Monday, November 7, 2011

James L. Hatch Guest Post

“Hello and welcome to all our readers. Thank you for stopping by the Solstice Publishing blog. I’m Mary Duke, and we are trying something new and exciting today—a mystery guest. In fact, this one is such a surprise, I have no idea who she is … or where she is. I knew this would be exciting, but I expected she would be here by now.”

Mary checks the hall for the tenth time, but only sees Andrea roaming around. “Andrea, aren’t we supposed to have a mystery guest today? You did tell her to show up fifteen minutes early, didn’t you?”

“Sure. All our guests are asked to come early. You don’t suppose she’ll stand us up, do you?”

“I hope not. That would be awkward. I don’t know who she is. It would be difficult to fill her time slot just talking about her.”

Andrea takes Mary by the shoulders and looks into her eyes with great resolve. “You can do this. Even if your guest is rude enough to miss her appointment, you can come up with something.” Then, with a wink, “Why don’t you just blow her out of the water?”

“Ah, I guess I could do that. It would be a lesson to others not to be late. Besides, ‘no shows’ make me angry enough to throttle them.”

Mary sighs and returns to her office. As she sits at her desk in a large pile of gloomy disappointment, a young woman pokes her head through the door. It is hard to see the woman’s face through the long blond locks curling down below her chin, until she flips her hair aside with a casual toss of her head. The woman steps in like she owns the office, struts to the guest chair and sits with the authority of the Queen of England. She’s wearing a form-fitting scooped-neck white cocktail gown, red heels and white gloves that extend from fingertip to elbow. Her makeup is flawless, highlighting sea-blue eyes that radiate confidence, and her skin emits a light scent of Diamonds perfume that has the same powerful impact as the ‘come hither’ aroma of fresh brewed coffee first thing in the morning. After many garment and posture adjustments, the young woman offers, “You must be Mary Duke” while extending her hand.

Mary reaches out with trepidation, wary something isn’t right. The woman is too self-assured; too perfect. Mary’s mind races with strange and conflicting thoughts. Does she have a comic’s buzzer in that gloved hand? She just flicked her mop when she came through the door, but not one hair is out of place. I hate that. My God, she’s attractive. If I were male, I’d ask her to lunch. Hell, I might anyway.

Their hands touch; there is no buzzer. The woman takes the tips of Mary’s fingers and moves them up and down as if afraid to break them. “I’m Miss Havana; pleased to meet you, I’m sure. Sorry to be tardy—it was unavoidable. I had a little ‘official business’ to take care of in order to appear here today. Not everyone in my chain of command believes I should show myself, if you know what I mean.”

“Actually, no, I don’t have a clue what you mean. Are you a government official?”

Miss Havana giggles. “No, silly, I have a much higher calling. If you like, you can call me the Angel of Death.”

Mary bolts upright; her posture stiff with apprehension. Melissa is setting me up! The woman is a nut bag. She doesn’t seem dangerous, but I think I’ll humor her to see where this goes. Opening the file on her desk, Mary responds, “Oh, of course. I must have missed that little detail in your file. So, when you say you had to get permission to ‘appear’ here, you meant ‘to be visible’, right?”

“Well, of course. Angels are not visible to the living; we have to get permission for that. I had to move some pretty heavy rocks to make this happen. You know, like heaven and earth.”

What a load of crap floats through Mary’s mind as her eyebrows narrow like the V-8 symbol on an old Chevy. “If I seem a little skeptical, I hope you’ll forgive me. It’s not every day I meet a real angel.”

“To forgive is divine.” Miss Havana crosses her legs and tugs her hem a tiny bit toward her knees, but leaves enough exposed leg to distract any male who might wander into the office.

Mary’s eyes break from Miss Havana’s shapely legs, and follow the graceful curves of her body until reaching Miss Havana’s eyes. “I’m familiar with the Old Testament concept of the Angel of Death, but I haven’t read much about one running around lately. What have you been up to?”

Miss Havana flicks her wrist, like she’s swatting at a fly. “Oh, same old, same old. Just dispatching evil on the surface like my predecessors did long ago. There are some pretty bad hombres above, you know. Most need a stern lecture about right and wrong. I was a substitute teacher before my death. The men I take time for now are a lot like some of the students I put in detention. I enjoy teaching them lessons they’ll never forget.”

 “So you’re the Miss Havana, the one from The Substitute? You look pretty good for someone murdered so many times … and with such vigor.”

“Why, thank you, Mary. I try. I believed appearance is important, like brushing your teeth. Yes, my death was nasty, to say the least, but I had the last laugh!” A wicked smile crosses Miss Havana’s face and an evil snicker emanates from her throat as she drifts in a moment of private reverie. Her bright smile returns when she snaps back to the interview. “Sorry. Personal memories sometimes bring as much pleasure as righting wrongs now. Too bad I had to endure Lucifer to get my retribution.”

“Lucifer? If you’re the Angel of Death, what’s he got to do with it?”

Miss Havana rolls her eyes. “It’s all in The Substitute, dear. You really should do your homework before inviting a guest aboard.”

“Okay, point made, I will. What are you doing now … as the Angel of Death? Are you and Lucifer still an ‘item?’”

“Right now I’m between tasks. I haunt a gorgeous advice columnist at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. She needs me, and she’s my kind of woman. You know, fastidious, a great body, dresses to the nines … she’s made to party if I can just loosen her up.”

“Can you give us an example of your work? Who have you lectured recently? How did that go?”

Miss Havana shudders, almost like she’s having a mild climax ... or a seizure. “You might check the Denver Post for articles on The Red Reaper.”

Mary’s demeanor becomes serious as she leans toward Miss Havana and frowns. “The one they found gutted like a fish and hung out to dry? That Red Reaper?”

With a simper, Miss Havana responds, “A stern lecture indeed. He won’t be a problem for any others. BTW, my story is being documented now. Solstice Publishing will soon expose my gifts in the novel, Oh, Heavens, Miss Havana! I thought I was invited here to discuss that.”

Mary looks puzzled and responds in flat monotone. “No. You were a surprise guest. I’m not sure why you were invited.”

Miss Havana stands, places her fists on her hips and her hurt look morphs to a glare. “I don’t believe this crap. You’re taking my time, and you don’t have a purpose? I could be lecturing some deserving individual right now! It’s not nice to screw with Mother Nature.” She slams the door on the way out.


Author’s note: In a moment of inspiration, the concept for my paranormal comedy novel, The Substitute, flooded my mind. The main character, Miss Havana, would be beautiful, conniving, resourceful, wicked beyond comprehension and hypocritical to the max. As a substitute teacher, her public life would be above reproach, but her private life as a party girl, drug dealer and extortionist would be something else entirely. She would be the character readers would love to hate, but even more, she would be the woman who would bring the devil down. I was giddy with anticipation when, in the wee hours of the morning, I sat down to write the opening line. The chapters flew by; the character took on a life of her own. The novel was completed in only two months and has consistently garnered five-star reviews. Following The Substitute, Miss Havana became the lead character in a sequel paranormal comedy novel, Oh, Heavens, Miss Havana! The sequel comedy has also received five-star reviews, and will be released by Solstice Publishing soon. A third paranormal based on Miss Havana is in work now, The Training Bra. In all novels she retains the evil and quirky characteristics that draw readers to her.

Thank you, Solstice Publishing, for having me here today. Thank you, readers, as well. I hope you will take the time to read the following reviews of The Substitute and Oh, Heavens, Miss Havana! If you like the reviews, please feel free to purchase the book from the Solstice Publishing web site, or other outlets where fine books are sold.

Five Star Review – The Substitute:
Additional reviews are posted on the Solstice Publishing web site and on

Five Star Review – Oh, Heavens, Miss Havana! by Tony-Paul De Vissage:  I have included the text of this review below because the web site at only retains reviews through 24 Jul 2011. The review of Oh, Heavens, Miss Havana! was originally posted on July 1, 2011.

“Divorced from Lucifer, overthrown by daughter Lilith, Miss Havana is surprised to find herself at the Pearly Gates in preparation for undergoing the Twelve Step Program for entering Heaven. She’s dubious and delighted by turns, but isn’t prepared for what’s awaiting her. Discovering she still retains some of her Nether World powers, the ex-Mrs. Satan launches herself into vigilante-mode, deputizing Hellish former henchman Waldo to help her out. Believing she’s now the Angel of Death, Miss Havana becomes a one woman clean-up committee, dedicating to abolishing terrorism and human trafficking from the Earth, and in doing so, sending a good many deserving souls to her daughter for proper punishment.

“For a while, it appears she’s succeeding, removing evil from the world and filling up Hell in the process, but things in the divine realm, as in the devilish one, are never what they seem, and in short order, Miss Havana, the woman whose motto has always been “Look out for #1, No One Else Will,” is going to find some of her beliefs shaken, discover some truths about herself, and learn of her murky origins…

“MY SOMEWHAT JAUNDICED OPINION: A little bloody in places, until you realize it’s purposely that way. Just as the slaying of Christian in A Pilgrim’s Progress was blatantly overkill, Miss Havana’s heavy-handed but gleefully righteous way of bringing to justice the wicked of this world have to be viewed as satirically, ironically overdone, and sometimes if she doesn’t exactly smell like a rose after an encounter, she at least reeks of righteous indignation. There’s some fundamentally true philosophy in this one, in keeping with the tone of the story, and though Miss Havana is in turn overwhelmed and underwhelmed by all she always goes through, she’s gradually touched by her surroundings, even when she refuses to admit it. Oh Heavens, Miss Havana isn’t the romp the first story was but its more serious note only underscores the ending. And what an ending…! I won’t give it away but if it doesn’t give you at least one sniffle, in the midst of all that dark laughter, then you’ve got Lucifer’s sensitivity.”

Thank you for reading,

James L. Hatch

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