Long and Short Reviews welcomes Vicki Reese as she celebrates the release of her newest book What the Carpenter Saw.
Thank you for having me here today. I’d like to talk to you today about where I get my ideas. It’s a question writer get asked a lot. For instance, recently, I was in a lab for a bunch of tests, hooked up to monitors and with wires leading everywhere. The two techs and I got to talking. When I said I was a writer, they asked the inevitable question of “where do you get your ideas?”
The simple answer is…from everywhere. So I played the “what if” game with them. What if we were in this lab, but… it was set on a space station and you were getting me ready to go outside. What if…once I got out there, a problem arose with my suit? What if…I couldn’t get back inside because the automatic doors locked due to a security issue. What if…
You get the picture. Ideas for stories come from everywhere. A blurb on the news, a snippet of overheard conversation, an interesting shadow in the corner…. Anything can spark the creative flame and get it roaring. But most of all, you have to have imagination. You have to be able to take that shadow in the corner and turn it into a portal to another dimension; that snippet of conversation and turn it into a love story (or a kidnapping, or murder most foul); that blurb on the news and turn it into something two people survive together.
A writer gets his or her ideas from everywhere and everything. My idea for this story, What the Carpenter Saw, came from an old friend who was severely wounded, losing part of his leg and arm and coming home to a struggle to find his place. Like my character Jake, he had problems, but he faced them and overcame them. I saw stories like his on the news and knew I had to do something with it. My character, Jake Cramer, is that something.
Wounded warrior Jake Cramer returned from the Middle East missing part of one leg and with a partially paralyzed left arm. He feels useless in his family’s construction business, but carpentry is all he knows. He needs to relearn how to work and how to live. He can’t even consider finding a man to love. Who would want him this way?
Alex Ford is a top-of-the-line architect who’s tired of big cities and wants to settle down, maybe run a small inn. The mansion he inherited from his grandparents might be the ticket to his dream, but it needs a lot of work. When he meets the handsome builder, he knows he’s made the right decision. He just needs to convince Jake that his scars don’t matter. Unfortunately, Alex’s greedy family has other ideas, and they’re determined to ruin Alex’s plans and take the inheritance for themselves—even if they have to kill to do it.
Enjoy an Excerpt:
JAKE CRAMER stared out the kitchen window at the thick woods behind his dad’s house. A mixture of brilliantly colored hardwoods and evergreens edged with a gurgling stream—so different from the harsh rock and sand of the Middle East. Though he wasn’t cold, he shivered a little as wisps of steam rose from the water, forming tendrils of icy fog along the bank. Frost had coated the lawn and garden overnight and was still visible in the areas the sun hadn’t yet touched. South Central Pennsylvania was so much better than the Middle East, and he loved the small town of Robinwood. It was the kind of place where you knew your neighbors and the shopkeepers by their first names. The kind of place that was great to grow up in, raise a family in. The kind of place it was good to come back to.
“Jake? You okay?” his dad, Micah, aka Big Mike, asked.
Mike came to stand next to him as Jake nodded. “Yeah. Just looking at the trees. I missed this when I was over there.”
“I know what you mean. Though where I was stationed wasn’t as bad as Afghanistan, I can’t say I was fond of the desert when I was there.” His dad clapped him on the shoulder, and Jake fought back a wince. The scars there still bothered him, but he refused to let it show.
His dad handed him a coffee thermos. “You ready to get to work? Your brother’s already on his way.”
Jake nodded and turned from the view. His dad had served in the Gulf War. Different area, same scenery. The Pennsylvania landscape held Jake’s heart. And work with the family construction company was exactly what he needed. Hammers and saws and wood. Building things, not blowing them up or shooting them full of holes. Though coming home hadn’t been easy. His family, especially his mom, had coddled him to the point of smothering him. He loved them all dearly, but he also needed to find his own way. It was slow, but he was getting there. “I’m coming. We working on the Johnson place today? I’ve got the cabinets ready to go in.”
“No. There’s a delay on the flooring for the kitchen. We’re working the McKenzie lot today. I want to get it under roof before the cold sets in. Sam will handle the crew there. I need you to go to the old Wilson place and make a list of what we’ll need to do there and in what order. The new owner wants to do a complete overhaul. He’s turning the old mansion into a B and B. I’ll meet you there after I do a supply run for your brother.”
“Works for me.” Jake shivered and grabbed his heavy jacket from the peg next to the back door as Mike opened it. Though he’d been back for a month, the cold October air still chilled him after the heat of the Middle East. Even with the cold, he’d rather be working a site than doing paperwork, but Mike was the boss, and Jake didn’t have a whole lot of choice in the matter.
The chill also made his left arm and leg ache more. At least, what was left of his leg. Because of his injuries, he could no longer do ladder work, definitely not roofing. He was still too unsteady to work a sloping roof. But honestly, he didn’t mind too much. The awkwardness and pain meant he had most of his leg, unlike a lot of other servicemen and women he knew. Sure, metal held parts of it together and it ended below the knee, but that was enough for him to get around with a prosthetic. He rarely needed to use the hated wheelchair anymore. As for his arm, it still worked, sort of. Just not nearly as well as before. Heavy scar tissue and tendon damage made it more of something to fill his sleeve than an actual working arm, though the therapists said he would get some use back the more he worked it. But he’d lived, unlike two other members of his team. And it was also the reason he was stuck doing estimates instead of site work.
(for the full excerpt, go to: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/what-the-carpenter-saw-by-vicki-reese-7326-b and click on the excerpt link)
About the Author: Vicki Reese has been married forever to the one person who accepts that she lives in a fantasy world most of the time. She’s even been seen at the beach building worlds for her stories out of sand. In addition to creating fun characters, fantasy worlds, and suspenseful situations, she also enjoys and is very good at things like writing policy and procedures manuals and setting up continuity and organizational spreadsheets, both of which she has actually earned money doing. She has a master’s degree in library science so likes things organized. Okay, so her family thinks having the spice rack alphabetized it a bit much, but she has no trouble finding what she needs when she needs it. And just because her extensive library is cataloged and organized, that doesn’t mean she’s obsessive. Honest. When not writing, Vicki works as an editor, helping other authors with their manuscripts. When not doing either one of those, she can be found in the kitchen whipping up gluten-free, lactose-free, other allergy-free meals for her family. Or watching the world go by from her front porch swing.
Buy the book at Dreamspinner Press.