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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Blog Archive


Pure Joy

November 02, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  Saturday was Halloween and it poured in Portland. Rain pounded the pavement and the streets were slick with soggy dead leaves. Although few children live on our street, Mrs. Chatterbox and I enjoy seeing costumes and handing out treats so we purchased a bag of candy and hoped some little ghouls, goblins and princesses would brave the elements to ring our doorbell.             We didn’t get many trick or treaters, and those we did encounter were drenched. A few parents followed their kids from the dry comfort of their warm cars. During a break in the action when no one rang our bell, I went to the front window and glanced out at our street. Huddled together under an umbre ... read more

 + photos!,  read more

"Happy Little Trees"

November 04, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
      I had surgery in the late nineties and was home for a few weeks convalescing. Daytime television was a nightmare and I was constantly flipping channels to find something better to watch than soap operas and Andy Griffith reruns. I landed on PBS, where a soft-spoken man with a funny afro was showing viewers how to paint. The program was called The Joy of Painting. In my opinion, the canvas he was working on was competent but uninspired—hotel art. I was about to continue my search for something better to watch when I was lulled by the gentle rhythm of his voice. I felt like I was being hugged and soon forgot the lingering discomfort from my surgery. This was my first exposure to Bob Ross.      ... read more

 + photos!,  read more

A Few Announcements

November 06, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  I know many of you have been blogging a long time, some of you as much as a decade. I’m still a rookie at this with only five years under my belt. Still, I’m proud of reaching a milestone: this is my seven hundredth post. It seems like only yesterday that son CJ was helping build my blog and patiently explaining how it worked. I still have a lot of stories to share and I look forward to doing so until my creative well runs dry—which Mrs. Chatterbox claims won’t ever happen.             In addition to writing, I’ve been working every day on Protest II. This project has taken much longer than expected. I started in June and my goal was to finish by ... read more

 + photos!,  read more

We're Home!

November 23, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  When word reached me that Paris had suffered a series of terrorist attacks I was lying on a beach in Puerto Vallarta with a drink in my hand. Although fortunate to be away from such carnage, I felt sad for the families and friends of the victims; my vacation buzz vanished like a fart in a fan factory. But on our journey home an incident happened that refreshed my faith in humanity.             We departed Puerto Vallarta for a three and a half hour flight to San Francisco, with a ninety minute layover until our connecting flight departed for Portland. We needed to clear customs, but several other planes had arrived along with us. Thousands of people were queued up to turn in t ... read more

 + photos!,  read more

Puerto Vallarta Scrapbook

November 25, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  Our hotel in Puerto Vallarta was old and in need of repairs and didn’t look nearly as charming as it did in online photographs, but it was ideally situated on the Bay of Banderas, close to Old Town and The Malecon—a coastal promenade and walkway—yet far enough away from the fleets of buses filled with tourists. The ocean was close enough for us to hear the waves lapping the shore from our balcony at Las Palmas by the Sea. Unlike the high rise hotels in the city’s newer section, Las Palmas was patronized mostly by Mexican families and a scattering of Canadians; we encountered no fellow Americans. I enjoyed being immersed in these boisterous families, and even attempted to use my grade-school Spanish, with limi ... read more

 + photos!,  read more

Puerto Vallarta Scrapbook II

November 27, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
        I hope everyone had a safe and Happy Thanksgiving. I made merry yesterday and didn’t have an opportunity to write anything, but here are a few photographs from a trip we made to El Edén Eco Park near Puerto Vallarta. Our bus struggled up a dirt trail—it would be a stretch calling it a road—and the jungle was so thick it was easy imagining disheveled contestants from Naked and Afraid emerging from the jungle.       After leaving our bus, we climbed down a trail towards El Edén Restaurant and were confronted with Predator and a crashed helicopter. Evidently, this was where the movie was filmed. We weren’t allowed to pass without having our picture taken w ... read more

 + photos!,  read more

Puerto Vallarta Scrapbook III

November 30, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
                      On our last evening in Puerto Vallarta we enjoyed a sunset cruise. We arrived at the marina as the sun started its descent.       Our boat in the marina             This was to be a three hour tour. What could go wrong, right? It was probably my imagination but I swear I heard the skipper refer to me as his “Little Buddy.”            Our intrepid skipper       Leaving the marina             Drinks were served once we left the marina and liquor flow ... read more

 + photos!,  read more

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