Fantasy Fiction or Real Life?

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Eleora – A Fantasy Fiction Book

Three seek the stone of power:
One to win her freedom.
One to exact revenge.
And one to seize control of the kingdom.

Orphaned in childhood, Mara has always done what is necessary to survive—even pledged herself to a sinister spirit named Rivka. When Mara’s sister is struck by a mysterious illness, Rivka offers Mara a choice—watch her sister die, or become a slave in exchange for the medicine needed to save her.

Mara sells herself to Zev, an old friend who shares her sordid history with Rivka. Motivated by revenge and a lust for power, Zev coerces Mara into a life of prostitution and espionage in order to find Eleora, the magical gemstone necklace guarded by the Council of Ambassadors. Trapped in a tangled web of Zev and Rivka’s schemes, Mara’s life becomes a never-ending spiral of seduction and treachery until a kind young healer on the Council unexpectedly offers her freedom. In her new life, Mara finds healing, friendship, and even love but knows she must rid herself of Rivka to be truly free.

Now Mara must choose whether to fulfill her oath and betray her new friends or double-cross Rivka and risk losing her sister forever.

Meet my friend Melissa:

Fantasy fiction or real life? Imagine wearing a robe of righteousness, squirming in the fabric, feeling totally alien. She was me - and every woman I knew.

Melissa Keaster has loved writing since she learned how to use a pen. After years of journaling, blogging, and crafting short stories for her own entertainment, she decided to write a novel. It was terrible, but she didn’t let that discourage her.

In 2012, Melissa became very ill with an allergic disease called mast cell activation syndrome, which caused a wide range of symptoms including regular episodes of anaphylactic shock.

Fantasy fiction or real life? Imagine wearing a robe of righteousness, squirming in the fabric, feeling totally alien. She was me - and every woman I knew.When she could no longer safely leave her home even while wearing a mask, she became a shut-in. During that time, she wrote and revised Eleora, much of which is a symbolic record of her personal journey. Beginning in November 2015, Melissa experienced progressive miraculous healing through prayer ministry and is now able to leave her home and eat any food she desires without reacting.

 

Melissa is a wife, mother, writer, and minister with ChristSource Personal Prayer Ministry, the healing prayer ministry that changed her life forever. She lives in Farmerville, Louisiana with her husband, Brandon (a.k.a. Superman), and her two favorite red-heads, Micah and Sara.

Summer 2013

The idea for Eleora blossomed from a picture that formed in my mind while reading an entry from Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. The entry was about a girl learning to wear a robe of righteousness. I saw her—staring into the mirror, squirming beneath the fabric, feeling completely alien in the bright, clean color.

From that picture, a fairy tale took shape. I turned out a short story about 20 handwritten pages long. But who of us learns to wear a robe of righteousness in 20 pages? The girl would need a novel to even begin.

I played with backstory I would never need for a year before working up the courage to begin the real story. But fear wasn’t my only obstacle.

For over a year, I’d been fighting for my life with an allergic condition that caused regular episodes of anaphylaxis and a long list of debilitating chronic symptoms. The summer I conceived the idea for Eleora, I nearly lost my life no less than four times. I was a shut-in, often too ill, tired, or miserable to write. A year would pass before I’d gain the physical stability needed to spend an hour or two writing every day.

Over the course of that year, I was diagnosed with mast cell activation syndrome. With the help of my natural doctor, a nutritional therapist, and the only medication I could tolerate, I grew stronger, and the severity of my reactive episodes lessened. But strength wasn’t the only tool required to write this story.

I needed experience. That year I plumbed new depths of loneliness. I made difficult choices. I learned what it was to be displaced from home. I faced the reality I could die and leave my babies behind for someone else to raise. I made mistakes and errors in judgment. I fell back into an old sin. I grieved over the death of a dear friend.

And yet I encountered God again and again and again. One day during my daily detox bath, I asked God to baptize me in His Spirit, if there was such a thing. (I wasn’t sure, but knew I wanted it if there was.) And something happened. I accessed joy—real, abiding, bubbly joy—in the midst of suffering.

I couldn’t leave my home, so God brought people to me. They sat at my kitchen table. I offered herbal tea and berry pie and listened. I learned there was suffering worse than mine. I prayed for breakthrough and witnessed miracles while waiting for my own.

Had I been spared any one thing, Eleora would be a different story, and I would be a different person. That isn’t to say that everything I experienced was good. Sickness isn’t good. Neither is suffering. Sin and death are indisputably evil. But thankfully, God is so good that though we have trouble in this world, we can take heart; He has overcome the world. Nothing can separate us from His love, and He works all things—even the ugliest of things—for good to those who love Him.

That’s the heart behind Eleora.

Summer 2014

In June 2014, I picked up a pen and put my experience to paper—as a fantasy novel—and completed a handwritten draft in six months.

I was all set to get back to work within a couple of weeks when a new symptom swiped the rug from under my feet and my husband suffered a major disappointment. These trials may seem small compared to brushes with death and living with constant pain, but they knocked what breath I had left right out of my chest. I spiraled into the deepest depression of my life.

For weeks, I couldn’t do much more than survive. I slept a lot. Fatigue settled in my limbs like iron. My mood swung from rage to exhaustion to despair with little in between. I couldn’t read my Bible. Prayer was hard. But God’s presence came and hovered over me while I lay in bed and stared up at the ceiling. He coaxed and nursed me back to the land of the living—as he did with Elijah under the broom tree.

Eventually, I could read again. I researched agrarian cultures, story craft, and sex trafficking, a subject in which I’d been interested for a while. God rocked my world and then told me to get back to writing.

My first draft was a mess. I started again from scratch, retaining only my central cast and maybe a sentence or two. Applying story structure, I discovered the magic of the second draft. Most things fell beautifully into place.

When I stumbled over a problem I didn’t know how to solve, I’d ask God what to do. Inevitably, the perfect solution would come to mind. It’s funny. Looking back, I realize these questions revived my prayer life, and the act of writing pulled me out of my pit.

Summer 2015

By the time I finished my third draft, I knew I had something lovely in my hands—a real piece of myself. But the story of Eleora doesn’t end there, and neither does mine.

Eleora was shelved for a time – for two reasons:

  • I received feedback from two important beta readers that my one novel should be two. I tried dividing it. I even wrote a complete 85k word draft. But I had no heart for that story. Again the Lord advised me, “If you don’t care about that story, chances are no one else will.” So after 15 months of rest, with the help of an A+ editor, I fixed the story I had as well as I knew how.
  • Also during the summer of 2015, God told me to seek community. Though the search was fraught with hiccups and hurdles, I obeyed and found my people. God used their prayers and ministry to heal me—spiritually, emotionally, and physically.

Summer 2016

Today, I eat what I want, go where I want, and do what I want without reactions, pain, or fear. And praise God—I don’t have to wear a mask at book signings for Eleora, my recently released book.

Fantasy fiction or real life? Imagine wearing a robe of righteousness, squirming in the fabric, feeling totally alien. She was me - and every woman I knew.

Four years and seven drafts later, I’m still learning to wear the robe of righteousness with poise and confidence, but thanks to the generosity of my King, I’ve tasted the freedom my Mara seeks so furiously in Eleora. But that’s another story for a different time. 

Spoiler alert: I plan to write that one too.

WOW! I want to read Eleora! Can you imagine discarding 7 drafts, one with 85,000 (yes, eighty-five THOUSAND!) words? Persistent, patient, disciplined, healed. What a powerful combination – and I get to count Melissa as a dear friend I’m honored to introduce to each one of you.

Melissa can be found sharing more at her website.

Eleora is available for purchase at: Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

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32 thoughts on “Fantasy Fiction or Real Life?

  1. What a great story of God’s healing power! What the enemy meant for harm, God is using for helping others! I love the visual of a detox bath. It give me such a great picture of the spiritual detox His Holy Spirit does in our lives! Thank you for sharing your story of hope!

    1. When I was sick, detox baths were a necessary part of my day. They helped with pain, fatigue, brain fog, etc. The bath tub became my prayer closet. I have fond memories of my times with God during those times. 🙂

  2. I love fantasy fiction! My dream is to write novels. But, oh, the time it takes – I keep telling myself maybe after I’m done homeschooling I will have the time to devote to actually writing a novel instead of just keeping journals about story ideas. I wish I wasn’t constantly bombarded with ideas, though, and characters and settings and so on . . . 😉

    What a journey – thanks for sharing with us at the Literacy Musing Mondays linkup.

    1. Brandi, if you have 30 minutes a day to section off, you can do it! It may take longer, but as you probably know from journaling and blogging, the daily practice of writing is what gets the job done.

      I’ll homeschool my two this upcoming year. Here’s hoping I find my stride quickly so I can section off my 30 minutes to an hour (or so) sooner rather than later.

      1. Choosing this post as my favorite for this week’s Literacy Musing Mondays linkup! It will be featured on tomorrow’s post. Thanks for sharing your journey. 🙂

        1. You’re welcome, Brandi! Thanks for sharing! I love sharing God’s love, power, and goodness with others through my story.

  3. Pingback: - SusanBMead
    1. Valerie, Thank God Melissa allowed God to work through her trials to teach her such powerful lessons. May we all learn from her experience! Hugs, Susan

  4. I’m so glad you were able to overcome all of those difficult times and get your book written. That’s quite an accomplishment! Congratulations. Thank you for linking up with us at the #HomeMattersParty this week!

  5. What an amazing story of God’s grace on Melissa’s life! I have a friend who has had a ton of mysterious allergic reactions so this post is quite concerning. Praying for the release of Melissa’s book. Praying for you today Susan. Asking God to shower you with His goodness and a deep sense of His presence.
    ~Sherry Stahl
    xoxo

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