Tag Archives: Samuel Jay

Methods of Writing

Shadow of Love


The craft is not just about writing. It is principally about re-writing. Some writers do a chapter by chapter outline, others write the first and last chapters to start off. Still others do a rough section-by-section, leaving room for change as one moves along. The last was my approach.

I started both Shadow of Guilt and the sequel, Shadow of Love, with a rough section-by-section outline, a rough one built in parts with just an idea as to where they were going. Did anything change along the way? Yes. I was going to have Chip stay in business to overcome his guilt, but I changed that for a more dramatic route. Ups, downs, you guess the conclusion.

But one thing is for sure in methods: always remember the seven year-old boy who told his father he was going to write a novel. Dad says fine, but do an outline first. Two days later, son hands this to his father: Chapter One: Robin Hood went riding. Chapter Two: The bad guys came. Chapter Three: They fought. Chapter Four: Robin Hood won. See, he sets the scene, then presents the conflict, then the battle, and then the conclusion. That’s how it should go!

Surprises in Shadow of Guilt


On a night he could’ve been home and protected his family, prominent PR man Chip Keller (I’m a PR guy – you write about what you know!) finds himself alone in his office with his secretary after a fundraising event, a beautiful secretary, who, under the influence, attempts to seduce Chip, who nearly succumbs but he surprises us with how he deals with the temptation.

Unknown to him an arsonist out for revenge does the deed behind Chip’s home (Do not want to tell you too much of the story, rather you buy the book and enjoy the suspenseful actions and events). Chip arrives after the arsonist’s revenge. Now what? Will he overcome his guilt? I leave that surprise to you. And will he help a woman who also is drowning in guilt? And if he does, will he rescue her?

Why I Became an Author

5703602800_cd014cc64f_n Writing is not only demanding but time-consuming. I was in the public relations business, and my days were always full, my nights a time to recover. What changed that came about because of my father’s unexpected passing. He owned a public water utility, and I had to take over its management as president. It was quickly evident that I had two choices: (1) staying in the PR business, or (2) selling it and taking over the family-owned water utility I chose the latter, and after a year of settling into the utility business I found that it was less time demanding and left me room for writing a novel.

My Favorite Suspense Novels

Among my favorite suspense novels, Lie Down With Lions, by Ken Follett (a favorite author) has to rank at or close to the top. It’s a romantic triangle about two men on opposite sides of the Cold War and the woman they both love, who is torn between them. This novel has  a fundamental basis for suspense. How will the passion of characters and the deception inherent in war play out? Who will win over Jane, who loves both men? How about the Cold War? Where is that going? It’s one of Ken Follett’s best novels.

Then there is the classic, And Then There Were None, by Agatha Christie. We have ten strangers lured to an isolated island mansion. At dinner, a recorded message accuses each of them of having a guilty secret. The prose also helps send a message to the reader, namely, that each of these ten is vulnerable. Their vulnerability is even more apparent as they begin to die. The captivated reader wants to know how this is all going to turn out. Thus the suspense as the characters go down, one by one.

What Makes a Good Suspense Novel?

Cover2C for Website

What makes a good suspense novel? Simple. Open with a life-threatening situation that makes you wonder how the  will deal with it. And walk them through it, scene by scene, until the threat hits and you show the characters reacting in defense, sometimes physical, sometimes emotional. For example, Shadow of Guilt opens with an arsonist out for revenge on the hero hiding in the moonlit shadows of a treeline behind the hero’s home. And there’s his wife in the house, vulnerable and unsuspecting, along with the daughter. And the hero? On a night he could’ve been home, he’s doing a fundraiser for hospitalized kids.

What’s going to happen? Will he come home on time to defend his household? Or will he be delayed by meeting with and consoling his troubled secretary after the fundraiser (another move by a suspense author, namely, introducing a complication that delays the sub-climax).

So it’s a combination of incidents and character reactions that compels the reader to want to read more, to see how this is going to turn out. But it keeps going. Sub-climax to more complication as the characters try to defend themselves.
Sub-climax as the characters react to those around them.