Melissa Turner’s success as a children’s author stemmed from her love of storytelling and illustration.
“Since I was young, I would draw little doodles and notes for people,” says Turner. “I have stacks of journals with little drawings and stories of funny things that happened during the day.”
This 2003 graduate of the University of Mobile recently released her second children’s book titled “Alma Louise Plans A Picnic.”
Her first children’s book, titled “Alma Louise,” was released in November of 2013. In addition to her work as a children’s author, Turner is both founder and editor in chief of Sunshine Magazine.
Although her creativity and passion for storytelling started at an early age, Turner credits her alma mater as a steppingstone to her success.
“Being a student at the University of Mobile opened up so many creative doors for me,” Turner says. “I took lots of art and music classes simply because I loved learning from the incredibly talented teachers and students in those classrooms. I always felt free to be my quirky, artistic self. ”
Turner also gives much of the credit to her family.
“After I had kids, my doodling really got more exciting. I started telling them stories about my grandmother, Alma Louise, and decided to illustrate the stories for them so they could really get a better idea of her whimsical personality,” she says.
Turner’s grandparents were the inspiration for both her stories so far, with her grandfather Hursel (or, as Alma Lousie calls him, “Herk”) being introduced in the second book.
Turner’s stories and doodles were a huge hit with her children, and soon her husband, 2003 UMobile alumnus Charlie Turner, and parents encouraged her to publish one of the stories. She submitted the first book to multiple publishers in 2012. After a year, the book was published in November 2013 through Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
“I was almost embarrassed at first because there is nothing spectacular about my drawings or my writing,” says Turner. “But then I realized that my doodles tell a story. There are moms out there who can’t make up silly stories and draw for their kids, and my book can do that for them.”
Turner’s own Sunshine Magazine, which recently released its sixth online publication, has gathered a large following over the years.
“Our last offer had over 30,000 readers, which is so amazing to me,” says Turner. “We publish a new online issue every two or three months, and we currently have a print issue in the works.”
From its first edition in September of
2013, Sunshine Magazine has focused
on creative small businesses, artists, and
“Sunshine Magazine combines all my favorite things: people, places, pictures, and projects,” says Turner. “One of our goals is to celebrate ‘real people’ and ‘real places’ who make art, sing songs, and own businesses. Everyone talks about the same people, businesses, and places. I want to offer something different. Our little corner of the internet offers a breath of fresh air.“
As their motto says, Sunshine Magazine is all about sharing “Real places and faces from a bright perspective.”
Like her children’s books, Turner attributes her inspiration for founding Sunshine Magazine to her family’s support and encouragement.
“My husband encouraged me to start a project that would allow me to be creative without making a huge mess,” says Turner. “I’ve always had an obsession with magazines, so I did some research and contacted a few creative friends, including fellow UMobile alumna, Michelle Drashman.”
Drashman ‘02 is now a key contributor for the online magazine.
The Turners have four children: Dean (age 9), Millie (age 8), Stella Belle (age 6), and Hal (age 2). Melissa’s husband, Charlie Turner, currently serves as senior pastor at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Brunswick, GA.
“God has given Melissa unique talents and abilities,” he says. “Her work as a magazine editor and author gives her avenues to share those gifts with others.”
To find out more about Sunshine Magazine or read an issue of their bimonthly publications, visit their website at www.thesunshinemag. com. Both of Turner’s children’s books, “Alma Lousie” and “Alma Louise Plans,” are available for purchase online for $13 each at amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com.
Melissa Smith Turner ’03
Children’s Book Author,
Editor in Chief, Sunshine Magazine