Happy New Year, everyone!

…. but it’s not so happy over here. As you may or may not be aware, I’m situated on the east coast of Australia. An area of our country roughly the size of Western Europe is on fire. It’s not under control, it’s not controllable, and it’s likely to consume the majority of the national parks in New South Wales and Victoria (an area of forest significantly larger than any two European countries, possibly a lot more – I haven’t done the specific maths).

Myself and my partners have loved ones currently engaged in fighting the fires, and other loved ones with properties directly in the threatened areas. They have good plans for protecting what can be protected, and evacuating safely if required, but it’s pretty scary right now.

The air quality where we are is currently the worst in the world – more than 20 times the “hazardous limit”. We’re about an hour from the closest fire and the smoke is so thick we can’t see the horizon. It smells like a bushfire inside our house and we’re coughing and sneezing. We’d go someone with better air but there isn’t any such place within a day’s drive. Australia Post has suspended mail deliveries, and most public places (including pools, cinemas, museums and libraries) are closed for the duration. In some nearby towns the sky is literally red. Along the coast, some communities have had to retreat to wharves and docks for evacuation because there is literally no way out past the fire.

I AM, PERSONALLY, PHYSICALLY SAFE FROM FIRE. My home is not currently in any realistic danger of burning down – although there’s a lot of fire season left to go, and a new fire starting nearby could be a real threat. The smoke IS impacting my physical and mental health though.

My home office is *not* one of the more smoke-free rooms of the house so it’s making it difficult to get writing / website work done, plus I’m not generally feeling super sexy, so it may be the case that there’s some delay in fulfilling further story requests while the smoke persists.

I’m hopeful that the worst will pass and I’ll be back on schedule with plenty of the month to spare. However, if it anyone ends up not getting their full subscription benefits for January, I’ll get in contact with you and arrange either a refund or some other satisfactory recompense.

I’ve already failed to deliver a Reality Check article for December because of the difficulty. I’m still hoping to do one (late) but if I don’t manage it, you can consider this the December Reality Check.

I realise that “regular purveyor of smut” is probably not super-high on anyone’s priority list right now, but if you feel like you want to be helpful right now, the following actions are pretty great.

For me personally: Buy my e-books. It’s the easiest way of getting money to me. If you’re going to buy a lot, buy them all in one purchase, because that way a higher percentage of the total goes to me rather than PayPal. There’s a good chance this smoke is going to reduce my earning in my day job, too, so the extra cash is appreciated. It’s 100% okay to re-buy ones you already have just to send me money. (I keep meaning to make a dedicated “just donate money” item for the shop, but it’s one task too many for right now.)

For combating the bushfires and assisting their victims: Community leaders I respect are suggesting the best places to donate are:

Please note that NSW Rural Fire Service is *supposed* to be fully funded by the NSW state government and federal government, and the need for private citizens to donate represents a failing of government to meet its emergency services obligations. You may or may not have some feelings about that, but it remains the case that exceptional work is being done right now and the RFS are not sufficiently resourced to do it safely and effectively.

For Australia and the world: The severity and timing of these fires are the inevitable consequence of climate change. They’re not normal and they’re not a natural part of Australia’s bushfire cycle. They’re burning forests that have never previously experienced severe bushfires, that are not evolved (as some Australian vegetation is) to survive and benefit from regular fires. Ecosystems are being lost that will not recover and are not replaceable.

This is not me stating a political opinion. This is the unanimous consensus of Australia’s leading scientists. It is also the consensus of Australia’s emergency services chiefs, who I can assure you are NOT a bunch of bleeding heart lefties. They are people who are on the front lines every bushfire season, who know it better than we know our families, and they are united in saying that this is new territory, brought about by a changing climate. One of Australia’s most traditionally conservative papers, The Financial Review, has today published an editorial saying enough is enough, and demanding hard and immediate action on climate change.

*Please* support policies that address climate change strongly and seriously, and leaders who back that policy. Significant and wide-reaching change *is* needed. It does not have to be traumatic, if handled well, but it does require hard decisions by government, along with community and business leaders.

QUICK SITE UPDATE

The substantive January update may also be a little delayed because of all this, but the short highlights are:

* I wrote a ton of new stories that members got through Early Access.

* The first Premium Story Collection, Golden Sins, was a big success. I’d like to do more but the idea is that writing these stories shouldn’t come at the expense of my regular output so don’t expect one any time soon.

* The “TRILOGY” sale (buy three, get the cheapest free) was very well received – and it’s still running till 10 January. (Enter coupon code TRILOGY at checkout.)

* December was far and away the best financial month I’ve had in writing erotica. If you people buy that much from me every month, I could actually step down my day job to part-time. If you manage to double it in a sustainable and reliable way, I could write erotica full-time.

* This month’s charitable donation on behalf of the site was $62 USD to a dedicated women’s charity providing crisis and homelessness support, court and police interaction support, and alcohol and other drugs support. I would have liked to put it towards the bushfires, but the promise I made was that donations go to women-specific services. Once my ability to work evens out, I’m hopefully of making a donation in a personal capacity to bushfire emergency relief.

– All These Roadworks
January 2020

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