But it gradually came together. I just write and write and eventually the plot twists reveal themselves and I can see the story in its entirety within my creative mind. I’ll outline and just fill in the blanks. I work the story and work the story and tighten it up and it becomes so very real to me. It’s an amazing process. These characters absolutely seem as though they could exist in real life.
CH: When you wrote the first book, did you know that it would be a series then?
CR: Lord, no. I hadn’t even finished the whole book, but my publisher made an offer based on that draft. And that’s when a writer has to expand her mind and think of all the possible things that could develop from the basic storyline. And it definitely happened with The Reeves Sisters Series. I am so excited about these books.
CH: Did you run into any challenges while writing this book?
CR: The biggest challenge is deciding which sisters to focus on the most while writing a book about multiple major characters. It was tough to find the balance. And I actually overwrote the book, but my editor edited it a lot and what you see when you read it is the basic foundation for the initial storyline.
CH: Did you have to do any special research to write this book?
CR: Yes. I do all kinds of research—almost obsessively at times. I’ll interview people who are experts in their field: police officers, firemen, etc. And I can Google the hell out of a subject. I want to build and build a scene or a character’s situation and will use everything I can to make it all believable or relatable.
CH: Since you write with plenty of emotion and controversy, what is different and exciting that you bring to your readers through your writing style?
CR: Thank you for saying that. I definitely enjoy and will purposely write about flawed characters that many readers won’t necessarily like. And to write about normal, imperfect beings is psychologically intriguing for me. For e.g., I think I bring up aspects or unpleasant things about real humanity that is difficult to accept (cheating partners for example). And reading about flawed people may feel uncomfortable for reader. Sometimes, the characters, situations and realness hits too close to home. (I’m sorry! LOL) I strive to show the good, the bad, the ugly, or the truth about life. Truth hurts. But at the same time, I love to try and bring humor to my characters in order to give the story the balance that it needs. I just want readers to get involved in the storyline and walk away remembering the story or the characters. If the reader feels something, ANYTHING, I’ve done my job. If you get angry, that’s fine. If you feel sad or feel what my characters go through, I’ve nailed it.
CH: In this book with five sisters, which character was hardest to develop?
CR: The most haunting character is Elyse Reeves the nineteen year old female of the family. In Book 1, she doesn’t talk a lot. She’s a mystery, yet she stands out. She goes through a lot. I don’t want to give it away, but fans of Book 1 should check out Book 2, A Sister’s Survival, which drops on Nov. 27, 2018. I cannot WAIT! I can actually hear Elyse’s voice in my head. It’s kind of a light voice, as opposed to a deep voice. It’s a stubborn voice, yet a powerful one.
CH: Is there a message in your novel that you want the readers to grasp?
CR: Families are flawed. We don’t always see eye-to-eye or get along all the time, but they are still family and we love and support one another to the best of our abilities. On the other hand, we know that all families stay hush-hush about their deep, dark secrets. This book will cause all of us to think about our own situations and how we deal with them (or don’t).
CH: What kind of feedback are you getting from readers of this book?
CR: The reviews are mostly positive. People are saying it’s a quick read, and a page-turner with lots of drama. They think it’s my best book. They look forward to reading the rest of the series. Those that have a lot of sisters say they can relate to the book and that in real life they may also have their own “Sister Day.”
But I’ve also noticed that many white people have read the book. And some could not get into it. The culture or the language of the characters turned them off. I found that very interesting. I feel that it’s okay to read or explore a storyline or characters that you aren’t normally accustomed to reading. I think and encourage people to step out and be open to expanding their world. Don’t be so stuck on the same old authors and genres and predictable boy gets girl storylines. Check me out and learn from my stories. Learn something. Give it a chance. I must also say that there are some non-black readers, who read it and are cool with it. They get it. They enjoyed A Sister’s Secret. They were impressed or impacted.
CH: Where do you get your inspiration and ideas from when you write?
CR: Ideas and inspiration come from everywhere. I listen to people’s conversations and get ideas for a story. I talk to men and women and they tell me things about what’s happening in their world. I can read a magazine article or a headline from today’s news and that may spur different ideas. But most of the time, I’ll just be living life and then, these crazy ideas pop in my head. It starts with a “What If.” I may wonder about a character, who is in a certain challenging situation. And I’ll start to fill in the blanks and think about the character and what is special or unique about her world. Then, as I’m writing the story, the ideas can come in dreams, or they just pop into my head as I’m going about my day. Sometimes, the crazy, terrible things that happen in people’s lives make me want to explore those ideas. My biggest passion is men and women and what makes them do what they do, when it comes to romantic relationships.
CH: You’ve been writing for quite some time now, can you tell us a little about your writing journey?
CR: My writing journey was amazing, almost like a Cinderella tale. When I was growing up a young girl in Detroit, I was very shy and self-conscious. I lacked self-esteem and wanted to be invisible. Imagine feeling like you have no talent and no purpose for being on the earth? Well, I went through so much pain in my twenties and thirties, that by the time I got through it all, I began to write. I found out I had a voice. And in the late 1980’s I read a Terry McMillan book. And a light came on inside of me. I KNEW that’s what I wanted to do. For the first time ever, I found out my purpose and reason for being born. So, I began to pray and pursue this dream of being a published writer. I’d go to the library and study the publishing industry, learn how to format a manuscript, and write a query letter. I’d go to bookstores and say out loud, “One day my books are going to be on these shelves.” After I wrote my first manuscript, My Daughter’s Boyfriend, it was time to step out in faith and believe that the Lord would make my dream, the greatest desire I ever had in my life, come true.
One thing led to another, as I began to meet people in the publishing industry (e.g., Carl Weber, Trisha Thomas and dozens of other writers). I secured a literary agent in spring of 2001 and got a five-figure book deal from Random House about a year later. I was sooo happy and it’s been a joy ever since. I want to pinch myself all the time, because it is surreal to have a dream and no idea how to achieve it, but years later, you are doing the thing that you used to fantasize about. I’m thankful to God, to the readers, the bookstores, the book clubs, the libraries, and author promoters, such as yourself.
CH: Thank so much. For you, what is the hardest part of writing a book?
CR: One of the hardest parts is trying to say what needs to be said in as few words as possible. I can be very wordy. My characters talk A LOT. I like to include descriptions to make my stories seem real. And trying to edit myself, and eliminate scenes and dialogue and giving the reader just enough info to keep them intrigued is always a challenge. But the editors help me to achieve that goal.
CH: What can we expect next from you?
CR: Right now, we have Book 2, A Sister’s Survival, scheduled for release this fall on November 27. Then there will be the finale of the Reeves Sisters’ series coming out next fall. I will withhold the title for now, but it has “Sister” in it. After that there are several potential projects. Many ideas come to me all the time for possible novels. But I do want to write a book for the culture, something that involves Black Lives Matter that asks the tough questions about race and why we are the way we are when it comes to viewing and interacting with other nationalities. And I want to do some books for the youth market, too—something really creative and different and probably controversial. I thrive on the controversy. You have to believe in what you write and be courageous and get people thinking about certain things that go on in society and/or relationships. I like to entertain, but I want to do more than that with my works.
CH: How to Find Cydney Rax:
CH: Can you tell my audience where this book is sold?
CR: You will find it at all the online bookstores, such as Barnes and Noble, Books A Million, and Amazon. Also, if you want to check my books out from your library, please visit WorldCat.org. It lists libraries world-wide and I love it when people check my books out, ebooks, or audiobooks.
CH: Any closing remarks?
CR: We are living in interesting and scary times these days. We must chronicle this period of history by writing about the things that are going on. We must create films or write songs that depict how people cope with this new and ever changing world. Writers are chroniclers of history, so to speak, and for me to be a part of it, to write about cultural events or men, women, and relationships, is very exciting. It’s very important.
Cheryl, thank you for having me on your blog to share my thoughts with your audience.
CH: Thank you so much, Cydney Rax, for taking time out of your very busy writing schedule to join me and my blog followers. It has been a real pleasure discussing your book with my audience. And readers, if you’re like me and would enjoy this book. I suggest you pick up a copy at your earliest convenience.
Note: Photos/Clip art are compliments of the Internet, Cydney Rax and Cheryl Holloway.
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