About Saleena Karim

Saleena is a writer and publisher, best known for authoring the political biography "Secular Jinnah & Pakistan". As well as being the co-brainchild of the Visionary Fiction Alliance, she is the author of the award-winning visionary fiction novel "Systems", which is also part of the curricular reading material and the Marghdeen Learning Center, Karachi.

Is All Social Commentary Visionary Fiction?

By Saleena Karim

Science fiction has long been the genre of choice for social commentary. By breaking away from the everyday real world and presenting alternative realities, it offers a safe haven for making statements on controversial or otherwise sensitive topics. Unsurprisingly, as a speculative fiction type, sci-fi is also a favourite genre choice for the visionary fiction writer, myself included. But just as not all visionary fiction is sci-fi, not all sci-fi is VF. Even so, with both being used for social commentary, the line that distinguishes the two can occasionally seem blurred. This is exactly what happened recently when the VFA came across a writer who was promoting a kind of fiction for which she had chosen the term “visionary fiction”.

Walidah Imarisha

Writer and activist Walidah Imarisha has mainly written poetry and non-fiction, but she has co-edited the anthology Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction Stories From Social Justice Movements named after sci-fi writer Octavia E. Butler. The book is described at its website as “visionary science fiction and speculative fiction written by organizers and activists,” and elsewhere co-editor Adrienne Maree Brown describes the book as offering “a way to uncover the truths buried in the fantastical – and to inject a healthy dose of the fantastical into our search for truth”. Imarisha has also said about what she means by visionary: “If its weird and it helps us build new just worlds, that’s us.”

Parallels

When in January 2015, VFA editor Margaret Duarte first sent the VFA editorial board a link to an interview of Imarisha I was especially interested, since I spotted some key words that corresponded to my own VF, in particular justice, and systemic. (My novel Systems is about a quest to create an … Continue reading

Are Fairy Tales Turning Visionary?

Although much visionary fiction has magical and fantasy elements in common with the fairy tales of old, the two differ in some fundamental respects. The themes of the conventional fairy tale revolve about the triumph of good over evil, where the heroes are princes and princesses, or peasants who marry princes and princesses and gain a kingdom or an endless supply of gold. The villains are always jealous stepparents, or evil older siblings, or tyrannical kings and queens. At other times they are monsters, or trolls, or wolves. The latter in particular are ugly and incomprehensible, external forces, wreaking havoc on the heroes and their people, or they are cunning creatures luring some naive vulnerable character to do their bidding, reminiscent of Satan misleading Adam and Eve.

The characteristics of the heroes are equally clear-cut: the shining knight, or the prince, or the peasant who turns out to be a missing prince. They are almost exclusively male, and their relationship with the heroine is defined as “pure” or “true love”, betraying the psychological influence of mysticism that compares this form of love to Divine union. In some tales this true love is key to breaking some spell that has trapped the damsel, as is the case in our story of interest to be reviewed here shortly.

Visionary differences

Visionary fiction, like the fairy tale, is interested in the good versus evil conflict but like other modern literature, it asks what constitutes “good” and “evil” in the first place, and what might turn a good person bad. Its protagonists are frequently female, and even if they are not the lead, they are rarely damsels in distress. Love may feature as a means of defeating darkness, but it is not narrowly defined within the context of romantic or sexual love. Indeed all these can … Continue reading

The Most Important Petition You’ll Ever Sign

Note from the author

The Visionary Fiction Alliance is dedicated to fiction, but since it’s fiction with a purpose, its authors necessarily care deeply about what human beings are doing to themselves and the world in which they live. In a a sense that is unique to these writers, their stories are always rooted in something very real; and any real life issues that might stand in the way of unlocking human potential become the obvious obstacles or personified as the villains in visionary fiction.

Climate change is obviously the greatest threat to all life (not only human) on this planet, so it’s not surprising to find VF authors placing environmental themes at the heart of their stories: For example, Starhawk’s The Fifth Sacred Thing, James Cameron’s Avatar, and our very own VFA site designer Sandy Nathan’s Earth’s End trilogy, to name a few. With this in mind, below is the post that I wrote at my blog a few days ago on climate change and a related petition being made to the UN on 23 September 2014.

Please share this post and sign the petition.

The Most Important Petition You’ll Ever Sign

By Saleena Karim

We are fast reaching a crisis point that affects us all, wherever we are. It’s more important than the economy, local or international; it’s more pressing than any war; a greater threat than any government, religious group or financial giant; it matters more than anything happening in any country. It’s the biggest issue of our time, and it affects not only our generation, but future generations as well. In short, it’s a question of life and death for every single person in every single country, and in fact, for every living thing on this planet.

I’m talking, of course, about climate change.

The great tuning out

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Visionary Fiction: New Views of an Old Religion

I think that Dan Brown, Kathleen McGowan, and Kate Mosse all write visionary fiction. They have taken Christianity and given the world a new view of it. They’ve explored something we all thought we knew and made it mysterious, something that needs to be investigated and re-experienced, not just accepted at face value. Many were offended by the books, others curious, but these writers have breathed new life into something we thought was already settled.

I was raised in a small Protestant group, the Moravians, who started off as revolutionaries in the fifteenth century, but who by the mid-twentieth century had settled down to an ordinary, garden-variety church.

flowers

 

 

As a child I loved our Advent Star and the Candlelight Lovefeast on Christmas Eve, and the brass band that would wake the neighborhood for Easter Sunrise Service, but by the time I was in college, I was looking elsewhere for spiritual growth. I didn’t feel a lot of “juice” in the church’s teachings or services. No living experience of the divine. My childhood friend who was raised a Baptist in a church just down the street, but who now studies Druid nature spirituality, said her childhood church was as real and nurturing to her as plastic grass in an Easter basket.

I did find a living spirituality through Vedanta. I began to meditate, became a TM teacher, and taught meditation for a long time. Besides Vedanta, I’ve studied and practiced shamanism, Wicca, and Western metaphysics. All these provided me with an experiential connection to the divine (sometimes less, sometimes more) that I hadn’t experienced in my … Continue reading

Visionary Fiction: An Act of Love

Guest Post by Alissa Lukara

The Transformational Writers website, like the Visional Fiction Alliance, arose out of my calling to provide a place of support and exploration for writers who aim to explore the evolution of consciousness, alternative realities and write stories that make a positive difference.

I wanted to create a haven for visionary writers who were taking the deep dive into the waters of transformation by offering them one on one mentoring, a blog on transformational writing, online and local classes, and individual and group retreats.

Why? On a selfish level, I want to read more books like that.

I  also believe that we as a reading public need stories that show us how people transform –  stories that can literally shift a reader’s consciousness as they accompany the main character on a heart and soul-opening journey to embrace authentic power and dive into new and alternative realities and expanded states of awareness.  Visionary Fiction and Memoir lets readers know that we can traverse a passage through the fire of change into a new way of being and a deepened understanding of the love and spirit at our core.

One key to the transformational experience inherent in Visionary Fiction is that while the stories seem to be about extraordinary events, what happens in these books is possible, even probable. While the fantasy genre might take us to imaginary worlds, the consciousness presented in Visionary Fiction resonates for many of us as if it could occur today.

The books may not convey traditional three-dimensional “possible.” However, in the multi-dimensional world I believe we are all being called to acknowledge and embody, the spiritual and alternative realities Visionary Fiction writers convey in their stories are as real as any 3D reality.  If we’re honest, for many visionary authors, it’s … Continue reading

Revealing the Magical

MagicalToday’s post, Revealing the Magical, concludes last week’s post, The Visionary Perspective, in which I attempt to distinguish between the genres of visionary fiction and magical realism—how they differ and where they may overlap.

Magical Realism

The genre of magical realism blends the supernatural or what is typically unseen by human consciousness with the natural and familiar world by using the existence of fantasy elements in the real world. This is not done by inventing new worlds as fantasy books do, but in revealing the magical in this world.

The magical is a common and ordinary occurrence in my book, The Lioness of Brumley Hall, and harnessing these magical elements is one of its key themes. Political critique is often a main focus or subtext used to challenge the reality of established viewpoints. Cultural clashes are part of this critique. The Lioness does this by briefly highlighting the political/cultural clashes between China and Tibet and accessing the Celtic mythology of the Faerie.

Magical realism may meld the unseen and visible realities together but this does not necessarily lead to a more evolved transformative consciousness or understanding of our true reality of an integrated Universal holism.

Magical realists take for granted that we live within both worlds as an integrated reality but the focus for magical realists is to challenge existing consensual physical reality, not transcend it per se.

One of the main lesson my grandmother character teaches her grandchildren is that magic does not necessarily make one more conscious and aware which connects magical realism with the necessity of an evolving consciousness to reach a more in tune … Continue reading

Book Signings Can Be Boring So Create An Event Instead

authorevent As an author maybe you’ve been there. You sit behind a table with a stack of books in front of you and wait. That’s it; you wait. Why not liven things up a   bit?

Sponsor an event instead of a simple book signing. Think an interactive author appearance…engage your audience and connect with readers.

As long as you’re at it, why confine your event to a bookstore?  Why not approach a local hardware store, gift shop or library branch to host your event?   You can even leave some of your autographed books there on consignment.

Events can get boring too so here are 10 suggestions of things you might use to make your event more fun:

  • Make the event an event by asking another author (or two) from the area to join you and you can combine your events.
  • Don’t just read from your book tell a story about writing it or what inspired you. Share an anecdote or two about the experience.
  • Devise a quiz or contest for the audience. Test their knowledge of your subject or the contents of one of your previous books.
  • Have you considered a presentation or slideshow…maybe a video. If you have a book trailer why not present it? Talk about any upcoming events.
  • I’ve read fiction that has blended known songs into the story. Create a playlist that goes along with the novel.
  • You might write DIY or non-fiction books or even include a recipe or special treat in your story. Try a simple demo or share the results of the recipe with the audience.
  • Ask someone to interview you. Invite a friend or colleague who knows your book and writing to be … Continue reading
  • Echoes of Paradise by Deanna Kahler Is Free for Kindle, March 21-23, 2014

    Get Echoes of Paradise free on kindle here. Available from March 21-23, 2014!

    echoescover-new“The message in Echoes of Paradise is powerful, inspirational, and filled with spiritual reflection.”

     ~ Diane Donovan, Senior eBook Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

     Book Description:

     Does Love Survive Death?

     When Celeste’s one true love Connor dies, she’s left with many questions and regrets. Caught in a web of painful memories from her troubled past – and a complicated marriage to a materialistic executive – she ventures into an unknown world. What she experiences makes her more determined than ever to find out what really happens after death and what became of her lost love. Her journey takes her to places she never thought possible. But just around the corner, danger still lurks. Will she find the answers she seeks and ultimately discover the truth?

    Author Bio:Deanna Deanna Kahler is an accomplished writer and proud mom. Her work has been published in numerous corporate newsletters and magazines across the country. She began writing as a young child and enjoys the opportunity to reach others and make a difference in their lives. Echoes of Paradise is her second book. The story is close to her heart because it was inspired by some of her own experiences. Deanna holds a bachelor’s degree in communication arts from Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan, where she graduated with departmental honors. She lives with her husband and daughter in a … Continue reading

    Selling Visionary Fiction Isn’t So Different: Just Ask a Few Questions

            Guest post by Lynnette Phillips

    Lynnette Phillips

    As with anything, thinking of the whole picture slows me down, so at first I was momentarily stumped when I started to think of marketing Visionary Fiction. But     after all, I’ve been a book blogger, book marketer and author service provider for years, so I started to ask myself some basic questions and immediately I was       giving myself a mental forehead slap (as in calling yourself a fool) and got down to business.

    Question: How’s Visionary Fiction different from what I’ve been marketing?

    Answer: It isn’t different in the marketing sense of things. It’s fiction. It does, however, have several sub‑genres like paranormal, fantasy, supernatural…so start with the basics and away we go!

    Q: What do readers trust when deciding what to read?

    A: Word‑of‑mouth. Word‑of‑mouth is one of the strongest marketing tools available (and money smart, too). Readers wonder if someone else has read this book or author’s writing and enjoyed it. They look for reviews.

    How do you get these reviews? Approach book bloggers – be aware though that there is such a demand to have a book’s image and review appear on an influential site that you will want to ‘court’ the most prominent bloggers. Become a recognizable name to them.

    First do your homework: Check web analytics, look for bloggers who will review your genre or sub‑genre, check their availability—their schedule might not permit them to review another book for several months. Peruse their blog; how do they treat the books and authors they review?

    Also, engage them on Twitter (microblogs and posts have definite advantages), ask a question or … Continue reading