From the “About The Author” page in There Has To Be More Than This –
“Keith Turley is a spirited writer through his blog and e-mails. His most recent degree is from Western Washington University in the area of Elementary Education, with a focus on Children’s Literature. Many of the reflections in this book come from the period when he was completing his teacher certification. Keith is involved in many different community and church efforts to help readers and writers of all ages grow. Keith’s mission in life is to encourage others to grow in their relationship with God.”
The following interview was written and edited by Mary Michaelson for the Whatcom Writers and Publishers’ Newsletter, March 2010.
We are lucky, indeed, that we found Keith Turley… or should I say that he found us. He learned of our organization through the NW Entertainment magazine and attended his first meeting was in January, at which time he became a member. It turns out that we had actually been looking for one another..he because of a drive to meet people who could help him to publish a book of poetry and..and we because we have been searching high and low for a poet in our midst. A perfect pairing, at last!
And this month, readers of “Writers’ Block” will be treated to a whole page of Keith’s wonderful poems in “The Poet’s Corner.” He has been serious about poetry for nearly twenty years, discovering during a period of solitude that it served him well, allowing him to focus on his surroundings and to find inspiration in the wonders of nature. “Originally, all of my poems were rhyming poems, I think because that’s what we are exposed to in our childhoods. It seemed easier to write that way. Now that I am seriously looking at publishing my work, I am rewriting many of them in free verse because it seems much less restrictive.” When I asked him whether he realizes how talented he is, he seemed embarrassed and finally answered, “I don’t write to please others; I write to please myself,” then went on to say, “The hardest thing to do is to punctuate my poems. I know to pause but it’s difficult to indicate that to others through the use of punctuation.”
At his first meeting, he heard Chuck and Lindsey from Village Books talk about their new EBM (Espresso Book Machine) and knew right then that he would finally have a way to write his first book. Since the system allows only for black and white inside pages, Keith is planning to include beautiful professional black and white photos to illustrate his poems. Over the years, he has compiled a large number of poems..likely his greatest dilemma will be deciding which ones to leave out. And, of course, as a member of WWP, he will be able to sell them to the rest of us on the “Members Only” table at meetings. I can hardly wait!
Keith says that his train of thought is not such that he could even read a 360 page book, much less write one. He enjoys reading books with short chapters, especially children’s books. When he was a student at Western Washington University, earning his teaching credential (Grades K-8,) he became interested in teaching children to read and, for the past seven years, has been an active participant in The Children’s Literature Conference. He is a part-time substitute teacher, primarily 5th graders in the Bellingham School System. Keith hopes that in future meetings, he will have the opportunity to network with other poets and with writers of children’s books. He also plans to someday produce a devotional book, with short essays based upon Bible verses.
Keith was greatly influenced by two particular literature professors at WWU; Kathryn Trueblood (Creative Writing) and Nancy Johnson (Children’s Literature.) Another of his influences is Ralph Fletcher’s book, A Writer’s Notebook, Unlocking the Writer Within You. Tips from Fletcher’s book are featured in this month’s “Pen–ny, the Little Pen That Could.” Keith carries a notebook with him wherever he goes, jotting down “random thoughts”..things that catch his eye, observations about others, spontaneous poems, travel times between places and a host of other, seemingly unrelated scribbling. The point? The notebook becomes a wealth of information for some future writing project..possible names for characters, data and statistics that anchor future writing with accurate data and statistics. I mean, who knows when you may need to know exactly how long it takes to drive from point A to point B? Looking through the little notebook, there it is!
But Keith does not make a living just by teaching..he and his wife, Lori, formed their own company, IMAGINE DS (for “design studio”,) in 2005, creating and maintaining websites for more than forty clients, nationwide. They have never used paid advertising, relying entirely upon word-of-mouth referrals for their clientele. He particularly enjoys maintaining the website for The Children’s Literature Conference, bringing in well-known authors, publishers and illustrators of children’s books to talk about their craft. His business is so successful that, at the age of 43, he says that he feels as if he’s already retired. “I’m getting paid well for doing what I love, I can make my own schedule, I can travel and, as long as I have my laptop and a Wi-Fi connection, I can work and earn money from anywhere in the world.”Yes, life looks sweet to Keith Turley, and will get sweeter still when he is able to publish and sell his book of poems. We are looking forward to it, Keith!