Tag Archive for: #GayYellen

Gay Yellen: Weeding and Wording

Just found out that today is National Weed Your Garden Day, which couldn’t be more appropriate for me at the moment, though instead of culling crabgrass, I’m weeding out words.


The most common offenders I’ve dug up so far are: just, seemed, felt, but, winced, smiled, and a few other crutches a writer too often leans on.

The good news is that this exercise signals my last round of self-editing for The Body in the News, Book 3 in my Samantha Newman Mystery Series. Once this task is completed, I’ll be sending the manuscript to my publisher.

The bad news is, I’ve been so focused on finishing the new book that I completely forgot to plan a subject for this, my monthly Stiletto Gang post. So, in honor of this “national” day, let’s talk about weeds… oops, I meant words.

I was surprised when a friend commented that she thought I consciously chose to use more common language in my books than I use in my natural speech. Well, yes, and no. The characters in my books are not me, and even though I write their dialogue, the way they express themselves is their own.

When the writing is going well, I’m listening to Samantha and Carter and their supporting cast as they dictate their words to me. Older people use different words than younger adults and children do. Sticklers for facts, such as my detective, Buron Washington, are more clipped and precise when they speak. And so on, down to a new character whose vocabulary is unique unto itself.

However, the weeds in this manuscript are entirely my fault, and I must get back to yanking them out, one by one. But before I go, here’s a question:

Does the way a person speaks reveal something unique about their mood or character? How so?

Gay Yellen writes the award-winning Samantha Newman Mysteries including The Body Business, The Body Next Door, and out later this summer, The Body in the News.




by Saralyn Richard


This month, it’s my pleasure to interview fellow-Stiletto-Gang-member,
Gay Yellen, author of the Samantha Newman Mystery Series: The Body Business
and The Body Next Door. While I’ve known Gay for a very long time, I
learned a lot from this interview, and it’s fun to share these things with you.

SR:  Before we get serious, here’s a burning
question: The Body Business and The Body Next Door feature a leggy woman
wearing drop-dead gorgeous stilettos. (Way to go with subliminal advertising
for the Stiletto Gang!). Whose legs are those? Samantha Newman’s or yours?


GY:  I wish my legs were that great! Since the
titles reveal that the book is a mystery, I wanted the images to reflect the tone:
fun and a little bit sassy.


SR:  As someone who’s followed your career from
the early days in Hollywood, I’m fascinated by the cinematic nature of your
writing. How do you feel your writing has been influenced by your experiences
as an actor and director?


GY:  My training gave me an ear for authentic dialogue, scene
pacing, and character motivation, all of which helps create what I hope are
entertaining stories. And improv allowed me to think outside the box.


SR:  I enjoyed
getting to know Samantha Newman. She’s spunky and clever and totally likable.
How did Samantha’s character develop in your imagination? Is she a lot like you
or someone you know? If Samantha could change one thing about herself, what
would that be?

GY:  Samantha was orphaned
at a young age and forced to make her own way; I was lucky to have a loving
family circle. We do share a sense of justice, and like many women, hard-won
resilience. As for change, I think Samantha would prefer to live a less
complicated life.


SR:  As much as I enjoyed Samantha’s character,
the secondary characters in the series really resonated with me. What
techniques do you use to depict secondary characters in such a way as to give
them the attention they deserve? Who is your favorite secondary character and


GY:   I love all my
characters, but there’s a special fondness for Gertie, who holds a certain
likeness to my grandmother. Lizzie, the little girl that Samantha befriends in
an elevator in Book 2, simply showed up fully formed and stole my heart as I
wrote the scene.



SR:  I remember reading one of the sex scenes in The
Body Business
and thinking it was the most scintillating, but tasteful sex
scenes I’ve ever read. Are sex scenes difficult for you to write? What is your
philosophy about them?


GY:  A reviewer once complained that just when the sexy
stuff gets interesting in my books, I shut the bedroom door. To me, part of the
fun is leaving the rest to a reader’s imagination. We don’t really need an
anatomy lesson, do we?


SR:  Can you give us a hint about what Samantha
might become embroiled in next?


GY:  Sam is struggling with a new career that isn’t
turning out as hoped. She’s also a material witness to a shooting, and faces a
big decision about her relationship with Carter Chapman.


SR:  What makes Samantha and Carter Chapman a
perfect couple? What stands in the way of this?


GY:  They’re both strong-willed, and they both like to
fight for the underdog. Problem is, he keeps wanting to protect her, and she
doesn’t want his help. Stubbornness could be her undoing.


SR:  I read on your website that you are toying
with the idea of writing a historical novel set in the 16th century.
What is it about that time that draws you to that setting?


GY:  I’m fascinated by the clash of cultures in the New
World at the dawn of that century: indigenous peoples, conquistadors, the
secrecy and terror of the Inquisition. It left a legacy that’s still with us today.

Won’t you join me in celebrating Gay and her fun and sparkling books?



After a show-biz stint
in Hollywood, Gay Yellen began her professional writing career as managing
editor of Tennis Illustrated Magazine and later, of D
 in Dallas. She was the contributing editor/ghost writer
for Five Minutes to Midnight
, a New York Times New & Notable
 thriller, after which she began her own 
multi-award-winning Samantha Newman Mystery Series, which
includes The Body BusinessThe Body Next Door and
the soon-to-be released, Body in the News.

Want to know more about Gay and her books? Read
more at her 
website and Amazon


            RONE Finalist
            Pages from the Heart Finalist
            Readers’ Favorite Mystery
            Chanticleer Mystery &
Mayhem 1st Place
            Silver Falchion Finalist,
Killer Nashville
BODY IN THE NEWS – Coming in 2021


Award-winning and best-selling
author, Saralyn Richard was born with a pen in her hand and ink in her veins. A
former educator, she loves connecting with readers. Her humor- and
romance-tinged mysteries and children’s book pull back the curtain on people in
settings as diverse as elite country manor houses and disadvantaged urban high

Saralyn’s most recent release
is A MURDER OF PRINCIPAL. Look for her mystery/thriller, BAD BLOOD
in March 2022.

Visit Saralyn here, on her Amazon
here, or on

Gay Yellen: Spotlight on Saralyn Richard

It’s my pleasure to interview sister-Gangster and award-winning author Saralyn Richard today to find out more about her latest mystery, A Murder of Principal, which recently earned a Readers’ Choice Award from Killer Nashville. Way to go, Saralyn!

Before her publishing career, Saralyn was a highly regarded educator. So it’s only natural that her latest book is set at a fictitious high school where murder and mayhem ensue. Did her former career lead to A Murder of Principal? Read on…

Gay: How does the atmosphere at the fictitious Lincoln High mirror your experience as a high school educator?
Saralyn: I have worked in dozens of urban high schools as a teacher, administrator, and school improvement consultant. My experiences could fill thousands of books, so I have many memories from which to choose. Readers who knew me at a particular school have pegged Lincoln High as that school, but I’ve heard from teachers at schools unknown to me that Lincoln High is exactly like theirs. What that tells me is that the atmosphere in urban schools is universal and relatable. 

However, A Murder of Principal is a work of fiction, designed to entertain.

Gay: Would you share some teachers’ reactions to the book?
Saralyn: Most comment that the setting and issues in the book are so authentic, they can actually name individuals in their own school who match my characters. But teachers are actually a small part of the book. The primary characters are administrators, school leaders, and students. Schools are a microcosm of society, and while everyone is supposed to share the common purpose of elevating students to achieve their highest potential, people have their own goals, desires, and emotions. The dynamics are always fascinating. As I like to say, there are a million stories beyond the flagpole.

Gay: One side plot in the book that piqued my interest is the conflict between proponents of the commonly used lecture as a teaching technique and those who use the Socratic method. Would you elaborate?
Saralyn: Educational research, brain-based research, and a trend toward results-driven decision-making have revolutionized thinking about curriculum and instruction. Lectures have given way to more interactive, student-centered lessons, like Melody Singer’s Socratic seminar in my book. The higher level questions engaged her students to find deep meaning in the lessons of the Salem witch trials. Her lesson was so powerful, it affected the whole school.

Gay: This book is a departure from your Detective Parrott series. Are you returning to it soon?
Saralyn: I wrote A Murder of Principal in between the first two Parrott books, but I waited to submit it until I thought the time was right to talk about race relations, sexual harassment, gangs, safety, and leadership. Another stand-alone mystery/thriller, Bad Blood Sisters, is to be released in March 2022. I’m currently writing the third Detective Parrott mystery, so my pattern has been Parrott/standalone/Parrott/standalone/Parrott. I should also mention my very first book, Naughty Nana, a children’s book narrated by my sheepdog. All have “mystery” in common.

Gay: Here’s more about Saralyn:

Award-winning Saralyn Richard was born with a pen in her hand and ink in her veins. She loves connecting with readers. Her humor- and romance-tinged mysteries and her children’s book pull back the curtain on people and settings as diverse as elite country manor houses and disadvantaged urban high schools. Her most recent release is A Murder of Principal. Look for her mystery/thriller, Bad Blood Sisters in March 2022. Visit Saralyn here, on her Amazon page, or on Facebook.

Gay Yellen writes the award-winning Samantha Newman Mysteries, including The Body Business, The Body Next Door, and the soon to be released Body in the News. She’d love to hear from you here, on Facebook, on BookBub, or via her website.

Gay Yellen: A Writer’s Thanksgiving

The twining path…

Like a double helix, a writer’s journey can follow a twisty trail. One strand—the rational, professional one—involves studying the works of others, honing your own craft, unlocking a door to publishing, and eventually (hopefully) connecting with readers.

The second strand can be an emotional mind-trip filled with unsettling questions. Is my work good enough? Why is that writer so successful? How can I be successful, too?

This emotional trip is the tricky one. It’s easy to find lists of writers deemed better or more successful by certain measures. What should matter to a writer is how they respond to such information. With admiration… or envy? 

Author-envy can eat a writer alive and stifle creativity. On the other hand, clear-eyed respect for another’s success may lead to the discovery of what it takes to improve. Heartfelt admiration—and gratitude—can move us closer to our own dreams.

What makes writers so special?

When I became a full-time author, I was overjoyed to find the camaraderie and the willingness to help one another that thrives in abundance in the writing community. It feels like family here.

Successful writers form personal bonds, share professional tips, read and critique each other’s books, and genuinely root for one another. The Stiletto Gang is an example.

Here, authors come together to trade insights, bits of book news, and offer glimpses into our personal lives, as well as our professional wins and woes. And we introduce our own followers to the rest of authors in the Gang. Countless other bloggers do the same in other spaces.

It’s hard to find a profession that embodies such an open and welcoming ethos. Can you name another enterprise whose members so willingly share their secret sauce with the competition?

I deeply appreciate my writing community, from the veterans who teach to the newbies who are eager to learn. I’m grateful to the people who manage our writers’ groups and who continue to support their members.

This year, when Thanksgiving celebrations may not be like those we know, there’s all the more reason to appreciate the things that continue to sustain us. So, here’s a huge thank-you to writers everywhere who generously share their knowledge and platforms and public spaces with colleagues.
And special thanks to readers…

Dear readers, please know that you are the most important part of our community. Thank you for reading our books, for leaving your reviews on our book sales sites, and for recommending them to your friends. We could not keep our writing spirits up without you. You brighten our lives.

What about you? What are you thankful for this year?

Gay Yellen was a magazine and book editor before she began the award-winning Samantha Newman Mystery Series, which includes The Body Business and The Body Next Door. Book #3 in the series is slated for release in 2021.

Gay would love to hear from you, here, on Facebook, or at her website, GayYellen.com.