As this round and the year draws to a close, I find myself felled by a cold and in no real shape to write. It’s a state of affairs that always annoys me. I’m very much a go go go sort of woman, always looking at the next step toward my goals. I rarely take a day off, let alone several in a row. Which is why it usually takes illness to knock me on my butt once a year to make sure I get some rest. It also means I’m doing a lot of refilling of the well. Marathon watching stuff on Netflix (Monarch of the Glen, in case you were wondering) and reading. It’s an important thing that I often don’t make enough time for in my busy day-to-day life.
It’s an exercise I encourage all of you to do from time to time (minus the germ and tissue fest)—sip and gulp at things that interest and fascinate you, see what you find inspiring. When I go through these fests, I am inevitably bunnied—that is struck by new ideas that tend to multiply like rabbits. I don’t always follow through on these ideas, but it provides valuable insight into what I like to think of as my House Blend.
This is a concept I carry over from all the cooking I do. I’ve got a House Blend of spices that tends to go into all my food (salt, pepper, garlic powder), no matter what else I may use. And the same concept applies to my fiction. There are things that are always going to turn up in my work, no matter whether I’m writing contemporary romance or paranormal or something else. There will always be strong women. Women who hate asking for help. Men who intuit what it is they need and just do it without being asked. Families that are more than blood. Complicated family dynamics. These are things that I am drawn to consistently in everything I read and watch. And I regularly come up with new adaptations and variations on these things in what I watch and read because I see how someone else did it and think, “If it were mine, I’d do it this way.” And off my brain goes.
Your House Blend is very much a part of your brand. It is the YOU that goes into your stories, no matter what you’re writing about. It’s the way you can take a concept that’s been done before and make it yours. And it is the thing that your core audience consistently connects with. Knowing what your House Blend is will enable you to write stronger, more authentic to you stories.
So that’s my challenge to you over the break between this round and the next (we start back January 5th). Take a little time to consider what makes up your House Blend. Make it a habit when you’re reading or watching something new to see if you can figure out what you find so appealing and make list. Note how you’d make it different, make it yours. You never know when one of those notes will combine with the perfect storm of details to give you your next book or series.
So Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, y’all. And see you back here for Round 1 on January 5th!