Four Fast Facts about Edgar Allan Poe (that I bet you didn’t know)

  1. Edgar Allan Poe’s most productive writing period was while he was married to Virginia Clemm Poe. (31 Stories written and published)
  2. Poe didn’t drink as much as he was rumoured to drink. One visitor to his home, William Gowans wrote:“During that time I saw much of him, and had an opportunity of conversing with him often, and I must say I never saw him the least affected with liquor, nor even descend to any known vice, while he was one of the most courteous, gentlemanly, and intelligent companions I have met with during my journeyings and haltings through divers divisions of the globe; besides, he had an extra inducement to be a good man as well as a good husband, for he had a wife of matchless beauty and loveliness, her eye could match that of any houri, and her face defy the genius of a Canova to imitate…”
  3. Poe wrote essays about Street Paving, Composition, and even an intelligent, very modern piece, regarding Stonehenge!
  4.  The most famous picture of him was taken after a long sickness and days after a suicide attempt.  (not his best picture)

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Eddy is about the sickness – his alleged attempted overdose by opium a year before his actual death.

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The Loves of Edgar Allan Poe

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Jane Craig Stanton

A mother one of his friends who encouraged his poetry, he described her as his first “soul love.”

 

Elmira Royster

She was the daughter of a wealthy businessman who didn’t appreciate Edgar; When Poe went off to college, her father kept all his letters from her. When Edgar came back to town, her father scurried her off to the countryside so they couldn’t see one another. By the time Edgar returned from college for good, she was betrowed to someone else.

 

Virginia Clemm

His cousin whom he met when she was thirteen. They married later, and seemed to have a relationship that rivaled the best storybook romances until her death.

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Mrs. Whitman.

He was engaged to her for a short time, as they respected each other’s work.

 

Elmira Royster

Widowed and free – Edgar sought her out and romanced her again. They were engaged when he died.

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(This is a repost from Feb 2015)

 

Since then, I’ve published a number of books, including one inspired by the loves of Edgar Allan Poe.  Check out Eddy:

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A Poe-cation

A nerdcation, if not obvious, is a trip that some people might consider pedestrian, strange, boring. I took such a trip this winter, and I found the trip quite the opposite.  Perhaps, it’s because the recipe that is me includes one-part nerd.

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Anyone who knows me, understands I’m a Poe – addict. January 19th 1809 is Poe’s date of birth, making this past Monday the 206th anniversary of his birth; hence, his birthday. The Poe Museum in Richmond, Virgina, planned a celebration. I decided, almost last minute, to fly cross country to the chilled Eastern U.S. to do my very own Poe Tour.

His mothers are buried there (there were two), his first true love’s house (he was 14, she was his friend’s mother) is a landmark, his first and last fiance (Elmira), the places he grew up, schooled, played, worked, proposed. I marked all of the locations and addresses, a walk in a dead writer’s footsteps that would culminate with the day long event at the Edgar Allan Poe Museum, which promised to include readings, discussions, and cake.

If some of you find this boring, you’ll find what follows probably even more banal. Unless, you’re a visual person and browse the photos

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My first stop was E.A. Poe’s birth mother. Her body lies somewhere on the grounds of St. John’s Church. St. John’s is famous for Patrick Henry’s “Give me Liberty, or Give me Death!” speech. I’m told Henry is buried there, as well as numerous other revolutionaries.

Poe’s Father, David Jr, purportedly said, the day that ruined my life was the day my son was born. He never wanted to be a father. After Edgar’s sister, Rosalie, was born, David Poe disappeared. His parents, Elizabeth Arnold and David, were actors. By the time Edgar was two, his mother perished.

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Because her profession was considered a mere step above prostitution and no respectable person would agree to be buried near an actress, she was laid in the ground without a headstone or location notation. It seems three different organizations pulled together, built and placed a marker to honor Poe’s mother.

The day I arrived, the sun shined, melting the ice from the streets. The lovely magnolia tree nearby the grave dropped melting ice, giving me my own personal rainstorm.

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I meandered around the cemetery. Remembering, honoring the dead.

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Across the street from the Church is Elmira Royster’s home – or what was once her home.

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She was Poe’s first fiance, her father disapproved of Poe, so they met secretly at the gardens (which is now the Lindon Row Inn – where I fortuitously reserved a room. My room overlooked the back garden patio where Poe is supposed to have taken Elmira’s hand and asked her to marry him, to wait for him until he returned from college).

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Poe’s letters never reached Elmira (thanks to her father); she thought she’d been abandoned and entered the marriage arranged/approved by her father.

Many years later, after she’d been widowed, her maid involved herself in an argument at the front door, refusing entry to the tall, dark, caped stranger at the front door who insisted he be allowed to see Ms. Elmira on this Sunday morning. The lady of the house admitted him, listened to his argument. Anyone who’s seen someone they once loved knows what she was feeling, understands those “no, I shouldn’t, yes, I want to,” back and forth feelings she may have been experiencing as she told him, “I have church this morning, you may return another time.” No doubt she watched him go through the window slats and hoped he’d return. His cape blew back in the wind as he walked determinedly away, formulating a plan, even then, to win back his first love.

Poe did reappear, and too soon asked for her hand in marriage. She was one of the last people to see him before he left Richmond….   She was, officially, Poe’s first and last fiance.

Poe’s first true soul love (his words) was his friend’s mother; she supported his writing whereas his adoptive father did not. Mrs. Jane Stith Craig Stanard’s house is not far from either the church or Elmira’s house.

20150116_113611_Richtone(HDR)_resized_1Coming home with his friend on an average school day, he met the lovely Mrs. Stanard. Maybe they said just a few words, but Poe was smitten and returned again and again. They talked of poetry. It was a gentile relationship, an appropriate one, even if possibly it made his friend uncomfortable.  (She died when Poe was 15).

It’s known as the Craig House, is privately owned and boasts the original structure, although it has been restored. The house stands as the second oldest structure in Virginia.

Poe was never officially adopted, but the Allan’s are referred to as his adoptive parents.  Edgar’s middle name Allan comes from their family. His adoptive mother, Francis Allen was a great love of Poe’s.  She passed in 1929. His adoptive father doesn’t come across as a nice man. He didn’t appreciate Poe’s writings, his mannerisms, reminded him often that Edgar lived off his charity. There’s some evidence that Allan cheated on his wife, he had illegitimate children with another woman (even left them $ in his will). Poe didn’t seem to respect the man, and I believe that is part of the reason why. There are some allegations that Poe involved himself with married women and single women as well; however, when he married Virginia, and loved a woman, he seemed to be wholly involved and didn’t consider turning to another.

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Mrs. Stanard’s headstone is closer to downtown. The cemetery is larger with long, winding, dirt roads, which supposedly are labeled A, B, C. Navigating it curiously, I found, by luck the intersection.

I must admit that in some strange way, I didn’t care to see Mr. Allan’s grave; however, his family plots were close to his the Stanards. I walked the ten feet from Mrs. Jane Stith Craig Stanard grave to the Allan’s. It further made me dislike this ghost of a man whom I could never know. Crazy, I know.

Allan married and had more children after Francis’ death. His marker is large, looming over Francis’ marker, his second wife’s marker is larger than his first wife’s. I’m not certain why that annoyed me so much, but it did.  How could his first wife merit a headstone half the size of his second wife’s?  Seems somehow – assholish.

20150115_124956_resizedSadly, I couldn’t find Elmira’s plot.

The weather was getting the best of me. I’m a thin blooded creature, the eastern sun moved fast toward the west, the sky grew gray, and the sketchy neighborhood where the cemetery lies isn’t a place a woman should challenge her fears.

I searched for at a more modern venue for refreshment. Not knowing the area, unable to locate a Starbucks via my gps, I parked in the city center and opted for a 7/11 coffee.

A block to the north, much to my surprise, laid Capital Park. With another hour on my city meter, I walked up, coffee in hand, to see if I could locate the Edgar Allan Poe Statue. Although I was lead to believe the statue was difficult to find, hidden in some far off corner, I found it quite easily.

20150115_135858_resizedIt’s small, not indicative of his metaphorical presence in the city or in literature. However, designed in the 50’s, perhaps it’s the best that there was at the time.

I’m searching for Poe. I’m searching for connection. To pick up the remains of the past, make certain it’s real.  Fortunately, the Edgar Allen Poe Society has done much more than I.

The house Poe grew up in is long gone to a history we can only read about: wars, fire, reconstruction. The Poe Society has marked the building. The building is currently condemned.

20150116_103146_resized_1With that  color blue, I can see why 😉

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A few weeks after Poe’s mother passed, the show went on without her. A new stage play drew in the city’s patrons which filled the seats. It grew quite warm inside. The actors took note, the patrons noticed. They turned to one another, “it’s quite warm in here tonight.”  The play was exquisite. The lighting extreme, as if a real fire burned in the background. When a single actor yelled “Fire!” The audience laughed, applauded.  When more actors screamed, “Fire!”  The theater goers turned to one another, nodded, “quite realistic.”

Until some astute actors and patrons made for the door, then others realized that, indeed, this was not part of the play. By then, the theater was already engulfed. Both, actors and wealthy patrons, died together. They are sealed in the same crypt under the new church built over them. Monument Churchl. Poe’s adoptive family, the Allans, worshiped there.

How might it have been for the young Poe to have his mother’s friends, his adoptive parents’ friends under his feet as he sang hymns?

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Next Stop – Poe Museum.   They programmed a 206th Birthday Celebratioon – a day long event of readings, museum tours, music, walking tours (Poe – related spots), CAKE! and a champagne toast at midnight.

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The small building on main street is easy to pass without notice, but it is the oldest residence in Virginia, built in the 1700’s. The residence became the Poe Museum in 1922 (I believe).

The museum is made up of four small buildings and an enchanted garden. The pergola in the back of the garden which houses Poe’s bust was built from the bricks from the Southern Literary Messenger where Poe once worked.

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Friday, the museum was completely empty except for the curator, the director, and those who were setting up for the celebration. I had the museum to myself, completely alone with Poe.

It featured many of his personal items, a bed, vest, cane, etc, among other artifacts. It boasted portraits of the period as well as modern work.  I’ll let you check out this pics on the museum website (although their pictures are not current) as I don’t think I was supposed to take pictures. 😉

Music. Tours. Art. Poe Lovers. It was a lovely day, a soul enriching day, (even if it was too chilly for my California tolerance).

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There’s little in this post that you won’t find elsewhere – as far as information about Poe and his family. The pictures are mine. (please give credit if you copy them).

Why does someone leave the warm sunshine of a winter in southern California to go to the too cold city of Richmond, Virginia in January?  And why?

It’s history. It’s literature. It’s a passion of mine to know more, see, touch, be in the presence of. I am filled up, revitalized. I learned more, enjoyed discovering my penchant for boutique hotels led me to the grounds of the garden where Poe once stood declaring his love for his first sweet heart. I stood where he once stood, walked a path he may have walked (yes, with thousands, possibly millions of others. but that’s okay with me).

Sometimes, one must get out of their own head, get out of their comfort zone, do something new, something questionable, something that will add to their life experience.

I’ve swam with sharks, now I’ve walked with the dead in a city rich with literary history, with American history.

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If you’ve read this far – THANKS!

This is a reblog from January 2015

 

Eddy was published after:

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Happy Birthday, Eddy!

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The celebration of Poe’s birth date does not go unrecognized.  The Poe Museum in Virginia, as well as many others, will be throwing an Edgar Allan Poe Birthday Bash.

And, rightfully so, Poe is an important figure in American literature.  For my friend who said the other day, “like, what’s the big deal?!”  LET ME TELL YOU THE IMPORTANCE OF POE.

In the early 1800s, the American government called on writers to create a true American Literature to differentiate and separate ourselves from all things Great Britain. Remember, America had just gained it’s official independence from the mother land. By the time Edgar and his contemporaries were born, we were only a generation out from under British rule. There were still loyalists, still people very attached to the “old ways”.

Literature affects society just as society affects literature. By creating a true and distinct American Literature, we could become a true and distinct nation. And while Hawthorne, Emerson, and Thoreau were definitely refining our style, Poe made waves. The stories he published made people sit up and take notice. His style was not always taken seriously here in the states, but authors and critics abroad were giving him credit.

Sometimes it takes someone to shake up the status quo, to capture the deeper, darker parts of our soul individually and collectively to make us look at ourselves and see us for who we are. I think Poe did that. He had a lasting effect that artists, authors, musicians, and readers are still inspired by.

The Poe Museum will be celebrating his birthday on Saturday, January 20th.

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If you can’t be there, you can still take part in the birthday bash.  Buy yourself a cupcake, throw your own Poe party, join an online group and celebrate with the members.

 

You might notice a familiar name on the list!

 

I’ve attended before. The first time, I did my own Poe Tour.

 

 

I’m looking forward to attending the event, talking Eddy with Poe fans, and CAKE!!!

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I’ll be reading, discussing, and signing my new book, Eddy.

The inspiration, the facts, the conjecture.

The reviews for Eddy are kind and generous! Thank you. Thank you.

Described as:

“Poignant and piercing!”

“Creative and very Poe-like.”

“Equally as enthralling as it is tragic”

“Edgar would be proud!”

 

 

Have a lovely new year! Be kind to one another.

 

The Secret to a Joyful 2018

Happy New Year, Beautiful People!

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Reading comments on social media gives the impression many people are feeling quite negative about the New Year. There’s definitely positivity, people looking forward to the celebrations, but I was struck by so many people barking last year stunk and 2018 would bring more the same.

We get what we believe we will!

Someone asked, “What is the new year celebration all about?  If you know me, you know I had to look that one up!

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New Year celebrations began in medieval times when those who honored nature brought green trees into the house to celebrate the coming of another spring.

A number of traditions, beliefs, and myths have come about since that time and we all take part in some sort of celebration. While some love the coming of a new year, a new chance, promises to make and keep, resolutions to make and break, others dread another year. This I’m confused about.

 

 

Ladies and gentlemen, joy is a choice! There are thousands of reasons to be happy every day. Blue skies, rain clouds, bird song to name the simplest things. joy3Add to those, a roof over your head, coffee.  Acknowledging how important the little things are is just as important as being thankful for the things you do have.

Many people wander around wishing for something more, something different. They fail to recognize 1. the things they have and 2. the things they can have if they work for them.

 

 

I asked people what they would do if they woke up with a million dollars in their bank account. Many said, pay off debts and travel. What are you waiting for? Do it!

joy5I’m not a millionaire (trust me on that one) and my debts are paid, I refuse to use credit unless I have to. (Consider what you need vs what you want! Decide accordingly.)

When my children were young, I was a single mother with two (sometimes three) part time jobs and we traveled. You don’t need to be wealthy to travel. You need to know the tricks! (Just ask!)

I think most people believe they would have more time if they had a million dollars and, therefore, live their dreams. But accomplishing goals has more to do with organization and time management than having the money to work with.

The secret to joy is not what we have or what we can do. The secret to feeling true joy, no matter what we have or do, is two-fold:

  1. Acknowledge the good things in your life – no matter how small (or big) they are. Some people keep a small book with them and write a note of something they found beautiful and makes them smile. They look at this when they need to be reminded.
  2. Lose the negativity. I mean get rid of everything that is negative, that drains you, that does not support you. This does mean people. I know this sounds mean. Someone told me that those “negative people” were their friends. Uhm, would friends drag you down? would friends stomp on your dreams? Friends want you to be the best version of yourself and will work to support you on that and you will do the same for them.

Remember that old cliche – if you can believe it, you can achieve it?  That doesn’t mean what you want just comes to you – but believing is the start.

If you have a job draining you, start looking for a new one. Hate where you live? Start planning and organizing a move.  And, if right now, you’re thinking, “oh, it’s easy for you to say, I need…..” that’s negative! Whatever you “need” in order to get to where you want – start moving toward it by being positive, by being happy!

My mother used to say wish in one hand and shit in the other and see which fills faster. So – are you wishing?

Be happy. Not for a moment. Not for a day. But just be happy every day!

Believe in what you want. Believe you will get it; it will come to you, but you have to meet it half way!

Move in the direction of joy, of your dreams, and understand that everything we do is a choice!

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I know a good year is waiting for all of us!

Eddy – Win a Copy

Eddy, my new novella, will be out next month. I’ve eddycoverfinalbeen invited to read and speak at the Poe Museum’s Birthday celebration upon its release.

However, you can win a free copy before it’s released!

This is a fictional account of an actual event in Edgar Allan Poe’s Life. In 1848, whether accidental or purposeful, Edgar took an overdose of Laudanum, which was an opiate based medicine available on the open market. It was sold in pharmacies as well as pubs!

Poe nearly died as a result. This is a fictional imagining of that experience.

Poe reimagines the life and death of each of the women he loved. The story begins and ends in the Boston rooming house in which Poe found himself in November 1848 right after he’s bought the Laudanum. His overdose rouses images of his mother backstage at the theater in Richmond during her last performance  and continues on to Virginia in their Philadelphia home while she played the piano for their guests. The story doesn’t neglect his other loves.

Debbie the events coordinator from the Poe Museum said she was “blown away” and couldn’t wait to share it with her colleagues.

Eddy won’t be available until January 6th. But you can WIN a advanced copy by entering your email address.  You don’t need to enter more than once, your email address is your entry. A single one will be randomly selected by a generator, and the winner will be notified by email on or about January 5th.

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If you need more to whet your appetite, take a look at my interview with Super News Live on their Dark Mysteries Show about The Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe.

I’m excited about releasing this as Poe’s work and life has been such an inspiration, not only to me but to many. His work will continue to inspire writers, artists, and film makers for many years to come.

 

EnJOY!

Not Writing is Not an Option: Rethinking Writer’s Block

I’ve been under the impression that writer’s block was actually procrastination; however, someone wrote recently “whoever doesn’t believe in writer’s block has never experienced the sheer frustration it can cause.”

This, and the comments that followed, made me reconsider my position on writer’s block.

Experts state that very few people actually experience the psychological issues that cause real writer’s block. That statement, and my observations of procrastination in action, have lead me to believe that most people who say they suffer from writer’s block aren’t actually suffering from deep mental disturbances but of more common problems that plague us all – distractions.

However, the advice this person received caused me to pause:

“Drink heavily.”

“Don’t force yourself to write, it’ll come.”

These seemed the least helpful. While I know there’s a stereotype that follows artists and writers – the best ones suffer, and suffer from addiction in many forms. I doubt very seriously whether getting drunk will help the person. And, if you don’t write at all, how will anything come?

Other advice went something like this:

“Just write.”

To which one person wrote a long response about the ridiculousness of this answer. I, however, disagree. When asked by my students “what if you get stuck on a part?” I answered, I go on to a different part, or I write something else. I usually have more than one project going at the same time. I know some writers don’t do this, and I understand their reasoning. At this point, it works for me.

“Go for a walk, do yoga, meditate.”

This is actually pretty good advice. Studies show going for a walk or exercise in any form can feed creativity. Yoga is meant to calm the energy in the body so one can focus and/or meditate.

Others said, “listen to music” or “write a character study.”

This could help. While writing one novel, I listened to blues and jazz to help me give the character depth and personality.

Finally, someone asked the person who’d posted they had writer’s block and needed a solution: “What’s bothering you?”

Now, that’s a damn good question. Most of my writer’s procrastination comes when some thing is bothering me.

The person’s answer was different than I expected.

“I can’t make the story go where I want it to go.”

OOOOHHHHH!

This is a whole different type of problem. I learned writing in two ways. One method was to write a formulaic story with beginning, middle, and the end in mind. Use an outline and stick to it. And I can do this. But it’s no fun for me. The second way I learned was to just write and see where the story wants to go or needs to go. Most of my writing comes this way. It’s natural, it’s organic, it’s unforced; maybe that’s why it flows.

Think of how much power water has. Human-made streams run over their banks, create their own pathways; in one way or another, they defy the path man made. Think of how much concrete and lead it takes to build a retaining wall to create a dam, and still they must have holes or release valves. How many still end up crumbling, breaking, or overflowing?

That’s what writing should be.

Ideas and words should flow. Let them live. Trust them. Trust yourself.

If they are dammed up, forced into an unreasonable plot or direction, then I can understand that type of writer’s block.

The advice offered for that was: “write the end, and work backward,” and “move on to another scene.”

This should probably work if the plot of the story is strong and the elements are all in place. However, the person maybe be stuck because a needed plot point is absent.

Before any solutions can be offered, the type of “block” the writer is facing must be addressed.  Is it really, “I’m stuck,” or is it “I’m distracted”? If there’s a phone in front of you, and facebook, twitter, or your blog open while you’re writing – that’s probably writer’s distraction. If the writer is stuck at a plot point, at a character arc, I’d suggest to meditate on it, sleep with it, think about it until it works itself out, but I also suggest skip ahead, write another scene, write that scene/character you tell yourself you’ll never use.

See – it’s still writing. NOT WRITING IS NOT AN OPTION. No one ever got better at something by NOT doing it. No one ever finished a project by not doing it. No one ever became successful by stopping what they were doing.