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MANASSAS – (Press release) Write by the Rails (WbtR), the Prince William Chapter of the Virginia Writers Club, is pleased to announce its Spring Writer’s Workshop to be held Saturday, April 13, 2019 from 1:30 to 5 p.m. at Trinity Episcopal, 9325 West Street, Manassas.

The event will provide opportunity for writers of all levels to learn more about publishing, preparing to write a book, copyright, motivation and more.

Keynote speaker, Occoquan Mayor Earnie Porta, will discuss his experiences publishing his book Occoquan from the Images of America series. Porta holds a BS degree cum laude and a Certificate in Arab Studies from the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service and the Georgetown University Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, respectively, a JD from the Georgetown University Law Center, an MA in history from George Mason University and a PhD in history from Georgetown University.

A Leadership Prince William graduate, Porta is an active member of several civic organizations, including the Occoquan Historical Society, Prince William Public Library System Foundation, Historic Prince William and the Prince William Historic Preservation Foundation.

Guest speaker Attorney Milton C. Johns will discuss copyright considerations. Johns has been in private practice for over 17 years and has spent almost 30 years in government and defense contracting arenas in a variety of roles. He is an adjunct professor of business law at Northern Virginia Community College, and a former adjunct professor of business law at Strayer University in Woodbridge, Va. and of legal research and writing at George Mason University School of Law. He has been affiliated with Write by the Rails and other writing groups for several years and is published in fiction and nonfiction.

Member speaker will be WbtR vice president and immediate past president Jan Rayl who will present “Getting Out of Your Own Way to Get Published.” A writer and registered nurse with additional certification in infusion (intravenous therapy), Rayl has over forty years of nursing experience. She currently teaches nursing full-time and continues to see patients part-time. Rayl has been published in numerous nursing journals and two anthologies, as well as on blogs. Her writings also appear on her own blog where she posts primarily book reviews. Jan is also working on a novel and several short stories as she continues to write poetry.

“Since our inception in 2011, Write by the Rails has held Writer’s conferences and seminars on a regular basis. This spring is no exception,” said Rayl. “We have had several members ask for some motivation to get their books and poems to publication. I will be giving a motivational presentation and challenging members to be published in 2019.”

The event is being promoted in conjunction with the Northern Virginia Writers Club (NVWC). “This is going to be an exciting half-day event for writers, whether you’re just starting out or you’ve published extensively,” said WbtR president Katherine Gotthardt. “Not only are our speakers exceptional, we have the support of the Northern Virginia Writers Club and our parent club, the Virginia Writers Club. We truly appreciate their enthusiasm and help in spreading the word, allowing as many writers to benefit as possible.”

President of NVWC, Jason Maddux, said, “The Northern Virginia Writers Club is honored to assist our sister chapter with its spring conference. We look forward to an afternoon of informative workshops and an insightful keynote address.”

Cost for attendance is $10 for WbtR or NVWC members, $15 for non-members. For more information, visit


MANASSAS – (Press Release) Write by the Rails (WbtR), the Prince William Chapter of the Virginia Writer’s Club, has released its anthology of Twitter-friendly writings entitled #BackOnTrackNow: A Write by the Rails Anthology and Social Media Initiative.

The works of 22 authors were chosen for inclusion in the unique book, the result of a three-month campaign designed to bring creativity to social media. Members and non-members, mostly from the east coast, were encouraged to submit their work, publish it through their own social profiles and have it shared through WbtR’s social media channels and networks.

The initiative elicited hundreds of short poems, lines of fiction, anecdotes and words of wisdom, many of which can be found on Facebook and Twitter under the campaign hashtags #WbtR #BackOnTrackNow.

Dedicated in memory of writer and Northern Virginia Community College professor Robert Bausch, long-time member and contributor of Write by the Rails, the anthology showcases pieces that were selected based on their ability to represent the spirit of the campaign and the Write by the Rails membership and community.

Vice president and immediate past president of Write by the Rails Jan Rayl says in the book’s foreword, “#BackOnTrackNow is the brainchild of Katherine Gotthardt, our president. At the time she thought the project up, she was Vice President of Write by The Rails and had twice been nominated for Poet Laureate of Prince William County. As part of the nomination, Katherine had to develop a project to promote poetry writing in Prince William County. When a different project was chosen, Katherine brought this idea to WbtR as a way for writers and literary enthusiasts to exercise their writing muscles, take back social media and rejuvenate our writers’ group.”

Gotthardt says, “What I love about this book is its reflection of our times. Social media has become a larger-than-life force that often feels like it will swallow us whole, if only by the sheer amount of information that passes through it each second every day. Couple that with negativity, polarization and the tendency for people to be less kind when they can hide behind a screen, and we have a powder keg. #BackOnTrackNow was a way to give social media back to the creatives, dedicating a space for them to exercise their craft, get noticed and change the tone of social media discourse.”

Gotthardt says she is also pleased that the campaign took root locally and grew organically. “It’s all well and good to want to change the world at a macro level, but when it comes down to it, we have to start in our own back yards – or in this case, on our own Facebook timelines.”

#BackOnTrackNow is available on Amazon in print and digital formats. For more information on Write by the Rails, visit


MANASSAS, Va. – (Press Release)  Write by the Rails (WbtR), the Prince William Chapter of the Virginia Writers Club, is pleased to announce a half-day writing workshop to be held Saturday, October 27, 2018 at Trinity Episcopal in Historic Manassas from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The “Back on the Tracks: Fall Writers’ Workshop and Social Campaign Kickoff” will feature a panel on marketing books and writing, along with breakout sessions on writing novels, memoir and poetry. The event will include networking, book sales, a book exchange and live-writing exercises.

The date also marks the live launch of the #WbtR #BackOnTrackNow social media campaign. Attendees will have the chance to write and submit Twitter-friendly lines to be published through social media and in an anthology.

WbtR Workshop Panel and Facilitators

Answering pre-selected questions as well as questions from attendees, the marketing panel will include Rebecca Barnes, Publisher of Prince William Living and Brides & Weddings magazines; Uriah Kiser, Publisher of Potomac Local News; Stacy Shaw, Publisher of Bristow Beat; and King Buari, CEO of Buarich Digital Marketing.

“This year, I am especially excited to have a session on marketing your writing with a panel of experts in the field. I really feel like each person on the panel brings expertise to our attendees. Marketing is one of our most requested topics for the club,” said WbtR president Jan Rayl.

Breakout sessions will be facilitated by novelists P.M. Hernandez and Natalina Reis, memoir writer Nancy Kyme and poet Katherine Gotthardt.

“I am always excited to see my personal writing improve after attending our Write by the Rails Writers’ Workshops,” said Rayl. “I never considered myself a poet. Yet at each workshop I have written a poem. I have had great inspiration in writing poetry from attending Write by the Rails events. I wrote my first poem at a poetry workshop led by Katherine Gotthardt.

“I read Nancy Kyme’s book Memory Lake and loved it. I have toyed with writing a memoir about working at the Boy Scout camp and am looking for inspiration in her session.

“And I have read, We Will Always Have the Closet,” by Natalina Reis while I was in Paris on vacation. It was a great summer romance to read.”

Vice President Katherine Gotthardt said, “I think people will love hearing how Natalina and P.M. Hernandez operate. P.M. Hernandez is one of the most prolific local authors I know. I’m in awe of her.”

Cost for the workshop is $10 for members, $15 for non-members. Published and aspiring writers are welcome to attend. To register, visit the WbtR website’s events page.


And in the local writing scene, we have news from Write by the Rails:

Write by the Rails ‘Back on Track’ with new initiatives

Write by the Rails (WbtR), the Prince William Chapter of the Virginia Writers Club, has announced two new initiatives in conjunction with its 2018-19 theme, “Back on Track.”

The group, which aims to raise the profile of the local literary community, started by scheduling a half-day, fall writers’ workshop to be held October 27, 2018 at Trinity Church in Historic Manassas. The workshop will feature a panel of guest speakers, as well as networking and break-out sessions on a variety of topics and genres.

Jan Rayl, WbtR President said, “As President of Write by the Rails, my goal is to mentor the new and want-to-be authors while balancing that with encouraging and educating our successful authors. Our ‘Back on the Tracks’ Fall Writers’ Workshop is going to be the event to do just that.”

Open to members and non-members, the workshop is $10 per seat for members, $15 for non-members.

“I am excited to have some of our members that have been very successful as writers lead sessions to help some of our new and want to be authors reach their goals. I hope that those that dream of having their name in print will join us,” said Rayl.

The workshop will also serve as the hard launch of the WbtR “#BackOnTrackNow Social Campaign.

“The #BackOnTrackNow social campaign is a way for writers and literary enthusiasts to take back social media,” WbtR Vice President Katherine Gotthardt said. “The idea is to write a few lines, post them on social media every day, and use “#BackOnTrackNow and #WbtR to track it all. Submit those same lines to Write by the Rails, and we’ll post them, too, giving writers credit, of course.” At the end of the campaign, select posts will be included in an anthology.

Gotthardt said anyone is welcome to participate, members and non-members.

“The goal is to get this movement to spread through all of social media, bring creativity back and further raise the profile of the writers in our local community and beyond,” said Gotthardt. “But you don’t have to wait until October. We’ve started sharing already as part of a soft launch. We encourage everyone to take part.”

Rayl said, “I have been watching our Write by the Rails Facebook page with excitement as several times a day there are new works coming into to our #BackOnTrackNow social media campaign. I hope some of those reading this article will post some poems, memoirs and writing.”

More information on the social campaign, along with a submission form, can be found at

For information on WbtR, membership, general events and meetings, visit the WbtR website at

Write by the Rails, the Prince William Chapter of the Virginia Writers Club, aims to raise the profile of the local literary community and explore ways to nurture, cultivate and help that community grow. The group strives to be an integral part of the larger arts community and to enhance the quality of life for residents of the area by providing them with the opportunity to participate in events and activities that promote literacy and self-expression. Published and unpublished writers affiliated with Manassas, Manassas Park or Prince William County are encouraged to consider officially joining. 


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Over the weekend, members of the Manassas Write by the Rails group gathered to create free little libraries for the Greater Prince William (GPW) Little Free Libraries project.

Potomac Local has partnered with Write by the Rails and the Prince William Library Foundation to get several little free library locations set up across the greater Prince William area.

Belinda Miller, who has spearheaded Write by the Rail’s involvement in the project, spoke with several group members about the little library locations they would like to build in Manassas.

On Sunday they were able to build a little free library for the Nokesville United Methodist Church, and begin the library for the New School.

More on the project from author Victor Rook:

A first prototype was constructed in just a few hours using donated recycled materials. Authors Dan Verner and Nick Kelly repurposed a few shelving panels and a solid birch top to create one of the now five designated libraries. We are still in need of more wood, hinges, knobs, and plexi glass, so if you have these supplies and would like to donate, email Belinda at [email protected].

This interactive online map will allow you to find all of the little free libraries in our area that are participating in our initiative.

Let us know where you’re putting your own PW Little Free Library! Be sure to include the name, street address, town name, and zip code! 

Also, post pictures of your library on the Library Foundation’s Facebook page.


MANASSAS, Va. — Warrenton-based illustrator and artist Kate Brown-Wing is the guest speaker at Write by the Rails’ August 15 meeting at 7 p.m. at Trinity Episcopal Church, 9325 West Street in Manassas.

Kate will cover:

1) How to design a project/book and set up a marketing plan

2) What to consider when selecting team members to make your book the success it deserves

3) Why carefully thought-out visuals can be effective partners in reader resonance.

Visit to review Kate’s portfolio. Winners of the Virginia Writers Club’s Summer Shorts Contest and the local tier of the Golden Nib Contest will be announced. Free, open to the public.



MANASSAS, Va. — On Jan. 8, the Board of Directors of the Prince William County Arts Council approved its newest member: Write by the Rails, the Prince William Chapter of the Virginia Writers Club.

“This expands the Arts Council in a wonderful way,” said Kathy Bentz, PWC Arts Liaison. “For 20 years, the council has represented dance, music, visual art and theatre, but never literature. As soon as we opened membership to individual writers in January 2011, a small trickle became a gushing stream. We welcome their talents!”

Four of those original individual writer members, Pete Pazmino, Sheila Lamb, Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt and Cindy Brookshire, founded Write by the Rails, a networking group for writers in Prince William, Manassas and Manassas Park. Their first gathering at Okra’s in Old Town Manassas in August 2011 brought 12 writers together, and the group has rapidly grown to 150 members through a Facebook group and the website Group members host bi-monthly “meet and greets” throughout the county, pool money to rent book sale tables at community events and promote book signings, manuscript groups and write-ins on the website’s calendar.

Since earning the Virginia Writers Club’s charter, Write by the Rails hosts monthly meetings at Trinity Episcopal Church, 9325 West Street, Old Town Manassas on the third Thursday of each month at 7 pm. The Jan. 17 speaker is William Golden of, who will talk about setting up author websites and blogs. The group also honors VWC’s mission to engage young writers by spreading the word about the state club’s 2013 Teen Golden Nib Contest, which has a deadline of March 1.

Members currently review books for Prince William Living magazine’s online “Book Nook” column. Twenty-two members are featured in New Departures, an anthology formatted by Manassas author Claudia LeFeve, who, in 2012, sold 7,700 ebook copies of her first three Travelers series books (PARALLEL, PARADOX and PARADIGM) on everything from Amazon Kindle to Barnes & Noble Nook and Apple iBooks and iTunes. LeFeve explained indie authors are estimated to sell, on average, only 100 to 200 books a year. Even traditionally published mid-list or debut authors can expect to sell between 1,000 to 5,000 copies.

One of the authors featured in New Departures is Robert Bausch, an NVCC-Woodbridge professor who is planning to lead his third annual Woodbridge Writers Retreat on May 15-18 with his brother, novelist Richard Bausch and Tom Zoellner, author of Uranium: War, Energy, and the Rock That Shaped the World. The cost is $650 and only 18 slots are available. More information is available at Another author featured in the anthology is Gainesville writer June Pair Kilpatrick, whose memoir, Wasps in the Bedroom, Butter in the Well: Growing Up during the Great Depression, will be the subject of a Book Talk at The Manassas Museum on Sunday, Jan. 27 at 2 p.m.

There are no dues to join Write by the Rails, however all local authors are encouraged to join the Virginia Writers Club to amplify their local art to the state level. For more information, email writebytherails[at]


A group of writers from the Greater Prince William County region took to the rails for inspiration.

Members of “Write by the Rails,” a Manassas-based writers group, which is a part of the Virginia Writers Club, rode the Orange line on Washington’s Metro system.

“We produced poetry, fiction and essays en route from Vienna to New Carrollton. We ended the day at Okra’s, where the first official meeting of Write by the Rails took place in August 2011,” said spokeswoman Katherine Gotthardt.

Those who attended the event, dubbed “Write on the Rails,” were encouraged to bring notebooks, pens, laptops, phones — whatever would have encouraged them to write for a couple of hours with no interruptions. Writing prompts were made available for those who needed a little inspiration.

The event took place earlier this year on Feb. 23.


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