I Know What It’s Like to be Rescued From Water

By The Rax Files One Comment

Some things you never forget. It was a hot summer day in Michigan. A slew of family members, including uncles and cousins, decided to spend the day at the lake. I was four years old. My brother Michael was around 6, and the youngest daughter, Adrienne, was 3. From what I can recall, my parents and the rest of the kin hung out on the beach. Then my Uncle Mike suggested we all go for a boat ride. My dad was the one that stayed behind. At first being in the boat was fun. It was fast, we were moving. But then the movement stopped. My Uncle said the boat was sinking and everyone needed to stand up. I can still remember this. Four years old; one minute you’re in a big boat, the next minute you’re tossed into a lake. I remember going under, hearing sounds that resembled the beating of a drum, then coming up for air and screaming “Help”. My eyes were closed. I was scared. I couldn’t swim. But I had on an orange life preserver. It seemed we were in the water for so long, but after a while an elderly white couple rescued us. I was cold and shivering but glad to be out of the water. My mother lost her shoes, glasses and purse; maybe it sunk to the bottom of the lake. Everything was okay until Mom realized someone was missing. “Where’s Adrienne?” My 3-year-old sister was the only one we couldn’t find. Mom was frantic. My brother last saw her under the boat; apparently when the boat turned over, there was space enough to breath and talk. My brother was with her until he couldn’t hold on any longer and he told her, “See you later.”

We returned to the beach, wet and wild-looking, so funny looking that my father started laughing at us. His laughter turned to tears once Mom told him we couldn’t find his daughter. I can barely remember what happened immediately after that, but at some point, my uncle and some others turned over his capsized boat and that’s where they found Adrienne, unconsious but alive. She was rushed to the hospital and her stomach was pumped of the water.

Once we survived that boat accident, our family started attending the neighborhood baptist church. I never did learn to swim; the fear of the water stole that from me. And every now and then I think of that incident, and can still hear the sound of the drum beats.

The children that survived Hurricane Katrina won’t ever forget their ordeal either. And even though I can’t swim, and I’m not too crazy about boats, I am happy that the Lord saved me that day. And you can best believe the survivors will be happy they were saved too.

What’s It Like at the Houston Astrodome

By The Rax Files 7 Comments

I’ll be honest. Life feels very different right now. It feels different when you drive by the Houston Astrodome five days a week to go to work. And inside your mind you are well aware that they are there. The evacuees. The terrified mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers. Kids, so many kids, that fled for their lives from the effects of a hurricane that no one will soon forget. And so…your heart is torn. And you feel numb. And you want to see for yourself. And you say your prayers. And you drive down South Main and make a right turn on McNee street. You slowly drive through the gates of the great Reliant Park, the complex that houses Reliant Stadium (where the Texans play football), Reliant Arena, Reliant Center, and the now famous shelter, the Astrodome. You walk in and you shiver. It looks just like it does on CNN. Yet it doesn’t. It feels more real. You smell the water. The after effects of that water that changed so many lives. You see the people. So many black folks. Some walk as if their mind is so far away. You wonder what they are thinking. You want to be friendly and smile, but you don’t want to offend anyone. You see so many men. They walk with a swagger; they strut in a way that lets you know they don’t want to be there. They are proud. They are strong. They don’t want to believe they are displaced, away from their home, maybe disconnected from their families. You can hear it in their voices, you can see it in their eyes. They are hurt. They are mad. Breakfast is being served. Twinkies. Cold cereal. Granola bars. Donuts. Where are the grits? The sausage? I’m from Louisiana. I can’t eat this stuff. You nod and laugh. You don’t blame them for wanting a hot meal. But they are still thankful, polite. Some want coffee, but there’s none to be had. I’m not sure why. The people try to keep up their spirits. If you ask their name, their eyes enlarge, as if they’re shocked anyone would care enough to want to know them. Some don’t want to talk; they look down, and mumble. But others, they give you a smile, they’ll ask how it is to live in Houston. They’ll make small talk, but then they move on. To where, I don’t know. There are many TV monitors structured throughout the Dome. MTV, the news, all kinds of channels. Some folks are trying to sleep in a facility where the lights never go out. So you see crumpled bodies lying in cots with blankets covering their head. You see a kid now and then (on the 4th floor), but you know most of the kiddies are on the ground level. Just like on TV. You want to tell people to have a nice day, but that sounds so stupid. So meaningless. And you pray for these people. That they won’t be there in the Dome for long. You pray that their families will be found. You pray that the peoples’ lives will be restored. You pray that they will smile again with genuine joy. You pray this nightmare will soon be over. Because life feels so very different right now.

I’ve Been Tagged…and I’ve tagged Tayari, Shelia, Cherlyn, LadyLee and Angela Henry

By The Rax Files 10 Comments

Shelley Halima tagged me to see what 10 songs I’ve been listening to. As you can see, Jackson songs rate high in my life. They just make me want to shake my butt and I CANNOT dance at all. My steps rate kinda like the Peanuts gang. ROFL. Also love listening to the Mike Jones crew which is SOOO hot right now in Houston. And I started looking at the Waiting to Exhale movie, which made me want to listen to the soundtrack.

So these are the specific songs I’ve been listening to:
1. I Want You Back – The Jackson 5
2. ABC – The Jackson 5
3. The Love You Save – Jackson 5
4. Waiting to Exhale (Shoop Shoop) – Whitney Houston
5. Gotta Be – Jagged Edge
6. Butterflies – Michael Jackson
7. Sittin’ Sidewayz – Paul Wall
8. Sugar Daddy – Jackson 5
9. Count On Me – Whitney Houston and Cece Winans
10. Truth – Janet Jackson (from the All For You CD)
7:14 AM

CydneyR said…
Oops, I’m supposed to tag some folks and they should post their lists too.
Okay how about:

Tayari Jones
Shelia Goss
Angela Henry
Cherlyn Michaels

The Good Thing About Bad Reviews

By The Rax Files 13 Comments

I surf the Net a lot and from time to time I come across negative reviews of My Daughter’s Boyfriend, a novel which seems to have irked countless numbers of people for many reasons. I really do not read entire reviews anymore (only the good reviews), but here is a link that someone took the time to post. It’s an entire blog about my little book.


Now, everyone is going to have a different opinion, but one thing about bad reviews is this:

Sometimes, especially when people are very angry in their reviews, well, it only makes others curious and want to know what’s going on with that book. An example is Confessions of a Video Vixen. So much anger. So many comments. Scathing reviews. And tons of controversy = book sales. People either shy away from the book or they want to see for themselves what’s going on. So, in my opinion, that’s a good thing. I want as many people as possible to know about My Daughter’s Boyfriend by Cydney Rax. Don’t let others scare you out of reading a book for yourself. Form your own opinion.

Also, it cracks me up when people say, “Don’t buy this book.” Well, all that does is make people buy it. Why? Because they get curious! Why shouldn’t I buy it? What’s in that book that I’m not supposed to see?… And folks still end up getting the book. It’s the equivalent of telling someone not to do something, and that’s the very thing that they’re going to do. So thanks, seriously, to all the people that post the negative reviews. It can have positive results. And I do appreciate anyone that has heard of my book and read it anyway. I love it when people check the book out from the library. A library book is still a sold book. And when you tell someone to check a book out from the library, it’s still an endorsement, right? And the more people that read your book and tell others about it, the more people become aware of you and your book. Not a bad thing.

Soooo, all of this stuff is just part of being an author. I read my contemporaries Amazon and BN.com reviews and so far no one is exempt from negative comments. I mean the million sellers get them. The mainstream, self-pubbed, literary folks, street fic writers, romance writers, all of us. But us authors must keep on keeping on. Everyone will not get what you do, haven’t been where you been, or don’t understand what you were striving to do with your story at the time you wrote it. It’s okay. Write the kind of book you want, the book that makes you feel passionate, and surely there will be folks out there who do enjoy and appreciate what you do. They will tell you the total opposite of what others have said. They will ask when the next book is coming out. They will make you feel good inside with their kind words. And this, my friends, makes everything we endure as an author, worth the journey.

Peace out.

Cydney Rax
Author of that controversial book called MY DAUGHTER’S BOYFRIEND. Get the book and see for yourself what everyone is talking about.

P.S. Other books that get scathing reviews, that people tend to read just because of the reviews are:

The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger
The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd

And one of my favorites
High Maintenance by Jennifer Belle

People That Give Themselves Credit for Stolen Book Reviews

By The Rax Files 7 Comments

Okay, check this out. Today I went on the BN.com website to read reviews of The Interruption of Everything. And I started reading the below review and it sounded strangely familiar.

Judith Kaiser, booklover from Santa Barbara, CA, August 12, 2005,
Quick, Fun Read! – Recommended B&N.com Pick!
A steamroller of a novel, The Interruption of Everything builds slowly but picks up the action and unveils an intensifying plot chapter after chapter. The action is so subtle, it’s scary, so surprising yet relatable, as it touches on women’s issues, family, and friendships. And there are so many characters that do things you’ve done, that say what you think, and feel the way you feel. What’s amazing about this book is how understated it appears — the calm within the chaos — that you’ll eagerly watch how Marilyn handles the pressures of a life that is spinning out of control. A quick, enjoyable read!
Also recommended: The Losers Club: Complete Restored Edition by Richard Perez, A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby

Lo and behold I realized, hey, this is the review I wrote of the Interruption of Everything back in mid-April. It was and still is posted on the BN.com website.

Cydney Rax (rmn1994@excite.com), author/reviewer, April 20, 2005,
Loved it!
The highly anticipated Interruption of Everything is everything you hope the novel would be and more. We’re invited to look inside the busy world of Marilyn Grimes, a middle-aged woman who lives with her husband Leon in Oakland Hills, California. She tries to be patient with her nosey mother-in-law Arthurine, someone who also lives in their home along with her dog Snuffy, an animal that Marilyn doesn’t particularly like. Her marriage isn’t exactly what it used to be and it isn’t hard to entertain second thoughts about whether the relationship is worth the effort. In addition to working part-time in a crafts store, Marilyn is involved in the lives of her family, a mother who’s acting a bit bizarre and is experiencing the issues that go along with aging and health. Marilyn’s three kids are in college and are making important decisions for themselves. And her mother Lovey, adopted sister Joy plus her two kids, are other family members with pressing matters that require attention. And Marilyn can’t help herself – she is too concerned about them to not be bothered, but is it okay to pull yourself away from everyone else’s worries and start thinking about what you want to do with your own bored and lonely existence? A steamroller of a novel, The Interruption of Everything builds slowly but picks up the action and unveils an intensifying plot chapter after chapter. The action is so subtle, it’s scary, so surprising yet relatable, as it touches on women, family, and friendship. And there are so many characters that do things you’ve done, that say what you think, and feel the way you feel. What’s amazing about this book is how understated it appears — the calm within the chaos — that you’ll eagerly watch how Marilyn handles the pressures of a life that is spinning out of control. A richly drawn story filled with thought-provoking scenes, the character Marilyn makes you laugh at things you know you shouldn’t laugh at, but what the heck, it’s funny, and it’s real, and it’s true. So go ahead and laugh. Embrace the warmth and sensitivity of the Interruption of Everything, a treasure of a novel that is highly recommended.

I just don’t understand this. Did Judith feel EXACTLY like I did about the book? LOL. Is she lazy? 🙂 And see, this has happened to me before. Years ago I posted a review of Milk In My Coffee by Eric Dickey on Amazon.com. Well, I visited another website and lo and behold, some chick changed a few words around of my review, posted it on that site, and gave herself credit. I wrote the guy that manages the site and he killed her review career quick, fast, and in a hurry. LOL. I just wonder why people cannot write their own genuine thoughts about a book they’ve read as opposed to taking someone else’s words.

Now mind you there are definitely way more important things going on in the world than this, but still — my Sunday was kinda quiet and boring ’til I came across Judith’s review.

P.S. BN.com has received a nice little notice from me about the matter. We shall see what happens next.

The Remedy for Infatuations with Famous Authors

By The Rax Files 17 Comments

Hmmm, gotta be careful with this post. I recently returned from a national literary event. Down South. Lots of well-known authors. Terrific hotel, tasty meals, tons of readers, etc. Loved the conference. Very well done, probably one of the best in the country. Everytime I go somewhere I want to return home making sure I learned something. And boy did I learn. Some lessons are hard ones. They are painful, difficult to digest, nevertheless those lessons turn out to be needed, and good for me.

No more being overly impressed with famous authors. I came across some of the country’s finest writers. And that is always a thrill, right? But no matter what you hear about someone, once you encounter him or her personally, and you have a not-so-thrilling experience, from that point on, you will remember him for what he did to you, how he treated you, what he said, and certainly not from what everyone else says. So,with this particular author, I’ve learned this — if you are at a literary event, and a reader comes up to you with their book asking you to sign it, lay off the excuses, don’t make those ‘i’m busy right now’ faces, and take the 10 seconds it requires to sign your name and be on about your business. Now, I am new at this stuff (author stuff, that is), and from what I understand, if you go to a literary event, you should expect to see readers, and if readers are there, guess what? They are probably going to request a photo, or autograph, or something. And unfortunately, even if you ain’t in the mood, you have to acquiese. You gotta. When people encounter famous folk, whether or not the experience is good or bad, folks gonna tell others about it. If you mess up, you’ve MESSED UP. And that reader will never buy your books, read your books, endorse your books, recommend your books ever ever ever again. Prevent this vicious cycle by smiling for a photo, signing your name, promoting good will. I am 100 percent unimpressed by authors who go out of their way to do something nice for other famous people. That means nada. Impress me by doing something nice for someone that doesn’t have a name. Do something for someone that isn’t in a position to do something for you. Do something nice, and don’t tell anyone you’ve done it. Keep it a secret. Otherwise the motives will be questioned and that ruins everything.

I also learned that fame is something people have only in very small circles. So they might seem huge in the black literary world, but send their butts to China and see if anyone cares or knows who they are. If you are unable to walk through an airport because EVERYONE you encounter is trying to stop you, then you are famous. If you can walk through an airport and some people don’t recognize you, then you ain’t that famous. Get over yourself. Stop tripping just coz you demand that your publisher get you a limo so you can go to the airport and get dropped back off at your crib. We gotta stop thinking we’re soooo important because we wrote a book. LOL.

I enjoyed Terry McMillan this weekend because as famous as she is, she said she doesn’t go around thinking, “I’m a bestselling author” blah, blah, blah. I love that she thinks that way. That she learns to balance things. Not that she’s perfect, but she understands life is more than just how many books are being sold, and how many bestseller lists you’ve managed to crack.

I also learned that putting authors on a pedestal is a mistake, because once you have a bad encounter with one of them, you never look at that person the same. The bright light you used to see becomes a little bit dim. You put their books on the bottom of your reading pile, or you sell those suckers on half.com for 50 cents, just to unload them. Maybe we shouldn’t be in awe of people the way we do; if we didn’t the lessons we end up learning wouldn’t be so hard, painful, difficult to digest, even if the lessons are needed.

ALSO, for the record, I am referring to a guy author that I encountered…

When Sunday used to be Sunday

By The Rax Files One Comment

I’ve noticed something lately.
Disturbing trends that have impacted our lives, our country, probably within the past five to ten years.
Remember when Sunday used to be special. It was the Holy Day. It was so different that you knew it was Sunday because it felt different, it looked different, it was one day set aside for the Lord.
Years ago the only thing we did on Sunday was go to church. There was Sunday School, eleven o’clock service, then probably a one o’clock, four o’clock, then an evening service. We didn’t play cards, didn’t listen to secular music. In Toronto, malls would be shut down, and no liquor sold (I’m not sure if that’s still true for Toronto but it isn’t true in Houston).
People would dress up to go to church. Church would come first.
Fast forward to now. Where in American can anyone attend Sunday School? Now people go to church on Saturday nights or Wednesday nights? Why? Because churches have decided to work around the lives of the people, instead of the people rearranging their lives for the Lord. It’s like God now serves us; we don’t serve him anymore, at least not the way that he has declared. Recently I heard someone say if you tried to keep people in church past two hours, or all days like we used to do in the past, the preacher may find himself by himself. Even the pastor’s wife might not be there. Why? We got thangs to do. We gotta wash our car; get our hair and nails done. Mow the lawn. Eat a fancy dinner. Go to a baby shower. Ride out to the beach and catch some rays of the sun. We have to do anything and everything that has NOTHING to do with God. It’s scary. It’s like we’ve fallen asleep. These little selfish habits have slipped upon us so subtly that we barely notice how bad things have become. And I am in the guilty party. I am, I am. I can’t believe it sometimes. It’s a me-me-me generation. Everything is about what we got to do. And I wonder what God thinks about all of this. Actually, I’m SCARED to know what he thinks.

Am I the only one who has noticed these things? Are we all asleep? Are there any faithful few remaining that really know how to remember the Sabbath to keep it holy. Or does holy have a new definition now that we’re in a new millenium?