Once upon a time in New York state, a sort-of young Jewish girl sat slaving away at her computer writing stories of love and happily-ever-after. While she dreamed of one day making it to the exalted New York Times list, she knew that it only happened to other girls. Still, she dreamed.
So my story begins…
APRIL 11, 2002
was on deadline. My only indulgence was to watch my all-time favorite actress Kelly Ripa on her daytime shows, All My Children and as co-host of LIVE! And let’s face it, my muse will use any excuse to be lazy. But still, I’d been watching Kelly Ripa for years, and admired her ability to bring realism and depth to a soap opera character. Not an easy feat when faced with plots like a wacko mother who tried to bed her boyfriend. This actress had inspired my creative juices for so long that I’d even come up with the name of my current characters from her soap family-The Chandlers. I loyally watched her. I felt as if I knew her. I didn’t, of course. I was just a huge fan. So I was taking yet another break from work and turned from the computer monitor to the television screen to watch Kelly Ripa on LIVE!, sparing an occasional guilty glance at my work in progress. Whose idea was it to put a T.V. in my office anyway, I wondered, when I heard Kelly say, “Oprah’s given up her bookclub.” She exchanged a few one-liners with Regis and then came the dialogue that changed my life.
“Hey, Pippa (as Regis often calls her), you should have our own bookclub.” Kelly laughed. “My bookclub wouldn’t be intellectual. I’d want fun. Sex. Smut. Beach trash. And Fabio on the cover.”
THE INVITATION TO THE BALL
Inside I was shaking. This was it. Karma. Kismet. Fate. My fairy godmother was calling to me—me the girl who played the Bippedy, Boppety Boo Cinderella song over and over as a kid. All I could hear in my head was a voice yelling, I’ve got the book for you!
Okay that’s really melodramatic, but it’s the honest to goodness truth. I felt it. Enough to call my publicist on that early April day and suggest we send my book, my first single title, THE BACHELOR, to Kelly. Enough to prod and bug her to follow up. At some point, I even decided, as only a writer could, that the book was laying in a slush pile somewhere and I thought, we needed to get Kelly’s attention. We need to do something special!
MAY 29, 2002
Some brainstorming, laughing and a good deal of phone time later, the idea of the Cookie Basket was born. It was a specially crafted cookie basket in the shape of the lips from the book’s cover. Each lip had a different saying. “A panty thief.” “A foreign correspondent hero.” “An erotic lingerie store owner.” And a quote from the book along with yet another copy of the book—in case the original had been lost.
We sent it with fingers crossed. And then … nothing.
Kelly picked a fantastic mystery-hardcover for her first book, and a trade-paperback for her second. No true romance in the bunch. I put it behind me.
JUNE 27, 2002
As I was getting the kids ready for a quickie meal at McDonald’s one Thursday around 5 PM, my six year old answered the phone and yelled, “Mommy, it’s your friend.” Carly and Karen It was my editor at Warner, who said, “I have great news. Sit down.” Okay well, writers KNOW when they have a full manuscript waiting to be bought, or other things under consideration. I can honestly say, I had no idea what this great news could be.
“Kelly Ripa picked The Bachelor for July.” Now that was big news and I screamed. Since I am not a screamer, at least not unless I’m yelling at the kids, this was unusual and they came running, asking what was wrong. Of course, I told them! Keep in mind, this is a six year old and a ten year old who just heard, “Mommy’s going to be on Regis and Kelly.” At that moment my editor said, “And you can’t tell anyone until Kelly announces it on Monday or they might pull the book and use their second selection.”
JUNE 29, 2002
You can’t tell anyone became, you can tell people on a “need to know basis,” and thus began the longest weekend of my life. I felt like I was an undercover operative. Too bad I don’t look like Jennifer Garner from ALIAS. But I did tell my husband, the kids already knew as did my two life-saving friends, Janelle Denison and Shannon Short, my parents, my publicist, Theresa Meyers, Blue Moon Communications, and my webmistress, Barb Hoeter from Romance and Friends, who needed to update my website and have it ready to go by Monday at ten EST after Kelly’s announcement. By Sunday night, I’d also informed a few more select friends and family members. Somehow, I survived the long weekend: the night at McDonald’s with friends without revealing the news; a neighborhood party on Saturday night, with everyone I knew asking, “How’s the writing going?” I kept mum. For anyone who knows me, this accomplishment was HUGE.
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