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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July 6, 2015


I hope you’ll forgive me, but I’ve waited twelve years for this to happen, and now that it has I can’t resist crowing.


Twelve years ago I switched from painting to writing because my visual vocabulary was exhausted and I decided to paint with words instead of paint. I’d always enjoyed telling stories and decided to become a professional writer. I had no idea as to the magnitude of the task I’d set for myself. I’d started selling paintings as a teenager and figured that, if I applied myself and worked hard, success as a writer would come my way. It didn’t.


I wrote four novels before deciding I wasn’t really a novelist, so I began writing about my favorite subject—me. Before long I had a collection of written memories I cobbled into a memoir: The Kid in the Kaleidoscope; A Chubby Chatterbox Grows up in the 50s, 60s and Beyond. I took my Chubby Chatterbox moniker from here.


I sent out my memoir a few times but was told by agents that my story was funny and compelling, but if I weren’t a celebrity no one would buy it. They were probably right, and I still haven’t sold it. In fact, up until a few days ago I hadn’t sold anything. Twelve years without earning a penny. I’d had a few pieces accepted for publication but I only received complimentary copies as payment.


A few days ago I received an e-mail saying that one of my stories had been accepted by Chicken Soup for the Soul. I was pleased they’d enjoyed the story I’d sent them, happier still that they were willing to publish it, but then I read something that made me hold my breath. Had I read correctly? I looked again. Yes, I hadn’t read incorrectly. They were going to pay me for my work! It was only a few hundred dollars but it was the first time I’d earned money—actual money, currency, coin of the realm, pecunia, for my writing.


After all this time it felt good. This publisher even invited me to submit more stories for another book currently in production. When my head stops spinning I’ll try and write something else for them.


The book is called Volunteering and Giving Back, and it will be published next month. It will be hard to cash this check; I’d like to frame it and hang it on my wall. Mrs. Chatterbox, who provided the inspiration for this story, has suggested a photocopy would look just as good.


I think she has plans for the money. Oh well, she earned it every bit as much as I did.



Coming in August





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CONGRATULATIONS, STEVE!!! It took awhile, but I knew someday.....! You are a great storyteller! You must have practiced when you were growing up on your mom to get so good!
By: Linda on July 6, 2015
Congratulations! And what a great volume to be in. Think you just found your calling.
By: Alex J. Cavanaugh on July 6, 2015
BIG CONGRATS!!! Sit back and glow a bit. Your stories are always funny and true to form. I hope this inspires you to write more. At least you got a response with your rejections...I never even got a response! I have made "pennies" from some of my photos, but nothing to frame on a wall.
By: Tabor on July 6, 2015
Congrats! Take a photocopy!! Enjoy!! You deserve it. :)
By: Rita McGregor on July 6, 2015
That is fantastic!!! I am so excited for you. Read my post today and you'll understand why I must live vicariously through you, ha ha.
By: Cherdo on July 6, 2015
Congratulations to you, sir. It's always nice to occasionally earn a few quid/dollars from our writing - it's kind of validating.
By: Bryan Jones on July 6, 2015
Congratulations, Stephen. I can remember the thrill when I first had an article published in a national magazine. (The magazine is long out of print. I like to think it wasn't because of me!) I photocopied the check and still have it around here somewhere.
By: Catalyst on July 6, 2015
Wonderful news! Congratulations indeed! So nice that others outside this blog community will be able to read you.
By: Tom Cochrun on July 6, 2015
Congratulations of the highest order. Justice has prevailed and you been rewarded. You should consider adding a graphic of a horn on the sidebar of your blog. A sweet reminder to your loyal readers of the day you announced you've been published and tooted your horn in celebration.
By: Daniel LaFrance on July 6, 2015
Kudos! Well done! I hope this is just the beginning for you. You have a way of luring in readers and hooking them until the end. I wish I had something so grand to report, but alas, I do not. It makes me regret that I scheduled today's blog post to come out the same day as yours!
By: Val on July 6, 2015
'Bout time someone besides your faithful readers here recognized superior writing when they saw it. Congratulations!! But...why isn't your picture on the cover of the new book? DOH! Will they never learn? *tisk* ;)
By: Scott Park on July 6, 2015
Congratulations. I hope it's the first of many writing successes for you! Enjoy it.
By: Katy Anders on July 6, 2015
MAZEL TOV!! You have every right to kvell (Yiddish for being so proud you feel like you're going to explode)!!
By: fishducky on July 6, 2015
Congrats ... that's big! I'll' be sure to get a copy of the book ...and point out to all my friends that I know the famous Stephen Hayes!
By: Tom Sightings on July 6, 2015
Well, congratulations! You can crow all you want.
By: red on July 6, 2015
congrats! It should not have taken so long.
By: cranky on July 6, 2015
Congrats big time. You are not only a writer but a published one with coins in his pocket. YES!!! Can't wait to see you in print.
By: Akansas Patti on July 6, 2015
Way to go!
By: The Bug on July 6, 2015
truly, truly awesome!
By: TexWisGirl on July 6, 2015
Congratulations! And keep on writing!
By: Pixel Peeper on July 6, 2015
Awesome news! Writing takes patience and persistence. Keep at it!
By: Botanist on July 6, 2015
could not have happened to a nicer person and I've enjoyed all your stories! woo hoo!
By: Kathe W. on July 6, 2015
Well done.
By: Jerry E. Beuterbaugh on July 7, 2015
What a great news Steve and so very well deserved good luck with the new story for the next publication.
By: John on July 7, 2015
what glorious news......congratulations
By: omalinda on July 7, 2015
congratulations! an unexpected reward is always nice. especially when it comes with money.
By: Ellen Abbott on July 7, 2015
Fantastic!! Congratulations!! Can't wait to see the story!
By: Laurie on July 7, 2015
Big congrats to you. Make this be the beginning of a whole vat of soup.. and more.
By: Hilary on July 7, 2015
Happy Snoopy Dance for you!!!
By: mimi on July 7, 2015
Congratulations. It's a great feeling. I was published twice for a whopping $15 each time but hey..it's something. I too have submitted to Chicken Soup but never heard anything back. They have so many types of publications so who knows. Maybe we'll be on Good Morning America together...SOMEDAY!! lol
By: Bouncin Barb on July 7, 2015
That is great news! You probably knew you were good at your craft, but validation goes a long way. I'll NEVER forget my first check from writing my column. I'd love to get something in one of the Chicken Soup books. I've been reading those for many years. Rick
By: Rick Watson on July 8, 2015
Kudos! How exciting ... good for you!
By: jenny_o on July 9, 2015
Congratulations! That is so cool!
By: Michael Manning on July 12, 2015

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