About Denise

Welcome. Thanks for visiting.


I’m Denise. In 2014 my life fell apart in various ways. I did what all normal people do under such circumstances. I decided to sell or give away most of my possessions and hit the American highway. I called it a Quirky Vision Quest.

My original plan was to visit intentional communities (aka: communes) and maybe find one to call home. I envisioned myself feeding baby cows and spreading organic seeds… Well, it didn’t quite work out that way. A series of mishaps at my very first commune had me escaping at the break of dawn. I rolled into a Super 8, utterly disappointed, and looked at my Road Atlas. Now that my commune fantasy had crumbled, what was I going to do?

Go to Dollywood. Why not? Every misfit loves Dolly Parton, maybe because she knows how it feels not to belong (her Coat of Many Colors song), and how to find home within yourself. She’s also one hell of an entertainer! I was only a few hours away… and I desperately needed some entertainment. So I hit the highway again, wondering what I would do after Dollywood. It’s not like I had a Plan B. I only had Plan A: live happily ever after in commune.

While I was romping around the touristy town of Pigeon Forge, TN– in fact, while I was inside a theater watching Conway Twitty and Elvis impersonators, my phone buzzed away in my purse. After the show I discovered a message from a woman with a sweet voice and a wonderful sense of humor. She invited me to come on out and meet a bunch of people, maybe help with the upcoming chili fundraiser and join them for game night.

It was a simple message, warm and welcoming. And it would change the course of my life.

The next morning I packed my bags and gassed up the car. Destination: Alabama.

I’ve been there ever since.


You can read all posts about my Quirky Road Trip (newest to oldest) by clicking here.


Published Works, Interviews & Online Readings

Speaking in Tongues – Crack The Spine Anthology 2014
Layered in dark humor, “Speaking in Tongues” explores the quest for identity in the midst of chaos. Adapted from my memoir and selected by Crack the Spine (Issue 116), later selected for their Fall 2014 anthology, available on Amazon


Drugged & Imprisoned: true story of being drugged and imprisoned at a notorious Bible college in Indiana. Originally published on Religion’s Cell. For some reason this had 200+ facebook shares and I received a ton of email (and some hate mail) from folks all across the country.


Chasing Euphoria   –  UAB, Poem, Memoir, Story*

A crazy revelation in a Hallmark store leads to trouble. This piece showcases the slow and humiliating evolution from conditioned behavior into awakening. Featured in
University of Alabama, Birmingham’s journal Poem Memoir Story (PMS), vol. 11, Spring 2012.


The Dark  –   Progenitor *
In the aftermath of a suicide attempt, the narrator struggles to makes sense of the past and rebuild her life. Winner of the Writer’s Studio Creative Nonfiction Prize (2008) and published in the Progenitor, 2009.


The Middle of Nowhere   –   The SUN
“The Middle of Nowhere” was the theme for this short piece about the power of fantasy, as a troubled teen projects herself into the imagined lives of others. Featured inThe Sun, Readers Write section, September 2009.


Relinquish   –   Minerva Rising
Each year approximately 130,000 women surrender a child for adoption in the U.S. We’re rarely offered a glimpse into their deeply personal, sometimes tragic, but loving stories. This is one of those stories. Published in Minerva Rising, Issue 4, 2013.

Interview @ Talking About Suicide

I was honored to take part in an interview conducted by journalist Cara Anna for Talking about Suicide. I disclose some of my personal story for a worthy cause.

[ * ] titles with asterisk were published under my former last name, Turner