Name Lucy Gage
Age 40! (And excited about that!)
Where are you from
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc
I’ve been married for twelve years and with my husband for over fifteen. I have two amazing kids who are both adorable, smart and creative. I have dual degrees, one in art history and one in civil engineering. We live in Maine in a quiet, country subdivision near our families.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
I published my latest novel, Time to Begin, the first week in October after a crazy summer trying to write and edit on a crunched schedule. Learned the hard way that’s not suited to my organic writing style!
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve always been an imaginative person. As a kid, I had imaginary friends and dolls with very detailed lives. I’d kept a journal for years and had written poetry. In college, I started writing fiction because I had stories in my head and wanted to get them out. It was a merger of sorts, between my imagination and my need to create.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I think I knew I was a writer a long time ago, but I wasn’t truly serious about it until the year my son was born. I made a goal to prioritize writing, and that’s what I did. But the true moment when I knew I was a writer was the day I realized, after writing a 280,000 word fanfiction, that I couldn’t not write. I hated the idea of not being able to write. It was then that I realized I was truly a writer.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
I had a dream – don’t laugh – about Josh Hartnett. It was around the time Pearl Harbor came out, and I was completely in love with his character, Danny. I loved the scene in the hangar with the parachutes. In my dream, I was in Minneapolis – for who knows what reason – where he’s from, and I ran into him, but I had no clue who he was at first. Keep in mind, I was engaged at the time. I realized that it would make a very interesting story premise: what if you were in a place where you’d never expect to encounter a celebrity, and you met them? Would you know who they were? Etc. It just grew from there. The story had several false starts (mostly due to technology failures!), but when I focused on it this last go-round, it seemed timely, given our obsession with celebrity culture.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I write what my muse inspires and I edit to improve the quality. That’s it in a nutshell. The story and characters dictate what actually comes out of my head while I’m writing, so there isn’t a particular ‘style’ that I directly ascribe to every time.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
This last book was a doozy. The working title was Buying the Cow. Besides not being romantic, when I knew the characters better, it no longer adequately fit the story. I searched the book’s music playlist to find a song title or bit of lyrics that both spoke to the story and echoed the previous title in a more appropriate way. And thus, Time to Begin was born – it comes from the song, It’s Time, by Imagine Dragons and the song itself reflects Eddie and Reggie very well, while the more-romantic, better-fitting title still echoes the original. Normally, it’s less of a struggle. Occasionally, I’ll find a second title I like better than the working title, but often, the title will stand for the final version. Like many things with this latest book, that wasn’t to be the case!
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I don’t know that I have any singular message. My stories cover multiple issues, from cancer and sibling rivalry, to bullying and parental abandonment, from the impact of social media and our obsession with celebrity, to what it means to be friends and what it means to be family. Maybe the simplest message in the series as a whole is that epic, romantic love isn’t limited to books. You can find that in your own life if you stop trying so hard to make it happen. I believe that because it happened to me. I tell stories that, like mine, involve unexpected relationships and offer the kind of love that’s hard-won, realistic and genuine. If there is a theme that runs through this series and through my work in general, it’s probably that. Around that concept, I offer a lot of other life-lessons. In Time to Begin, it’s that truly growing up means owning your mistakes and putting your demons to rest so that you can move toward a life worth living.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
I’d estimate around 95%. I strive, very purposefully, to ensure that the stories are reality-based. I’ve never given a specific date for the start of the series, but it’s in my head. When I’m writing, I account for real-world things that are relevant at the time the events in the story are taking place. If you look at Time to Begin specifically, I noted events that are firmly anchored in history, like 9/11, and then included time markers delineating when it happened in the life of a character relative to their ‘present day’. If you did the math, you could determine the series start date and you’d see how the characters’ lives reflect reality. (I’m not doing it for you; I like the idea that it’s vague so that the story isn’t overtly dated.)
However, this series also features a pretend movie star character. Anything relating to his movie career could be true and is based on what it would be if he was real, but he’s not. So, I take artistic license where those things are concerned and occasionally elsewhere.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
In a very direct way? No. I haven’t told anyone’s personal story. Some characters are more literally me in certain ways than others, but all of the stories have a little of me in them because it’s impossible to avoid that, no matter what you write (and any writer who says otherwise is either lying or fooling themselves). However, in many cases, I might take something I know more intimately and then ask myself ‘what if?’ and go from there. As the series has progressed, more of what happens is based on the world I’ve built than it is on new scenarios I might want to turn into stories. If a new idea works for the series, then I will use it. If not, then that idea will find a new home in my head.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most?
Far too many to count. Books are such a part of who I am, the list is long for both works and their authors, everything from Judy Blume and SE Hinton of my youth, to writers like Jane Austen and Diana Gabaldon whose work is more historically-based, and my fellow contemporary authors, like Brenda Rothert. These are all authors whose work I’ve read completely and like to read more than once. As for a singular title, the only book that comes to mind is The Hunger Games as a trilogy, but particularly Mockingjay. The fanfiction I wrote after I read the series allowed me to practice being a real writer – both by honing my craft and by getting into the daily habit of writing – offering a framework within which I could create scenarios that made sense in that world. It translated into skills that help me write within the world I’ve created in my head – how to look at the series as a whole, how to fact-check in both the history of the real world and also of the series. It allowed me to think about characters as young people and as adults, and it helped me view them through the eyes of others, thus giving a different perspective on them. I learned a tremendous amount by doing, and that shaped how I wrote Back to December, as well as how the rest of the series has been composed.
Fiona: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
My mentor is many things to me, but her first role was ‘aunt’. Author Laurie Breton is my maternal grandmother’s youngest sister, and she has been a huge asset to me every step of the way. We’re also critique partners, and over the course of our mentoring relationship, she has become my editor, my cheerleader and my friend. She gives it to me straight, even when it’s something I might not like to hear, and she always challenges me to be a better writer, even without browbeating me into doing it. I can’t ever repay her for what she has done for me, so I try to pay it forward.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I didn’t get to read much this summer because I was trying to write 130k words of my novel and do about 500 life things at the same time. So, I’m catching up on a lot of the books that have been waiting for me the last few months. But, at the moment, I’m reading a couple books for review: Deanndra Hall’s erotic series, Love Under Construction, and RE Blake’s Less Than Nothing. I had to take a break from reviewing to finish my own book, so I’m trying to make up for that a little while I wait for my first blog tour to start.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
So many! This last year has been absolutely astounding for me in terms of discovering new authors and new music (via Spotify and Pandora). But, to give props to someone, who, like me, is truly just stepping onto the ground floor of all this, I want to call out Avery Hale (who also writes as Jane Lively in YA Paranormal). Her NA Contemporary, Lovefools, came to my attention in an author review group, and I loved it. She has a natural gift for storytelling and I can’t wait to read her YA work, because I know it’ll be as amazing as her contemporary book. In my mind, she’s one to watch, and I’m thrilled that I met her so early in her career!
Fiona: What are your current projects?
I have five more books in Ward Sisters. Next up is #6, Just Realized, which I plan to publish around the Christmas/New Year’s holiday. In the spring, I’ll launch the first of three Ward Sisters spin-off series, Vega Brothers, with book #1, Steal Your Heart. Right now, that series has 4 books planned. Ward Sisters, #7, Think of Me, arrives in early summer, and will be the prequel for my romantic suspense spin-off, Deacon Security. After that is Vega, #2, You Got Me, where we finally hear the story of Christopher, the stylist for Deac Roberts whom everyone adores. I’ll also be working on the third Ward Sisters spin-off this year, which was generated while I wrote Time to Begin. It’s called The Daigles, and we’ve met some of the family in my last three books. Two of them will get stories outside that series (one in Ward Sisters, one in Deacon Security).
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
My superfan, Mandy, is both an amazing woman and my biggest cheerleader. She has been from the beginning. She loves my characters as much as I do and she pushes me to give her more stories. It was her idea to redeem Joey Daigle in his own story, and thus, my next spin-off was born. The last two books, she has become one of my beta readers, and she’s such an asset. If I’m not writing for me, I’m writing for her, to give her a bright spot in her life, which has had some big blows recently. If I stopped writing tomorrow, she is one person I know would be unhappy about that.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Absolutely. It’s my dream career. I write characters who take personal journeys, and I don’t think I would be where I am at this moment if I hadn’t taken my own. But this is what I’m meant to do. I’m sure of it.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
No. I wouldn’t even change anything about the plot development in my first two books, though I’d certainly edit out some semicolons and tighten the sentences a bit. But no. The last book is what it should be in my mind, and, despite the fact that it’s the longest story I’ve published to-date, I think it tells the tale of Eddie and Reggie’s individual and joint journeys the way it should.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
There wasn’t any one specific thing. I can point out numerous instances that influenced how I write, but not one moment when I said, “I want to be a writer.” As I said before, it was a natural merging of my interests and how my brain works that happened gradually.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
My current work-in-progress is Ward Sisters, #6, Just Realized. It’s the story of two Ward Sisters characters who have been secondary up to this point: Nina Jacobs, who is the best friend to youngest Ward Sister, Charlie, and Owen Nichols, an Army Sergeant who is best friends and roommates with his basic training buddy, Captain Neil Murphy from Right Here Waiting. Readers will have met them before, if they’ve read the other books in the series, but their story, as always, will be able to be read as a standalone. Nina is a realtor and Owen works in weapons disposal in the Army. This tidbit has been seen by my fan group, Christopher’s Minions, but doesn’t appear in the back of Time to Begin. The segment in the back actually happens after this.
To set the stage, Neil has asked Owen to do him a favor and come to the beach, where he’ll keep Nina entertained. He’s promised that Owen will really like her. If he doesn’t, then Neil will do all the housework in their apartment for two weeks. If he does, then Owen will owe him three weeks worth, because he’ll have met the perfect girl. I chose a section that won’t give away any specific details of any other stories, so this is basically spoiler-free and just sets up the story in Just Realized.
As they chatted casually, Owen had a chance to steal glances at Nina. The first thing you noticed was her hair, a fiery auburn that had to be long and wavy, given how it was haphazardly piled on top of her head, with some tendrils escaping in curls around her face.
Her skin was as white as porcelain except for the freckles – predominant across her cheekbones – and looked nearly as smooth. He wanted to run his tongue over it just to see if it felt as silky as it appeared, and his groin tightened at the thought.
By the fact that her feet barely hit the floor of the back seat, he guessed that she was close to a foot shorter than him. She wore a flowy, teal-blue sundress that complimented her hair and skin, with matching, sparkly flip fops on delicate-looking, tiny feet.
He couldn’t tell what color her eyes were yet, because she wouldn’t look right at him for more than a second. She kept blushing, which was adorably sexy, and he hoped it meant she was attracted to him, too.
And her breasts, oh, they were perfect. He loved big breasts and though he couldn’t really tell what the rest of her body looked like under the sundress, he knew she had big, gorgeous breasts.
They pulled into Subway a few minutes later and Owen went inside with Murph to order sandwiches. When they were safely in the store, out of earshot and standing in line, smirking Neil said, “So? What do you think of Nina?”
“Yeah, I should have known because you were so confident. You know I have a weakness for redheads and big boobs.”
Murph laughed. “That I do. She’s not my type at all, but I can admit that she has a gorgeous body. Wait until you see her in a swimsuit.”
“Oh? How gorgeous? Because the day isn’t over, yet, and you haven’t won.”
“You love hourglass figures and Nina’s is as perfectly hourglass as you can get. She’s not remotely heavyset, but she’s the definition of voluptuous. Perfect 40’s pinup material. Prepare to be wowed, Sarge. And she’s not just hot. She’s smart and funny and sweet, too.”
“Why didn’t you ever date her, then? Didn’t you say she’s Danny’s wife’s best friend?”
“Absolutely no chemistry. You ask her, she’ll say the same. You have an uphill battle if you want to win her over. She’s not typically into beefcake. Most of her boyfriends have looked like wimps next to you.”
“Who said anything about a girlfriend? I was just looking for a good time while I’m on vacation.”
“I don’t think she’s looking for more than that, either. She had a bad breakup last year.”
“Great, so she’s a headcase?”
As if he needed that. Jody, his ex, was a bitch but she was sane.
“She’s really not, but Meghan said she hasn’t dated since then. No idea why. She might be skittish, or she might be looking for a perfect hookup. I’ve given you the opportunity. Make of it what you will. Good luck.”
Owen grumbled. “You couldn’t make it easy, could you?”
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
I grow and learn with each book. Every one has different challenges. With the first book, it was keeping it a reasonable length (it started at 217k!). In the second, it was balancing what I wanted to tell in the story with keeping the characters likeable (they had their issues!) In the third, it was the fact that the story involves a deployed Army Captain, and I wanted my details to ring true for anyone in that situation. Book four had the added issue that I had to tell the story in a way which made the reader root for the main couple and didn’t trash the main characters from book one, all without actually making any of them sound whiny. With this latest, just the act of writing the book was the biggest challenge, not because the story wouldn’t come, but because I tried to (foolishly) write 130k words over the course of a busy summer. Last year, all I did was edit Back to December during that time and I barely met my August publication goal. But I suspect my muse and karma were in cahoots to make sure that this book, which deals with breast cancer, was published in October. And, on top of all that, I realized that I had to actually create a fleshed-out timeline for the series to help me during the writing process. Now, I have a file where I can answer questions very quickly instead of combing through each book and doing the math. But I’m not sharing that sheet. Not yet!
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I don’t have one favorite. I love a bunch of different authors for many reasons. I used to say Tom Robbins, because I loved his wacky writing, how it drew me into the world and made me forget that it wasn’t real. I’ve since met numerous other authors who do that well. I love any writer who can give me characters who evoke emotions (good and bad), and I love anyone who can world-build. Basically, it’s what I strive to do in my own work because I love that about reading, and I write what I’d want to read. A few authors I think do this well besides Tom Robbins: JRR Tolkien, JK Rowling, Suzanne Collins, Diana Gabaldon, Stephen King, and Marie Hall (her Kingdom series; I haven’t read her other non-contemporaries yet).
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Not so far. My career will need to skyrocket before I can convince my husband that it’s a great idea for me to leave all the time.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
I’ve designed all of them, with input here and there from my mentor and from the lovely and talented Rene Folsom, who is both an author and a graphic designer. I love graphic design, and though I wouldn’t presume to do what Rene does, I enjoy working with the software. It’s one of my favorite parts of self-publishing that I’d hate to outsource.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
This last time, it was finding uninterrupted blocks of time when I could listen to my muse. I write very organically, and Time to Begin wasn’t anywhere close to being done when I set the goal to have it completed by the end of the summer. Hence, why it wasn’t done then. Really, that’s been a part of my struggles over the last few years, but this was the first time when it mattered to anyone but me, because I planned a blog tour.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I learned several valuable lessons with this book! The first was that summer is sacred in my family, and thinking I can write during that time the way I would any other part of the year is asking too much of myself. I won’t plan to publish at the end of the summer again unless I have a manuscript that’s ready to be edited. I also learned that I don’t want to set dates for a blog tour until I’m in the editing phase. Editing is time-consuming, but I’m better at editing as I go these days, so I can reasonably estimate when a book will be ready once it’s at beta readers and is being edited. I also learned that my organic writing style feels less like procrastination when it’s not being forced into a stringent timeline. And last, but not least, I learned that the story will be what it is, that the characters will dictate their arc and how long it takes to tell it, and that I’m still capable of being surprised by my own characters.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Write, write, write. I always say this. Other than that, really, everything else about how to become a (hopefully good) writer is subjective. What worked for me – writing that fanfic and using it as a route into this mindset – won’t work for everyone. Try to learn as much as you can – through books, classes, blogs, and other writers, as well as via the hard way – and strive to keep improving your craft as you go. Don’t expect this to be an easy path, and you won’t be disappointed when it isn’t. I heard that advice early, and I’m glad I did, because there are moments – there will always be moments – when it gets to be too much. Anything worth having is worth the effort. Put in the effort, and you’ll be glad you did. Endure. And write, write, write.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
For anyone who really enjoys my work, I have a Facebook fan group, Christopher’s Minions, where I interact with my fans on a very personal level. We have a lot of fun ogling sexy models and joking around. I share snippets of my works-in-progress, show them the teasers, book covers and give them news before anyone else. And while I’m thrilled if they want to share their love with the rest of the world, it’s all about the fan interaction for me, so it’s not a street team and there are no obligations that come with it. We welcome new members! If you can’t find us, message me on my Author Patti Korbet page.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
The first book I remember reading by myself was The Poky Little Puppy when I was around 4-5.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
I read; I love to dance; I enjoy discovering new music and love listening to it live; I pretend I’m a gardener (I have a reasonably green thumb), and like to cook with the things that I grow; I sew and do other crafty things; I love photography, especially nature photos, and I create photo scrapbooks of our family adventures; I like to walk, including on snowshoes and up mountains; there’s more – I’m pretty well-rounded.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Basically, I love movies and TV. I like anything with compelling characters. I love JJ Abrahms’ shows and movies – ie Felicity, Lost, Revolution, Star Trek reboot, etc. I also like Shonda Rimes – Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, Scandal. I enjoy Sci-Fi and fantasy – I’m a huge Star Wars and Star Trek fan, but I also like superheroes and stuff like Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, and I love shows like Once Upon a Time. I like comedies, especially ones that have any element of romance in them. My most-watched sitcoms of the last decade have been How I Met Your Mother and The Big Bang Theory, and some of my favorite movies of all-time are RomComs, including When Harry Met Sally, Pretty Woman, and The Princess Bride. My current favorite show is Outlander.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Food: chocolate, lobster, tomatoes, potatoes
Music: I like a lot of different music, everything from classical to the doo-wop pre-rock tunes, to old-school rock-and-roll, to 80’s and 90’s fare and a variety of more modern music. My favorite musical decade is the one where I came of age, which is the 90’s.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
It’s not what I would have done, but what I did. I was a civil engineer for six years, professionally, before I left the workforce to take care of my family. If I had to go back, I would, but I know writing is what I’m meant to do, so I hope it is never necessary.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
I don’t have a web page yet, but I have a blog where I post about my work and also help promote other authors. It’s called In Patti’s Imagination, and the web address is: http://pattikorbetauthor.blogspot.com/