Sunday, November 26, 2023
Saturday, November 25, 2023
Saturday, November 18, 2023
Friday, November 17, 2023
Monday, November 13, 2023
Last Saturday was the Hanover Book Expo at the VFW. There were more than 40 of Virginia's authors in attendance who were discussing, signing, and selling our latest books.
Here I am pictured with author Luis Gil Armendariz. We had tables next to one another.
Thursday, November 9, 2023
Tuesday, November 7, 2023
Saturday, November 4, 2023
I grew up nine miles from Seven Pines National Cemetery, which is currently 1.9 acres and is surrounded by a brick wall. The cemetery was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1995. Like other national cemeteries, the markers are in orderly rows, the grass is well maintained, and the mood is serious. These places reflect the belief that these are hallowed grounds where veterans’ sacrifices should be honored.
The Seven Pines Cemetery got into Ripley’s believe-it-or-not cartoon…because it has a real ghost in it—Jno. Ghost, of Pennsylvania.
Friday, November 3, 2023
Thursday, November 2, 2023
|(Alexandria Gazette, June 15, 1870)|
|(The Roanoke Times, Sep 21 1951)|
Wednesday, November 1, 2023
the cemetery, so the evening felt extra special.
Sunday, October 29, 2023
Old Town Alexandria, the Ghosts & Graveyard Tour, and the Tomb of the Unknown Solider of the American Revolution
Old Town Alexandria makes it easy for tourists to visit because there are so many parking deck options. We stashed our purchases in the car before joining the Ghosts & Graveyard tour. There were many tours happening around the same time, which may have been other tour companies. The streets were packed and tour guides were leading groups everywhere.
We went through an alley and down some streets in the area to hear ghostly tales and some pretty good/bad Dad jokes. There was a bit of history, some questionable history when it came to a story about a burial (someone without a knowledge of cemetery history in the US might not think much about it but it wasn’t accurate) and the biggest disappointment was that on the Ghost and Graveyard tour, the tour didn’t include any graves or graveyards!
Before I scream “False advertising,” there were several different routes and the weekend before Halloween isn’t the best time to take a tour. The tour guides are probably exhausted from packed schedules, and the streets are crowded with activity.
Because “Graveyard” was in the title of the tour, I pulled out my Find A Grave app and found the nearest churchyard—Alexandria’s Historic Old Presbyterian Meeting House and Churchyard. We headed over and I realized that this was the churchyard where the Tomb of the Unknown Solider of the American Revolution is buried. I had checked my app earlier in the day and wanted to walk over to see the grave.
Normally, I would not have entered a churchyard at night. I was hesitant about doing so last night until Babushka and I realized that the church was filled with a congregation watching a silent movie. The gates were open and the churchyard was well-light. Plus, there was a large sign reminding us that EVERYONE is welcome.
The visitor’s guide brochure shares that the churchyard was active as a burial ground between 1760 to 1809 and includes over 300 people including “Andrew Wales, the first commercial brewer in the Washington area,” a confidant of George Washington, Dr. James Craik, Thomas Porter, “who participated in the Boston Tea Party” as well as an unidentified Revolutionary War soldier “whose remains were unearthed just to the north of its current tomb” and was reburied in this churchyard in 1826.
All adventures with Babushka are fun. We spent time together and in the end, I had a fun book signing event in the cutest book store, had a great dinner, saw some amazing home decorations, had great guests on our tour, and Babushka and I saw "ghosts"(ghostly decor) and found the graveyard where history is haunting!
Saturday, October 28, 2023
Friday, October 27, 2023
Join Sisters in Crime- Central Virginia for a virtual presentation with Dr. Sharon Pajka.
Cemeteries hold a wealth of stories. See how cemeteries and grave markers could liven up your writing.
Thursday, May 16, 7pm ET
Open to All SinC Members- Registration is Required.
Saturday, October 21, 2023
Saturday, October 14, 2023
Sunday, October 8, 2023
Saturday, October 7, 2023
Monday, October 2, 2023
Saturday, September 30, 2023
|Click image for the Ashland Museum Facebook page|
On Tuesday, Nov 7, Sharon Pajka, literature professor and cemetery historian, will talk about her book Women Writers Buried in Virginia. The HistoryTalk also takes place in Brock Commons SunTrust Theater [Randolph-Macon College] at 6p.m.
Thursday, September 21, 2023
"Announcing a Very Special Guest on October 21st, from 5:30 - 8pm! Dr. Sharon Pajka, author of Women Writers Buried in Virginia, will be joining us to chat about her book, and sign copies for anyone who is interested! Her book features (among lots of incredible women) the writing & life of Lizzie Chambers Hall, who rests here at OCC, and who is a character in this year's Candlelight Tours"
Thursday, September 14, 2023
Tuesday, September 5, 2023
|Click image to view portfolio by Michael Cope Photography|
I held a book release party at The Poe Museum in Richmond, VA on Sunday, August 20th with entertainment including historical interpreter Debbie Phillips as Elmira Royster Shelton, Poe's first and last fiancée along with poetry recitations by Dean Knight which were interpreted by Miako Villanueva. Guests could take a self-guided tour of The Poe Museum and have their photo taken by photographer Michael Cope. Here is the portfolio of those pictures.
The museum is gorgeous! The shrine and memorial garden incorporate aspects of Poe’s life and works and were inspired by his poem “To One in Paradise.” I also shared that if black cats crossed their path, pet them! They're the museum cats, Edgar and Pluto!
I invited friends from various time periods of my life so the folks in the enchanted garden on that day and time were some of the coolest humans and my favorites. It was overwhelming. The enchanted garden, where I have stood, sat, and walked through for so many events over so many decades, including presentations that I have given for the museum and where I helped weed during a gardening event, was the very place that held us all. Some people don't believe in magic. I have a hard time not believing in it on days like that.
This was the biggest event that I have ever thrown for myself. It felt extravagant. Even my friend, Southern noir crime fiction writer S. A. Cosby, an Anthony Award-winning writer from Southeastern, Virginia attended. I wrote about our connection previously here.
I asked guests to dress in their Poe-attire finest whatever that meant to them and to remember that it was going to be a hot day. I explained part of my outfit in an earlier post. I was the newspaper article about the scene in Westminster Burying Ground after the Poe Toaster visited and left his tributes. My tiny hat was by Sew Truly Me. I adore her hats! The custom design included a small Victorian style top hat with a gold raven and small rose buttons to represent the roses that were left at Poe's grave by the Toaster. I also modified a small Martell cognac bottle keychain into a brooch; again, to represent the tokens left by the Toaster. My necklaces included a cemetery gate, a small raven, and a lily of the valley with a skull inside a crystal coffin-shaped stone. My black shirt was sparkly to match the stars in the sky and my dress was black to show the darkest hours the Toaster would visit the grave. I had a newspaper print purse and even made my only newspaper article about the outfit.
The amazing bouquets (I'm still dying about how gorgeous the flowers were!) were by Flowers by Zoie. The signature on her website reads, "storytelling through floral designs..." She completely understood my vision. The flowers included purple and wine Anemones with black centers, Black Magic Roses, (they are every bit as lovely as I could have imagined!), Black Callas, lavender roses, Fiddleheads! and deep wine ranunculus. She also made the loveliest corsage for me to wear.
The caterer was Groovin' Gourmets.
And, the tables, linens, and cute tent were from Party Perfect.
If I look cranky, I assure it that it is just my resting face. I was very happy.
The author was born Edgar Poe and the middle name was added by Frances and John Allan, who took in the orphaned child but never adopted him legally. (Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - General Topics - Poe’s Middle Name).
|John Allan's marker between his first wife, Frances Valentine Allan (right) and Louisa Allan (left).|
In England the personal name is usually spelled Alan, the surname Allen; in Scotland the surname is more often Allan.
It's interesting to note the size of the markers. Frances Allan’s tombstone is much smaller and shorter than the markers for John Allan and Louisa Allan. At the time, the husband was considered the head of the household, and his decisions were mostly unquestioned. There was a family hierarchy and we often see this in the size and height of gravestones. The second Mrs. Allan’s grave is the same size and stature (actually, it looks a little bit larger in this picture) of her husband’s, most likely because she outlived him by decades.
Tuesday, August 29, 2023
Tonight @7:00 PM CST I'll be discussing "The Premature Burial" by Edgar Allan Poe with friends from The 6 Degrees of Edgar Allan Poe.