Editor's note: Author Rebecca Rode is donating her own books to Authors United Against Child Slavery.
Operation Underground Railroad, an organization dedicated to freeing children from sex slavery, is receiving a lot of buzz lately. First Elizabeth Smart joined the fight. Now, a group of local authors have joined as well.
They're donating books as prizes for those who contribute to the cause. A $20 donation earns a randomly selected book, ebook or audio book. A $40 donation is awarded two books, a bundle or a series.
The idea for Authors United Against Child Slavery originated with authors Donna Weaver and Laura Johnston, both of whom read an article in LDS Living magazine about the founder of O.U.R., Timothy Ballard, and were deeply touched.
"Wow, that was impactful," said Johnston, author of "Rewind to You" and "Between Now and Never." "I couldn't stop thinking about it."
She decided to do more than donate money: "I wondered how many friends I could get to donate if I started a campaign, and realized it would be a lot more successful if fellow author friends were involved, too — a joint effort that would reach out to a wider audience. I figured a campaign including books as incentive to donate would be one way to accomplish that."
In a matter of days, over 200 books had been donated. One author, Amy Harmon, offered a free eBook to any of her fans who donated on a specific day, in addition to the book they would have already earned. Harmon's efforts raised $1,200.
Weaver, author of the Safe Harbors series, also had a flyer printed and distributed to writers at the recent LDStorymakers writing conference. Because of the overwhelming response, Johnston and Weaver have raised their goal from $2,000 to $10,000. It costs about $25,000 to fund a sting operation.
"The authors have been so generous," Weaver said.
Among the writers who contributed books were several New York Times best-selling and award-winning authors, including Brandon Sanderson, known for his role in the wildly popular Wheel of Time series.
"This sounds like an extremely good cause," said Brandon Mull, author of the best-selling Fablehaven series.
"I donated to O.U.R. before Christmas," said Chad Morris, author of the Cragbridge Hall series. "But I was happy to donate a book as well. This cause feels urgent. If we can save kids, this needs to happen now."
"This is such an important cause," said Peggy Eddleman, author of the Sky Jumpers series. "I am thrilled that so many people are working together to help free these kids."
For more information, visit the Authors United Against Child Slavery website. For information about the participating authors and books involved, visit laurajohnstonauthor.blogspot.com.
Rebecca has written for Schooled Magazine, KSL.com, Provo Daily Herald, Family Share and Deseret News. She is also the No. 1 Amazon best-selling author of "Numbers Game" and "How to Have Peace When You're Falling to Pieces."