Reflecting on 2016. Do I really have to?

Around this time of December, I usually do a sort of round-up and conclusions from the past twelve months post, before signing off until the New Year.

This year? I really don’t know what to say. The future, politically at least, looks so uncomfortably uncertain, here in the UK, in so many parts of Europe and in the USA. The Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s election still beggar belief, for me at least. So what do we do about all that? I wish I knew.

And that’s by no means all the ugliness in the world, as the news from Aleppo and the Yemen show, just to mention a couple of horrors.

What about the work stuff? The vagaries of the book trade continue to challenge me – and not in a good way – along with so many other writers. Can I come up with a realistic way forward for 2017?

Okay, what about the personal stuff? Well, the family is all well, and settled in our various studies and occupations, so let’s be thankful for that. Older relatives continue hale and hearty overall, so let’s be thankful for that. The siblings and their children are ticking over fine, so that’s good. Friends are mostly okay, and where they’re facing challenges with infirm, elderly parents or similar, we’re offering what support we can.

So I suppose that’s the thing, isn’t it? We do what we can.

So I’ll continue to donate to the local foodbank, and to those charities at home and abroad which are working to help those whose lives are being so wantonly destroyed by the selfishness and violence of others.

I’ll use my vote and voice where and whenever I can, against the intolerance and deceit that’s corrupting our media and public discourse.

I’ll keep writing, and I’ll keep working with the many good and generous people I know, as we share the things we continue to learn about the ever-changing environment for authors.

Here’s to a better 2017 for us all.

Looking back at 2015

To say this past year went in unexpected directions for me is a dramatic understatement.

This time a year ago, the UK government was just starting to understand the full, disastrous ramifications of the changes to EU VAT regulations on digital sales. Along with a handful of other women in various different sectors, I began writing letters and blogging about this and we soon realised we needed what became the EU VAT Action Campaign.

Since then, the Campaign has convinced the UK government to introduce various easements, to avoid putting small online traders out of business entirely and convinced the European Commission of the need to introduce a threshold for these regulations, to avoid killing the grassroots Digital Single Market stone dead. Over the course of the year, we’ve helped resolve any number of queries from affected businesses and managed the fallout from various cock-ups by different tax authorities. Consequently, governments across Europe are now aware of the need to substantially improve the ways in which they communicate and consult with the small independent traders and companies which now make up such a significant sector of the economy. The team I’m working with have all been invaluable allies; Clare Josa, Rosie Slosek, Megan Kerr, Rachel Andrew and Lorraine Dallmeier. We’ve also had essential support from umpteen others, including but by no means limited to Wendy Bradley and Nicholas Whyte.

All of which has entailed me writing tens of thousands of words in blog posts, letters, briefings for government ministers, European commissioners, heads of state and journalists, as well as writing up evidence submissions for the House of Lords and the OECD. Plus spending hours on phone conversations and dealing with thousands of email. I’ve visited the European Parliament in Brussels, No.10 Downing Street and made repeated visits to HM Treasury and HMRC in Whitehall.

All of which goes a long way to explaining why my fiction output this year has been a handful of short stories. I am intensely thankful to the various editors who gave given me at least that much opportunity to get writing!

In other fantasy fiction news, we’re now half way through releasing The Aldabreshin Compass series in a new ebook edition from Wizard’s Tower Press. I couldn’t ask for a better partner in this project than Cheryl Morgan, or for more perfect artwork than Ben Baldwin’s pictures. Not forgetting the contributions and support of fans and friends like Michele and others.

In fandom and related news, I administered the David Gemmell Awards for Fantasy and helped organise and run the Awards Ceremony at Nine Worlds Convention in August. Then I was Mistress of Ceremonies at the UK’s Fantasycon in Nottingham – where I was the startled and incredibly honoured recipient of the Karl Edward Wagner Award.

In domestic news, as of December this year, my beloved husband and I have been together for 30 years – 26 of them happily married, as of September. I turned 50 years old and decided to mark that by preparing for and successfully grading to 3rd Dan blackbelt in aikido, the martial art which we both study.

Is that it? I think so.

Then that’ll do.

I shall now spend the rest of Christmas Eve doing some baking, before welcoming various family members here for Christmas Day tomorrow.

Very best wishes to all, however you celebrate the season, and I’ll see you in the New Year.