I have no hard feelings toward 2013, which is the first time I can say that about a year in... quite a few of them. It started off fairly rocky, but by April I was in a good groove and ready to tackle my schedule. I ended up getting a lot done in 2013. Five novels and... pffft... I dunno how many shorts! Seven? Let's say seven. I published probably around half a million words and have just as lofty goals this year.
So what does 2014 have in store for me? (And by extension, in store for my readers?) Most of you will be happy to know that this will be another (and probably final!) year of REN'AI RENSAI. I plan on rounding out the series with two more novels and two more spin-offs. One of those is in production right now and slated to drop at the end of February. There will be at least one short, but for the most part I think I'm done with those as I'm tapped out of ideas.
While I have the first half of 2014 pretty well thought out, I'm not sure about the second half. After book 7 of RR (currently untitled) I may go many different ways. I have a couple of "for fun" side projects related to the series I would like to round off with, but I will follow my muse at that point. There has been a non-RR lesbian romance cooking in my head since early 2012, and I am eager to write it. I plan on writing it when I finish the rounds of RR, as a segway into my next projects.
You see, for many years now I have also been a fantasy writer. I write both high fantasy and urban fantasy, with an emphasis on the urban as of late. For many of these years I have been working here and there on a large scale fantasy series that I originally intended to be my debut. But it went into the editing drawer and I've only recently started working on it again. It is my intention to have this series ready to start publishing either by the end of this year or the beginning of next. Depending on my RR schedule, that is.
For those of you who have come along on this ride with me because of my lesbian romances, I don't want to scare you off! Most conventional publishing wisdom says that you should only have one genre under each name. Well, I do have some pen names for my bread and butter projects (even though RR is very prolific... would you believe me if I told you that it's actually my creative escape?) that I adhere to this advice with, but I've had a long time to think about my "author brand." As you probably know, I am Hildred Billings. Since I was a little kid I knew I was going to be an author one day, and it was going to be as Hildred Billings, damnit. My name means a lot to me. Anything I slap my real name on is going to be straight from my heart, from the innermost creative workings of my brain. RR means a lot to me. You really have no idea. Many of the stories and the characters you have read come straight from my personal experiences, from Reina's gender dysphoria and Jun's crippling disbelief that anyone would sincerely love her, from the hurtful things Aiko has heard to even some events in Saya's past.
That's why I want to assure my readers that anything I write under this name comes straight from the parts of myself that I hold most sacred. My "author brand" is, in essence, who I am. And as a gay woman I will always be writing about my fellow women (and some men) who love each other. I hesitate to say that my brand is "women who love women" because that could always change. But for the next few years at least, it is who I am!
So even though I will gradually move on to focusing more on fantasy projects (although you can't keep me away from romances, so those will definitely pop up when the mood strikes) you can rest assure that it will be with the same force as always. In CROSS//, the series I've been talking about for the past few paragraphs, "queer identity" is a huge theme. Two out of three MCs are women who desire other women and make no qualms about it. In fact, you will probably be VERY interested to know that one of those women? Is Michiko from RR. ;) (You read that right. What, you thought her weirdass backstory was just there to confuse you? Nope!) Both series take place in the same "world," so to speak, so many characters that you already love will be making appearances! (Did you know that Reina, Aiko, Yuri and Michiko were all from CROSS// originally? RR is technically a spinoff! Or is it the other way around now?)
Regardless, I have big plans for 2014. I thank each and every one of you for your support throughout 2013, and look forward to you joining me as we go through the new year. Some things will change a little, but not the things that count. ;)
Happy New Year!