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

  • 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

21 September 2017

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

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15 August 2017

(This is an essay I wrote for Rachel Holbrook's online literary journal that's dedicated to women's issues. She calls it The Same, tagline: "The more things change, the more they stay the same." It's URL is: https://thesame.blog/submissions)


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.

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07 July 2017
Tips & Hints

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)

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30 May 2017

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. 


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30 May 2017
Tips & Hints

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.



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28 April 2017

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. 


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26 April 2017
Tips & Hints


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? 


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12 April 2017

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.  

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08 February 2017

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.  

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