Can You Keep A Secret

Well, can you keep a secret?  Children’s author, N. Joy, certainly can-and unfortunately she did.  Because of that secret she kept, N. Joy’s children’s book, The Secret Olivia Told Me, which received the American Library Association Coretta Scott King Honor, is turning out to be both a gift and a curse for this author.

Two years ago when N. Joy learned the children’s picture book she’d written was awarded this prestigious honor, she saw this as nothing less than complete favor from God.  It was during her celebratory praises that she had a revelation.  It was then when the true meaning of the book she wrote over sixteen years ago, but wasn’t published until fourteen years later, came back to mind.

In the summer of 1986 after her freshmen year of high school, N. Joy’s younger next door neighbor told her a secret.  Like the narrator in The Secret Olivia Told Me, N. Joy promised she would not tell. And she didn’t.  It haunts her to this day wondering what might have happened had she told the secret her neighbor had shared with her as they sat out on the porch that summer evening.  Her neighbor had gone to visit a friend from her old neighborhood and she’d taken along a new friend to join her.  Later that week, in a casual conversation, the friend shared with N. Joy a startling secret.  She’d told N. Joy that over that weekend, the girl’s of whom they’d gone to visit step-father convinced them to engage in their first sexual experience with him, so when they found a “real” boyfriend they would already know how to do it.

In a child-like whisper, which is what she was; a child, the friend swore N. Joy to secrecy.  N. Joy never told; not even three years later when she saw the story on the news and read the news headline on August 12, 1989 that a Columbus, Ohio COTA bus driver named Ronald E. Waugh had plead guilty to raping 14 children, ages 3-15.  At first N. Joy thought maybe it was a coincidence, but then they began to tell the story of how the perpetrator used his stepdaughter to lure some of the victims over.  The stepdaughter gave a list of names to investigators of girls she knew her stepfather had raped.  My neighbor and her friend were on that list, but when they were questioned by authorities, they denied it; they didn’t tell. 

“I don’t know why I didn’t tell the secret,” N. Joy states.  “I don’t know how many children may not have had to endure the rapes had I told.”  Eventually someone did tell though.  Someone had picked up the phone and telephoned in a tip to a child abuse hot line.  But it wasn’t N. Joy.  “To this day I’m baffled at my own actions.  When ever I’d hear of a child being raped, I could never understand why they just didn’t tell, but I never once looked back to my own situation.  I can’t justify why I kept the secret.  I mean, I could see if I was in elementary school, but I was in high school and I still kept the secret.”  Yes, The Secret Olivia Told Me has pretty pictures, but the true story behind the book isn’t pretty at all.  What N. Joy is hoping is that the questions she poses to the readers at the end of the book regarding keeping secrets(what’s a good secret, what’s a bad secret, etc…) will provoke and give someone the courage to tell.  So even though the little rhymes are cute and the pictures are lovely, it’s those nine questions in the back of the book that are going to save lives.

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To Review Or Not To Review

What good is a book review anyway?  What does it mean to the author? What does it mean to a potential reader?  I must admit, I was never one of those authors big on sending out review copies of my books.  Why waste the time, postage and a book that I could be selling versus giving away for free anyway?  But now that I look back on all the reviews I’ve ever received, they  have helped me so much in my writings.  The ones that were favorable (and ego boosters might I add) like the one found on the link below helped me to see just what it is a reader enjoys.  Some of the not so favorable reviews helped me also.  They helped me to see exactly what it is a reader does not enjoy in a read and served as a reminder to not do it again.  I realize that for every negative thing a reviewer finds in one of my books, there are several others out there who feel the same way who just didn’t take the time to write a review.  Luckily, though, the same goes for all the good comments as well.

As a reader, and a consumer period, I tend to read reviews before purchasing a product; that is, if reviews are available.  I mean, now days, who stays at a hotel without checking out the reviews?  Well, a book, like a hotel, is a get-a-way.  It’s a mini trip from the place you are used to and comfortable with.  Do I take every single review at face value?  Certainly not. But I do take them into consideration.  So are reviews a waste of time?  I don’t think so.  Be it a review posted by a random reader, a review from a reviewer an author hand picked and sent their book to, or even a paid review (which I can’t bring myself to endorse) book reviews certainly serve a great purpose in book sells.  After all, people are always saying that word of mouth is the best tool in marketing and promotion.  Well, what do you think a book review is?

So, that’s my opinion, in a nutshell, regarding book reviews.  Last but not lease, authors, if someone takes the time to post a book review of your blog, the least you can do is take the time to add a comment; even if it’s just a simple ‘Thanks.’  If the review wasn’t favorable, still thank them for their time.  No, don’t defend your book about any negative comments they might have made.  Simply thank them for taking the time to read your work and post an opinion.  Not every one is going to like your book.

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Obsessed: is there such thing as too much marketing?

I have to ask myself this question as it seems like every waking moment I’m surfing the net trying to find a new resource and avenue to market myself.  I’m doing live radio interviews, Internet radio interviews, I’m surfing other people’s blogs to see what they’re up to to make sure that I’m not missing anything.  I’m doing everything I can think of to market my books like it’s some crazed obsession, so much so that guess what?  I haven’t been writing any books.  This weekend I have to focus on time management and create a plan that will allow me to be a writer, editor, publisher, mother, wife, and still get my “New Day Divas” series on New York Times(which means I have to write the books!).  I’m not going to stop working hard, I’m just going to start working a lot smarter.

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Divalicious Book Trailer

I’m still at it.  My next step was creating a book trailer that I now have to figure out how to generate traffic to.  Take a look:

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Resources; Read ‘Em and Reap!

I’m spending today reading through resources that will help me reach my goal in this journey.  Are you on the same journey as me?  Then maybe the link below to a very helpful resource will help you as well.

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Spicing Up Amazon

Okay, I managed to upload this blog onto my amazon author central page.  I learned how to really hook up my author central page and upload this blog to my page by reading a very priceless post by Sylvia Hubbard.  Click on this link and you can do it too!

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