Welcome to the Chubby Chatterbox Newsletter, where I’ll be posting favorites from the Chubby Chatterbox archives. In addition, my complete thriller Return of the Mary Celeste will soon be serialized here for those who have asked for something beyond a regular post.

My novel is based on a true event, arguably the greatest maritime mystery of all time. In 1872 the crew and passengers of Boston brigantine Mary Celeste abandoned their seaworthy ship and its valuable cargo, vanishing in the middle of the Atlantic. Speculation over their fate has never abated. History records that after the Mary Celeste tragedy no one from that fateful voyage was ever seen again. History is about to be rewritten…

Return of the Mary Celeste


Tragedy struck the brigantine Mary Celeste on the morning of November 25, 1872. The hourly log was later recovered from the deserted vessel; At 8 a.m. the last notation was made. By 9 a.m. no one remained aboard to chalk the next entry.

Something had terrified Captain Benjamin Briggs and his crew, prompting the seasoned skipper to make a decision certain to affect not only himself, his ship and crew, but his family as well—his wife and two year old daughter were aboard Mary Celeste. Much ink has been spilled in fanciful and scientific attempts to explain the calamity that engulfed this perfectly seaworthy ship, yet all that is known for certain is this: in a matter of minutes Captain Briggs became convinced that the only way to save their lives was by ordering everyone into a hastily launched lifeboat. By giving the order to abandon ship, he also launched the greatest of all maritime mysteries.

On December 5, 1872, a month after leaving New York Harbor, Mary Celeste was found drifting on a calm and empty sea. The ship was in fine condition, perfectly intact with valuable cargo safely stored in her hold, but the crew and passengers had vanished. None were ever seen again.

Until now….

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A Special Project and an Update

September 11, 2017

My thoughts this week have been with the folks in Florida facing Hurricane Irma, as well as the people in the Houston area still dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. It’s hard to know how best to help those affected by these tragedies and sending money seems cold and heartless, although the authorities say this is the best way we can help those in need.


This past week I’ve been working on a special project. I paused work on my chess scene to paint a picture for my future daughter-in-law. Her mother was killed in an auto accident eight years ago and, with CJ’s help, I painted a portrait of her mother as a pre-wedding surprise. It’s a challenge to paint someone from a snapshot, someone you’ve never laid eyes on, but when I presented the portrait yesterday I was assured the likeness was spot-on. The background is Sullivan Lake, a favorite spot where her family has camped every summer for years. I’m glad she was pleased by my efforts. It’s been a long time since I completed and delivered a project.




 My less-than-desirable painting setup in the garage. My i-Pad is plugged in to give me a more three dimensional image to work from.




Finished Portrait



Progress on my chess painting moves forward. As I began working on the Jewish man, I realized I’d left more space between him and the chess players than is visible in the photograph. I felt the need for something to add interest to that portion of the painting and settled on the idea of a dog. I spent three hours painting a bulldog, before realizing I’d painted him too small—Chihuahua size. In these photos he's been repainted in a more appropriate size.









I haven’t yet decided if he’s a permanent addition to my painting.





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What a lovely gift for your future daughter-in-law. Good use of the trash bin too!
By: LL Cool Joe on September 11, 2017
That's a truly awesome gift for your daughter-in-law to be. Nice addition of the dog.
By: Alex J. Cavanaugh on September 11, 2017
If i were wealthy enough to be a patron of an artist, i'd want to simply pay you to create artowrks and let me watch!
By: messymimi on September 11, 2017
That portrait is spot on to me. And I love the bulldog.
By: PT Dilloway on September 11, 2017
The portrait is lovely and what a thoughtful gift! Keep the dog!
By: Kelly on September 11, 2017
You're a nice man & a good artist!!
By: fishducky on September 11, 2017
Not sure the painting needs a dog, but then I used to yell at Bob Ross "No, no more trees" and then the trees made it better, so...
By: cranky on September 11, 2017
What a thoughtful gift for your future D-I-L I can see why she loved it. My vote, keep the dog.
By: Arkansas Patti on September 11, 2017
The portrait is wonderful. What a lovely remembrance gift for your new daughter in law. I the use of the I-Pad to help with dimensionality is a great idea. Not sure if you need the bulldog, but regardless, he looks like a blissful dog.
By: Tom Cochrun on September 11, 2017
wow- would love to watch you paint- I bet CJ's fiancée loves her Mother's portrait .....and I vote for the dog!
By: Kathe W. on September 11, 2017
Your portrait of your new DIL's mother is something I'm sure she'll treasure. And on your chess painting, keep the pooch. I love dogs! :)
By: scott park on September 11, 2017
That portrait is lovely! Well done! And I love the dog - I say keep it :)
By: The Bug on September 11, 2017
That painting is really something unique for your daughter-in-law to cherish, Stephen. A very thoughtful gift. And since we appear to be voting (whether you've sanctioned it or not), keep the dog :)
By: jenny_o on September 11, 2017
I think the dog fits right in. I'm always amazed at what you come up with to make use of space.
By: red Kline on September 11, 2017
That portrait is a wonderful gift! I'm sure she loves it.
By: Val on September 11, 2017
Stephen, I really like what you did for your future Daughter-in-law, that is such a heartwarming gift and an excellent painting my friend, you did really good on it. I also like the chess painting, I believe the dog is a nice addition.
By: Jimmy on September 12, 2017
You are super talented, Stephen. And I'd echo what a distinctive and moving idea for a gift to your future mother-in-law.
By: Bryan Jones on September 13, 2017
By your own admission you referred to yourself as a 'cantankerous old soul'. I'd like to suggest the following: 'cantankerous old soul... with a kind and compassionate heart'.
By: Daniel LaFrance on September 13, 2017
Your daughter-in-law will love you for this! And I'm voting for the dog, too. :-)
By: Pixel Peeper on September 16, 2017

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