Guest: Maggie Robinson <3

Ladies! (And gentlem[a]n? No seriously – are there any dudes who read this blog? I want you to fess up. You might get a cookie. No joke.) Anyway. Today we’ve got awesome author Maggie Robinson visiting with us! Double bonus (which I first somehow typed as “donus” which obviously must mean I have donuts on the brain…) Margaret Rowe is here too! ;D Funny how that works, eh?

We also can tell just how fantabulous Ms. Robinson-Rowe is, because I’m being… well, me+. (I’m on “sick-brain” still and it’s after midnight and I’ve been very sleep deprived.) Haven’t you guys missed me?! Anyway, the point is, I feel comfortable being insane in the introduction.

I’m sure Maggie now regrets this and will never guest again. So I hope you guys make the most of this, okay?!

Lime, thanks so much for having me here to talk about Lord Gray’s List, the first book in the London List Trilogy. And thank you also for doing your annual online charity drive. You’ve proven what one person can do, and provided me with a blog topic as well, LOL.

The London List is my fictional Regency newspaper, a kind of combination National Enquirer/craigslist, but it also serves as a charity for trouser-wearing termagant Evangeline Ramsey. She has so many requests for help that she can’t possibly publish everything or she’d be cutting down swaths of forest for newsprint. So she has a little private business on the side, matching employees and lonely hearts and collectors with the objects of their desire. She’s sort of a fixer, but she ignores her own needs until hero Benton Gray comes along. Here’s what he thinks after they’ve worked side-by-side for a week:

Ben could see Evie’s breath in the air as she stomped in irritation at the curb. She reminded him a little of an unbroken thoroughbred, all lean lines and attitude. But according to her, she’d never be broken to bridle.

Ben wouldn’t even bother trying.

Evie was a shrew. A confirmed spinster. True, she could be soft-hearted with all her cases of people to place and protect. He’d now seen the drawers full of begging letters for which she took no coin. What kind of businesswoman was she? She was more like some demented fairy godmother.

Anyone looking less fairy-like would be hard to find. Although perhaps his mother’s tales of sweet, inoffensive winged creatures dancing at the bottom of the garden were at odds with some of the older legends. Some fairies were spiteful—clever and capricious, quick to trick the unsuspecting innocent into giving up their best chance for happiness. Or even their babies. Ben drew the line at thinking Evie would kidnap a child, but he could see her meting out her own brand of justice from her Fairy Court in solemn pronouncements and punishing seduction.
Right now she wasn’t speaking to him, not even thanking him as he helped her into the hack. Which he shouldn’t have done, as she was still in her trousered disguise. The merchants on the street would think it very odd.

The street lights had been turned on, and Ben saw people locking up and scurrying home to their suppers. The List’s office was dark, the new window glimmering in the gaslight. A raggedy girl selling roasted chestnuts tended the flames on her brazier at the corner, and if Ben weren’t so full he would have asked the driver to stop. The carriage lurched through the thick evening traffic, the familiar sounds and smells of London Ben’s only stimulation. Evie seemed determined to ignore him despite their working so seamlessly together just hours before. How was it that the glow of their mutual accomplishment had dimmed so suddenly? One minute they’d been chuckling over their ale, and the next Evie looked ready to chuck him out in the street.

He’d insulted her independence, he supposed, but really, she was just a lady beneath her clothes, even if she chose not to act like one. She might have a walking stick and be taller than the average man, but it wasn’t as if she fenced and boxed and built up her slender limbs. Anything could happen to her as she walked the chill streets of London. Anything at all.
Yesterday it was the shattered window, when she wasn’t even out in the elements. What if she’d been cut by flying glass, or worse yet, conked on the head with the brick?

Perhaps some sense might have been knocked into her, but Ben doubted it. She was the most stubborn, most vexing creature he’d ever met. His usual tricks to charm women were proving useless, but damn him if he was going to sit across from her like a lump as she shot daggers at him the whole way home. So he took a time-tested, easy route.

“I’m sorry.”

“What for?” she asked, suspicious.

Ben grinned. “I don’t really know. It seemed like the right thing to say.”

Ben is an easy-going guy, and Evie is anything but. Her difficult childhood has honed her independence, and made her aware of injustice. She’s really a crusader, and Ben shows her he can be every bit as dedicated as she can, with especially deep pockets. Ben thinks the way to win Evie’s heart is through generous donations to her causes—but he really won it despite her resistance long ago. Kirkus Review called Lord Gray’s List “a charming, fun Regency romp that combines an innovative, compelling plot with characters that jump off the page and a hot, captivating romance that will tug at heartstrings.”

During the holiday season, a lot of people wonder what kind of difference they can make to those less fortunate. I support two local food banks all year, and wish I could do more. Wow, what if I’d won the recent big lottery? Think of the good I could have done! (Of course, I would have had to buy a ticket, LOL) What charity would you like to give unlimited support? I’ve got a signed trade paperback of Lord Gray’s List for one commenter, and a $25 donation to their cause.

As if I needed any reason to like Maggie more. I, obviously, am fully behind this giveaway. In fact, no need to hang around. The winner is drawn… and it is ME! (And you know what’s sad? I had a moment’s pause and wondered “is that grammatically correct?” And then I thought “damned if I know – that was my worst subject and it’s my blog so I can mess up if I want to. And feel stupid. Which is why I’m drawing so much attention to it.)

… I’m never formatting posts ever again. I also thought about deleting all/most of this in the extremely lengthy times I had to wait while my broken computer chugged along… but I figured I’d leave it so you guys know what I’m like with less of a filter. You see why I schedule so many guest posts? It’s to save you from me. And while I was doing this I saw the next cover is up, so here’s Captain Durant’s Countess – you’re welcome. :P

And you know – speaking of saving and all, in a real way – what charity would you wish to donate to? Inquiring minds want to know! (Not just for the usual, but hey – SMSG13, 14, and so on will be upon us sooner than we think!)

Oh and, uh, for anyone who might be wondering – no, I’m not the winner. I was joking. It’s going to be one of you.

Water Changes Everything

It’s my third annual Social Media for Social Good (SMSG) fundraising drive. Today is Make a Difference Day, and this is how I’m choosing to do it. Some of you might have heard of charity:water when Rachel Beckwith’s tragic story made the news. She was an amazing little nine year old, and you can read more of what happened here. I dare you not to cry.

I spent a lot of time researching reputable international charities, and I love that charity:water is so transparent. I think it’ll be fun to check what our little ALBTALBS drive does too.

Did you know that:

  • 100% of all public donations directly fund water projects, and they prove every dollar using photos and GPS coordinates on a map
  • 800 million people around the world don’t have access to clean, safe drinking water
  • That is one out of every nine people
  • More people die from lack of clean water and sanitation each year than are killed by all forms of violence, including war
  • 90% of the deaths that result from diarrheal disease occur in children under five
  • About every nineteen seconds a mother loses her child to a water related illness
  • In sub-Saharan Africa 16 million hours each day are spent by women collecting water. This takes time away from work, school, and family.
  • 10% of disease could be reduced with improved access to clean water, sanitation, hygiene education, and water resource management.
  • $1 invested in water becomes $4-12 dollars for the local economy
  • Communities choose a small group of people to oversee each completed charity: water project. Equal numbers of men and women are encouraged to be included. These Water Committees are often the first chance women have to take on elected leadership roles.
  • The WHO reports that over 3.6% of the global disease burden can be prevented simply by improving water supply, sanitation, and hygiene.
  • Feeding our world takes up to 90% of our freshwater withdrawals but many people in developing nations still don’t have access to enough water for irrigation.
  • Just $20 $65 can provide one person with a clean water project in his/her village

We can make a huge difference.

I know it’s difficult to give, but I’m asking everyone to do what they can. And if you can’t – help spread the word. This is a comment drive, so even just leaving a comment and having one friend do the same helps. Believe me – I know it’s hard out there. I know what it’s like to make well under the poverty rate. I still do. Which is why I’m doing something where everyone can get involved.

These people have already given:

Pledges:

  • I’m going to give $300 if we reach 1,000 comments.
  • Cecilia Grant will give $1 per comment up to 100 comments
  • The Romance Man will give $50 when we reach 250 comments will match my $300 if we get to 1,000 comments!!!
  • C2 will give $150 when we reach 500 comments
  • Farrah Rochon will give $10 for every 100 comments

You can see who all the wonderful, generous people who donated are on the campaign page. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Won’t you join us?

And in the spirit of friendly competition … I’m asking – challenging – 50 bloggers to donate. Even if it’s $1. I think we can do it. (In fact – I’d love to see more bloggers donate than authors. How’s that for competition? But a concrete goal of 50.)
And if privacy is a concern, you can donate anonymously. *coughs* Someone *coughs* already donated $50 to check that out. :)

Let’s do this!

*ETA: I have a specific campaign created for the romance community: http://mycharitywater.org/albtalbs if you’d like to donate. Also, if you’re donating, I would love to add you to the list, to let other people know (peer pressure! :D) and to give you a shout out. Please feel free to email me with any questions, or to talk about whether or not you want your name/amount to be listed. Thank you!!!

Also, for clarification, my SMSG drives go on for a month. I figure that’s enough time for word to be spread and people to budget what they can to donate. For all of us in the states, it’s a tax deductible charitable donation! (For our international friends, I would look into that too.)

You can check out the numerous giveaways here. To enter, just use your comment url and you’re done!

Planning for Social Media for Social Good

Hi friends! Some of you might remember my annual Social Media for Social Good drive. (SMSG) – I started it in 2010 because I saw talk of “Make a Difference Day” where (RED) and maskable had a big project. I then saw blogs that said something like “I’ll donate $1/comment on this post up to X amount.” And I thought about it, then said to myself, “I can do that.” So I posted to TGTBTU (where I was a reviewer/blogger at the time.) It was incredible. In less than twelve hours, the romance community raised more than $1,337.

I couldn’t let this opportunity pass, so in 2011, I researched charities for a long time. I wanted to find something I cared about, and that would be reputable, and international. There was sadly a humanitarian crisis going on in the Horn of Africa – so I decided to choose Save the Children. (Regardless of your politics, or how you feel about your country’s involvement in the area… I can’t se how you’d hold it against children.) I decided to go for a full month, and we raised $8,484.50.

For the past year I’ve been considering at the back of my mind which charity to chose. (It is incredibly difficult to find a reputable organization that is international, and won’t cause offense to anyone.) I decided to go with charity:water.

Everyone needs water to survive. Everyone. And it’s something every person can relate to, and sympathize with. We take water for granted. Some of us refuse to drink anything but filtered water. I can’t even imagine what life would be without easy access to clean water.

So starting on Saturday, October 27, Make a Difference Day, I’m starting a charity drive. Social Media for Social Good is a way to get everyone involved. It’s a fundraiser, and an attempt to raise awareness.

How can you participate? Give money. Spread the word. I know it’s hard out there right now. Some of us can give a lot, some of us can give a little. Believe me, as someone who is making painfully less than the poverty rate, I know it’s difficult. But this is my pet project. I’m asking you to give what you can. Even a dollar makes a difference. Imagine, if a group of people can spare a dollar, that’s huge. 10 people, 15, 25, 100. Whatever.

Some of you might wish to have a correlative rate. E.g. $5 for every 50 comments. Whatever you think is best, or you can afford. A flat rate is fine too. I’ve had people say they’d pay $100 for 100 comments – at different levels. Because remember, the idea is to get as many people involved as possible. (E.g. One person will donate X amounts when we get 100 comments. Another person will donate Y amount when we hit 200 comments, and so on.) I’ve also talked about why I decided to go with a comment drive, and not something else.

I’d love to have something in place before the “official” post goes live.

So – tell me – are you in?

A Thankful Thanksgiving (Touching Guest Post from Liz)

I have this special fondness for Thanksgiving being on the 24th of November. There’s no particular rhyme or reason, but it just seems right to me. Like Thanksgiving is meant to be on the 24th. Sure, sometimes it’s on different days – that’s how the calendar works. I’m sure each and every one of us also has something to be thankful for. Sure, some of us have it better than others. (And most of us reading this blog have it better than many parts of the world… but that’s a dangerous game to play.)

I think today’s post, though, is absolutely perfect, and fitting. Sarah M. Anderson prompted me to do the mini SMSG drive for the Pine Ridge Reservation. (I can’t seem to escape it – actually watched Imprint last night (the indie film not the… other horror?), not knowing about the location/specifics.) But really, I can’t say anything better than Liz. For such a small effort, I think we did fabulously, everyone. Anyway, Liz commented on my original post, and I asked if she’d be willing to blog about the experience, giving to the Reservation, and here it is.

I don’t know what it’s like to go to bed hungry. I never lived with anyone growing up except my two parents. My mom stayed home with us kids while my dad worked. My brother and I had closets full of clothes, shoes, and toys. We were warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

Now, I can say that my children don’t know what it’s like to be hungry or cold or wonder where their parents are. I know that we’re blessed and I’m grateful every day for the life we enjoy. And I’m never more aware of just how blessed we really are until I see programs like 20/20s report on the Lakota Pine Ridge Reservation’s children. My nine year old daughter Rachel and I sat together and watched the show. Throughout, she kept saying “it’s so sad”.

The first thing she said to me when it was over was, “Mom, I want to send them my hats.” We looked up the websites mentioned on the 20/20 website, settling on one that would accept hats and gloves and also books for children of all ages. That weekend, we went shopping and purchased hats, gloves, and books (baby, toddler, and elementary age) to add to the freshly washed, gently used items we had at home.

I told her that there were several hundred kids on the reservation that had little or no winter clothes. She looked down at the hats and then up at me with her big blue eyes and said, “We only have six.”

I gave her a hug and said, “Six isn’t a big number, but those six kids will be thankful to get those hats this winter. So it might not seem like a big deal, but it will be a big deal to a handful of kids.”

I know that there are many people who did more than we did – who gave money or boxes of clothes and supplies; but I couldn’t look at my daughter and say – well we can only do “x” and it won’t matter in the whole scheme of things. Because in truth, every little bit counts, but only if the “bits” make it where they’re needed. We did what we could and tried to fill a need as we were able.

Grown men can learn from very little children—for the hearts of little children are pure. Therefore, the Great Spirit may show them many things that older people miss.” Black Elk

Today, I’m thankful and humbled to be part of the romance community, where I get to meet and mingle with wonderful people like you. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. I hope you have a wonderful day. <3