Posts tagged: visionary fiction alliance

Stepping off the Edge: A Roadmap for the Soul – Coming at you!

Are you ready to step off the edge?

Stepping off the Edge: A Roadmap for the Soul  is the new edition of my spiritual classic. Why should you be interested in Stepping off the Edge? Do you have an on-line addiction that is threatening your job, relationship, and sanity? Do you feel that you don’t know who you really are–in the big sense of  what you’re doing on the planet and in the little sense of why am I here? In Podunkwalla USA? In this skin and particular life? Have you lost something important–a spouse or kids or everything you owned? Is life a pain, or even worse, dull as sawdust? Would you like to go somewhere where you could learn something worth learning with people worth knowing?

I have just outlined what’s in my book and why it’s for you. Stepping off the Edge is a roadmap for navigating the hardest, most important journey you’ll ever make: your life. I wrote Stepping because I wanted to share what I did that facilitated my life working out. The book is a memoir, a very personal series of stories and vignettes that illustrate spiritual principles. It’s not a text book, though it does contain theoretical material. It’s not a how to book, but it does contain exercises you can use to apply concepts. Above all, it’s not a 1, 2, 3 guide to how to be spiritual. I don’t sit you down and teach you how to meditate or pray. (Some things, a person has to figure out for herself.)

My life has worked out and that’s my primary credential in writing this book. I’m sixty eight years old and an happy! That may be the most important thing. I’m happy, content, and in love with my husband of forty years. I love my work–writing for you–and live a beautiful California horse ranch surrounded by animals and people I love.

LINDENWOOD-GATES

These are the gates to the estate on which my family lived. We didn't own the whole thing, it had been subdivided years before. We had an acre of paradise.

My life wasn’t always like that. When I was eighteen, my father was brutally slain by a drunk driver. At that time, I had a charmed existence. My parents owned the tenth largest residential construction company in the USA. We lived in what is now the third most affluent town in the country. I showed horses and water skied on weekends.

Within months of my father’s death, I lived in a tiny apartment at below poverty income. I won’t talk about how that happened, but it did. My brain still thought I was upper class, Why aren’t you doing more charity work, Sandy?

I was seriously depressed for a decade after my father’s death. I didn’t know it and it didn’t slow my down; I earned two master’s degrees and part of a PhD. I was the Santa Clara County economic analyst. Big titles, big jobs, while my soul labored to keep me moving and darkness drifted just out of sight.

Angst

Darkness nipped at me

A huge breakthrough occurred when I attended one of the giant enlightenment seminars during the 1970s. One of the participants wore a blanket around her hunch shoulders. She shuddered and cried the entire weekend, a living plea for help. The seminar leader gave it to her, stripping her to her truth. He showed her and everyone else that she was identified with physical illness and in love with the attention she got as a sick person. He also helped her expose what her sick act had cost her: a husband had walked out on her; she’d lost her kids. She got it, at least then.

Some people really have sickness down. They may be "sick" all their lives, eighty five years or so

Some people really have sickness down. They may be "sick" all their lives, oh, eighty five years or so.

Someone in my life was like that. I had assumed that her “sick act” was as immutable as the fabric of the universe. A Mount Rushmore of the soul. I was also forbidden to feel/express any resentment or be anything but kind and empathetic. The seminar leader showed me that the woman’s behavior was an act, an unconscious but very powerful role that had taken over her life.  As an act and not the real her, it could be changed. I saw. Even if that person who was impacting me so much couldn’t change, I could. 

How did I get from that moment to now? It’s all in Stepping off the Edge Took thirty-nine years. I did everything from getting an MA in Marriage, Family and Child Counseling to spending thirty years with a meditation school based in India, to coaching negotiations at the Graduate School of Business at Stanford, to working on myself every way I could.  Stepping contains the fruit of my spiritual pilgrimage.

I’m pulling out the stops in getting the word out about Stepping. You can buy it as a paperback and as an eBook very soon. I’m puttin’ the message out in other ways, via Facebook albums and Pinterest boards and who knows what else I’ll think of. These new social media offer terrific ways of sharing content and giving readers a very clear look at what a book is about. Like this:

Bliss accompanies spirit. If you're thinking about studying with someone don't feel blissful around him or her, you're in the wrong place.

My intent is to get  your attention. What Stepping is about is very important: you and who you really are. Want another teaching aide? Check this out. I’m having a bunch of these “Maxim Cards” made up on key points from Stepping. The three presented here deal with the basic issue: What is spirituality? What is spiritual? I’ve got cards made up in nine other areas, ranging from What is your true identity? To How to establish a personal spiritual practice? All the way to Spiritual traps and dealing with evil.

I like things presented so everyone can understand them. Take a living person. Then look at a dead one. The difference is spirit. No spirit, no life.

One of the things about being an older person is you know you don’t have forever to do whatever you came to this earth to do. That’s one reason I’m putting the new version of Stepping off the Edge. It’s behind my push to get these materials to you. They’re beautiful, impactful teaching aides giving you jewels of spiritual exploration. What do they cost? Nothing, at the moment. I am discussing selling them with a retailer. So, download while you can. Contemplate and apply always.

How to you fully experience your spiritual nature? Contemplation–attention fixed on an object–is a very good start.

Want more than pictures? How about music, color and movement? A video! Let this run through once to buffer. It’s HD so you can watch it full screen. Enjoy!

 

Here’s where you find these Maxims from Stepping off the Edge: A Roadmap for the Soul:

Sandy Nathan/Vilasa Press on Facebook, my professional page:   My albums from Vilasa Press. All the Maxims are in there. Please “Like” my page!

Sandy Nathan/Author on Facebook, my personal page:   My albums. Lots of them. You can look through the ones on Stepping and all the rest. If we aren’t FB friends, send me a Friend request and I’ll Friend you.

My Pinterest boards are here. The Maxims have boards of their own and you’ll find lots of other interesting stuff. Feel free to borrow and repin.

All the best,   [I'm not quite sure what the Facebook badge below does. May take you somewhere where you can get to the Maxims faster. Below the badge is some info about Stepping off the Edge. What it's won in contests and so on.]

Sandy Nathan

Promote Your Page Too

The text of the second edition of Stepping isn’t much different that the first edition. I didn’t change the book very much for a bunch of reasons. Reading it again told me that nothing has changed; in fact, spiritual life has gotten much worse for many people in the last. More on-line addiction, more seeking and striving and killing one’s dear self to attain success as a commercial writer, more of everything I talked about back in 2007 when the first Stepping came out. What’s to change?

Also, not many people read or even heard of Stepping off the Edge, even though it won the most prestigious awards of my multi-award winning books. When the first Stepping was pubished, it won:

  • 2007 Benjamin Franklin Award Finalist in New Age (Spirituality/Metaphysics)
  • Bronze Medal Winner in Self Help, 2007 IPPY (Independent Press) Awards
  • National Indie Excellence Awards 2007: Finalist in THREE Categories: Autobiography/Memoir, New Age Non-Fiction & Spirituality.
  • Best Books of 2007, USA Book News, Finalist in Autobiography/Memoir

The Benjamin Franklin Awards and IPPY Awards are probably the most prestigious, largest, and oldest contests for independently produced books. This was my first book and I didn’t realize what a big deal those wins were. Now I do.

For more about the original Stepping off the Edge, check out my website.

 

Blog-hop––A Blog Tour for Readers and Lovers of Fantasy, Visionary Fiction, and Sci-fi

Sandy Nathan, Award-winning Author, and Tecolote

Are you ready for a literary journey bringing writers of my favorite genres––fantasy, visionary fiction, and sci-fi––into contact with readers of those genres? The participating authors on this hop have been given a series of questions to answer. As you read our answers, you will get a deeper look at our writing/personal processes and personalities. You’ll come to know us better.

If you comment on our posts, we can get to know you better.

To start things off, a big SHOUT  OUT to ELENI PAPANOU, who invited me to participate in this Blog Hop. (Click previous sentence to got her her blog hop page.) Eleni is a wonderful writer of Visionary and Science Fiction. You can read an excerpt of Eleni’s Unison here. You can purchase her book Unison (The Spheral) by clicking here.

Another shout out to my friends and fellow members of the Visionary Fiction Alliance. If you go to the blog you can find all sorts of information about Visionary Fiction, including definitions of the genre by different people, articles, excerpts from books. Lots. Go Visionaries!

LINKS TO BLOGS OF PARTICIPATING AUTHORS FOLLOW:  Clicking on the links below will introduce you to them, giving you new  literary and personal adventures. You may fall in love. I’ll be adding to links as the authors report in.

TUI ALLEN,  author of Ripple.Tui’s website. Tui’s blog

ALEX SUMNER, author of  How To Cast A Love Spell, a novella in the series The Demon Detective, and other stories. Alex’s Blog Post

I’LL PLUNGE IN WITH MY STORY. I’M SANDY NATHAN. I’ve got six books in print. Between them, they’ve won twenty-four national awards, and have garnered 55 or so five star reviews on Amazon. Here are my answers to the questions:

1. WHAT IS THE WORKING TITLE OF YOUR BOOK OR PROJECT?

Here we run into our first problem with standardized questions. Or maybe my first problem with standardization. I don’t fit in a box and neither does my work. It is quirky and I am quirky. OK. The working title of WHICH book or project? 

At the moment, I’m working on five or so projects. Top priority is the editing of the sequel to my multi-award winning novel, Numenon: A Tale of Mysticism & Money. Numenonis the story of the richest man in the world meeting a great Native American shaman. Numenon is the first book of the Bloodsong Series, Bloodsong 1.

Its sequel, Mogollon: A Tale of Mysticism & Mayhem, has been written in draft form since 1995. Eighteen years of pounding the keyboard. Mogollon has been the hardest project of my life, and it’s coming to a very satisfactory conclusion. Which will allow me to finish the next book in the series, which will probably be titled  Phenomenon: A Tale of Mysticism & Miracles. (The series is about mysticism  and its juxtaposition with life in the material world. Numenon was the top ranked book in mysticism on Amazon for about a year.)

My other works in progress include Assassin for the Dark Lord and Forsaken for the Witch’s Love. I just finished the draft manuscripts for these sci-fi adventure/love stories. The are ready to go to my editor. These rolled out of my brain as easily as Mogollon tore up my guts. They mark a new level of freedom of expression and incorporate characters that would make my literature-professor mentor croak. In other words, they are really fun. These books are unfortunately Bloodsong 5 & 6, so it will be a while before I spring them on you. (I’ve got to get Bloodsong 2 through 4 in print.)

My other work in progress has been working with a designer to retitle and put new covers on the three books of my sci-fi series, Earth’s End. I’ll post the new covers. They’re linked to the current books. (Interiors are the same between editions.)  Pretty cool transformation, huh? I’m working on a splashy release for the retitled books.

The Angel & the Brown-Eyed Boy
Lady Grace &  the War for a New World
The Headman & the Assassin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. WHERE DID THE IDEA FOR THE BOOK OR PROJECT(S) COME FROM?

From really rotten things happening to me.  I’ve gotten almost 100% of my inspiration from dealing with pain and loss. My brother dying tragically brought me The Angel & the Brown-Eyed Boy and the other two books of Earth’s End. My life melting down and dealing with trauma brought me the Bloodsong series.

I did write a cute kids’ book about a premature horse born on our ranch that wasn’t the fruit of disaster. Tecolote: The Little Horse That Could is adorable and won a bunch of prizes. Even this cute entrant had a heart-breaking element. The real horse, Tecolote, died of heart failure days after his book began winning awards. It was incredibly painful for all involved.  Tecolote was my personal horse.I don’t know that I’ll ever love a horse as much.

Writing is my way of holding and dealing with tragedy. It’s not all tragic and heavy, but I don’t write like a girl. My stuff is gritty. I’d give everything but Tecolote and Stepping Off the Edge, my self-help/spirituality title, an R rating if they were movies.

3. WHAT GENRE DOES IT FALL UNDER, IF ANY?

I write everything from juvenile non-fiction, to new age, to memoir, to a kind of visionary/psychological/fantasy/sci-fi. I have a very broad range of subjects. For instance, even though I am a straight old lady, my two latest manuscripts are gay-themed.

4. WHO WOULD YOU CHOOSE TO PLAY YOUR CHARACTERS IN A MOVIE?

I was invited to take part in this blog hop and given a bunch of canned questions to answer, which I did, in an offhand way, taking about two seconds for it. This morning I woke up and thought, That’s stupid. You don’t have to follow orders from a semi-anonymous list.

Something inside me said: Wake it up; make it breathe. Show them Numenon.

Do you know what the word numenon (noumenon) means? It’s the thing-in-itself, reality beyond the material world. We can never know the numenon. All we can know is what comes in through the senses. Our reality is limited to our brains’ interpretation of incoming nerve impulses. We cannot get to the world as it is.  Ever. It’s been that way since Immanuel Kant laid out the problem in 1783 with The Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysic.

The cover of Numenon is based on a Shiva Nataraj, the Dancing Shiva. Shiva is one of the Hindu trinity, the part representing destruction, but which also has a powerful creative backflow. Shiva is also the all-pervasive aspect of God, existing always and everywhere.

Numenon’s hero, Will Duane, chose the Shiva Nataraj as his corporation’s logo. Numenon is the largest and most powerful corporation in history, named after a philosophical concept most will never understand. Its icon is the face of God.

I’m sure you’re getting that we’re not talking about reality TV or game shows here. I write for grown-ups, about big issues.

Numenon is about the richest man in the world going to a spiritual retreat held by a great Native American shaman. The story could easily degenerate into a good, spiritual Natives vs. greedy, bad corporate people. It doesn’t. Both the shaman and the rich guy have closely held reasons for meeting the other, but book is essentially the Native world juxtaposed against Silicon Valley.

LET’S TALK ABOUT THE TWO CULTURES REPRESENTED IN Numenon. WE’LL START WITH SILICON VALLEY. I know most about that. I was born in San Francisco and lived in the heart of what became the Valley most of my life: Palo Alto, Cupertino, Atherton, and Woodside.

Numenon’s hero is the richest man in the world. What’s it like being around someone like that? I haven’t met Bill Gates or any of the planet’s economic luminaries. I have met my dad. He rose from a penniless immigrant to the owner to the 9th largest residential construction company in the US. People do not have that kind of success because they’re lazy or stupid,

My dad moved at as high a speed as a human being could go, dancing on a razor’s edge. He was brilliant, disciplined, and way beyond hard working. Explosive. Demanding. As inspiring as any minister.

What was it like living with him? Like having Secretariat in the kitchen. Thrilling and terrifying. My dad had the whole package: brains, guts (major WWII war hero), physical power (weight lifter, wrestler and water skier). And spiritual experiences. The heartless, soulless businessman is a myth. My dad had visions and prophetic dreams, not ones that he’d recognize as such, but he had them. I recognized them when he told me about them.

Will Duane is based somewhat on my dad, and many other men I knew and lived near in Silicon Valley.

How would cast my book if it were made into a movie? I’d put Ed Harris  in for Will Duane, CEO and founder of Numenon. Ed Harris has the intensity and intelligence, as well as acting ability, to play someone as complicated and tormented as Will Duane. I will never forget the visceral pain of Harris’s searing performance as a gay man dying of AIDs in The Hours.

Will goes to the Native retreat in a caravan of matched RVs, including his own million-dollar motor home. It’s the Numenon way. “The Best of the Best: That’s Numenon.” He brings a professional and support staff to the retreat, including a world-class chef.

Will only hires first-in-their-class MBAs (Master’s of Business Administration) from top schools for his personal staff. Those are just words. Do you know what it means to be first in your class at the Harvard Business School or the Stanford Graduate School of Business? Think Secretariat on speed.

I was in the doctoral program at Stanford’s graduate school of business once (“the year I almost got an ulcer”). One of my fellow doctoral students had been first in his Stanford MBA class before deciding to get a PhD. Really nice guy. He’ll probably take over the world one day.

That’s the kind of person I’m describing when I say Hillary Swank could play Melissa Weir, the Harvard MBA who is Will Duane’s protégé. Melissa’s achievement in school and at Numenon is astonishing. Hillary is smart, intense, and a super actress. Plus after playing in Million Dollar Baby, she could knock the bad buys into the next county, just like Melissa.

Russell Crowe would do well as Doug Saunders, Will’s hatchet man and the corporate bad boy. Doug was top of his MBA class at Stanford and has adapted to the Numenon code, which is something like, “If you can screw it, do it.”

WHAT ABOUT THE NATIVE AMERICAN SIDE?

Grandfather, the shaman who is the heart of Numenon and the whole Bloodsong Series, is impossible to cast. I’ve had the good fortune to study with two meditation masters and a tai chi master. I did this over a long time––about thirty years, all told.

What’s is being with one of these giants of humanity like? When I approached my first meditation master, my brain would bliss out when I got within ten feet from him; I couldn’t think at all. People in the meditation hall (including me) routinely had experiences similar to those in the Bible. Visions, raptures, prophetic knowledge. Love overflowing in every direction. The experiences I had in long­­––all night, sometimes––chants were so intensely pleasurable that I can imagine nothing better, including everything.

When I was writing Numenon,  I modeled Joseph Bishop––the name given to Grandfather by white people in the Indian Schools––after the spiritual masters I have known.

I apparently nailed him. One person who had studied with a Native shaman told me, “You really got the shaman. The man I studied with was exactly like that.” I’ve also had Native Americans tell me, “I want to study with Joseph Bishop.” Sorry, he doesn’t exist.

While a number of actors could portray people from  Silicon Valley, no actor could portray  Grandfather and his Power. A real shaman or spiritual master could do it, but I don’t know any that would want the job. It’s a matter of wattage.

Other Native American characters: Four thousand people attend the retreat. Many casting opportunities exist. I’ll pick a few.

Wesley Silverhorse has a small part in Numenon. His part is larger in Mogollon, Numenon’s sequel and keeps going through the rest of the Bloodsong Series. But he could have a one-line part and take over the book; he’s that spectacular.

Wesley Silverhorse is an archetype. The word “archetype” derives from the Greek and Latin, meaning  “beginning, origin” and “pattern, model, type.” An archetype is the pattern for a certain type of human being. Earth mother, seductress, child, hero, martyr, wise old man/woman, warrior, mentor, trickster, and, never to be forgotten, the devil or Satan, are archetypes.

The easiest way to explain archetypes is to tell a story. Numenon has been around in draft form since 1995, maybe ’98. The character Wesley Silverhorse popped into my mind early on. He is an archetype known as: The Babe. He’s gorgeous. As the hero, he’s also kind, and smart, empathetic,  brave, and as spiritually adept as most saints. He’s an unbeatable warrior. Because of his spiritual development, the People believe he will be Grandfather’s successor, over the shaman’s birth-grandson. He is so good looking that even old ladies like me swoon contemplating his imagined image.

Wesley Silverhorse became a fixture in my family’s life. If I was driving with my daughters and saw a fantastic looking, maybe Native, guy, I’d shout out, “Whoa! Is he Wesley?” They’d respond, “Nah, that guy back on University Ave. was better.”

A man could be “half a Wesley” or a “quarter of a Wesley.” We never got a full Wesley, but the search was fun. It was a great way to bond with my daughters. Try it with your kids.

The point being that Wesley can’t exist in the real world. Nothing is as glowing as the contents of consciousness, and Wesley is that––the construction of my subconscious. (A note about this. Archetypes can be dangerous. They are mesmerizing, and very powerful psychologically. If you find someone who looks like Wesley and toss your hubbie of thirty years in a lust-flavored rush, this is probably a mistake. By the time you figure it out, it will be too late.)

So, who would I cast as Wesley Silverhorse? I started by doing basic research, Googling Beautiful Native American Men. This search provided many tantalizing possibilities. Check it out. Everyone needs inspiration.

I quickly settled on (drumroll . . .) Rick Mora. You’ll see him all over (and pretty much all or him) on his website and the Beautiful Native American Men search. He comes about as close to the fictitious Wesley Silverhorse as I can imagine. (In the interest of scholarly investigation, I will keep looking, of course.)

The only person in the world better looking than Wesley Silverhorse is his younger brother, Benny. Rick Mora could play him, too.

Exceptionally beautiful people face a problem: objectification. Admirers turn them into collections of body parts and take away their essence. Also the “entire package” I mention above. Beautiful people have many qualities in addition to their looks: moral principles,  feelings, values, will, drive, intelligence, loyalty, love, fidelity and many other attributes.  Those who focus on looks alone miss all that.

Traditionally, women have been objectified most: Marilyn Monroe and all the Playboy centerfolds. Now men are being objectified by women. Jon Hamm (MadMen) has complained of this. Here’s an article about it (don’t be shocked.)

I’m sorry, Mr. Mora, if I have objectified you. I’d like to invite readers to check out his web site. He’s involved with a number of causes and is way more than a pretty face.

Other Native American cast members: Wes Studi could play a few parts. Do you know who he is? He’s got all the intensity of Ed Harris. Wes could play Dr. Tyler Brand, the very cool Native American professor and spirit warrior. Or Paul Running Bird, Mr. Sleaze. Tantoo Cardinal could play Leona Brand, Tyler Brand’s politician wife.

The characters go on and on––this book would be a Native American actors’ Stimulus Package if made into a film. (I’d settle for a mini-series like Game of Thrones . . .)

OH! WHAT OTHER ARCHETYPES SHOW UP? When you’re talking about ultimate good, what comes up in response? Ultimate evil. Who’s that? That good ol’ Dark Lord, Satan.  Who has a bit part in Numenon and a major part in Mogollon.

That’s it. If you want to buy the book, you can get it on Amazon as a hardback or a Kindle version. The hardback is beautiful. You can also get the hardback from me for less than half of what Amazon’s charging.

 Here’s the book on my web site, which talks about its six national awards and what reviewers and experts have said about it.

Numenon: A Tale of Mysticism & Money

5. GIVE A ONE-SENTENCE SYNOPSIS OF YOUR MANUSCRIPT OR PROJECT? Tomorrow morning, a nuclear holocaust will destroy the planet; only a 16-year-old tech genius and an exquisite visitor from another world can save it. That’s for The Angel & the Brown-Eyed Boy.

6. WILL YOUR BOOK OR STORY BE SELF-PUBLISHED OR REPRESENTED BY AN AGENCY? Internationally, my work is represented by an agent. Domestically, we own our own small press.

7.  HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU TO WRITE THE FIRST DRAFT OF YOUR MANUSCRIPT? Varies. I’ve been working on Mogollon since 1995. I wrote the first draft of The Angel & the Brown-Eyed Boy in five weeks.

8. WHAT OTHER BOOK OR STORIES WOULD YOU COMPARE TO THIS STORY? My work has been compared to that of many authors. A reviewer said that Numenon was “Bill Gates meets Don Juan.” The Earth’s End series has been compared to Stephen King’s The Stand by several reviewers. It’s also been compared to 1984. Reviewers have compared me to Orson Scott Card and Aldous Huxley. The number 26 Amazon reviewer said Lady Grace reminded him of Ray Bradbury, combined with the whimsicality of Douglas Adams. Those are great writers. If people want to compare my work to theirs, great!

9. WHO OR WHAT INSPRIED YOU TO WRITE THIS BOOK OR STORY? As noted above: terrible things  inspire my writing. My work is not all tragedy. Some of it is very funny.

10. WHAT ELSE ABOUT THE BOOK OR STORY MIGHT PIQUE THE READER’S INTEREST? I love magic. I love enchantment. I like to write characters that you’ll never forget and create worlds that you don’t want to leave.  I am a sorceress with words. And I love my readers, and my characters.

 

Sandy’s Amazon Author Page. Click here of on image.

HERE ARE LINKS TO AND DESCRIPTIONS OF SANDY’S SIX BOOKS!
They range from wild sci-fi to adorable children’s nonfiction. You’ll find something you’ll like in the list below:

  • NUMENON,  a novel about the richest man in the world meeting a great Native American shaman
  • STEPPING OFF THE EDGE, a modern day spiritual companion
  • TECOLOTE, the adorable kids’ book about a baby horse.
  • EARTH’S END––the new, three book sci-fi/fantasy/visionary series that takes you to the end of the earth, and beyond.
    The Angel & the Brown-Eyed Boy––An angelic girl shows up on the sidewalks of New York City in 2197. Or is she a girl? Jeremy Edgarton, teenage genius and revolutionary decodes the transmissions. They say the world will blow up tomorrow morning.
    Lady Grace––The radiation has cleared. A few survivors make it back to Piermont Manor to start a new life. What they face is a battle more deadly than any they’ve fought. Evolution can work for evil as well as good.
    Sam & Emily––Can love live in an echoing cement bomb shelter three hundred feet below the earth’s surface? Find out in Sam and Emily as headman Sam Baahuhd falls in love with a beautiful assassin.

 

Visionary Fiction ––What Is It & What Makes It Visionary?

The Visionary Fiction Alliance

I’m so excited! I’m part of a new writers’/readers’/fans’ group, the Visionary Fiction Alliance. I’m linked to the Alliance through the badge to the right. Large badge, you can’t miss it. Our web site is under development, but I needed to write about visionary fiction today.

One of things that excites me about the Alliance is that the members are so smart  and articulate,  as well as being interested in subjects dear to my heart. We’re going to be discussing our individual and collective views of visionary fiction very soon on our official blog.

But I got a question about one of my books today that moved me to write this brief personal examination of the genre.

To me, visionary fiction rests on a core of moral principle. St. Thomas Aquinas’ famous maxim, “Do good and avoid evil,” spells it out about as clearly as it gets. Visionary fiction contains a moral core and a belief in the ability of individuals and society to evolve in a positive fashion, overcoming evil and generally setting the world right.

Does this mean that visionary fiction is by nature a Polly-Anna-ish or The Secret-ish exercise in “Keep up a cheery front and everything will be groovy in the sweet bye and bye, if not sooner”?

Some visionary fiction fits that mold and has been very well received by readers (if not critics). This includes some of the best-known examples of the genre and I think it probably fits the experience and expectations of many readers.

But! What if you aren’t the typical reader? What if you want a message with a wallop? A message with teeth, that addresses the hard issues you face?

I’m like that. I hate anything easy, simpering, obvious, trite, and watered-down. My writing reflects my preferences. It contains violence, sexual situations, strong language, and doesn’t give away its ending until it ends. Happy endings are not guaranteed in my work. I’d give my novels an R rating if they were movies. (Though they’re way, way less violent than stuff I’ve seen on TV and in the movies. Like the TV series 24 and the smash hit book and movie, The Hunger Games.)

So what about this? Is my work visionary fiction? Should I make it sweeter or tone it down? Call it something else?

I’d like to share a story with you. I was at a meditation retreat a few years back. Some of us participants had corralled one of the monks in a hallway between meditation sessions and bombarded him with questions.

Someone asked, “Why do some people have very calm and undramatic spiritual paths, whereas other people have huge spiritual experiences and go up and down and all over the place?”

The monk answered with something like, “They’re different people and have different lives and spiritual needs. Some people live very quiet lives. They have spiritual realizations that are subtle and deep. Their spiritual experiences reflect this. They may be very profound, but they’re not showy. These people are absolutely on a spiritual path. They get what they need in quiet ways.”

On the other hand, “Some people’s spiritual experiences are huge––dramatic lights, visions, voices, feeling like the hand of God has reached down to re-orientate their lives. And more. These experiences fit the lives and personalities of the people having them. Their lives are often tumultuous. They may have had abusive or traumatic experiences to overcome.

“These are different types of spiritual experience which fit the people who have them. One isn’t better than the other.  If you have subtle experiences, you don’t have to long for a whopper. Whatever experience you have is fine. The important thing is that you live in such a way that you have the experiences.”

That was one of the most useful teachings I’ve ever gotten. I am a person who has very large spiritual experiences, usually in connection with trauma. I’ve always wanted to be one of those contained, tranquil, angelic babes that you see floating around in spiritual circles.

But it just isn’t me. Ain’t how my soul operates or my artistic vision, either. Years ago, I produced sculpture. Dynamic, emotion-filled pieces that won prizes in art shows. I longed to produce something gentle. I did, too! One piece. That was it.

When I began writing, my work was illuminated by spirit and filled with light. Also some of the nastiest bad guys and most hideous situations you’ll ever see. Jungians call that working on the dark side, and prize it. Some of my critics haven’t been so kind.

The thing is, we write what we’re given. I have lived through some situations so horrifying that I will never talk about them. Directly. My fiction is a way of working through their emotional detritus. It’s not always bright and shiny. It doesn’t seem to show humanity pointing in an upward direction.

But the moral core is there, and so is my abiding belief that at least some of us are on the good road. The road of spirit and light.

Some people need the grittier type of material I write. My work is for people who have been impacted by alcoholism, drug abuse, or mental illness. This could be their own illness, addiction, or disease or what they’ve had to face due to evil perpetrated upon them by others. My writing is not just for those lovely, blissful souls who have the smooth path, it’s also for those of us who know the other side.

It’s for those who know what can happen, and also know that the scars can be erased and the trauma overcome if you’re willing to work.

So that’s the source of my stories.

Lady Grace: A Thrilling Adventure Wrapped in the Embrace of Epic Love is FREE as a Kindle AUGUST 5 & 6, 2012

If you read this in time, my Lady Grace will be free as an Amazon Kindle on August 5th & 6th, 2012. That’s this Saturday & Sunday. Lady Grace has been called “A Modern Sci-fi Masterpiece” by Amazon top 50 reviewer J. Chambers. (If you can’t relate to my stuff as visionary, call it sci-fi!)

Glad to get to know you,

Sandy Nathan

Sandy Nathan, Award-winning Author

Sandy Nathan is the winner of twenty-two national awards for her writing. She’s won in categories from memoir, to visionary fiction, to children’s nonfiction. And more.

Sandy’s  books are: (Click link to the left for more information on each book. All links below go to Kindle sale pages.)
Sam & Emily: A Love Story from the Underground (paperback & Kindle available)
Lady Grace: A Thrilling Adventure Wrapped in the Embrace of Epic Love (paperback & Kindle available)
The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy
Numenon: A Tale of Mysticism & Money

Tecolote: The Little Horse That Could

Stepping Off the Edge: Learning & Living Spiritual Practice

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