Sunday, January 22, 2012

Interview with V. Mark Covington

I have reviewed several of V. Mark Covington's books on this site in the past, and today I am delighted to welcome him here for an interview. From his snappy answers to the questions presented below, you will see why I consider him one of today's leading humorists. I also encourage you to read the review of his books posted on this site. With that introduction, let's welcome Mark Covington.

1. When did you first realize you wanted to become a writer?

As far back as I can remember I’ve written stories, my parents were big believers in bed time stories and I had loads of children’s books and I would make up new endings or completely new stories for the characters in the books. But wanting to write as a sole means of financial support - that came much later. When I finished my first book, about ten years ago, I had an editor/friend from Penguin read it and he pronounced it publishable. That’s when I first realized that I had a shot at writing for a living. I’ve been working toward that goal ever since.

2. When did you write your first book and how old were you?

My first book was “Church of the Path of Least Resistance” this is the book I just mentioned that the Penguin editor liked. I started it in my late twenties and it took me ten years to finish it because I was working full time and I only took it out and played with it once a month or so. This is before I learned you could work full time and write full time, all you had to give up was a life.

3. How many books have you written? Which one is your favorite?

Four and counting. My books are: Church of the Path of Least Resistance (still unpublished) Bullfish, Heavenly Pleasure, Homemade Sin and 2012 Montezuma’s Revenge, and I’m halfway through Khamel Towing. And one play- Shakespeare in the Trailer Park. I guess my favorite is Bullfish, it’s the most creative but the worst edited because I used a friend as editor instead of a professional- never, never do that.

4. What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

Well, first of all I’m only “not writing” when I’m sleeping. I always carry around a note pad and I’m constantly looking for things that are book-worthy. If I could make my perfect schedule I’d roll out of bed around 10, transcribe the notes I made the night before around 2:00 a.m. Head to the gym around noon for an hour. Then lunch, and writing until about 3:00, take a walk, maybe take the dogs to the park, then home and writing until 6:00 or 7:00.

But, as it is, I roll out of bed around 7:00, drive to the office downtown, work the day job doing technical reports and project management. I clandestinely take notes on whatever book I am writing at meetings, hit the gym, head home about 6:30, dinner and then write until I pass out.

5. What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

I tend to get into “the zone” when I write, step into the story and become oblivious to everything else. I remember once I was writing a scene where a young boy sticks his hand into a basket full of rattlesnakes and at that second my phone, set on vibrate in my pocket went off, I jumped up and ran out of the room, thinking there was a rattlesnake in my pants. I can lose hours writing, I can set up my laptop on the front porch at ten in the morning and before I know it, it’s getting dark outside.

6. Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?

Everywhere. I was looking for a place to vacation once and found the Atlantis resort and thought, “wouldn’t it be interesting if this resort went back in time and was actually the original Atlantis,” and Bullfish was born. I drove through a little town in central Florida called Cassadaga, and it’s full of psychics, spiritualists and mystics from all different “metaphysical disciplines. I wondered if they had a voodoorine who made zombies, shortly afterward I was at a swimming pool in a retirement community and watched these folks floating around the pool on their ‘noodles’ moving slow with blank expressions, and thought, well here are the zombies - and Homemade Sin was born. And, of course2012 Montezuma’s Revenge came from the upcoming end of the world.

7. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I’m a beach person, love to scuba dive, love the Caribbean, and here in Richmond we are an hour and a half to the beach and an hour and a half to the mountains and I try to ski a couple of times a year. I’m a pretty good cook so I do all the cooking at our house; it’s one of the few things that take my mind off everything else. When you have four burners going and the oven it’s hard to think about anything else. We have two Aussie shepherds (the male is my sou chef and official food taster) so they need to be active and we take them hiking in the mountains.. We also go occasional polo matches or the frequent wine tasting.

8. What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

I do a lot of research so I’m always learning something interesting. Writing Bullfish I learned a lot about Atlantis, the Marie Celeste, and genetic engineering. In Heavenly Pleasure I learned all about living vampires and ice cream. InHomemade Sin I learned all about voodoo, restaurant reviews and cats. In 2012 Montezuma’s Revenge I learned Mayan astronomy (from an old Mayan at the base of a Mayan pyramid in Cozumel), nanobot technology, Martian politics, and high tech surveillance. I also got to give Martian cities names like Bradbury and Asimov, which was fun.

9. What do you think makes a good story?

The story itself. Some readers like character driven books but for me it’s all about the story. Of course the characters have to be multi-dimensional and quirky, but I want an intricate story with more twists and turns than a roller coaster. I don’t think the first coherent sentence used by a caveman was about food, or sex or shelter, I think the first sentence primitive man uttered was “tell me a story.”

10. Where can readers find you Mark?

Sometimes at the bar at CafĂ© Guttenberg, or the bar at Can Can French Bistro, or the bar at the Conch Republic…(I think there’s a theme here).. I do hang out at bars but only to watch people and get ideas for character development, (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it). When I’m not at a bar you can find me at:

My web page -

My facebook - markcovington

My Blog- vmarkcovington blog

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

How long must I go on doing God’s job?

The interview below was featured at on January 11, 2012. It is offered here to provide humor for those who follow this blog.


Welcome to an interview by Sweet And Sexy Divas (SASD). Today we welcome a celebrity of dubious fame and character, Miss Havana (MH).

SASD: Thank you for joining us today Miss Havana.

MH: Why, thank you SASD, I’m sure we’ll give your readers something to talk about. By the way, do you pronounce SASD like “sadist”, or do I have that confused with another acronym?

SASD: You can just call us “Sweet”, as in Sweet Jesus. And speaking of the Man, we understand you have a few complaints. We are fairly open here, as long as you don’t invite retribution. Feel free to get a few things off your chest … maybe even your blouse. We think the words attention whore” embossed across the front is a bit much.

MH: What don’t you like, the lettering or the attitude? Being an unstable bitch is part of my mystique.

SASD (rolling eyes upward): Can we just move on? All we ask is that you keep it relatively clean.

MH: Great, I love an open forum, and you needn’t worry—I always keep my words soft in case I have to eat them. Let me get my list. Ah, yes. Let’s start with this. I hate to bitch about the weather, but it’s just too damn dry in Texas. People are killing mosquitos just to see if they’re carrying canteens. Hell, they’re catching catfish with ticks … and fire hydrants are bribing dogs.

SASD: So, is the Texas weather you only complaint for God?

MH: I’m not finished. The weather is beginning to impact Texas churches. Baptists are baptizing by sprinkling, Methodists are using wet-wipes and Catholics are praying for wine to turn back into water. But no, weather isn’t my only complaint. Too many people are escaping the heat at the beach, and some of that beach wear just grosses me out. Why don’t males realize that men who wear Speedos force women to wear blindfolds?

SASD: That’s a good question. Is that something you want God to address?

MH: Maybe. I hate groping around on the beach blindfolded, but Speedos are just the beginning of things I’m angsty about. I mean, why does my non-buttered bread land butter side down? And don’t get me started on disease … especially that one … ah, you know … the one where you forget everything.

SASD: You mean Alzheimer’s?

MH: Yeah, that one. I’m pretty sure I don’t have it because I still remember what sex was like, but I’m sure a lot of people I run into do have it, not that I’m judging. I mean that disease … what you just called it … is so debilitating God should do something. The only reason people with it exist is to be a warning for others, like they believe mistakes are too much fun to make only once. Karma used to come in the form of your children; now it comes in the form of your parents.

SASD: Not that we’re judging, but don’t you think railing at God for a disease is, well, kind of a “blond thing.” You know, we just don’t think He’s going to drop down here to fix that … or Speedos for that matter.

MH: Blond thing? Really. Everyone wants to be blond like me, even brunettes. That’s something I just don’t get. Why will brunettes ruin their hair trying to be blonde? I would rather have brown hair that looks like silk than blonde hair that looks like hay.

SASD: So you think God should do something about hair color?

MH: Oh, no, I’m not that shallow, although I do sometimes feel bad for brunettes. They just have to accept the fact that they are the statue and not the pigeon. Life is full of disappointments.

SASD: Okay, we are delighted for you … really … but can we get back to your issues with God.

MH: Ah, yes. I think my big issue is injustice. Everywhere I look, I find it. That’s the reason I took on so much of that crap in Oh, Heavens, Miss Havana! The novel is another wonderful story about my continuing adventures. In that one, I get to be The Angel of Death … in the Old Testament sense. Unfortunately, I also answered my own question about how long I could go on doing God’s job. He’s rather sensitive, you know, and He won’t turn a blind eye forever. I thought he was supposed to have infinite patience, but I apparently pushed His envelope. Either that, or there could have been some jealousy up there … not that I’m judging.

SASD: Jealousy? We’re not following?

MH: Well, you know, I’m quite fetching, and I did notice that God only took action after I checked on the status of Mrs. God. I think she might have taken offense and put pressure on Him. I mean, certainly I could not have done anything so extreme to get in that much trouble, could I?

SASD: Ah, we’re not so sure. Do you have anything else you’d like to say?

MH: Well, I’d like to thank SASD for having me here. And for all of you readers who didn’t stop by, I’d just like to leave you with one thought: If you don't go to other people's funerals, they won't go to yours. So there!

SADS: You do realize readers that didn’t stop by will not get your message, right? However, for those who did stop by, we’d like to thank you for being here. We have included a tag line, blurb and short excerpt from Oh, Heavens, Miss Havana! below. The paranormal comedy is the sequel to The Substitute. The novel was released December 30, 2011, and is available for sale at Solstice Publishing, and other e-book outlets. It will be offered in print soon.


Oh, Heavens, Miss Havana! Tag Line. Advice columnist by day, assassin by night, Miss Havana’s spirit wrongly considers itself the Angel of Death, but is brought to task by God.

Oh, Heavens, Miss Havana! Blurb: Having performed a single selfless act, Miss Havana finds herself on probation in heaven. After many missteps, she discovers she still retains the powers she had as The Queen of Darkness, and realizes she’s on probation as much to keep her from joining forces with her daughter, The Princess of Darkness, as anything else. The Brazilian, a large black man with a dreadlocks beard who waxes regularly, is her “guide”, but she ignores his advice until he’s taken off her case. Guideless and in a foreign environment, she consorts with evil spirits from her former realm, especially Waldo, a shadow creature so named because he’s so hard to find. She acquires a copy of “The Angels Guide to Earth”, comes to believe she is the Angel of Death, and returns to the surface as an advice columnist and assassin. She wreaks havoc before God intervenes for a final showdown...which, as it turns out, isn’t as final as most would hope.

Oh, Heavens, Miss Havana! Excerpt: Tiny light creatures scurry over my shoulders like tailless white rats, their combs in constant motion until tangles halt progress. I grit my teeth with each painful yank, knowing the bastards will inflict as much discomfort as they can in the time they’ve got. One multi-colored weasel bites out a knot, leaving flared split-ends, shakes something like snot off its paws and spews vile commentary with the inflection of a put-out teenaged girl. “Yew! It’s such a tangled mess, just like your attitude.” It farts near my nose, looks up with an evil grin and belches a rancid stink before slurring, “They’ll work on your crappy disposition when you get where you’re going.”

Extreme insincerity permeates the degenerate’s voice. It must know I attach light creatures to the business end of a toilet brush in Lucifer’s den whenever I can catch the little shits. I enjoy a brief thought of one gasping for breath in Lucifer’s toilet before being jarred back to reality by an enveloping fog of hairspray. It sticks to my nose hairs and penetrates my lungs, but I refuse to cough or wheeze. These bastards are pissed I’ve been promoted, and are trying to make me miserable. I won’t give them the satisfaction of showing it.

Thousands surround me, standing on each other to reach my height while working at fever pitch to primp me for my destination. I glare at the one who left his stench and ask a cheery question. “I thought you eunuchs were genderless, but your voice sounds male. Are you ‘proud cut?’”

They all stop moving. Dead silence reigns. They don’t like being referred to as animals, especially fixed dogs.

A rotund fuzzy demon waddles forward, stops near my feet, places its tiny paws on its hips and rebukes in baritone, “We can only clean the outside, Miss Havana. Cleaning the inside would take an eternity.”

I kick at it, but it darts out of the way. As if by reflex, the others fall in on me. I can’t move anything but my mouth, and muffle out a protest while spitting fur off my tongue, “Give me some space, assholes!” I gather my strength and, with a vigorous shake of my body against their collective grip, feel extreme delight as dozens tumble to the floor.

They relax their hold and pass gas in unison. I gag for breath. It stinks like Lucifer’s Home, like kicking a skunk. Knowing they’ve silenced me for the moment, the combing resumes until the baritone somewhere in the horde mocks, “You have no idea where you’re going, do you?”

Come to think of it, I don’t. I was the Queen of Darkness before arriving in purgatory. Family ties speak volumes about a person, and in my case they are shouting, “She shouldn’t be here!” Lilith, The Princess of Darkness and absolute ruler of hell, is my daughter. The shithead Lucifer is my ex. Is it any surprise I never expected to arrive here? I probably shouldn’t admit it. Where I come from, we lie about everything. I should probably lie about this too, and answer with an insult instead. “To a place you’ll never go, twerp, unless toilets here flush up.”

I hear snickering, something forbidden below, but the primping continues until one of the little perverts shinnies up my leg. My body shudders with disgust. The deviant is taking advantage of the situation to sneak a peek. I swat at it when I hear its muffled prayer, “God help me, the devil’s pit reeks!”

I snort. It could be right. Hygiene isn’t high on the list of important items below, but things could be different above. I grit my teeth, ignore the humiliating “Whistle While You Work” ditty it’s warbling, and bear down like I’m giving birth. Phassttlatt! It’s a good one; makes my eyes water. I wonder if light creatures can whistle through a gas mask. The stunned swine drops from beneath my scoop-necked robe like a wounded fly, and I offer a comment dripping with sarcasm, “Not very good at your job, are you?”

On second thought, perhaps I should have held my tongue. After it catches its breath, it glares at me, grabs some tools, slips on a filtered mask and rushes back up my leg. It isn’t long before the plucking begins, one hair at a time. I won’t pleasure any of them by yielding to the pain, even though it hurts like Lilith’s Home. Instead, I reach out and grab two random creatures from the pile and squeeze hard with each pluck, being certain to dig my nails into their disgusting furry backs. Their tiny screeches make my pain bearable. I believe I could make music with their wailing if I could catch the baritone.

The plucking stops when one of my squeeze toys screams, “Uncle! Uncle! You were supposed to leave sadism below.”

I glare at them both. “If your pal so much as touches one more pube, I will damn well wax you both, and I won’t be gentle!” Just the thought of ripping off their fur with a hot wax strip makes me feel warm all over.


The author would also like to thank you for being here. Please stop by my web site at for additional excerpts, book reviews and more. There are two free cookbooks and one award winning short story there … you just need to ask.

Thanks for reading,

James L. Hatch

Author for Solstice Publishing, and Eternal Press

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Prophet, The New Brotherhood by K. J. Dahlen

A fundamental truth tumbles out of this mystery/thriller, although not a truth people consider on a daily basis. Perhaps they should. The basic question is: just how far will a group of believers go to protect and follow their leader, false prophet or not? If requested to do so, will they willingly walk into the valley of death with trusting hearts? I liked the underlying theme of this book, knowing in advance that those with the mentality of sheep are at the mercy of the wolf. The good vs. evil theme takes the reader on a terrifying ride through years of serial killings, and brings many impacted by the quiet rampage of a charismatic prophet to the brink of death. Beginning with a simple gathering of believers, the plot grows into a larger conspiracy with each page as the heroes attempt to put an end to the trail of destruction and ruined lives the Brotherhood leaves across the nation. At one point, I even found myself mentally encouraging the main character, “Shoot him! Shoot him while you can!” as the Prophet slips away yet again. In short, I liked the story. It was compelling, if not a little frightening. I was surprised by the ending. I won’t spoil it for anyone, but I still wonder if women across the country will continue to be murdered by straggler followers. They have their instructions, but will they follow them? Something to ponder: What would happen in real life?

While The Prophet, The New Brotherhood was a fun read, I would have appreciated more thorough editing. The story held together well, but would have had much greater impact with a severe scrub. Some of my heartburn is with technical issues few will recognize, such as the use of “blonde” for a male’s hair color (“blond” for males). Some sentences didn’t make sense, like “Jeff called his surveillance term in watch the St Clair house.” Yes, I understood Jeff called his team in to watch the house, but the mental gyration on my part should not have been required. I just wanted to read the story, not fix it. In one instance, names are confused; in another a car and truck are interchanged. Incorrect words and tense appeared often enough to be distracting, but repetition was my greatest problem. Overuse of variations of the word “look” and inadvertent repetition filled the pages (heart beat in his chest, thought in my mind, etc.).

My views on editing aside, I would still rank this book as a four-star read. The plot and theme were interesting, and the story held my attention from beginning to end.