Hall of Fame

On this page are some of my favourite places on the net to visit and links to friends and companies who deserve a shout-out.

Shopping & Services

CANDLEBERRY LANE This lovely shop – up the Victorian Arcade in Barnsley (Frank Bird arcade, as my parents still call it).  It looks like something from Diagon Alley and it smells like heaven.  And don’t even get me started on the Jim Bean Honey candles that scent your whole house without sending you over the driving limit.  Coming soon is their updated website which will allow you to buy mail order from them. They also sell salt lamps and all sorts of gorgeous gifts with wonderful names (a candle called Friendship Tea… sigh!)

HOUSE FAIRIES – I promised I’d give the House Fairies Cleaning services a shout-out.  Especially as they inspired Afternoon Tea at the Sunflower Cafe.  They are my indulgence because there is nothing like a clean house – even if it is a pig sty the next day again.  I love our Lady-who-Does and she’s worth every penny.  They’re based in our area in South Yorkshire but if you click on the link to the site you’ll see the huge area you cover.

ICE STATIONERY is where I got one of my most favourite diamanté studded pens from – and for the stationery buff (i.e. me) they have some wonderful pens and pencil gifts (even ones with crowns on which I’ll be signing my new book with – how could I not?) Catering for every budget, this is a place that will satisfy your pen-chant for pens (see what I did there?)

MY TRUSTY SKINCARE – When I was writing Afternoon Tea at the Sunflower Cafe, I was hunting for sunflower related goods and I came across this lovely site who are going from strength to strength and their goods are now available in Tesco and Superdrug. I haven’t used anything else on my skin since – the oil is an amazing moisturiser.  It was invented by Salisbury NHS and is a non-profit making organisation, because any profit it does make goes back into the pot.  And it’s made from sunflowers.  It’s great for sensitive skins, even burns and scars and is super gentle.  It makes a great present for someone else – or treat yourself. Oh and the tubes of ‘hand cream’ can be used on the whole of your body – it’s just that they’re a ‘handy’ size. Yes you can buy online!

PURA cosmetics was set up by Rose Dyson at school as a business project and since then she has earned a shelfful of awards, including ones from Jacqueline Gold and Theo Paphitis for her vegetarian/vegan/gluten-free pure lip scrub and balm products.  They are genuinely gorgeous and small-purse friendly.  Great presents for anyone with lips and there’s a new bridal favour range AND men’s products (they have lips too – and even Gerard Butler would be a second-rate snogger with scabby lips).  And they can be personalised. Rose set up the business because lip scrubs and balms were ridiculous prices – she wanted to make something that did the job better and for less.  And she has.

SLURP – This is my favourite online boozy bazaar.  The wine always comes beautifully packaged and I can get my beloved Peller’s Cuvee Ice Wine from here  AND IN ROSE.  Better than Prosecco, sweeter than Champagne, tastier than EVERYTHING.

SPONGE are an amazing online cake site which have a website that will cause you to drool.  They make all sorts of cakes and many gluten-free varieties too.  They arrive beautifully packaged and even the small ones are huge.  They also make personalised cakes, cake cards, baby cakes… you can’t bake better.  Okay, you can’t lick the spoon… but the compensations are many.  And every Friday IS SPONGE FRIDAY when a variety of cake will be at a bargain price. Go on, you know you want to!

THE LITERARY GIFT COMPANY if you like book-themed gifts STAY AWAY FROM THIS SITE.  It is one of my favourites.  You can lose yourself in its gorgeousness and end up maxing your visa.  And it’s worth it. Write your own wishlist and then give it to everyone.

YOSHI have become one of my favourite bag firms EVER. It’s like they’ve themed their whole range for me – dogs, cats, books, biscuits… and THEY HAVE A SALE PAGE.  New ranges are coming out all the time – so it’s dangerous to peep. But do. They’re all so very pretty.  And irresistible… so I give you fair warning.

 

My Author Friends

MO HAYDER – I am asked often who my favourite modern-day writer is.  I like to read crime novels – and Mo Hayder is probably my absolute favourite.  I am first in the queue to read her new ones… which never come around soon enough.  Her ‘Birdman’ and ‘The Treatment’ blew my head away.  I LOVE her.

LYNDA LA PLANTE – I have been a massive fan of Lynda’s for years. I am lucky enough to get her books before the ink has dried on them and I have loved them all (though the casting for Anna Travis?  Really!)  I just hope that Prime Suspect 1979 doesn’t let her down because the book TENNISON (purr lease…why change it??) is absolutely fantastic.

CATHERINE ISAAC – nope I haven’t made a mistake.  Click the link and it will take you to Jane Costello’s site.  That’s because Jane has had a rebirth and will emerge as CI next year with a slight change in genre AND A HOLLYWOOD FILM DEAL.  You can read the full story on her website. And read her books too because the JC collection is great fun – witty and heartfelt.  Jane and I started roughly at the same time in this game and have the same publisher and, once upon a time, the same agent so we’ve been sounding boards for each other.  Novel-writing isn’t as lonely a profession as it once was. It’s now very social with lots of prosecco and buns!

DEBBIE JOHNSON – I met Debbie via Jane Costello.  She will tell you that my first words to her were to call her a whore and then I touched her boob ‘by accident.’  It is alas true.  Her books are funny and poignant, laugh-cry-laugh-cry, and her husband is a cracking dancer. She’s brill.

LAURA KEMP is certifiably bonkers, but she is also an incredibly funny writer.  She is a joy.  But also she should be locked up. Read her for the perfect pick-me-up.

SUE WELFARE years ago, it was suggested to me by someone who really knew what he was talking about that Sue became my mentor because she’s a) bloody brilliant and b) bloody brilliant…z) bloody brilliant.  One of the loveliest people on the planet and an amazing writer not only of romcoms, but her ‘thriller-arm’ is magnificent too.  If you are a novice writer, read her analytically as I did for how to write slick plots and firm characterisations.  Her books are master-classes.

 

Miscellaneous

BLINK MARKETING – are now my go-to guys for my bookmarks and postcards, signed-by-the-author stickers and bookplates, all of which have been designed especially for me by their artists and I am SO CHUFFED with their service that I have to give them a huge shout-out. Everything comes just as I want it – and fast.  Really like this company!

THE FALCONRY CENTRE – Once upon a time, I wanted to feel the weight of a bird landing on my arm and when I went to this wonderful place and did exactly that, I can’t tell you the impact of the experience.  Better than I ever imagined.  Treat yourself to a day out here or buy a voucher for someone as an experience day.  I’ve taken people with me and they’ve LOVED it. And the birds are like family to the people who run it. See your dad pretending to be ‘Dragonslayer’ or your brother being ‘Kes’.  This is a wonderful wonderful day out in lovely Yorkshire countryside too.