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Our Special Guest Today Is…

by Rose Madeline Mula

Has anyone but me noticed that all the TV talk shows now consist almost entirely of commercials-the usual paid product advertising interrupted every few minutes by celebrities touting their latest book, movie, TV show, CD, exercise video … and if you miss them on Today, you can catch them an hour later on Live with Regis & Kelly. They just dash from one studio to the next, usually without even bothering to change their clothes, their hype, or their film clips. And within a week, they'll be shamelessly pitching on Good Morning America, The Early Show and Oprah, followed by late night chats with David and Jay … sales of their products soaring with each appearance.

Of course, if I could get equal time this whole process wouldn't bother me one bit. But since I can't, I think it's a lousy system. (Does a heaping bowl full of sour grapes count as one of my daily fruit servings?)

Why do I deserve to get in on all the fanfare? Because I have written some wonderful children's books. That's not just my opinion. Gen, my school teacher friend, read them to her first grade class — a notoriously tough audience — and she reported that not one of them made a face or gagged. Hey, that's high praise from that crowd. What's more, many publishers to whom I submitted my manuscripts returned them with letters filled with lavish praise ("Your story is charming….reminiscent of Dr. Seuss… delightfully imaginative….") and regret ("Unfortunately, we are in the process of publishing a similar story" … "We have received 20,000 submissions for the year to date from which we have chosen the three we will publish" … "Our budget does not allow us to gamble with an unknown writer …")

That's me. An unknown writer — not a celebrity like so many so-called authors who are producing children's books these days. My name isn't Jamie Lee Curtis, Julie Andrews, Jerry Seinfeld, John Lithgow, or Madonna; and I was never married to the Duke of York. It's that old vicious circle thing again — no one will promote me because I'm not famous; and I can't become famous unless someone promotes me.

Does Katie Couric care? Are Regis and Kelly bombarding me with calls begging me to appear on their show? Did Oprah ever feature me on her now-defunct book club? Would David Letterman give me a boost? Even Jay Leno, who comes from my hometown, is ignoring me. It's not only my fabulous children's books that are being ignored. My brilliant collection of humorous essays has been rejected more often than a guy with roast beef on his breath at a vegetarians' convention. How do I know my essays are brilliant? Because my family and friends say so. No, it's not because they don't want to hurt my feelings. Lord knows they have no compunctions about criticizing my cooking.

As with my children's manuscripts, publishers' reactions to my essays have also been enthusiastic, but regretful. Apparently the main problem is that unless your name is Dave Barry or Erma Bombeck it's almost impossible to sell a collection of humorous essays. I can understand that. I was Erma's biggest fan. I dearly miss her. And I absolutely love Dave. In fact, in my next life I want to be either one of them-or both, though the latter would confuse my neighbors and require too many wardrobe changes and far more closet space than I have. Of course if I was pulling in Erma's and Dave's incomes, I could afford a larger house with multiple walk-in closets-heaven.

Ooops! There's the phone. Maybe it's Barbara Walters inviting me to appear on The View.

Right. And next week I'm flying to Rome to become Pope.

Editor's Note: Rose Mula's most recent book, The Beautiful People and Other Aggravations, is now available at your favorite bookstore, through Amazon.com and other online bookstores, and through Pelican Publishing (800-843-1724), as is her previous book, If These Are Laugh Lines, I'm Having Way Too Much Fun.

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