Interview with Tracy Ward, Author of Fair Play and Giveaway!


Please give a warm welcome to guest Tracy Ward! She’s visiting the virtual offices to talk about her new release Fair Play.  To celebrate, she has a tour wide gift card to giveaway, too, so please enter the giveaway after reading Tracy’s interview.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Tracy Ward] Wife, mom, adventurer, finder of lost things, a terrible cook and a worse dancer.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Fair Play?

[Tracy Ward] Every writer has a muse and playwright, Ashlyn Carter is no exception.  In order to secure her inheritance, save a regional theater from bankruptcy, and earn her spot on Broadway she must team up with her sworn enemy—her big brother’s best friend, Noah Blake.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Tracy Ward] I love the theater and I love stories about writers. So I asked myself, what would happen if your enemy was your muse in a love story? And from that other questions arose. What would happen if the one girl you could never touch– your best friend’s little sister–turned out to be the only girl you’d ever love? Ashlyn and Noah took shape from that and Fair Play was born.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Ashlyn?

[Tracy Ward]




[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Noah had a theme song, what would it be?

[Tracy Ward] Comfortably Numb, the Eddie Vedder version.  For some reason I found myself listening to this song almost every time I wrote in his POV.  But then Ashlyn comes along and pushes all his buttons and it turns into something more along the lines of Crossfire by The Killers.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Ashlyn is never without.

[Tracy Ward] A ponytail holder.  In the Texas heat, no girl with long hair should ever be without one. 🙂

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Noah’s bathroom?

[Tracy Ward] He’s not a metro-sexual, so I’d say 1). Hair gel  2). moisturizer   3). a hair dryer

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Ashlyn’s greatest regret?

[Tracy Ward] Inviting Kyle back to Noah’s place that night in New York is her biggest regret.  She was only seventeen at the time, young and naive.  Not only did she think Kyle would actually share her script with his famous father, but she thought she could make Noah jealous in the process.  Boy did that backfire on her.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Tracy Ward] Music, movies, and people watching.  I know the people watching thing sounds totally creepy, but I like listening to other people’s conversations, observing their mannerisms and body language.  It gives me all kinds of crazy insights and ideas.   

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Tracy Ward] 1). A laptop.  I’ve never been one of those pen-to-paper people.  My mind works too fast and my hand writing is way too slow. 

2). I almost always have a Diet Coke close by

3). I need to be alone.  I’m not one of those people who can sit in a room and feed off of collective energy.  I need my own space and my own noises. 

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What was your biggest distraction while working on Fair Play?

[Tracy Ward] My kids.  They’re 8 and 10 (7 and 9 at the time I wrote FP) and are active in sports, which most of the time my hubs and I coach.  There’s always a practice or game to go to or communications to be sent to parents.  And if there isn’t a practice or game, I’m planning for the practice/game.  I’m always thinking about how well we’re doing in teaching and preparing them, not just for the next game, but for life in general.  So maybe the answer isn’t just my kids, but the neighborhood kids too. :-)   

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Tracy Ward] The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series.  That was a phenomenal series that started slow for me, but once I got into it, I couldn’t stop reading.  I’m really really sad there won’t be any more of those.  Lisbeth Salander has to be the most compelling character ever created. 

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Tracy Ward] The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton.  My sister, who is three years older, read it.  I think it was the first and last book she ever read.  :-)  I was in fourth grade at the time. It captivated me and I’ve been devouring books since.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Tracy Ward] I play on a rec league women’s basketball team.  We’re all pretty competitive, I don’t know how you can play sports and not be. And it gets rough out there, which is a tremendous stress reliever, but I wouldn’t trade the bruises I’ve taken or given for anything. 

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Tracy Ward]!/tracyaward

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!


Enter here for a chance to win a $50 gift card to be given away at the end of the tour:

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Purchase link:


About the book:

Writing three plays for a nationally acclaimed theater in Phair, Texas, wasn’t supposed to put my inheritance at risk and force me into constant contact with Noah Blake–the very guy I love to hate. But with one chance to prove to my controlling father that I can succeed as a playwright, I’ve developed a major case of writer’s block.

Cue Noah, my older brother’s best friend and the guy I’ve avoided since my crush-gone-bad days. And now my director thinks he’s the key to unleashing my creativity. He thinks Noah is my muse. Discovering the fate of the theater is also in my hands, I have no choice but to collaborate with my worst enemy. But it’s more than just a great scene Noah inspires. Now everything I thought I wanted is put to the test. And the guy I swore I was over still has a hold on my heart.

Character Interview with Colton Nelson from Carolyn Brown’s Billion Dollar Cowboy and Giveaway!

Please welcome special guest Carolyn Brown to the virtual offices this morning! Carolyn and her sexy new protagonist, Colton Nelson, are here to answer a few questions, and after, they have a copy of Billion Dollar Cowboy for one of you to win!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in five words or less.

[Carolyn Brown] Very lucky. Dependable. Hard-working.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you share a typical day in the life of Colton Nelson?

[Carolyn Brown] A rancher’s day is never typical. Any number of things can rise up in a moment to change plans. Like cows getting out of the pasture when I had a lovely evening planned with Laura. But on a normal day—it’s breakfast about the time the sun comes up, going about feeding, working cattle, hauling hay, plowing, fixing fences and thinking about Laura all day while I’m doing it. Don’t tell her that, please. She’s already skittish as an unbroken colt. Then coming back to the house in the evening to spend some time with the family…and Laura.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words come to mind when you think of Laura?

[Carolyn Brown] Oh, my. Only three words? I could talk about Laura all day. Okay, then three words…gorgeous (from the inside out); honest (even if it hurts); sexy (even in her glasses).

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What was the first thing that you noticed about her?

[Carolyn Brown] We were sitting at the supper table and I was still feeling the effects of the drug the women in a bar had dosed me with the night before. Andy brought Laura to supper and he’d introduced her around the table, telling her that the cowboy at the end who looked like shit was me. Thanks again, Andy, for that comment from my best friend! And even though I felt like exactly what Andy said I looked like, I noticed the sweet nature Laura had when she talked to Roxie. That can’t be faked and it appealed to me. She wasn’t there to fleece me and as I found out later, she didn’t give a damn about money. Outside of my grandmother, Laura might have been the first totally honest person, I ever met.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could change one thing you’ve done in your life, what would it be?

[Carolyn Brown] Nothing because it is the choices that I made yesterday that makes me the man I am today. However, I might have learned a little more about the financial world along the way. Thank goodness Andy takes care of that for me. I trust him explicitly to make the right choices about investments and to steer me right when it comes to my bank account.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s one thing you won’t leave home without?

[Carolyn Brown] An extra set of pickup keys. I wouldn’t want to be left without a way to get out of a situation if someone stole my keys so I keep a set taped to the underside of the tail gate with duct tape.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t chasing off women in love with your bank account?

[Carolyn Brown] I love snow cones. I like sitting in the swings at the school yard while I eat snow cones. I like talking to Laura who also likes eating snow cones while she swings. She’s what my grandmother would call an old soul and peace surrounds me when I’m with her.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you share your dreams for the future in five words or less.

[Carolyn Brown] I lived happily-ever-after! I know that sounds like a romance novel but hey, if a person can achieve happy-ever-after, they don’t need much else.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

[Carolyn Brown] Thank you all at Manga Maniac Cafe for asking me to stop by your site today. Now I’ve got to get on back to the ranch. You never know what Roxie and Laura might be cooking up! Laura and I both thank Carolyn for telling our story just the way it happened. She had some ideas there in the beginning of her own but after we disturbed her sleep a few nights she figured out that we really did know exactly what happened from page one all the way to the end.

Giveaway Time!

Ready for a chance to win a copy  of Billion Dollar Cowboy?   Just fill out the widget below

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A Billionaire Can Buy Anything…

Colton Nelson was twenty-eight years old when he won the Texas Lottery and went from ranch hand to ranch owner overnight. Now he’s desperate to keep the gold diggers away. It shouldn’t be too hard to find a pretty girl and hire her to pretend to be his one-and-only.

Or Can He?

Laura Baker’s got mixed feelings about this—she’s on the ranch to work, not to be arm candy. On the other hand, being stuck for a while in the boondocks with a gorgeous cowboy isn’t half-bad.

What neither Colton nor Laura expects are the intensely hard lessons they have to learn about the real cost of love…


Carolyn Brown is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author with more than 60 books published. Born in Texas and raised in southern Oklahoma, Carolyn and her husband now make their home in the town of Davis, Oklahoma. Carolyn’s first women’s fiction novel, The Blue Ribbon Jalapeño Society Jubilee is now available, and you can look for her next cowboy romance, Cowboy Seeks Bride in August 2013! For more information, please visit:

To purchase Billion Dollar Cowboy:


Barnes and Noble




Discover a New Love


Interview with Lucy King, Author of One More Sleepless Night

Please welcome Lucy King to the virtual offices! Lucy is here to chat about her latest, One More Sleepless Night!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Lucy King] Voracious reader, erratic writer, ace procrastinator. Mother of two, sun-loving Hispanophile. Avid list-maker yet perplexingly inefficient.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about One More Sleepless Night?

[Lucy King] One More Sleepless Night is the story of Nicky Sinclair, a photojournalist who, following a nasty incident in the Middle East, is suffering from PTSD and burnout. On the recommendation of a friend she heads to Spain for some lovely peaceful R&R, only to discover that she has to share her retreat with Rafael Montero, a man who, being after solitude, peace and quiet and a break from women, does not feel inclined to babysit a house guest. Throw in a nightmare or two, scorching summer heat and a ferocious one-sided attraction, and things become far from restful!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Lucy King] By the time the story’s finished, it’s generally undergone so many twists and turns that its origins fade into the mists of time and thousands of deleted words. That’s certainly the case for this story, although what I can remember is that I’d always wanted to set a story in south west Spain, where I live, and write about a dark brooding Spaniard (which had nothing to do with the desire to endlessly Google Antonio Banderas, absolutely nothing at all). A heroine with PTSD was just someone I think I thought sounded interesting.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Nicky?

[Lucy King] Ex-thrill-seeker. Burnt-out basket-case.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Rafael had a theme song, what would it be?

[Lucy King] That’s a tricky one as I’m hopeless with songs and who sang them. I did rack my brains, but couldn’t come up with anything. However if there’s a song out there about being a loner, believing you’re emotionally unreliable, and having a tendency to stick your head in the sand, then that would be it.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Nicky is never without.

[Lucy King] Her hi-spec digital camera.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Rafael’s bathroom?

[Lucy King] Moisturiser. Hair gel. Waxing strips.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Nicky’s greatest regret?

[Lucy King] As she’s always lived life to the max Nicky doesn’t believe in regrets – or at least she didn’t before she became such a mess. Now, though, she regrets pretty much everything.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Lucy King] The voices in my head…

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Lucy King] A computer and a clear head. Coffee’s a bonus, as is my iPod which I find helps to block out the distracting sounds of every day life. In order to write like the wind though, all I need is a looming deadline.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Lucy King] Recently I’ve read Rules of Civility by Amor Towles and The Hopeless Life of Charlie Summers by Paul Torday and loved both, but the one that springs to mind and kept me up til dawn is Before I Go to Sleep by SJ Watson. Original and spine-tingling.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Lucy King] I spent most of my childhood with my head in a book, devouring anything I could get my hands on. Enid Blyton was a favourite (The Enchanted Wood, Malory Towers, the Famous Five…) so it was probably one by her.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Lucy King] In my dreams I lie on the sofa reading and catching up on TV shows, or go out with friends and dance til dawn. In reality, however, toddlers don’t think much of people lying on the sofa relaxing and they don’t have much sympathy for the tiredness that staying up all night results in, so I generally find myself entertaining the children, cooking for the children and clearing up after the children, while studiously ignoring the piles of paperwork building up.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Lucy King] I’m such a remiss blogger that I’ve kind of given up on that. However, I do Tweet from time to time (@lucy_king) and can be found wittering away on Facebook ( Then there’s my website and lastly, email I love hearing from readers, so please do get in touch.

Thank you for having me here!

[Manga Maniac Cafe]  Thank you!

Purchase links:

About the book:

She’s going to take her life back…one sizzling night at a time!It used to be Nicky Sinclair’s nightmares that kept her up all night; those 3:00 a.m. silences were her worst enemy. So now she’s following doctor’s orders—rest, relaxation and plenty of therapeutic Spanish sunshine.

Only she hasn’t counted on sharing her tranquil retreat with her best friend’s brother, Rafael, whose presence is anything but peaceful! With his beguiling eyes and smoldering smile, he quickly becomes a very welcome distraction. After all, if she’s struggling to sleep, why not find something else to do with her time…?

About the author:

Lucy King spent her formative years lost in the world of romance novels when she really ought to have been paying attention to her teachers. Up against sparkling heroines, gorgeous heroes and the magic of falling in love, trigonometry and ablative absolutes didn’t stand a chance.

But as she couldn’t live in a dream world forever, she eventually acquired a degree in languages and an eclectic collection of jobs. A stroll to the River Thames one Saturday morning led her to her very own hero. The minute she laid eyes on the hunky rower getting out of a boat, clad only in Lycra and carrying a three metre oar as if it was a toothpick, she knew she’d met the man she was going to marry. Luckily the rower thought the same.

She’ll always be grateful to whatever it was that made her stop dithering and actually sit down to type Chapter One, because dreaming up her own sparkling heroines and gorgeous heroes is pretty much her idea of the perfect job.

Originally a Londoner, Lucy now lives in Spain, where she spends much of the time reading, failing to finish cryptic crosswords and trying to convince herself that lying on the beach really is the best way to work.

Interview with Angela McCallister, Author of Bad Mouth and Giveaway!

Angela McCallister dropped by the virtual offices to chat about her new release BAD MOUTH.  Check out what she had to say!  Be sure to enter the giveaways, too!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Angela McCallister] Sometimes geeky, sometimes funny, sometimes serious. Loves family, good friends, good food, books, romance, and dark humor.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Bad Mouth?

[Angela McCallister] A human with a vampire grudge is forced to work with a human-hating vampire prince to solve a chain of vampire-on-human murders. Their attraction is shocking, but they won’t let that get in the way of their prejudice—until close proximity reveals what lies beneath their racial allegiances. The trouble is some of the murders were committed with Kade’s blessing, and if Val learns of it, there’d be more hell to pay than with just his life. She could tip the delicate balance between the vampire castes and bring on a war like none before. If race weren’t enough, his dark secrets ensure the growing connection between them is doomed.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Angela McCallister] I listened to Bad Mouth by indie band Fugazi, a song I’d heard many times over, but one day it struck me the title would be great for a vampire story. I found out there were no books by that name so I had to write one, lol. As I always do, I began with the characters. What was the worst pairing possible? A human-hating vampire and a vampire-loathing human, of course. To complicate their relationship, he had to be involved in some bad stuff that validated her opinion of vampires. Kade had to have proof humans deserved his antipathy, thus he gets to deal with some bad humans. I compounded that with a very touchy situation within Kade’s two-caste vampire society, a quite insane pair of vampires (his parents) as the head of the society, an opportunistic gang of Slavers, and societal protocols that bind their decisions tighter than a gnat’s behind. Heh, the relationship may be the easy part in all of this.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Valerie?

[Angela McCallister] Determined. Courageous. Virtuous.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Kade had a theme song, what would it be?

[Angela McCallister] Unequivocally, it is Demons by Imagine Dragons. Every. Darn. Word. I can’t even pick a key phrase from the lyrics without posting most of the song. Google the lyrics, but I warn you, you’ll want to hear the song and then you’ll want to download it. It’s beautiful and tortured and very Kade.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Valerie is never without.

[Angela McCallister] Her pepper spray, lol. Her assistant, Alice, talks her into carrying a gun with her later for safety, but she’d adopted the pepper spray well before the book begins. Also a habit picked up from Alice 🙂

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Kade’s bedroom?

[Angela McCallister] A suit he’s actually worn. He’s a vampire prince, but you’d never know his riches because he’s eternally in a T-shirt and worn jeans. A condom because the only disease vampires succumb to is vesania (a kind of madness) and because pregnancy would have to be intentional in his particular case. Finally, food of any sort. Vampires may eat if they so choose, but not this prince of vampires.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Valerie’s greatest regret?

[Angela McCallister] Not being able to save her ex-husband from himself.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Angela McCallister] When I first started as a pre-teen, I read a lot of McCaffrey, Asimov, Heinlein, etc., but I got into a horror phase and devoured Clive Barker, Brian Lumley, Stephen King and the like and then a fantasy phase with Piers Anthony, Robert Jordan, Weis & Hickman. Now, I can’t get enough happy endings so when I re-caught the reading bug on deployment, my favs were Gena Showalter, Kresley Cole, Nalini Singh, Karen Moning, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Christine Feehan. So I’m pretty sure this is why I went the paranormal route first, though that doesn’t mean I don’t have plans for some contemporaries. Guess I was destined to be as eclectic as my reading tastes, lol. Believe it or not, I even had a Louis L’Amour phase, and I’d still love to find a romance version of the Sacketts. Feel free to send suggestions 😉 PS—I’ve already devoured every American historical by Pamela Clare, lol.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Angela McCallister] Me, myself, and I. I once “wrote” two-thirds of a novel while driving cross-country from Pensacola to Point Mugu. I jotted it all down on my laptop each night once I got to my hotel.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Angela McCallister] Tiffany Reisz! I’m dying because she cliffhangered right off the end of The Prince and I neeeed that next book.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Angela McCallister] Why, Dr. Seuss, of course 🙂 I got obsessed with reading from the time I could actually do it, and it never ended. I honestly couldn’t say which of the books it was since it was so long ago, but it was definitely one of those vibrant, creative treasures.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Angela McCallister] Outside of writing, reading, and critting? Hmm. If I were to pick something outside of the literary world, I’d say gorging on my addiction to cheesy scifi/horror movies. Surely that must come from my taste in books in high school, lol.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Angela McCallister] Very easily and in many ways. Check out my website (, my Twitter (, my Facebook (, my Pinterest (, or my Goodreads ( I’m also on Linkdin and Google+, but forgive me. I barely know what to do with those *g* Come and visit the Chick Swagger Blog ( where I blog with a very fun, feisty, and talented group of Chicks. I’m on Manic Readers, The Romance Studio, World Lit Café, and I have my author page on Amazon.

It’s been a great pleasure, Julie! Thanks so much for inviting me.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!


We have two giveaways today!  First up, Angela is giving away one author-signed paranormal book bundle and one $50 Amazon/Barnes and Noble gift card.

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And next, just fill out the widget below to enter for a chance to win a copy of Bad Mouth. Open Internationally!

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Purchase links:



Barnes and Noble:


About the book:

After her ex-husband’s obsession with vampires, Valerie Craig is on a mission to stop transformations. Of all vampires, Kade Rollins is the worst of the worst, but when multiple murders plague Seattle, Val is forced to enlist his aid. Kade’s crude wit and seductive nature attract her like no other, but she can’t ignore his violence toward his human servants, no matter her yearning to forget.

She’s torn when she learns Kade may be behind the murders. Val’s worked hard to protect humans from vampires, but the truth surrounding the murders could ignite a bloody battle between their races, one humans are sure to lose. Someone is pulling strings to build a vampire army and spark the war—setting Kade up to kick it off. But if she trusts the vampire prince, she risks her job, her integrity, and her heart if he betrays her as all the men in her life have.

About the author:

Angela McCallister is a US Navy Sailor and author of Paranormal Romance repped by the fabulous Nalini Akolekar. Spoiled by the gorgeous weather of Southern California, she spends her days reading and writing whenever she’s lucky enough to be away from work. In fact, she’s never to be found without a book hidden somewhere on her person. Over the past two years, her writing has finaled in multiple RWA writing competitions, and her debut Paranormal Romance, BAD MOUTH, won MERWA’s 2012 Everything But The Kitchen Sink Competition.

Find her on Twitter (, Facebook (, or on her website (

Interview with Merrie Haskell, Author of Handbook for Dragon Slayers

Merrie Haskell dropped by the virtual offices this morning to chat up her latest MG release Handbook for Dragon Slayers.  Check out what she has to say about it.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

@merriehaskell: author, library paraprofessional; obsessed with herbs, blacksmithing, office supplies, alternate universes, anthropology

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Handbook for Dragon Slayers?

[Merrie Haskell] It’s a 12th century adventure story that takes place along the Rhine, in which a runaway princess with a clubfoot who joins forces with two dragon slayers-in-training; she runs into the Wild Hunt, an evil knight, and several dragons along the way.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Merrie Haskell] The broadest part of the concept, a girl who writes a handbook for dragon slayers, actually came to me in drips and drabs over the years.  In college, for a history class, I had to read a wonderful book called A Handbook for William, which was a 9th century German woman’s advice for living at court for her son.  The concept of medieval handbooks actually became a bit of an obsession for me at that point.  How on earth do you make something like that exciting in a fiction book, though? Many years later, I ran across the concept of book curses–notices put at the beginning of books that promised dire consequences for book thieves (explored in an interesting book called Anathema: Medieval scribes and the history of book curses).  I’m not entirely sure when dragons wormed their way in there, other than dragons are so much fun.  When I learned Old English in college, the Anglo-Saxons were sort of obsessed with dragons–it was a big insult to call someone a dragon, because you were a hoarder of gold and treasure, the opposite of what a noble and valiant Anglo-Saxon should be.  Being a giver was important–a ring giver, a bread giver.  It’s so the opposite of how we look at dragons now.  So, these three concepts sort of came together, and I found myself scratching out a book curse:

Whosoever steals this book

shall burn in the

fiery conflagration of a DRAGON’S BREATH



It is advised, therefore,

that you take your nose home intact,

and leave this handbook

for the study of proper DRAGON SLAYERS

It suddenly seemed very clear to me, that a handbook could be very interesting if it were for dragon slayers.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Tilda?

[Merrie Haskell] This is actually something I do while I write: have the main characters and their key character traits written on post-its along my monitor.  Tilda’s said: RESILIENT. 

I would also add either "Dutiful/Rebellious" — this is her main conflict in the book, as she is duty-driven but rebelling against that.

And finally–"Intelligent."

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Parz had a theme song, what would it be?

[Merrie Haskell] Great question!  I would say it’s probably "Good Life" by OneRepublic.  That song just reeks of Parz–a sort of easy happiness and optimism, combined with the joy of adventure and travel.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Judith is never without.

[Merrie Haskell] A personal knife to use for eating.  You always had to bring your own knife to dinner in the Middle Ages.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Tilda’s pockets?

[Merrie Haskell] Well, since she lived in an era in which pockets didn’t exist, this list is sort of endless!  But she has a few pouches and purses and things like that, so I’ll say she’d never carry embroidery needles, thread, or any sort of thimble.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Judith’s greatest regret?

[Merrie Haskell] Judith loves animals, especially baby animals; she comes to regret being a dragon slayer pretty quickly when she realizes that baby dragons are affected!  Otherwise, though, she is not a girl who holds herself back except when prudence demands, so she doesn’t have too terribly many regrets.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Merrie Haskell] I would say learning has the biggest influence on my creativity.  When I’m learning new things, I almost can’t stop the flow of story and character ideas–it just rains down.  The most perfect example of this was recently when I started to learn blacksmithing–knowing that I wanted to write about a blacksmith, of course.  I started seeing the world in the colors of heated metal. I would drive over bridges and think about the wealth of rebar embedded in the concrete beneath me.  I was on a long plane flight with a copy of The Art of Blacksmithing and started to read–in 30 seconds, I had a notebook open next to me as I scribbled scene idea after scene idea, just from reading about the details of the things I had learned in a more hands-on setting.  I think that’s my most perfect learning experience, doing followed up by theory. I am similarly stimulated when I travel or learn languages. I love going to a place and then reading about it in detail.  It feels backward–wouldn’t it be better to learn before you go somewhere?–but I think that gives me preconceptions that aren’t helpful for the stimulation of creativity.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Merrie Haskell] A reasonable night of sleep behind me, a writing tool (pen & paper or computer), and ideally, a notebook or a stack of notecards so I can document the things I don’t want to include in the manuscript.  I have been a creature of ritual and habit from time to time, but so often these things get in my way.  Deadlines which are attached to money have a way of clearing a lot of mental fluff from your process, I’ve found.  I occasionally worry that my process is still too dependent on peripheries (really, a computer AND a notebook?), but whenever I forget the notebook, the process suffers, so I think I really do need it. Jotting notes to myself on the computer helps me very little; the notes just get lost in the shuffle. Having that other thing to look at on the desk beside me while my book is still up on the screen is great. And if I need the physical act of writing with a pen to get me out of my typing-mode brain, it’s right there.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Merrie Haskell] I couldn’t put down WHEN WE WAKE by Karen Healey, which is about a girl that wakes up from a cryogenic sleep a hundred years after she died and has to deal with all the grief and loss of her old world.  I read most of it during my time on the elliptical trainer at the gym, and it’s incredibly awkward to be brought to tears on an elliptical machine. Other people tend to think you’re having an asthma attack or… who knows.  "Sorry, I’m just reading a very affecting book, go back to your treadmill!"

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Merrie Haskell] Without a question, it was Little House on the Prairie.  I was starting to read a lot already, but when I got that for Christmas in first grade, and it seemed like such a *large* and important book and then I read it all, all by myself, I not only realized how much I enjoyed reading, but I felt smart and capable (no one else was reading books that big in my first grade class).  The escape of reading and the increase to my self-worth? A combination impossible to escape.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Merrie Haskell] I like to read, of course.  I was a huge YA reader when I was a young adult, and never stopped reading YA along the way. I like TV–my Tumblr is pretty much reblogged gif sets from sitcoms and Avatar: The Last Airbender, and not much else.  Oh, and Revenge.  I dabble in a variety of hobbies, like the aforementioned blacksmithing, gardening, calligraphy, drawing…  

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Merrie Haskell] I have a Facebook page, but most of the action is on Twitter (@merriehaskell) and my blog (  

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

You can purchase Handbook for Dragon Slayers and The Princess Curse from your favorite bookseller or buy clicking the links below:

About the book:

When a runaway princess throws her lot in with a couple of would-be dragon slayers, before long she is facing down the Wild Hunt, befriending enchanted horses, battling fire-breathing dragons, and learning more about herself than she ever expected…

About the author

Merrie Haskell grew up half in North Carolina, half in Michigan. She wrote her first story at age seven, and she walked dogs after school to save for her first typewriter. She attended the University of Michigan, where she graduated from the Residential College with a degree in biological anthropology. She works in a library with over 7.5 million volumes.

Her first book, the Middle Grade historical fantasy The Princess Curse, was a Junior Library Guild selection. Her second book is Handbook for Dragon Slayers.  Her short fiction appears in Nature, Asimov’s, and various anthologies. Merrie lives in Saline, Michigan.

Interview with Shoma Narayana, Author of Secrets & Saris

Please welcome Shoma Narayanan to the virtual offices today!  Shoma is here to chat about her latest Harlequin release, Secrets & Saris, which is part of the KISS lineup.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Shoma Narayanan] Love writing, hate deadlines.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Secrets & Saris?

[Shoma Narayanan] "Secrets and Saris" is about a rather unlikely couple – Shefali, who’s beautiful, charming, and has been recently jilted; and Neil, who’s a young, gorgeous, single father. Shefali moves to a small town to escape the gossip after her fiancé doesn’t turn up for their wedding. Neil runs an award-winning TV show, and chooses the same town to shoot one of the episodes for the show. Sparks fly when they meet each other, and in spite of her vow to steer clear of men, Shefali finds herself more and more drawn to Neil….

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Shoma Narayanan] The idea for the story came up during a visit to Jabalpur, the town where most of the story is set. I thought it would be interesting to explore the reactions of a rather conventionally brought-up, slightly spoilt big-city girl when she’s forced to adapt to small town life. And what happens when she meets a man who seems to have adapted perfectly to his surroundings, but is actually carrying a huge amount of baggage.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Shefali?

[Shoma Narayanan] Beautiful, determined, and just a little spoilt

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Neil had a theme song, what would it be?

[Shoma Narayanan] Difficult to say

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Shefali is never without.

[Shoma Narayanan] Her handbag – she carries half her life around in it

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Neil’s bedroom?

[Shoma Narayanan] Cigarettes; a clock; flowers

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Shefali’s greatest regret?

[Shoma Narayanan] Having blindly followed the plan her parents had chalked out for her without trying to figure out what she wanted for herself

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Shoma Narayanan] The books I’ve read over the last 30+ years, right from the classics to detective fiction, to romance and chick-lit. Even non-fiction is an influence in a way.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Shoma Narayanan] My laptop, my bean bag, and a good night’s sleep. Silence would be good as well, but with two kids I’ve forgotten what its like to have a quiet house.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Shoma Narayanan] Romance: "The One That Got Away", by Kelly Hunter

Non-romance: "The Rational Optimist"

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Shoma Narayanan] The first book I ever read – it was called "The Enormous Turnip", and I read it over and over and over again! And "To Kill a Mockingbird", which I read when I was considerably older.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Shoma Narayanan] Reading; various vaguely ‘artistic’ hobbies like painting cartoon character murals on my kids’ walls; sewing, knitting and crochet (the most fun part is bullying the kids into wearing what I’ve made). I work full-time in a bank in addition to writing, so I don’t really get all that much free time 🙁

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Shoma Narayanan] Through Goodreads, or through my Facebook page:

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

Purchase links:

Print version available now, eBook releases June 1

About the book:

A secret that could cause scandal!Jilted at the altar, Shefali Khanna should be humiliated. Instead she takes the opportunity to start again. Top of the priority list: do not tumble headfirst into another relationship!

But even moving from the city to the country can’t keep Shefali out of trouble—especially when she catches the eye of local celeb Neil Mitra! There is no way she can risk a scandal already! He might be gorgeous, but he’s totally off-limits…right?

Extra bonus: included is The Wedding Dress Diaries by Aimee Carson, the prequel to our fab new quartet!

Read an excerpt here

Interview with Jeannie Moon, Author of The Temporary Wife


Welcome debut author Jeannie Moon to the virtual offices today!  She is celebrating the release of The Temporary Wife, an InterMix title that is in stores now.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Jeannie Moon] Mom, wife, romance author and librarian. I married my high school sweetie and I love hockey, baseball and sappy movies.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about The Temporary Wife?

[Jeannie Moon] The Temporary Wife is a story about Meg, a kindergarten teacher who becomes guardian to her best friend’s child.  The child’s grandparents mount a custody battle and Meg’s former high school boyfriend, and the Campbell’s estranged son, offers her a temporary marriage to help keep the grandparents in check.  But you know, nothing in these things every goes as planned…

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Jeannie Moon] Funny story.  My agent was approached by an editor at NAL, who had read my work and asked if I wanted to take a crack at an idea they’d been bouncing around for InterMix (their digital first line) for a contemporary romance.  I wasn’t so sure about it, until I started playing with ideas.   Once the ideas started to hatch and I developed Jason and Meg, my hero and heroine, I couldn’t wait to get to their story.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Megan?

[Jeannie Moon] Smart, passionate, fun.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Jason had a theme song, what would it be?

[Jeannie Moon] This was tough, but the song "Ever the Same," by Rob Thomas describes the journey he’s been on with Meg.  It’s on the playlist I put together for the book.  Love it.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Megan is never without.

[Jeannie Moon] A hair tie.  She has long, curly, sometimes unruly hair.  The hair tie is a necessity. 

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Jason’s bathroom?

[Jeannie Moon] Ha!!!  Love this! Any waxing products, any hair product other than shampoo and no special skin care products.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Megan’s greatest regret?

[Jeannie Moon] That she didn’t stand up for herself when she and Jason dated in high school.  He treated her like an afterthought and she allowed him to.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Jeannie Moon] I love stories.  My love of stories is rooted so deep I don’t know a time when I didn’t want to write.  The other thing that influences me is my home.  My books are set on Long Island and in New York City because I love where I live, with beaches being at the top of the list.  And I’m not talking The Hamptons…I love the North Shore. 

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Jeannie Moon] Coffee, music of my choice and no interruptions. 

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Jeannie Moon] Kristan Higgins, THE BEST MAN.  It’s her best book; a deeply emotional story that will make you laugh, cry and root for the characters beginning to end. 

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Jeannie Moon] I had a beautifully illustrated copy of CINDERELLA when I was a child that I asked my parents to read to me all the time.  I carried it with me.  I would say that book made me love romance.  The first book I stayed up all night to finish was CHARLOTTE’S WEB, by E.B. White.  I was eight and I cried my eyes out.
I was hooked.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Jeannie Moon] I love the beach and I love to read.  So for me, summer is the best because I can read at the beach!  My husband and I are both sports nuts so we do like to go to baseball or hockey games, depending on the season.  It’s always  good time.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Jeannie Moon] If you head to my website, there are links to all my social media connections.  I’d love to hear from people!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

You can purchase The Temporary Wife from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the link below:

About the book

It was an offer she couldn’t refuse…from a man she couldn’t resist.

Kindergarten teacher Megan Rossi is devoted to being a mother to her best friend’s five-year-old daughter, Molly. When the child was orphaned, Meg became the little girl’s legally named guardian—over the objections of Molly’s wealthy grandparents, the Campbells. Now the Campbells are petitioning for custody, and Meg is faced with a long and expensive legal battle. The last thing she expects is for her former high school boyfriend—and the Campbells’ estranged son—to offer a solution: marriage.

Billionaire software developer Jason Campbell knows his parents don’t have Molly’s best interests at heart—it’s all about control for them. There is one way he can ensure that his sister’s last wishes are honored. He will offer Meg the protection of his name and lawyers until the custody arrangement has been finalized , then he’ll secure his niece’s future with a very generous divorce settlement. Jason’s considered all the scenarios, except one—that the sparks that once flew between he and Meg might reignite a burning passion. And that his confirmed bachelor heart might just melt away from the heat…

Interview with Anna Cruise, Author of If I Fall


Please give a warm welcome to Anna Cruise! She’s visiting the virtual offices to share some info about her latest release IF I FALL.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Anna Cruise]  Writer of YA and NA. Eater of chocolate. Drinker of coffee. Driver of car filled with kids. In need of a vacation.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about If I Fall?

[Anna Cruise]  If I Fall is the story of Meg Calloway, a 15 year old girl in San Diego who feels like her entire life is imploding. Her parents have divorced, her house is being sold and her mom is on her way to rehab. She feels lost and alone. To combat those two things, she latches on to a boy. The absolute wrong kind of boy.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Anna Cruise]  I think we all go through some incredibly rough patches growing up, periods of time where we make really dumb choices, choices we end up regretting. I know I did. So even though my circumstances were much different than Meg’s, I would say that the concept and characters were, in a very general way, inspired by my own experiences in high school.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Meg?

[Anna Cruise]  At the beginning of the book? Sad. Hopeless. Desperate. At the end? Well, you’ll have to read to find out… 🙂

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Aidan had a theme song, what would it be?

[Anna Cruise]  Highway to Hell.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Meg is never without.

[Anna Cruise]  Her phone. Until it’s taken away, of course.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Meg’s purse?

[Anna Cruise]  Out of all the questions, this is the hardest one to answer because I don’t carry a purse! I have a small backpack with my wallet, my lipstick and a bottle of hand sanitizer. Literally, that’s it. I think I’m the worst mother ever since I never seem to have band-aids or snacks when my kids need them. So thinking of what Meg wouldn’t have in her purse is hard! But, here goes. A pocket Bible. A condom. And birth control pills.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Meg’s greatest regret?

[Anna Cruise]   I don’t think she has many regrets at the beginning of the book. She’s too broken, too angry. But toward the end? That’s easy – how she chose to cope with her parents’ divorce.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Anna Cruise]  Life. Honestly, everything I look at, everything I hear, seems to spawn a story idea. A snippet of a news story, an overheard conversation, a person standing alone on a sidewalk. The wheels are always turning. Always.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Anna Cruise]  Caffeine. Chocolate. And the most important thing – an idea.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off? Um…every one?

[Anna Cruise]  I know people can be critical of books but, for me, I find something to marvel at in every single one. Whether it’s a character or a particular setting or an unexpected twist in the plot, there is always something that makes me stop and go, “Wow. That is freaking awesome.”

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Anna Cruise]  Green Eggs and Ham. I honestly can’t remember a time when I wasn’t a reader. I devoured books – would come home with stacks and stacks from the library, would use my allowance to go buy the latest Sweet Valley High installment at the bookstore. Books have always been a part of my life. Always.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Anna Cruise]   Travel. Even if it means just heading someplace new nearby. I love adventure, love finding new things, love just heading out and letting the road take me some place new.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Anna Cruise]  My front door is ALWAYS open. Literally. Like, it doesn’t have a lock. But, for those who don’t live nearby, they can find me on Facebook, Twitter or shoot me an email. I love hearing from readers and authors!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

You can purchase If I Fall by clicking the link below

About the book

Meg Calloway is at the edge.

Reeling from her parents’ sudden divorce, fifteen-year old Meg has never felt more alone. Her father is about to marry a woman she can’t stand and her mother’s only companion is an endless supply of alcohol. When Aidan Westwood, an older boy at school, shows interest in her, she grabs on and doesn’t let go, thinking he’s exactly what she needs to help stem her loneliness and despair. She quickly learns that Aidan lives a darker, more dangerous life than she does and the more isolated she feels from her family, the more willing she is to step into Aidan’s world.

As Meg drifts further from her friends, she tries to find comfort with a boy who is opening her eyes up to new things, none of them good. Will she listen to those around her who are warning her that she’s headed down a path of self-destruction?

Or will she fall too far…too fast…too deep?

About the author

Anna Cruise has been writing and drooling over boys since middle school. Lots of years have passed but some things never change…

IT WAS YOU is her debut NA novel and IF I FALL her debut YA novel. Additional titles releasing in 2013 include two additional NA titles (including Tana’s story from IT WAS YOU).

Anna loves to hear from readers and authors. Email her at You can also like her Facebook page, find her on Twitter @AnnaCruiseBooks or friend her on Goodreads.