Marilyn Quayle is about to become a published novelist. The wife of the vice president has just sold a novel, written with her older sister Nancy Northcott, to the Crown Publishing Group. The thriller, titled "The Rage of the Lamb," is about events following the fictional death of Cuban leader Fidel Castro and involves the struggle for succession that brings in the Soviet Union and the United States, which are both seeking to take advantage of the crisis. The hero of the story is U.S. Sen. Robert Grant (not from Indiana), who discovers chicanery in both the Cuban and U.S. governments.

Washington lawyer and agent Bob Barnett said Quayle and her sister, a former Tullahoma, Tenn., schoolteacher who now works with her husband, an oral surgeon, wrote the book over a 15-month period. The authors didn't seek an agent until they had completed the manuscript. The book, now being edited, is expected to be published sometime next year. Out and About Joseph Duffey, chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities under President Carter, is one of at least four candidates under consideration to become president of American University. Duffey, who is president of the University of Massachusetts system, was on the AU campus Friday to meet with the search committee. The 58-year-old Duffey, who is married to well-known Washington consultant Anne Wexler, maintains an apartment near the university. Duffey was also assistant secretary for education and cultural affairs at the State Department, is a former director of Americans for Democratic Action and ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate from Connecticut in 1970. Other candidates for the position vacated by Richard Berendzen include Sherry Penney, chancellor of the University of Massachusetts at Boston; Robert Corrigan, president of San Francisco State University; and Arthur R. Taylor, dean of the Fordham University graduate business school ...

Marie Mattson, the former special assistant to Smithsonian Secretary Robert McC. Adams, has been named deputy assistant secretary for external affairs/director of development at the institution and will be involved in fund-raising. This is part of the continuing shakeup of the Smithsonian Institution's senior staff, which included the resignation last October of Tom McCance, who as director of membership and development had worked at finding substantial long-term contributions ...

Several of Mary Martin's fellow performers gathered in Broadway's Majestic Theater Monday in memory of the star, who died Nov. 3. The Majestic had been the scene of one of Martin's greatest triumphs -- she played Nellie Forbush there more than 1,700 times in the Rodgers and Hammerstein hit "South Pacific." The tribute, hosted by her children Larry Hagman and Heller Halliday DeMeritt, included Helen Hayes, Jerome Robbins, Carol Channing, Van Johnson, Carol Lawrence and John Raitt, as well as taped messages from Ronald and Nancy Reagan ...

Here's National Public Radio's political correspondent Linda Wertheimer telling Lear's magazine about the day she brought her mother along to watch her work Capitol Hill: "I thought she would be impressed by the fact that members of Congress called me by my first name, that I could call senators off the floor and ask them questions, that I was very aggressive about getting what I wanted. But at the end of the day -- no, she didn't even wait until the end of the day -- she turned to me and said, 'I didn't bring you up to talk to people like that' " ...