Bring Back Reading with Ripa--Stalking Kelly Ripa

Okay, we're not really stalking her (please don't call the FBI), but this blog was born out of the frustration of trying to get our books NOTICED when there is a sea of books published every year. If you can't change it, at least you can laugh about it....

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Dear Kelly,

Jennifer and I HAVE to be the world's worst stalkers. THE WORST. Our efforts have not resulted in any restraining orders, police visits, and other than some ABSOLUTELY WRONG AND MISGUIDED inferences from Jennifer about my proclivities for restraining hot FBI agents in my non-existent basement, little else.

As for Jennifer's attempts to make me seem evil and depraved, first of all, most of the FBI agents I've met are not hot. Yeah, yeah, I know, we writers are always making them hot and deeply troubled, like David Duchovny on X-Files. But we're WRITERS. We're making this, stuff... UP! Nobody wants to read about deeply troubled nerds with pocket protectors, who have mother issues and... Um, never mind.
Secondly, I think that if anyone's background and life needs looking into, it's JENNIFER, not me. She CLAIMS she's married to an accountant. An accountant? Yeah, right, Jen. We've read your books. You don't pull that stuff out of thin air.

Oh wait. Let me go back here. I guess YOU, Kelly, haven't read our books, because you are mostly ignoring us, and not paying attention to our little blog.

Well fine. So we suck at stalking. We are, however, really good at writing murder. So we have joined up with three other suspense authors and are now collectively blogging at Be sure to check us out.

Still waiting for that restraining order,
Lovingly, of course,

Natalie Just kidding

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Dear Kelly,

I'm getting kind of worried because Jennifer keeps implying that I have live people hidden in my basement. Live, hunky, FBI-type people, of the male persuasion. The truth is, I've discovered I'm not very good at this crime business, including this stalking business. All I've ever done, while stalking you, is write you letters on a blog which, I'm quite sure, you've never even read. Crime doesn't seem to be my strong suit, unless I'm writing about it. I DO have a very active imagination. In real life, I'm pretty boring. I've had a few traffic tickets. Once they temporarily suspended my license because I didn't pay one of those traffic tickets on time, even though I called the stupid city EVERY day, trying to find out how much the ticket was, and they kept telling me it wasn't in the system yet, so I couldn't pay it!!

I've never been in jail, except for when I worked for the local sheriff's office as a 911-dispatcher, and when I did ride alongs with the local cops for the same job. I actually wasn't IN the jail, I was just visiting. I had a friend who had to go to jail once, because she was nicknamed Crash. That kinda says it all. She didn't get along with cars, and they didn't get along with her. That was a weekend kind of tour, and she says there wasn't even a Big Betty in there that wanted to make Lisa her bitch.

The only thing I've ever stolen was penny candy, and my mom made me return it and apologize. I was five.

Is there something odd about people who write murder and mayhem for a living, but don't actually participate in murder and mayhem?

I sure hope not.

As for the FBI guys in the basement, the truth is, I don't even have a complete basement. Just a crawl space. So if anyone is hiding down there, it's the Munchkins from Oz or FBI agents with severe back trouble. I do NOT have FBI agents in my basement. I'm starting to think Jen is trying to get ME in trouble.

Maybe I shouldn't hang out with her so much. Whaddaya think, Kelly? I think she's a bad influence. So I THINK maybe we should bring in some other influences, just so she can't lead me astray.

Yeah, that's a good idea... Now who can I get?

Stay tuned....


Friday, October 21, 2005

Dear Kelly,

So Steve Martin wrote a novella, got it published, turned it into a movie and is starring in the movie.

Yikes! Natalie and I must be doing something wrong! Could it be that we weren't, um, born with the right equipment for success?

Or that we just aren't very good at stalking stars like you to get noticed?

Or that we don't get caught committing crimes--like say the housekeeper that was stealing from "the mean stars" and got on TV to reveal why she did it?

Of course, I don't begrudge Steve his success. But Natalie and I got to talking and decided we are going to get noticed, darn it! And so we have been brainstorming...

And we are bringing others into our evil schemes...

So check back every once in a while for news!

Now I must dash off and check on Natalie. Can't leave her unsupervised for too long.


Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Dear Kelly,

Natalie and I are starting to think that maybe you aren't paying attention to us. Sure, we understand, really we do.

It's just that we're authors, you know—creative types, and so we're a little insecure…

Which naturally leads to Natalie and I (I blame Natalie) cooking up some new ideas to get your attention. Not to worry—it's all good stuff. You know, like asking our blog readers to submit photos of hot guys. Wait, hold on, Natalie's yelling at me.

What? We're not doing Kelly's Hot Guys? No?

Oh, all right. Natalie is saying no to the pictures. Frankly, I think it's because Natalie has all the hot guys locked in her basement. In fact—have you seen the TV show DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES? I've heard rumors that Natalie is the inspiration behind a few of those characters.

But back to the blog. So Kelly, my point is that we believe you are a valuable asset to readers out there, and we're thinking we might be doing a little Blog Overhaul to keep things interesting. After all, Oprah is bringing back her Contemporary Book Club, and we all know that Oprah's choices can be a little….depressing.

We need Reading with Ripa to bring joy back to reading!

(Don't worry, I'll work on getting Natalie to relent on the Kelly's Hot Guys!)

Kelly, now that I have your attention, I have another question. Do you watch your finished work?

I don't read my published books. I've been thinking about this because I'm doing page proofs for my book that is coming out in February, TRHILLED TO DEATH. Page proofs are the final version of the book before it goes to the printers—it's my last chance to make corrections.

But there's no rewriting. No revising. No tweaking. I can only correct things like spelling, grammar, punctuation and the odd word that mysteriously gets dropped or added. I always hate the book at this point because I can't change things. I'm using the critical side of my brain to catch mistakes, but I'm not allowed to fix weak sentences, or poor word choices or flat out bad writing.

The critical side of my brain won't be constrained by those stupid rules. It sees everything.

"You used the same word twice in the same paragraph!"

"Quit using the word "just:!"

"That's a weak sentence, or confusing sentence, or passive sentence…"

But I have to ignore all that. And by the time I'm half way through the page proofs, I'm convinced the book is bad.

As in embarrassingly, career ending, awful.

Thankfully, by the time I get to the end of the book, I'm usually feeling somewhat better. But if I'm that neurotic reading the page proofs, what would it be like to read the actual book and find a misspelled word…?

Okay, since I've given you the possible news of a Blog Revamp, promised to try and convince Natalie to post occasional pictures of hot guys (for research of course) and asked you my important question, I think I'll send this off and hide so Natalie can't find me!


Sunday, September 25, 2005

Dear Kelly,

I'm starting to feel awfully silly about writing all these letters to you, mostly because you are not responding. But why should this bother me? After all, I am a writer. No response is the name of the game.

I used to think that if I could just GET a publisher, all this waiting and rejection would magically disappear. Boy, was I deluded. Once you sell a book, the waiting has just begun. I talked to a friend the other day, and she revealed that it took an entire year JUST to negotiate the sale of her first book. ONE YEAR. That's 365 days. I guess you probably already knew the number of days in a year. But I wanted to emphasize it anyway, because the only time things move quick in New York is when THEY want something from you.

I finished the revisions on my latest book for St. Martin's, and now I'm in wait mode. I'm waiting to find out a release date. I'm waiting to find out if I successfully made the fixes my editor requested, and I'm waiting to find out if a release date will be scheduled by the time the paperback comes out in March (at least this week it's March. It has moved from June, to April, to March. It could change again tomorrow. I wait a lot.

I think I've covered this theme before. It's starting to depress me. Are you getting depressed? Is that why you don't write?

Waiting to hear from you,

Natalie R. Collins

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Dear Kelly,

My sense of humor took a beating after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, because I have so many friends that live down there, and also so many memories. So I thought I'd share my musings about New Orleans. Hope you can relate, at least a litte.

I've had a hard time posting anything about the recent devastation in New Orleans. The reasons are complicated. I have friends down there. I have been there. I loved and lost someone right after I returned from there.
In addition, everyone else is blogging it, and it seems, with more relevance. What can a land-locked Utah girl know about such a tragedy? But I was called to task yesterday by a writer, who, although right in some ways, didn't understand that:
1. I was searching for my pictures of New Orleans 15 years ago, so I could post them. It's been a long time and it took me a while to find them.
2. It brought back memories of my Neil, who died shortly after we returned from New Orleans (long story). Neil was the inspiration for the character Frank in WIVES AND SISTERS, and all around good guy who convinced a confused young woman that she DID deserve a good man to love her. Then two weeks later he died.
3. I have been devastated by thoughts of this natural disaster, over which I have SO little control. Like the Tsunami in Asia this past Christmas, the suffering and loss of life is overwhelming. However, this one is even closer. This is a place I have been. I have friends who still live in this region. And a co-worker of mine and good friend spent days wondering if her grandfather and aunts were alive. The good news is they are. The bad news is, they lost their homes.
We've started a drive called Quarters for Katrina to try and help Renee's family rebuild their homes, since they had no flood insurance. All in all, I have been as affected by this tragedy as much as anyone not directly in Katrina's path. But every time I tried to post, it simply seemed trite, or ill-informed, or a little callous. But not because I didn't care.
The best place to donate, in my opinion, is the Red Cross. So here is the obligatory link. Not because I don't want to do it, but because I know you've seen the link many other places. But they really do need your help.
And now, I offer up some brief glances at New Orleans, albeit old ones. It's been fifteen years since these were taken. Things undoubtedly were different then what you will see here. But now, things are irretrievably lost. It will rise again, I have no doubt. But it will never be the same.
So here's my look back at New Orleans, and a time that, for me, was both wonderful, magical, and filled with grief.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Dear Kelly,

Do we have any real IMPACT?

So many people are devastated by Hurricane Katrina. It's heart wrenching and emotionally draining to watch the tragedy unfold on T.V. Clearly, those who survived will need years to rebuild their lives. It will take years to rebuild the cities. The blood, sweat and tears will take a toll on people.

And this is where you come in.

Bear with me here. Oprah does her part by going to the heart of a disaster and shining the bright light of her camera onto the wreckage. That is what she does and she is good at it. Oprah works to improve the world we live in with her ability to shine the light on human suffering. She has IMPACT.

But that is not what we, you and I and other entertainers, do. And we are left feeling inadequate and maybe a little useless in a time like this. That is not to say you haven't helped, I know you have, Kelly. I'm talking about our life's work.

You and I, we try to bring laughter, joy, and occasional tears of release to people. You do it through acting and I do it through my books.

Then huge disasters strike like 9/11, the Tsunami, the London explosions and now Katrina, and we are left feeling as if our work is pointless in the big picture.

As if we have no IMPACT in a time of need or crises.

So for the last couple weeks I have struggled with that. Just as I did after 9/11 and at other times of huge, previously unimaginable, tragedy or crises.

And then I remembered my mother's last days. She was ill and in a nursing home, and her days were torture for us, those who loved her. I remember it all vividly. And I remember something else—I was reading the Harry Potter books. And they brought me moments of relief in a pain filled time. I'd spend the day taking care of my mom, come home and take care of my family, and at night, I would sink into those books. I could take my first full breath of the day and let the stress, the aching worry and heart squeezing pain go. Because a little wizard boy named Harry Potter took me to a place where magic was possible.

In times like these, we must remember how important laughter, joy, and just a simple light moment are to those who are suffering. Providing those moments do have a real IMPACT. It gives people a break so that they keep going. And so Kelly, with all the people who will spend years rebuilding their lives, and all those amazing people who will help, let's IMPACT their lives with some desperately needed fun and laughter. Maybe you can consider bringing back Reading with Ripa because people are really going to need a light beach-read more than ever.

And most importantly, remember that each of us can make an IMPACT. Let's all reach out and help out neighbors in this time of need.