Because I wanted to help, I donated 4 months of the proceeds from my three Rose Arbor novels to the Oso Relief fund.
Of course, once I saw the magnitude of the slide and devastation, I realized how very small my contribution was. It’s like that hymn,
Little drops of water,
little grains of sand,
make the mighty ocean
and the beauteous land.
And the little moments,
humble though they may be,
make the mighty ages
(Words: Julia Carney, 1845)
My fictional town of Rose Arbor is loosely based on Arlington. As a writer, it’s hard to keep the places and people we love from popping up in our books. I think writing about Arlington/Rose Arbor over the years helped ease some latent homesickness.
When I was a girl, the Arlington Library was a renovated two story house in a residential part of town. In my novel, the Rhyme’s Library, the library is a renovated Greek rival house manned by Blair who not only has to contend with her bad-boyfriend Drake, but her missing, crazy Aunt Charlotte. The library was a large part of my childhood and it plays a role in all three of my Rose Arbor books and even makes a cameo appearance in my historical romance, Stealing Mercy (which technically belongs in my Seattle Fire series.)
Paulson’s Pond, where Missy goes missing in Losing Penny, is really Pioneer Park. And Arlington really does celebrate Frontier Days. Every year when I was a girl, there would be a parade complete with veterans of the foreign wars marching in their uniforms, a lineup of rigged-up logging trucks, the high school marching band, the cheerleaders and drill team, and the horses from the 4-H club. And of course part of the celebration was the annual donkey basketball game—just like the one where Drake meets Gertrude.
It’s wonderful to write about Arlington, but it’s even better to visit. Arlington has changed a lot since I left for college. The sleepy dairy farming town where the cows once out-numbered people grew to a bedroom community for the rising tech economy. Many of the farms have been sold and turned into housing developments.
But nothing has changed as dramatically as the town of Oso. Thanks to everyone who purchased my Rose Arbor novels these past few months. Together, we were a drop in a much needed flood of giving and kindness.