Marlo Berliner

How Walter Matthau Asked Me to Marry Him

by Marlo Berliner

I’ve never really told too many people this story, so I thought I’d share it today. It goes a little something like this…a funny thing happened on the way to the dorm…

Walter in Hello Dolly!

In spring 1991, I was a senior at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. (I’m sure I’m dating myself, but who cares. For the record, my internal age is perpetually seventeen anyway.) At the time, I was already engaged (with a sparkly rock on my finger to prove it), only a few weeks from graduation, and looking forward to moving to Houston with my fiancee at the end of May. I was walking back from class and starving. (When isn’t a college student starving?) Ahead of me, I noticed one of the campus thoroughfares, Margaret Morrison St., had been blocked off with trailers, canopies, and equipment. I didn’t think too much about why – things out of the ordinary were always happening on campus. I guess I thought someone was selling something or setting up for a rally or concert.

As I got closer, I noticed a table full of snacks – crackers, cheese, bagels, donuts, pitchers of water, that kind of thing. I remember thinking, “Oh cool, free food.” So, I strolled over and grabbed a plateful of snacks. In my haste to scarf free grub, I started choking madly on a dry cracker. Next thing I know, a deep voice I sort of recognized was at my side. “Looks like you could use a glass of water, young lady.” With cracker bits falling out of my now crimson face, I looked up to see who was speaking – it was none other than Walter Matthau dressed in an old dark brown suit and vest. He smiled, poured a cup of water and handed it to me. I awkwardly gulped it down because I was still half choking to death, embarrassed as hell, and struck speechless.

For those of you who might not know, Walter Matthau was an Academy Award winning

Walter in The Odd Couple

actor best known for his role as Oscar Madison in The Odd Couple and his frequent movie collaborations with Odd Couple star Jack Lemmon, as well as his role as Coach Buttermaker in the 1976 comedy, The Bad News Bears. He also starred as Max Goldman in the 1993 comedy, Grumpy Old Men, and its 1995 sequel, Grumpier Old Men. As a young girl, I grew up watching his old movies and TV shows with my dad.

When I could finally speak again, I asked the obvious but daft question, “Ummm, what are you doing here?”

“We’re filming a movie,” Walter said. (I was mortified as I realized I must’ve stolen the snacks meant for the actors and crew.) “Would you care to walk me to the set?” He then offered me his bent elbow to hook my arm around and off we strolled towards the building CMU’ers affectionately refer to as Maggie Mo (for Margaret Morrison Hall which sits on Margaret Morrison St.)

At this point, the breeze created by a feather could’ve knocked me over. Here I was, meandering around with Walter Matthau on my arm as if it was the most natural, everyday occurrence in the world.

It gets better.

Harry Morgan in M*A*S*H

As we walked along making small talk (he asked me my name, what I was majoring in, when I was graduating, all the usual stuff), we passed one of the trailers. And who should walk out, but Harry Morgan, another TV and film star, probably best known for his role as Colonel Potter in the long-running TV series, M*A*S*H – another popular TV series that, unless you had been raised by wolves in the deep woods of Montana, had become a household name.

Now, truth be told, I had watched nearly every episode of M*A*S*H mostly as reruns (I was young when the show first began). M*A*S*H was the pop culture hit of its time and one of my faves. So I’m sure you can imagine my surprise as Harry Morgan said to Walter, “Who’s this beautiful redhead?” At this point, I’m sure I blushed red as a tomato to match my hair color.

“Her name’s Marlo, like Marlo Thomas,” Walter said with a charming smile. “I saved her life and now she’s walking me to the set.”

“Well, we can’t have you stealing all the pretty girls, so she’s taking me too,” Harry replied with a winning smile of his own and he took my other arm.

“I’m not stealing her,” Walter said mischievously, almost as if he had to one-up Harry on the charm meter. He turned to me and said the most shocking thing imaginable. “Will you marry me?”

Now, I’m sure he meant it in jest since he was married at the time, but it still left me speechless.

Then Harry chimed in with, “She doesn’t want to marry you, you old fool…she wants to marry me.”

At this point, all I could think to do was wiggle my engagement ring hand in front of them and say politely, “Sorry, I can’t marry anyone, I’m already engaged.”

“Oh, too bad,” Harry said, shaking his head. “The best ones are always taken.”

“Isn’t that always the way?” Walter added while patting my arm.

Turns out, Walter and Harry were filming the first of three made for TV movies called The Incident. Walter Matthau was playing the role of lawyer Harmon Cobb alongside Harry Morgan as Judge Stoddard Bell. They would later go on to film two sequels as these characters, namely Against Her Will: An Incident in Baltimore and Incident in a Small Town.

A moment later we got to the set and I saw that Maggie Mo had been transformed into an old courthouse, complete with a streetlamp and a sign to cover over the building’s real name. Multiple cameras dotted the sidewalk and actors dressed in old-fashioned suits milled about waiting to begin filming. Walter asked me if I wanted to be an extra for the day, but unfortunately I was already going to be late for work. When I said I couldn’t, he thanked me for “taking good care of him”, said it was a pleasure meeting me and shook my hand as he wished me luck in the future. Harry did the same and I stood off to the side for a few minutes watching them get ready to shoot the scene.

All in all, Walter and Harry were both charming and funny and it was like being between two sweet, old grandfathers. I walked the rest of the way to my dorm utterly stunned that I had met Walter Matthau and Harry Morgan. When my roommate asked me why I was late, I told her “because Walter Matthau asked me to marry him.” Of course, she didn’t believe me.

Anyone else have an interesting story about meeting someone famous? If so, please share it with us in the comments below!



Cathy Perkins

Release Day!

by Cathy Perkins

Way back in the dawn of time, I made the silly decision to not only participate in NaNo (National Novel Writing Month) but to also join the Entangled Smackdown on Savvy Authors. In one of life’s balances to What Was I Thinking? that Smackdown introduced me to some fabulous people who were also terrific writers. One of those women was Teri Stanley, who made us laugh with the Tale of the Cat Blanket.

Today is release day for Teri’s debut story – Deadly Chemistry, released by Entangled Publishing’s Ignite imprint. I had the pleasure of reading random early scenes and jumped on the chance to review an Advance Reading Copy. And it’s fabulous!

Here’s the scoop:


By Teri Anne Stanley

Sex, Lies, and Science Geeks, # 1

Some chemical reactions generate too much heat…

Former undercover cop Mike Gibson has been lying low, working as a maintenance man to put his troubled younger brother through college. But when a beautiful scientist enlists Mike’s help to repair the damage done to her lab by a group of vandals, Mike finds that his, and his brother’s pasts, are about to be brought to light.

Laura Kane was happy having a secret crush on the hot maintenance man at Tucker University, but when the drug she was studying is stolen, Laura has a chance to get to know Mike in person. The problem is, he seems to know more about what’s going on than any maintenance man should. But then the drug turns up in the wrong hands, and Mike and Laura have to decide if their own chemistry will help, or hinder, the race to save innocent lives.


Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and other online retailers



Teri Anne Stanley has been writing since she could hold a crayon–though learning to read was a huge turning point in her growth as a writer. Teri’s first stories involved her favorite Saturday morning cartoon characters, followed by her favorite teen idols. She has also authored a recipe column (The Three Ingredient Gourmet), and scientific articles (Guess which was more interesting!). Now she writes fun, sexy romance filled with love, angst, and nekkid parts.

Teri’s career has included sex therapy for rats, making posing suits for female body builders, and helping amputee amphibians recover to their full potential. She currently supplements her writing income as a neuroscience research assistant. Along with a variety of teenagers and dogs, she and Mr. Stanley live just outside of Sugartit, which is—honest to God—between Beaverlick, and Rabbit Hash, Kentucky.


You can find Teri at her Author Website or hanging our on Twitter



Cathy Perkins

Guest Post – Joanne Troppello

by Cathy Perkins

Please welcome our guest, Joanne Troppello, to The Muse.  I’m delighted to share her latest release and …

The Story Behind Mr. Shipley’s Governess

 Joanne Troppello

Since my teenage years, I’ve been a fan of reading first YA fiction and then romance novels. Who doesn’t like reading about a dreamy hero as he pursues the heroine of the story? I began my foray into writing during my high school years. I was not actually published until many years later, but the dream was born in my heart during my senior year in English class. I had a very inspiring teacher who shared his love of writing and literature with our class—it was the first time that I thought hey, maybe someday I can become an author too.

It took me several years to write my inspirational romance novel, Mr. Shipley’s Governess because I had a full-time job while I wrote it. Now that it’s finally published, it’s exciting to bring my characters to readers’ lives for them to enjoy their story. I wanted to write a tale of love and inspiration with a romantic hero, and a heroine in need of “rescuing.” Now, this is not a damsel-in-distress tale per see, like a knight in shining armor rescuing the imprisoned princess. However, this is more of a modern day twist. The hero, Sebastian Shipley is a well-to-do business man who has a daughter with an illness. She is in need of a live-in tutor. Into the picture comes the heroine, Sophie Baird. So what does she need rescuing from? A few months earlier, her parents had died in a car accident and she needs to escape the pain of their death and be rescued from her life. Read the rest of this entry »


Cathy Perkins

Eve Devon – Happy Book Birthday!

by Cathy Perkins

I had the pleasure of meeting Eve Devon last year when her debut release, The Waiting Game, hit the streets. She’s just as gracious now, a year later. Let’s celebrate her novel’s first anniversary!

So, here’s Eve -


So The Waiting Game turns one year old today and as it was my debut book it got me thinking about all the firsts I experienced with its publication.

This year has flown by, but I can still remember the flutter in my heart when I first saw ‘copyright by’ and the copyright symbol next to my name.

And seeing my cover for the first time? I can admit that it took me a while to realize Big Ben was in the background—I was distracted by something in the foreground. Abs can say so much, don’t you think?!

Then there was seeing my book appear on all the bookseller sites that I usually purchased books from. Typing in my name and having my book pop up to buy—yep, total rush!

But as I raise my glass in celebration of The Waiting Game being out a year, the absolute icing on the cake was the first time a reader took the time to contact me and tell me how much they enjoyed my book. Read the rest of this entry »


Cathy Perkins

Guest Ann Gimpel – Elements of Great Storytelling

by Cathy Perkins

Welcome Ann Gimpel, Amazon bestselling fantasy and romance author, to the Muse! Her newest dark paranormal, Blood and Magic, just released with the wonderful tag line, Can Luke conquer his past and claim the only woman he’s ever loved?

Ann shares Elements of Great Storytelling with us today.


I’ve thought about this a lot lately since I ran into a spate of uninspired books, both on my Kindle and in Books on CD. I will say, though, that in the latter format, a gifted actor reading an audiobook can make even a mediocre story come to life and can gloss over awkward grammatical constructions so they aren’t quite as noticeable.

How about if we start with characters? It goes without saying they need to be three dimensional, which means they have thoughts, feelings, and actions that are congruent with their personalities. In my opinion, if a book doesn’t have characters that reach out and grab your heartstrings, then it’s DOA. It can have the most inspired plot in the world, but it’s wasted if readers don’t care about the characters.

Alrighty, so we have decent characters. Maybe not great characters, but they’re good enough you want to pick up the book to see what they’re going to do next. Plot determines the next moves in a book. Plot is basically the story that the book tells, but it’s how we get from point A to point B that weeds out talented writers from the rest of the pack. Brilliant plotting is tightly woven and the writer’s hand is all but invisible. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been somewhere in a book and something happens that just screams “convenient plot twist.” As an aside, this is why all writers need someone—crit partners, publishers, editors—to be a fresh pair of eyes. No matter how seasoned a writer is, he (or she) can’t see the foibles in his own writing. Not all of them, anyway. Another plotting issue is plot threads that go nowhere. They look intriguing, but the writer just never gets back to them. Read the rest of this entry »


Livia Quinn

Guest Claire Ashgrove

by Livia Quinn


Welcome Claire Ashgrove to the Muse. She’s going to share something personal about the hero in her new release.

Building on a background of fantasy game design, a fascination with history, and a lifetime love of books, award-winning author Claire Ashgrove brings to life action-filled, passionate journeys of the heart. Her paranormal series, The Curse of the Templars, marries the history of the Knights Templar with the chilling aspirations of the most unholy–a must-read for speculative fiction fans. She also writes as the  National Bestselling Author Tori St. Claire and historical romance author Sophia Garrett.

In her non-writing time, she’s runs Finish The Story, a full-scale editing house cofounded with Bryan Thomas Schmidt.  She lives in Missouri and enjoys cooking, studying ancient civilizations, and spending downtime with her two sons and too-many horses, cats, and dogs.

A Tour of Kale’s Living Quarters in BEFORE THE STORM

 Good morning, everybody!  Thanks for having me here today and letting me share my new Urban Fantasy, Before the Storm.  I recently stumbled onto a guest blog post that was a lot of fun, as it can tell so much about a character.  So, let’s let ourselves into Kale’s living space inside the Tolvenar camarilla and see what we discover.

First Stop:  Living Room – Contrary to his neat and tidy impression, his living room is full of stuff.  One wall is stacked to the ceiling with books.  Another holds an impressive array of antique weapons: swords, daggers, maces and the like. A scratched and weathered wardrobe hides a flat screen television and several shelves of movies.  This is clearly where he’s most at home.

Second Stop:  Kitchen and Fridge – Matching the man who’s always put together, the kitchen is neat and tidy.  A scarred central island, however, hints that this room sees regular use—and readers of Before the Storm know that’s not off the mark.  A peek inside his refrigerator reveals eggs, milk, several fresh cuts of meat, and fresh vegetables.  There is no beer or wine or other alcohol.  And no soda pop.

Third Stop:  The Bedroom – Kale’s bedroom is decorated in shades of grey and black that give off eerie shadows. The furniture, what little there is, is far more modern and harsher in design compared to the living room.  His walls are empty; so is the top of the dresser.  On his nightstand sits a solitary alarm clock.  If you open the nightstand drawer, you’ll find nothing inside.  There’s nothing personable in this room, as if perhaps he wants to hide the man he really is.

So there you have it!  The three primary rooms in Kale’s small residence inside the camarilla.  Does this glimpse tell you anything about the man he really is? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

I hope you’ll delve into Kale’s world and learn his secrets for yourself.  Now’s a good time too – it’s currently available at an introductory rate of only .99 cents.  No better time than now to give it a try!

Before I go, I wanted to mention that as part of the release celebration, I’m sponsoring a giveaway of a $15.00 Amazon Gift Certificate, randomly chosen from commenters throughout the tour.  And I have several opportunities over the next two weeks to win free copies and more gift certificates.  To see complete tour dates, and the other release-week events, check out the Before The Storm Tour Schedule!

Keep in Touch via:  Claire Ashgrove Website

Tori St. Claire Website   Sophia Garrett Website

Untamed Spirit Blog   Twitter   Facebook

Find Before the Store at your favorite store:

Amazon US  Amazon UK  Amazon CA  Amazon AU

Barnes and Noble  Print Version


Cathy Perkins

Island Inspiration – Guest Post Julie Lindsey

by Cathy Perkins

Julie Lindsey is a fellow Carina author who released a new mystery this month, the second in her Seaside series. Please welcome her to the Muse while she tempts us with her island retreat.


Island Inspiration

In 2007, about four years before I knew I was a writer, my family visited a tiny East Coast island on vacation. It was the kind of place that worms into your soul and grows there. I never wanted to leave. In some ways, I really haven’t. For those of you who aren’t familiar, Chincoteague is a small island off the coast of Virginia. When I say “small” I mean 3×7 miles small. The tiny island community is delightfully unusual, made up of some transient folks who spend the winters elsewhere and others who stay year round. There are quaint little shops and gulls galore. Fishermen and tourists. Craftsmen and artesians. When it finally occurred to me I wanted to write a novel, I knew this was the perfect setting and I couldn’t wait to get started.

I can still vividly remember the scent of brine and salt in the heavy humid air and how the evenings smelled of ash from grills and bonfires with a note of butter from families eating dinner on their decks. I close my eyes and see the weathered boards of the fishing pier and the curving steps to the lighthouse. Chincoteague had everything I needed to tell my tale. The small community was great for lovable secondary characters. The island setting was perfect for romance. The national forest was great for scary chase scenes. Read the rest of this entry »


Cathy Perkins

Secondary but Not Second-rate

by Cathy Perkins

By Sandra Parshall

I hate to haul out a cliché in my first sentence, but it’s true: it takes a village to make a novel. I’m not talking about the business of writing and publishing. I’m referring to all the other fictional people who populate the protagonist’s world.

Sidekicks, secondary characters, walk-ons who appear in one scene or chapter and never show up again — they’re all necessary to create a fully-realized fictional world, and each one deserves thoughtful attention from the author. A great lead can’t come to life in a crowd of cardboard cutouts. Would Sherlock Holmes still be thriving in books and on the screen if Watson, Mrs. Hudson, and Mycroft didn’t have their own vivid personalities and quirks?  Read the rest of this entry »


Lizbeth Selvig

Meet Debut Author Deb Julienne

by Lizbeth Selvig

I’d love to introduce you to debut author Deb Julienne! She has a brand new series starting next week with her novel titled “Sex, Lies, and Beauty Aides,” a super-fun-sounding, sexy romp. Today Deb is here to show us how a romance writer’s mind works when coming up with a new story—or in Deb’s case, a new series.  Below is a very, very lovely gallery of gentlemen and ladies who inspired the series  Deb is working on next.

Here’s a little biography for you.  Welcome to Blame it on the Muse, Deb! Read the rest of this entry »


Lizbeth Selvig

DREAM, DREAM, DREAM, DREAM – Welcome debut author Mary Strand

by Lizbeth Selvig

I’ve known Mary Strand since 2005 and I have to say — I’ve NEVER regretted the moment I met and got to know her. If you follow her humorous escapades on FB, you’ll know that MANY people feel that way. Mary is funny and fun, and one of the most focused and goal-oriented people I know (she’ll laugh but it’s true). Because of that, she has realized the publishing dream she’s been chasing a while now.

Mary’s debut novel COOPER’S FOLLY (a Golden Heart winning book) was released by Belle Bridge Books this week–the story of a lawyer-become-Nanny. Twist: Cooper is a man. Looking for a change in dreams. She’s here to tell us the story behind the story. I’m so pleased to introduce my friend, and Hugh Jackman’s secret–or not-so-secret–FB lover, Mary Strand!

Hi Musers! Now I’ve got “All I Have to Do Is Dream” as sung by the Everly Brothers playing nonstop in my head, and maybe you do, too.  (Hey, at least it’s not Justin Bieber.  You’re welcome.)  But life is, to me, about the dreams you have for yourself and what you do with them. Read the rest of this entry »

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