FREE tales of unbreakable love for you for Valentine’s Day

As a thank you to all our readers and followers, Sarah and I are offering some bargains. Don’t miss out on these five-star and award-winning reads.


FREE 12th – 14th February!

What is a girl to do when she finds a secret diary handed down through the generations from a long-dead queen?  Follow the royal command inside the diary, of course. And oh, what trouble it leads Lizzie to! The Scottish heiress who seeks romance and Michael, the wannabe actor from the backstreets of Leeds, who’s looking for a career – a steamy romance with a dark twist.  Download  it FREE now




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Lizzie’s tumultuous relationship with wannabe actor, Michael, continues in Illicit Passion, but their daughter, Lisette, seems determined to wreck their happiness and Michael’s career as well as her own. The twists get darker, the secrets harder to keep, and the passion hotter.

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FREE 12th – 14th February!

You can choose your friends, but Ella has no choice over choosing her family. Exiled for one illicit kiss from her employer’s son, she is sent into the country and married off to Harry, to avoid a scandal she has no idea she could cause.  Falling in love with someone else is a disaster waiting to happen and sparks events that will take her, her lover, Jem, and their illegitimate son, William, to the ends of the earth, forcing her to make desperate decisions.  The poacher exiled for murder and the girl who will follow him at any cost.

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99p/99c bargain – limited offer 12th – 19th February

While Jem sails to Van Diemen’s Land aboard the convict ship Tortoise, with an impending mutiny aboard, Ella goes to desperate lengths to raise the fare to escape her loveless marriage and follow him. All her plans fall apart when she discovers she’s pregnant again. Can she and William escape with her summer baby, or will it tie her to England, forever?

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Both series continue, so if you love these, you’ll want to read on. Why not grab them all, now. They’re at these bargain prices until February 19th.

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Thank you for reading. If you enjoy these stories, please take a moment to leave a review on Amazon, Goodreads, or Bookbub, and tell your friends.



Interview with nature author Susan J. Tweit

A woman after my own heart. What a fascinating life.

Writing to be Read


My guest today is an author, nature lover and plant ecologist. Her books include memoirs, beautifully illustrated travel books, nature guides, and even children’s books, but they all have strong ties with nature. Her books reveal connections with nature and life that have not been pondered or may have been overlooked in our everyday lives. Her books have won the ForeWord Book of the Year, the Colorado Book Award, and she is a five time recipient of Colorado Author’s League Award. With a background in science and plant ecology, she expertly weaves her natural environment into her writings, illustrating how all things interact and connect. Let me introduce creative nonfiction author, Susan J. Tweit.

Kaye: You are a female author who champions the natural environment. Do you identify most as a feminist, a naturalist or an environmentalist?

Susan: All of the above. I grew up in a family…

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Spectral State

Sounds fabulous. I’ve pre-ordered this one.

Sarah Stuart - Romantic Suspense

Spectral State – Click the cover to preorder.

Hano is a gameaholic. He works when he must, to live, and plays… and plays. Tempted by money, he takes part in an online “game” that involves mind jumps. He proves incredibly good at it, so Aj’dina is sent to recruit him. A natural loner, attractive Aj’dina reminds him of his long-unsatisfied sexual need, and he takes the job. A rebel, not ex-military like the rest, he comes close to dismissal, refusing promotion and lying to continue to work with Aj’dina. His feelings for her become a love he finds impossible to express verbally, but a deeper cause of unhappiness is his outraged sense of justice that targets a corrupt US senator who is, apparently, above the law.

Based on the psychology of such as Spock and Huxley, Spectral State takes “one giant step for mankind” from the Enigma codebreakers of the…

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The Lord of the Rings meets Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever?

This cheered me up no end as I rarely get a sale or review of this book. What also amazed me was my also-boughts for this novel – my other six books!WHD also boughts

I must be doing something right – but the review…

‘Hoping to dare for the GIFT OF PROPHECY!
2 February 2019
This is a book full of intrigue, changing alliances, death and destruction, survival, rampages, peace, love and tranquillity in an unrecognisable land.
It took me a little while to get the gist of what was happening within and the relationships between the different characters with there unique personalities and the overall encompassing dynamics due to the plot twists, once these where established in my head I was transported into a whole new dimension of epic proportions.
The nearest I have come to this quality of creating an alternate realm in the readers eye has to be the writing of Stephen Donaldson (The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever) who was likened to JRR Tolkein for creativity. Definate dystopian story that I’d definitely return to again!’

Now, JRR Tolkein and Stephen Donaldson are two of my favourite authors, and building worlds is something at which they both excel, so I was particularly chuffed to  have this story compared to theirs. I wondered if there were any other similarities – after all, they say there are only a handful of different stories, just a million different ways to tell them.

I suppose Abe could be identified as the Gandalf figure – an enigmatic wanderer of indeterminate age who has his own agendum, and keeps his cards close to his chest, but cares deeply for his friends. Raphel is probably the nearest I have to a Frodo figure – the person who has to overcome his fears to become his inner hero. The quest for the ring in Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings could, indeed, have a mirror here in Velik’s search for the Gift of prophecy. Velik is certainly an evil, Sauron-type figure, and Velik’s ‘Chosen’, Alaric, and his band of murderous marauders act like Sauron’s Orcs. Kiya could be said to epitomise the ring – carrying as she does, within her, the Gift, and the allusions to the rising of Hitler in the inter-war period of Tolkein’s writing could compare to the battle for our Earth we all need to face that are made apparent in Where Hope Dares.

Interesting comparisons, and a similar basic scenario, but a totally different adventure. So maybe, if you loved The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, you’ll enjoy Where Hope Dares.WHD covenant tweet




Download it here.

Update #2 – Rebecca Bryn

Many thanks to Frank Parker for allowing me to share my past year. Here’s to the next one.

Frank Parker's author site

Rebecca was the second Indie Author to feature in my “A Date With . . .” series during 2018 (the original interview is here). I recently asked her for an update on her career and her hobbies. This is what she said:

“Once again this year, royalties from sales and page reads of Touching the Wire for the whole of January, will be donated to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum. I’d love some more sales, but this year, sales of it seem a bit slow although I am getting page reads via Kindle Unlimited, all of which count towards the donation.

My books are being read, and that is the important
thing. I feel as if I’m making a little headway.

Last year, I published The Dandelion Clock, and it’s had some amazing reviews*. (The ending made me cry, by the way) Sales are steady , and I’m…

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The Moral to This Story is…

My husband and I were feeling a bit stressed. You know how it is, too much to do and never enough time: things piling up, blood pressure rising somewhat alarmingly, so we decided to have a day out and relax. We packed a picnic, loaded our cycles into the van, and took off for Brecon, about two and a half hours away from our home in West Wales. It’s an area we love, and we’d been thinking about buying a small boat on the Monmouth and Brecon canal and getting some quality ‘down-time’. A ride along the towpath was just what the doctor ordered, and we could look for boats for sale while we rode.

Now, my husband, James, is tall: six feet four inches to be precise, so finding anything to fit him, be it boat, bike, or clothes… a 34 inch inside leg, hands like hams, size 13 shoes and, to use his own words, 17 stone of unsightly fat… is a problem. His cycle was the biggest he could find and then he had to buy a taller seat-pillar and handlebar stem. Fortunately, he’s handy at altering things: has spanners, welder, chainsaw, lathe – you name it he can use it. Anyway, he’d fitted bits to make the bike more comfortable to ride and had added a half jerry-can to the crossbar, lined with carpet, for our small mongrel, Kes, to ride in if we cycled further than she could easily run.

It was a lovely sunny day, August, if I remember correctly, and we set out hopefully from Storehouse Bridge in the direction of the Ashford tunnel. I can still smell the damp earth and feel the gentle breeze. I can see the leaves rustling and the ducks gliding past, catching flies from the air. Fish sent rings spreading out across the still surface of the water. My shoulders relaxed, and I began to breathe more easily; I could almost feel the pressure dropping away. The day out was definitely a very good idea.

We stopped for a picnic, and a Wilderness Beaver chugged slowly past. We waved and the owners waved back: it was the exact make and model of boat we were considering, and we followed its progress along the canal enviously. Picnic over, we continued our ride and noticed the Beaver moored near a bridge. Eager to learn more about the little boat, like what the headroom and bunk lengths were, tall-husbandwise, we stopped and talked to the owners, who invited us aboard. No boat was likely to be tall enough for James to stand perfectly upright, and this was probably as good as we would find, at over 6 feet, with beds of 6’4”. We thanked the owners, promising to meet up with them sometime should we ever find a boat of our own.

Kes had run quite a way by this time, so James popped her in her half jerry-can for a rest and pedalled off ahead.  Disaster, when it struck, came without warning. One second James and Kes were riding in front of me, and the next second, the bike collapsed and James was on the ground. I remember seeing Kes jump clear, but that’s all. The whole thing was so instant I barely saw it happen ten yards in front of my nose.

It was immediately obvious that this was a life-changing moment. My husband lay on the towpath, twitching, with blood coming from his mouth, totally unconscious. Was he even alive? He was, for now: he was twitching, wasn’t he? An ugly red swelling on his forehead suggested a severe bang to the head: concussion… brain damage… death… These were the things jostling for position in my mind. Oddly, I was an oasis of calm: if he had to die, I thought surreally, he’d died doing something he loved, happy, with no warning of his demise. He’s a proud, independent man who would hate to be brain-damaged: trapped.

I reached for my mobile: it switched on and immediately went black. Flat battery. James’ mobile was in his pocket, the one he was lying on. Have you ever tried to move 17 stone of unsightly fat when you’re only 5’ 4” and weigh 8 stone nothing with muscles like peanuts? For all I knew, he’d broken his neck, but I had to get that phone. I shook him (gently, honest). ‘James, for f***’s sake, help me out here. I need your phone.’ I hadn’t expected an answer but saying it made me feel better. I grazed my knuckles prising the mobile from underneath him. How did the thing work? I flipped it open and thumbed 999.

‘Which service do you require?’


‘Connecting you now.’

‘Ambulance service. Can you tell me what’s happened?’

I described the accident and the state of the patient as far as I could assess it, like out cold and bleeding. A pool of dark blood was coagulating in the dust. At least he didn’t look anaemic, like he had after his heart operation when his blood went orange because of the Warfarin, I thought stupidly. The lump was huge and he looked pale.

‘Is he breathing?’

‘Yes, but not well.’

‘Where are you?’

How the hell should I know? ‘On the canal towpath.’ It was thirty miles long. We’d just passed a village. It was called… ‘Pencelli. We’ve just come past Pencelli.’

There was a pause as if the operator were looking at a map. ‘Are you near Storehouse Bridge?’

A light came on in my brain and I dashed towards it. ‘Yes. We’re south of there, not far.’ Actually, I think we were east, but the operator seemed to know what I meant.

‘Got you. How far are you from the bridge? Can you see it?’

‘I don’t know. No, I can’t see it.’

‘Bloody hell!’ The voice at my shoulder was that of a stranger, a walker. ‘Can I help?’

I pointed, hopefully bridge-wards. ‘See how far we are from the bridge.’ I glanced round, somewhat belatedly, for Kes. She was sitting by the side of the broken bike with one paw raised. I could see a scraped bit of skin but it didn’t look serious. ‘Good girl.’

The stranger pounded off while his partner looked on helplessly, stroking Kes. The Wilderness Beaver sailed effortlessly to the bank, and the owners moored by us. The woman, who I was to find out later was called Linette, brought a pillow and blanket. James began to stir, and I let out a breath. I put a hand on his shoulder. ‘Don’t move.’

‘Wa happnd.’

‘The bike broke… the front forks. I’ve called an ambulance.’

‘Don need amblnce.’ Typical man.

He hadn’t seen himself twitching, bleeding, unconscious and imagined himself a widow. ‘Yes, you do. Keep still.’

It was at this point, I looked at Kes more closely. A large flap of skin hung from her chest at the top of one leg. I could see skin and muscle. I had no idea where to find a vet. The voice on the phone kept talking. ‘The ambulance is on its way.’

The stranger puffed into view. ‘The bridge is just round the corner.’ I sent him back to stay by the road and direct the paramedics.

I relayed this to the emergency-services lady who stayed with me until I told her I could see the paramedics wheeling a stretcher. By this time, James, still protesting he was ‘prfctly fine’, was fully conscious but confused, having no memory at all of what had happened.

So there I was, miles from home with one bike, a second bike in two halves, an injured husband, an injured dog that couldn’t walk, no idea where the vet or hospital was, and a van I’d never driven before. Oh goody.

We must have looked a strange sight, trudging back to the bridge. James was laid out on a stretcher, with Kes sitting bolt upright on his chest while I wheeled my bike, and the stranger and the boat owner, Stuart, each carried half a bike. We threw them (the bikes not the men) somewhat unceremoniously into the back of the van and the paramedic applied a bandage to Kes’s leg. I lifted her (the dog not the paramedic) onto the seat in the back of the van and hoped she’d stay there. This was when I confessed to the ambulance driver that I’d never driven the van before, and I didn’t know where to find a vet. ‘Follow us, and when we turn into the hospital, carry straight on. There’s one by the garage of the right.’

I managed to adjust the seat so I could reach the pedals, just, and we set off. It was one of the longest journeys I can remember, and I’ve flown to China. Eventually, the ambulance turned into the hospital grounds, and I carried on: the vet was where they’d said. I left Kes in capable hands, praying I had enough money to pay the bill, drove back to the hospital, and parked in a way I wouldn’t normally: apologies to those people trying to squeeze in to a narrow space.

James was sitting up by this time, but his face was a mess, and he was still confused. A CT scan showed no fractures, and after a couple of hours he was discharged. Back to the vet: four layers of stitching into a puncture wound in her chest, (Kes’s not the vet’s) where she’d hit the broken part of the bike as she’d jumped clear, and a course of antibiotics… which is more than James got for the hole in his lip, the source of the blood, caused by him biting the stones on the towpath with one of his teeth. Fortunately, James had his bank card on him.

We reached home late that night, £400 the poorer, and a bit the wiser. Oddly, when I took my blood pressure it was 117/70, which was the lowest it had been for months, so it wasn’t a total disaster of a day.

The moral of this story is… well there are several, some of which are A: If you’re going to alter your bike handlebars, make sure the part that bears the weight isn’t the part that’s weakened by having the thread cut into it. B: Make sure you charge your phone before leaving home. C: Wear a cycle helmet. D: Know where the vets are. E: If you have high blood-pressure, ride along the Monmouth and Brecon canal towpath. F: Don’t put off the things you want to do: life can change forever in a second, and you never know when that might be or how it will affect you. ‘The afternoon knows what the morning never suspects.’

We redoubled our efforts to find a Wilderness Beaver, and for a while owned one and moored her near Pencelli, and we visit Brecon and the towpath whenever we can. Kes recovered completely and has no fear of riding in her jerry-can. The bike was mended with a stronger handlebar-stem. We haven’t yet met Stuart and Linette again, but I’m sure we’ll bump into them one day on our travels. I never did find out the names of the couple of walkers who helped us, but I do remember hugging them, and thanking the paramedics. James still has no memory at all of the accident. We’ve cycled past that fateful spot several times, since, but never without thinking how life might have turned out that day and being very grateful that it didn’t.




Holocaust Memorial Day – Sunday 27th January 2019

It is seventy-four years since the liberation of Auschwitz by Soviet troops on January 27th 1945. Every year since writing Touching the Wire, I have donated January’s royalties for sales and page reads of the novel to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum. Why? When I first had the inspiration to write about the Holocaust, I found much of my research material on the museum’s website. Hundreds of documents have been translated and digitally recorded so that you and I can have access to them, so we can learn about the horrors of the Nazi death camps. This research was backed up by first-hand accounts and other excellent sources, but for confirmation of facts, and in depth detail, the US Holocaust Memorial Museum was my go-to resource.

It amazes me that with all the evidence available, written, spoken, and photographic, there are still those who are convinced the Holocaust didn’t happen. Certainly, when you read the facts, it seems incomprehensible that it could have happened – how could a man treat another man, woman, or child this way? How is it possible that a culture of horrific inhumane carnage came into being, apparently unchallenged, and thrived? What was the insidious power Hitler wielded?

I strove to understand it but failed – a nation’s unease exploited by a madman with an insane agendum? I attempted to envisage a scenario where it could happen – what possible circumstances could come together to allow anyone to ‘condone’ it, to consent by keeping silent, and that is the thought I based my novel upon. The question my novel asks, and one I’m still trying to answer, is ‘Can you forgive?’ It was the horror I uncovered during my research that drove me to write my characters’ story down and publish it. People should know what happened to the millions whose voices were silenced. People should understand the fear, weakness, and cowardice that allows genocide. We should all be aware how easily this could happen again – and I fear it might.

I hope my book honours the memories of those who died and those who survived to tell the tale only to be disbelieved because the truth was too horrific to contemplate – and it became clear during my research that it was very important to them that they were believed. I have spared no horror, no emotional pain, and no tears. It’s a harrowing tale for which I do not apologise. I only hope I have, in my own small way, done their tragic lives justice and given them a voice from the graves they never had.

My donation this year, with your help, will get more documents transcribed and will continue to support Holocaust education. Such an atrocity as was committed by Hitler and his minions must never happen again.

Please buy a copy or read free on Kindle Unlimited HERE and share this post to anyone who might be interested. The men, women, and children of the Holocaust thank you for gifting them a voice.

TTW 400px red title tagline tower tagline Auschwitz added Frank tag

‘Outstanding storytelling.’


‘My favourite author of historical fiction.’


‘One of the most deeply affecting books you’ll read.’


‘Compelling and mercilessly engaging.’


‘Kept me up reading all night.’

Thank you for your support.




A Date With . . . Chris Robertson

A great interview.

Frank Parker's author site

Chris Robertson lives in the community of Niagara Falls in Ontario. I wondered how long he has lived there.

“I’ve lived pretty much my entire life here in ‘The Falls’ as
locals call it. I was born here, married here, and all three of my
children were born here. In my mid twenties my family and I moved to
Peterborough, Ontario, but moved back here after only eighteen
months. There really isn’t all that much to say about likes and
dislikes though. Other than a whole bunch of falling water and
‘tourist traffic hell’ in the summertime it really isn’t any
different than other places. No matter what happens it will always be
my hometown.”

He doesn’t see his writing as a career:

“Not the way I look at it anyway. It’s really something that
started off as a joke. Tom Rotella (co-author of Sparks in the
) and…

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What women don’t talk about to men!

background couple

The other day, my husband and I were talking about the aches and pains of getting older. A friend of mine once said, ‘old age is not for wimps‘ and she’s quite right about the challenges it brings, but that isn’t what this blog is about. I told him how happy I’d been to reach menopause, despite the hormonal minefield I had to navigate. I was just so bloody happy, if you’ll forgive the pun, to have finally stopped having periods.

‘Try having to shave every day,’ was my husband’s response.

What? Really? I was gobsmacked. Yes, shaving every day must be a recurring annoyance, but it brought home to me how little men understand about women and how little we women understand about men. Mars and Venus? Possibly. The point of this observation, though, is how can we expect men to understand women, when women understandably don’t talk about one of the most personal factors that influences their lives, and men probably don’t talk about theirs, either. (I used to get upset about my husband having a hard-on when he saw a pretty girl, before I understood it was an involuntary physiological response he had no control over – at least, that’s what he told me.)

Well, fellas, here goes, and I expect to hear from you, later. I want to know what makes you tick – your dreams and exasperations, your life burdens, anxieties, joys,  involuntary physiological responses, and shaving. OK?

My ex-husband read my novel Where Hope Dares and commented that I perfectly understood men’s psyches. While I was pleased I had my male characters realistically portrayed, worryingly, their psyches weren’t very pretty. But I shan’t judge men by my ex-husband’s opinion of them – I know a lot of very caring fellas, at least, I think I know them.

Firstly, before we get personal, the general differences. A man once told me men have sex and women make love – I think that may say more about him than men in general, but it raises an interesting point: the basic human roles the sexes play. Men are hunters and women are gatherers. Men need excitement: women, if they intend to have children, need security. They complement one another in the necessary life skills required to raise the next generation.

As a writer mainly of historical fiction, the relationships between men and women in history loom large. I explore this a bit in my historical trilogy For Their Country’s Good, and I found the research I did illuminating. It helps when considering the women’s liberation movement and women’s push for equality in the workplace, possibly one of the arguments still simmering between the sexes, to understand from where the movement sprang.

Nowadays, gender stereotyping is fading, but in the mid eighteen hundreds, women had no rights. They belonged to their husbands, who owned everything they may have had before they married, owned any children of the marriage, and could legally imprison, beat, and rape their wives. Men were admired for their number of mistresses, but if a woman showed the least impropriety, she could be set aside, penniless, and be refused access to their children. As one enlightened male of the time said, the marriage laws were made by men, for men. Even as late as the 1970s, rape was still legal in marriage. I find this shocking, but this was the historical springboard of inequality for the women’s movements that followed. So when we get uppity about equality, chaps, cut us some slack – equality is very recent and tenuous, and we have some catching up to do.

War in the 20th century allowed some women out of the home for the first time, working in forestry, farming, munitions, factories, and various other hitherto male-dominated workplaces, but those who were able to work slaved for a pittance compared to their male counterparts. Women were, for the most part, entirely dependant on a man if they were to raise a family – and a family could be fourteen or more children. A woman was either pregnant or breast feeding for a large chunk of her life. Milk cows come to mind. Even in my own teenage years, I was told my choices of career weren’t open to me. I wanted to go into forestry, and failing that, farming. I was told the Forestry Commission only employed men, (Had they forgotten the lumber-Jills of WW2?) and I needed to be a farmer’s daughter to get on an agricultural course. I went into banking, which apparently was acceptable for a woman, and hated every effin’ minute.

I can’t help thinking that fewer relationships would fail if men and women understood each other better. A man’s primal hormonal urges might have been, wham, bang, thank you, ma’am, but if a woman gave herself to a man before around 1950, she expected to become pregnant and have a lifelong duty of care to her offspring or very possibly die in childbirth. Childbirth was the most common cause of death for a woman until midwifery provided a safe and sanitary environment. It wasn’t until contraception came along, in fact, the contraceptive pills and the intra-uterine devices of the sixties, that women could control their own lives to any real degree and actually enjoy sex for its own sake or consider a career and spread their aspirational wings.

Men hunt – women gather. Men go forth to multiply and provide food – women nest and nurture, and that isn’t always seen as the important job it is – the raising of a generation of balanced men and women, who are kind and considerate and are our future hope. We are genetically pre-programmed at a molecular level to be two sides of the same coin, opposites, but mutually inseparable. If we can understand and tolerate this basic difference and this basic co-dependence, then surely, we are halfway there.

I suppose it’s time we got more personal. Thankfully, each generation is less hampered by taboos than the last, but in my generation, one didn’t speak about periods. When I was thirteen, my mother gave me a small leaflet that ‘explained’ them and said now your troubles begin.  Not very encouraging to a girl at puberty, Mother. That was all the sex education and support I got. I didn’t realise then how much this biological necessity would impact my life.

And then there’s maternal instinct, ladies – oh boy, don’t get me started. It doesn’t matter that you don’t particularly like children and have your heart set on being an astronaut, your primal hormone-modified body and brain insist that nine months of pregnancy, hours of agony in labour, and a lifetime of worrying about your kids is not only a good thing, but an absolute necessity you can’t possibly be happy without. That doesn’t mean I don’t love my kids to bits, but a rational choice in the matter would have been nice.

I had a friend, a petite brunette, a hairdresser by trade, who was the sweetest natured person you could hope to meet. She was happily married with a young daughter. She told me once that she didn’t know how her husband put up with her. This shocked me until she confided that, every month, he had to hide all the sharp knives. I thought she was joking. But no. Hormones, turned this lovely young woman into someone with an almost uncontrollable urge to stab her husband. I mean, can you imagine what that would have done to her life, had she actually done it? And women have gone to jail for no other reason that it was their ‘time of the month’. What a terrifying thing for both of them to have to live with.

My sister-in-law had such painful periods as a child, she would faint on the bus to school. Her doctor told her she’d be better once she’d had children. Great news for a twelve-year-old! Fortunately, my mother-in-law was forward thinking and insisted the doctor prescribed the contraceptive pill which helped her enormously.

Another friend suffered so much from menstruation she had a hysterectomy and denied herself the children she would have loved. So sad – she would have been a wonderful mother.

I was more fortunate. I do confess to having suffered mild Pre-Menstrual Syndrome, PMS, though I didn’t recognise it for what it was at the time,  but compared with some posts I’ve read on forums, while researching both men’s and women’s experiences of PMS for novels, I got off very lightly and so did my ex-husband.

So what constitutes getting off lightly? The nearest I can come to explaining periods to a man is for them to imagine having constant diarrhoea and stomach cramps for about a week every lunar month but never knowing quite when it’s going to start or finish or how severe it will be.

Other symptoms? Feeling tetchy and tired. Feeling dirty and smelly. Always needing to know where the nearest loo is and how long it will take you to get there. The constant fear of blood showing on your outer garments due to leakage, having enough sanitary products on your person – I wasn’t fortunate enough to be able to use tampons – and the very worst thing of all, having to try to calculate when a period was likely to come in order to plan days out and future holidays, so I could enjoy them without embarrassment – and I could guarantee the gods would mess my cycle about, so I rarely managed a holiday or day out without needing loos… Climbing mountains, swimming, lying by the pool in a swimsuit? Oh, the joys of being a woman. No, I take that back, the very worst thing was feeling too embarrassed to tell my ex-husband why I was so cross with life and being generally grotty, when I should have been enjoying myself.

Towards menopause, things got worse, and I have a friend going through this at the moment. Hot flushes and night sweats – I swapped jumpers for cardigans, and my bedclothes were on and off like a bride’s nighty. Panic attacks – I wasn’t prepared for those, not being the panicky sort, but I had to walk out of shops because of the claustrophobia, had to stop the car halfway through a journey and get out, I couldn’t listen to loud music, and I haven’t been for  a meal in a restaurant since – it was an intense feeling of being trapped.

Periods got heavy, and I mean heavy. It’s called menorrhoea, and had I known it had a name, perhaps I could have got help, but no, not me, being too embarrassed about it. I’m talking huge black clots of blood that felt almost like giving birth, usually in the middle of a walk, miles from anywhere, and feeling blood running down your legs and knowing three nighttime towels at once just wouldn’t cut it even if you had somewhere private to sort yourself out. Too graphic? Sorry, it wasn’t pleasant then, either. Stomach cramps so intense my husband called out the doctor at midnight, and I ended up in hospital. Exhaustion due to anemia – I had to have an iron injection and take iron supplements because I was pouring blood for three weeks out of every four. I literally hardly dared go anywhere for about three years, and needless to say, sex was way down on the agenda, but could I explain this to my husband? He knew, of course, but he couldn’t truly understand because I didn’t tell him how severe it was. Discussing huge black clots and dripping blood? Me? I’d have been mortified.

I was fifty-three when I finally stopped having periods, and my overriding response was rage. Not anger at being past the reproductive stage of my life, or beginning the descent into old age, but rage at having had my life buggered up for forty years – almost to the day. I have often thought that if men had to endure periods, they’d have come up with a ‘cure’. So why haven’t women?

The feeling of freedom, once the initial rage was spent, was immense. I could now go out for a day and enjoy it without worry. I could plan a holiday months in advance without the least anxiety – was this what it was like to be a man? I didn’t have to constantly wonder where the loos were and plan each stage of my journey accordingly, and best of all, I wasn’t ruining my husband’s enjoyment by being grumpy and tetchy and not wanting to ‘do things’ and needing a loo – well, I am a bit grumpy, sometimes, but not because I feel trapped by my own body, and ‘female’ – and now, because of his prostate, he needs the loos more often than I do.

There are downsides, of course, osteoporosis because of falling oestrogen levels and needing – wait for it fellas, you’ll like this – needing to shave! I never wanted to be a woman, but then I’m not sure I’d have coped well with the burdens and responsibilities of being a man, either.

I think I’ll come back as a dog. Sounds like a plan.

I do hope some fellas will reply and be as brutally honest about what it means to be male. For the sake of marital harmony, we women need to understand, too.