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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The World Awaits Us

December 5, 2012

Mrs. Chatterbox and I try to plan one major vacation a year. Paying for these trips isn’t easy but we feel it a good investment in body and soul. Last year we were unable to travel to Egypt as planned because of all the political turmoil; we settled on Turkey, and now a year later the timing still doesn’t feel right to attempt Egypt.  


Mrs. C. and I have a few health issues that have convinced us that now is the time to stretch our wings and travel outside our comfort zone. Turkey was colorful, historic and friendly—but not exactly the exotic destination we’d hoped for. Over the past few months we’ve toyed with a destination, arguably one of the most exotic places on the planet, but time and again we’ve pushed this destination onto a back burner because we just weren’t sure we were up to the challenge.


We toyed with the idea of Rhine River Cruises, revisiting Rome or Paris, escaping to Machu Picchu in Peru. But one destination continued to haunt us, lure us with a siren’s call to the ultimate land of color, mystery and enchantment.


In spite of the fact that Mrs. C. and I are seasoned travelers, in March we will be packing our suitcases with apprehension along with clothing. We will be heading to marvels beyond comprehension—some could never live up to my expectation—but we aren’t as young as we once were and we will no doubt come face to face with facets of life that are unpleasant, in many instances unimaginable. Our courage has faltered in the past few months, but no longer. If not now…when?


There’s lots to do before we go. I understand we’ll need visas…and shots. Lots of shots. Then, as Phil Keoghan would say to us if we were contestants on The Amazing Race, “The world awaits you.” We’re ready!


Have you guessed our destination yet?





If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?



amazing !!!! I will say.... enjoy laro !!!!! jai ho
By: izdiher on December 5, 2012
What a colorful, lovely land. I'm sure you will have the times of your lives there. As for me, I'd like to visit New Zealand, sooner rather than later.
By: Shelly on December 5, 2012
I probably would have liked to go there at some point and then I saw "Slumdog Millionaire" and "Gahndi" and read a couple of books on the place and decided against it.
By: PT Dilloway on December 5, 2012
oh wow!!!! lucky you!!!! someday we will be travelers again...and oh I cannot wait. I am happy for you!
By: annmariepipa on December 5, 2012
my list is long...basically i hit every continent except antarctica...
By: lime on December 5, 2012
I can't say that I have a particular preference for one place over another. I'd just like to travel without all of the inconveniences created over the past few years.
By: Uncle Skip on December 5, 2012
That is exciting! I can't wait for the posts and photos!
By: Eva Gallant on December 5, 2012
How fun. I'm sure you'll have a great time. I would tour America. There is much I've not seen. Traveling to another country really doesn't appeal to me all that much. I've talked about going to Germany and Switzerland, but I'll probably never go. The reason to go was to be where hubby was during the Vietnam war. Have a terrific day. :)
By: Comedy Plus on December 5, 2012
I would love to take Mike to Germany some day - to see the land of his ancestors. And it would be nice to take him to southern Africa to see some of the things I saw when I was there (Victoria Falls, for one thing).
By: The Bug on December 5, 2012
If you ever want company on one of these trips let me know. I have financial means and a passport and would love to see Egypt. We could chat about writing, and I could bring my friend Tomeka.
By: Michael Offutt on December 5, 2012
Hi Stephen, I had India in the back of my mind while reading this. I think it would be a wonderful experience! It' is certainly one of the destinations on my bucket list. I think I have a similar take on things as you guys. I watched my father work and work towards a time when he could travel, then was taken by cancer before he could really enjoy himself. My wife and I have began to travel a bit. Nothing too exotic just yet, but we've dipped out toes, so to speak. Definitely take advantage of the ability to travel while you are still in good health!
By: Ken on December 5, 2012
India! I would love to see India. Can't wait to hear what you have to say about it... Pearl
By: Pearl, Why You Little... on December 5, 2012
Oh wow, Mom and Dad spent 6 weeks in India with our Indian friends and got the insiders view. I expect pics of you and Mrs. C. in native dress. Safe travels.
By: Kelly Louise on December 5, 2012
The Taj Mahal should be WONDERFUL--It's one of the few places I haven't been! Have you been to the Galapagos Islands---they were absolutely AMAZING!! If you go, I recommend Lindblad (sp?) Cruise Lines. They have small ships--50 or so passengers & it really makes a difference.
By: fishducky on December 5, 2012
I'm sure you and Mrs. C will have a wonderful time in India, but honestly, it isn't on any list of places I'll be visiting. Ever. I'm a Europhile. From the north of Sweden to the toe of Italy, that's what I want to see. (Now where's a winning lottery ticket when you need one?) S
By: scott park on December 5, 2012
I might be looking forward to those blog posts as much as you're looking forward to the trip. Well, probably not but I know I'll enjoy hearing all about it. What an exciting destination.
By: Hilary on December 5, 2012
WOW, that is awesome!!! Good for you. Australia and New Zealand are on my bucket list.
By: Just Keepin' It Real folks on December 5, 2012
Stephen, just thinking of traveling scares the pants off me. If I could go anywhere, I can't think beyond Indiana. I'm a hometown, smalltown person at heart. I want you to know that I can NOT get your blog onto my BLOGGERS BLOCK. It keeps saying "NO URL DETECTED".
By: lotta joy on December 5, 2012
Excellent choice. If i could go anywhere, it would be to Australia and New Zealand, two weeks each, making it a whole month down under.
By: messymimi on December 5, 2012
Yes...AWESOME! Don't you need someone along to carry your luggage? *Volunteers* If I had unlimited funds (as in major lottery winnings), I'd want to travel to all continents. I think Australia would be on top of the list. My relatives in Germany can wait... :-)
By: Pixel Peeper on December 5, 2012
Bravo! I doubt we'll ever have that kind of courage. But a friend we met in Mexico (she was Canadian) had been there several times and said the filth is terrible but the colors are spectacular. She would go back again and again. Enjoy!
By: Bruce/Catalyst on December 5, 2012
Yes, India . Go for it! My place to go Russia. I would like to take the train ride out to Vladovistok.
By: Red on December 5, 2012
I would like to return to Europe esp. the Bavarian region of Germany. I have been there a couple of times and think it is one of the most beautiful places on the planet. If not there I would like to go to Ireland. I haven't been there before. India is exotic for sure. I will be looking forward to hearing all about it from you.
By: Cheryl P. on December 5, 2012
England. Love, Janie
By: Janie Junebug on December 5, 2012
Sorry for my country's turmoil, and I don't think Egypt will be a great destination for a few more years. Not that we don't have tourists, especially on the Red Sea, but we have less than usual. Still, this is the most secure and safe place I've ever lived. I could walk down any street in Egypt at 3 in the morning with money hanging out of my purse and no one would even speak to me much less think about mugging me. And I've lived here 20 years -- I should know. :-)
By: Lexa Cain on December 5, 2012
England, Ireland, or Scotland. I'm a sucker for a good castle.
By: Val on December 5, 2012
May I be perfectly honest? Almost anywhere with Maria Shara pova. And I'm serious. Life is too short. Why not dream big? Travel safely, my friend!
By: Michael Manning on December 5, 2012
Wow that is amazing. All the places you've been, and now India. You are so right, too. Life is too short. Seize it! Nothing exotic for me, I would travel home to Arizona to see my dad, because life is short.
By: The Insomniac's Dream on December 5, 2012
As I read your post I began imagining where this was going and what destination you and your better half longed to see, feel, taste... absorb and India crossed my mind. But I also thought of China, Vietnam, Africa and the Amazon. For many of the same reasons your raised, we're thinking of moving the bucket list into high gear before we cross a point of no return (health). Here here to safe travels! Will you keep a journal (log) parts of your journey in writing and images? How long will this epic journey be? I would love to experience the Mediterranean including the Greek Isles.
By: Daniel LaFrance on December 5, 2012
New Zealand is probably at the top of my wish list, closely followed by Norway and Australia. But there are many other paces as well...
By: Brighton Pensioner on December 6, 2012
I did have a hunch bout it! So is Mumbai among your cities to visit?
By: Aditya Singh on December 6, 2012
Wow. How exciting! Someone recently asked me this same question... and I had no answer then either!
By: Mitchell is Moving on December 6, 2012
Very good choice, and you'll be fine. I can't wait to see the pictures and read the stories. xoRobyn
By: Robyn Engel on December 6, 2012
wow....that will be some trip! I have heard India is beautiful and a number of new and exciting places have managed to " pop-up" in the past 5 years. Safe travels to both of you. I am ver excited to read about and see pictures on your "journey"..
By: Jenny on December 6, 2012
Wow! Good for you and Mrs. C. for being such adventurous travelers! I'm not nearly so well traveled, but I'd love to see Ireland and England someday.
By: Patricia on December 6, 2012
My partner lived in India for a view months. It was a life changing experience. I hope you enjoy the trip. :)
By: LL COOL JOE on December 7, 2012
India! Nice pick! What an amazing trip that will be. :)
By: Hey Monkey Butt on December 7, 2012
Paris and a driv around France. We did it once, and it was so marvelous that I would rather do it again then try something new.
By: joeinvegas on December 7, 2012
After cruising to Bermuda last year, I have now got the cruising bug. Scandinavia sounds good.
By: Bryan Jones on December 8, 2012
That's great! You'll love it....sometimes. Do you know yet which parts of India you will be visiting? I learned this the hard way, but if anyone ever asks you, "Camel or jeep?" The answer is jeep. Always jeep.
By: Daniel McBane on December 9, 2012

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