Saturday, August 25, 2012

There's a Summer Place

One of the hallmarks for which I'll remember 2012 has been the retaking of surrendered territory, both in the physical and virtual senses.  I've returned to places I enjoyed in the past, like Camp NECon (what a wonderful writer's conference!); have published with former and now current companies (my latest novel, The Duke and the Deadbeat a recent example); and I've found my way once more to the magical destinations that existed before my world went spinning out of orbit in 2010.  With orbital reference points reestablished and the world back on its proper axis in 2012, two weeks ago I voyaged to one of those places that has haunted me since my first visit, Crackskulls Cafe in Newmarket, New Hampshire.

I did a reading as part of the All Things Outloud performance held there in August of 2009, and instantly fell in love with the used bookstore/homemade ice cream stand/literary venue.  That night, three years and untold light years behind me, I read the opening to my long short story, "Wine and Spirits: A Tale of Substance Abuse and the Supernatural" (which would be published on its first foray out in the beautiful collection of hard-boiled horror tales, Darker Than Noir).  The insanely awesome decor, such as the art instillation above -- an antique typewriter suspended on the wall with appropriate literary accoutrements -- connected with my psyche in indelible strokes. A version of the cafe (which also serves incredible fair-trade coffee and homemade bagels) appears in Duke as The Dewey Decibel.  Earlier that same night, I started a short mystery, "The Thief of Markham Square," camped on one of the comfortable padded benches, with my iced coffee and a commitment to bring home some of their fantastic ice cream.  I also left with thoughts of the used musical instruments, shelves of books, and upbeat, creative vibe, longing to return.

On Sunday, August 12 I returned to Crackskulls with two of my good writer's group pals, my new laptop (the cafe also offers free WiFi to customers), and the longhand, as-yet-incomplete draft of "The Thief of Markham Square" for a day of writing.  New additions to the space include a decoupaged work bench with ancient newsprint beneath glass, pictured left. The benches and tables were as comfortable as I recalled from my previous visit. Within an hour of ordering my tall, fine iced coffee (I'd down two more by the time we departed), I wrote a new short story, "In the Relationship," to conclusion and put another thousand words on the mystery.  I watched episodes of my beloved Space:1999 on my laptop (the following morning, inspired to the Nth, I would begin my 1999 novel, Metamorphosis, my 1000th work of fiction). Wandering through the stacks, I found a copy of Marcia Golub's hilarious and brilliant I'd Rather Be Writing, a nugget of gold that I instantly snagged. And my good friends, Douglas Poirier and Philip Perron had similarly productive results.

If I lived closer, Crackskulls Cafe is the wonderful sort of place where I would write my days away, an iced coffee on the table beside my laptop, notepad, and fountain pen.  But on this other side of 2010, returning there filled me with energy and inspiration, that one visit was almost like coming home. I can't wait to go back!


  1. I wish there were places like this sweet little dive ;^)

    Glad to see you doing better and better!

  2. To catch up on your postings:

    Happy (belated) birthday to your blog! First birthdays are always the best!

    Sounds like you had a great time at your convention.

    The place you have pictured above (from what I can see on my phone) looks like heaven! I love the old typewriter on the wall. My best gal pal would love the the instriments. (It would take a shoe horn and a tub of butter to pry her out of there. Lol.) Glad to hear about your writing milestones; 1,000 works is definately something to be proud of.

    I'm glad you had a great summer. It sounds a lot better than mine...the laptop is dead and I'm nursing a broken finger on my writing hand.

    1. Oh heck, Purp -- hope that finger mends and you get your laptop up and running again! Hang in there, love xoxo

  3. The finger is healing OK; a pain to write but I'm doing my best. I wish I could say the same for the laptop; it was ruined when my building burned two weeks ago. Thankfully I was visiting my grandmother and had my notebook that I was writing in and my USB drive on me. I'd have been crushed if I had to start all over again. Once I get going again with another computer I'm going to make it a rule to email what I write to Allen so there is a backup copy. I hate to think what would have happened to everything had I been home when the fire started...

    1. Yikes, purp! Thank gawd you had the thumby. The man who runs my writer's group loves google documents for backup. Get well and get a new laptop, love -- as horrible as this is, it shows your toughness (and gives you a heck of a story to write about!). xoxo