Believe in Yourself: Share your new story with confidence. Your book’s success will come from the pinnacle energy source: YOU. You have to be excited about your book. You have to promote yourself. You are your biggest cheerleader.
As part of my interview series on the five things you need to know to become a great author, I had the pleasure of interviewing Cece Reeves.
Who is Cece Reeves? Christian, author, nurse, and mother of two are just a few words to describe this incredible rising talent in the literary world of fiction.
Cece grew up in the Bronx of New York. At the young age of 7, she was inspired by her 3rd-grade teacher to write a story, The Flying Unicorn, published for her elementary school paper. From that moment on, she enjoyed producing stories which she could share with family, classmates, and friends over the many years to follow. Writing was always something that came naturally to Cece. Some of her favorite authors as a child were C. S. Lewis (The Chronicles of Narnia), Jane Eyre (Pride and Prejudice), Carol Keene (The Nancy Drew Series), and later on, Fredrick Douglas (An American Slave), Stephen King (The Shining), and Richard Preston (The Cobra Event).
Working on her first novel, The Breaking Point, has been quite an emotional journey from start to finish. Having had her own personal experience with domestic violence and losing her cousins to a senseless murder that arose from domestic abuse, Cece felt the need to share this story so that readers could have a vivid experience of what it is like to be a domestic violence victim by seeing it through the eyes of The Breaking Point’s main character Kristin Summers.
With her soon to be released debut book, The Breaking Point, she hopes her readers will find a heartfelt story that inspires faith, healing, forgiveness, and spiritual awakening.
If you or anyone in your family is in a domestic violence relationship, please don’t wait. Get help. Below you will find links and contact information for the Domestic National hotline and shelters where people waiting to help you. You can also reach out to your community pastor, a local church, religious organization, or your local state authorities to seek guidance.
National Domestic Violence Hotline:
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you share the “backstory” about how you grew up?
Of course. It’s a pleasure to be here. I grew up in the north Bronx to Guyanese parents who had immigrated to New York in 69. I am the oldest of two girls, my younger sister also a nurse. They always believed in the value of hard work and finishing what you started. They supported us as children by letting us follow our passions and encouraging us along the way. My parents told us always to be kind. My father used to tell us, “You never know when you’ll encounter an angel.”
When you were younger, was there a book that you read that inspired you to take action or changed your life? Can you share a story?
Yes, and that book was “Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” by C.S. Lewis. In sixth grade, we had storytelling every day at school for an hour. When the teacher started to read this magical book, I was mesmerized. We would read a chapter every day. From there, my writing skills grew and grew. I had been writing stories since I was eight, but when I was in sixth grade, it became a therapeutic release for me. When I started to become bullied, writing was my escape.
As a kid, we did not have endless social media or cell phones to keep us entertained. You either played jump rope, with barbie dolls, or with your friends. My entertainment back then was music, and the short stories I created. I painted a dazzling world with interesting characters, a place I could go back to whenever I liked. I shared these stories with my family and friends at school. Whenever I got sad or bored, I would snuggle up in a chair, pulling out my stories and escape into my creations.
What was the moment or series of events that made you decide to bring your message to the greater world? Can you share a story about that?
When I was 14, my cousins and aunt were killed by my uncle, the man who was supposed to be a loving father, stepfather, and husband. The event sent shock waves through my family and struck me to the core. The trauma stayed with me well into my adulthood. How could their lives be taken so soon? To cope with it, I turned to God and writing, searching for a way to vent my frustration and anger about their death.
When I went through my own personal experience with Domestic Violence that was more emotional than it was physical, I believe it was reflecting back on my cousins’ and aunt’s death that inspired me to finally walk away from my abuser. But I also needed strength. I had felt so broken in the relationship. So, I turned to the only constant in my life that was unchanging, that had been there from the very beginning, that helped me overcome so many obstacles– God. With the strength I found in God, I came to the realization that I deserved to be treated better and that if I wanted things to change then I needed to make that change. God helped me and I walked away from it. After the relationship ended, I felt relieved but somewhat depressed. It was tough, I had just left the one man I had ever truly loved in my life despite how he treated me. But I knew that was not what God wanted for my life. I started to write and pray more, which has always been my therapy. The words flowed out of me and onto the screen of my laptop so easily. I was surprised just how easy but I realized there was so much to be said.
What impact did you hope to make when you wrote this book?
When I finished writing the first draft of the Breaking Point, I realized that not only did the story help me begin the process of healing but that the story could serve as inspiration to someone else who is suffering in a domestically violent relationship or who has just walked away from one the way I had. I believe that this story will motivate and inspire others. The book is also thrilling. So I hope to entertain as well.
Did the actual results align with your expectations? Can you explain?
I have been blessed and shocked by the amount of positive feedback that I’ve received! When you write something from the heart, you don’t know how people will react. The response has been overwhelmingly positive.
What moment let you know that your book had started a movement? Please share a story.
I knew my book had lit a fire under people once I began receiving messages. People young and old messaged me, thanking me for sharing my story. I realized how much telling them my personal experiences helps them cope, knowing that other people are dealing with the same issues at home.
What kinds of things did you hear right away from readers? What are the most frequent things you hear from readers about your book now? Are they the same? Different?
Right away, I was told that my story was uplifting and heartbreaking. The story felt “spine-tingling,” and that you were right there with the main character. Exciting, thrilling, and motivational are all words I’ve heard to describe this story. It’s been fun seeing people’s reactions!
What is the most moving or fulfilling experience you’ve had as a result of writing this book? Can you share a story?
Yes! The most fulfilling experience I’ve had so far has to be all the people God has brought on this journey to help propel this into the next level. My editors, the book designer, proofreader, social media manager, and my family are just a few people who made this happen. Every step of the way, when I thought, “How am I, a single mom, going to accomplish something I wanted to do my whole life? How will I publish my first book?” God kept sending me people who were willing and ready to help in every way they could.
Currently, a promotional book trailer is in the final editing stage. The people that God brought on board were amazingly gifted actors. We had a great cinematographer, and I found myself directing a trailer in the midst of all this.
I said to myself, “Who are you? Mother, nurse, sister, now author?” Wow. Ten years ago, I never would have imagined or had the unwavering faith in God, even to believe that I could be a published author, let alone direct a book trailer, creating a PR campaign for myself, and more. But I did it, and God deserves all the credit for it!
Have you experienced anything negative? Do you feel there are drawbacks to writing a book that starts such colossal conversation and change?
There have been some haters along the journey that have thrown a negative comment here or there. Sometimes, people fear the unknown and don’t want to see you succeed due to their own insecurities. You hear the “you can’t do this” or “that’s going to be really difficult” or “are you sure you want to do this?”
The negativity builds until you start to question yourself. The minute you start to let fear and doubt in, you lose sight of your purpose. And the moment that I found myself doubting, I shut those thoughts down. When I find myself in a challenge, I quote the beautiful scripture, 2 Timothy 1:7 “ For God, did not give us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. “. I elevated my mind and said I’m not going to let a single negative opinion derail me from the plans and goals I set out for myself. If He brought me this far, there was a reason.
Whenever you write, a bit of your heart is out there for the public to love, criticize, cherish, and hate. That’s the reality for any art you share with the world. However, I know that if my book inspires people to talk about domestic violence, then I’ve won the bigger fight to start a change in our communities.
Can you articulate why you think books in particular have the power to create movements, revolutions, and true change?
Books force you to step outside of your bubble and into the character’s world. Walking in another’s shoes teaches you empathy and life lessons that you may have never realized. We come into our own opinions, spinning our narratives. After we read a book, we’ve thought like someone else, looking through a new lens. Books change the world through understanding.
What is the one habit you believe contributed the most to you becoming a bestselling writer? (i.e. perseverance, discipline, play, craft study) Can you share a story or example?
I would say perseverance and having a positive mind. I call it “getting your mind right” and prayer. These things go hand in hand for me.
What challenge or failure did you learn the most from in your writing career? Can you share the lesson(s) that you learned?
Oh, the challenges! This is my first book. Writing, in a lot of ways, was the easy part. Getting a book to the publishing world is one of the biggest hurdles to jump through.
Many aspiring authors would love to make an impact similar to what you have done. What are the 5 things writers needs to know if they want to spark a movement with a book? (please include a story or example for each)
1. Set Yourself Apart: Everyone has a story to share. Be real. Keeping things pretty and glossing over details helps no one. Talk about the hard stuff.
2. Remove People from Your Circle Who Bring You Down: When you try something new, people will rush to you with negativity. Don’t let them drag you down. Remove yourself from their company. But also know that not all criticism is bad. You can learn how to be even better at what you do with helpful and constructive criticism. Find trustworthy people in your circle to lift you up.
3. Believe in Yourself: Share your new story with confidence. Your book’s success will come from the pinnacle energy source: YOU. You have to be excited about your book. You have to promote yourself. You are your biggest cheerleader.
4. Keep Going: Times will get tough. It’s up to you to keep the momentum going.
5. Keep Learning: One of the biggest detriments I see with new authors is “I’m done going to workshops. I’ve learned everything.” Nobody knows everything. Closing your mind off to new experiences stunts your continued indefinite growth.
The world, of course, needs progress in many areas. What movement do you hope someone (or you!) starts next? Can you explain why that is so important?
I hope that awareness grows about domestic violence. Often, the issues lie underneath the surface in a private household. It takes courage to know when to step in and help a loved one, including helping yourself.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
You can follow me at @storiesbycece on Instagram, Cece Reeves on Facebook, and my website, www.cecereeves.com, to get new details on my book.
Thank you so much for these insights. It was a true pleasure to do this with you.
Thank you for inviting me! It’s been a great time.