Interview with Seeley James, Author of 'The Rembrandt Decision: A Pia Sabel Mystery'

 May 30, 2022

I was privileged to invite Author Seeley James for an interview to discuss his latest book The Rembrandt Decision: A Pia Sabel Mystery, and the inspiration behind it. Enjoy!

What's your book about, and what inspired you to write it?

'The Rembrandt Decision: A Pia Sabel Mystery' is a murder mystery with a touch of psychological thriller and references to ancient literature. The murder of a small-town drunk exposes long held secrets and family trauma. Visiting industrialist Pia Sabel quickly determines the town’s police chief will never believe who the murderer is and sets out to show him, clue by clue. The problems her investigation uncovers range from community and family inclusion and adoption to racism and dealing with unintended biases. Her revelations lead to a shocking conclusion not just about whodunit but why. And that brings the story full circle for the reader.

What inspired me to write this (my fourteenth novel) was my adoption history. When I was nineteen, I adopted a three-year-old girl and raised her. (For details, visit .) We faced many struggles and challenges but overcame a good deal and managed to survive. I wanted to express the challenges of alternatives to nuclear families. The feedback, reviews, and critics tell me I managed to convey a new and interesting look at family, loyalties, race, and blood lines.

Who is your target audience, and why do you think this book will appeal to them?

Because it's primarily a mystery, starting off with a dead body in the classic murder-mystery vein, it has a very wide audience. I sneak in the literary issues of inclusion, family values, unintentional racism, privilege and so on, so as not to scare off the masses.

This book appeals to a wide, general audience because it provokes thought without preaching. It demonstrates small incidents in one person's life that have a large impact on someone else. Fan mail tells me people have discovered tidbits of personal growth buried in different parts. There's something for everyone.

What message do you wish to pass across to your readers with this book?

We are all in this together. The Golden Rule means we respect and help others without reservation.

Regardless of where we come from, who we think we are, who we called Mom, we are all related.

What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?

There was one discussion between two adults who were adopted as children. There are many facets to adoption, many scars, many inherent psychological issues, and writing a dialogue that represented the triumphs and tragedies properly took days.

As a writer, is there anything you've learned about yourself while writing this book?

Great question. I tend to tear myself open to write every book. It's become a form of therapy. In this one, I re-learned something from long ago. When my adopted daughter was in her teens and struggling with abandonment issues, I had a moment of clarity about what empathy really means. In that moment, I knew inside my skin, exactly what it felt like to be her and wonder why my parents weren't there. Writing this brought back that deep sorrow and the common parental desire to make all that pain and anguish go away -- while knowing fixing it is impossible.

For your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard back books, and why?  

Hard cover books are the only books! I love them, the smell, the feel, the weight. BUT, I read ebooks because I can steal ... I mean, I can highlight great passages and export them for later study. For really great books, like "Their Eyes were Watching God", or "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" I buy both.

However, I hike mountains for an hour+ every day, so I listen to audiobooks. Because it isn't a good platform for deep subjects (I space out from time to time), I listen to things like romance novels, or classics like Jane Austen, Arthur Conan Doyle.

What is your niche genre, and if you were to write in a different genre, what would it be?

I have two niches: International Thrillers and Murder Mysteries. The former allows me to spin spy-novel yarns on an emotional rollercoaster about global conspiracies while the latter allows small town exposes about relationships and people in a cerebral engaging context.

I have a dystopian series in the back of my head that I'd like to find time to explore. It's not a total-reboot-of-civilization scenario, though. It fits in that period of time where Climate Change has wrought havoc on civilization but not total destruction. In this scenario, drought and floods have destroyed our ability to support 8 billion people. In the new changed world, only about 2 billion can survive ...

What books and authors have most influenced you?

So many ... hmmm. Ken Follett, Attica Locke, James Patterson, Lee Child, Agatha Christie, SA Cosby, John le Carre for the last century. But more important were the ancients: Shakespeare, Sophocles, Plato, Tacitus.

Do you have any more books in the works?

Absolutely. I'm halfway through Act I of my next book with plans for another after that. I don't have ADD except when I'm thinking about the books I want to write. I'm constantly jotting notes for 2-3 books down the line. (When I get there, the notes are useless as the story has evolved but they are part of the process.)

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

Yes and no. I read some of them and skim most. I glean what I can no matter what the reviewer thought.

Some bad reviews have interesting points. I've stopped writing "gun porn" describing every detail of a weapon that is common in some bestsellers because of a bad review. It wasn't that the person made a good point, but rather that I realized: I don't care for it either, so why bother? That was many books ago and I don't miss it.

Other bad reviews are subjective and so I move on as if walking over a blade of grass. Other bad reviews are funny, "I didn't read it, so I gave it one star." Great, thanks.

One odd experience was a reviewer who thought I was making fun of a certain president and gave me one star, advising others why and that they should avoid my book. About five people commented they were buying it because of his review. There is no end to unintended consequences.

Mention 3-5 fast/fun facts about you that you'd like to share:

1) Because of my teenaged adoption, I now have three children aged 49, 25, and 22. Three grandchildren aged 29, 25, and 18. And two great-grandchildren 9 and 4. Mixed-age, mixed-race, mixed-up, and happy. I think.

2) I'm 66 and hike the Grand Canyon (17 miles, 9,000 vertical feet) several times a year. I hike a nearby mountain every day and challenge anyone under 50 to keep up. (Many do, my speedy days are waaayy behind me.)

3) I wanted to be a Christian writer, but my snarky, cynical sense of humor would get me burned at the stake. (It's true they don't do that anymore, but the crowd at my church are looking for an excuse to make an exception.) So, I afflicted my main character with PTSD-induced schizophrenia: he sees and interacts with Mercury, the down-on-his-luck Roman god. Mercury's morals and ideas don't fit in modern times but allow for hilarious theological discussions and comparisons.

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Seeley James' near-death experiences range from talking a jealous husband into putting the gun down to spinning out on an icy freeway in heavy traffic without touching anything. His resume ranges from washing dishes to global technology management. His personal life ranges from homeless at 17, adopting a 3-year-old at 19, getting married at 37, fathering his last child at 43, hiking the Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim at 59, and taking the occasional nap.

His writing career ranges from humble beginnings with short stories in The Battered Suitcase, to being awarded a Medallion from the Book Readers Appreciation Group. Seeley is best known for his Sabel Security series of thrillers featuring athlete and heiress Pia Sabel and her bodyguard, veteran Jacob Stearne. One of them kicks ass and the other talks to the wrong god.

His love of creativity began at an early age, growing up at Frank Lloyd Wright’s School of Architecture in Arizona and Wisconsin. He carried his imagination first into a successful career in sales and marketing, and then to his real love: fiction.

A Season of Disruption - Book Review


A twist of fate leaves Murna Moreland, a young Jamaican homemaker widowed with five children. Without the means to provide for her family, she makes a seemingly unimaginable choice. She leaves her children in hopes of finding a better life in the United States.

With no mother or father present, fifteen-year-old Hope must courageously guide her four younger siblings as they care for themselves and each other. Each day, the children strive with one goal in mind - quickly joining their mother.

Time passes, and Murna's dream to reunite her family grows bleaks. Unwilling to give up, she conceives and undertakes an unlikely plan. The stakes were high. If her plan failed, she would remain separated from her family or lose the opportunity to give her children a better life.

Read this heartfelt and captivating story of love and determination paying homage to the immigrant experience of generations of Caribbean women and their perseverance to overcome obstacles that often leave families broken and estranged.


'A Season of Disruption' by Jacqueline P. Walker is an amazing true story of perseverance and a woman's determination to secure a better and more promising future for her family. It was inspiring to read about Murna's resilience as she hustled to make ends meet and provide for her family, especially having unexpectedly lost the patriarch of the family, her husband and her children's father. She did everything within her power, including courageously coming up with a fake return plan to Jamaica so her employer at the time could release her passport. I also really liked how the epilogue gave current updates (as at the time of publication) about each family member.

One thing I would have liked more is a better arrangement of the narration. I would have liked for each chapter to have had at least one pivotal, epiphanic moment or lesson to pull from. It read more like a diary than a memoir or biography, so I think I'd have enjoyed it more if there had been more creativity to the writing style.

Overall it was a really good and inspiring read! Thank you to the author Jacqueline Walker for the gifted copy in exchange for an honest review. I truly enjoyed it!

ᴍʏ ʀᴀᴛɪɴɢ: ⭐⭐⭐⭐/5
ɢᴇɴʀᴇ &ᴛʜᴇᴍᴇꜱ: Biography, immigration, family, love
ᴍᴀᴛᴜʀɪᴛʏ ʀᴀᴛɪɴɢ: ALL

Twenty-one Truths About Love - Book Review

Back Cover Summary
This heartfelt story is about the lengths one man will go to and the risks he will take to save his family. But Dan doesn’t just want to save his failing bookstore and his family’s finances:

1. Dan wants to do something special.
2. He’s a man who is tired of feeling ordinary.
3. He’s sick of feeling like a failure.
4. He doesn't want to live in the shadow of his wife’s deceased first husband.

Dan is also an obsessive list maker; his story unfolds entirely in his lists, which are brimming with Dan’s hilarious sense of humor, unique world-view, and deeply personal thoughts. When read in full, his lists paint a picture of a man struggling to be a man, a man who has reached a point where he’s willing to do anything for the love (and soon-to-be new love) of his life.

This one-of-a-kind book is written entirely in lists, and if that seems confusing, let me explain further. When making a to-do list, we usually use a list format or bullet points. Well, Dan, the narrator, uses How-tos, listicles, and thought fragments to tell his story. The reading experience is quite like no other, and it needs a high level of concentration or else a crucial point may be missed. Here are a few of my favorite lists/thought fragments from the book:

Things I won't ever do
Stare at my phone while my kid is talking to me
Go one day without saying 'I love' you to my child
Force my kid to eat broccoli. Or Yams. F-ing yams.

My shortcomings
I don't have any truly close friends
I would rarely change the sheets on my bed if not for my wife
I procrastinate when it comes to tasks that require the use of the telephone

My takeaways from this book:
👆 Communication is essential, especially amongst spouses. Frequent and honest communication can save a lot of time and money, as well as save marriages.
👆 There is no love purer than a parent's love for their child.
👆 A man with integrity and a big heart will go to any length to protect his family.

'Twenty-one Truths About Love' was such a heartwarming read and I know I'll be reading other books by the author!

ᴍʏ ʀᴀᴛɪɴɢ: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐/5
ɢᴇɴʀᴇ &ᴛʜᴇᴍᴇꜱ:  Literary Fiction, Romance
ᴍᴀᴛᴜʀɪᴛʏ ʀᴀᴛɪɴɢ: 16+

4 Books Every Introvert Should Read

 May 12, 2022 | 

I recently shared with a friend some book titles that, over the years, have helped me better understand my introverted personality and be a better version of myself on a continuous basis, and I thought I'd share them here also. If you're an introvert and haven't read any of these, I'd encourage you to! I've learned so much about harnessing my introvert strengths in all areas of my life, as well as creating healthy boundaries.

🌟 The Introverted Leader: Building Your Quiet Strength
You don't have to be an extrovert--or pretend to be one--to get to the top. The author gives prime examples of self-identified leaders, and includes information on how leaders can shape a more introvert-friendly workplace, customized hiring and coaching strategies for introverts, and much more.

🌟 The Introvert Entrepreneur: Amplify Your Strengths and Create Success on Your Own Terms
The author shows readers how to harness their natural gifts (including curiosity, independence, and a love of research) and counteract their challenges (such as an aversion to networking and self-promotion). She addresses topics from managing fears and expectations and developing a growth mindset to networking, marketing, leadership skills, and community-building.

🌟 Introverts in the Church: Finding Our Place in an Extroverted Culture
This book is specifically for the introverted Christian, and the author shows how introverts can live and minister in ways consistent with their personalities. He explains how introverts and extroverts process information and approach relationships differently and how introverts can practice Christian spirituality in ways that fit who they are. With practical illustrations, the author offers ways for introverts to serve, lead, worship, and even evangelize effectively.

🌟 Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No, to Take Control of Your Life
Are you focused so much on being loving and unselfish that you've forgotten your own limits? In 'Boundaries', the authors teach you the ins and outs of setting the boundaries that will transform your daily life.

Happy Pub Day: 'Be Joyful' by Joyce Meyer

May 10, 2022 |

🌟ℍ𝔸ℙℙ𝕐 ℙ𝕌𝔹 𝔻𝔸𝕐🌟 | "Be Joyful: 50 Days to Defeat the Things that Try to Defeat You", by Joyce Meyer | Published May 10, 2022

This is one ARC (Advance Reader Copy) I was pretty excited to receive -- indeed it's quite an honor, and the cover is stunning!

Joyce Meyer's books have a special spot in my library, and I know how much her wisdom and encouragement have contributed to my spiritual growth. Two of her books in particular continue to resonate with me years after reading them: "The Confident Woman: Start Today Living Boldly and Without Fear", and "God's Greatest Gifts: His Word, His Name, His Blood".

I can't wait to add this one to my JM collection, and I look forward to diving in soon and sharing my thoughts. Many heartfelt thanks to publisher FaithWords for the gifted copy!

Joy is not just a "happy feeling" based on circumstances or on things you possess—it is a fruit of the Holy Spirit that empowers you to remain stable and persevere through hard times so you rise above them, rather than becoming defeated by them. One of the hallmarks of Paul’s epistles is the joy with which he writes and which he invites his readers to experience also. He chose joy in all circumstances, even during times of struggle.

In this unique book, Joyce Meyer presents Paul’s teachings on joy into concise lessons that equip you to triumph over the greatest challenges to a joy-filled life. Through these 50 daily entries, you’ll be encouraged to embrace the truths God has given you, truths that will allow you to overcome the emotions, attitudes, and experiences that rob you of joy. Be Joyful in the journey and begin to experience the wonderful, abundant life that the Lord has in store for you!