Meet mystery writer Maggie Bishop. She’s a fellow Sisters in Crime member who lives in the mountains of North Carolina–one of my favorite regions in the country. Maggie’s latest novel Perfect for Framing comes out November first.
CocoCay by Maggie Bishop
How could I possibly take time off with a book release in a month? Perfect for Framing, my latest mystery, is set in the mountain tourist town of Boone, North Carolina, near where I live. Speaking engagements, book signings and internet marketing have made my life crazy the past two months and my weekends are booked until Christmas. Don’t get me wrong – I enjoy meeting readers and connecting with them online. But, my brain can only take so much before it demands a break. Although I live in a vacation paradise, I long for a change and need to recharge my energy. Early drafts of my next novel feel stale and uninspired. I need emotional time and space with my husband. I’m tired of cooking. I want the ocean. You’ve felt this way. My husband found a 4-day cruise which doesn’t interfere with my weekend booksignings. Come along with me …
A breeze stirs the warm Caribbean air above the private island as I walk into the ocean and stop when the water is knee-high. My skin tingles as the cool liquid sends mini-shock waves up my back and I wait to adjust. I never could dive right in – not out of fear but from a need to pause and absorb the contrasting cool. Not yet … almost … okay, now! My forward creep brings the water waist high and I turn around and put on the swim fins, balancing precariously on one foot in the gentle current.
I splurged and bought good snorkel equipment for this Royal Caribbean cruise, my third trip to the private CocoCay Island in the Bahamas. The mandatory life vest goes over my sunburn-preventing tee shirt. After spreading my spit around the inside of the face-mask, I put it on, adjust the strap, push on the mask to seal it, situate the snorkel and lay face down.
The water near the shore is murky from being stirred up by other swimmers. Straight-legged kicks glide me out to clearer water in moments and my eyes focus on the bottom about five feet down. The outline of rocks appears, then movement. A pearly fish lurks near the bottom sand. No fish are seen while flippering over a shallow plateau of foot-long sea grass. A shelf delineates a drop in depth to about eight feet and a school of parrot fish swims into sight. These eighteen-inch long jewel-toned fish ignore me and swim three feet beneath me as I hover on the surface. The current carries me toward the coral reef enclosing the Cay when hundreds of six-inch striped sergeant-majors surround me, a few even bump into me! They are narrow when viewed from the front but are palm-shaped when seen sideways. Fat-skinny, fat-skinny flash continuously for as long as I want to stay with them.
This snorkel is so easy and efficient that I forget about it and breath normally; the mask remains clear of fog and salt-water free. Occasionally, I pull my legs up to my chest to keep the sun off them and bob about the surface. If thoughts about writing occur, they drift off like the seaweed.
The fish disappear when I float over a flat section and the outline of a stingray partially covered with sand on the bottom explains the lack of fish. The whiplike tail is longer than its diamond-shaped body. I propel myself to the undersea wreck of a private plane and spot a tiny two- colored pseudochromis with its brilliant purple spine and gold body. Lots of angelfish with long dorsal fins trail through the wreck along with brightly colored butterfly fish.
Another swimmer bumps into me, pulling me from my private underwater visual orgy. I check the time – it’s been three hours. I wonder if they are still serving lunch.
This mini-vacation is brought to you by an energized Maggie Bishop. Advice, wear long shorts to prevent sunburn on the backs of your legs.
[Remember–Everyone who comments is entered to win $100 Godiva Chocolatier and Harry & David giftbaskets, plus books from several Octoberguest! authors! Drawing held November 2nd.]
Tomorrow: The one, the only Pinckney Benedict