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.


About Author E. N. Joy

I am BLESSEDselling author, E. N. Joy, the writer behind the five book series, “New Day Divas,” coined the “Soap Opera In Print.” Formerly writing secular works under the names Joylynn M. Jossel and JOY, I am an award winning author who has been sharing my literary expertise on conference panels in my home town of Columbus, Ohio as well as cities across the country. After thirteen years of being a paralegal in the insurance industry, I finally divorced my career and married my mistress and my passion; writing. In 2000, I formed my own publishing company, END OF THE RAINBOW projects, where I published my own works until landing a book deal with a major publisher. Under End of the Rainbow, I have published New York Times and Essence Magazine Bestselling authors in the “Sinner Series,” in which the current releases are Even Sinners Have Souls (Book 1) and Even Sinners Have Souls TOO (Book 2). In 2004, I branched off into the business of literary consulting in which I provide one-on-one consulting and literary services such as ghost writing, editing, professional read-throughs, write behinds, etc… My clients consist of first time authors, Essence Magazine bestselling authors, New York Times bestselling authors, and entertainers. Not forsaking my love of poetry in which I have published two works of poetry titled Please Tell Me If the Grass is Greener and World On My Shoulders, I plans to turn my focus back to poetry one day. But my spirit has moved me in another direction. Needless to say, I will no longer be penning street lit (in which two of my titles, If I Ruled the World and Dollar Bill, made the Essence Magazine bestsellers list. Dollar Bill was also translated to Japanese). I will no longer be penning erotica or adult contemporary fiction either, in which one of my titles earned the Borders bestselling African American romance award at the Romance Writers of America National Conference. Instead, under the name E.N. Joy, I will be penning adult Christian fiction, and under the name N. Joy I will be penning children’s and young adult titles. My children’s story, The Secret Olivia Told Me, received the American Library Association Coretta Scott King Honor. Book club rights have also been purchased by Scholastic and the book is on tour at Scholastic Book Fairs in schools across the country. Elementary and middle school children have fallen in love with reading and creative writing as a result of the readings and workshops I instruct in schools across the country. Currently, I am the executive editor for Urban Christian, in which the titles are distributed by Kensington Publishing Corporation out of New York.
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