Visionary Fiction Through The Lens of Perception

If you’ve followed recent posts at VFA, you’re aware of the ongoing discussion about what distinguishes visionary fiction from other genres listed under the umbrella of speculative fiction, including sci-fi and metaphysical.

Although our internal deliberations and debates have led to some interesting revelations and “ah ha” moments, I figured it was time to invite in an outside source to shine fresh light on the enduring conundrum.

Enter publisher, writer, editor, and lecturer Hal Zina Bennett.

The Puzzle of Visionary Fiction

Visionary Fiction and The Lens of PerceptionI contacted Hal Zina Bennett because he contemplated the rise of visionary fiction as a new book category as far back as 2002, and I haven’t yet found anyone who’s come close to addressing the genre with such expertise (though he doesn’t lay claim to that distinction).

As he says in a previous post at VFA, The Puzzle of Visionary Fiction: “I think I have some understanding of spiritual non-fiction, and have written one moderately successful ‘visionary fiction’ novel, but sometimes I’m not sure I really ‘get’ visionary fiction at all.”

That post was written over a year ago, and, since the “puzzle of visionary fiction” is still missing some key pieces, I called upon—or should I say pestered?—Mr. Bennett again, hoping that during the interim he had located a few of those elusive shape-shifting dodgers.

The Lens of Perception

Visionary Fiction and The Lens of PerceptionWhat follows is Mr. Bennett’s response to my “visionary” query:

The too obvious answer to your last post/email may be that visionary fiction like beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.

Folk stories, specifically stories I’m familiar with from the Zuni and Hopi story tellers, easily mix spiritual visions, fantasy, magic, and everyday reality. Is that visionary fiction?  

Well, here’s the long explanation: A young Hopi woman, in her 20s or early 30s, I guessed, came up to … 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
  • Writing Visionary Fiction Within an Historical Setting

    Guest Post by author Leonide Martin

    Authors of Visionary Fiction encounter a special challenge when their stories take place in historical settings.  Each historic period shapes its cultures through a combination of forces, from evolution to technology and climate.  Within cultures, the unique chronicle of events, resources, worldview, and spirituality become defining forces. When cultures interact, these forces are even more complex.  Those of us who engage with historical fiction are usually driven by a passion for the culture and time period, and we want to keep our stories authentic.  We often have characters who are actual historic persons, and must learn what we can about their personalities, goals, and actions.  Inferring their underlying motives and passions may be difficult, depending on how much written information is available.

    How does an author enter the world of ancient cultures?  We can use imagination to recreate how life might have been in historic Greece, Egypt or Britain drawing from research and literature.  While documents are essential, often there are information gaps.  Authors face missing links about events or cultural practices, especially personal facts about historical people and the others who surrounded them.  It can be a real challenge to gather information about an historical person’s emotions and intentions.  We can draw inferences from documentation in historical sources about what they did – but is that enough to craft a story and flesh out a personality?

    To me, historical documents and records, and the inferences authors can draw from them, are not sufficient.  This is where the visionary process comes in.  We can use our psychic abilities to envision and enter distant worlds and unfamiliar societies.  Some call this time traveling, or undertaking a shamanic journey.  In the author’s inner experience, she or he actually visits a far-away time and place.

    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

    “Buen Camino!”

    “Buen Camino!”

    These words offer wishes of good fortune to travelers of the Camino, or ‘The Way,’ – a pilgrimage on the Compostela de Santiago trail that runs from southern France through northern Spain. A friend from my writing critique group recently invited me to trek this 500 mile path with her. I was excited and intrigued at the prospect.

    I wondered what it was about the Camino that had me so enthralled. The Camino pilgrimage is a physical challenge, but it is primarily a spiritual journey, one that thousands have traveled since medieval times. Daily hiking compels the traveler to interact with the land and its many ancient sacred sites along the way, as well as to inwardly focus on their own interior soul landscape. The pilgrimage is reminiscent of the Celtic Imram, the name given to the physical voyages and counterpart soul quests of the ancient Celtic peoples of Ireland and Britain. The Camino invitation brought back memories of one of the most important Imrams of my life – my journey to Glastonbury, England. It was a sojourn that eventually fueled the inspiration for my Goddess of the Stars and the Sea novels.

    Glastonbury, the ancient isle of Avalon, is the setting in my favorite novel, the classic The Mists of Avalon, penned by Marion Zimmer Bradley. The story tells      the Arthurian Grail legend from the feminine viewpoint of Morgaine, King Arthur’s half sister and priestess of the Goddess. Bradley’s novel has been a best      seller for many years because it touches the collective psyche of our times. Her novel characterizes the re-emergence of the … Continue reading

    Billion $ Market for Visionary Fiction?

    visionary-foresight-28034198

    I write visionary fiction.

    Unfortunately, mainstream agents and publishers do not recognize visionary fiction as a genre. In fact, they have dubbed it “the kiss of death” with the flat of their swords.

    In the past, visionary fiction was heavy on preaching and light on storytelling, so it deserved temporary banishment to the time-out corner.

    But enough is enough. The majority of today’s visionary fiction writers have mastered page-turning plot and in-depth characterization, with the bonus of writing fiction that uplifts and transforms.

    There’s a need – no, a yearning – these days for what visionary fiction has to offer.

    Need convincing?

    Let me introduce you to an organization called GATE (Global Alliance for Transformational Entertainment), “an evolving community of creative, business and technical professionals in entertainment, media, and the arts — and the interested public — who realize the vital and expanding role media and entertainment play in creating our lives, and who aspire to consciously transform those domains for the benefit of all.”

    Each year, GATE holds a public event for networking between media professionals with transformational values. GATE 2 was held on February 4, 2012 with a standing room only crowd of 2,400 at the Saban Theater in Beverly Hills. One of the featured speakers was sociologist and author of Cultural Creatives, Dr. Paul Ray.

    In the video below, Dr. Ray presents a convincing argument that transformational entertainment has a billion dollar market just waiting to be tapped.

    You are what you read, what you see, and what you hear. Where you put your attention determines … Continue reading

    The Puzzle of Visionary Fiction

    By Margaret Duarte

    Harold_Bennett_9222_Nathanael_BennettThe genre of visionary fiction leaves many people puzzled, even the experts.

    Take Hal Zina Bennett, author of more than thirty books, including: Write from the Heart, Writing Spiritual Books, Follow Your Bliss, and Spirit Circle, his own contribution to visionary fiction.

    When I asked Hal to define visionary fiction, he said, “I think I have some understanding of spiritual non-fiction, and have written one moderately successful ‘visionary fiction’ novel, but sometimes I’m not sure I really ‘get’ visionary fiction at all. I find powerful spiritual work in books that don’t at all announce themselves that way, for example, in mysteries such as Louise Penny’s The Beautiful Mystery, about the murder of a priest in a remote Canadian monastery. Most mainstream publishers I know are prejudiced against reading anything that calls itself visionary fiction, just certain it’s going to be ‘religious’ and that the author is going to sermonize. Most editors won’t even get to the first page. Whenever I present a new project to an agent or an author, I avoid such labels. My advice to writers of spiritual fiction is just call it fiction. Ten years ago, it looked like the category “spiritual fiction” was gaining traction and was going to be adopted by the publishing industry, thanks mainly to the efforts of Hampton Roads Publishing, but I would not claim that today.”

    Okay, I understand that Hal Zina Bennett is primarily an author of spiritual non-fiction, but I won’t let him off the hook that easily. In 2002, he wrote an excellent article about visionary fiction, titled … Continue reading

    Guest Post: Setting the Stage: Visionary & Metaphysical Fiction

    Karen M. Rider

    Genres

    Setting the Literary Stage for Visionary & Metaphysical Fiction

    Rapid-fire change is ongoing in the publishing industry—and it’s not just in the way books are produced, marketed and distributed. Perhaps like no other period in literary history, writers are experimenting with voice, style and format. Such literary exploration arises from both a writer’s creative urge and in response to market trends. This has led to the emergence of new genres and a shift in the way books are marketed and categorized. On physical and digital bookstore shelves,  we find books grouped as  “alternate historical fiction”, “slipstream” and “paranormal romance.” These categories may arise from official sources (e.g., the Library of Congress), publishers and sometimes from authors and readers. Rarely is there agreement and many books can be placed in more than one category. For example, novelist Alice Hoffman’s book The Story Sisters has Library of Congress designations as Fiction/Psychological fiction/Loss/Mothers & Daughters. The same book has been described as a literary magical realism (for which Hoffman is most widely known) and mystical fiction. (It even popped up under fantasy on my Goodreads profile—and this book is definitely not Fantasy.) M.J. Rose’s series of novels dealing with the quest for tools that can reveal past life memories (The Reincarnationist, The Book of Lost Fragrances) are categorized as suspense right on the cover. On Amazon, these books were once listed under both suspense and occult; now you can find them under metaphysical.

    Within a major genre, the waters in which we swim get even murkier. The sub-genres of the speculative fiction market have always … Continue reading

    Story vs Message: Striking the Balance

    Guest post by Randy Davila

    Visionary fiction authors have one of the hardest jobs as writers—to both entertain their readers and to introduce them to new metaphysical topics, which the readers may have never been exposed to before. The most successful authors, of any type of fiction, understand that the first purpose of their book must always be to entertain.

    Unfortunately, many times we see visionary fiction authors who feel so powerfully about their message that they let it become the central focus of the story, and drown the reader in metaphors, exercises, theories and unnatural dialogue all in the name of conveying their message. They have forgotten that their readers came to the fiction section of the bookstore to be entertained first and foremost. This is where the fiction author can run into the most difficulty in trying to reconcile their love of the story for the love of the message.

    We, as fiction authors, have been told time and time again to “show, don’t tell”—and your metaphysical or spiritual message is no exception to this rule. To keep the reader engaged, you must show them how your character’s negative thinking is drawing negative circumstances into his life; or leave room for the reader to intuit how the character’s dreams about the Divine Feminine correlate to her real life experiences. Showing the reader how these theories work instead of simply telling them that will help them to learn your message gracefully through the story that you are conveying. Remember, the art of great fiction is in what the author doesn’t say rather than what … Continue reading