By the time I started writing A Dance of Mirrors, I’d already written several novels involving Haern the Watcher, my own little medieval super hero assassin. He’d established himself as a fan favorite, as well as the nighttime protector of his capital city of Veldaren. So what I needed was a way to really push him to his limits, and in a manner beyond just skill with a sword. I could create dozens of characters equal to him in swordplay if I desired; it doesn’t take too much imagination to make a villain good at killing. But a truly engaging villain, one that felt like a worthy foe? That’s a bit tougher.

 

So I wanted someone who could challenge the Watcher, not only with blades, but over everything he believed, everything he’d come to represent through his stalking of the night. Haern, through sheer skill and vigilance, guarded his city against the criminal underworld’s crime and influence. He fought and killed, but did so to protect the innocent. But what if I presented an antagonist who had the same goals? Someone who viewed the Watcher not as an enemy…but as an inspiration?

 

It was this idea that created the eventual villain for A Dance of Mirrors (as well as inspiring the eventual title). Out of it came the Wraith, a mysterious man lurking in the shadows, killing those in power, using fear and death to shape events as he desired. Only where Haern sought to protect the innocent of a city, the Wraith sought to bend the will of an entire nation. Once I had a villain, everything else fell right into place. I pulled the Watcher from his homeland and sent him to a faraway city, throwing him out of his element to hunt the Wraith, the man killing and leaving the Watcher’s own mark in mockery…and homage.

 

A worthy foe. My hero’s own twisted reflection. Now that’s a villain I can write a book about.

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I love games that challenge the brain: chess, Risk, Go – there’s nothing quite like winning a game that’s a real head-scratcher and that requires a mixture of logic and cleverness to beat. So when I heard about Mijnlieff (pronounced “mine-leaf”), a classic Nordic strategy game, I was intrigued – and now you can play it on your NOOK!

 

Mijnlieff Deluxe by Astraware is a game app that’s both challenging and fun: you must move one of your eight pieces  that show two of four different symbols into a position on the board that will determine how your opponent plays their next piece – so it’s crucial to think several moves ahead. The aim is to form lines of 3 – but this is much harder than it sounds when your opponent is controlling your moves! Play against Facebook friends, challenge some feisty Viking opponents, or get matched to a mystery player!

 

For more great game apps from Astraware, click here.

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**For the most current Free Friday selections, please visit the New NOOK Blog at http://www.barnesandnoble.com/nook-blog/category/free-fridays/

 

Today's Free Fridays book selection is Miss Buncle's Book by D.E. Stevenson -  a novel about the challenges and joys of writing a novel, with a mystical twist.

 

Miss Buncle's bank account has seen better days, and so she decides to write a novel to bring in some extra cash. Her inspiration is her small English town, a place she knows like the back of her hand. But strange things start happening after the book is published: not only is the book a rip-roaring success, but events in the novel start occurring to her real-life family and friends, yielding weird and hilarious results.

 

This delightful and utterly original novel begs the question of whether life truly does imitate art.


Today's Free Fridays app selection is Wubbzy's Fire Engine Adventure - an educational game app that provides fun activities to kids while teaching them the importance of fire safety.

 

Wuzzleburg is in trouble when the local spaghetti and meatball factory has an accident and meatballs start raining down on the city - but Wubbzy comes to the rescue, helping out where he can while learning to leave the real emergencies to the firefighters. Count falling meatballs with Wubbzy, and he'll help your kids learn to read, do sing-alongs, color, and much more!


Each week, we ask our featured author to recommend a book or author that you may want to check out. Since D.E. Stevenson passed away in 1973, Sourcebooks managing editor Shana Drehs picks one of her favorites to share this week:

 

I recommend The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure, heralded as an up-and-coming Ken Follett.  This World War II novel, set in occupied Paris, is a gripping exploration into how far you’d go to help a stranger.  Talented architect Lucien Bernard is offered a ludicrous sum of money to design hiding places so clever that even the most suspicious Nazi can’t discover them, and despite Bernard’s fear of being captured himself, he can’t turn down the challenge.  But when one of his hiding places fails to conceal its occupants, Bernard must face the increasingly personal price of freedom.  It’s a gem of a novel, blurring good and evil into confusing shades of gray, and asking us just what we might do in his place.

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I cannot tell you how happy I am to be writing my Claire Morgan homicide detective thrillers again!  Medical issues caused me to take a lengthy break after Enter Evil, Book 4, but I feel great now.

Remember Murder, Book 5, came out last June and was the first book under my new contract. I’m very pleased with the positive response the book is getting and the nice reviews the readers took time to write. Kensington Books was kind enough to do a special promotion back in May, when they offered the first Claire Morgan novel, Head To Head, free for one week. Tons of readers downloaded that book, and I believe my Claire Morgan thrillers gained lots of new fans so I am grateful.

Since Books 5-7 will be eKensington eBook exclusives, I’m excited to be reaching that whole new audience. Mostly Murder, Book 6, comes out on December 5, 2013, and is set in New Orleans. My main characters, Claire Morgan and Nicholas Black, have quite a time in their new adventure hunting down an unbelievably evil serial killer. There’s a big surprise at the end of that book, which I believe you will like. I’m now working on Bad Bones, Book 7, scheduled for June 2014, and having a ball with the storyline. 

When I envisioned this series, I wanted to write a really strong and intuitive female lead.  Claire’s a smart, resilient woman, loves and excels at her homicide detective job, and puts her career above everything else. I like multi-dimensional characters so I gave her a tragic and complicated past that I wanted to use in shaping her emotional roles as a woman, a friend, and a lover. She is unique in the way she approaches her job, and her investigative work means everything to her. Past heartache and personal losses have caused her to build up defense mechanisms and internal walls so she rarely lets anybody see what she really thinks or feels. 

When Claire meets psychiatrist/lover Nicholas Black and her life begins to change in unexpected ways, she feels vulnerable and isn’t sure she likes it. Black realizes Claire is haunted by terrible past experiences and wants to help her. Her brutal childhood is locked up inside her mind, behind walls constructed long ago to protect her fragile psyche. This makes her stronger and more self-reliant, but also distrustful and unwilling to feel or commit to anyone. Claire fascinates Black from the first moment they meet in Book 1 and continues to do so as he tries to heal traumas that she has endured alone for so long.   

Now, after seven books, Claire and Black seem like my own very good friends so it’s a pleasure to sit down each day and write about them. Both still grow and change in each successive book, which is something I always try to do with all my characters.

 

I hope you like Claire and Black as much as I do!

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Secret Santa is a collection of beautiful holiday stories from four beloved and bestselling authors: Fern Michaels, Marie Bostwick, Laura Levine, and Cindy Myers. Today on the NOOK Blog, each author writes about her own cherished Christmas traditions and memories and how they provided inspiration for her work in Secret Santa.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Writing a full length novel as opposed to a Christmas novella is a challenge for me. When I found out I had to write one in the month of July it became even more of a challenge because I live in the South where our temperatures are in the high 90s with humidity. While I might be the Queen of Christmas in December, in July I am a wilted Southern wall flower, but I’m always up for a challenge. I needed a plan, that much I knew right off the bat. I have to say I spent more time getting in the mood, worrying about ambience, setting the scene, and working on my mind set than it took me to write the novella.

 

Upstairs in my attic where it was 200 degrees I knew we had a Charlie Brown Christmas tree that the kids made when they were little (like 50 years ago).  At the time it was just a stick with branches the kids labored over and later became known as our very own Charlie Brown tree. The twigs that passed for branches were held in place with black electrical tape with gold glitter. Some branches had bandages on them, while others had white gauze holding them in place. Splashes of colored paint streaked the main stick. A wrinkled yellow paper star minus one peak was still attached to the top of the stick.  It was so ugly it was beautiful standing there in the bucket of sand that somehow was still intact. I lugged it down to my office, got it positioned. Then I ran to the Dollar Store, bought a bag of junk to wrap up to put under the tree (do you have any idea how hard it is to find silver paper with red bows in July? I found it, though!). Next, I turned down my A/C to 50 degrees, built a roaring fire and turned on my jukebox that has every Christmas song known to man, and hung the kid’s stockings on the mantle. I tied bells around my dog’s necks, bundled up in two sweaters, a scarf, and sat down to write. 

 

My kids came every day to check my progress as they eyed the packages under the tree. When I typed the last word, I called the kids to come over for our own Christmas in July. We had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and orange cream sickles for dinner. They were kids again for a little while. Talk about Christmas spirit. We had it by the bushel. They loved their one of a kind Dollar Store presents. 

 

Might you ask what I got? I got a cold, and the satisfaction my plan worked. - Fern Michaels

 


 I was fortunate to write the entire first draft of “The Yellow Rose of Christmas,” my story in the Secret Santa holiday anthology, at a beautiful little inn located in Vermont during the first two weeks of December 2012. Getting into the spirit of the season couldn’t have been easier. But, as you may have already guessed from the title, “The Yellow Rose of Christmas” is set in Texas, not Vermont. I had to look beyond snow covered hills, hot chocolate, and sleigh rides for inspiration and think about what unifying themes makes Christmas special for people, no matter where they live. 

 

It didn’t take me long to come up with the answer: family and tradition. For example, two of the characters in my story, Velvet and Silky, sisters who have lived together for decades, always kick off the season by decorating their little house, enjoying cookies and breaking out the Christmas records as they work, putting the nativity set and other decorations in the same places every year. 

 

My family has some similar traditions. For us the holiday season begins with a drive to a friend’s farm to choose and cut our tree, which we decorate with all kinds of ornaments, including some that were hand painted by husband’s mother back in the 1940s. Another important holiday tradition for our family is attending Julotta service, a candlelight religious celebration that begins before the sun rises on Christmas morning and ends with the dawn and a delicious breakfast shared by our church family. In spite of the early hour, I look forward to this every year.

 

Community celebrations are also important in Too Much, the little town in where “The Yellow Rose of Christmas” is set. The whole town turns out for the annual live nativity put on by the members of the local Methodist congregation. The Christmas Ball, organized by members of the Women’s Club and held in the fellowship hall of the Episcopal church is another can’t-miss holiday tradition for the residents of Too Much. In fact, the Christmas Ball takes on special significance in the story because Velvet’s secret admirer—who has been sending her a single yellow rose every day since Thanksgiving—is supposed to reveal his identity on that night. In a town with a population that barely tops four figures you can imagine how the rumor mill was churning over that piece of information!

 

No matter where we live or what our backgrounds are, I think most of us have little holiday traditions and rituals that we look forward to year after year. I know many people who consider reading uplifting Christmas stories an important part of kicking off their festive season.  Now there’s a holiday tradition I support one hundred percent! - Marie Bostwick


 Laura Levine is unfortunately unable to write anything at this moment, as she is busy sorting her socks, so we’ve asked the co-star of her Jaine Austen Mysteries—Jaine’s cat Prozac—to tell us how Laura got in the holiday spirit while writing her novella, Nightmare On Elf Street.

 

 Laura, get in the holiday spirit? Are you nuts? All she does when she’s writing a book is sit at the computer in her pajamas, cursing and muttering and running to the fridge for inspiration. I, however, was flooded with warm Christmas memories.

 

I thought back to when I was just a wee kitty, smashing my first Christmas tree ornament, clawing my first Christmas stocking, and leaving my first little surprise for Jaine in her Christmas slippers.

Oh, those were the days!

 

You should see how cute I looked trying to topple the Christmas tree—oops, hold on a sec. Laura’s calling me. I gotta go see what she wants…

 

Okay, I’m back. She told me to stop yapping about my memories and start plugging the novella.

What a nag, huh?

 

I promised her I’d plug the book, so here goes:

 

Some people might say that Nightmare On Elf Street is a story of what happens when Laura’s heroine, Jaine Austen, gets a job as a Santa’s elf and can’t decide which is worse—having to wear a hideous elf suit, or finding Santa dead next to the Christmas tree. But those people would be wrong! All wrong! Nightmare On Elf Street is, on its most profound level, about moi.  A courageous cat who, against her will, gets dragged to the mall to have her picture taken by a professional photographer. It’s an inspiring tale of just how far a cat will go to assert her independence while trolling for snacks.

 

I’m the real star of the story, and I’m getting pretty darn tired of playing second fiddle to Jaine. Oh, she’s likeable enough. And somehow she’s managed to solve a couple of murders between Chunky Monkey binges. But is she a star? Does she have big green eyes and a cute fuzzy tail? Can she cough up a hairball the size of a cumquat? I think not; which is why I’m starting a campaign to Elect Prozac the Star of Laura’s Mysteries. From now on, I feel each of Laura’s books should be subtitled A Prozac The Cat Mystery.

 

If you feel the way do (and I’m certain you do), please write Laura at Jaineausten@aol.com and tell her to give me the top billing I so richly deserve. Remember, vote for me for Star of Laura’s Books. If you don’t, I just may leave a little surprise in your slippers.

 

Ciao for now,

Prozac


 I love Christmas so much I got married at Christmastime. My wedding flowers were red and white poinsettias, and we took some of our wedding photos in front of a giant Christmas tree. Our first Christmas together was spent on our honeymoon, in a little cabin in the woods with mistletoe over the door. We ate wedding cake for breakfast and toasted each other with champagne served in jelly glasses. So Christmas for me is a time of romance, celebration and exciting possibility. Writing “Room at the Inn” reminded me of all these feelings.

 

I’m lucky enough to live in Colorado, and while I was writing my story set in a Colorado blizzard we did indeed have snow. There’s nothing like snow to put me in the mood to celebrate. A little hot chocolate or spiced tea, some Christmas carols in the background and a pine-scented candle burning on my desk and I was able to slip into that snow-covered landscape where Barb Stanowski ends up having a very different Christmas from the one she’d originally planned.

 

Christmas is a holiday that is freighted with so much expectation that it’s easy to be disappointed, even depressed, when things don’t turn out as perfect as we may picture them in our minds. We crave those family traditions, favorite foods and familiar decorations. But sometimes, life throws a curve and shakes things up. I wanted to explore that idea in my story, and to show that by embracing the spirit behind the holiday, we can turn the disappointments into something new and wonderful.

 

However you choose to celebrate—or not celebrate—the holidays, I hope you’ll find a way to see the familiar in a new light and discover new possibilities for yourself and those you love.

 

Warmest wishes,

Cindy Myers

 

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Author Tom Clancy continuously drew us into his literary thrill rides, exhibiting a mastery of the genre that few have been able to match. His final novel, Command Authority, written with Mark Greaney, follows U.S. president and former C.I.A. agent Jack Ryan as he investigates the new strong man in Russia, who has some very dark secrets behind his speedy rise to power.

 

To get the ninth installment in the Jack Ryan series, and other great books by Tom Clancy, click here.

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When I was a kid, I'd spend most mornings watching PBS Kids' shows - Barney, Sesame Street, Arthur, Thomas and Friends, and countless others. Along with being so much fun to watch, PBS Kids' shows are super educational - and you can bet their apps are as well! Today's App Buzz features three apps that are part of a fantastic 50% off sale of all PBS Kids' apps through the end of the day.

 

Explore your house and play doctor with Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood - from the hit TV show! Your kids love watching Daniel Tiger play and learn on PBS, and now they can join him in this interactive app. You can help Daniel get ready for bed or for a bath, or play Doctor Daniel and learn how to do a check-up!

 

 

 

 

Take an amazing trip while learning your letters with SUPER WHY ABC Adventures! With 5 interactive games, your child can learn upper- and lowercase letters, the order of the alphabet, and more while helping some letter-loving superheros complete missions around the world. Take pictures of safari animals A-Z with Alpha Pig, or swim in the ocean with Princess Presto while matching letters to their respective sounds.

 

 

Your children love the show Peg + Cat - and now it's a great math and music app: Peg + Cat Big Gig! You can learn to play songs on the ukulele with Peg, Cat and all of their fun friends, write your own music and learn basic mathematical equations.

 

 

 

 

For more PBS KIDS' apps on sale, click here.

 

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**For the most current Free Friday selections, please visit the New NOOK Blog at http://www.barnesandnoble.com/nook-blog/category/free-fridays/

 

Today's Free Fridays book selection is Beauty and the Wolf by Marina Myles - a sexy paranormal romance that will warm you up on the coldest of nights.

 

Isabella loves her new husband, the wealthy and powerful Lord Draven Winthrop, but not everyone feels the same. Many fear him and the dark, magical secrets that lie beneath his brooding stare...but Isabella has ancient secrets of her own, and they're about to get her into huge trouble. A gypsy curse and a mother's scorn await the couple as they race against the clock to avoid a horrifying fate.

 

 

 


Today's Free Fridays app selection is the Yatzy game app by Agile Fusion - a fun twist on the beloved dice game.

 

You can forget about looking for tiny pencils and all those hard-to-find dice - because this version of Yatzy is on your NOOK! Score the highest amount of points by rolling the 5 dice to create different combinations, and try to get a true yatzy by rolling 5 of a kind! Play against your device, or play with friends. It's never been easier to enjoy this classic American game.


Special to this week's Free Fridays: Smallville Season 11 #1 on NOOK Comics! The first issue of the celebrated series about Clark Kent and his superhero alter ego, Superman, is free today for NOOK users, featuring our beautiful graphic display with zoom view.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Each week, we ask our featured author to recommend a book or author that you may want to check out. Since authors are such passionate readers themselves, we thought you might like to find out what they love to read, too! Here’s what Marina recommends:

 

From its opening scene with breakneck action and raw sensuality, to its tender ending, Fated (Book One in the Dark Protectors series) had me from the get-go.

 

Talen Kayrs is a vampire sent to protect Cara Paulsen and her four-year-old daughter, Janie from a band of monsters known as the Kurjans. It turns out these Kurjans are mortal enemies of Talen’s ancient vampire tribe. However, uber-hot Talen is no ordinary vampire. He can go out in the sun, has eyes that glow a luminescent gold, only drinks blood during sex or a fight, and craves one woman: his predestined soul mate (which makes Fated the perfect title).

 

The Kurjans want Janie for her psychic abilities, and Cara for her power to block emotion, so when Cara learns she is Talen’s potential mate, the stakes skyrocket. Will the Kurjans want her more if she marries Talen? Will consummating their union protect Cara as much as Talen promises?

 

I marveled at how expertly Rebecca Zanetti fills every page with conflict and how masterfully she weaves sexual tension into each exchange between Cara and Talen. Being a mother, I naturally scrutinized the heroine’s relationship with her daughter, but I found it believable and heart-warming. All in all, Fated is ideal to curl up with on a rainy day—just be sure to buckle your seat belt for one hell of a roller coaster ride!

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AT14553_BlackFriday2013_410x410.jpgHappy Thanksgiving everyone! While you're getting ready to have a lovely meal later with family and friends, we wanted to let you know that we've decided to start Black Friday...today!

 

Online only today, we're offering amazing deals: get the NOOK® Simple Touch for just $39, and the NOOK® HD starting at just $79!

 

Supplies are limited, so while the turkey's in the oven, go online, start shopping, and get ready to enjoy hours of reading and entertainment.

 

You can find all Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals here.

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Bounty hunter Stephanie Plum has won the hearts of millions of readers with her no-nonsense attitude and relentless pursuit of criminals on the run, and she's back and better than ever in Janet Evanovich's newest novel, Takedown Twenty, now available on NOOK.

 

Powerful mob boss and suspected murderer Salvatore "Uncle Sunny" Sunucchi is Stephanie's latest target, but getting involved with the Mafia is risky - even for a pro like Stephanie. Can she outsmart the family, or will she end up sleeping with the fishes?

 

For more Stephanie Plum and other novels by Janet Evanovich, click here.

 

 

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