5 Star Review

April 24, 2015

If you’re looking for a story with a lot of suspense  – and one that deals with the CIA  – The Fourth Rule by Douglass Seaver is a great novel to check out. The book is a definite page-turner, with exciting action and complex, well-developed characters. The story progresses at a nice pace, and the dialogue is engaging and believable. I thought it was really interesting how Seaver wrote the book in present tense; it added to the thrilling nature of the novel. You can tell this book is very well-written. I really enjoyed Seaver’s writing style and hope to read more of his work.


April 18, 2015 from Oak Tree Reviews

Palm Beach Peril

April 19, 2015

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Palm Beach Peril was great—over 300 people. Standing room only!

Lisa Scittoline, the New York Times bestselling author of 24 books, and five debut novelists selected by the International Thriller Writers talked about their books and writing at the latest Writers Live event  held at the Hagen Ranch Road Branch of the Delray Beach Library.  Lisa was funny and high energy, Oline Cogdill, the moderator, was thoughtful and articulate, and Stacy Alesi of the Delray Beach Library ran a smooth, hassle free event. I thank them one and all for the opportunity to participate in such a prestigious and vibrant event.

How Important is a Book’s Cover

March 16, 2015

The old saw, don’t judge a book by its cover, is by-and-large wrong in today’s publishing environment. It’s true that you can’t tell the quality of a book, unless you know the author, but you can tell a lot else about a book by its packaging. A book’s cover can indicate its genre, its story premise, its setting, and its tone. Think of all of the components of a cover: the art, the dust jacket text, the promotional quotes, and even the title. In fact, the type of edition, hardback, trade paperback, mass market or eBook tells us something.

A cover for a Stephen King book is distinctly different from an Alan Furst cover. And authors beware, if your cover sends mixed messages that will confuse the reader and lead to disappointment. Imagine if a Stephen King cover were put on an Alan Furst novel, or vice versa.

Covers change over time, to be sure. Google The Great Gatsby and see how the cover art has evolved, but it’s always appropriate to the story, just updated in style.

I contend that a writer should be just as particular about a book’s packaging as about its contents. But the cover, except for self-published books, is usually the prerogative of the publisher. The conflict between author and publisher over covers, when it does come up, is usually between the publisher’s desire for the cover to make an immediate impact, and the author’s aim to have the cover make an appropriate impact. These are not necessarily conflicting goals, of course. Hopefully, whatever tension arises between author and publisher over a book’s cover is resolved to produce one that serves both ends, catching the buyer’s eye and reflecting the content.


First Chapters

March 10, 2015

Today, there is tremendous pressure on authors, particularly those aspiring to be published for the first time, to write a smashing first chapter; a chapter that sells an agent on reading the manuscript and convinces an editor to buy the novel.

While a fast moving, well written first chapter—suspense launched and tension crackling—is necessary, it’s not sufficient to ensure your novel will sell well, a key goal for most writers.

I would suggest that the climax chapter is at least as important, if not more important, than the first chapter. The climax pulls together all that has gone before it into a deeply satisfying moment of revelation and/or emotional release, making the novel memorable and recommendable, a word of mouth phenomenon driving rewarding sales.

Palm Beach Peril, April 17

March 7, 2015

I’m excited to announce that I will be one of five debut thriller authors selected by the International Thriller Writers to join New York Times bestselling author Lisa Scottoline on April 17 at the Palm Beach Peril. This major event will introduce Lisa’s latest noel, Every Fifteen Minutes, and will include readings, a panel discussion and book signings. I will be there to discuss and sign copies of The Fourth Rule.

The event will be held at the Hagen Ranch Road Branch Library in Delray Beach, FL beginning at 2 p.m. If you are in the area, please join us!

Interview in the March Issue of The Big Thrill

February 19, 2015

THE FOURTH RULE by Douglass Seaver

By Dawn Ius


In his twenty-five years as a business executive and management consultant, Douglass Seaver has authored dozens of articles, guest editorials, and even a chapter in a marketing book. Now, Seaver adds a full-length novel to his already impressive publishing resume, with the debut of his international suspense, THE FOURTH RULE.


THE FOURTH RULE is the story of two brothers—one a missing Green Beret, the other, Matthew Grant, charged with keeping a secret. When the CIA approaches Grant to help solve the mystery of his brother’s disappearance, readers are taken on a twisting journey of suspense and intrigue, culminating in a high stakes gamble of life…and peace.


Here, Seaver talks about what inspired THE FOURTH RULE, his transition to fiction, and what he’s working on next.



Congrats on your debut, THE FOURTH RULE. It sounds fascinating. What was the inspiration for this story?


When I was fourteen, my dad told me a story about a man who rose every morning, got dressed, had breakfast with his family, and left for work. He rode the elevator down to the lobby, exited his apartment building, walked across the street to the local bakery, and bought a chocolate croissant. He returned to his building, went down to the basement, hid the white bakery bag with the croissant, and went on to work. At the end of the day, the man returned to his building, went to the basement, threw the bag and the chocolate croissant into the furnace, and then went up to his apartment and family.


Four decades later, I remembered the story, and it led me to think about keeping secrets. I became fascinated by the impact secrets might have on those who kept them. That curiosity became the backbone of the plot for my novel.


What’s behind the title, THE FOURTH RULE?


While doing research about secrets, I stumbled across a quote that led me to the title. I was scanning Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations when I found “Tell No Secrets”, attributed to King Charles I as the fourth of his twelve personal rules to live by. “Tell no secrets” is exactly the challenge my hero faces when the CIA pressures him to reveal what happened to his older brother after he returned from Vietnam and disappeared.

While “tell no secrets” would have been a good title, it didn’t convey the mystery I wanted. “The fourth rule” was as relevant, simple and strong, but its meaning wasn’t as explicit— a bit of mystery even in the title.


What can you tell me about the book that readers won’t find out on the back jacket cover?


First, there is a love story between the hero and a foreign correspondent that is integral to the plot. Second, the secret around which the story revolves isn’t revealed until the last paragraph of the book, when the reader learns the hero’s secret, but the characters in the story don’t. In this sense, the hero has lived up to the title’s challenge—“tell no secrets.”


You’ve had considerable success with your non-fiction work—which is often the case for many novelists. When did your love of writing begin?


My fascination with writing began in boarding school, when my “rock stars” were literary figures—Kerouac, Ginsberg and Ferlinghetti—the beats of Greenwich Village. However, I was more interested, at that point, in the freedom of their lifestyles than in the hard work of writing. Four decades later, while writing Four Across the Atlantic, a nonfiction story of crossing the ocean in a fifty-foot trawler, I became seriously interested in writing as I struggled to convey the terrors and exhilarations of that adventure.


Is THE FOURTH RULE your first full-length novel?

My first novel was Backchannel, a story that began with a missed opportunity to catch Osama Bin Laden shortly after 911, and went on to tell of the betrayal of the hero in his quest to stop a another terrorist plot. But it was a sophomoric effort, and I never let it leave the house.


Tell me about Matthew Grant, the protagonist of THE FOURTH RULE. What is his greatest vulnerability?


Matthew’s greatest vulnerability is his sixteen-year-old daughter: He has ten inches on her, but she’s already five-six, on her way to five-nine. Gangly, that’s the word for her today. Gorgeous is her future. Like her mother.


Right from the first chapter, Matthew realizes that keeping his secret places his daughter in jeopardy.


The book spans quite a geographical distance. How did you research each location? Have you traveled to them?


I have lived and worked in almost all the places I’ve written about in the book. At the risk of committing a “Brian Williams”, I must say that I have never been to Vietnam, although I served in the Army during the time of the Vietnam War, and I’ve only been to the remote Afghanistan village, to which my villain travels, in my imagination. I’ve physically been to Islamabad, attended a Christmas party in the Jeddah consulate, vacationed in Lucerne, worked in Washington, D.C., and regularly stay in Manhattan and visit Madison, CT, the home of the hero.

My experiences in these places have given me a feeling for them, for which I refreshed the particulars with research over the Internet (Wikipedia, in particular) or with a reference book or atlas.


In your bio, you reveal your wife is a painter. How do you support each other’s art?


We both work primarily on the mornings with the implicit understanding that we’ll not interrupt each other until we get together for lunch. Beyond respecting each other’s need for solitude to work, I attend a lot of art shows and gallery openings in Connecticut, and Cheryl is my first reader.


What advice would you give aspiring writers?


Always keep writing. Have patience and be persistent in the hunt for publication. Think of seeing your first published novel as a significant step toward your goal of having a New York Times, bestselling hardback, published by Farrar, Strauss & Giroux.


What are you working on next?


Now that I’ve almost finished the final draft of my coming-of-age story, Great Ambitions, I’m writing another suspense novel. In fact, I’ve enrolled in ITW’s thriller writing course that begins in March to continue improving my writing.


What’s In A Title?

January 31, 2015

I’m fascinated by book titles, and the stories behind how authors come up with them. Some titles appear to be ironic—The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald. Some are poetically descriptive—The Winter Journal, Paul Auster. Some explanatory—The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair, Joel Dicker. Some obscurely thematic—The Fourth Rule.

While doing research about secrets in preparation for writing The Fourth Rule, I stumbled across a quote that led me to think of the title. I was scanning through the index to Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations and reading entries that related to secrets, when I found the quote “Tell No Secrets”, attributed to King Charles I as the fourth of his twelve personal rules to live by. Tell no secrets is exactly the challenge my hero faces when the CIA pressures him to reveal what happened to his older brother after he returned from Vietnam and disappeared twenty-two years ago.

While “tell no secrets” would have been a good title, it didn’t quite convey the mystery I wanted for my suspense novel. In the next beat, though, when I recognized the phrase “the fourth rule” was as relevant, simple and strong, but its meaning wasn’t as immediately explicit, I had my title.

What are your favorite book titles? Why?

Valley Courier Article

January 18, 2015

On January 15 the Valley Courier ran a full page story about the publication of The Fourth Rule.

News article

Book Launch Pictures

Will and Doug at Book Launch Will and me behind the bar he tended at the party.






conversation and libations at the Book Launch                                                                                     Libations and conversation.

Kindle eBook for The Fourth Rule

January 4, 2015

Black Back Cover - The Fourth Rule

Kindle eBook versions of The Fourth Rule are now available on Amazon.com.