Alisha Cole wanted to be a writer since she was 4 years old, dreaming about all the exciting adventures that awaited her outside her parent's 10-acre farm in Summerfield. Now, at 28, her dream has come true with publication of her first book "Onkei," a Japanese manga-style storybook.

“I fell in love with Japanese culture and love what they do with anime and manga,” Cole said. “It's like a Japanese version of comics.”

The journey, however, hasn't been easy for Cole. The book was a six-year project including the writing, design and funding. Cole took on side jobs in order to to hire an artist and, ultimately, get the book published.

“I started the book after a really terrible time in my life,” she said. “I had just broken off a major relationship, and I felt lost. I didn't know who I was anymore. Then it was like this voice just said, ‘you're a writer.' And from that moment on I was determined to make it happen.”

Cole spent the first year writing the story before working with a designer, a task that took about five years. Cole directed the artist on all 215 pages of the book to ensure every scene was exactly as she saw it.

“The story just came to me in a dream,” she said. “It started with a huge disaster, like an explosion, and a boy standing on a hill.”

According to Cole, the book is about a boy named Kenji who was living as a wallflower in everyone else's shadow. One day he meets some spirits and receives special powers to become a blessing to Japan. It is up to him to find his place in the world while saving Tokyo one adventure at a time.

“I think everyone can relate to Kenji because we have all felt like outsiders at some time,” she said. “He is the everyman in this situation. As he learns to become a hero in everyday life, we can also learn to use our gifts to help others.”

"Onkei" published in April, and Cole travels to many Comic-con and Anime conventions to promote and sell the book. It is available locally at stores in Ocala and St. Petersburg, and Cole in negotiations to add it to Barnes and Noble's lineup. The book can also be purchased on Amazon for $10.

Cole's second book is currently at the publisher. It is a how-to guide on publishing your own book.

“So many kids want to be writers and artists but aren't sure how to get their work out there,” Cole said. “I wanted to make a simple guide on how they too can follow their dream, never give up and do it.”

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