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TODAY books
updated 10/4/2011 11:23:25 AM ET 2011-10-04T15:23:25

From stand-up comedian to talk show host to 'Idol' judge and beyond, Ellen DeGeneres has seen it all. In her new book, "Seriously ... I'm Kidding," DeGeneres sounds off on life. Here's an excerpt.

Writing This Book

Over the last year or so since I decided to write this book, people have been asking me how I have the time and why I chose to write it. The truth is, last June I was driving through a tunnel while I was on the phone with my agent and my cell service was spotty. I said, “I just got a great Ikea table for my breakfast nook.” My agent thought I said, “I’ve got a great idea for my newest book.”

By the time we figured out our hilarious misunderstanding I had signed a whole bunch of papers (who has time to read all those words?!) and I was under contract to write a book. Similarly, a few years ago, I told my agent, “I think I got some fudge on my lapel,” and he thought I said, “I want to be a judge on American Idol.” Since then I got a new phone. And I found out my agent’s name is Marvin, not Blarvin.

But the real truth is, I’m glad I decided to write this book. I love writing and I do feel like I’ve learned a lot about life and love and other “L” words since I wrote my last book, and there are things I want to share with the world.

As it turns out, writing a book is hard. It’s not as hard as mining coal or teaching teenagers to drive, I know that. But it is hard. I didn’t think it would be so hard because I go on television every day and talk for an hour and I usually have plenty to say. Plus, I’ve already written other books— two as myself and dozens more under my pen name, Danielle Steel.

When I first sat down to write, I stared at the blank page and tried to think of some strategies for getting started. When I want a guest on my show to start talking and telling a good story, I ask them a question. So I asked myself a question that I would ask a guest: “When did you first fall in love with Tim McGraw?”

That didn’t get me anywhere and I quickly realized I shouldn’t ask myself questions that are so specific to Faith Hill.

So I asked myself a different question.

“What made you take on the role of ‘Precious’?”

That didn’t work, either.

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So then I began to think about you, the readers. Who are you? What are you doing? What are you wearing? (Not in a weird way.) I thought it would help to put myself in your shoes for a moment. It always helps to think about other people instead of just ourselves. Like, if you want to know what I’m doing right now, I’m driving to work with my top down. The roof of my convertible is up. I am wearing a beret— it helps me think and it makes me feel French. That is also why I’m pretending to smoke a straw, and that is probably why a bus full of tourists is staring at me.

So what would you like to hear about as my reader? I wondered. Perhaps you might like to hear about some of the highlights that have occurred throughout my life and career, but it’s hard to know what highlights you would find exciting versus the highlights I think are exciting. For example, a few years ago I called my credit card company and got a late fee reversed that quite honestly I didn’t think they’d reverse. That was a really big moment for me because you know how cranky some customer service representatives can be when they’re having a bad day. But I don’t know if that qualifies as the type of highlight you’re looking to hear about.

I let my mind wander through some of the biggest moments in my life and then I realized what I needed to do. Since I don’t know specific things about each and every one of you, except that a lot of you are probably brunettes, I decided to include a little something for everyone in this book. You’re going to find some short stories for adults, coloring pages for kids, and many things for all ages in between.

You’ll also find self-help tips, some medical advice (from someone who has no medical background nor the authority to dole out medical advice), nutrition facts, and you might even learn how to be happier in your everyday lives. I hope you do.

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ADDENDUM:
There are a few things I wanted to include in this book but decided instead to save for my memoir. The following is a list of things you will not read about in this book:

• Details of my long-term relationship with Javier Bardem.
• My years spent in juvie.
• My early days as a pioneer of disco.
• My involvement with the Milli Vanilli lip-synching scandal of 1990.
• My recently discovered half-sister.
• The leaked sex tape.

Reprinted from "Seriously ... I'm Kidding" by Ellen DeGeneres © 2011 by Ellen DeGeneres. Used with permission of the publisher, Grand Central Publishing, a division of the Hachette Book Group.

© 2012 MSNBC Interactive

Video: Ann, Ellen team up to prank fans

  1. Closed captioning of: Ann, Ellen team up to prank fans

    >>> so ann was in los angeles last week for the appearance on "the ellen degeneres show " and the two of you could not resist having fun with unsuspecting tourists. take a look.

    >> ann, if you can hear me, scratch your left cheek. put the mike closer to her mouth. really, right up her mouth. put it right up against her mouth. put it up against her mouth. can you speak louder, ma'am?

    >> can you speak louder?

    >> yeah.

    >> wow.

    >> and that was just the beginning. i mean by the time i was done with this, it's like earbud jokes,

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