What book do you wish you could have written?
First, I want to thank you for allowing me to spend time with your awesome N. N. Light's Book Heaven readers today and to share my new release, Duke du Jour.
The book I wish I could have written would be any one of Rachel Gibson's books. I LOVE her writing and her deft way of weaving subtle humor into her stories and dialogue. They are guaranteed to make me laugh out loud. I've read every one of her books twice, and my favorite is Run To You and Blue By You. Oh, wait! That's two...
How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning?
Names are incredibly important. They can make or break a character. It's tough to love a character when your tongue trips over his name every time you say it. Often, character names just pop into my head. If they fit the personality of the character, they get to stay, otherwise they are summarily rejected. Mean names for mean characters, wussy names for wussy characters, etc. The sneasely, weasely stalker in Angel to the Rescue got the name, Eugene Stigler. The hulking murderer in Everglades was Gordo. The names just fit them. You get the picture.
But a few of my special characters have been named after friends or family -- my way of honoring them and their part in my life. Dr. Rachel Kelly in Angel to the Rescue is named after my first-born niece, and Rachel's best friend Jill is named after my second-born niece, though all my nieces are spectacular. The twins, Velma and Delma who run the inn, in Catch of the Day are named after my mom's twin cousins who live in Kansas. Gage Connor and Dr. Quinn Taylor, also in Catch of the Day, are named after another set of twin cousins, though my Quinn and Gage are only ten years old.
What writing advice do you have for other aspiring authors?
I try never to give writing technique advice. I think it's like make-up application. The foundation that looks good on me may make you look washed out. The mascara that makes your eyes sparkle may look overdone on me. You have to use what fits you. I do sometimes tell writers that I learned more about plotting, pacing, and characterization from reading the masters, like Connelly, Patterson, Kleypas, and Sparks than the three dozen writing texts perched on my shelves. I learn just as much from reading bad books—what not to do.
The only advice I'm completely comfortable giving new writers is never, EVER give up. Like Stephen King once said, "the only difference between published writers and unpublished writers is the published writers never gave up."
Is this your first book? How many books have you written prior (if any?)
No, I'm thrilled to say. Duke du Jour is my eighth release, and I write for three wonderful publishers. I have a couple action-adventure romances, my three-book Mystery Angel Romance series—with an angel hidden in every plot, and the reader tries to figure out who the angel is before the end—and the Cinderella Romances series...fall in love with the fairy tale all over again. Duke du Jour is book one in my new Lords in Time series.
What are you working on now? What is your next project?
I have an April deadline for book three of the Cinderella Romances—Par for Cinderella. Aidan Cross from books one and two demanded his own story and traipses off to quaint Cypress Key, Florida to build one of his world-famous golf resorts—a resort no one in the town wants.
After that, I tackle Earl Away, book two in the Lords in Time series. The Earl of Dexter insisted his tale be told when he chases after Harry the wolfhound and the two of them accidentally fall into the Duke's eerie fountain. Dexter winds up in present-day England where he's a dead ringer for his great-great-etc-playboy grandson with a beautiful (spitfire) private investigator hot on his trail.
And now for something more personal…
Characters often find themselves in situations they aren’t sure they can get themselves out of. When was the last time you found yourself in a situation that was hard to get out of and what did you do?
I'm a biologist by education, and early in my career, when I surveyed lakes for the state of Florida, the Department of Natural Resources held an annual training course for the regional biologists at a lake in north Florida. We spent the week on airboats, being tested on plant identification and mapping techniques.
We had no TV or entertainment at the church camp where we were staying, so one evening, two biologists and yours truly decided to go for an airboat ride after dark. I wasn’t afraid to go since I hadn’t seen a gator on the lake all week. Well, the buggers had evidently been hiding. The airboat we had chosen was a small one, a one-seater for the driver. Two of us stood on each side of the driver’s seat and held on.
My job was to aim the single lantern-type flashlight we brought as a headlight while we drove out across the lake, which left the area around us darker than the inside of a cow...and full of dozens upon dozens of shiny red eyes. Devil eyes. Alligator eyes.
We stopped the airboat about half-way across the lake, having decided our excursion might not have been the brightest of ideas. The gleaming red eyes were everywhere. That was when the other biologist standing next to the driver’s seat said, “Why are my feet getting wet?”
The boat was taking on water in the pitch-black dark, and the dozens of red eyes were closing in. Holy Cow! And I was scared to death we'd never make it back to shore.
What do you dream? Do you have any recurring dreams/nightmares?
In the last few years, I've found myself dreaming right into my stories, where I'm there with the characters, like an odd secondary character. Unfortunately, I never remember enough the next morning to use in my scenes. I keep a notepad by the bed just in case.
My nightmares are always "bug" dreams, where the bugs are five to ten times bigger than in real life. I know why this happens, so I don't need a shrink. In my former career as an aquatic biologist, I identified aquatic insects down to species for water quality monitoring projects. Presence or absence of certain species can tell you how clean your lake or stream is based on the insects' pollution tolerance. When you look at them for hours blown up under a microscope or dissecting scope, you feel like you're in Jurassic Park. Hence the nightmares. That and a vivid imagination.
What is your biggest fear?
It used to be a gator grabbing me when I waded into wetlands to collect those aforementioned aquatic insects.
Now, it's turning in a manuscript to one of my editors and having them email me back to say, "Sorry, this one sucks. Try again." I don't know about other authors, but I always worry, What if the next one turns out to be a stinker?
If you had a superpower, what would it be?
I'd be the fairy-love godmother capable of spotting the male and female who are perfect for each other and then finagling a way to get them together to fall in love. No, wait! That would be my Mystery Angels!
What secret talents do you have?
I can actually play the harmonica. Only two songs, but I play them well. So they count.
I want to thank N. N. Light’s Book Heaven and their loyal readers for allowing me to spend time with them today and share stories about my books. Happy reading or writing to all -- your pick!
Title: Duke Du Jour
Author: Petie McCarty
Genre: Regency Time-Travel Romance
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Jared Langley, present-day Duke of Reston, tumbles into an abandoned fountain on his ducal estate and travels back in time to the year 1816. There, Reston servants and local villagers think him a dead ringer for his namesake and rakehell ancestor—the seventh Duke of Reston, gone missing at the Battle of Waterloo. Unfortunately, Seven got mixed up with French spies out to assassinate the Duke of Wellington, and an unwary Jared ends up in their crosshairs.
Lady Ariana Hart has loved Jared Langley, the seventh Duke of Reston, since she was twelve years old, until the night the rogue broke her heart. Given up for dead, her rakish neighbor makes a miraculous return from Waterloo—only Jared shows up a changed man and reignites all the feelings Ariana had long ago buried.
Jared is in a race against time. He must waylay the suspicions of his quirky servants and neighbors, get to Wellington before the French spies do, fix his fountain—before Seven shows up—so Jared has a way home, and definitely not fall in love with the irresistible Lady Ariana.
The library door crashed open, startling both Jared and Lady Wilder and sending them a full step back from each other. A flame-haired siren stalked through the door.
“Bullen said you were conducting your usual business in the library. I see you did not waste any time,” the siren said.
Jared stared into the most expressive green eyes he had ever seen and could actually follow the myriad of emotions funneling through them—relief, surprise, disbelief, anger, worry—and miraculously, the color altered a bit with each vibrant emotion. The emerald eyes eventually settled on fury and sparked with anger—at him. Undaunted, he could only stare.
The siren was breathtaking, not classically beautiful like Lady Wilder, but uniquely beautiful unlike any woman he had ever met. Sunlight streamed in through the windows lining the back wall, caught the blonde glints in her hair, and flamed her locks like a bonfire on a cold winter night. Yet, it was the green eyes that pinned him and held him in place. Dark emerald pools that seared his very soul.
Jared had torn free from Lady Wilder, but he gaped guiltily in a frozen stare, incapable and unwilling to break eye contact with the siren. He wanted to keep staring and lose himself in those amazing emerald-green eyes, made even greener by the rich color of her gown.
The young woman was tall and slender with smooth, sleek curves at hip and breast. Strands of red-gold curls had pulled free of her pale gold bonnet with its sassy emerald green trim and curled enticingly around her cheeks, marked by two bright flags of color. He felt his own cheeks flush hot when those amazing green eyes shifted downward and spied the traitorous ducal staff in full salute, then snapped back to glare at him.
“I brought your dog,” the flame-haired siren said flatly. “I feared you would forget to come for Harry. He missed you.”
An enormous mass of black fur bounded into the library and sent the squealing Lady Wilder back to Jared’s side. The immense dog promptly knocked them both to the floor.
The siren frowned her displeasure and headed for the chaise to make herself comfortable.
“Get him off! Get him off!”
Lady Wilder’s high-pitched shrieks almost burst Jared’s eardrums. He rolled her off him and reached for the dog’s collar. The massive black hound danced away, totally unaffected by Lady Wilder’s shrieks and slaps, and managed to squeeze in a few sloppy licks between her swings at the dog’s head, which would have been funny if Jared’s ears did not ache.
“Come here, boy!” Jared barked as he scrambled to his feet.
“Don’t you dare hurt him!” the siren shouted.
“You did that on purpose, Ariana! You little witch!” Lady Wilder screamed.
Ariana? What a perfect name for the flame-haired beauty.
“Don’t you yell at me, Lucilla Tartley! I am not responsible for Harry’s lack of taste,” Ariana shot back.
So Lady Wilder was Lucilla. Who was Harry? The dog?
Jared tried the name, and the black dog bounded over to him.
“I am surprised Harry even noticed you, now that Jared’s home,” Ariana told Lucilla.
Jared glanced down and noticed the dog sat patiently at his side, but only because his finger was hooked in the dog’s collar. Good Lord! The canine knew he was not the real Jared—or rather Seven. This could be a problem.
Indeed, Lady Ariana stared at him suspiciously now. “Harry’s not jumping all over you like he usually does.”
“I have been gone too long. He has forgotten me,” he replied, thinking quickly.
“Harry does not forget.” She eyed him more closely.