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Friday, July 29, 2011

MORE CAYMAN UNDERWATER


I've been on a cruise ship all this week with zero internet access. Did I fool you? I haven't been able to post on FB or Tweet much or even check my email, but thanks to blogger's automatic post feature, I was able to keep posting through this last week of the tour. 

MONDAY, August 1st, is the final day to enter my MICHAEL + LEESIE FOREVER CONTEST! And remember, if you like my author page on FaceBook, you get an extra entry. The contest closes 12:00 a.m. AZ time--same as Pacific Time!

I'll announce the winners on August 3rd!! I'm excited to send M+L M&Ms out to the first thirty who entered. I'm ordering special mini ice packs and padded foil envelopes so they don't melt in the heat wave. Phoenix is always too hot for chocolate in the summer, but this year the whole country is. I hope I don't have trouble mailing them internationally! 

My husband and Rachel took an underwater photo course from the world-famous Kathy Church Underwater Photography school during one of our Cayman trips. They were using big strobe flashes, so the color is great. I'm supposed to be on the beach today, snorkeling. I'm in Bermuda--not Cayman--but I could see a lot of the same things. Except, of course, the statue. I totally forgot about that underwater statue on Grand Cayman. I've never done that dive. It's not where we usually go. That could have made an amazing scene. The swing and the statue. I missed out. You guys will have to use your imaginations!





















Thursday, July 28, 2011

CAYMAN'S NORTH SHORE--ENTER AUNTY JAZZ!

The first couple times we visited Grand Cayman, my husband and I stayed at a lovely dive hotel and dove with DiveTech--one of Cayman's best dive operators. Hey, I'm wearing that exact same t-shirt while I sit here and type. It's my favorite jammie top. 
Michael loves to dive on this side of the island because this is where he learned how to free dive! DiveTech is about the only dive op that teaches free diving in North America. Crazy. It's so popular in Europe and Asia, too. There was a huge write up about free diving in SKIN DIVER magazine when Michael was still gelling in my brain. I tore it out and added it to the collage on my bulletin board. I decided Michael's awesome breathe-hold skills would keep him alive when Isadore hit in TAKEN BY STORM. I researched free diving, but needed more hands on experience to write it. My husband and I took a free dive certification class from DiveTech. My husband was great. I was horrible, but I learned tons and got to watch the instructor dive effortlessly holding his breathe--just like Michael does.




Here's the hotel. It was badly damaged in a big hurricane that hit Cayman after our visit, but it is fine now.

We ate breakfast and dinner here. It was lovely, but there were mosquitos at night!

This is the entry to a great shore diving spot along a mini-wall. This is where we did our free diving class.

We swam out of this little coral cove and spent the day diving with no tanks! I did love the breathing. I get migraines, and I continue to use the deep breathing techniques to keep calm and increase the 02 to my brain. It helps. The Kirkus reviewer was shocked that I put such a dangerous activity in a novel for teens. She thought we should have included a warning to kids not to try diving a hundred feet underwater holding your breath. That's YA for you. Explicit incest and rape scenes are the norm. But free diving? Oh, no! All your readers will try it and drown.

Me at the free diving site.

The dock at the resort. 

Our dive boats waiting to whisk us away for the morning.


Another Cayman sunset. That's me enjoying it. 
This area of Cayman isn't ritzy condos and ocean front high-rise luxury hotels. It's chickens, rusted cars in the front yard, laundry hanging on the line, and shacks. There was a restaurant run by a local woman that we drove by a lot. We wanted to try it, but our meals were included with our hotel stay. Those humbler Cayman neighborhoods, the tiny tin roof stores and restaurants inspired Aunty Jazz.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

BONNIE'S INTERVIEW and MICHAEL'S FAVORITE SWIM THROUGHS

Today is the fourth installment of Bonnie's Interview! Thanks so much, Bonnie, for featuring me all month. I've enjoyed stopping by every week. 

These underwater pictures were all taken in the East End. The best dives are when your guide leads you through great coral tunnels, or swim-throughs. There's loads of good ones to explore here. Let's call this one Michael's favorite. My favorite swim-through (and most likely Michael's) was on Little Cayman's Bloody Bay Wall--but we don't have pictures of that because it was before my hubby got his underwater camera. Oh, we have him to thank for all these shots. Thanks, honey!








You're right. This isn't a swim-through! The kids are kneeling on the sand working on training skills like mask clearing, regulator recovery, and stuff like that. Michael would teach his students like this!


Yes, that's me. Look at my awesome form. Are you laughing at my bug-eye mask face? Yes, scuba is way more glamorous than it sounds. Nothing sexy about scuba--except Michael and his roommates in CAYMAN SUMMER!

And of course, this charming lobster is sexy, too.







At last the swim-throughs!!



So much fun to swim through these. I'm bringing up the rear in this shot.

Monday, July 25, 2011

LIKE MY NEW FB PAGE and MICHAEL THE DIVE INSTRUCTOR

Yikes! You have one week left to enter the Michael + Leesie Forever Contest!  Today the tour goes to my new author FaceBook page. If you have already liked it, thank you! To show my gratitude I'm giving everyone who likes my page before August 1st at midnight when the contest closes, an extra entry in the contest. I'm automatically entering everyone who likes the page if they haven't already entered. So if you haven't liked yet--I won't cry--but drop by and like me and you'll get an extra contest entry. 

I know you all love to hear about Michael. Today he takes us to work. Here is the training pool were he taught in CAYMAN SUMMER. Can you see Leesie sitting on the pool's edge with her arm in a sling watching Michael's every move?



This shot was taken in the Virgin Islands, but you can see what it's like training kids to use all that scuba gear. Yup, these are my kids getting their first scuba lessons.


This is my daughter, Rachel! See the sucba tanks behind her? That's what Michael has to lug off the boat and refill every night. He works so hard. I love that about him.

This is the small condo complex where Michael and Leesie's apartment with all those crazy divers was. Wonder which window was there's?

Once the classroom and pool work is done, this is where they take the students for their first open-water ocean dives. Nice office Michael's got, huh?


Rachel hooking up her regulators to the scuba tank.

Job well done!


Rachel likes to take up-close micro shots.


Leesie met her new roommates right here!

And woke up to this beautiful sky!

And sat on this beach until Michael got back from the morning's dives.