Excerpt from EVE OF AWAKENING
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Independent Author Profile: Alisa Hope Wagner
This Renaissance Woman is ALL IN On Self-Publishing and Self-Promotion
Independent author Alisa Hope Wagner is on a mission: To learn about as much as she can, and then share it with others through her writing. "My goal is to always be learning something new," she says. "I’ve written a book about entering and winning a bodybuilding competition, a book about winning an MMA Cage fight with a Technical Knock-Out (TKO) in little over a minute, and a book about being on reality TV shows." Her passion for health and fitness led to her getting certification in Fitness Nutrition and Personal Training, and then writing and publishing two health books, Fearlessly Fit and Fearlessly Fit at Home.
As part of her research for a new seven-book fantasy fiction saga—The Violet Moon Series—she got certified in both sailing and scuba diving. Characters who are called "wind-wielders" can sail their boats by manipulating the wind, and the "sea-breathers" have discovered a seaweed they can inhale to stay underwater for a very long time. "I can write about anything I want, and I don’t have to wait to do it. Much like my MMA fight, I wrestle with words and sometimes I knock them out quickly; but other times the words come slowly. Every book is different."
Alisa is also very much into collaboration with others. The illustrator of all of her books is comics artist Albert Morales, who she has known since high school. For the Violet Moon series, Morales created maps depicting the growing landscape of the planet of Rodesh for the beginning of each book, plus a unique illustration for each chapter." Albert also does the illustrations for my children’s books, short stories and other creative projects. His work is unique because he draws on paper, and we digitalize his art for the books. Albert and I will be attending several AnimeCons and ComicCons to sign and sell these books in 2023."
"When it comes to publishing books, a lot of my work is done alone. However, I make every effort to involve people who have the imagination and tenacity to keep up with me. I have a great team of family and friends who copy edit my books, looking for those pesky typos. To me, my books are like children. I birth them, guide them with excellence and release them into the world with marketing. What happens next is completely in God’s hands. And just like children, they can both bless and break my heart. But that will never deter me from producing them and giving them the chance to entertain, touch and transform my readers."
Alisa's writing career began in 2005, and she finished her debut novel, Eve of Awakening, in January of 2006. "I tried for a year to get it traditionally published — sending out queries and attending writers' conferences — however, I was growing my family (three babies) and homeschooling. So I put trying to get published on the back burner. I still continued to write, though, almost every night."
"Finally, I paid a publisher to publish my novel in 2013, and during that process I learned everything I could about publishing. A little over a year later, I decided to create my own publishing company, Marked Writers Publishing. In 2015, I published a whopping eight books, because I had been writing so much during my 'hidden years' at home as a full-time mom."
Since then, Alisa has written and self-published four or five books a year, is now up to 35 of her own titles, and has also been published in numerous other books and anthologies. Her children’s book series, the Butterfly Princess Books, encourage kids who have body differences to embrace their own "one-of-a-kind design." Alisa has a large red birthmark on her right hand, so Laia, the Butterfly Princess and heroine of the series, has a large red birthmark on her lavender wing.
"I do a lot of research about different cultures throughout history for my fiction books. My research gives me inspiration for my characters and people groups. I always write my fiction in third-person, so I can jump into the brains and lives of a variety of characters in their given scenes. I don't want to see everything from one point-of-view, because I want diversity of views and opinions seen through the eyes of the protagonist, antagonist, secondary characters and, sometimes, even the minor characters. However, most of my nonfiction writing is done in first-person because I want the readers to experience me and my heart."
Alisa has an office at home where she writes, but admits that she always has to clean the house before she sits down at the keyboard. Also, her schedule has become more crazy as her kids have grown into teenagers and young adults -- so she now writes in waves. "I may go a month without writing, but then I'll spend three months writing six to eight hours a day. I write extremely fast, and dialogue is my favorite aspect of writing fiction. I had a speech impediment (hoarse voice) growing up and was extremely introverted, so I loved listening to people talk and would be in awe of their confidence. I also love the challenge of writing dialogue because you have to write differently for each person depending on their design, personality, mood and season."
"I do write a brief plot and setting outline for each fiction book, but the characters always surprise me and I almost always veer away from my outline. The only time I was strict with an outline was at the end of the fourth book of the Onoma Series where I had to take down a corrupt World Government. I agonized on how to accomplish this for days, but I finally came up with an epic plot that eventually tied into the prequel novella I wrote last year that takes place fifteen years before the first book, Eve of Awakening. Even though I wrote the prequel novella, Straight to Eternity, last, I now suggest reading it first, because it will quickly hook you into wanting to read the other four books. This set of books took me seventeen years to write. I wrote the first one in 2005 (in my twenties) and finished the last one in 2022 (in my forties)."
"My goal is to write in as many genres as possible. I think a good writer can write about anything if she puts her mind to it. I even wrote a one-year devotional, entitled Slay the Day, that took me five years to complete. I’m now writing my second one-year devotional, Seize the Day. I like to switch from genre to genre, so many times when I finish a fiction book, I’ll write a non-fiction book, or edit an anthology."
She has already published seven anthologies with her co-editor, Holly Smith, featuring over 200 authors -- all part of the enLIVEn Devotional Series -- with the proceeds going to mission work around the world, including Africa and the Himalayas, and helping ministries in the United States that work alongside the human trafficked and the homeless. "These anthologies are a labor of love, but I’m honored to donate my time, my writing, my editing, my graphic designing and publishing skills to support the men and women who are caring for human life and fighting for justice."
Alisa earned an undergrad degree in English, and then her Master's Degree in Applied Linguistics, at the University of Houston. She says the linguistics studies and especially the syntax and phonetics classes, helped her create the condensed variety of English spoken by the characters in her debut dystopian novel. To expand her fan base, Alisa has a podcast and a Youtube channel, and sends out a monthly newsletter that her readers can sign up for at www.alisahopewagner.com. Plus, she's a self-taught Photoshop pro, and designs her own social media images for her Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages and for her book covers. She has also created award-winning video book trailers for her books.
"Every obstacle I face, I will find a way to learn, grow and conquer. I think that’s what makes being an indie writer and publisher so difficult, yet exhilarating. Every aspect of the creative process is up to you. Recently, I wanted to make posters for Albert to sign and sell at the fairs we attend, so I taught myself how to make Anime posters with his illustrations."
"Success to me is something totally different than what the world may say is successful. I feel successful when I don’t look at numbers. I don’t look at what’s trending. Rather, I look into myself and my own imagination and unique design and create what I want regardless of what seems popular at the time. My books have won numerous writing awards, and I ensure that Albert wins awards for his artwork and that my narrator, Trista Shaye, also wins for her work in creating my audiobooks."
"Finally, I want to stress again the importance of the podcasting, YouTubing, and interacting with my readers. Yes, these things all take time away from writing books, but I believe they are important. Readers today want to know the writer. Reading is an investment of money and time, and our society has come to a place via social media where they desire to know the face behind the book. There are so many books being published, and having an online presence helps a writer's books to rise above the rest."
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