Tag Archives: authors

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: http://goo.gl/JqZr4o

And more information about Grady, including links to all of his books on his Amazon Author Page here: http://www.amazon.com/Grady-Miller/e/B00NJQRHK8

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




ASMSG Blog Hop ~ Interview with Author Dianne Harman

19 Mar


I’m taking a brief intermission from my “Angels, Miracles and Dogs” blog to welcome you to the ASMSG Electorate Blog Hop and RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY!

ASMSG is a dynamic group of authors from all genres who have come together to help get the word out about their books: new releases, bestsellers, books in a series and individual gems – they’re all here! Over the next few weeks, a selection of authors are swapping interviews in their blogs and I’m very happy to be part of this team of dedicated writers.

Check out the dates and blogs at the end of this interview. You wouldn’t want to miss any of the insights shared by these fascinating writers. Please take a moment to share and tweet and comment and whatever else you are inclined to do to pass along the news of this unique Blog Hop!

Plus – don’t forget to enter the RAFFLECOPTER with free e-books available to the lucky winner! Lot’s of great books are in the prize package!

It is my pleasure to interview a very special author: Dianne Harman:


First off, I have to say that Dianne is one of the few people I’ve met online that I consider to be a friend. We initially virtually “met” through the Goodreads Boomer Lit Group and then I began to notice that everywhere I went online, there was Dianne! Active in all areas of social media, a frequent contributor to the Huffington Post and a prolific blogger – all the while continuing to turn out novel after novel – I HAD to meet this woman! And I’m so very glad I did. She’s a delight!

Dianne’s personal and professional background includes a wide range of experience, which gives her a great deal to draw from as she formulates her stories and characters. She owned a national antique and art appraisal business for many years, leaving that industry and opening two yoga centers, where she taught yoga and certified yoga instructors.  Dianne has traveled extensively throughout the world, most recently dividing her time between Huntington Beach and Sacramento, California, with her husband, a former Senator.

Dianne has published two best selling novels in her Coyote Series: the award winning Blue Coyote Motel, a psychological thriller, and Coyote in Provence, a cozy mystery with lots of food, wine, and fine art! Her political novels, Tea Party Teddy and Tea Party Teddy’s Legacy, feature a multicultural romance set (very convincingly!) in the California political scene. I’ll get Dianne to share some thoughts on her terrific novels, the writing process and more! Now, for the interview:

MR:  Dianne, you’ve had such a diverse professional background, how did you end up being a writer?

DH:  It’s something I’d always wanted to do, but I never thought I had the necessary “credentials” to do it. Someone gave me a copy of Stephen King’s book, On Writing, and he more or less says, Just Do It, and I did!

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

DH:  It was probably after I’d published two books. I realized that writing had become extremely important to me. You know the old question, “What do you want to do when you grow up?” Well, one day I decided that’s what I wanted to do!


MR:  The first book I read of yours, was your first, I believe: Blue Coyote Motel. Where did you get the idea for the feel-good-anti-aging formula, coupled with travelers who found themselves in such a dilemma in a motel in the middle of nowhere?

DH:  It was a very strange thing. My husband and I were guests at a boutique motel in Palm Springs, California, for a wedding. Our son was the best man. The bride was the daughter of an international children’s surgeon and guests had come from all over the world. It was in October and 106 degrees out. We welcomed the air-conditioning. I remember turning to my husband and saying, “Wouldn’t it be interesting if someone put a ‘feel-good’ drug in the air-conditioning and everyone felt good all the time?” I started writing the book on my iPad that afternoon. That night I sat next to a priest who wore a huge cross. He went in the book. At the wedding dinner, I was seated next to a couple who had gold mines in Brazil. They went in the book. And I kept meeting the rest of the characters!

MR:  Great story, and it does make it seem like it was “meant” to happen! Continuing with the Coyote Series, I’m a big fan of Coyote in Provence. 


MR:  You captured the beauty of that area of France while giving the reader an extremely enjoyable mystery. I was particularly fascinated by how you brought us into the world of fine art, especially since you owned an art appraisal business for years. How much of your past experiences have you interwoven into your books?

DH:  I own the Alfred Mitchell painting that’s in the book and I’ve spent time in Provence in the small village. So certainly, some of my experiences – like how the wine is put in jugs (fascinated me) – are in there, but it is a work of fiction. And I love to cook so food is a big part of that book.

MR:  Oh, I love knowing that you actually have that Alfred Mitchell painting! Lovely piece of trivia! Speaking of writing about what you’ve experienced personally, I recall that your first political novel, Tea Party Teddy, stirred up a bit of controversy, especially in California. Could you tell us a little about that?  


DH:  I knew when I wrote it was going to be controversial and it was. I got a couple of bad reviews from “staffers” in Sacramento who worked for people similar to the ones portrayed in the book. While it is a work of fiction, almost everything that took place has happened or is happening (currently one Senator has been indicted and another one just found guilty – and I’m talking about the last couple of weeks).

MR:  What impact did all of the hullabaloo have on your second “Teddy” book?

DH:  There are some very fine, honorable, honest politicians. I wanted to portray that side of politics as well.


MR:  You’ve published four novels so far and in the process have created dozens of characters. Who is your favorite and why?

DH:  My favorite character is a private investigator, Slade Kelly, and judging from the comments I receive, I’m not the only one who has fallen in love with the incorrigible investigator. I probably like him so much because he is just so very human, not unlike each of us!

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

DH:  It happened last week. We were at a reception and several people had read my books and commented favorably on them. The man the reception was being given for introduced me as the “distinguished writer of best sellers!” Wow!

MR:  In the process of writing and publishing your books, what’s the smartest thing you did?

DH:  Hire someone to do the art work and the formatting.

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

DH:  Thinking I could format a book!

MR:  You often blog about the entire process of publishing a book, from writing to marketing and obviously keep up to date on the indie-pub world. How do you feel about where things currently stand for independent authors?

DH:  I think this is just the beginning. Our children and grandchildren have grown up with tablets and twitter. Everything is electronic for these generations. I see eBooks continue to rise. My granddaughter comes over and wants to know what books I have on my iPad for her. She’s never asked what books I have in the bookcases!

MR:  Where do you see the industry going? And perhaps I should also ask, where would you like to see it go?

DH:  There will always be people who like the feel of a print book between their hands. My son and daughter-in-law are voracious readers, but they prefer print to eBooks. There’s room for both. So saying, I sell 8 to 10 times more eBooks than print, so I do think that’s the future of the industry.

I haven’t talked about genres, and yes, we did meet on a Boomer group, there’s not that many of them. I have maintained for some time that the boomer lit genre is ripe for the picking. There are 75 to 78 million boomers in the US alone and from what I’ve researched, very little literature that deals with that group. One day a couple of years ago I was searching on the internet for books for boomers. A handful. That’s still on my bucket list – to write books in that genre. I have one that needs some editing, but after my next book is published, the third in the Coyote series, I intend to polish the boomer book and publish it!

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

DH:  Yes.

MR:  Any closing thoughts?

DH:  Thanks so much for having me. And for those of you who have not read Marsha’s wonderful book, Confessions of an Instinctively Mutinous Baby Boomer and her Parable of the Tomato Plant, order it now!

MR: How typically kind of you, Dianne. It has been a delightful experience to get to know you a little better and to share you and your books with the readers here.

Further information about Dianne and her books can be found at:

Amazon: http://ow.ly/s6pN5 

Smashwords: http://ow.ly/u4Fb2 

Web Site http://http://www.DianneHarman.com

Blog: http://dianneharman.com/blog/

Now in the days to come, hop on over to the other author blogs and get to know some of the most dynamic new writers of our time. Here’s the schedule:

March 18, 2014

Kirstin Stein Pulioff http://www.kirstinpulioff.com

Ceri London http://cerilondon.wordpress.com/

March 19

Stefania Mattana http://dailypinner.eraniapinnera.com

March 20

Maer Wilson http://maerwilson.com/

March 21

Sandra Robinson http://missscarlettflame.blogspot.co.uk/

Luca Rossi http://www.lucarossi369.com/search/label/EN

March 22

Melodie Ramone http://revenge-of-the-ginger.blogspot.com/

Anna George Othitis http://annaothitis.tateauthor.com

 March 23

Khalid Muhammad http://agencyrules.com

Su Williams   http://dreamweavernovels.blogspot.com/

March 24

Christoph Fischer http://writerchristophfischer.wordpress.com/

Welcome to Christoph Fischer Books

 March 25

Hunter S Jones http://www.thehuntersjones.blogspot.com

Lillian Roberts http://lilianroberts.blogspot.com

March 26

Murielle Cyr http://www.muriellerites.wordpress.com

March 27

Ian Hutson http://www.dieselelectricelephant.co.uk/

Jinx Schwartz http://bit.ly/PSAAxI

March 28

Dianne Harman http://dianneharman.com/blog/

Shane KP O’Neill    http://www.draculachronicles.co.uk/

March 29

Tina Power Traverse http://writersonthewharf.wordpress.com/

Ann Rothchild http://christinamandara.wordpress.com/




Thank you so much for joining us on our ASMSG Author Blog Hop! We hope you enjoy each and every one of the interviews. And I, your favorite Mutinous Boomer, WILL be blogging soon about Angels, Miracles and (of course!) Dogs! Because there’s a good reason that DOG is GOD spelled backwards!


Marsha Roberts, Author

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


%d bloggers like this: