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What a fictional character can teach you about being a creative entrepreneur.

 

In my latest novel, my main character, Tabitha Riley, is a terrible example of what it takes to survive as a writer. She lost her job at a main newspaper following an injunction issue, and tries to make ends meet as a freelancer.

 

Is it possible to survive as a freelancer? Sure, with lots of hard work. You have to be out there promoting yourself, making contacts, writing non-stop, taking contracts. And even then you usually have to have another job. Perhaps, if you’ve been working at a major newspaper, you’ll get some regular magazine work, but those cheques aren’t particularly inspiring. 

 

So Tabby relies on her mother, as a twenty-six year old writer. I’m not saying you shouldn’t accept help, a lot of us do, but when you depend on a parental figure for your ‘allowance’, you never quite get the independence that freelancing embodies.

 

But what does Tabby do right?

 

-She knows what she’s worth, and when given an opportunity, refuses to work for nothing. Interning can be powerful if you want to learn a new skill, or get the inside scoop on a market you’re interested in cornering. Working for free doing what you’ve been doing for years? No way.

 

-She knows where her value lies- her audience. Tabby writes a ridiculously popular blog called ‘Miss Twisted Thinks’ where she rants about things. For some reason, this becomes a hit, and a newspaper wants to give her a column. She knows, and the paper knows, that it’s her reach that they’re interested in gaining. Don’t be precious about why people want you, the point is that they do.

 

 

  • She uses social media to create relationships. It’s easy to follow people and never interact with them. It’s easy to feel out of the loop- but twitter allows for those one off ‘favourites’ and comments that you’d feel awkward giving in real life. Bugging your friends on facebook to like your page is a standard way to interact. Remember what Forster said: ‘only connect’.

 

If you want to hear more from Tabby, here’s my novel The Last Word

Or if you’re still not sure, you can read some reviews here

 

@almichael

 

www.almichael.com

 
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My Writing Process- Blog Hop!

Okay, I’m a little behind because everything’s been going mental with the book release, and the Christmas Novel I’m working on, but here is a Blog Hop I’m taking part in! You should check out Henriette Gyland’s Blog to see where it’s come from, this post is travelling about! It’s reached most of the authors I know, so I’m putting the call out to YOU dear readers, do you want to join this blog hop?

 

What Am I Working On?

Until a few weeks ago, I was working on my second novel for Carina, another sarcastic snarky chick lit called The Young and Bitter Club. I’ve since put that on hold to work on a Christmas novel which will be released in November. It’s called Without You To Hold, and involves a young woman who ran away from home at 17 when she got pregnant, returning to her home town ten years later, dealing with her family, her first love and having them all meet her precocious (and excellent) daughter. It’s heartfelt and I love it.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Well, that’s difficult. It’s very sarcastic, usually very London based, or at least urban. I feel like my work really explores what it’s like to be a twenty something these days, and that it’s not always easy, it isn’t always fixed by the perfect prince in a white ferrari, but it’s made easier with hilarious friends and cheap wine.

Why do I write what I do?

I technically was trained to write Literary Fiction, that’s all my university was interested in, and I do still have a few of those ideas in the pipeline, waiting. I wrote my first women’s fictional novel as a break after writing something heavy. It didn’t feel difficult, it felt freeing and fun. And now i get to do it again!

How does my writing process work?

I used to have a really complex process, but now I just gradually work my way into writing by doing some blog posts etc in the morning, then by afternoon I’m ready to get down to it. I usually write down all the fragments in a book and then type them up in order and flesh them out, but that can get a little difficult when you’re playing with timelines!

 

Don’t forget to check out my novel The Last Word if you want to see what I’ve produced through this process. And stay tuned for the Christmas Book!

 

 

 

 

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Things I didn’t know before I became an E-Book Author

I had a book published by a small indie press before I got my ebook deal with Carina. I had no idea about marketing, beyond making posters and quietly asking if people would maybe-sorta-like to buy my book.

 

Ebooks have opened up a whole new dimension to the writing community and the engagement with readers, and it’s an amazing world!

 

Net galley– Your book is listed so that reviewers/librarians/bloggers can get an advanced free copy in order to spread the word!

Book reviewers- There are readers out there who are passionate about reviewing, and if you find the right people, they’re happy to give you a chance! A lot of them find you through netgalley, or some have submission pages on their websites. Twitter is a great resource for finding reviewers.

The amount of different book buying siteswe know about Amazon and kindle, but Kobo, nook, Itunes book library, Barnes and Noble, international sites, there are so many places to sell!

Support of other authors- either through twitter, or knowing some of the other authors on your imprint, or just other people you enjoy working with. Knowing others are going through the same thing, same writing issues, or knowing they’re writing away at the same time as you, all of that makes for an inspiring and supportive network!

Book Tours- Perhaps once saved for famous writers touring Waterstones locations, the internet means you can tour/blog hop your way across the world! You can organise these yourself, or sometimes lovely people will do it for you!

 

 

I’m sure I still have much more to learn about all this, as the book is out NOW (and you can buy it HERE!) so I’ll keep reporting back with my experiences!

If you’d like to know more about how to use these facilities as an author, plus all about Marketing yourself, understanding how to achieve success and really get your work out there, I’ll be facilitating a Marketing Bootcamp for Writers in Barnet in July, along with creative business expert Steven Sparling. Send me a message on the Contact Me page if you’re interested!

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A Type Exclusive: An interview with our new reporter Tabitha Riley

 

Tabby is a new writer for our little online paper, and she’ll be continuing her very popular column, Miss Twisted Thinks. Tabby, thanks for joining us today. 

 

How did you get into writing?

Well, I’d always wanted to be a writer. I studied in Brighton, writing for the student newspaper. Then I got an internship, then another, and I ended up at the Guardian…well, since then I’ve been working freelance, working on my blog, and now I’m here.

 

Tell us more about your blog, Miss Twisted Thinks.

Well, it’s a mixture of confusion and rage, really. A mixture of reviews, thoughts on feminism, and, well…cake.

 

How do you spend your time when you’re not writing?

Well, I spend a lot of time hanging out with my housemate, Rhi, and my best friend Chandra. Chandra’s into trying out cocktail bars in London, and Rhi’s more about old man pubs. Once a month, we make sure we have a Nothing Day, where we completely disconnect, and just veg out on the sofa, watching boxsets and drinking wine. It’s fabulous.

 

How are you finding the transition from freelance to The Type?

Well, everyone’s been very supportive. My editor is really good at identifying all the problems in my work and seems to enjoy throwing them in my face. (I’m also very good at identifying your excellent work- Ed.) But I’m having a great time.

 

Any big plans over the summer?

Well, I’m heading up to my mother’s wedding in an Essex Manor House over the summer. It should be…quite the affair. Especially seeing as she’s marrying a guy who was two years above me at school. 

 

Sounds interesting! Thanks for answering our questions, Tabby, and welcome to The Type team!

 

If you like the sound of Tabby, why not find out more about her in The Last Word?

 

 

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A Romance Writer’s Guide to Romance

Sometimes, when you write stories, life starts to seem like this weird symbolic thing, where everything has relevance. That guy you exchanged glances with at the cornershop when he was buying jaffa cakes, and you had a pint of milk, well, clearly, you were destined to see him again. The necklace you found after months of looking for it, signified an emotional change, and the feeling that you were going to get what you wanted. Raining on your birthday? Accidentally hit a guy in the face whilst twerking? Meaningful.

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The fictional world is one full of signs, so that when you look at the real world, you can tend to see where things are going.
And often, things that appear to be problems are really only different archetypes in storytelling. So here are the main things I’ve learnt about relationships from writing romances.

  • Passion matters. Attraction, desire, whatever- it’s important. In a lot of stories, we often find characters who don’t notice this attraction until halfway through the story. I personally think this is bullshit. If you’re attracted to someone, then you’re attracted to them. You can stamp down on it, but you can’t create it out of thin air. Chemistry only happens when you have the right ingredients.
  • Good partners listen. They explore what the other person is about. They have a basic curiosity about who and what this person is. Otherwise, what’s the point?
  • Always freaking ASK- if you think they’re being unfaithful, if you heard a rumour, if you don’t know how they feel. So many terrible story lines could have been avoided if the main character had grown a pair and just asked their partner what the hell was up.
  • The MOST BASIC of memes to avoid- You have an argument with your partner. You think it’s over. You’re heartbroken. You get drunk, fall into the waiting arms of whichever jezebel/boywhore you were originally arguing over. The next day they come around to make up, and you’ve fucked it all up. STOP DOING THIS, IT’S STUPID.
  • If you think you’re attracted to someone else, and you’re going to cheat, choose one of the following options: 1- stay away from said person until the attraction dies (chemistry fizzles when you run out of heat) or 2- break up with your partner. If you step back, you know where this is going way before you do anything.
  • If you overhear a conversation STAY TO THE END. Maybe they were being propositioned, maybe they were kissed but pushed the other person away, maybe they end up saying nice things about how much they love you. People and situations are complicated.
  • If you’ve had to stalk them or change for them, it’s not going to work.

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      Happily ever afters are built, not given. Work at it. Just because the book ends doesn’t mean the drama does!

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Writing London: Romance and Sarcasm in the City

I am a proper Londoner. I don’t make eye contact with people, march through crowds of tourists like it’s a Mario Kart race course, and whilst I will get up on the tube to let someone have my seat, I’ll do some with a terrible English awkwardness, in fear of the older/pregnant person being offended.

 

London is home, and it’s been home for all my novels. There’s nothing quite like the conversations you have on the nightbus, rambling along listening to drunk teenagers talk to tourists, everyone so drunkenly sincere. I love 2am kebab shops, and shabby chic coffee shops where everything is overpriced, but you pay because the environment is so lovely.

 

I love Hampstead Heath on sunny mornings, and the shops in Highgate village. I love the nostalgia of passed out punks in Camden market on Sunday mornings, and having lazy conversations on Primrose Hill as it starts to get dark.

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People set romcoms in London for a reason, but it’s usually peppered with shots of Big Ben and the London Eye, people all somehow affording to live in these flats in the centre of town. It’s the same with New York. People love a city, they love the possibility it affords: today you might meet someone who changes your life. That’s not really how it happens in the countryside, unless an alluring new stranger comes to town.

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But that’s not why I write about London. Sure, I love the prettiness of it, chic fashion and historic architecture, but my characters love London like I do- because it’s home. They don’t talk about wandering down to the Millenium wheel, because that’s not what Londoners do. My characters visit the places that I have been, the little secrets of the city that I’ve made my favourites. In The Last Word, Tabby and Rhi live in Tufnell Park, because that’s what I’d love to do. They alternate between snazzy cocktail bars in Covent Garden, and backstreet old man pubs that just appear out of nowhere, hidden away and perfect in their dim light and beer-drizzled carpets. The Type offices are set just off Regent Street, in the offices where I interned for Vogue. 

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London is this massive sprawling living thing, beating and breathing, and I hope that my books will always give a little of the ‘real’ London, the London of Londoners. At least until I can find an excuse to set a book in Italy, and then I’ll see you later, London!

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The Last Word- Review Copies Available!

Incase it wasn’t clear how excited I am that my first Carina UK novel is coming out this month, let me express that clearly. EEEEEEP!

The Last Word is available for review on Netgalley, if you follow THIS link. Let me know what you think, and be sure to tweet at @almichael_ and @carinauk

 

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Tabby Riley’s online life was a roaring success. Her blog had hundreds of followers, and legions of young fans ardently awaited her every Tweet. Her real life was a bit more of a disappointment. Living in a shared flat in North London, scratching a living writing magazine articles on ‘How To Please Your Man in Bed’ wasn’t where she thought she’d be at twenty-six – especially when there was a serious lack of action in her own bedroom.

Until she was offered the job of her dreams on online paper The Type – and gained a sexy new editor, Harry Shulman, to bounce her ideas off. Tabby had previous bad form when it came to falling for well-dressed, smooth-talking editors, so no way was she going there again…ever! But had she got a little too used to hiding behind her laptop screen? Perhaps it was time for the real Tabby Riley to come out and have some fun!

 

You can also pre-order on Amazon HERE

 

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An Interview with a Character for #weloveromance

As part of the #WeLoveRomance Blog Tour, a group of us Carina authors are celebrating Valentines Day but presenting articles, short extracts, and yesterday, an interview with a character from our book. Unfortunately I was away from my computer yesterday, so here it is! Keep searching #weloveromance on twitter for more interviews!

 

Also, don’t forget to enter the competition to win a whole bunch of books from us! You can enter HERE.

 

An Interview With Harry Shulman, from The Last Word.

 

What do you think of Tabby Riley, your newest writer at The Type newspaper?

She’s, uh, well she’s certainly not like anyone else. Tabby is this really fine balance of genius and maniac. And I mean that in the best way. I headhunted Tabby, saw how well her blog was doing, how much her readers loved her, and I wanted that for our paper. I hadn’t quite imagined just how difficult she was going to be.

 

What do you mean by difficult?

Well, the majority of writers who work here just accept that I’m their editor. Tabby argues. A lot. But I actually really respect her for it. Sometimes she makes me want to punch myself in the face because I’m so frustrated, but she’s a great writer, she deserves a break. We just place value on different things.

 

What do you place value on then, Harry?

I like nice things, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. I worked hard to get my car, and wear nice suits and drink good wine. Tabby seems to think that anything above primark is the sign a shallow and money-driven personality. She still has a VCR player, for God’s sake! She refuses to let me choose places for our business lunches because she says I’m pretentious…I don’t see how wanting to take a woman for a nice lunch is a bad thing.

 

But these are business lunches?

Of course! We’ve managed to compromise and go to The Black Cat pub in town. Apparently I’m easily distracted when other females in the room. Which I think is completely unfair, just because women are nice to me, she takes that as not focussing. The woman drives me nuts, honestly. 

 

So you don’t see Tabby extending her contract beyond these few months at The Type?

It’s really up to my boss. And the stats of course. If Tabby’s column Miss Twisted Thinks keeps receiving great reviews and viewings, then it’s definitely a possibility. I’d really love her to stay. I think she’s a great addition to our team, and brings new life to the paper, even if it’s her tendency to write tangential pieces about different types of cake. 

 

And what about the rumours around The Type that you and Miss Riley have more than a working relationship, and spend a suspicious amount of time in the stationary cupboard?

I don’t know what you’re talking about. We’re colleagues, we’re friends, and if we’re in the stationary room we’re probably arguing over whether biro or rollerball pens are best. Okay, so maybe we’re a bit more affectionate with each other than I am with other staff members, but I have to be. If I’m going to go seventeen rounds of arguing over one article, at some point, I have to be comforting. That’s my job. 

 

So, driving her down to Brighton for the day, taking bottles of wine to her house, these are professional things to be doing?

Brighton was for a story! She doesn’t drive. I thought it would be easier. The wine was to apologise for being an arse. I don’t know why I’m justifying myself to you, even if me and Tabby were together, it would be completely legitimate. There’s nothing in the rules at the paper saying co-workers can’t date.

 

But, considering Miss Riley’s romantic involvement with her previous editor at The Guardian, don’t you think it’s a bit strange 

Ah, so that’s your angle is it? Sniffing about for dirt on good old Richard. I am not in a position to comment on Miss Riley’s previous relationships, and I am letting you know I’m answering no further questions. Tabby is a hard working and talented writer, and she’s got to where she is because of that, not because of any romantic entanglements. I’m done.

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A Word on Valentines Day from Eternal Cynic Tabby Riley

Hi, I’m Tabby Riley, and I’ll be taking over A.L.Michael’s blog today. Because we like breaking the fourth wall. As Valentines Day is coming up, Andi invited me to write something for you guys, to get to know me a little better.

Well, I’m pretty simple. I write pointless articles for magazines. Which, as a result, means I’ve becoming a ranting lunatic behind a computer screen, but I do know the best way to pluck my eyebrows and get some pretty cool freebies when I review things. But it’s not really the career I want. I write this blog, Miss Twisted Thinks, and my readers seem to think I’m funny. But they’re really tired of me harping on about whether a jaffa cake is a biscuit (Chocolate to base ratio people, come on!). 

Thing is, I used to be a proper journalist. At a proper paper, with a desk, and an editor and… well, it fell apart a few years ago. And here I am, still typing away at a computer screen at two in the afternoon in my pyjamas, wondering if it’s too early to start on the wine, and why did I eat that entire chelsea bun. Life’s…well, it’s alright.

Valentines Day has always seemed like a massive waste of time to me. It’s corporate and commercial, and any other valid point that I’m not allowed to make because I’m single and people think I’m just bitter. Yeah, I got screwed over. My main relationship was with my boss, after he’d supposedly separated from his wife. I was young, and reckless and in love with the idea of this powerful man who could teach me so much. For him, thinking back, it was probably just convenient to have someone to fuck who could then carry on doing the paperwork. But I’m older now, wiser. 

I’ve had a job offer from this guy Harry. And sleeping with my editor was a problem last time, so no worries on that front, because Harry is detestable. He’s all about the perfect pout, and thirty quid bottles of wine, designer suits. The guy drives a bloody porsche, for god’s sake. And he seems to have this way of looking at me like I’m a trained monkey without the training. Like I might surprise him, but he doubts it. 

So what am I going to do this Valentines Day? The same thing I do every year, have a ‘Nothing Day’ with my two best friends, Rhi and Chandra. We sit around, watching Buffy episodes on VHS, getting quietly stoned and sozzled. This year I have banned The Breakfast Club from v-day watching. Or anything from the 80s. We just get too melancholic about the state of romance in a digital world. 

So, Valentines advice from your very own Miss Twisted: Only buy uncomfortable lingerie if it makes you feel good, look for a man who’ll buy you an unconventional flower (roses are on sale), valentines day is a lot like New Years, with all the expectation, so avoid that by having fun with your friends…or give in to the capitalistic creation that is the exploitation of the only true and pure thing we have left in this world, and have a nice day!

 

 

 

If you like what Tabby has to say, maybe you should read about her life in The Last Word, released April 2014 by Carina UK. In the meantime, why not browse other Carina authors by searching the hashtag #weloveromance ? 

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Top Ten Fictional Couples

What makes a great couple? I don’t mean in real life, because honestly, no-one cares how great your best friend is with her boyfriend. We don’t commit to other people’s coupledom in real life (unless there’s a wedding, because who doesn’t love a party?) the way that we do in books and movies and tv shows. We want them to get together, we want them to look up and see that other person and make it work. Then usually, when they’re together, there’s some sort of terrible break apart or they settle into boring domesticity and we forget how invested we were. No matter! As part of #weloveromance I’m here to list my top ten favourite fictional couples, in no particular order:

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1. Jess and Rory (Gilmore Girls). I shipped these guys hard. They made sense. She’s already got bored of her very nice and very boring boyfriend, he’s the angry new kid who dislikes everything about his new home but her. He’s also crazy smart and ends up writing a book, when she’s been afraid he’s got no ambition. Love me a male lead with a bit of bite to him.

2. Max and Neve (You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me- Sarra Manning). I love this book. And I love the characters. Neve is nervous and self-flagellating, Max is a mess pretending to hold it all together, and somewhere through having sex and arguing, they manage to teach each other something. It’s fun, and funny and still deals with those awful issues you carry with you, and don’t really trust other people to handle.

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3. Kat and Patrick (Ten Things I Hate About You) They’re both smart arses with attitude, they both learn to be vulnerable, he fights for her, twice, loses the bad image, and really, who wouldn’t want to be serenaded with ‘I Love You Baby’?

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4. Zoe and Wade (Hart of Dixie) Yes, I know it’s over. I have to get over it. I know that. But they were so good! She’d gotten over the good boy boring lawyer, she’d chosen sex over fairytale love, and then somewhere along the line, sex turned into love. Except he screwed it up, because she was being too supportive and he felt like he wasn’t good enough….but until then! I particularly liked this because it dealt with the whole ‘we have nothing in common’ situation, except what they had in common was that they liked spending time together. Life lesson!

5. Walter and Hildy (His Girl Friday) Once again, a testament that choosing the boring nice guy who doesn’t really know who you are isn’t a good idea. Yes, they’re exhausting, but the back and forth is excellent. Hildy is a strong female character who wants the affection and life that comes with marriage, as well as being a kick ass reporter. Plus, Cary Grant. ‘Nuff said.

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6. Laurie and Curly (Oklahoma) My absolute faves. I watch Oklahoma when I’m sick or in need of a really good story. The romance follows the typical arc with them hating each other, then liking each other but not saying anything, then another guy likes her, Curly has to do some protecting. Plus, there’s singing and dancing and being all snarky to each other. And the Hugh Jackman version pretty much makes my heart aflutter.

7. Tabby and Harry (The Last Word) Okay, so they’re my characters, but I love them. She’s emotionally scarred, he’s better at hiding it, she tries to keep it casual, he’s open to more. Why are men always the commitment phobes? Sometimes we’re all just trying to protect ourselves. Plus, snarky and sarcastic and originally disliking each other as mentioned in Oklahoma.

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8. Sam and Jack (Stargate SG1) The majority of my pitiful teenage years were spent writing fanfiction to correct the travesty that was never getting these characters together. Spending years offering gentle prompts that these characters had feelings for each other, followed by some pretty solid life decisions in season 7…and yet. Nothing. No closure. Now I’m just bitter.

9. Darcy and Elizabeth (Pride and Prejudice) Yeah, okay, obvious. But these guys were the original opposites attract scenario, and the original ‘present the male character as bloody awful and then realise that he’s actually appealing’ which has been done in countless books and movies since. You trendsetter, Austen.

10.Aladdin and Jasmin (Aladdin) My favourite disney movie as a kid. Come on, romance is sitting on a magic carpet ride being sung to. Although the idea of that makes my skin crawl now, as a child, it was the perfect synergy- here’s two attractive people, they’re from different classes, they’re both independent and strong, he’s trying to impress her with stuff she doesn’t care about, she just wants someone to see who she is. They go on adventures and save everyone from the evil dude. Yeah, Love conquers. Woo

BONUS NUMBER

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Only because I forgot this one til now, and they’re my FAVOURITE. Especially in the continuation of snarky, refusing to give in to attraction, and making smart arse comments all the time, (and is kind of already included because of number 3):

Beatrice and Benedick (Much Ado About Nothing) I’m really including this because I love the Catherine Tate and David Tenant version so much. They’re perfect- they’re argumentative, strong, yet sure of their feelings, yet vulnerable, and also just hilarious. I like my characters with some energy, especially if it’s misdirected!

I’ve noticed from reading this through, I really love opposites. Love when characters clash and compliment each other all at once. Romance doesn’t mean sitting around staring into each others’ eyes and making daisy chains, it’s those moments of clashing and laughing and flirting and realising you have a connection with this other human, no matter how surprising or extraordinary. But, that’s just me. Why don’t you search #weloveromance to find some of the other Carina authors doing the same list today? And add your favourites in the comment box!