Category Archives: Books

Books by me.

Free Angel

Free on Kindle from 21st to 25th February.

The first in the best selling Tanya Miller Series.

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Rerun – Rag’s Riches

Chapter 4

Returning after the trip to town she pushed through the gate.  Jenny was surprised to find two tabby cats sitting on the back door mat.  “Hello you two.  You’re too early.”  They stretched languidly to their feet, poised, half relaxed, half ready for flight.   Leaving their options open in the way that cats do.  “It’s alright kitties.”  She walked towards them calmly and bent to give each one a gentle stroke.  “The butcher gave me a rabbit and some other bits and I have to cook it up, but seeing as you’ve waited so nicely I’ll get you some nibbles.”

They stood to one side of the stone step allowing access to the kitchen.  She reached to bring down the cardboard packet from its resting place on top of the cupboard.  After sprinkling a small handful in front of them she watched, smiling as they nibbled.  The little noses and licking tongues left tiny damp smudges on the step as they hoovered up the treats.  Jenny pulled the door closed and left her visitors to their own devices, knowing that they would probably just curl up somewhere and snooze the day away until dinner time.  No doubt about it cats had got it all organised.  Even these little strays seemed happy and at ease.  The winters probably weren’t easy for them to be sure, but they coped.

Now, the plan was to go down to the park, take a ride up the quiet little avenues in the area and look at the big houses.  They were beautiful, shiny front doors with gorgeous patterned glass fanlights and gardens with cleverly designed brick paths. She wondered what it would be like to live somewhere like that, but wasn’t envious.  Not that she felt undeserving in any way but was happy with what she had.  After all a big house with all that extra responsibility wouldn’t benefit her now would it?

Humming quietly, she whirled past the backs of the houses.  So much litter now, of course it blew back and forth down the narrow alleys but there were other things.  Black bags of rubbish spilled out and had been split.  Probably a lot to do with cats, but they didn’t know did they?  You couldn’t blame them if there were carcasses and so on, it was just food to the kitties and they thought the mess was someone else’s problem.  There were some boxes and unidentifiable detritus and even an old mattress, dirty and wet, leaning against one back gate.  She sighed, people didn’t seem to have the time to bother about these things anymore, of course rats would be attracted, and it was just so unsightly.

She turned at the end of the back alley and headed the opposite way from the route that she had taken earlier.  The carriageway was narrower up here and ran along the ends of the roads parallel to her own.  The old cobbles rattled her bike and her bones but she was used to it and sped on towards the block of lock up garages.  All the while she flipped glances back and forth watching for the old tom.  Every now and again there would be the glimpse of a familiar tail, or the flash of a black coat skipping over a garden wall, but no sign of the ginger cat.

As she approached the block of garages a large, white van pulled from the end of the road.  It drew in opposite to the small concrete building, effectively blocking her way.  She stopped and supported herself with one foot on the cobbles the other one still on the bike pedal.  If the van pulled right up to one of the double doors it would mean dismounting and walking around.

The van door swung open and the driver and his mate jumped out.  They were both dark-haired with a look about them that she could only think of as swarthy.  In their short leather jackets and baggy black pants there was something that struck her as unfriendly, certainly they didn’t invite any sort of approach or conversation.

The bigger one, from the passenger side, glanced around as the other man unfastened the big padlock.  Oh well then, she would have to walk around.  They ignored her weaving around the side of the white vehicle and across in front. They were too involved dragging the big garage doors open to notice a little old lady on a bike.  By now Jenny had reached the far side of the van and her inquisitive nature drew a glance to the inside of the garage.  The light was turned on; there inside were stacks and stacks of wooden boxes.   How fascinating, she couldn’t imagine what they could contain.  One of the men had turned around.  He stepped between her and the garage blocking the view.

“You want something lady?” It wasn’t friendly and she felt quite threatened by his demeanour.  Jenny lowered her gaze.  As she looked away though she had the quickest glimpse, a flash nothing more, of ginger fur.  She did a double take and the unfriendly stranger took a step towards her.  He was really rather frightening.  She clutched at the handlebars of her bike and scuttled away feeling quite upset.

The pleasure had gone from her little jaunt.  All she wanted now was to go home and put the kettle on and then cook up the treats for her fluffy friends.  She scuttered to the front of the van, mounted up and sped along the road that had brought the two men to the garage block.  As she pedaled away she could feel their eyes boring into her back.  The bike wobbled alarmingly, was it that or the men glaring behind her that caused the nasty lurch in her stomach.  She had meant no harm, but was concerned about that flash of ginger.  It could easily have been the Rags.  Oh dear she was really quite disturbed by the happenings of the last couple of minutes.

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Taster for Body in the Squat. Jordan Carr and a strange old woman. (no, not me)

The house at the end of the terrace had been a family home. Four children, now and then a cousin or a brother who needed somewhere to stay. Noise, parties and life. A couple of weddings and one sad funeral.

After the older three had moved, there were incidents. Noise at night, a fight in the garden, the neighbours complained about the youngest one’s behaviour. The council became involved. They counted empty bedrooms. It didn’t matter to the men in grey that a family had grown up there. It didn’t matter that it was full of memories and the only home the sons and daughter had ever known. The house was too big and the old woman and her one ‘special needs’ child were moved to a flat. There were tears but it didn’t matter. It had never belonged to them.

A couple of families moved in, moved on, and then it was empty for a while.

It should have been boarded up and secured but the squatters got there first and even afterwards they prised open the ill-fitting windows and clambered inside.

They were followed inevitably by drug dealers, and then addicts and itinerant people with nowhere else to be.

Then, after a while, there was a change, subtle and quiet. Not so many rough sleepers looking for warmth. Not so many addicts spaced out on the damp grass in the back. But there were comings and goings, noise and disturbance.

The people using the house at the end of the terrace became a part of the scenery, neighbours sneered and tutted, but it was what it was and there were other things to think about, other problems to solve.

The local boys called out names as the women walked past. They drew graffiti on the walls and windows, lewd images, and once they left a dead cat on the step. For the youngsters it was fascinating. They were drawn to it, sneaking behind the walls, creeping through the garden. Until the day they looked through the window. Until the day they saw the blood.


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In anticipation of the publication of the next in the series, the first in the Jordan Carr stories is free on Amazon Kindle from the 17th and for the next few days.

Quick – you just have time to read this and the two others (if you stay up all night) before Jordan Carr number 4 is released in a couple of weeks

Image of book cover – the iron men on Crosby shore. Blue with the men shown as black silhouettes. Two more book covers below with views of Liverpool One of the docks with cranes and one of the Liverpool Waterfront seen from The Wirral. All colours are pale and muted pastels in blue shades.


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Flash Sale from The Book folks

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Black Friday Sale – well sort of.

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Free Tanya Miller

Free worldwide until tomorrow. Number five in the Miller series. Bodies in gardens, boys on trains and nasty accidents. Oh my!!!


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My Father’s Name – Chapter 2

In Frances’ warm messy kitchen, surrounded by little boy toys, with finger paintings stuck on the fridge door and the artwork project she was in the middle of, for her degree show at the end of the fine art degree. I told her it all. I mentioned the lovely staff at the hospice, the moments of lucidity that would live with me forever and yes, the horrible evidence of pain.

We cried, we laughed a little and I felt the pressure start to lift. By the time we were ready to bring the children home, I was in control.

“Stay,” Frances said, “stay and eat with us and then when the kids are in bed I’ll open a bottle of wine. We’ll talk more about your mum and we’ll start to get organised with some of the arrangements and just what I can do to help.”

It wasn’t something I even had to think about.


“I’ve been to the registrar’s office and got the certificate and what have you. I have an appointment tomorrow with the funeral director. They’re collecting mum in the morning. Will you come with me?”

“Naturally, I’ll come with you.” Frances hooked the shopping list pad from the worktop and made a note of the number for the undertakers. “We’ll get a bit organised. You’ve got so much going round in your head right now. We’ll make notes. They’ll know how to do this stuff but if you think about some of it beforehand it’ll make it easier.”

“Actually a lot of it has already been decided. Mum and I did talk about stuff. Once she knew that the end was coming. She was so brave.” I had to stop for another quick crying session, but we laughed it off. “I know what sort of coffin she wants. She wants cremating and she really wants me to organise a bit of something for her mates. She even left the money to pay for it. She said she didn’t want ham sandwiches and crisps. She wants a meal in the restaurant in the village centre. She’s been there a lot with her friends and she liked the idea that they could have a drink and something to eat and think about her there. It’ll be hard but it’s what she wanted, so I’ll do it. I wonder if I should leave it though, just for a week or so.” My thinking was that after the emotion of the service at the crematorium, people wouldn’t feel that they could laugh and I know she would have wanted them, and us, to laugh, to smile, when we remembered her.

“I think it’s a great idea. Wouldn’t it have been her birthday at the end of the month?”

“Yes, of course. That’s a good idea. It would be a horrible day but if there’s something to do, people to be with it should help.”

Frances tipped her head to one side. “It might. But you know love, you have to realise that, for a while at least, this will ambush you. Right now that might seem like a good idea and then when it comes to the day you might not be able to do it. So, let’s arrange it and, I just want to say, if there’s anything that comes up that’s too much for you – well – I’m here my duck. I’m here for you whenever and wherever.”

We had another cry then.

The next day at the funeral directors wasn’t as hard as I thought it might be. They were calm and professional, understanding when I found that words wouldn’t come. But, they were professionals, there to do a job and it made things easier.

I had already told them that I wanted the notification in the paper to say no flowers and instead for friends to donate to the hospice but I couldn’t send her off without any floral display. I chose a lovely spray for the top of the wicker coffin,  the sort of simple, natural flowers she liked, tied with raffia, just like a spring bouquet. We picked the songs, and I told them that I would do the eulogy. There was no pretending it would be a breeze but it was important that the people who spoke were people who truly knew her. I didn’t was some half-interested religious representative and neither would she. It was something else we’d agreed and it was a duty no matter how difficult.


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My Father’s Name.

Thought I’d stick this on the front of the blog again.

Chapter 1

“Melanie, I’m so sorry.”

I leaned down to tie Suzie’s laces. They didn’t need tying, but I needed a moment. I needed to swallow the lump in my throat. I needed to paste on some sort of expression that wasn’t bald despair.

I hadn’t seen Frances since before. Of course, she knew all about Mum. She knew that we had decided it was time to move her to the hospice. she knew that because I had left my daughter in her care.

I’d had text messages from her, caring, supportive, loving really – because that’s what she is, loving. Her heart is huge, her capacity for affection and empathy is boundless and she’s my best friend. But, right now, at the school gates. I needed time before I turned to face her. I knew I would cry. The only thing in dispute was whether it would be a quiet trail of tears down my cheeks or whether I would collapse into her big comforting arms and let go of the anguish that I had carried for two days now. Two days since Mum had closed her eyes for the last time and I had held myself together.

It had been calm, gentle really and peaceful. She had opened her eyes just one last brief moment, smiled and, with a sigh, she had left me.

For the two days since I had filled the time with forms and arrangements and busy work. I spent hours sitting in Mum’s room, smelling the scent of her soap, the deodorant and touching her things. I had stripped the bed and bundled nightdresses into bags for the recycling. I hadn’t yet found the strength to do much more, but there had been papers to go through and people to inform, tearful phone calls and just a couple of difficult visits.

Suzie had stayed with Frances. I had talked to her on the phone and known that she was happy and I didn’t need to worry. Now it was time to get back to my life.

With a little pat on the top of Suzie’s rainbow laces, I pushed myself upright, leaned down again and gave my little girl a hug. As we watched the two of them, Suzie and Dylan run across the playground hand in hand, Frances didn’t speak. She didn’t try to make me look at her, she simply wrapped her arms and her love around me and held me together.

Once the children had disappeared through the doors, into the care of Vera Longstaff, the best teacher in the world, according to Suzie, Frances simply turned me around and we walked, in silence, to her house which was just around the corner from the school.

Her kitchen was bright, warm and untidy. Sun streamed through the patio doors and the air was filled with the smell of toast and coffee and the tang of sourdough starter on the worktop waiting for her to start her baking.

While Frances filled the kettle, stuck bread in the toaster and clattered in the cupboards for mugs and plates I sat and sobbed.  She didn’t mess about with tissues but stuck a thick kitchen roll on the table in front of me and I ripped off sheet after sheet, soaked them, and threw the sopping balls into the waste bin.

By the time the tea was made and a pile of toast was in the basket, I had gulped and sobbed my way back to some sort of control.

Frances slid in behind the table to sit on the bench against the wall. She reached across with her big hands and laid them on top of mine.

“What can I do?” she asked.

I began to shake my head but I knew that wouldn’t work, there was no need to stand on ceremony with this woman. She would expect to help me

I could have called her immediately, from the hospice and I know that she would have found a way to come, no matter it was three in the morning. But she had the children, her own son, my daughter and it would have been unfair to call her and expect her to find someone to babysit. We were both bringing up children in single-parent homes, but with each other as support we made it work. I had called her the next morning, once I knew the children were in school and asked her to keep Suzie for the next couple of days. I didn’t want my daughter to witness my devastation. By the time I met them at the school gates today, I thought I had my shit together, that was until my friend spoke to me.

In spite of the sadness, it had been pure joy to see my little girl. She had thrown herself at me, and I had gathered her up, the smell of her, the feel of her strong little body against mine, the wet kisses on my cheek had overwhelmed me for just a while and then reality had reclaimed me and if Frances hadn’t been there to catch me I think I would have fallen to pieces right there in the road, at the school gates.

Thank heavens for true friends.


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A Wee Taster


Charlotte came back to Liverpool because her dad had died, and her mum needed her. They gave him a good send-off. A trail of black cars filled with sobbing relatives. Drinks and food in his favourite pub. There were tears that were as much to do with excess drink and overblown passions as the acknowledgment that the lovely man had gone. But now it was time to go back to her own life. On the last morning she agreed to go to Mass and then down to the cemetery.

“Are you ready, Mam? We need to get off.”

They’d brought flowers for the grave, dahlias, and roses from his garden.

Mass was at the old church; the one Mam had been going to since she was a girl. She needed to light a candle and remember her wedding. It didn’t have a graveyard, so they walked through the houses to the big cemetery.

“I’m sorry, Mam, we won’t be able to stay long. I still have to finish packing and I wanted us to sit and have a nice cuppa and some toast.”

“It’s alright, love, your da would understand. We’ll just say hello and leave his flowers. Maybe you’ll come again, and we’ll spend a bit longer.”

“I will, for sure.”

They walked down the main pathway between the graves. The place was well-kept and there were flowers everywhere, but it still gave Charlotte the willies. She would never have left her dad here, down in the cold. But Mam had been adamant, no cremation. The family plot still had room for her to join her husband.

There was birdsong and the constant hum of traffic in the distance, but it felt subdued behind the walls. The plot they were heading for was deep inside near one of the little copses of trees.

They cleared away the dead blooms and filled the stone vase with fresh flowers. Mam kissed her fingers, touched them to the earth and then stepped back a few paces. Charlotte knew she was being given time alone, but she never knew what to do. She had often spoken to her dad since his death, anytime, anywhere, and standing in front of the grave didn’t make him any less dead. She kept her head down but her eyes roamed along the rows of stones, crosses, and weeping angels. This wasn’t where she wanted to be.

The people were as squashed in here as they had been all their lives. Council estates, flats and terraces, and now huddled together forever, rows and rows of them. She looked at the grave that was just to the right of her fathers. The plot had a small temporary marker and there were flowers laid there, obviously from a recent funeral. Wreaths and bunches and a big one spelling out DAD, but they were messy. Many broken blooms, dirt on the ribbons and the leaves; a couple were upside down. It drew her attention. It was strange. She leaned a little closer and peered at the mound of dark earth. That was surely a black bin bag poking through the soil. Is that what they did then now, covered it with plastic? That didn’t seem right. She stepped across, touched the loose earth with her foot.

“Aw, Mam, isn’t that disgusting? There’s rubbish here, on the grave, a bin bag.”

She leaned down and gripped the plastic.

“Leave it, Char, leave it. That’s not nice. We’ll tell the parkie. He should come and see to it, leave it.”

“I’ll just take a picture so we can show him where we found it.”

“Why would you want to do that, love?”

“I don’t know, Mam. It’s just odd.”

Charlotte stepped closer, her heels sinking into the soft ground. She scuffed at the grave with her feet, phone camera clicking. Then she was close enough to see what the foxes and the rats had done. The noise she made was not really a scream – she didn’t have the air for that. She could barely breathe. But at least she had the presence of mind to throw out her hand, to hold her mother back and spare her the sight of the gnawed extremities and the wet tangled hair that leaked from the bag.


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