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.

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