Monday, December 3, 2012


Friends, I have been away and do apologize for letting the blog so sorely lapse. Since October, I’ve been on travel, attended a spiritual retreat and, subsequently, my first Science Fiction/Fantasy conference, TusCon,  where I participated on various panels, including a reading and talk on “time-slips,” tossed in for good measure. (More in blogs to come.)

My trip east took me back to my roots in historic Port Tobacco, Maryland, which also happens to be the setting, in part, for my forthcoming novel, PIRATES’ MOON (2013). Port Tobacco was once the seat of government for Charles County (founded in 1658). It became a ghost town when the court house was burned under suspicious circumstances (1892), and the county seat was moved (1895).

When I grew up, only a few of the original 18th century houses remained, the others having been long since dismantled and removed, and tobacco planted in the vacant fields. My own girlhood home was a replica of the original building that once stood on the town square proper, looking out on a remnant of the old courthouse (now rebuilt), Chimney House (c 1750) and Stagg Hall (c 1740), which has remained in the family since my great-grandparents’ day.
With the county’s long history you’ll understand when I say I was raised on more than a few ghost stories. None was more memorable than the “Legend of the Blue Dog” — a legend forever associated with the beautiful Rose Hill Mansion that sits on a hill, overlooking the Port Tobacco valley. (More on the legend to come.)

During my recent visit to Port Tobacco, my parents surprised me with an outing to the “Blue Dog Saloon” nearby. I was captivated from the moment I gazed on the Saloon’s warm stone exterior and signage, the theme clearly resonating through me. Inside, on entering the dining room, I was astonished to discover an enormous and quite wonderful painting, depicting the Legend of the Blue Dog. I fell instantly in love.

  [courtesy of artist, Don Zimmer]

Returning the following day to capture pictures of the Saloon’s exterior and interior — and most especially the painting — I met the owners, Gary and Heidi Fick, and learned that prints and a canvas version of the painting would soon be offered for purchase in order to raise money for a charitable cause — that of bringing running water to the poor of Nanjemoy in the county’s western district, who have none in their homes.
Gary and Heidi also placed me in contact with Don Zimmer, artist extraordinaire and Port Tobacco resident, who created this marvelous work of art. It has been a great privilege and pleasure to speak with him and to learn more of his projects and art.

 [courtesy of artist Don Zimmer ]

I’m delighted to report that the prints and a canvas version of Don’s painting are now available for purchase. To learn about the “Legend of the Blue Dog,” the artist (Don Zimmer), the Nanjemoy Neighbors Water Project, and how to order your own print, go to

If you are in the area and would like to stop by the Blue Dog Saloon for a delicious meal, entertainment, and to view the original art piece visit


  1. What a beautiful stone exterior to that building. We had a the Legend of the Blue Lady at a restaurant near where I grew up. Looking forward to hearing more about the legend of the Blue Dog!

  2. Shannon, click the link The legend is there. It's also on the restaurant's link as well, Enjoy!

  3. I love the painting. To me it's an echo of another time and whispers stories of it's former life. It reminds me of the South Mountain Inn that has stood in the same place since the 1700s. If only the stones could talk. If only the Blue Dog Saloon could give us a "You Are There" experience. You certainly used your Port Tobacco visit to good effect.

  4. Deborah, you pinned it, spot on. I believe Rose Hill mansion that you see in the upper right of the painting was actually built c. 1700 by a wealthy merchant. If you read the legend (on the linked page) you will see that the murder took place in the dead of winter and on the night of the full moon. The artist has captured the mood of it all so well. When I saw the enlargement of the mastiff's head with the gash on his head and tears in his eyes, it went straight to my heart. I confess, I purchased the canvas - made possible by readers who supported and purchased my books. Thank you all so much!

  5. My great aunt, who was born in Marbury, Md, used to speak of this legend often when we were children. It was personal to her, as she said that there was a time when she was in a wagon on Rose Hill Road and heard the Blue Dog howling. At that moment, the wagon would not move, though there was nothing obstructing the wheels, nor any kind of hole on the surface, and despite every effort to get it moving again. The horse could not pull it. Once the dog stopped howling, the wagon was released and they continued on down Rose Hill Road. I am looking forward to checking out the saloon and buying a print when we next go to Charles County at the end of this month.

    1. How fascinating. Would you mind if I shared your aunt's story with the docents and tour guides in historic Port Tobacco? I believe a special event is scheduled for Halloween and the Legend of the Blue Dog will be presented by a storyteller. Hope you enjoy the Blue Dog Saloon. The crab cakes are fabulous.