About Victor Smith

Victor E. Smith, a lifelong generalist with a diverse resume, sees himself as a scribe of the realm “in-between.” Writing largely visionary and historical fiction, he seeks to observe, absorb, and express those close encounters between the spiritual and material universes that form the unique adventure called human life. Vic is the author of The Anathemas: A Novel of Reincarnation and Restitution (2010) and Channel of the Grail (May 2016). He is a core team member of the Visionary Fiction Alliance. For further information, visit his website, victoresmith.com.

Visionary and Metaphysical Fiction: Wedding Bells?

Perhaps those nerdy BISAC categorizers knew more than they let on when they gave VF and MF a joint address in their code. To paraphrase a famous biblical injunction: “What BISAC has joined together let no writer put asunder.” Instead of arguing whether it is VF or MF, perhaps we can settle for V&M, with separate studies and/or bedrooms provided for the persnickety. Continue reading

What is NOT Visionary Fiction?

It came to mind that a backdoor approach to the key question—What is Visionary Fiction?—might yield valuable insight into this genre’s elusive definition. So let’s take a look, for a lark, at what is not visionary fiction. Continue reading

VF as a Genre: Part 4 – Populating BISAC’s VF Category

IN THE EARLIER SEGMENTS OF THIS SERIES we imparted good news (the up-and-coming BISAC system provides a high-level unique code for Visionary & Metaphysical Fiction) and bad news (authors and vendors don’t use the code often enough to make VF books easily accessible to readers). In this section I’ll follow up on the complexities of proper categorization and make some suggestions that will not handicap the individual VF author in the short run but build a robust VF collection in the near future. Continue reading

VF as a Genre: Part 3 BISAC Buy-in

(The second of a four-part series that explores a hidden root of  the problem in popularizing Visionary Fiction as a genre and proposes a nifty ready-made solution to it.)

Click link to read Part 1: The Fiction Prejudice
Click link to read Part 2: The BISAC Solution

BEFORE GETTING TOO COZY in the permanent home (Main Subject Category) and distinctive address (FIC039000 FICTION / Visionary & Metaphysical) that BISAC has provided VF, we have to assess BISAC’s current status and staying power as the standard for an industry struggling to adjust to the revolution wrought by the advent of electronic media. So, a look at a few key questions with brief answers (with links for those who want to delve more deeply).

Is BISAC Followed in Brick-and-mortar Bookstores?

A December 19, 2013 comment from Len Vlahos, who has skin in the game, provides a succinct response:

 I’m the Executive Director of BISG, and can shed some light here. BISAC Subject Codes are a voluntary industry standard. Many, if not all, large retailers use the BISAC Codes as a basis for identifying content, but then augment those codes based on their own customer intelligence. The retailers consider this augmentation to be a kind of special sauce. This is, of course, one of the challenges of voluntary standards, but we’re still pleased at how widely adopted and used BISAC codes are.

The stumbling blocks in Mr. Vlahos’s statement lie in the words voluntary and special sauce. Publishers are not always required to submit a BISAC Code for a book, and bookstores can cook BISAC codes to their taste. We will dissect these potential snafus as we proceed.

Continue reading

VF as a Genre: Part 2-The BISAC Solution

(The second of a three-part series that explores a hidden root of  the problem in popularizing Visionary Fiction as a genre and proposes a nifty ready-made solution to it.)

Click link to read Part 1: The Fiction Prejudice

Marketing Categories

Since libraries aim to retain books and bookstores to sell them, no wonder a category system that works in libraries fails vendors, at least when it comes to fiction. Booksellers have to accommodate the browsing nature of fiction buyers, and a single collection in order by author does not cut it. Their early deviations from the library norm were stopgap measures attempted intuitively by store managers: front counter displays, attractive covers facing out, wall posters, and mass media advertising.

GenreTraditionally, fiction has been separated by form (Comedy, Poetry, Novel, Short Story, Drama, etc.) or genre (Historical, Mystery, Science Fiction, Fantasy, and so forth). Shelving by form rarely serves the browsing customer; sorting by genre gets closer since it groups books of a similar nature.

Expand the genre paradigm a bit and enter a new method called Marketing Category, which places books likely to be bought by the same readers together. As Jim Henry III described: “For example, when sorting by Marketing Category one would place non-fiction about science fiction together with science fiction; and some non-fiction by authors known for their science fiction would be placed with science fiction, such as Robert Heinlein’s book about his travels around the world, Tramp Royale.”

Marketing Category, as best practice for publishers, manufacturers, suppliers, wholesalers, and retailers, evolved from the work of the Book Industry Study Group founded in … Continue reading

VF as a Genre: Part 1-The Fiction Prejudice

(The first of a three-part series that explores a hidden root of  the problem in popularizing Visionary Fiction as a genre and proposes a nifty ready-made solution to it.)

All Fiction to the Back of the Bus

If you’ve felt that writing fiction is sometimes perceived as second-class to writing non-fiction, know that the apparent prejudice is not the product of your imagination. Speaking of the endemic “disdain that the library profession has held for fiction and for fiction readers through the last century,” in her Master’s thesis in Library Science, Kerri L. Huff explains:  “The professional librarian saw fiction as ‘being unreal or nonfactual’ and not ‘worthy of serious study’. Librarians were educated to try to convert fiction readers with the ‘uplift theory’ by using the reader’s light fiction reading as a step in the way to turning them onto reading ‘classics’ or non-fiction, otherwise ‘appropriate’ literature.” Such intellectual bias would perhaps be tolerable if, on asking for the Visionary Fiction section in a library, you had only to endure being shuttled off a remote annex where, you were told, all fiction was kept. You’d expect, when you got there, to find a map, a floor plan, or at least signage separating the vast fiction collection by type or subject matter. Instead you would learn that all fiction, no matter the genre, is shelved by author name. “A public library’s adult fiction collection is seemingly organized for the convenience of the librarian and therefore, it has been assumed for the convenience of the patron,” Huff says of this arrangement.

Dewey Did It

Melvil_Dewey_1891To find the culprit for this institutionalized prejudice … Continue reading

Carl Jung and Visionary Fiction (Part 2)

To read or review “Carl Jung and Visionary Fiction, Part 1, click HERE.

“Universal in Worldview and Scope”

The VFA characterizes Visionary Fiction as “universal in worldview and scope.” The Jungian visionary novel “is not concerned with the individual even when it is written about an individual,” Keyes says. “Exploring the individual experience is a feature of Jung’s psychological literature. Visionary literature concerns itself with human existence in its entirety.”

Jung’s essay goes into considerable and worthwhile discussion on the sources of the vast and fantastic worldviews presented in great visionary works and their relationship to the personality, even sanity, of the writer. In response to reductionists who would attribute the intuitive beauty and truth of The Divine Comedy to Dante’s fevered imagination, he says: “In works of art of this nature—and we must never confuse them with the artist as a person—we cannot doubt that the vision is a genuine, primordial experience, regardless of what reason-mongers may say. The vision is not something derived or secondary, and it is not a symptom of something else. It is a true symbolic expression—that is, the expression of something existent in its own right, but imperfectly known.

I daresay that every VF writer, like the deep meditator or the seer, has entered that “zone” where she has seen things undoubtedly true. Somehow we leave our narrow selves and experience a much vaster Universe, to come back “trailing clouds of glory” to quote Wordsworth’s Intimations of Immortality, even though the experience can only be imperfectly translated into words. How many of us have reread extraordinary bits in our own works and exclaimed, “Where did that insight come from?”

Why Visionary Fiction is not “Popular”

Popular fiction, like polite conversation, simply cuts the uncomfortable or so sensationalizes it that it has nothing to … Continue reading

New RESOURCE Page Added to the VFA Site

cropped-vfa-logo1.jpgOn January 16, 2014, a new page, RESOURCES, was added to the Visionary Fiction Alliance website as part of our continuing effort to expand our information services to VF readers and writers. The list given is for starters. We intend to add categories and listings as they are received and verified. All are invited to propose new items that they would like to see added to this page.  Please submit with the form found on the Contact Us page, which can be accessed from the Contact Us button on the Main Menu. We will let you know if further information is needed for proper posting.

Categories included in the launch version of the page are:

  • Agents
  • Editors
  • Book Marketing and Publicity
  • Book Cover Design
  • Reference Works

As we expect the list to grow exponentially (we think BIG) in the coming months, plan to check it regularly for your needs as a VF writer.

THE VFA EDITORIAL STAFF

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Carl Jung and Visionary Fiction (Part 1)

Psychological Fiction versus Visionary Fiction

It may come as a shock, or at least a revelation, to Visionary Fiction readers and writers that Carl Jung, the eminent Swiss psychiatrist and psychotherapist who founded analytical psychology, defined Visionary Fiction and described it in detail in a lecture delivered in 1929, “Psychology and Literature,” included in the volume Modern Man in Search of a Soul. Rather than the narrow sub-genre it is often reduced to, Jung depicts Visionary Fiction as a super-genre that forms one of the two major divisions of artistic production: “I will call the one mode of artistic creation psychological, and the other visionary.”

To differentiate the two: “The psychological work of art always takes it materials from the vast realm of conscious human experience—from the vivid foreground of life, we might say.” What is generally called realism.

The latter [visionary] reverses all the conditions of the former [psychological]. The experience that furnishes the material for artistic expression is no longer familiar. It is a strange something that derives its existence from the hinterlands of man’s mind—that suggests the abyss of time separating us from pre-human ages, or evokes a superhuman world of contrasting light and darkness. It is a primordial experience which surpasses man’s understanding, and to which he is in danger therefore of succumbing. The value and the force of the experience are given by its enormity. It arises from timeless depths; it is foreign and cold. Many-sided, demonic and grotesque. […] The primordial experiences rend from top to bottom the curtain upon which is painted the picture of an ordered world. And allow a glimpse into the unfathomed abyss of what has not yet become. Is it a vision of other worlds, of the obscuration of the spirit, or of the beginning … Continue reading

Maria Barry, VF Publicist, Joins The Alliance

What follows is a compilation of several posts Maria Barry made to the Visionary Fiction Group blog on Goodreads.com. She agreed to our reposting them, with a few editorial liberties, here on the VFA site.

About Maria Barry

I am a publisher/publicist, part of the UK based John Hunt Publishing Ltd. My background is mind, body, spirit – nonfiction. But last year I took on the role of publicity for a number of our fiction lists, these are multi-genre lists, fantasy/SF/Romance/Historical and Visionary Fiction. I am actually based in France, but due to the way the John Hunt system works, we can be anywhere in the world as long as we have internet access. I am the longest current member of the team apart from John Hunt himself!

I am Jan Krause Green’s publicist for her book, I Call Myself Earth Girl  and she has been very successful in her initial promotion for her title. But it can be hit and miss for authors. Generally the successful authors are those that put in the most effort. But not every author knows where to start and how to keep the momentum going.

I have just joined Visionary Fiction Alliance, and would like to get as involved as possible in promoting VF as a genre. I’m looking forward to being part of this discussion. As publicist, I have to keep things current, watch out for opportunities, not just for reviewing/selling, but also to learn.

About John Hunt Imprints

For JH imprints: General fiction is Roundfire Books, which covers all genre of fiction. Cosmic Egg covers fantasy, SF, and most of those titles have an element of Visionary Fiction:  Gem’s Story, Wellsprings, Orders from Above. Then fiction creeps into some of the other imprints, in particular Soul Rocks which has Jan’s title … Continue reading