Melinda Clayton is the author of The Cedar Hollow Series, which includes novels Appalachian Justice, Return to Crutcher Mountain, and Entangled Thorns. Clayton’s fourth book in the Cedar Hollow Series, Shadow Days, is slated for publication in the fall of 2014.
Clayton also authored Blessed Are the Wholly Broken, a dark tale of tragedy and suspense, as well as the non-fiction guide Self-publishing Made Simple: A How-to Guide for the Non-tech-savvy Among Us.
In addition to writing, Clayton has an Ed.D. in Special Education Administration and is a licensed psychotherapist in the states of Florida and Colorado.
What inspires you to write?
People inspire me to write. Everyone is interesting, and everyone has a story. I try to write about ordinary people facing extraordinary circumstances, because we’ve all been there a time or two.
Tell us about your writing process.
I think about a story for months before I begin writing. Once I have a good idea of how it will unfold, I create an outline in Word that covers not only the major plot points, but also character sketches and timelines. I add to the outline as I go, because sometimes things don’t unfold exactly the way I’d originally planned.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
My characters don’t give me much choice but to listen. Sometimes a character will insist the story needs to unfold one way, and I’ll insist just as emphatically it needs to unfold another. The character always wins, because the writing just won’t come until I listen to what the character says.
What advice would you give other writers?
I have two pieces of advice for new writers. First, study the craft of writing. It’s easy to have a story idea; it’s much more difficult to make it unfold over 200-300 pages. I think that’s where a lot of new writers get stuck. Study the type of books you’d like to write so you have a good understanding of plot and character development.
The second piece of advice is to listen to your intuition. Once you enter the world of writing you’ll receive advice from every direction, much of it conflicting and confusing. There is no “right” way to do it; the process of writing is different for everyone. Listen to the advice, study it, then find what works for you, and write.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I initially went with a small publisher out of Washington. Although I’d previously had short stories and articles published, I had no experience at all with publishing a novel. After a few years with my previous publisher I felt I had gained enough of an understanding of self-publishing to give it a go. I enjoy having creative control. I like that I can change prices, descriptions, covers, etc., whenever I feel the need. There are so many resources and how-to articles, books, and blogs for self-publishers now; I’d strongly encourage anyone interested in writing a book to consider self-publishing as an option.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I think we’re in an incredibly exciting time. I think there will continue to be new options and opportunities for authors, and I’m thrilled to be a part of it all.
What do you use?
Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer, Beta Readers
What genres do you write?
southern fiction, historical fiction, drama
What formats are your books in?
Both eBook and Print