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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Peculiar Picture #59

April 7, 2017

This illustration was not a commission. Painted on spec in my spare time, my hope was that art directors might find it useful. I painted hundreds of pictures in this manner. Frankly, I can’t even remember painting this one. 


It seemed like a good idea at the time, but I found this image in a drawer, forgotten along with half a dozen Y2K illustrations that will never again see the light of day since the world didn’t end in the year 2000, seventeen years ago. I could easily imagine art directors using an illustration of a fortune teller for a variety of purposes: divining the future of the stock market, predicting the rise or decline of the dollar, sports results—anything with an uncertain outcome. With so many potential uses, it was surprising when this picture never found a buyer.


I’ve always enjoyed rendering details and painting with evocative colors. It’s still possible for this image to sell, but my own crystal ball has warned me not to hold my breath.







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That's a shame. The image has a lot of personality.
By: Alex J. Cavanaugh on April 7, 2017
Seems like someone could have found a use for it, like those fortune tellers who work out of their homes. Maybe if you put a businessperson in front of the crystal ball you could have sold it to a business publication.
By: PT Dilloway on April 7, 2017
I'm really surprised it didn't sell as it's a fun image. Maybe it will now you've shown it on your blog?
By: LL Cool Joe on April 7, 2017
Frankly, I'm surprised you never had an offer for that one. It's so versatile!
By: Kelly on April 7, 2017
I think this painting is great-it has a lot of humour and is relevant even today because so many go to these fortune tellers. I remember the chaos of Y2K...the media made it out that we would all be living in caves somewhere
By: Birgit on April 7, 2017
I can't believe this didn't sell! I love it!!!
By: Mitchell is Moving on April 7, 2017
I'm surprised it didn't sell. The concept is solid, the colours are wonderful - I wonder why no one bit!
By: jenny_o on April 7, 2017
It SHOULD have sold!!
By: fishducky on April 7, 2017
I agree with the first commenter in that it has a lot of personality. I wonder why no one saw potential in this piece? Interesting. I also love the strong chin on the woman.
By: Michael Offutt on April 7, 2017
Hah- just stick an obvious stockbroker in the painting and you'll get a buyer!
By: Kathe W. on April 7, 2017
I like it. I think it would play nicely with a caricature of one of those so-called experts that make predictions about who is going to the World Series for example.
By: Mr. Shife on April 7, 2017
That is a great image! With the plethora of online publishing-blogs, news sites, aggregate services, etc I would think some of your "ready" images would be a great addition. I read many new's services and some feature great photography, but few rely on illustrations. Just sayin....
By: Tom Cochrun on April 7, 2017
Can't decide which appeals to me more...the colors, or her jewelry!
By: Val on April 7, 2017
I adore the colors and characterization of the fortune teller.! Weird that it didn't sell.
By: Lexa Cain on April 7, 2017
She's certainly intriguing, i also wonder why it never sold.
By: messymimi on April 8, 2017
I like her face!
By: Tom Sightings on April 8, 2017
I like it- I think it's the colors. Maybe try again and it might sell now. Have a super weekend!
By: Terri @ Coloring Outside the Lines on April 8, 2017
Repurpose Stephen! You know what sells... replace her with some s$x sizzle! Btw... it's simply a suggestion. :)
By: Daniel LaFrance on April 9, 2017
I like it!
By: cranky on April 10, 2017
I like it, too. In my mind, I'm adding a person sitting on the other side of the table, opposite to the crystal ball and fortune teller, waiting with bated breath for what the fortune teller has to say.
By: Pixel Peeper on April 22, 2017

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