Along with past Author Spotlight featured writer A.M. Leibowitz, I met Baltimore-bred writer Turtleberry via the #writestuff TweetChat. I’m excited to have her on this week because, if her Amazon page is any indication, she is a writing machine! She’s self-published a total of seven books, including her These Women trilogy and collections of short stories. Read on about Turtleberry’s love for of fairytales, happy endings, and why writers need to find their own voice.
Hi, thanks for agreeing to this interview. In a few sentences, tell us a little about yourself.
Well, my name is Turtleberry and I am a writer of realistic fairytales. My stories are romances with a heavy dose of reality and a happy ending of sorts. Naturally, I love turtles and strawberries. I am from Baltimore, Maryland.
How long have you been writing?
I have been writing for as long as I can remember. I love creating worlds in my head. I was a quiet child who was either reading or in my own make-believe world. Once I could hold a pen and spell, there was no holding me back. I still have stories I wrote in junior high (hidden though because they are really rough).
Why did you decide to become a writer?
More like, ‘when did I realize I was a writer’. I was in high school when I found that people really enjoyed what I wrote. I think that is when I considered myself a writer.
Tell us about your last/latest project.
My feature project is a series of books called These Women. It is a series of three books that follow the lives of four women who are related either by marriage or birth. It is about family, romance, drama, friendship, and more.
Who is your ideal reader?
Anyone who loves stories about women and happy endings is my ideal reader. I like to hear feedback from everyone. I try not to write to one audience.
How do you create your characters and build your worlds? Are you a planner or a pantser?
Most of my ideas are character-driven. I think of a character with attributes that intrigue me. I also get ideas from music. I love to play ‘what if?’ games. I tend not to plan too much on paper. A lot of overthinking happens in my head. If the idea or character is strong enough, I tend to be a pantser and write until the story figures itself out. Later, I usually have to map things out to not confuse myself. I only outline if I have way too much to say and am not sure how I will fit it all in.
Who do you consider your literary influences?
Every writer I have ever read has influenced me in some way. I love Mario Puzo, Maya Angelou, Terry McMillian, Zane, Shakespeare, and many others. I learn something from everything I read. Sometimes, it is what not to do. Sometimes, it is new ways of saying things, using dialogue or descriptions.
What is the hardest thing about writing?
For me, the hardest part is when I am not writing. I try to force words to come but that never works too well. If I don’t have a story I am trying to tell, I may not write for a while. The hard part is I hate when I am not writing. I am usually miserable.
~ Anyone who loves stories about women and happy endings is my ideal reader. ~
Name three of your best writing tips.
- Write first. Edit later.
- Write the story you want to read. Don’t get too hung up on trends.
- Use your own voice. If you don’t know what it sounds like keep writing until you figure it out.
What are you working on now?
I am working on my second collection of short stories. I also have a character that wants her own novel. She is just confused and has a ton going on with her. She makes me nervous and that is why I know I really have to write this novel.
What are you currently reading?
Currently reading Balm by Dolen Perkins-Valdez. I have several books on deck. I go through them pretty fast when I can actually focus.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Keep writing. Not every story is going to be the one you want to publish or every story could be the one you want to publish. Follow your heart on that. Put the words on the page. Get some honest beta readers and a good editor to worry about the rest. Read as much as you can when you aren’t writing. Tap into other areas of creativity because that helps too. Don’t try to sound like everyone else. Let your creative voice do the talking.
Thanks for joining us today. Readers, feel free to stalk this author at the following links: