Aleigha C. Israel: Hardworking Creative
Aleigha and I have been in some Facebook groups together for quite a while, so I recognized her name, but the first time I met her in person was at a writing conference in Atlanta in March 2018. We also attended a writing conference in South Carolina together last fall. She’s a great friend and a great writer, and today is also her birthday!
Tell us in one sentence what you do and why you do it.
I place a piece of my heart onto paper and share it with the world, always pointing others to Christ, faith, courage, and God’s unfailing love.
What does it mean to you to be a “hardworking creative?”
For me, it means everything. It’s how I express my feelings. It’s how I serve Christ and others. It’s my way of sharing His light. Through that creativity and ability. Whether I’m writing in my WIP, planning a blog post, or making swag for my business Literary Treasures, all of it plays such a big part in my life!
When, how, and why did you start writing?
I started writing when I was nine. A story about a princess, of course. 😉 I found a Precious Moments Easter basket on sale and fell in love with the cute journal inside. I slaved away at penning this short story and fell in love with a new world. A world where I could create anything and everything. The very fact that a blank sheet of paper could soon be filled with daring adventure, breathtaking scenes, and loveable characters, completely captured my heart. I found that writing was a way I could express myself, my emotions, my thoughts. And since then, I’ve never looked back.
What was something that surprised you with the publication process of your books—something about the process that you didn’t expect, whether good or bad?
I didn’t expect it to take so much work. Writing the story is a vital part. But it’s only the beginning! I’ve learned so much since the day I published my first novel.
I was also surprised by the fact that my story had the power to bless so many hearts. I’ve received countless emails and comments from people of all ages sharing how my stories have changed them. It’s still inspiring. I don’t think I’ll ever get to use to hearing it! Just the fact that God can take something so small as a character’s journey, and use it to touch a life. It’s precious. <3
What advice do you have for young creatives who want to do something with their work but just can’t seem to get off the ground? And more specifically, what advice do you have for writers who want to finish a book but are struggling?
Join The Young Writers Workshop, by Brett Harris and Jaquelle Crowe. (And no, I don’t get paid for saying that, haha). Seriously, it was the best thing that ever happened to me and my writing. I wouldn’t be where I am today without it. Also, pray. A lot. And seek the Lord’s will for your project. If He’s placed the story on your heart, He won’t leave you hanging. The same goes for finishing the story. This week at The Young Writers Workshop, we’re undergoing our “finish your project week.” As a Community Assistant and cheerleader, I had the privilege of writing up an encouraging post to keep these writers going. I’ve tweaked a bit of it for a more general audience. I’ll include it below, because I think a lot of young writers could benefit from reading it!
The fact that you’re gotten to this point means a lot.
It means you’re striving to accomplish one of the greatest feats. Finishing your story.
Depending on where you get your information, as much as 90% of the population wants to write a book.
Lots of them will even start writing one!
But the chances of them actually finishing the story? They’re slim.
I know this for a fact. From watching almost every one of my siblings say “I’m going to write a book!” Some of them even start writing. My brother even wrote several chapters in his story, working daily on it for weeks. I was so sure he’d finish it.
But he didn’t. None of them did.
Why? Because witting a book is hard.
As writers, especially if we’ve completed several novels, I think we underestimate the amazing accomplishments it is to type those words “the end.”
I’m praying for you, writer.
That you’ll be filled with energy and inspiration and finish your story triumphantly.
That God will give you the words to say. And that one day, you’ll look back in awe at how many lives your words have touched.
You’re about to accomplish something truly amazing. And you’re not alone. You’re in a world of young writers all about to reach the top of this exact same mountain.
That’s not just amazing.
Keep writing, writers! Together, we’re changing the world. One book at a time.
What are you writing next?
My first children’s book is almost finished! I plan to release it in the next month or so. It’s a hardback book with 15 colorful illustrations. About a brother and his little sister on an adventure to the neighbors farm. =)
I’m also 30,000 words into my newest novel. A contemporary inspirational fiction story. I haven’t talked much about it yet, but I plan to start sharing little bits here and there soon! So keep an eye on my blog and social media sites. 😉
What does a typical day in your life look like right now?
Living with a chronic illness, I rarely have a typical day, haha. Each day is filled with unique struggles and blessings. I don’t ever have a strict schedule, because I rarely can stay on track. (And it’s just added stress!)
I like To Do lists, and keeping task charts. And through the day, I’ll check off each thing as I accomplish it. Depending on the day, sometimes that means working on my writing, focusing on making products for Literary Treasures, or working on marketing, blog posts, etc. Other days that means taking a step back from writing and all things bookish, and focusing on family and downtime. Filling my inspirational well so I can pick back up the next day!
What’s the most effective way that you have advertised your book?
For me, it’s been all of the book signings at the churches our family plays at. When someone books our band, I always have a book signing at the event/church. I’ve sold most of my copies this way! And have gained tons of my readers. Also, joining Facebook groups like “Avid Readers of Christian Fiction,” has been amazing. I’ve been able to make so many new friends who have turned into readers. A big word of advice: You’re not so much looking for “people to buy your book,” than you are “making friends who would do anything and everything to support you and your stories.” The last one takes a whole lot longer, but that’s how you build your tribe. That community of readers who you love so much, and in turn, they love you!
What’s the best piece of advice anyone has ever given you regarding your writing career?
Ach! Just one?!
Probably, “A writer who’s never been rejected, is just a writer who’s never tried.”
Rejection comes in so many shapes and sizes. Not just in an email from an agent or publishing house. Lots of times in comes in the form of an email from a ranting individual who doesn’t like your books. Or from the silence of a family member when they’ve read some of your work. Or from friends, when you have writing commitments that take precedence over previous plans.
Really, rejection can sneak up on us at times. It can get overwhelming and so discouraging.
But it’s always so important to keep in mind, that if you weren’t getting rejected, you wouldn’t be trying. But because you ARE getting rejected, that means you ARE trying. So, keep trying, friend! <3
Do you currently, or have you ever, had a mentor figure to help you with writing? How important do you think it is for young writers to have someone like that?
Yes, I do! Kara Swanson and Jenny L. Cote are my writing mentors. And I couldn’t imagine life without them. Before I met Kara, I felt so lost. There was so much I didn’t understand about the writing world. And then God brought Kara along and we’ve been such great friends ever since!
I think having a mentor is one of the most important aspects for a young writer. Really, any writer, young or old.
A mentor is someone who has been in your shoes, and can help you navigate this sea of writing. Without feeling like you’re drowning!
Sometime else I like to keep in mind is, just because YOU might be searching for a mentor, it certainly doesn’t mean you can’t be a mentor to someone else! I’m a mentor to ladies with ages ranging from 12 to 58.
I need my own mentors right now more than I ever have before. But that doesn’t mean I can’t help others navigate through where I’ve already been. I would greatly encourage you to both find a mentor, and pray that God would send someone to YOU so that you can mentor them!