An Update, SMSG14 Information, & Giveaways

Hello my friends and darling readers who are much better people than I am. I wanted to say thank you, and that I’m sorry.

I took away the hiatus message … but it is obvious I’m still not really on top of things. I will continue to try, and attempt to post on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. We’ll see. Life really really kicked my ass this year. And considering I’ve had a time where [we] had to deal with six deaths in a month … yeah.

Anyway. I’m sorry. I really REALLY appreciate you sticking with me.

So, that’s the update. There’s just so much going on in bookland that is holy fucking crazy that I don’t even want to mention it here. Honestly if you don’t know, I say avoid it. It’s toxic. However, if you’re one of the “curiosity killed the cat but satisfaction brought him back” types like I am … I generally comment on “the things” on twitter.

Now! For … happier things. This year I’m just clearly not on top of things, but I’d been planning SMSG14 for honestly the last two years, unofficially. In 2012 I promised Lori that ALS would be the focus charity of 2014. I definitely still think this is a very noble cause and important issue. I’m adding other issues because of a few reasons. First of all, the ice bucket challenges that raised so much awareness and money this year. Secondly, there are major humanitarian crises out there. (Crises is the plural of crisis yes?)

So, the basics. If you’re new here… SMSG stands for “Social Media for Social Good.” It’s my annual charity fundraiser where I ask the romance community (and frankly everyone) to open their hearts and their wallets for a worthy charitable cause. In 2010 (I did this at TGTBTU) – and the charity was (RED) to help fight AIDS. 2011 there was the famine in East Africa so the charity I chose was Save the Children. In 2012 I chose charity:water which helps build wells so people and places that need it can have safe and accessible clean water. 2013 the focus was child human trafficking, and we went with Love 146. (And then Typhoon Haiyan happened so we split the proceeds.)

This year, along with ALS, I’d like people to donate to Doctors Without Borders because of the Ebola crisis in Africa. And you know, anywhere else – it’s just I think the USA is freaking out a bit too much. (No thank you, 24 hour news cycles.) Then also, UNICEF. (Because why wouldn’t you want to support children in need?) But this especially because … yes another humanitarian crisis. There are too many child refugees from Syria. (In fact the situation was on the front page of MSF – Doctors Without Borders – when I visited.) Did you know many of the child refugees have become field hands? They’re hired to work, as young as 8 years old, because it’s cheaper to hire children than adults. Then after a long day in the field, they’re happy to go to school. I believe I read that $15 is enough to provide for a classroom. (I’m not going to give more details at this time because the main post will be coming next week.)

Kickoff of Social Media for Social Good 2014 will start on [International] Make a Difference Day, which is October 25, 2014. Saturday.

Would you or anyone else be willing to make a pledge? I also say this is a social media fundraiser, because I know times are tough for people, and maybe monetary donations aren’t a possibility at this time. That’s why I ask people who can afford to give make a pledge based on the number of comments. Comments help because it makes the fundraiser something we all can own. You have a goal and a vested interest. I have talked about it and explained my rationale in the past.

I know many people don’t want to announce their amounts – which is cool too. I go both ways – why brag? But on the other hand – many an amount will spur others to donate as well. You know – competition. We all have a part of that in us. I use SMSG14 as my main “tithe” (let’s not even go into explanations there.) – so this year I’m pledging $1,130. I don’t know how I’ll divvy it up, but for now that’s what I’m putting up for sure. I’ll say I’m giving it if we hit 1,000 comments on the main post. [But pssst I'm good for it regardless.]

Would anyone else like to make a pledge? Someone want to take 50 comments? 100? 150, 200, 500? Whatever? 33? Pick a number?

Any moneybags want to do a per comment amount? $1 per comments? ;D Hell, 10¢ per comment?

And then … the giveaways. You might not have noticed, because it’s “just” in the sidebar, but author Michelle M. Pillow has bought ad space at ALBTALBS (yes I offer it!) for all of 2013 and 2014. So pretty much she has single-handedly kept this site afloat. (Thanks Michelle!) I asked her a question somewhat related to SHHM … and you know what? She offered up an audiobook for one of you! Yes! Someone can win a copy of Barbarian Prince! Tell me in the comments if you’d like to win this. Then also, a few weeks ago The Ohio State Buckeyes won a game with more than 60 points … so *I* am having a giveaway too! Someone will win the kindle copy of Frost Maiden, Love Potions, or Fierce Competition. (>.> I may or may not have!!! picked them based on the covers – and that they were either first in the series…)

Lastly? Another giveaway! (Sorry, this is only for friends in the US or Japan …) because it’s a free one month subscription to hulu plus!

Anyone interested in any of those things? :D Let me know! Any or all of them! (Also if you make a pledge now for SMSG14, I’ll add you and whatever link you like to the main post!)

Thanks all! Xoxo

Kindle Some Fires for Charity

Social Media for Social Good (SMSG) has been extended… because I don’t think I did a good job spreading the word. In fact, I meant to do that all of January too – but that was fail. What is SMSG? Read about it here: http://www.tartsweet.com/2013/10/26/smsg13-we-can-help-stop-human-trafficking/

Nevertheless I want to do that now. I’m going to create a rafflecopter… :X soon.

We can discuss prizes – it could be a kindle fire, a box of books, or something else, such as jewelry. I do want to note the prize will be *something that I have already. Why? I don’t want to spend money on this because I feel like if I were to spend money, it should go to a donation for charity. Does that make sense?

I hope you all understand.

How will this work? Any person who gets someone to comment on the SMSG13 post, or donate, or both, gets an entry. It’s your job to keep track. So, regardless if I do a rafflecopter or not, you can keep track in the comments of this post.

Ready? Set, GO! SMSG ends on VDay so let’s do this up big! Maybe we can raise a[nother] thousand. Or more! <3 I know I can depend on you!

*NB – the prize will be something NEW. I wouldn’t foist a white elephant type gift on any of you – especially not when it’s for something as brilliant as helping out a charitable cause!

Secondly, I’m closing comments here - because I want all your comments and questions to go to the SMSG post – because remember, each comment helps raise money for charity!

#SMSG13 Thoughts

My friends, I’m sure you’ve all seen and heard about the terrible devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan.

The NYT has a stark page of images – one from each day. News is coming in that the death toll might be much less than the early estimate of 10,000, which of course is good news, but the problem is there is such great need now.

I was wondering – what do you think of switching the focus of SMSG from Love 146 to typhoon relief/aid? I’d go with Save the Children we’ve given to them before, and they’re one of the organizations already on the ground helping.

What do you think? Any objections?

I’d especially like to hear from people who have donated already. If you have an opinion, let me know. I’m more than happy to split it up – or I might go $300/Love 146, $300/Save the Children.

Let me know please. Thank you <3

*ETA: SMSG13 We Can Help Stop Human Trafficking & Give Typhoon Relief Aid

SMSG13 is Social Media for Social Good 2013. This is our fourth year, and the target is to stop human trafficking. A lot of these facts are alarming. And I have to let you know if you research statistics – even your state, it might trigger trauma. But I think that’s why this is so important. Some of the things I read made me a bit queasy.

Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery. Victims of human trafficking are subjected to force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of commercial sex, debt bondage, or forced labor. They are young children, teenagers, men and women. Trafficking in persons occurs throughout the world, including in the United States.

  • There is a total estimate of 29.8 million people in modern slavery.
  • Globally, the average cost of a slave is $90.
  • 600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders every year. More than 70% are female and half are children. - U.S. State Department
  • 1.2 million children are trafficked each year  - UNICEF
  • An estimated 26% of all forced labor victims are children. This means there are 5.5 million child victims at any given point in time. It is also estimated that children make up 21% of forced sexually exploited labor in the private economy. - The International Labour Organisation
  • People are reported to be trafficked from 127 countries to be exploited in 137 countries, affecting every continent and every type of economy
  • Estimated global annual profits made from the exploitation of all trafficked forced labour are $31.6 billion USD
  • In 2006 for every 800 people trafficked, only one person was convicted.
  • Only 0.4% of victims are identified.
  • Human trafficking not only involves sex and labor, but people are also trafficked for organ harvesting.
  • An estimated 30,000 victims of sex trafficking die each year from abuse, disease, torture, and neglect. Eighty percent of those sold into sexual slavery are under 24, and some are as young as six years old.
  • According to a 2009 Washington Times article, the Taliban buys children as young as seven years old to act as suicide bombers. The price for child suicide bombers is between $7,000-$14,000
  • Human trafficking occurs in all fifty states in the U.S. (You can check your state “grade” which might be alarming.) The FBI estimates that over 100,000 children and young women are trafficked in America today. They range in age from nine to 19, with the average being age 11. Many victims are not just runaways or abandoned, but are from “good” families who are coerced by clever traffickers.
  • After drug dealing, trafficking of humans is tied with arms dealing as the second-largest criminal industry in the world.
  • In the European Union alone, about 880,000 people are in forced labour, according to ILO estimates. That’s 1.8 in every 1,000 persons.
  • Human trafficking is a $9.8 billion domestic industry, with at least 100,000 children being used as prostitutes in America each year.
  • Two children are sold every minute.

And a testimonial of sorts:

They forced me to sleep with as many as 50 customers a day.  I had to give [the pimp] all my money. If I did not [earn a set amount] they punished me by removing my clothes and beating me with a stick until I fainted, electrocuting me, cutting me.

-Kolab, sex trafficking survivor from Cambodia

The charity I settled on is Love 146. I’m still debating on how – let me know if you have an opinion re: paypal or me setting up a Crowdrise campaign. (It may also depend on the handling fees of either.) I really like that Love 146 acts to prevent, but also provides aftercare.

Love 146

I’m pledging $1 per comment for the first day, maybe the first week. (I have to max out at $600. I’m hoping we hit 600 comments before the first week is over. Either way, it doesn’t matter. I’m all in.) I definitely don’t expect everyone to make large donations. Any amount is helpful. $10, $5, $1. 50¢. Whatever you can give. Or if not, hit up your rich friends to donate. Parents, relatives. Have them comment because here’s the kicker with SMSG – even a comment on this blog post helps raise money. Amazing!

Initial pledgers are:

Shiloh Walker will donate $50, and if we hit 100 comments on the charity drive post, another $50, for a total of $100.
SpazP will donate $50
has pledged $100 once we reach 500 comments
Amara Royce
Rissatoo

Remember - every comment helps. As part of this being a fundraiser it’s also a comment drive. We want to raise awareness and spread the word. Together we can make a difference. <3

*ETA: The fundraising page is now live:

**Second ETA: I know we’ve all heard about the tragedy and devastation left by Typhoon Haiyan. It’s horrifying, so what I’ve decided to do is do a 25/75 split with the funds raised.  (25% will go to Save the Children to their specific Typhoon Relief Fund.) This is because yes, aid is greatly needed in the Philippines … and I know we all want to help. But the world is watching. I asked people who had donated, and they felt it was important to also bring attention to human trafficking. And … that’s true. I personally have met three suspected victims of human trafficking the past two weeks, and learned about new recruiting places. It’s terrifying, so I really hope you’ll join me. Just the cost of a cup of coffee or lunch out would really help. Even 100 people giving $1 would make a huge different. Please consider contributing.

Thank you!!!!

Social Media for Social Good (SMSG) on Make a Difference Day

My friends, today is Make a Difference Day. It’s the last Saturday of October each year. You might remember my SMSG charity drives. I planned on starting it today. (I still hope to have the post go live at some point today.) But we all know how the best of intentions go. Beyond that, this year is a little different … in that I was certain I knew what charity I wanted to support. I had everything planned out … and some of the information I had was lost, but more, the people I interacted with were terrible.

The focus of SMSG13 is Human Trafficking. This is a terrible global problem. I myself have seen girls we believe are victims of human trafficking at work. The FBI has been involved, and it’s complicated. Tragic. Worse? Oftentimes the individuals who are victims of human trafficking themselves pick up criminal charges and records … and worse they stick. (That’s yet another issue.)

In a way this is some crowd sourcing. At this point I’m leaning heavily towards Love 146. Other organizations I had looked into were UN-GIFT (The United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking. But I tried to contact them numerous times, called both the DC and NY office, and had a horrible experience. The NY girl was nicer, but useless – initially rude but better, but the DC girl (who I called first) almost gave me an aneurysm. So, you know. I had also considered the International Justice Mission. (I also researched at least 6 other charities, but you know, let’s stay focused.)

The difficult part is finding a charity that does international work, is as non-offensive as possible, has excellent ratings, and transparency. And of course, is an actual registered non-profit.

Which takes us to our next question. I was thinking of partnering with Crowdrise – I heard of them through a fundraiser DJ Tiesto did for (RED). Otherwise… through paypal? The latter requires you to trust me – that I’ll donate all fund for SMSG. (Which of course, I would do. And post the final lump sum donation.) I’m trying to get rates – although I think the trust is a bigger issue.

In short – would any of you be interested in or willing to pledge? I hope to get the “main page” up later today. Anyone who makes a pledge before that happens gets his/her named listed on that post.

Summary:

  • Will you (or anyone you know) be willing to make a donation pledge?
  • Do you have a particular international charity that targets Human Trafficking in mind that you feel very strongly about/more than Loe 146?
  • How should we do the donations? Crowdrise or paypal?

ETA: At the moments, I have 3 pledges.
Shiloh Walker will donate $50, and if we hit 100 comments on the charity drive post, another $50, for a total of $100.
SpazP will donate $50
has pledged

And … of course I’m donating. I’m thinking a dollar per comment definitely on the first day, maybe the first week depending. I want to donate $600. And I realize things are tough. I made less than $7K last year, so I know it’s not easy to donate. Seriously, any amount is awesome. $5 instead of a cup of coffee or a meal out? Totally appreciated. <3

*ETA: I decided to close comments to end confusion on which post should be used to count comments. Also, I decided to go with a Crowdrise because I plan on asking anyone to donate, and friends of friends etc wouldn’t be as likely to donate to some random paypal account I’m thinking. I’ll figure out something for paypal if Crowdrise doesn’t accept it.

Eight Thousand, Three Hundred and Thirty-Three Hundredths Reasons You’re Awesome

What a random number, right? Well, that’s the final total for #SMSG12!!! See?

Heh. The $0.33 comes from a time when I noticed the numbers – and thought charity: water displayed cents, so I donated $3.33 off the cuff to be cute. Et voilà.

I cannot thank you all enough for your generosity and support. So many people helped spread the word, with hundreds of retweets on twitter, numerous people who were willing to blog about it when I asked, or let me take over their blogs to spread the word. I know many of us gave more than we planned. A special shout out to Kindle Gal, and Romance Man who helped a lot. Joey W. Hill’s generous donation made me cry when I got the notification… and an anonymous donor whose giving almost made me faint.

I got a little discouraged at times, and extended Social Media for Social good so much longer than I ever expected to, and I promise you all. Never again. Promise. Never. But I want to say a very heartfelt thank you to everyone who was so positive about it, and encouraging.

And thanks to everyone in general for putting up with me. I totally understand the fear of people thinking you’re spammy, and the desperate need to make sure people who hadn’t heard about SMSG before do. (And yes, that happened.) So authors, you have my sympathy.

I can’t believe the results – I was going for a long shot with my goal of $10,000. I hoped it might happen – thought there might be a chance, but didn’t expect it. In fact, for a long time I thought we might not even make $5,000 in contributions. Near the end I amended my goal to $7,500, and look at how much more we went beyond that!

You all ROCK! <3

We brought one hundred and twenty seven people sustainable clean water! (Most likely – the numbers depend on the specific region, but $65/person is the average.) In 18 months we’ll be provided GPS coordinates and reports, and we can follow along the actual ground work to see how the project is going. Isn’t that amazing?

And a big thank you to all the people who offered prizes to help drive up comments and awareness. They are: R.E. Butler, Lauren Dane, Leslie Dicken, Cecilia Grant, Lynn Raye Harris, Kim in Hawaii, the International Heat authors et al, Samantha Hunter, Crystal Jordan, Yvonne Lindsey,  Sarah Mayberry, Erica Ridley, Sandra Schwab, Shiloh Walker. All winners have been drawn via the rafflecopter widget, and notified. If you’re curious, you can also check out the list of awesome donors here.

I’m so glad we’re done with this – and that there are so many amazing, generous, lovely, caring people in the Romance Community. You all did good!

… I’ll see you next year. ;)

#SMSG12 Challenges and Giveaways!

What am I talking about? First of all, SMSG = Social Media for Social Good; my charity:water fundraiser. The 12 stands for ’12… because it’s 2012 of course. :D

First of all, there are a few challenges. If 50 bloggers (or readers) donate, I’m going to increase my donation by $25, for a total of $325. I really hope we get this – and any amount counts. So if you give $1, that counts!

Next, Jax Cassidy said if 50 of her friends give, she’ll double her donation, for a grand total of $140! Awesome! (I asked her, and “her friends” is to be interpreted as “however I want.” … and I want it to be anyone who knows her, has met her, or ever heard of her. ;D

There are a few giveaways going on. (The “log in” is just your name and email – so I know who won.) Continue reading