Tag Archives: Jean Steffens

A Day in the Life of Melanie Hamilton by Sally J. Smith and Jean Steffens

My name is Mel. That’s short for Melanie. I earn my living from inking tattoos at The Mansion on Mystic Isle. It’s a resort across the river from New Orleans in the Louisiana bayou but not a resort like any you’ve ever heard of.

The Mansion is owned by Harry Villars. In fact that particular piece of property has been in the Villars family just about forever, since halfway through the eighteenth century. When it fell on hard times, Harry had it remodeled and turned it into a resort that caters to lovers and zealot fans of the supernatural and paranormal. He hired a whole slew of folks (like me) who could contribute to the bizarre atmosphere of ghosts and soothsayers—mostly it’s all fake. But I have to say that with a lot of the weirdness that goes on at The Mansion, there are days I truly wonder about that.

Me? I just design and ink tattoos—tattoos of fairies and other fantastical creatures, astrological signs, beloved family members who’ve gone on to the spirit world and might be haunting their loved ones, whatever the guests ask me to paint on their skin. And some of the things I’ve been asked to create you’d have trouble believing if I showed you the photos I took when I was done.

But the weirdest and wildest, the absolute piece de resistance was the time a woman in her sixties booked a week at the hotel specifically to have several sessions at Dragons and Deities, the tattoo parlor. That wasn’t the weird part, people came to the resort specifically for the ink all the time. If I say so myself, I’m kind of well known throughout the culture for coming up with innovative designs to match the very specific requests of the Mystic Isle guests.

The unusual part of this job was that the woman—to protect her identity, I’m going to call her Jane Doe—wanted a portrait of her husband on her chest so she could keep him closer to her heart.

“Don’t you have any romance in your soul, Mel?” you ask. “I think it’s charming,” you say. “What’s so weird about that?” you wonder.

The answers, in order are: Yes, I’m very romantic. Yes, wanting to keep your spouse close to your heart is charming. And finally, the weirdness of it comes from the content.

Jane Doe insisted she’d once been abducted by aliens, and during that time had been claimed by one of them and married in a formal ceremony. The two had fallen in love and had been happy living together in her Rocky Mountain high Colorado cabin. That is until E.T. phoned home and found out he’d been drafted. He’d left her with the promise to return and carry her back to his home planet where she’d never age another day and they’d live in matrimonial bliss for hundreds and hundreds of what she called Earth years. She was still waiting. That was when she showed me her dearest.

It was a still photo of the alien from the movie Predator, in all his gruesome glory without the mask and in spectacular Technicolor. His grimacing green and yellow countenance, toothy fanged snarl (which Jane Doe insisted was a loving grin) and bizarre shell-like dreadlocks would have taken me a very long time over many sessions. The cost to Jane Doe would have been staggering, and the commission would have paid my half of the rent for a couple of months—but I just didn’t have the heart to do it.

She took it hard, telling me how much she missed him and sat crying inconsolably for a long time. It was heartbreaking.

I thought about calling someone to help her out of her strange fantasy world, but she seemed harmless enough, and after talking to her for over an hour (after all, she had booked the time), I felt confident that her hubby from another planet was her only leap from reality (even though it was a beaut, f’sure).

I decided to let her be, and to comfort her suggested that in this day and age of CCTV and government stalking everywhere she might be better off not letting on to anyone about her spouse, that it might turn out bad for him if she did.

She wiped her eyes and blew her nose and looked up at me with pure gratitude in her eyes. “You’re right, Miss Hamilton. You’re absolutely right. But I’d still like to have a tattoo to remind me of him.” She sat quietly for a few moments then squared her shoulders, and drew her mouth into a tight line before saying, “How about if I get one of Arnold Schwarzenegger instead?”


You can read more about Melanie in Mystic Mischief, the third book in the “Mystic Isle” mystery series.

Just when Melanie Hamilton thought things couldn’t get stranger at The Mansion at Mystic Isle, she finds herself in the middle of a true pirate treasure hunt! Fortune hunters have arrived Indiana Jones-style at the New Orleans resort where she and boyfriend Jack Stockton work, with their eyes on the prize of a long-lost and priceless letter stolen from the famous pirate Jean Lafitte. Two archeologists, a Hollywood camera crew, and a marauding gator suddenly have Melanie so busy she almost doesn’t even have time to quarrel with Jack over the arrival of his ex-girlfriend… Almost. But her romantic issues take a back seat when a dead body shows up at the home of the resort’s owner. Now it’s up to Mel and the rest of the odd crew at Mystic Isle to bring order back to the bayou and solve the murder. But if someone would kill once for a piece of parchment, would they kill twice? And could Mel wind up at the bottom of Davy Jones’ Locker?

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Giveaway: One (1) U.S. reader will win a frosted glass coffee/tea mug and print copy of Mystic Mischief; one (1) U.S. reader will win a 3-book set of Mystic Isle Mysteries; and two (2) readers will win a Kindle/Nook/Kobo copy of Mystic Mischief. The giveaway ends September 20, 2017. Good luck everyone!

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About the authors
Sally J. Smith and Jean Steffens, are partners in crime—crime writing, that is. They live in the Valley of the Sun in Arizona, awesome for eight months out of the year, an inferno the other four. They write bloody murder, flirty romance, and wicked humor all in one package.

Connect with them at smithandsteffens.com, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

All comments are welcomed.

A day in the life of Lizzie Jones by Sally J. Smith and Jean Steffens

It’s been said Lizzie Jones is the very definition of an animal lover. My being a veterinary science student, a pet sitter, and volunteering at the vet clinic have made that accurate.

I’d taken extra time getting ready before heading to the clinic because my boyfriend, Tino Morales, was picking me up for lunch to celebrate his mamá’s birthday at the Lobster Pot. For the occasion, I’d worn my best and newest jeans and favorite blue sweater.

I was in the clinic’s back room, just about to put on a smock, when an agitated cry came over the intercom. “Lizzie, come quick!”

I bolted to the front. Holly, the receptionist, held the door open as Peter Buckley rushed in carrying Horatio, his German short-haired pointer.

“Lizzie,”—Peter thrust the big dog at me like the sixty-pound brute weighed no more than a sack of potatoes—“he’s hurt.”

Peter’s momentum and the weight of the dog staggered me, but I managed to stay upright, stumbling sideways like a drunken sailor before heading to an exam room.

“What happened?” I asked.

Peter fell in step beside me. His voice quivered. “We were out hunting. He went into the pond after a bird and came out bleeding—tree branch or something else cut him.”

Horatio was sopping wet and covered in mud from his nose to the tip of his tail, and since he was now plastered up against me, I was sopping wet and covered in mud too. His injured and bloody hind leg was up against my belly.

The dog shook and panted, whimpering deep in his throat. He tried to lick my face. Poor guy. My heart went out to him and Peter too.

Peter helped me lay Horatio gently on the table.

Horatio began to scrabble, trying to gain purchase on the slick stainless steel. I could see the gash on his right hind leg—trying to clot but still oozing.

Peter’s hands trembled as he tried to calm his dog.

“Doc Whitaker will take care of him.” I laid my hand on his, barely finishing before the door opened and Dr. Adam Whitaker, blond and movie-star handsome, rushed in.

He took a brief moment to question how the injury had been sustained then bent low over the dog. “Hold him for me, Lizzie.”

Poor Horatio went crazy trying to get up, like maybe he’d make a break for it. I spread myself over him. Adam examined the cut.

Now I was covered in mud and slime, and as I struggled with the terrified squirming dog, I caught a whiff of myself. I reeked of stagnant pond scum and wet dog.

Eventually Horatio’s leg was stitched up, and he was settled into a kennel until the anesthesia wore off.

I was heading to clean up the exam room when Tino walked in.

I couldn’t help noticing he looked great—hair perfect, face smooth and clean-shaven. He wore a pair of black jeans and a crisp white-collared shirt under a khaki blazer.

I spread my arms to display my favorite blue sweater and newest, best-fitting jeans in all their mud, blood, and dog hair and saliva glory.

“There was an emergency,” I said simply. “I. . .I. . .I’m so sorry. I know this day is important to you, and I feel like I’ve let you down.”

I was stone cold crazy about Tino Morales, my hot as a chili pepper, gentle as a Buddhist monk Latino, and the idea of disappointing him stung.

There was no way I could join Tino and his family. In my smelly, sorry state, I didn’t figure he’d even want me riding in his car.

“Let me down?” Tino stood blinking his beautiful brown eyes at me, his smile never wavering. “How can you think that? How’s the animal?”

“He’s doing well.”

“That’s good.”

Doc Whitaker walked out, quickly sizing things up. “Peter came in before you could change?”

I nodded.

“And you had plans for lunch?”

I nodded again.

Tino started to speak, but Doc Whitaker beat him to the punch. “Tino, how would you feel about escorting a woman dressed in scrubs to lunch?”

Tino grinned. “Scrubs? Lizzie’s beautiful no matter what she’s wearing, even mud and dog hair.”

My heart swelled.

“Lizzie,” Adam said, “why don’t you go in the back for a quick shower and pick out one of the newer sets of scrubs. That way Tino can show you off for the kind-hearted woman you are.”

“Do we have time?” I asked Tino.

“Of course,” he said.

Later when we walked into the Lobster Pot, Tino’s family was already there. No one seemed to notice the scrubs with puppies all over them—no one but the waiter.

He asked, “And what can I get for you, Doctor?”

I began. “Not doctor.”

Tino finished. “Not yet, but soon she’ll be the best veterinarian in the state.”

I leaned over, kissing him.

“Nice,” he said. “BTW, you look adorable in those scrubs.”

“Well,” I said, “at least I smell better.”


You can read more about Lizzie in Divas, Diamonds & Death, the 15th book in the “Danger Cove” (Pet Sitter) mystery series.

This little piggy may not be coming home.

This little piggy went to market. This little piggy stayed home. And this little piggy got kidnapped, and her diamond collar was swiped, and then there was a murder and false accusations. . .and. . ..and. . .oh my goodness!

Pet Sitter turned sleuth, Lizzie Jones is excited about the upcoming Second Chance Animal Rescue fundraiser. The celebrity draw, Sabrina Ramirez, is a pet psychic famous for her TV show The Critter Communicator. Sabrina arrives with her entourage that includes Rosie, an adorable teacup pig that Sabrina treats like royalty, Sabrina’s buff bodyguard, her devoted nephew, and unexpectedly, her estranged ex-husband.

When Sabrina needs a pet sitter Lizzie is thrilled to take on the job. That is until the little piglet is pignapped on Lizzie’s watch—along with her diamond collar! But things go from bad to worse when the fundraiser turns deadly and Lizzie’s granddad is high on the murder suspect list. Lizzie jumps headlong into clearing her granddad’s name and finding the pignapper and the killer. Are they one and the same, or is she looking for two separate types of swine? And will she find them first. . .or will the killer be the one frying Lizzie’s bacon?

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Giveaway: Two readers selected at random will receive their choice of any of Jean and Sally’s books (e-book, everywhere or print, US only). Leave a comment below for your chance to win. The giveaway ends August 21, 2017. Good luck everyone!

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Meet the author
Sally J. Smith and Jean Steffens, are partners in crime—crime writing, that is. They live in the Valley of the Sun in Arizona, awesome for eight months out of the year, an inferno the other four. They write bloody murder, flirty romance, and wicked humor all in one package.

Connect with them at smithandsteffens.com, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

All comments are welcomed.