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.
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.
Books by Cheryl Peyton
Interview with Author
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.
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.
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
This Saturday, June 23, from 10:00 to 4:00 p.m., 18 local authors will congregate in Raven Hall on the grounds of the Sam Houston Schoolhouse in Maryville, Tennessee, to sign and discuss their books. The public is invited to meet the authors and browse the books for purchase. Each author will appear in the outdoor pavilion to speak for a few minutes about their writings.
The authors include former AGT members, Joe Moore, writer of childrens books, and Lin Stepp, best-selling writer of Romances set in the Smoky Mountains. The current AGT members who will attend are: Bobbi Wolverton Phelps, who has written her memoirs of her International adventures; Carol McCain, author of dramatic fiction; Kenneth Johnson, writer of his work with wild animals; Jody Dyer, humorist, publicist, and teacher, writer of fiction and non-fiction; Denise Sherriff, writer of a Christian inspirational book; and Cheryl Peyton, writer of mysteries and a thriller set in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.
Entry fee is $5 with free parking. Refreshments will be served in the facility.
First schoolhouse in Tennessee where future Governer Sam Houston taught before going into politics.
Five members of the Authors Guild pose in our tent at the Lavender Festival today in Jackson Square, Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Temperatures soaring into the 90s didn't keep down the crowds or spoil our day of sales which were up more than 90% over the Lenoir City Arts & Crafts Fair on June 2-3. Shown from left to right are: Kaye George, Cindy Leihkauff, Cheryl Peyton, Darlene Underwood and Denise Sherriff. Not pictured is Eva Wike.
The first shift of the AGT authors on Saturday, June 2 at the Lenoir City Arts & Crafts Festival.
I returned home from the Social Security office brimming with optimism. I had been treated courteously, taken seriously, and given a pathway to determine whether I was owed thousands of dollars in back retirement benefits. With my new-found hope I had to remind myself that my record still showed a zero contribution toward FICA (Federal Insurance Retirement Act) for the first four years of the 1970s when I had been employed by the Cook County Department of Public Aid. Agent Pickens’ words rang in my ears: “County departments back then commonly took deductions for a pension fund and didn’t pay into social security”. I was on a mission to find out if that was true in my case. Was it possible I was eligible for a pension?
That evening I emailed my cousin in Chicago. Pat had worked for Social Security when I was with Public Aid and for many years after until she retired. Summarizing my situation in my note, I asked if she knew anything that could be helpful, or did she have any suggestions to track down records from the long-defunct county department.
Checking my computer the next morning, I was pleased to find an email from Pat with the name of a resource she thought might be useful: the State (of Illinois) Employee’s Retirement System, referred to as SERS. Is every government agency known by an acronym? Going to the site, I scanned down the list of thirty-plus topics along the side of the home page to start my search. I selected ‘Tier I Information’ which sounded like a good starting point. Clicking on that, I then had to choose among seven sub-headings. Selecting the first one with the word ‘benefits,’ I was confronted with a chart of mathematical calculations and formulas for various years of employment and income levels. I felt a headache coming on.
I went back to the home page and clicked on topics at random, trying to discern exactly what SERS was and who was eligible for the System. As I bounced around, I came across pictures of attractive grey-haired people, all laughing, as they walked hand-in-hand on a beach, or played with a grandchild, or even as they stared at a computer screen. From scraps of text I picked up along the way, I gleaned that SERS was an optional pension plan for civil service employees. One screen entitled ‘Legislation’ was a listing of House bills that had become laws. Clicking on some from my time and later, I noticed several had been signed off by former governors who were now cooling their heels in the state penitentiary. Were those laws still valid?
I finally decided my best bet was to go to the ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ to see if my query was even relevant. As I read through them I realized most laid out possible scenarios that might impact retired worker’s benefits; such as earning income after starting to receive a pension, or remarrying after the death of the spousal recipient. The most conscientious query had to be from the anxious retiree who wrote, “I am receiving a pension from SERS. If I die, (if?) what should be done with that month’s check?" (The entire amount would go to the estate of the deceased. Even the government isn’t that mercenary.)
I sat in the car dreading to go inside. I was overdue by ten years, so why go in now? Worse yet, I wasn’t any more prepared to be there than I had been a decade earlier. For years I had regularly passed by the neo-classical grey stone building set behind a car dealership on Kingston Pike, often thinking I should stop. Now I was parked in front of it. The two-story structure looked more like the executive offices of a corporation than a government building. Only the block letters attached to the façade gave away its bureaucratic identity: SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION.
I took a deep breath and slowly exhaled as I glanced at the bulging Pentax folder containing Social Security mailings that was on the passenger seat. Little of it was helpful, but it was all I had. I checked my watch. Almost noon. It was time to go in. I snatched up the file and shouldered my purse. Out of the car I clicked the door lock and started off towards the glass-walled entryway. Reaching into my purse I fingered my birth certificate and passport to reassure myself I could prove who I was if nothing else.
At the door, I glanced back over my shoulder to see if anyone else was coming, but there was no one around. I thought the place would be very busy on a Monday. An hour earlier I had called the agency with the foolish notion I could make an appointment to avoid the crowds. After enduring a long-winded menu of irrelevant options, I was told my wait time to speak to a human being (agent) was 45 minutes. I could make the drive in less time, so I took off. When I first pulled into the lot I cringed to see there weren’t any spaces in the first few rows. Looking more closely, I realized they were all the same two makes of cars and trucks sold by the dealership in front. Chuckling at my stupidity, I drove on and had mhy pick of parking spots.
Now, entering the building, I followed the ceramic-tiled hallway that led to a waiting area where about fifty people sat facing me. The person in charge appeared to be a security guard who was seated behind a counter on one side of the doorway. On the other side stood two machines bearing signs that read, Check In Here. A middle-aged woman was using the first one, so I went around to the second and tentatively pressed the Start button on the glass, worried that I wouldn’t have the right responses. The first screens were straightforward enough: preferred language, name, social security number. The final screen was more challenging: What is the reason for your visit? I wasn’t there to apply for any benefits, or to change my name, or to replace my social security card, or any other listed purpose. The last option was the only one that fit: Other Business. I hit that. Fortunately, I wasn’t asked for any details and the machine spat out a slip of paper with a number printed on it: O366. It seemed depressingly high.
With my ticket in hand, I surveyed the people waiting. Judging by the slumped postures and widespread use of reading materials, it looked like most of them had been there for quite a while. Several young, healthy-looking people interspersed among them had probably come along for company or as drivers. Stepping over to the security guard, I mewed, “What is the typical wait time with this many people?”
We're looking ahead to the season when we have more sales events, particularly outdoor fairs and festivals. These are great opportunies to talk to the public about our books and to enjoy one another's company. However, we need to have some rules so that these events run smoothly and everyone feels they've been treated fairly. Please take note of the following:
In order to maintain a consistent, professional look to our displays and to ensure that each participating author has a fair amount of space and equal access to customers, the Board has instituted the following protocols for all sales events, fairs, and festivals:Authors to pay the AGT Treasurer their share of event fee promptly. AGT will pay the coordinator’s share. Coordinator to secure sign-ups, make application for space, communicate with event organizers and authors, assign shifts to accommodate participants as much as possible, arrange for and oversee booth set-up, and be responsible for general management throughout event. In configuring space, preference to be given to having tables along outer edges of space with cloths pulled down in front far enough to cover storage materials underneath. Books to be delivered by or before opening of event to the coordinator in weather-proof plastic bins with lids. Bins will be used for extra books and for overnight storage, if necessary. Authors will be given a minimum of 24” in table width. Racks are suggested for expanding visibility, if desired. Authors to be trained on the use of the Square for all sales, cash and charge, and take turns acting as cashier/wrapper during shifts. All book titles and prices to be entered into tablet prior to the event, remaining unchanged throughout the sale. Authors working in the booth shall stand or sit behind the front tables. Visiting friends and family to be asked not to linger in front of the booth. Authors are to be considerate of one another in all respects, especially taking care not to interrupt one another’s conversations with customers. Authors are not to use aggressive sales tactics, such as calling out or waving to attendees walking by. Authors should promote one another’s books to the benefit of all. Authors should not be observed eating or drinking in the booth. Authors should encourage customers to leave email addresses for E-magazine.
As Mr. Carpenter explains in the introduction, his writings are based in his Christian faith. Indeed, there are scripture verses and references to his beliefs sprinkled throughout the book. However, as a non-religious person, I found encouragement and solid guidance on every page.
The author is gifted in poetically expressing his advice without sounding preachy or all-knowing. I felt like he came to many of his conclusions and recommendations after experiencing disappointments of his own. His ability to write aphorisms may have come from his father whom he quotes in several places. One favorite of his father’s pithy sayings: “Everyone is ignorant…just on different subjects.” Another: “You can’t put a forty-year old head on a sixteen-year old body. That’s why we make so many mistakes as we are growing up.”
Here are some of my favorite truths from the author in each section:
In the chapter on Faith:
“In life, we cannot help but be sad at times. This is why we must always have a blessing in our pocket that we can take out to lift us up.”
The image on the cover of this slim volume, a sullen teen-aged girl scrunching her face with one fist, her lips puffed out in a pout, represents the target audience for these life lessons. The quotes surrounding her: “I’m sooo bored,” “I’m too fat,” “I’m always being picked on,” and the hyperbolic, “This is the worst day ever!” represent the incentives for giving the advice.
On each of the 122 pages is an original maxim the author has written to his daughter to help her be successful in life and achieve personal growth. While some of them speak to specific teenage concerns like popularity and standing up to bullies, I marked my copy with over a dozen post-it arrows on advice that spoke to me. Here are a few examples:
“You are here now. What you do today will determine where you will be tomorrow.”
“Allowing someone to abuse you mentally or physically is not a sign you care about them. It’s a sign you don’t care about yourself.”
“A leader is not always the one in charge. It is the one who is consistent in everything they do, no matter who is watching.”
The author’s experience counselling troubled youths has given him insights into their attitudes and behavior; it is his talent as a writer that puts the reader inside their heads. In this slim volume, we inhabit the mind of a rebellious sixteen-year old boy as he journeys through one year in an alternative high school. As in the classic novel REBECCA, we never learn the name of our first-person narrator. I think the author did this to stress the commonality of a teenager's anger and frustration in dealing with a dysfunctional home life as he searches for a better sense of self.
Each of the four chapters is titled with one of the aspects of the Medicine Wheel system of development: Mouse (small and fearful); Bear (the hibernator looks within); Eagle (looks at the big picture); and Buffalo (symbol of strength, reaches out to help others).
There are many quotes about journeys; most of them recognizing they're about positive changes in small increments. Here, too, the boy’s perceptions of himself and the world around him evolve slowly. Through the character’s internal dialogue, we understand how he first sees those around him as threatening and untrustworthy. Then, he begins to have glimpses of doubt about his own perceptions. Gradually, he makes peace with others and sees glimmers of hope that he can accomplish something positive. At the end of the school year (and the book), he recognizes he has matured enough to be of help to a new student he can see as his former self.
Reading this book is a learning experience in coming to terms with self-doubts we all have to some degree. In telling the story, the author uses natural language and realistic situations to make a compelling read. I highly recommend this book and would like to see a sequel to continue this journey.
August 2nd - Adele Roberts:
Sept. 6th - Joan Mcintee: Hints: "When you need to do your own news release".
Kelly Flemings, Community Business Deveopment Manager at Barnes and Nobel, Chattanooga, recently contacted new AGT member, Denise Sherriff, to discuss a future book signing for her book, Kairos Moments. at his store, tentatively scheduled for Saturday, March 24.
He advised Denise that he was very impressed with her book and the presentation she left for him. He has ordered copies to sell in the store.
Congratulations to Denise. We're all proud of you.
Rosemary shared a room with Millie, a pint-sized pixie from Ohio. Millie looked like an innocent child, but she was one smart cookie and was sophisticated beyond her years and life experience.
Although petite, her athletic build and feisty personality had proven her to be competent in handling whatever difficulties had come her way; but on one September night in their junior year, Millie showed her friends at Terrace House that she could protect them as well.
As Alex drove into Birmingham and followed the signs to pick up I-65, she thought back to that incident. She had been awakened in the middle of the night by the sound of someone yelling upstairs, followed by thumping sounds and a thundering of footsteps. She and her roommate Josie had sat bolt upright in their beds, shared a shocked, puzzled look, then headed for the door of their first-floor room.
Rounding the corner of the back of the staircase, they recognized Millie’s voice shouting at someone two floors up. “Get outta here, you creep! What do you think you’re doing, pervert!”
Standing on the bullnose step, they peered up into the near-darkness, without seeing anything at first. After a few moments, they made out a man careening towards them from a flight above. He held his hands protectively over his head as Millie pursued him, brandishing a closed umbrella like a rapier.
Submitting Information About your Book
This is another two-step process whereby you complete the template and Abraham publishes it on the site.
To Submit Information about your Book: (revisions or a new book)
1. Log in and click on Members Area.
2. Click on Submit Book Details
From the mid-1950s through the late 1960s, my mother worked for a Chicago-area publisher as an editor of Young-Adult Christian fiction, and as a managing editor of two trade periodicals.
When I was a young child, she would often read to me from the fiction galleys she brought home to work on. These readings were more instructional than entertaining for me as she’d edit the text as she went along. With her ubiquitous blue pencil in hand, she’d start reading and stop in mid-sentence to make emphatic proofreading marks and scribble notes in the margins. Continuing, she’d come to a passage she’d reread, and then suggest a rewording, asking for my opinion. I’d always agree with her rewrite that sounded better to me. I made more of a contribution to the dialogue of children who were supposed to be not much older than me. Mom would read a few lines of conversation, sigh audibly, put down the manuscript and look over at me. “This doesn’t sound natural,” she’d say. “Is this how your friends would say this?” I’d shake my head no, and translate the meaning into my own childish speech. She’d nod emphatically, scratch out the text, and do a rewrite in the margin she’d encircle with a bubble. Reading on, she’d sometimes point out examples of smooth phrasing and good word choices, and then stop again at a clumsy phrase she’d have to rework. With all the pauses and rewriting, I’m sure I lost track of the story, but I learned a lot about the craft of writing from these sessions.
At one point, the publishing house where my mother worked hired a younger man named John to be my mother’s assistant to help with her heavy workload. Since John didn’t have much experience, Mom had to teach him the job. She didn’t mind as she said he was nice and willing to learn.
When I started fifth grade, I transferred to a grammar school near my mother’s place of business and rode back and forth with her to work. I had to walk several blocks to my school and then walk back in the afternoon to wait for her in the reception area.
One day, as I sat waiting, she came charging out, obviously agitated, her face flushed in anger.
I listened to a Webinar last night given by "Story Merchant" Ken Atchity. I've summarized his 8 steps to sell your story to Hollywood:
1. Write a "Log-Line" which is a one or two-sentence pitch to capture the essence of your story. Ex.: "He was left behind. On Mars." for the movie The Martian with Matt Damon. This will be used in advertising to attact an audience.
2. Write up a one-page pitch that includes a description of a strong protagonist and his mission as well as your antagonist. Hollywood likes a story that is American-related, has 3 acts that are clearly defined to form a story arc, and has a strong theme.
3. Prepare a Treatment which is a short, written pitch that includes an emotional reaction to the story. Think of it as a letter to a friend describing your most exciting adventure -- written in present tense. Write only "obligatory" action, not any side activity.
4. Register your Treatment with Writers Guild of America at www.wgaregistry.org/registration. (Costs about $35)
When the members of the Golden Agers Club learn that their volunteer art instructor, Alex Trotter, is a professional tour guide, several of them urge her to arrange a river cruise down the Rhine on one of the long ships.
Concerned about physical limitations and mental confusion that beset some ot them, Alex asks her husband, Detective Arlie Tate, to come along to help out. He assumes his role will be to carry luggage and keep track of everyone on land excusions. What he couldn't have imagined is that he'll need to use his skills as a homicide detective before they're out of the first port of Amsterdam.
While Arlie pursues forensic analyses of clues, Alex uses her keen powers of observation and deductive reasoning to target suspects.
Along with discovering European treasures in old world cities on the Rhine, Alex and Arlie will uncover a dangerous and powerful murderer right on board.
Some time back I recieved an invitation to join this WordTips service for free and accepted. Since then, I have found it very useful and am recommending it to anyone who uses Word in their writing. It's a weekly brief newsletter regarding capabilities of Word that aren't well known. Subscribers write in their questions that are answered with a full, clear explanation with the Word task bar and windows on display to follow.
They're always great tips to simplify formatting and word processing (ie. typing with smart quotes instead of straight quotes).
There's no charge for this service and you can discontinue it at any time. You can also ask your own questions that will be addressed . If you'd like to try it, go to tips.net/subservices.html and sign up with your email address.
I discovered this at 6:00 a.m. this morning. Last night I was ready to throw my laptop onto the roof. I had resized my latest book file down to 8.5" x 5.5" from 9" x 6" which had thrown off my formatting: my margins were wonky, the gutter was shifting from the left side to the right side by an unseen force, the page numbers were starting over 3 times through the text. Everything I tried made it worse. After hours of frustration I gave up.
I woke up early, ready to suit up for battle. With new resolve I sat down and Googled to find answers. Somehow, after shotgun queries, I landed on CreateSpace Templates for Interiors. With a shaky finger I opened the site, fearing that I had started to hallucinate. But there it was: Templates of every imaginable size, any style book, with and without graphics. All available as free downloads. The green arrow beckoned and I clicked on it.
Voila! It looked like the set-up for a book without real text. First page: Insert your Title here. Second page: Insert your copyright here, etc., etc. I started copying and pasting my book into it. the margins straightened out, the gutters stayed on one side of each page. I still have to work out page numbers as they start on the title page, but now I feel invincible.
If you're having problems with formatting your self-published book, check out Create Space Templates for Interiors. You can save your sanity too.
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
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.