Thursday, December 22, 2011

Gifts That Really Keep Giving

...and no, I don't mean the fruitcake that people keep passing around. Don't look so innocent. We know you're taking it to the gift exchange.

I mean gifts through Heifer International. Heifer International works to fight poverty and hunger all over the world by providing families "living loans" of livestock, crop seeds, and training. Those who receive livestock from Heifer agree to pass along one of that animal's offspring to another family, so the gifts quite literally multiply. Many of the gifts allow the families to send children to school when they normally wouldn't be able to afford it; there's a gift that's hard to put a price on.

I look forward to getting their catalog each year at holiday time to read the "Success stories" of past recipients and to look at it with my daughter to pick out what gift we should give this year. (She's twenty now, and still likes choosing "something that won't get eaten.")

Here are some examples of gifts you can give through Heifer:

- A llama to provide wool for a South American family to sell
- Honeybees that will make honey and double a farm's crops through pollination
- A water buffalo to plow a field and provide milk
- A flock of geese to provide a family with eggs for much-needed protein

You can see more gifts in Heifer's online gift catalog, and you can always buy a share of an animal if buying the whole thing is outside of your budget. Of course you can also make a monetary donation for Heifer to use where it's most needed. I saw that they have a new interactive section to show kids how the different animals they give will help families around the world.

And here's another way to give--borrowing an idea from Nathan Bransford, I'll start a new holiday tradition here by donating $2 per comment left on this post between now and midnight Christmas Eve. Let me know what your wish is for the new year!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Contest: Win a signed ARC of Veronica Rossi's Under the Never Sky!

One of the fun things about being in a author groups like The Class of 2k12 and The Apocalypsies is that I get a chance to read some of the other members' books before they're out. And just from the few I've read so far, I can tell you that 2012 is going to be an awesome year for books!

I was excited to receive Veronica Rossi's UNDER THE NEVER SKY in the mail from the Apocalypsies' ARC exchange because I'd already heard about how great it was and it sounded like just the kind of book I love to read. I think it was the same day or the next day I received a copy I'd won a copy in a Twitter contest from HarperCollins; I'd retweeted something to spread the word about their contest, but the retweet entered me in that contest and I was one of the lucky winners. Then I had this:

So that was a fun day. I mailed the Apocalypsies' copy on to the next person on the list, and kept the one from HarperCollins to read. And it's fabulous. And now I'll share it with one of you! Here's the description of the story from the book's Facebook page:

Exiled from her comfortable home in the enclosed city of Reverie, Aria knows her chances of surviving in the outer wasteland--known as The Death Shop--are slim. In Reverie, she spent time with her friends roaming virtual environments called Realms. But in The Death Shop, even the very air she breathes can kill her. Then Aria meets an Outsider named Perry. He's wild--a savage. He's also her only hope for survival.

A hunter for his tribe in a merciless landscape, Perry sees Aria as sheltered and fragile--everything he would expect from a Dweller. But he also needs Aria’s help; she alone holds the key to his redemption. Opposites in nearly every way, they come together reluctantly, and embark on a journey challenged as much by their prejudices as by cannibals and wolves. Their unlikely alliance will forever change the fate of all who live UNDER THE NEVER SKY.

Don't you want to read it now? Oh, and I got to meet Veronica at a conference, and besides being a fantastic writer, she's also super nice. And she signed the ARC for the giveaway!

Here's how you can win it: we'll do the pick-a-line contest like I did for my cover reveal. We had a lot of fun with that. Leave a comment and tell me a page number from 1 to 374, and I'll reply back with a line from that page. I'll keep the contest open till next Wednesday, December 14th at 11:59 PM Central time, then I'll pick a random winner. (U.S. addresses only, please.) Be sure to leave your email address with your comment so I can contact you if you win.

Good luck!