Toni Took A Cruise and Jane Took A Dive

Bula!

In 2006, Rhonda and I went scuba diving in Fiji. It was the second time for her and the third time for me. I was freshly divorced, and Rhonda and I had been living together for two years.

Rhonda, John, and I are PADI-certified advanced divers. Rhonda had gotten her certification fairly recently, but I had over 120 dives under my belt and John had more than that. John and I had dived in Fiji, Truk, Palau, Saipan, Rota, and Kona, Hawaii.  Our trips to Fiji, Truk, Palau, and Kona were on liveaboards, which means you live, eat, and sleep on the boat. They keep your dive gear all set up at the back of the boat, with your tanks filled and ready to go for each dive, and usually you do two morning dives and two afternoon dives, and a night dive with rest intervals in-between in which to decompress.

John and I loved the live-aboard life, and we took Rhonda with us on live-aboard trips to Fiji and Kona, our favorite locations. Unfortunately, Rhonda gets seasick just watching a hammock swing in the wind, so she spent most of those trips either puking or lying flat in her bunk. The only times she wasn’t sick was when she was actually diving. There’s no turbulence at sixty feet down; but when she came up to fifteen feet to do her three-minute safety stop, she was puking again. Nothing seemed to help.

I get seasick too, but I can take a pill and I’m fine, and after three days I have my sea legs and don’t need the pill anymore. She is fine with the pill for cars and planes, but she absolutely cannot do boats.

What made this trip different was that we stayed at the resort and went out on the dive boat from there. Also, we used scopolamine patches instead of pills. Rhonda started out from home with a patch, went through the entire trip with patches, and didn’t get sick once. She did take a day off from diving in the middle of the week, which was fortuitous because that day the sea was so rough that we were being thrown around and had to anchor ourselves to something immovable to get into our gear. I think that day would have done Rhonda in if she’d been out there with me.

Another thing that was different is that John wasn’t with us. We met really congenial people on our dive trips, but John was usually unhappy with me because I didn’t use up my air as fast as he did, so I could stay down longer and go deeper than he could, which didn’t exactly make me the ideal dive buddy for him. I was into underwater photography, and I would go chasing after something to get a picture and leave him behind. That tension tended to put people off. One of the people from the dive shop told John that he needed to find a different dive buddy, because, as he put it, “Jane’s a fish. You’re not.”

Being at the resort allowed us to avail ourselves of spa services, such as massages and facials. Also, Fiji is beautiful, and Fijians are delightful. The dive masters on the boat tried to teach us some phrases in Fijian, which was fun, but of course, we forgot them as soon as we got home. Fijians make fans out of palm leaves, and they are absolutely the best fans for those of us who suffer from hot flashes. One of the resort employees took us into town, and we were able to find Fiji fans for all our postmenopausal female friends back home and still have some left over.

Unfortunately, that was the last dive trip. Rhonda and I have become quite the couch potatoes. The arthritis in my hands makes it impossible to pull a wet suit on, even if I hadn’t outgrown it. Our dive stuff is still out there in the garage, but I don’t think we’ll ever use it again.

Anybody out there need some used dive gear?

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I’m back! Where have I been all this time?

The last 2 years have been incredibly busy. In 2017, I went back to working 3/4 time to allow another of my partners to go half time for medical reasons. That meant I was making half again as much money as I had in previous years working half time. Plus, now that I’m over 70, I’m collecting Social Security and mandatory distributions from 2 pension plans. I also had a huge tax deduction for 2016 because of all the repairs on my Hilton Head house, which I then sold, exactly one month before Hurricane Matthew hit and drowned Hilton Head Island.

What to do with all that extra money?

I decided to go all out on marketing for all 5 books. Working with a delightful marketing consultant, Red Hernandez, my books got advertised in Reader’s Digest, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and countless others. I had Hollywood treatments done and screenplays written. I had publicists up the wazoo working on my behalf. I’ve had author videos filmed right here in my home. Finally, all 5 will be made into audiobooks. I spent over $300,000.

Which gave me another huge tax deduction for 2017.

Now, I’ve written a 6th Toni Day mystery, called A Deadly Homecoming.

Here’s what it’s all about.

Pathologist Toni Day returns to her hometown of Long Beach, California. Her mother’s best friend Doris’s husband Dick has disappeared, and Doris has moved in with Toni’s mother and stepfather, convinced that the historic house she shared with Dick is haunted. To make things even more complicated, Doris is also suffering from a mysterious illness.

When Toni and Hal arrive, Doris takes a sudden turn for the worse and ends up in the hospital in a coma. While doctors struggle to diagnose and treat, Toni explores the historic house looking for clues, and finds evidence suggesting that Dick may not be who he seems, as well as a malfunctioning dumbwaiter, a laird’s lug, a secret staircase, and a half-empty bottle of white arsenic. She also finds Dick’s body.

Toni embarks on a whirlwind investigation revealing insurance fraud, identity theft, and serial murder reaching back at least four decades, while struggling to convince doctors that Doris is suffering from chronic arsenic poisoning. The Long Beach police, not accustomed to Toni’s unorthodox methods of crime-solving, are skeptical of her conclusions until Toni herself nearly becomes the final victim.

It’s been through all 3 stages of editing and received Editor’s Choice from iUniverse, the 4th of my 6 books to do so. It has now moved on to Cover Copy Polish, and then Proofreading, and then interior and cover design.

I’ve sold books at Shoshone Art in the Park, and at Twin Falls Art in the Park, and still have Thousand Springs in September and Art of the Gift in December. I’m noticing that people who are new to my books usually want to start at the beginning with Murder Under the Microscope, while those who are familiar with them have already bought all of them, and are impatiently wondering why I don’t have a new one yet. I’ve assured them that it’s coming, it’s coming, but I don’t know when. I’m praying to have it for Thousand Springs, but it’s far from a given.

However, there’s a development.

I received a thumb drive in the mail upon which was the audiobook for The Body on the Lido Deck. I’ve listened to it. It’s good. I approve. Maybe, just maybe, if I don’t have Deadly Homecoming for Thousand Springs, I will have an audiobook to sell.

And that’s where I’ve been all this time.