When I was a high-church Christian, one of my favorite times of year was the vigil that occurred every year on the Saturday night before Easter. It began with a lighting of a fire in the church courtyard to symbolize the light of Christ brought into the world. The priest would light a candle from the flame and we would file into church, singing or chanting according to our abilities, and wait for Jesus’s resurrection in a darkened sanctuary, with little light excepting that one Paschal candle.
Finally, the moment would come that we had been waiting for throughout Lent. After more songs and chants and prayers, along with Scripture readings that I knew like the back of my hand, the priest would light the candles on the altar and each of us in the congregation would light a candle, too. The sanctuary would fill with light.
Christ was alive again and, after a long winter, so were we.
I’ve been thinking about the symbolism of the Easter Vigil over the past week in the face of awful news. Oppression is alive and well in this world. People are senselessly slaughtered with no hope for rebirth.
And yet, if we reach out with the light of love and justice, we can provide a second chance at life for some of those at death’s door.
Yesterday in Help Save the Lives of LGBT Chechens, I posted about the latest human rights crisis in Chechnya and charities that are working to save the lives of vulnerable LGBT Chechens. I mentioned that I am earmarking proceeds of my book Falling Hard: Stories of Men in Love for Chechen LGBT aid through April 20.
And I asked other authors who want fundraise to contact me so we can get the word out together.
I’ve heard from several authors so far, which I’m grateful for. Some let me know that they made direct donations to the Russian LGBT Network or to ILGA-Europe, two organizations providing emergency aid in the region. Others said they’ll be designating proceeds from a certain venue or book to those organizations.
And some asked how to fundraise if they can’t track the proceeds from your books in real time—a difficult task for traditionally published authors.
How authors can help
If you’re in that boat, here are some ideas:
- Do you have an affiliate account with Amazon or another online bookstore? Consider designating a percentage of your April affiliate income to LGBT charities in the Russian Federation.
- One author I know is putting together a collection of short stories that were gathering dust on her PC. She’ll sell it on Payhip. (I have a post about selling on PayHip here.) You can also self-publish such a collection through Pronoun, Amazon, or Smashwords. (Smashwords and Amazon pay out monthly for sales direct from their sites. Pronoun pays after receiving payments from retailers, so you won’t have April earnings in your pocket until July.)
- Offer autographed copies of one or more of your hardcover books. Set a price you think is reasonable, and then have interested readers pay you through PayPal or Stripe. Alternatively, ask them to provide proof of a donation to the Russian LGBT Network or ILGA-Europe.
- Take story prompts—$10 for an unedited page about two of your characters from different books meeting over coffee, $300 for a short story on a theme of the bidder’s choice, etc.
Have other ideas? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.
Let’s work together
If you’re moved to fundraise, please use this form to let me know of your efforts. I’ll promote any offers on my website, and I’m making arrangements with popular LGBT newsletters to promote them as well.
Feel free to use the form to report direct donations as well. In a few weeks I’ll be announcing the amoung of money raised, and it would be great to include all writers regardless of how they donated.
There’s no deadline for participation. But given that this is a humanitarian emergency, the sooner we respond, the better.
חַג שָׂמֵחַ and Happy Easter to those celebrating religious holidays, and peace to us all.
About Readers & Writers for LGBT Chechens
Find answers to frequently asked questions about the situation in Chechnya and the organizations helping sexual minorities in the Russian Caucasus here: FAQ on Russian LGBT Network and gays in Chechnya.
Learn how to help at Readers & Writers for LGBT Chechens.