Saturday, September 30, 2023

Ashland Museum guided walking tours and HistoryTalks

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

October 21st, from 5:30 - 8pm at Old City Cemetery- Last Night of their Candlelight Tours

 "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" 

Saturday, October 21- Writers Round Up at the Goochland Branch Library, Pamunkey Regional Library


Click image for more details

Saturday, October 28: Book Signing at Old Town Books in Alexandria


Click image for more details

Thursday, September 14, 2023

Wednesday, September 13, 2023- Mechanicsville-Ashland Local, Vol. 49, No. 34, p. 12

Since my book is inspired by the newspaper clippings from my father, it was fun to clip out this piece in our local newspaper about my book party for my dad. 


Tuesday, September 5, 2023

My Book Release Party at The Poe Museum

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 fiancĂ©e 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. 

Edgar ALLAN Poe and the A's and the E's

My family name is spelled differently by distant family members and mispronounced all the time by nearly anyone who doesn't interact with me. I may even mispronounce my own family name since I don't speak Polish. Recently I was asked if the misspelling of Edgar A. Poe’s middle name, Allan, bothers me. It happens quite frequently. Nope. I use it as a way to tell stories. It's the Scottish spelling! 

Most of his letters were signed Edgar A. Poe although he did sign E.A. Poe and his full name at times. 

It seems that the author was not given a middle name at birth, which was true for his father, his father’s father (grandfather), and his father’s father’s father (great grandfather). What seems like a Poe family tradition is made more complicated by William Henry Leonard Poe, Poe’s older brother. Perhaps the brother simply took all the middle names! That’s a joke. 
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). 

Sacred to the memory of John Allan who departed this life March 27, 1834 in the 54th year of his age. He whose remains lie buried beneath this tomb was a native of Ayreshire, Scotland. 
John Allan's marker between his first wife, Frances Valentine Allan (right) and Louisa Allan (left). 

John Allan was born in 1779 in Scotland. By 1795, a sixteen-year-old Allan, who had been orphaned, immigrated to Richmond, Virginia, to work with his uncle and seek a better future for himself. 

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.