Monday, November 17, 2014

Wordcraft -- Fifty shades of the paranormal

Still looking for a character for that NaNoWriMo novel? A good guy/gal, villain, sidekick, romantic interest? May I suggest looking beyond the merely human in characters to the beyond human? Or as they say in the book biz, the paranormal.

The granddaddy of all the sentient but not exactly human characters in fiction is the vampire. I’m not trying to diss the undead. Not with Anne Rice’s latest Vampire Chronicles novel hitting the bestseller list. Again!

But there are so many more possibilities besides vampires to choose from. Witness the “What’s your choice in paranormal” panel discussion at the recent Readers & ’ritas romance writers/readers convention.

For all who believe a man’s (or woman’s) best friend is of the canine persuasion, consider the werewolf as a character. Ms. Rice herself dallied with them. And Readers & ’ritas panelist V.A. Dold,, runs with a whole pack of the werefolk, metaphorically speaking in her Le Beau Brothers series of New Orleans wolf shifter novels.

Mythological gods and goddesses have been popular fictional archetypes for years. But how about the divine real thing? Suitably updated, of course, as another R&R panelist JoAnna Grace,, does, proclaiming her Divine Chronicles “Percy Jackson and the Olympians for grownups.”

Olympian mythology, as Grace notes, is hot, and not just when you‘re writing about fire goddesses (as she does in Divine Destiny). Even at last year’s R&R, writer Sasha Summers, was promoting her Loves of Olympus series.

(Note: for writers looking to place mythologically-based short stories, consider Eternal Haunted Summer, and Pantheon Magazine, EHS accepts stories based on mythologies other than the Olympian. Pantheon accepts stories based on particular deities. See the sites for specific information.)

But why limit ourselves to classical mythology? I’m a little squeamish about converting historical religious figures to fictional characters. But many traditions abound in quasi-canonical angels, demons and saints with supernatural powers, panting to fill fictional roles.

Gay romance writer Damon Suede,, features demon incubi in his Scratch novella series. And Bengali-American writer Mina Khan,, steps into the fray with romances about Middle Eastern demons or djinns¾ that’s “genies” to Westerners. (A portion of the proceeds from Khan’s A Tale of Two Djinns novella, available on Amazon, benefits UNICEF's Schools for Asia Program.) She’s also partial to dragons, but Asian rather than European dragons, she stresses, which can be either good or evil. And which sometimes fall in love with cowboys, a subject dear to the hearts of Texans.


Did I mention NaNoWriMo early in this post? With time slipping away, I envy male writers who can cut their personal grooming time in half by simultaneously observing “No-Shave November” in recognition of cancer awareness. (The No-Shave website advocates applying its policy to women as well by “letting those legs get mangly, and skipping that waxing appointment.” With temperatures in the bundle up to your hairline 20’s, who would even notice?)

Although my word count is still lagging, I’m proud to add mine to the more than 16 million words already posted by the Dallas-Fort Worth NaNoWriMo region. And cheered by the comment at,that uploading a cover image increases my chances of meeting the 50,000 word goal. I plan to use some of the time I normally squander primping my eyebrows to search for cover fodder.

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