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mail@authorsguildoftn.org    +1.865.254-3054 and 865.657-9560.

  • BannerPeyton

    BannerPeyton

Cheryl was born and raised in Chicago. As a young child, she was introduced to the principles of good writing by her mother, a book editor and writer, who read to her from manuscripts, discussing with her subjects like character development, dialogue, and story arcs.

As an adult, Cheryl worked in widely diverse fields as an interior designer, a social worker, and a paralegal,getting to know people from all walks of life.

As a writer of mysteries, she has drawn from this breadth of experiences to create many unique characters and intricate plots.

Cheryl and her husband Jim retired to Loudon, Tennessee in 2003. She was inspired to write her first novel, SIX MINUTES TO MIDNIGHT, a thriller about an attack on a nuclear weapons convoy, when she learned that nearby Oak Ridge continues to be a center of the nuclear weapons industry, decades after their participation in the Manhattan Project in WWII.

Books by Cheryl Peyton

Interview with Author

How long does it take to write a book?

It takes me nine months to write a book, which, coincidentally,is the same amount of gestation time before giving birth. The analogy continues as the book takes on a life of its own as do the characters. At the end of the nine months of writing comes the most difficult part of the process when you have to prepare it for publishing and then have it released to the public as your creation. To complete the analogy, after you finally get the book published you forget the complications and frustrations and start to feel a sense of accomplishment and, finally, take pride in the result of your efforts.

Where did you get your inspiration?

I get my inspiration from actual events and real people. For my murder mysteries, I’m particularly interested in those true-life murders who have been committed by people who have been seen to be normal, even likable people who have made positive contributions to society.  Quite often the victim is the person they vowed to love and cherish. I am also fascinated by people whose minds have been damaged in childhood who develop into psychopaths and narcissists. The specific inspirations for my two books have been the experiences of friends that I have broadened into stories incorporating murderers and psychopaths. In order to make these subjects palatable, and even entertaining, I infuse my storytelling with a light tone and humor.

Who contributes to your writing?

I have an educational background in art and art history, and a work history in painting, interior design and legal assistance.  All of my experience and education has been useful in my writing.  For instance, in my first book, Six Minutes to Midnight, the conclusion included a court case.  In the mystery that I’m in the process of writing now, there are several characters from the art world and art is a factor in the mystery. 

My Latest Blogs

26 April 2017
General
Blog
Tips & Hints

Listened to a Webinar today given by Jason Schmetzer, Marketing Mgr. for Authors Learning Center. He is a writer, teacher, website designer and marketer who works with SEOs every day. Here's some of what he had to say.

I. WHAT SEO IS:

It's growing your site's visibility on the Internet by improving your ranking by search engines like Google and Bing. Your ranking is determined by the number of times people go to a site based on its relevance and popularity.

Relevance: How well does your site answer queries?

Popularity: How many people go there and how long do they stay? 

II. HOW TO ACHIEVE SEO

The key is to providie changing content that people are interested in (will query about in a search bar). This is done through blogs, How-tos, essays, articles, or give-away contests.  One example: if you're a mystery writer (ahem), you might write an essay on why a smart protagonist will do something dumb and get into trouble.

When people find your website by a query regarding a particular subject or contest, they'll get to know you, like you, and want to try one of your books. Then, they'll buy it from Amazon, another online dealer, or brick and mortar book store. They won't come to your website to buy books.

YOUR SITE IS THE MOUSETRAP; YOUR CONTENT IS THE CHEESE.  

There are more than one billion websites around the world. If you don't have a big platform as a known author, no one will find your website by your name or the title of one of your books, so you must bring in people by your content. 

It's a simple concept, but the work is hard. You must keep adding new content or the visiting will dry up. Not keeping an active website is worse than not having one. Why? Because if someone buys your book through another source, then visits your website and sees that it's out of date, it reflects poorly on you as a creator or ideas.

A group site like ours should be more successful than most individual sites because we have 35 + people to keep the content fresh. Right now, we're attracting 34% more viewers than we had been up to a month ago.  I think that's because of the additional blogs and short stories than attract viewers who then look around at our books. 

Let's work to build a better mousetrap. 

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12 April 2017
General

I listened to a marketing Webinar today given by the Authors Learning Center that I found illuminating. The lecture covered the following topics: 

1. The back cover of your book 
2. The sales sheet for buyers and industry decision-makers 
3. Your Amazon description and Author Bio 
4. Your website and social media platforms 
5. Submissions to potential reviewers, journalists and endorsers 

The presenter was Amy Collins, the President of New Shelves Books, a best-known book sales and marketing agency. Amy is a sales consultant for some of the largest book and library retailers and wholesalers in the publishing industry. In the last 20 years, Amy has sold over 40 Million books to bookstores, libraries, and chain stores for small and mid-sized publishers.

I'll hit the highlights, starting with her introduction:

Marketing is not writing the plot of your book.

Your writing must match what the receiver wants -- a reader wants to be entertained, book-buyers want to make money, Amazon marketing should be rewritten every few months to attract more readers, editors want copy to entertain readers, etc.  

Back Cover

This is your most valuable marketing space. Don't waste it on the synopsis of your book (except for a brief sentence or two) or your bio. No one cares where you live or what pets you have. (gasp!)

Instead, use previous successful books as comparisons to tell the reader why he would want to read your book ie., "John Grisham style but about teachers instead of lawyers," or "Star Wars meets Steel Magnolias." If they like what you've compared yours to, they think they'll like your book. 

Quote what others say about your book. (Send your manuscript to a well-known author to ask for an endorsement you can quote.)

For back covers and Amazon descriptions, write the way people now like to read: use headlines, plenty of white space, bullet points, and design elements. 

Ask questions to set the mood -- "Are there scams in art galleries  on cruise ships?" an ex. for one of my books.

Answering a question at the end of her talk, she advised that self-published writers should have their books printed to 5" x 8" or 5.5" x 8.5" size to look more professional, the sizes that traditional publishers use. 

If you want to know more about Ms. Collins and her tutorials, go to her website at newshelves.com, or go to AuthorsLearningCenter.com for information on more of their webinars. 

 

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08 February 2017
General
Blog

Has this ever happened to you? You reheat your coffee to just below boiling so it stays hot for a long time, sit down at your computer, open your book file and click on “Where you left off yesterday” or, worse, “Where you left off three days ago,” and type in something like this:

Chapter 14

Alex stood on the dock shading her eyes . . . No. Delete.

Alex sat in the atrium lounge nervously picking at her sweater . . . No. Delete.

Twenty minutes before the bus was due to depart . . . No. Delete.

You’ve been hit with writer’s block. You can’t find your way back into the story ─ where to set the scene and who should say what to whom to advance the plot. In my current book I’ve got 13 speaking characters. Wait. I just killed one off, so it’s 12. But still. I type and delete for a while and then notice a piece of lint on the floor and decide to vacuum the room.  

There was a cartoon on Facebook last week that showed two women sitting at a kitchen table. Woman #1 says, “I like your curtains.” Woman #2 says, “Thanks. I made them yesterday.” Woman #1 says, “Writer’s block?” Woman #2, with her face in her hands with flop sweat flying off her, answers, “It’s so bad!” 

I think when any of us are confronted with writer’s block we can find a million other things to do rather than plowing our way through it. Let’s face it, EVERYTHING IS EASIER THAN WRITING. I’ve awakened the dog to take him for a walk; emptied a scalding hot dishwasher; arranged my spices in alphabetical order. I’ve viewed videos of kittens on Facebook and watched dysfunctional guests on Dr. Phil. If I do stay with my book, I often snack too much and drink too much just to keep me sitting at the computer.

Through all this, I have learned a few truths and discovered a couple of tricks. One truth:  crappy writing is better than no writing at all. Just write something. With easy word processing available, you can go back and rewrite, move sentences, whatever. The only way to get through writer’s block is to write. Sounds counter-intuitive, but you know it’s not.  When I do just start writing something, anything, I usually find that the scene starts to develop on its own. I can see and hear my characters and just need to write it all down.

One great trick I read some time ago is this -- when you feel a scene is incomplete and you can’t move on to another, type in something like this in uppercase: ADD MORE DESCRIPTION or ADD ANECDOTE or CHECK EARLIER REFERENCE. This allows you to get past the block and move forward. 

Another trick is to read a few pages by an author whose writing you admire. This can be inspirational or it can fill you with guilt that you’re just being lazy. Either way, you're prompted to get back to work.

Sometimes I set a goal for myself with a treat at the end. If I finish this chapter I can have a glass of wine and read. (Not good for an early morning challenge.)

These are a few things I use when I exercise some discipline and don't give in to distractions. Hope they help you. If not, I’m sure your house is immaculate. I know you can eat off my floors ─ actually, you have to eat off the floor; the table is piled with research and notes.

Write on!

 

 

 

 

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