Visionary Fiction on the Genre Shelf

Visionary FictionVisionary fiction is not metaphysical fiction.

Visionary fiction is not magical realism.

Visionary fiction is not religious fiction or sci-fi or fantasy.

What will it take for traditional publishers to make room on the shelf for fiction that “speaks the language of the soul and offers a vision of humanity as we dream it could be?”

In other words, what will it take for visionary fiction to be recognized as a genre?

Mystic Tea Finds a Genre

Though I don’t have a cup of mystic tea to help me see through time, I can come up with a simple – if not easy to accomplish – answer to the above question.

For visionary fiction to be recognized as a genre, it will take:

  • Visionary writers, such as Rea Nolan Martin, with the talent, perseverance, and willingness to write stories from the heart rather than cave to the dictates of what is currently selling.
  • Contests, such as the Independent Publisher Book Awards, that recognize visionary fiction as a category and award talented VF authors like Rea Nolan Martin awards for their superior work.
  • Reviewers, such as the impressive number that gave Rea Nolan Martin’s visionary novel Mystic Tea a five-star review.

Mystic Tea on Goodreads

I was first drawn to Rea Nolan Martin’s novel by the following blurb at Goodreads:

A community of quirky, mismatched, and endearing women struggle to find meaning and purpose on a ramshackle monastery in upstate New York. Having spent their lives in service to a church that seems to no longer serve them, they are confused about their own futures and the future of the entire monastery. Led by Mike, the practical no-nonsense prioress, and Augusta, the grand ancient mystic hermit, they are joined by Gemma, a self-punishing novice, and Arielle, a firebrand jailhouse conversion who was sent there out of rehab by a “sort of angel.” The personalities, commitments, philosophies and beliefs of these and all the characters conflict and converge in ways at once perilous and enlightening. Throughout the tempestuous journey, Augusta’s magical sacred teas draw the inevitable closer and closer. Mystic Tea is a contemporary love story between young and old, franchised and disenfranchised, pedestrian and mystic. Most of all, it is a story of female empowerment as the women find the courage to confront epic challenges, creating a surprising future from the oppressive ashes of the past. It will make you smile as much as it will make you think.

Whoa. Hold it! I thought. A community of quirky, mismatched women on a ramshackle monastery in upstate New York that includes a mystic who brews magical teas and accepts a firebrand jailhouse conversion straight out of jail as a novice?

No, no, no. This didn’t sound like the nuns or convents I experienced as a youth.

The nuns I knew were more like the Sisters of the Crucifixion in the Church of Our Lady of Sorrows as portrayed in Ron Hansen’s visionary novel Mariette in Ecstasy. Whereas the sisters portrayed in Mystic Tea sounded more like the Daughters of Charity in the 1960’s television sitcom, The Flying Nun, where the said novice was a spunky and spirited surfer girl whose cornet enabled her to go airborne

Could transcendentalist fiction in line with philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson and psychiatrist Carl Jung actually be – gasp – fun?

I mean, could visionary fiction inspire AND make you laugh?

Now, this I had to see.

Mystic Tea Wins a Golden IPPY

The next thing that drew me to Mystic Tea was its cover – so clean, so appealing, so mystical – which also happened to include a Golden IPPY medallion.

 

IPPY Gold

 

And then I viewed Mystic Tea’s trailer on YouTube:

But what finally inspired me to hit “buy” were the reviews, including:

  • In a novel that’s similar in structure and tone to Toni Morrison’s Paradise (1997), Nolan Martin tells the story from the viewpoints of each main character and truly gives each her own distinct voice–not an easy feat. Readers get a beautifully fleshed-out and complete look at their likes, dislikes, fears and pasts, all of which add to the intensity of the novel’s main plotline. The story crosses all barriers of religion, and readers needn’t be Catholic or even Christian to appreciate its universal tropes. The author brings her obvious spirituality and humanity to this wonderful, relatable tale of failure, love and triumph.
  • Rea Nolan Martin crafted the most ingenious characters ever and threw them all together in one book. I don’t typically get into stories or even movies, for that matter, where there are so many different characters, each with a different tale that has to be told…because it makes me feel as if there is just too much going on in one place. Martin gave life to Gemma, Arielle, Mike, Maya, Grace and Augusta to name a few, and she did it with such ingenuity, I was blown away! As soon as I started reading page 8, which begins Gemma’s story, I knew that this was going to be an impeccable read… AND, it was, all the way through. I love “clean reads” and this one quickly shot to the top of my chart because of this. This writer is talented beyond measure and she has what a lot of us are in dire need of…a damned good EDITOR!!! (And if I find out that she is her own editor, I will bow down at her feet because even I am not worthy). I didn’t find one printed hiccup throughout this entire 357 page read (I could have missed something but I truly doubt it). The stories within made me laugh, some made me cry, others made me feel very odd emotions as I tried to, at times, wrap my mind around the journey she was taking me on {as a reader} thru them, and although I took it upon myself to sip green tea while reading the book, I wished I was being served up some of Martin’s Mystic Tea, as I know it has magical powers. How do I know this, you ask….because the book, with it’s many characters and story-lines, kept ME willfully engaged all the way through! I hope to see this book as a BOOK OF THE MONTH selection for RRBC in the very near future! Seeing an almost perfect written piece of work such as this one, might be just the thing needed to send some back to the drawing board until ours falls in line with Mystic Tea. You don’t have a copy yet? Well, what are you waiting for? Get one today!
  • A gorgeous novel about finding redemption.
  • This book will make you smile as much as it will make you think.
  • What I most appreciate about it is that it colors faith with the many shades of doubt, uncertainty, indefinably, and inexplicable hope that anyone with faith invariably experiences
  • Flawless writing, profound spirituality, balanced with a great sense of humor
  • I recommend this book to anyone who can open their heart and mind to miracles.

Visionary Fiction on the Genre Shelf

You may wonder why I shared all the steps that led to my purchase of Mystic Tea?

Well, for one, I did so to emphasize what it takes for a work of visionary fiction to gain the respect and recognition it deserves.

And for another, to make it clear that even when authors do everything right, they can’t take on the task of bringing the genre of visionary fiction into everyday sight alone. In her own words, Nolan Martin tells of some of the difficulties she has faced in this endeavor:

“The spiritual revolution of the ‘90s issued literary accounts of mystical phenomena in the form of non-fiction or memoir. Betty Eadie’s wild bestseller, Embraced by the Light, comes to mind. But the trend came and went. Since that aspect of human experience was what resonated most with me, I held onto it and incorporated it into my fiction. I was productive and satisfied. The only problem was that as fiction, it was genre-less. And void of a genre shelf, unsellable. Over the years my various agents labeled it “metaphysical fiction” or “mystical realism” in attempts to define it for publishers. But the traditional publishing world was not in the business of building new shelves. Some editors tried to convince their various committees that my book fit into the religion genre. It did not. Others tried to sell it as fantasy or magical realism. It was none of these.”

As I mentioned in a previous post, it will take a village to bring the genre of visionary fiction into the mainstream. And that’s our message here at VFA. We’re on it. And we’re in this together.


 

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About Margaret Duarte

Although warned by agents and publishers that labeling her work Visionary Fiction was the “kiss of death,” Margaret Duarte refused to concede. “In a world riddled with fear, misunderstanding, and lost hope,” she says, “I believe there are people prepared to transcend the boundaries of their five senses and open to new thoughts and ideas. The audience is ready for fiction that heals, empowers, and bridges differences.” Margaret joined forces with other visionary fiction writers to create the Visionary Fiction Alliance, a website dedicated to bringing visionary fiction into the mainstream and providing visionary fiction writers with a place to call home. In December 2015, Margaret launched BETWEEN WILL AND SURRENDER, book one of her "Enter the Between" visionary fiction series. Through her novels, which synthesize heart and mind, science and spirituality, Margaret encourages readers to activate their gifts, retire their excuses, and stand in their own authority. Margaret is a former middle school teacher and lives on a California dairy farm with her family and a herd of "happy cows," a constant reminder that the greenest pastures are closest to home.
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18 Responses to Visionary Fiction on the Genre Shelf

  1. The Tattered Cover, Denver's great independent bookstore, has a shelf for Visionary Fiction.

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  2. Excellent exposition with a stellar example of the whole process behind gaining the exposure for Visionary Fiction that it deserves: inspiration, writer, editor (even if same as writer), promoter (even if same as writer), distributor (often same as writer) and reader (may there be many and not the same as writer). All of it hard work but gradually getting easier with each author like Rea who travels the path successfully.

    And let's not forget the community aspect. We authors here at the VFA have to know that what we do to promote each other and the genre universally will return tenfold, even if not in our own book sales. That is a powerful motivation to stay in action here, and it may be the VFA's greatest success story in the long run: we not only wrote books, but we built a genre that raised human consciousness.

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    • Vic, as usual, you understand and translate perfectly what I'm trying to convey in my post, especially when you say, "We authors here at the VFA have to know that what we do to promote each other and the genre universally will return tenfold, even if not in our own book sales."

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  3. libredux says:

    Margaret, thanks for sharing your recommendation. Especially as it comes from you, I will put Mystic Tea on my reading list.

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  4. A footnote: I just learned that Mystic Tea won first place (visionary fiction) in USA 2014 Best Book Awards! Well done, Rea.

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  5. Margaret, I love your comment: "it will take a village to bring the genre of visionary fiction into the mainstream. And that’s our message here at VFA. We’re on it. And we’re in this together."

    Well said! That is the reason we created, birthed, maintain, grow, and develop the VFA! I'm so glad for the folks who I'm "in it" with, here at the VFA.

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  6. Hi Jodine. Maintaining, growing and developing together, some days harder than others, but always inching closer to our goal. VFA member support provides a sturdy platform and the engine thrust for our own bold comet-landing mission.

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  7. Amazon has a Visionary & Metaphysical fiction category which I think is pretty good. Yes, they lump them both together, but for the general public, I think that's okay.

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  8. philipparees says:

    Delighted to have found my way here, and a possible shelf for what I write. Been floundering until now so you have my grateful support.

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    • Welcome Philippa. We know exactly how it feels to have found a home for what we write. I'm looking forward to getting to know you.

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      • philipparees says:

        Thank you Margaret. I see your bookshelf does contain some non-fiction. Would there be a space there for Involution-An Odyssey? ( a sort of underpinning thesis for everything else touched on here?) You can find out more on the book's website http://involution-odyssey.com/. Having offloaded the magnum opus what now follows is fiction exploring and applying those ideas more freely.

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        • Hi Philippa. This site is dedicated to visionary fiction so adding a non-fiction work to our bookshelf may not be beneficial to you. The fiction you speak of – exploring and applying the ideas in your magnum opus more freely – sounds like it may be a perfect fit. I continue to be amazed at how many visionary fiction writers are connecting through this site. Why has it taken so long for VF writers to find a home? I say, "Welcome, welcome, welcome."

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  9. Pingback: The Delicate Balance in Visionary Fiction – by Rea Nolan Martin | Visionary Fiction Alliance

  10. Pingback: Visionary Fiction on the Genre ShelfMargaret Duarte

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