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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Indie Pride Day--A Free Book--And A giveaway!!


I'm participating in Indie Pride Day this year and we've set up a great giveaway and Facebook event. Still time to join us on Facebook, click here. I have a spot in the morning of July 1st! I'll probably be completely incoherent, but I'll drink some coffee and deal with it.

Oh, and Dragon's Curse is free July 1st through 3rd so grab your copy.
Dragon's Curse (The Dragon and the Scholar Book 1)



To see enter the giveaway click here.

Monday, June 29, 2015

If you liked Beggar Magic . ..



Both these books can be purchased on Amazon through the links below:

Malevolent (The Puzzle Box Series Book 1) (Read my review of this book here)


Are you a fan of YA? YA with romance and magic? Have you read either Beggar Magic, by H. L. Burke, or Malevolent, by K. M. Carroll?

If you've read one, you may like the other. Why?

  • both have action, romance, and magic.
  • both have  unique and interesting magical systems.
  • both have feisty, determined female protagonists.
  • both are clean, entertaining reads for the teen girl in your life.
  • both provide you with an on page couple you can root for!
  • both authors have initials for their name (K. M./H. L. meant to be).
What? You haven't read either!?!?!? Enter the giveaway below for a chance to read both!

a Rafflecopter giveaway



Also, as an added bonus Dragon's Curse is free between July 1st and 3rd, so click below to pick up your free copy!

Dragon's Curse (The Dragon and the Scholar Book 1)




Sunday, June 28, 2015

FLASH SALE: Lands of Ash

Ready for a secret? I'm running a Flash sale!!!!

That's right, Lands of Ash will be free June 29th only! Click the link below to grab your copy before the price goes back up!
Lands of Ash (Elemental Realms Book 1)

Saturday, June 27, 2015

IfList: Cast your book!

Another author introduced me to this fun tool that allows you to set your book up as a movie or TV proposal. IFlist.com



You describe your characters and people can suggest actors for each role. I've made a page for Beggar Magic and Dragon's Curse so far.

You can view them through these links: Beggar Magic and Dragon's Curse. I'm sure eventually I'll cycle through my whole catalog (I think Patrick Stewart should be the voice of Grandious in Thaddeus Whiskers and the Dragon, for instance, and I really imagine that Captain Draven from Lands of Ash is Nathan Fillion and Prince Ryan from Dragon's Debt/Rival/Bride is Benedict Cumberbatch.) . . .
Unfortunately, a lot of the actor who I imagine for my parts have aged out of them (like Joseph Gordon Levitt would be the perfect Brick from Beggar Magic . . . if he were still a teenager.).

Anyway, it is a fun toy. Especially if you're one of those authors who cast actors in their books as they write them (with the exceptions named above, I'm not). 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Review: Malevolent by K. M. Carroll


Malevolent (The Puzzle Box Series Book 1)

Libby is a high school senior who should be preparing for graduation. Instead, she's been bedridden for six months with valley fever, stuck on her father's farm in California's central valley. 

When the beekeepers arrive in February, bringing their bees to pollinate the almond crop, one of them looks like a vampire, acts like a vampire, says his name is Malevolent, and tries to murder Libby's lousy boyfriend. Yet he offers her honey that dramatically improves her illness, and his bees sing words that she can understand. 

Mal took up beekeeping in order to preserve the last remnants of his humanity. What started as a simple trip to California quickly turns into something far more complicated, as he meets a lovely girl who is deathly ill, infected by Mal's own brother. Feeling guilty and responsible, Mal sets out to heal her with his precious, magic-infused honey, and with each passing day, comes closer to breaking his personal creed: 

Befriend Many, Serve Some, Trust Few, Love None. 

Once healed, Libby has the strength to break up with her boyfriend--touching off a war between Mal and his brother. This escalates into a realm of awful magic Libby has never dreamed of, where she is both pawn and prize in the battle against a Necromancer. In the end, Libby must face her growing feelings for Mal, and decide whether to destroy him--or rescue him from his soulless existence.

My review:

It's going to be really hard to review this without making bad bee jokes. . . 

This honey of a book is truly buzzworthy! You'll bee amazed!
Okay, got that out of my system. . .This story manages to take elements I've never seen in a paranormal romance before and use them in wonderful ways. It also takes some staples and uses them in new ways. Puzzle boxes become creepy and bees become awesome. 
The magic system is new and stays consistent and interesting, and the characters are never so stupid you wonder, "How are they not dead yet?" which is often a problem with heroines in this genre. Well written with likeable characters who ask all the right questions but still face a foe strong enough that you are seriously worried for them. 

Definitely recommended. 


YA Safe (couple of mild swear words, some violence but not graphic, no sexual content)

Monday, June 22, 2015

Grammar/Punctuation/Spelling


I like this cat. Obviously, he knows he is right and the other individual is wrong, but he's calm and collected. Still going to point out how illogical and wrong the other person is being, but in a Spock sort of way, I think. Nice and calm with bullet points.

But yeah, I like to debate things, sometimes just for the fun of it, but I seek out debates less and less because they take time and energy and eat up a lot of both.
Still, even though I don't go looking for internet fights any more, sometimes they come to me.

Case and point, recently in a writers' Facebook group, I made an offhand remark that to me writing was more important than story. My point was that writing draws me in and keeps me interested and most stories have a chart-able, predictable story arc, and I often know how they will end when I start them. Someone in the group seemed to take offense to this and told me no, writing doesn't matter. Story is everything!
I waxed poetic for a few posts about how word choices and new ways to express ideas were what excited me about any given story . . .
And they shot back that "Rules don't matter to creativity. Grammar and punctuation aren't important."

I honestly hadn't realized she meant grammar and punctuation when she wanted to argue about writing. Grammar and punctuation aren't "writing" any more than typing is "writing" or being able to make comprehensible marks with a pencil is "writing." Grammar and punctuation are the building blocks to the English language. They're what makes your writing comprehensible, but they aren't "writing" in the sense that writing is an art, the way you express ideas.

A lot of writing is artistic choices where there is neither a right nor wrong. There are some cool guidelines you can use to polish it up, make it easier to read, make it work better for you, but none of them are what I consider to be hard and fast rules that apply in every situation (sentence) you might ever need to write.

Grammar, however, is all about hard and fast rules. Punctuation, too, to an extent. (though that has more wiggle room. There might be multiple ways to punctuate the same sentence which would change the flow of it--how long the reader pauses at a comma vs a semicolon or dash--but where both versions have essentially the same meaning . . . I actually find punctuation to be pretty artistic. I get all geeky trying to choose between a full stop and a semicolon or an m-dash vs. an ellipse.).

But to totally disregard both grammar and punctuation as "unimportant" and unnecessarily nitpicky . . . seriously, I about had a stroke.  Well, not literally. Obviously. It was a metaphorical/figurative stroke where my brain stopped working for a moment while I goggled at the screen and wondered, "Is this person for real? Does . . . not . . . compute . . ."

I got a little snarky at this point and told her, "Publishing a book with bad grammar is like publishing a book formatted in comic sans. Sure, you can still read the story, but it looks stupid."
(I since had someone jump to Comic Sans defense. I just used it as an example because it is the font you see listed as a "don't" when regarding resumes, professional writing, business letters, and I don't think it is a stretch to say it does not belong in manuscript formatting for the most part. I have since also found that Comic Sans is slightly easier to read if you are Dyslexic, so obviously, it does have a purpose and a place, but I still assert that this place is not in novels. An interesting comic sans infographic here.)

Lists are good, so here are some bullet points as to why grammar and punctuation matter when you are writing (and I'm not talking first drafts. First drafts are meant to be fixed later. I'm talking finished, published drafts you expect people to read and pay for.):


  • They make your writing COMPREHENSIBLE. I shouldn't have to read a sentence twice to piece together what you meant because you don't know how to conjugate verbs or the difference between "your" and "you're."
  • They make your writing flow. We're used to seeing words used a certain way (correctly), and if you use them incorrectly, even if your meaning is completely obvious, our brain pauses to stop and figure it out. 
  • They really aren't that hard. I remember being part of online discussion groups where certain members would join with awful grammar and spelling and after a few months, just by paying attention to how words were formed in the conversations they were taking part in, their grammar and spelling would get better quite quickly. English is a language. We learn language by exposure. If you surround yourself with sources of good English (like by reading books), you'll slowly begin to assimilate how it works. Unless there is a learning disability involved, which of course is different and not something I'm qualified to write about. 
  • If you are uncertain of grammar, there are professionals who can help you. I proof my own books. I don't think everyone can do this, and I get help from various unpaid sources (critique swaps), but when I first got started I couldn't afford a proofreader. I'm now at the point where I can afford one, but I'm uncertain who to hire or if I really need to since my books are overall pretty well proofed just as I have been doing it. That said, a professional proofreader is well worth the investment if you are aware you have difficulties in this particular area. 
  • Some rules are outdated. Some are up for debate. Ending sentences with prepositions is perfectly okay in my book. I think it reads naturally. Some professional proofreaders are trying to get away from "whom" altogether because it sounds awkward whether you are using it correctly or not, and dang, Oxford commas are a battleground. Sometimes you have to pick a side (towards or toward . . . dived or dove . . . eyeing or eying.) and just stay consistent. 
  • Occasionally there is a legitimate reason to take artistic license even with grammar. Most of the time people who misuse grammar aren't being artistic. They are being lazy or ignorant. Unless you can explain to me WHY a particular sentence needs to be written that way, write it right. Learn the rules then make a conscious decision to break them.
And because I've been a little ranty in this discussion, I'll leave you with this.






By the way, everybody makes grammar, spelling, and punctuation mistakes. Even professionally proofread books are going to go to print with an error or two. I find them all the time in great books. I don't judge a writer or a book for having a few scattered errors. However, that isn't to say grammar doesn't matter. If your book/blog post/whatever is error ridden, consider FIXING it. Don't get huffy when you get reviews complaining that your book is hard to read because of basic mistakes. 

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Review: A Whisper of Leaves By Ashley Capes




A Whisper of Leaves: (A Paranormal Novella)


When ESL teacher Riko finds an old journal buried in the forests beneath Mt Fuji, a malevolent, untraceable force begins to threaten her at every turn.

But is it all in her head?

The more she studies the journal for answers, the more questions she uncovers. Worse, no-one takes her fears seriously and her best lead appears to be a belligerent old man, whose only care in the world is raking leaves deep in the forest.

With her grip on reality shaken and friendships strained to breaking point, Riko has to discover the truth about the journal in order to put ghosts of the past to rest, as strange events turn deadly.



The writing is superb and the mood well set. I love that it manages to scare without resorting to cheap tricks or gore and the traces of mysticism and Japanese flavor throughout (ah, those green tea flavored kitkats). As someone who lived in Japan for a few years, it felt very authentic to me. 

I love that this book doesn't dance around the paranormal and dives right into the belief systems involved without skepticism or irony. My only complaint is at the end I still had some small questions about the backstory. There were certain images and symbolism that I kept expecting someone to explain to me (why are moths so important? Why does the heroine keep throwing up?) but which remained for the most part unexplained. I'm guessing these are part of the mythology that I just am not aware of and if I read a few books on Shintoism or Japanese Ghost stories I'd get it, but I didn't. However, the story was overall satisfying. 




On an unrelated note: Thaddeus Whiskers and the Dragon is free this weekend (until the 24th, so a little past this weekend). Click the link below to pick up a copy.


Thaddeus Whiskers and the Dragon



Thursday, June 18, 2015

RELEASE DAY! #LandsofAsh


The day is finally here! The longest book I've ever written is now available for public consumption. If you'd like your copy now, click the link below:

Lands of Ash (Elemental Realms Book 1)


This is a story of betrayal and loyalty. It's a story about love enduring and love denied. Of survival against impossible odds and what remains when your world burns around you. 

After decades of Elemental Invasions, the once flourishing Kingdom of Forra has been reduced to ruins. A band of survivors pulls together in one last attempt to defend their homes and families as the Elementals make a push to wipe them out completely. 

Stoic Militia Captain Karvir and his ardent brother, Ketyl, lead a skeleton force against the Fiery Horde. Everything--their families, their home, their very world--hangs on their success against impossible odds. Meanwhile across the wilderness, young Brode and his pregnant stepmother flee, hoping to find safety near the sea. 

As the Elementals pour through the portals, a sacrificial act gives hope for peace, but is it sustainable? Can the human race fight back from the edge of extinction? And could the key to their survival lie in a child?


As an added bonus: Today (June 18th) Beggar Magic is free to download. Click below to pick up your complimentary copy.

Beggar Magic

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

#OfficeWolf

Someone recently linked me this Onion article (for those not familiar, the Onion has satire news articles, completely fake.) about how wolf attacks are the leading cause of death in America.

The article was pretty funny but there was this great picture which I fell in love with, quite oddly, I suppose, but look! Look at this picture! (Hashtag I added)


This got me thinking. What has Office Wolf so upset? Is he misunderstood and just wants hugs? Did copy guy forget to refill the paper tray again?

Here are my top three explanations for #OfficeWolf

Office Wolf needs his caffeine fix!

Office Wolf is going to burn this place to the ground.


If you could not disembowel me, that'd be great. . . 


So what do you think Office Wolf is thinking?

Monday, June 15, 2015

June New Release Giveaway Hop!




a Rafflecopter giveaway


My book (Lands of Ash) releases in 3 days! So I was excited to find this timely and awesome blog hop where a bunch of awesome bloggers are giving away a ton of awesome books. I decided to slip my awesome book into the mix.

I have two prizes, an ebook copy and a paperback copy. The prizes are open internationally (yep, I've actually budgeted for the crazy shipping costs involved in sending things to Canada. . .btw, it makes no sense that it is cheaper to ship books to certain countries in Asia than it is to ship to Canada. I'm not exaggerating. I had a giveaway for one of my books with a winner in Canada and a winner in . . . I think it was Singapore . . .the shipping to Singapore was cheaper. What the heck, Canada? You're practically next door. . . where was I?) . . . oh, so enter here and then check out the other blogs linked below. The more blogs you visit, the higher your chances of winning some prizes.



Saturday, June 13, 2015

Release Day: EDEN, by Kate Wrath


Announcing the release of the third book in the E series, Eden, by Kate Wrath:

Cover of Eden

THE THIRD BOOK IN THE E SERIES Both friends and enemies are keen to get their hands on the information inside Eden’s head—information that could take down the Sentries and change the world. But there are costs that no one realized, and Eden’s not so sure she’s willing to pay them. Refusing to do so could create dangerous problems within the tribe she’s only just come back to. Eden has her own agenda for learning Lily’s secrets. With hope refusing to die, she’s spurred forward by memories of Oscar and thoughts of finding him again. But Lily’s hold on her is greater than she knows, compelling her to chase after strange clues and confusing visions. With love and longing weighing on her, Eden must determine the reality of her fractured identity in order to decide which path to take. The choices she makes could tear her away from Jonas and Apollon, from everything she’s ever known. Eden’s future will not be determined solely by choices. Fate has her own cards to play, and they just might take the game.

A few words from Kate....

lint-711890_640Writing Eden was such a joy. I’m deep into this series now, and the main characters are familiar friends. I loved exploring their relationships even further, and also having the chance to bounce them off of new characters in a new setting. Bringing my dystopian world into a tropical climate was also fun, and I especially loved all the intricacies of the new city and the adventure of exploring and coming to understand it along with Eden, Apollon, and Jonas. The story of the Sentries continues—how my characters have come to pit themselves against the unfeeling robots that enforce order within the dystopian world. But as always, the story is about people. Sure, giant killer robots are exciting, dystopian societies are intriguing, but none of it means anything without the human factor. So the story of The E Series is always about human relationships and how they affect the events. It’s about who we are as people, and how our weaknesses, our strengths, and our deepest desires control the course of human history. I hope you find a little of yourself inside my stories.

An excerpt from Eden:

It seems unfair that everything I learn only makes me more confused. How do you reconcile these things? The world you knew—the world torn to pieces and reconstructed in a different shape. The self you knew, the torn self. What other things can we rip to pieces? What else can we destroy and recreate? This question weighs on me at so many levels. I've lost my place. I don't know where to begin or end. I don't even know what I want out of it all. Morning is stretching through the window, yawning its light-filled mouth. Jonas rolls over onto his side and looks at me. Smiles gently. Touches my cheek. But it's that smile like Poor thing. She's so lost. And I am. How is he not lost? How did I whisper these revelations to him in the darkness, and by light, he's the one who seems fine? I push his hand away, close my eyes, and roll onto my back. My shirt sticks to my side, sweaty from being beneath me. I imagine drifts of snow, crisp air. My visible breath, like smoke from a fire. I never liked the cold, when I had it. Now I don't like the heat either. I can't even make up my mind about that. Deep breaths. Ninety-nine. Ninety-eight. Ninety-seven. The numbers fall away, and I focus deep within myself. What do I want, when it comes down to it? A fraction of a dream interrupts my soul-searching. A flash of an alligator. It's that damned alligator again. What the hell? "Are you OK?" Jonas asks softly, and sighs when I don't respond. He rolls over and gets up. I cling to the reptilian vision. A flash of scaly green skin and the unsettling curve of a toothy smile. And nothing. Absolutely nothing. I sigh, too, but I don't open my eyes. I frown and focus again. Deeper. What really matters? There's an easy answer. It's been there all along. I want to find Oscar. Until I do, I won't ever really be OK. I've been putting it off, wrapped up in so many insignificant things. Worried about pretending to be someone else—why? Worried about Jonas, and some incomprehensible future where Sentries don't exist. I have one thing I can hold onto. I fix it in my heart. I'm not going to let this go. Whatever I don't know, whatever I may not understand, Oscar is real. Oscar matters. And right at this moment, he could be suffering, could be in danger. And I'm sitting around on my ass doing nothing to find him. Vacation. Over. I open my eyes and climb out of bed. Jonas is in the kitchen, taking out his frustrations on an orange. Slicing it vehemently. I walk to his side and watch as he grabs another and attacks it like he's cutting its throat. Then I squint at his face. "Are you mad at me?" He glances at me, and there is definitely anger in his eyes. "No," he says. "I'm just mad." I wait for a moment to see if he means to elaborate, but he doesn't. So I guess I was wrong that he's OK. "Do you want to talk about it?" He stops suddenly and his eyes slice into me. He hesitates, obviously restraining himself. Jonas is always so restrained. Finally, he lets out a long breath and turns back to the orange, more gently. "We have to do this. We have to take them down." "...The Sentries?" His jaw tightens when I say the word. He answers in a level but deadly voice. "Yes." I know that look of grim determination. I know how Jonas is when he makes up his mind. Cards begin to fall into place in my mind, a deck that tells our future. I see the beginning of the path. But I'm not sure I want to take it. Too many questions, not enough answers. I have only one answer, and for now, I'm sticking to it.   You can purchase Eden on Amazon.

About the Author:

Kate WrathKate Wrath lives in the Southwestern US. Much like other authors, she has both a [family] and a [pet]. [family = three crazy-but-lovable, exceedingly adorable people with longer eyelashes and better sense of humor than Kate] [pet = lovable-but-crazy giant German Shepherd who seems to be able to read, but pretends not to understand when something is required of him] Kate is the author of the E series: E (Book #1), Evolution (Book #2), Eden (Book #3, June 13, 2015), and Jason and Lily (prequel, July 23, 2015). She has also written two fantasy novels that are soon to be released. Kate believes in literature as an art form, world peace, and animal rights, but aspires to write total trash that is full of senseless violence, with characters who eat house pets. website banner    



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Free Book Days: Dragon's Rival




Dragon's Rival  will be free from June 9th through June 13th! Click the link below to purchase.

Dragon's Rival (The Dragon and the Scholar Book 3)

By the way, guys, if you never want to miss a deal (a free book, a new release), you should sign up for my email list. I try to limit the emails to one per month. Usually it is just a list of bargain books and new released for the next 30 days, sometimes with a clever (I hope) little "this is what I've been up to and why my life is soooooooo interesting" thing. And your email addresses are kept secret and safe. More so than the one ring which most of the time was not all that safe, being only protected by a single, unprepared Hobbit. . . and it was also the worst kept secret . . . where was I?
Oh, if you want emails from me on occasion so that you can get free book alerts and such use the sign up form below:

   

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    Saturday, June 6, 2015

    #HotPotatoStory, The Chronicles of Chadwick Continues! Chapter 7

    If you missed Chapter Six click here.
    If you want to start at the beginning click here.


    The Chronicles of Chadwick 


    Image by Culpeo Fox 

    Continues
    Chapter 7

    Everyone turned to gape at the dragon, and Bea took full advantage of this. 
    "Ginger! NOW!" she shouted. 
    A streak of orange whisked through the room, grabbed the princess's necklace in her teeth, and landed in Bea's arms. 
    The fox grinned as only a fox can (toothily and with a lot of attitude). Bea smirked. She owed this fox a chicken. 
    No time for that now, however. 
    "Sorry, Chaddie, looks like I had to take care of this one myself." She reached into her bag, pulled out a bag of vanishing powder and tossed it on the ground where it ballooned in a cloud of glittery purple smoke. The glitter and the purple had cost her extra when she purchased the powder from a shifty eyed apothecary. Totally worth it, though. So pretty.
    Plus it smelled like strawberries which would confuse the dragon's keen sense of smell. 
    She slipped unseen through the crowd while the dragon flipped over tables and gazed under chairs. 

    Thrush's appearance was promising. She knew dwarves. They always had a back up plan or three. They weren't like gnomes, able to think on their feet and improvise. A dwarf would never dine in an establishment that lacked an easy escape. She felt along the back wall. Her fox, also invisible, jumped down and sniffed. It gave a quiet yap and nosed at a floor board.

    Perfect. She pried it up. There, a secret dwarven tunnel. Too small for a clumsy dragon . . . She dropped down into the tunnel. 

    The necklace immediately flared to life, illuminating the space. She grinned. Already it catered to its new master's desires. Ah, how long she'd waited for this necklace. It would enable her to set things right. 
    Silly princess never even knew what power was in her hands. If she had she would've used it long ago. Letting the princess keep it was just wasteful. People who wasted magic shouldn't possess magic, at least that's what Bea's granny would've said. 

    Bea and Ginger continued on, through the twisting tunnels. Finally a glimmer of moonlight lit the passage ahead and they emerged onto a riverbank, nothing around but deep, quiet woods. 

    Bea did a little dance. She stroked the necklace.
    "I know, I know, I took so long to find you, but it's okay. You're safe now. You'll be well used, well loved, and you're going to help me fix things, isn't that right, Ginger?" She patted the fox's ears. "You've been waiting for this too. Now if only we can get to Moon Mirror Pool before the next full moon, everything will be right." 

    Friday, June 5, 2015

    Review: The River Girl's Song-Angela Castillo

    The River Girl's Song: Texas Women of Spirit, Volume 1


    Zillia Bright never dreamed she’d be orphaned at sixteen and left to care for her baby brother and Papa’s farm. With only a mule and a hundred year old shotgun , she must fight to protect what’s hers. Countless dangers lurk on the Bastrop, Texas riverside. Zillia must rely on the help of her best friends, Soonie and Wylder, to hold her world together. With Zillia’s struggles come unexpected miracles, and proof that God might just listen to the prayers of a river girl.



    This isn't my usual genre (I like dragons) but I found this book to be well written with likable characters and a well paced plot. It's a good luck at the struggles of a determined young woman and a glimpse into another time and (for me) place. The story has a hint of romance but is focused more on the choices and sacrifices Zillia has to make in order to keep her home and farm. A good read for adults or young teens who might be ready for something a step up in complications from Laura Ingalls.







    Oh, and Dragon's Curse is a featured book on BuckBooks today, so click here to check it out.

    Wednesday, June 3, 2015

    Lands of Ash Giveaway!


    I love doing giveaways! So here's a giveaway. I will pick two winners, one for an ebook copy and the other for a paperback.

    If you want even MORE chances to win prizes go to my Facebook page and sign up for the release day party (an online event where I will be posting Lands of Ash related trivia and giving away Lands of Ash related prizes.)

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Monday, June 1, 2015

    Thunderclapping!

    This is just a little "please help me out" request. One of the many promotions I do prior to a book launch is setting up a Thunderclap.
    Thunderclap is pretty easy, but you need at least 100 supporters to agree to share your tweet, or Facebook post, or Tumblr post. Basically you agree to have Thunderclap send a post with this:

    “Fight the fire in the new #Epic #Fantasy #LandsofAsh by #HLBURKE. A heroic tale of survival, betrayal, and hope.http://thndr.it/1Q9Q5is


    If this is something you'd be willing to do click here to sign up.