BIG News from Mark Coker: Smashwords Introduces Assetless Preorders

18 Jun

The blog post I’m sharing with you here definitely suits my fancy!

This article by the ever innovative Mark Coker ~ an indie author advocate from way back ~ is a game changer for new indie releases. Do yourself a favor: if you have a new release, don’t release it until you’ve read this article! It should change completely how you decide to unveil your book.

Seriously, this is BIG! For the link to the full article, click below.

Until we meet again on my Anything That Suits My Fancy blog, may angels and blessings be with each of you!


Marsha Roberts, Author

Confessions of an Instinctively Mutinous Baby Boomer and her Parable of the Tomato Plant

Smashwords Introduces Assetless Preorders (aka “Metadata Only” preorders).


Grady Miller ~ A Funny Writer with a Thriller in his Pocket!

17 Apr

It’s my pleasure to interview a truly eclectic author: Grady Miller. GradyAuthor-Blog

Grady and I are both members of a large authors group, which is how we virtually “met.” He made a amusing comment to a Facebook post which made me curious. I read one of his books and several newspaper articles which I found to be not only humorous, but warm and human. When Grady reviewed my Mutinous Boomer book and dubbed it “5-Star Soul Candy” a friendship was born! I recently read a book of his that is a complete departure from his usual take. “The Hostages of Veracruz” is a suspenseful story with an unlikely romance. I thought it was terrific, which is why I invited Grady for this interview. I wanted to know how such a funny guy ended up writing such a serious novel.


Marsha: Grady, welcome to my Anything That Fancies Me blog. You know I enjoy your writing very much, but you’re a bit of a mystery to me.

Grady: A bit of mystery isn’t bad for someone who has written a thriller.

Marsha: Don’t start with me, Grady! You know what I mean. “The Hostages of Veracruz” isn’t the norm for you. I’ve read some very funny articles you’ve written as well as the light-hearted “A Very Grady Christmas,” but “Hostages” is a thriller with a deadly serious subject. So let’s back up a bit and find out something about how all this fits together.

Grady: That reminds me of the Woody Allen joke about the guy driving backwards to save on car rental.

Marsha: You see what I mean? You’re more suited for a stand-up routine than a thriller! My point exactly.

Grady: O.K. I’ll behave. I promise.

Marsha: First off, you grew up in “Steinbeck Country” on the Central California coast. I’ve been there, beautiful spot to grow up! But you’ve written that you’re “more Bombeck than Steinbeck.”

Grady: Oh gosh, I’m dating myself by talking about Erma Bombeck. She was a humorist who talked about life in the suburbs. I knew her through TV and there was a great deal of truth in her humor. Just look at the titles, “It’s Always Greener Over the Septic Tank,” “If Life is a Bowl of Cherries, Why Am I in the Pits?” What really cracks me up is there was actually an inspirational book way back called “Life is a Bowl of Cherries.” It must have been a more innocent, schmaltzy age for people to be that excited by a bowl of cherries. I wouldn’t know about that, of course. I’m 28. Now my daughter says if you want to know my real age you’d have to do carbon dating. No respect.

Marsha: Join the club! And you are a self-described “Hollywood humorist and diet guru.” Those two don’t usually go together. Tell us about that combo.

Grady: I was a humorist first and then lost weight and was cajoled into writing a diet book by a producer, Brad Wyman. He was a huge champion of my diet tips which became, “Lighten Up Now: The Grady Diet.” LightenUpCoverBlogWithout Brad, there’d be no book, no cartoons, no Sparky Spaniel, no recipes. He helped see it through four years of writing and another of formatting. It started out as a pamphlet really, but Brad said “This is the best thing you’ve ever written,” and he saw that beyond the humor is contained a universal lowdown on how to get in shape. In the beginning he carried that pamphlet everywhere and started living by it.

Marsha: You also have a really entertaining book called “Late Bloomer.” You said it “marks the place in my life when I met comedy or comedy met me.” Does that mean you weren’t always funny? I find that hard to believe!

Grady: I wasn’t always funny in writing. We come to literature with a stuffy idea of what it should be. A turning point was coming to Los Angeles after many years in Mexico and starting over in a weird, exotic, stressed out culture with a wife and baby. My humor rose to the occasion and I associate it with a survival instinct.

Cavett (2)-Cr-Blog

Grady Miller with comedic icon Dick Cavett.

Marsha: I happen to know that you are also a stand-up comedian and an actor. Tell us a little about that and how it effects your writing.

Grady: The study of human behavior is endlessly fascinating. And acting is a path to self-improvement. One of the things I found out that most directly affected my acting is that the stage is the place for rage, for talking about embarrassing things, it’s the place not to give a damn. And maybe you’ll end up speaking for whole bunch of people who keep it locked in their hearts. Acting opened all kinds of topics to me that I would have never written about. And the words for people to face the unspeakable now flow from me.

By they way, I acted in an indie movie a decade before taking an acting class. But I was naturally a method actor. I gained thirty pounds to play the charming sociopathic character, Larry. Afterward, I couldn’t get the weight off. That was the genesis of the diet book.

Marsha: As you know, my background is as a theatrical Producer, which means I’m keenly aware of my audience, whether I’m producing a show or writing. One of the things I enjoy so much about your books is that you seem to have that same awareness of the audience. Did that come naturally for you, or do you think being in show business made a difference.

Grady: Maybe it’s even astrological. I was born under the sign of the guinea pig and am acutely aware of my reactions within myself and others when trying out things. With humor and stand-up, the pay off or lack thereof is immediate. It’s walking the plank. The more times you walk the plank, the better is gets.

Marsha: I can relate to that. There’s nothing like an audience to let you know if your living or dying!

Grady: Absolutely! You see, my reactions were honed during years teaching English to foreigners, first in Mexico and then the United States. They’d yawn and walk-out. In the beginning I’d come home in grief. Years later I learned that yawning is actually the body’s best way to wake up and freshen up to concentrate. In the course of teaching and in comedy clubs I learned to lighten up. Phyllis Diller said something that I live by, whether it’s a good show or bad show, never blame the audience. Ask afterward, “What did I do right? What did I do wrong?”

Marsha: I’ve heard that, but didn’t know she was the one who said it! I have to tell you that “Hostages of Veracruz” really surprised me. Everything I had read of yours before that was extremely upbeat, but “Hostages” is about human organ trafficking. Tell us how that idea came to you and how you went about developing it.


Grady ~ seen here in Michoacan, Mexico where he lived in 1999 when the idea for “The Hostages of Veracruz” first came to him.

Grady: The seed for the story came from an investigative report I read the 90s in the Mexican news magazine Proceso. The story about organ trafficking was compelling but inconclusive. Here I saw this hairline crack in reality to insert fiction, which often can be the only way to speak the truth in regions where truths gets mangled beyond recognition because of powerful interests and human nature. It’s sheer madness to rationally try to verify “the truth” in places like Latin America, Russia and Los Angeles. In the course of writing, “Hostages of Veracruz,” I questioned a lot of doctors and health officials in Mexico. The pivotal situation about the boy who is taken comes right out of my research.

Marsha: Frankly, I don’t usually enjoy books that have something as grizzly as organ trafficking as the primary focus of the plot. But I couldn’t put your book down. I was always thinking “and THEN what happened?” How do you go about moving the plot in such a compelling manner?

Grady: Marsha, that is really gratifying. To be honest, I had a big helper in making that plot, my first wife. I was going off to teach an English class one morning and left her with this short story, that had a boffo dark twist at the end with Peter escaping. When I got home from my class, I expected to be showered with praise. My wife said, there’s not enough here; there has to be more. That started me off on long path, picking up the storyline and advancing it. When the story became longer, good against evil got their chance to battle it out, and romance and poetry became my biggest allies. It has all the classic elements, and there was no way it could have been thought out in advance. It was sweated out. The short story turned into the novella, which I am so glad you couldn’t put down. Veracruz-Cover-BlogMarsha: The main character, Peter Vandervoot, was so real to me, I’d recognize him on the street. I know I would! Is he based on someone you know? If not, what was your process of fleshing him out?

Grady: Peter has a lot of me. Of course he’s very good looking, like me, and naturally you’d want to recognize him on the street.

Marsha: Yeah, yeah. And then what happened.

Grady: Ha! Well, he’s got a bit of the wastrel and the soul of an artist. And he’s very European, seen as naïve and has a deep belief that people are basically good, and then he comes face to face with the evil. And Peter is also shallow or perceived as shallow, which is part of the paradox I explored in him. He was also heavily influenced by a character in “The Magic Mountain,” but that’s too detailed to go into here.

Marsha: What has been the most satisfying experience to come out of your writing?

Grady: Out of “Hostages of Veracruz,” I realize how a romantic thriller transports people. One reader with a busy life wrote to tell me how she looked forward to her allotted reading time every night. Being in the middle of a good book is an awesome enhancement to life. I was in the middle of Richard Lang’s “Angel Baby,” last year and I remember not wanting to be anywhere else. And I realize the advantage of a thriller over a diet book is it’s not just for people who want to lose weight. I almost said fat people, but, you know, Marsha, I always bristle at that word “fat” even if it gets a laugh. That’s me I guess. My heart that dwells along side the humor and sometimes they’re at odds.

Marsha: What has been the most rewarding experience from your humorous nature?

Grady: Getting a laugh and a smile, that’s always a reward! The most rewarding experience from my humor was when I was in around the sixth grade. A note came to my house during Christmastime from a woman thanking me for laughs provided during a hospital visit the Presbyterian youth group had made to her bedside. I had nabbed a dough hook from the church kitchen and stuck it up the arm of my jacket. Just me being irreverent. It wasn’t the Marx Brothers, by any means, but it helped this woman who had cancer. Her note was better than a check for a million dollars.

Marsha: So, what do you think of yourself as? A funny, serious actor-writer-comedian-diet guru? Or what?

Grady: Could you repeat the question?

Marsha: No!

Grady: After I lost a lot of weight, Brad Wyman said, “You’re not half the mensch you used to be.” Mensch is a word I first heard applied to me by a crazy, angry old man from Brooklyn who was on the lam in Mexico. I think he said that because I showed up and listened to him. The minute I heard that word I said, that’s me. I’m a mensch, a human being engaged in humanity.

GM-Library!!!-BlogThat’s the one thing that makes sense of it all. On the other end of the spectrum there’s universal genius, of course. It’s not on the high school tests measuring job aptitude and they don’t seem to have been making many of those since Goethe. And that might help explain why I’m such a late bloomer. I really seek harmony and wholeness in all that I do. But that can be rough when trying to shape and mold it all from the outside. The best thing is sometimes to surrender to the unexpected. Who could have known that by gaining thirty pounds for movie role I’d gain a career as a diet guru. And listen, America it’s time to lighten up now! Forgive that little plug. I can’t help myself. But yes, I would love to sell a few diet books and finally get around to building that wine cellar.

Marsha: You let me know when you get it built and Bob and I will have to come to California to inspect it!

Grady: Anytime!


That’s it for today! I hope you enjoyed Grady Miller as much as I did and will check out his latest book: The Hostages of Veracruz.

You can find “Hostages” on Amazon here:

And more information about Grady, including links to all of his books on his Amazon Author Page here:

Until we meet again on my Anything That Suite My Fancy blog, may angels and blessing be with each of you!


Marsha Roberts, Author

Confessions of an Instinctively Mutinous Baby Boomer and her Parable of the Tomato Plant


Impakter Ezine Features My Mutinous Boomer Dog Tales & More!

1 Mar


For several months I’ve been writing a column for Impakter Magazine called “Diary of a Positive Soul.” Not a title I would have come up with, but when they approached me about it, I found the concept irresistible! The point of the articles has been to explore not just how to be happy, but how to stay happy. Here is the latest in this series:


Remember the scene in “Young Frankenstein” when Gene Wilder is twisting fitfully in bed screaming, “Destiny! Destiny! No escaping destiny!”


Ha! I love that! But even though it makes for a great Mel Brooks joke, is it for real? Do you believe in destiny?

This is the second of a three part series on a favorite theme of mine: dogs! The first one was about our indomitable dachshund, Zack, which you can find here:

When the next dog came into our lives, the question of destiny entered into the picture, as you’ll see.

It all started when our son Matt was sixteen. We packed up and moved 650 miles away from the home he had lived in from the time he was born and he wasn’t happy about it, to say the least! So, like all responsible parents, we bribed him into cooperating. He agreed to move without too much of a fuss if we’d get him a Golden Retriever puppy. Fair enough. However, when we actually moved, we found it was better to rent a home while we got used to the area, which meant we couldn’t get a puppy. We were legitimately off the hook!

Fast forward two years and we bought the house we were renting. Matt didn’t miss a beat. No sooner had the ink dried on the loan than he reminded us of our promise. OK, OK, we’ll do it, and promptly began looking for a Golden Retriever puppy, only to find that the price tag was no less than $1,800! But a deal was a deal and we put our names in the pot for the next litter of puppies. Shortly after that we traveled back to our original home for a big family Thanksgiving celebration. One set of cousins brought a terrific dog they had adopted from an animal shelter. Matt fell in love with him and to our delight, on the long 650 mile drive back, he said that he hated for us to have to spend $1,800 on a Golden Retriever puppy (yeah, so did we…) when we could rescue one from a shelter and have just as good of a dog. We told him it was a brilliant idea and I was calling local shelters the next week.

It wasn’t long before we found a new batch of puppies that had literally been left on the doorstep of an animal shelter. One of these was a funny looking, floppy-eared, short-legged German-Shepherd-something with an enthusiastic long tail. It was love at first sight.


Matt named him Smokey McDoggerson!

When we brought the little fellow home it was not love at all for Zack. To him the young whippersnapper had way too much energy and was ridiculously friendly! And to make matters worse, he was already larger than Zack at only ten weeks old. Zack tried his best to ignore him. He was determined to have nothing to do with Smokey. Period.


A few weeks later we could see Smokey was having significant problems with his legs. He was hobbling and noticeably in pain. One of Smokey’s parents had clearly been a full-size German Shepherd, but the other part of his heritage was evidently a short-legged dog because one of the bones in Smokey’s front legs was growing faster than the other. He was going to need surgery immediately on both legs, no question about it. The cost? Yep. $1,800 on the nose! Exactly what we would have paid for a Golden Retriever puppy.

Was this a coincidence? It sure didn’t feel like it at the time. It felt inevitable. It felt like destiny. When the surgeon told us the price, we were nodding our heads, yes, we know, eighteen hundred dollars…

After surgery both of Smokey’s front legs were in casts, which was too much for Zack. His big heart got the best of him. He simply couldn’t hold a grudge any longer. He licked Smokey in the face and snuggled up next to him as if he’d been there all along.

The surgery worked, but he was still short-legged and always would be, even when he filled out to his full eighty pound adult weight, which makes him very odd looking indeed (in an incredibly handsome way!).


Now we’re back to the question of destiny. Obviously it was inescapable: we were going to spend $1800 on a dog for Matt no matter what! Ha!

Being “destined” to spend that money on a puppy was certainly not a life changing experience. It was one of those humorous moments in life when you think you’ve outsmarted fate ~ as if we could! But our personal destiny? That’s a big one for all of us. So, do I believe in destiny? Yes. And no…

In my experience it seems there can be a force at work in our lives if we let it. Call it Fate, Destiny, The Universe ~ I prefer God. I think of this force rather like a spiritual jet stream, invisible but very powerful and going in a specific direction. When I’m “riding the jet stream” as I call it, I feel completely connected to all that’s right and good for my life. When I’m not, I’m stumbling all over the place to find my way. When I lift up my spiritual “legs” and let this prevailing wind take me where I’m suppose to be, then yes, I’m in tune with destiny and it feels great!


Am I able to live like that all the time? Of course not. Invariably I choose to put my feet down, stubbornly stand my ground, refuse to feel the flow and BAM! What was that thing called “destiny”? It’s gone because I’ve obstinately chosen to do it all myself. The flow is still there somewhere, but I’m not part of it.


Today was one of those magnificent days that I was riding the jet stream. It feels wonderful and it’s my intention to ride it again tomorrow. It makes me extraordinarily happy when I’m carried along by my destiny, I feel connected to The Universe ~ to God. And that’s the point of it all, isn’t it? Figuring out how to be happy and stay happy. But that’s just me.

This isn’t the end of our destiny discussion, just the end for today. Next time you get to meet the funniest dog I’ve ever known: Shadow. AKA Stinker Bell! Until then, be as happy as you can possibly be ~ I insist!


Marsha Roberts, Author of “Confessions of an Instinctively Mutinous Baby Boomer and her Parable of the Tomato Plant” which can be found on Amazon here:

More information about Marsha and her book can be found on her website:


Memories are for Christmas

23 Dec


I was rummaging through the garage the other day looking for some Christmas decorations when I stumbled upon a long forgotten box of story notes, scripts and sketch books, primarily belonging to my husband, who is also a writer, Bob Rector. You might have read some of his WordPress blogs ~ he’s RectorWriter. Anyway, I picked up a sketch book and a priceless piece of paper fell out. It was written by Bob in 1993 and stars the indomitable Zack, our dachshund from years ago, who I’ve often written about.

Reading Bob’s brief account of our household twenty-one years ago was like time-traveling for me. He gave a crystal-clear description of each person caught in an instant of time and I was moved to happy tears by the memory. I would like to share it with you here, just as I read it, in Bob’s handwriting, in Bob’s words and complete with an hysterical sketch of Zack’s face.



The thing that caught me off guard was the date, June 5, 1993, because as I read it I could have sworn this took place at Christmas. There was no mention of Christmas, but it just felt like it: warm, joyful, loving and deeply personal. I could almost hear wood crackling in the fireplace and see the reflections of lights and decorations in the window. And I wondered why this brief chronicle of our lives would automatically make me think of Christmas. And I decided it’s because every good, beautiful memory is like a gift, a Christmas gift that can be opened over and over again.


Now there are many writers, philosophers and psychologists who say that we should leave our past behind us. Some great thinkers tell us that if we hold on to our past, we are doomed to have old baggage drag us down, and negative triggers continue to plague us with repeating unhealthy habits. According to them, we should practice present moment awareness.

I beg to differ. I believe that who I am is a conglomeration of a bunch of present moment awareness events: memories, good and bad. Yes, we all have things we’d like to forget, painful recollections that make us wince when we’re reminded of them. Wince or worse. But for me, those are a part of who I am too, I just don’t want to dwell on those. I want to focus on what went right in my life, those moments that stay with me forever because they are so vibrant that they have imprinted me in every way that’s lovely. SnowMatt-IMP

I can still see, smell, taste and feel those precious bits of time as if they were literally yesterday. I’m sure you have those too.

As for me, I’ll go with a pretty solid thinker by the name of Dostoevsky. You see, next to the page with Bob’s story of our household was another piece of paper with this quote printed on it:

“You are told a lot about your education, but some beautiful, sacred memory, preserved since childhood, is perhaps the best education of all. If a man carries many such memories into life with him, he is saved for the rest of his days. And even if only one good memory is left in our hearts, it may also be the instrument of our salvation one day.”

“The instrument of our salvation.” A powerful statement.

What a wonderful gift I received when I opened that box from the past. When Bob wrote it so long ago, he had no idea it would mean so much to me to find it decades later. It made me wonder what I am doing today that will set up good memories for those I love in the days and years to come. For me, that’s where the importance of living in the moment comes in, the significance of every single day. We never know when we might do some kind gesture for someone that might be their “instrument of salvation” at a dark moment.


So Merry Christmas to you. May you find the gift of cherished memories tucked under your own little Christmas tree inside yourself. It is my hope that the coming days bring you opportunities for more exceptional memories to be created. But if for some reason this Christmas isn’t full of all that’s positive and encouraging for you, don’t forget the treasures that are with you still, inside your heart and mind. After all, Christmas is for memories.

Until next time.


Marsha Roberts, Author:  Confessions of an Instinctively Mutinous Baby Boomer and her Parable of the Tomato Plant


13 Nov

Ever thought about launching a crowd funding campaign? Curious about how it works? Then this blog is for you!

Several months ago I realized I had taken my book as far as I could without some marketing money. People really love it, but as you know, it’s hard to stand out in the crowd of so many ebooks without placing ads, etc. So after a great deal of research as to what worked and what didn’t with other campaigns, we launched “Marketing the Miraculous Mutinous Boomer Book!” on IndieGoGo. In this RectorWriter blog post, Bob shares what went into the making of the pitch video.

If you’ve ever thought about doing a crowd funding campaign yourself, this should interest you very much! We are now full into the project and I’ll be blogging on my experiences in researching how best to go about this, putting together all the initial material and the follow through that has to be done daily. It’s quite an undertaking! But I’ve always believed that I was given the lessons in “Confessions of an Instinctively Mutinous Baby Boomer and her Parable of the Tomato Plant” to share with as many people as possible. And I intend to do just that! Hopefully, this Indiegogo campaign will give a real boost to our efforts. You’ll find a link to our Indiegogo campaign in Bob’s blog and we would very much appreciate it if you would take a moment to go there, Like & Share it, etc. ~ thanks in advance!

Click the link below for Bob’s blog.



4 Oct


Letters From The Front. the play we toured all around the world for 15 years entertaining hundreds of thousands of people, is now available on the Kindle and in paperback!

We had the special experience of watching our show touch the audience deeply and bring them to their feet in standing ovations night after night. Click below to read what it was like from the author’s point of view: Bob Rector.


Meet Michael Murphy ~ an author with many genres up his sleeve!

25 Aug

It is my pleasure to interview a very special author: Michael Murphy. MichaelMurphy-72

First off, I have to say that Michael and I virtually “met” about a year and a half ago because both of us had books that were primarily for the Boomer audience. His Boomer book is called Goodbye Emily and I, along with thousands of others, fell in love with his very real, funny and poignantly interesting characters who, at the ages of 60+, decide to take a road trip to say a final goodbye to the main character’s wife. I liked it very much and I began to notice that everywhere I went online, there was Michael! He was working just as hard as I was to market his book and I contacted him about working together for a while to exchange ideas. I now happily call him a friend and am very glad to announce that he has just released a new book. I’ll get Michael to tell you about it, share some thoughts on his terrific novels, the writing process and more!

Marsha: Michael, welcome to my Anything That Suits Her Fancy blog! You know that I’m a big fan of your book Goodbye Emily and I’m really looking forward to your new book. But before we talk about The Yankee Club there’s several things I’m curious about. Since we’ve known each other, your bio has changed. It now says that you are returning to your mystery/suspense roots. Could you tell me a little about those “roots?”

Michael: I’ve always been a fan of mystery/suspense novels, the classics written by Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler as well as modern authors Nelson DeMille and Dennis Lehane. All four authors are big influences on my first published novel, Try and Catch the Wind, and my upcoming Prohibition-era series that starts with The Yankee Club.

Marsha: Your latest book is your ninth! Wow, I’m impressed! I know you didn’t start out as a writer, so how long have you been writing and how did that come about?

Michael: I started my second career (writing) in 1999, almost on a whim, when I attended an all day seminar on setting long term goals, defined by the moderator as a goal that would take a year or more to accomplish. As a former journalism major, most of my writing had been no more than 500 words. I couldn’t imagine writing 70,000, but I set out on my writer’s journey and finished the novel by the end of the year. Of course, it took me seven years to get it published.

Marsha: At what point did you go from writing to thinking of yourself as an author? And was this a significant transition for you?

Michael: It was a sudden and jolting transition. Four days after my 60th birthday, I was laid off by my employer of 17 years; hardly unique in today’s economy, but over the next few weeks, I made lemonade from lemons and decided I was a full time writer.

Marsha: I think your employer did you a great favor! Out of it you became a writer and so many of us have benefited from that! You know, one of the things that struck me about Goodbye Emily is that you wrote it in such a personal way that I actually thought you were the Sparky character – I really did! I thought you were grieving over the loss of your wife and I was thrilled to find out that she was and is alive and well! Are all of your books that personal?  GoodByeEmFullCover-72

Michael: I was still grieving over the loss of my career!

Marsha: I see, Emily was real ~ she was the representation of your career. How interesting.

Michael: One of my goals in writing Goodbye Emily, was to create a novel about and for baby boomers. Most fiction characters seem to be in their 30’s or 40’s. In Emily, Sparky and his two friends are in their sixties. I wanted to show people my age could still be funny, resourceful and dynamic people and characters. Since you brought up my wife of 42 years, I should mention she jokes (at least I think she’s joking) that most of the principal characters in my first eight novels are single or grieving over the loss of their wives. My 9th, The Yankee Club, is the first in a series involving a couple, very much in love, who get involved in investigating murders.

Marsha: Well, I know your wife is glad that this woman survives! Which leads to something I’ve wondered about. How much of your past experiences have you interwoven into your books?

Michael: I don’t write much about my past experiences, but I do extract emotional moments from my past that I’ve struggled to work through. I wasn’t at Woodstock, but I did attend the 1968 Monterey Pop Festival that inspired the Woodstock organizers. I revised those memories when writing Goodbye Emily.

Marsha: Oh, I see. OK, now tell me about your latest, The Yankee Club. It takes place during the end of prohibition. What kind of research did you have to do to make the setting and the people real for the reader?

Yankee Club-72Michael: The novel and the series was inspired by The Thin Man movies starring William Powell and Myrna Loy as Nick and Nora Charles. I read the Dashiell Hammett novel and have seen each of the movies countless times. And I’ve read many Hammett and Raymond Chandler books that were big influences of the style I was shooting for. Oh, and I visited plenty of bars so I could accurately describe speakeasies. I made the last part up.

Marsha: Nah, don’t tell us that! It’s fun to think of you visiting all those bars! You know, whenever we communicated while you were writing The Yankee Club it seemed as if you were having a great time! Were you?

Michael: Although it’s a mystery/suspense novel, it’s filled with humor and romance. I love the characters I created, especially Jake and Laura, but I also had fun writing historical figures who were in New York City in 1933. Jake Donovan is a successful mystery writer and Laura Wilson, a popular Broadway actress, so they run in the social circles of many famous people who show up in the novel, like Cole Porter, Babe Ruth, Dashiell Hammett, Lillian Hellman…oh, I don’t want to give too much away.

Marsha: All right, tell us why we will love reading The Yankee Club?



Michael: Dames, speakeasies, gangsters with Tommy Guns, and a little known, but historically accurate plot by powerful bankers to overthrow the newly elected President Roosevelt and replace him with a figurehead leader of a fascist group led by the bankers. Readers will also enjoy the second in the series. All That Glitters will be released January 6 and follows Jake and Laura to Hollywood during Tinseltown’s naughtiest, bawdiest year, 1933.

Marsha: Being a true movie buff, I’m really looking forward to All That Glitters! Now, back to The Yankee Club, I understand that the central character is a mystery writer. Any similarities to the mystery writer who wrote the mystery?

Michael: The only similarities between dashing, two-fisted Jake Donovan, is our interest in writing mystery novels, and our Irish heritage.

Marsha: How do you go about developing your characters?

Michael: I start by writing a detailed biography of each principal character that helps me understand how they will react in each situation they encounter. When crafting a scene, it helps and speeds the process along to know what the characters will say and how they will react. When I finish my first draft, I flesh out the characters to make sure they’re likeable, or despicable, if that’s their purpose, mostly by polishing the dialogue and making sure they behave and speak in unique ways, like real people do.

Marsha: Well, your process works for you, that’s for sure! So now you’ve published nine novels and in the process have created dozens of characters. Who is your favorite and why?

Michael: Readers down through the years, tell me Casey Bannister, the character in my first published novel, Try and Catch the Wind and three more, is their favorite. He’ll always be one of mine, but Jake and Laura are funny, resourceful, principled and brave. I like them a lot, and I’m certain readers will too.

Marsha: What has been the most rewarding experience to come out of your writing?

Michael: Without a doubt; when the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, on the site of the Woodstock Music Festival, selected Goodbye Emily to help them celebrate Woodstock’s 45th anniversary. They also invited me to host a book discussion of Goodbye Emily, and a novel writing shop at their center, September 6, so on the 5th I’ll be traveling to Woodstock!

Marsha: That’s wonderful! I’m sure they will enjoy you as much as you’ll enjoy the whole experience. I’m curious, in the process of writing and getting your books published, what’s the smartest thing you did?

Michael: I cultivate relationships with other authors such as yourself. In 2000, several local authors invited me to join their critique group ,and that’s when I truly started my journey to becoming a successful writer.

Marsha: And what mistake did you make along the way that you would advise any writer to avoid at all costs?

Michael: Without a doubt, it’s thinking my novel, or novels were finished when they really weren’t. Several times I thought I reached a point where I couldn’t improve my manuscript, so I pitched to agents and publishers and after dozens of rejections, I found myself polishing and re-polishing. The best advice I can give an aspiring author is to avoid thinking your manuscript is finished prematurely. Set your novel aside for several weeks before going back and taking a fresh look at everything. When you’re finished and absolutely sure you’ve done all you can do to improve the novel…set it aside again for several weeks and start the process over.

Marsha: Yep, editing is the tough one! But, unlike a lot of us, you have an agent and your books are published through names we all recognize, such as Random House. However, you work just as hard as the indie-publishers in marketing your books. Speak about where you see the book industry going and how you fit into it.

Michael: The industry has changed a lot since I finished my first novel. It continues to evolve, for example, Random House no longer publishes paperback novels. They replaced that line with several e-book imprints, mine being Random House Alibi. They provide extensive support in terms of production, marketing and promotion, but it remains to be seen whether they’ll be successful in competing with self-published authors.

Marsha: Is writing your career path from here on out? Do you see yourself always being an author?

Michael: I have a four-book contract with my Jake and Laura series. I’m working on specific deadlines for those. But I also have contemporary novels in mind, so I suspect I’ll always be an author.

All That Glitters-72

Marsha: I’m very glad to hear that and I’m sure scores of others will be too! Any closing thoughts?

Michael: I’ve conducted novel writing workshops for several years. I love encouraging and mentoring aspiring authors. We fiction writers become so close to our characters and stories, that we lose our objectivity. It’s easy to become discouraged when we receive rejections from agents or publisher, of when our sales are slow, or we spend more time on marketing and promotion than we do on writing. I see my workshops somewhat as a personal responsibility to help and encourage writers who wish to achieve literary success. I hope I’ve helped others along their writing journeys

Marsha: Well, all I can say, Michael, is that you certainly have been a help to me. Thanks for joining me here today on my blog. I appreciate your friendship and your books! Best of luck with The Yankee Club!

Order The Yankee Club:



That’s it for today! I hope you enjoyed Michael Murphy as much as I did and will check out his new book: The Yankee Club.

Until we meet again on my Anything That Suits Her Fancy Blog, may angels and blessing be with each of you! Please feel free to leave comments about this blog or anything else that suits your fancy. Love to hear from you!


Marsha Roberts, Author

Confessions of an Instinctively Mutinous Baby Boomer and her Parable of the Tomato Plant


21 Jul


This terrific article first appeared on the RectorWriter blog and it describes a great deal of what we experienced once we decided to turn my “Confessions of an Instinctively Mutinous Baby Boomer” book into an audiobook. Although we are seasoned production professionals, we ran into unexpected problems and wanted to share our experiences with you. Hope they are helpful! Just click on the above link & you’re there. Enjoy!

Marsha ~ The Mutinous Boomer!

America is Alive and Well in Chattanooga, Tennessee!

8 Jul

John Adams would have been proud. The 4th of July celebration here in Chattanooga was everything he envisioned so long ago. But it was more than that to me. It was precisely the experience I needed to remind me that the “real” America is still alive and well. I saw it for myself that night.


Marsha Roberts on the walking bridge in Chattanooga, looking out over Coolidge Park and the Tennessee River.

We had the ideal observation spot on the walking bridge above the river. Beneath us spread a huge expanse of grass which had already begun to fill up. On the far end of the park the stage was set for the Chattanooga Symphony Orchestra to play later in the evening. It was a picture perfect afternoon, blue skies with a cool breeze, a rare treat in July here in the South!

But I wasn’t at all prepared for the emotional impact it would have on me as thousands gathered in this beautiful spot by the river. I’m sure there must have been some sort of security, but I didn’t see it. No one searched my bag or our picnic basket. The entire area was open – freedom was in the air. How very American!


Crowds gather for the Pops on the River Independence Day Celebration 2014

As I looked across the sea of people having picnics, throwing Frisbees, laughing, dancing, feeling free and happy, I was moved by a raw sense of patriotism. This is it, I thought. This is why George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and countless others who joined America’s Armed Forces over the past 240 years risked it all: so we could be free. And here, in what is known as the “deep South,” people of every age, shape and color were together, peacefully enjoying life, because we choose to and we’re free to make that choice.


As the sun sets behind Lookout Mountain, boats join the rest of us waiting for the festivities to begin.

I couldn’t help but notice the ease with which everyone moved and savored the evening. Everybody was so relaxed, they obviously felt safe. It suddenly occurred to me how much we had recovered from the fear we went through after 9/11 and I was extremely thankful for that. I wondered how many towns and cities all across the United States were celebrating with parades and bands and fireworks at that exact moment. Honoring the grand IDEA of America.


 This event was actually on July 3rd and, coincidentally, it was on July 3, 1776 that John Adams wrote one of his famous letters to his wife Abigail and said of American independence:

“It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one end of this continent to the other from this time forward forever more.”

Well, I’m here to say that Chattanooga did it’s part to continue this magnificent tradition. The symphony moved us to tears with a medley of patriotic songs. Then the fireworks started and a thrilling spectacle rained down on us. It was happening so fast I didn’t want to blink, afraid I might miss another burst of excitement falling from the sky. John Adams’ “Illuminations” were definitely on display.


Yes, there was a special magic in the air that night and for anyone who wanted to feel it, it was certainly there for the taking. We are still a free people in the midst of this grand experiment called America, and it was wonderful to take a few hours off to be reminded of who we really are.


After a few days of reflection I just want to say thank you to the city of Chattanooga for all that you do to keep the spirit of America alive. And God bless America, my home sweet home!

Marsha Roberts

Producer of the touring production “Letters From The Front”

Author, “Confessions of an Instinctively Mutinous Baby Boomer and her Parable of the Tomato Plant”    ~


6 Jul

Here’s a terrific article about what to do and NOT to do when turning your book into an audiobook ~ from first hand experience!


The good news is we got it done for Miz Marsha’s book “Confessions of an Instinctively Mutinous Baby Boomer” and it’s up and running and sounds great AND IS ACTUALLY SELLING!

The cover for Marsha's audiobook version of her book The cover for Marsha’s audiobook version of her book

The bad news: It’s a hell of a lot harder than we had any idea, and we’ve spent most of our professional lives making films and videos in varying lengths from TV spots to features. Even a feature is only around 90 minutes long. The final running time on Marsha’s book was just over . . .


And her book is a moderate 65,000 words.

A six hour show! Nine hours for a 100,000 word book; twelve hours for a 130,000 word book.

Those are long shows!

Marsha and I created and toured a play that was just over two hours long. Believe me, that was a big…

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