Nolan Ramsey thinks he wants to be alone. He leaves his life in the city, leaves his job as a news reporter, and buys a house in the middle of nowhere. He plans a life of complete isolation with just his dog, Scuba, for company.
Calinda Willow returns home to help her aging father at the end of his life. She copes with the loss by throwing herself into her work, rejects social invitations from her friend, Jackie, and thinks she is content with her solitary life.
They are both wrong.
Targeted Age Group:: 18-65
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
The characters are both seeking seclusion and I understand that need to hide away from the world.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
My female character in Willow Wood is self-sufficient and independent. I find I always write women with those basic characteristics. They aren't always strong emotionally, but they know how to take care of themselves in the world.
Calinda shut off the power to her table saw when she realized her friend, Jackie Knight, had burst into the shop and although she couldn’t hear a thing over the sounds of the machine, she saw Jackie’s lips moving. As the roaring motor softened to a purr, she heard a few words at the end of a sentence.
“Okay, now start over. You know I didn’t hear any of that.” Calinda flipped up the plastic protective mask and blew sawdust from the table.
“Oh, you didn’t miss anything,” Jackie said with a dismissive wave of her hands. “I just said it was break time. It’s time for you to take off the space helmet and relax a minute. Do you have anything warm to drink? There’s a chill in the air.” Jackie had on her usual flamboyant attire, too much perfume, and her high energy smile. Her bracelets clinking against each other with every movement.
“I have coffee over on the bar.” Calinda saw Jackie had already found what she needed as she poured a splash of cognac in a coffee cup.
“So, what exciting Knight Events have you been conjuring?” Calinda poured herself coffee and sat at a barstool. Jackie had her own party planning business called Knight Events and she coordinated most of the functions that the town held, as well as private parties.
“I’ve spent most of the morning on the phone trying to confirm details for the Harvest Ball. I’ve gotten a fabulous band this year. I just know you’re going to love it. What are you going to wear?”
“My pumpkin suit,” Calinda said sarcastically. She hated these things and Jackie always insisted she attend. She never stayed long, just long enough for Jackie to see her and then she slipped out.
“Oh, no honey— Orange is not a good color for you,” Jackie said ignoring Calinda’s mockery. “I think you should wear the lavender gown. It’s not a harvest color, but it is an excellent color for you. I think I may have to go shopping. I’m overdue for a new party dress. How about taking a road trip? We could take a weekend and go to Pittsburg shopping.”
“I can’t take a weekend off.” Calinda felt guilty for even the coffee break. “I’ve got a mountain of orders to fill. Fall is my busiest time of year because everyone wants to stock up for Christmas shoppers. I’ll be working seven days a week until Thanksgiving.”
“I’ll never understand why you torture yourself with all this dirty stuff.” Jackie scowled as she dusted a barstool off with her hand before sitting down. “You can’t stay cooped up in this mechanical dungeon for a month. You have to get out sometime.”
Calinda felt like she lived in her wood turning shop sometimes, but she loved it down here. It took up the bottom floor of the back of her house and was indeed full of wood chips and dust with loud machines and clutter, but she enjoyed the work. It was her comfort zone and the smell of cut wood held pleasant memories for her.
“I’m not cooped up and I do get to town when I need something, but I’ve just got a lot to do right now. This is when your busy time begins, too.” Calinda knew as the holidays neared that Jackie would be swamped with private parties and group functions.
“Yeah that’s true, but at least come to town and meet me for dinner Thursday. I’ve got a late meeting with the mayor and I’ll be done about 7:00. We can meet at The Villa.” The Villa was an Italian restaurant in Carlton and one of only three restaurants the small town had. “I hate to eat alone and it’s homemade ravioli night on Thursdays.”
“If you know their menu that well, you’re eating out too much. Why don’t you just come out here and I’ll make us dinner. You know, it’s about time you learned to cook a few things anyway and…”
“Don’t start in.” Jackie waved her hands in the air making her bracelets jingle. She knew Calinda was going to offer to teach her to cook again. “I’m not interested in spending quiet time alone with food. I don’t have the time or patience for all that and I don’t want to let my community down. Eating out is good for the local economy and it’s one of the best places to meet people. I need to be in the public eye. When people see me, they instantly think— party!”
Calinda just rolled her eyes. Jackie was indeed a party all the time. Her attention span was short, but when you had it, you had it full speed. “Okay, I’ll meet you there Thursday night. I need to run into town for a few things sometime this week anyway.”
“Good! Well, I’ve got to get going now.” Jackie rinsed out her mug in the sink and gathered her purse and keys from the bar. “Did you finally get rid of that nasty wet mammal?”
“Ollie isn’t nasty. He just likes to swim in the pond to cool off. He’s out running around now, I guess. I haven’t seen him today.”
Ollie was a stray dog that Calinda had been feeding. He showed up every few days and laid around the shop sleeping. He was a big dog with a coarse blonde coat that had a tendency to stick up in every direction as if he were always having a bad hair day. Calinda had bathed him a few times and brushed him down, but he didn’t stay nice very long. He had an unusual howling bark that she always recognized when she was out walking, and he would come when she called to him. He seemed to crave human attention and she enjoyed his company.
“Did you ever try calling the phone number on his tag?”
“Yeah, I did, but the number is out of service. It’s not in this area code though, so it may be really old.”
“Whoever owned him probably moved and left no forwarding address. I can’t say I blame them,” Jackie huffed. “If you want another dog, why don’t you get a cute little dog that stays in the house and stays clean?”
“They’re too fragile to walk in the woods. I don’t want to carry them on my back.”
“Don’t forget, 7:00 Thursday.” Jackie wiggled her fingers goodbye as she headed out the door. She wasn’t really interested in what kind of dog Calinda had or anything Calinda had to say most of the time. Jackie was a very self-absorbed person, but she was entertaining and a loyal friend in her own way. They were about as different as two people could be though.
“I’ll be there,” Calinda said as she put her work apron back on and the door shut behind Jackie.
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