Friday, July 27, 2012

On Mothers and Daughters

Excerpt from December 1, 2011

by Nancy S. Kyme

My mother died eleven years ago and I still miss her. After I had reached my twenties, Mom had become my best friend although five states and hundreds of miles separated us. I could always pick up the phone and receive her guidance and wisdom. My daughter had been fifteen at the time of her death, on the verge of those turbulent teenage years. She grieved for her Gramsy, but she couldn’t really understand the level of my sorrow. She was entrenched in the self-absorbed years, just as I had been at her age, when it took all my focus and energy to keep up with a popular crowd while trying not to compromise my values through a land mine of peer pressure.

For many, many months after Mom had passed, I would pick up the phone to call her, to share my pain and sorrow of her passing, or the latest trial of parenting, only to set it down again, knowing she would never again be on the other end. How keenly I had felt the paradox of recovery; the one person who could lift me from the suffering was the reason for it. Somewhere along the way, I had begun to hear my mom without the telephone. As my daughter’s high-school years wound down, I would hear Mom say, “You have to let her go. No more hovering about, arms wide-open, issuing gentle warnings and ultimatums.” When it came time to send her off to college in another state, I would hear Mom say, “Put on a smile, though you least feel like it, and send her off with encouraging words and a prayer for success.”

During those turbulent teenage years, I had hoped the kind, compassionate adult I had glimpsed at times within my daughter would return to stay and we would be the best of friends, as I had been with my mother. Now she is twenty-six and I marvel at the beauty of my mom’s wisdom and the power of prayer. I recently traveled overseas, beyond the range of emails and cell phones. My daughter was experiencing life as a newlywed, in a strange state, with a new job, and desperately needed to talk. Unable to reach me, she began to envision a world without Mom. Inexplicable pangs of worry assaulted me across the miles, and I sensed an overpowering need to phone her immediately upon my return. Full of tears, she said, “Mom, now I know how you felt when Gramsy died! It must have been awful to think you could never talk to her again!”

An entire country now separates us, but my daughter frequently picks up the phone to call me. I hear laughter and tears on the other end, the budding wisdom of a future mother, and I hear my own mother, speaking through me saying, “It will be all right, this too shall pass.”
Nancy S. Kyme is the author of a novel-memoir, "Memory Lake: The Forever Friendships of Summer", Vantage Point Books, winner in the Inspirational category of the 2012 Next Generation Indie Book Awards.  Kyme is also a military wife, the mother of two grown children, and for the past twenty years she has been CFO of a small corporation in Northern Virginia. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Don't Miss "How to Market Your Book"

“How to Market Your Book”
A panel discussion with local members of Write by the Rails

Saturday, September 8
12:30 pm – 2:00 pm
Trinity Episcopal Church
9325 West Street, Manassas

Carol Covin, Who Gets to Name Grandma
Nancy Kyme, Memory Lake
Tee Morris, Phoenix Rising, Morevi and The Case of the Singing Sword
Ross Murphy, You Will Never Dance Alone, Dancing with the Devil

Dan Verner, Biscuit City blogger, master of ceremonies
Leigh Giza, Found and Lost, workshop coordinator

First in a Series of Writing and Publishing Workshops

For more information:

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Notes from the July 23, 2012 Write by the Rails Meeting

Present:  Cindy Brookshire, Chip Deyerle, Leigh Giza, Linda Johnston, Marv Josaitis, Nancy Kyme, Sheila Lamb, Barbara Peacock, Yvette Soliz (new!), Dan Verner

By-Laws:  Chip Deyerle drafted a constitution and bylaws; they are attached to this e-mail.  Anyone is welcome to look them over and make changes or suggestions and direct them to Chip.

Survey for Members:  Claudia LeFeve is willing to do a survey of members so we can use your input to plan our direction.  If you have a question you think should be on the survey, contact Claudia.
Possibility of Becoming Prince William Chapter of Virginia Writers Club:  Local writers are encouraged to check out the Northern Virginia Chapter of the Virginia Writers Club, which meets Saturday, July 28 from 1 to 3 pm at the Herndon Fortnightly Library, 768 Center St, Herndon, 703-437-8855.  The speaker is Richard Krevolin, who has taught screenwriting classes at the USC School of Cinema/TV as well as UCLA Film School, Ithaca and Pepperdine.
The Virginia Writers Club is hosting “Navigating Your Writing Life 2012” on Saturday, Aug. 4 from 9:30 am to 4 pm at The Dickinson Fine and Performing Arts Center, Piedmont Virginia Community College, 501 College Drive, Charlottesville, VA.  Featuring Charles J. Shields, New York Times Bestselling Author of And So It Goes: Kurt Vonnegut: A Life and Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee. Cost is $85 and deadline to register is July 30.  Details at

Anthology: The anthology is on track with a deadline of submissions of August 31.  Cindy Brookshire has set up a bank account.  Any deposits must be made out to Cindy Brookshire with Write by the Rails in the memo line.  Bank will NOT accept deposits made out to Write by the Rails.

Marketing Workshop:  This is how the marketing workshop is shaping up:

“How to Market Your Book”
A panel discussion with local members of Write by the Rails
Saturday, September 8
12:30 pm – 2:00 pm
Bull Run Regional Library
8051 Ashton Avenue, Manassas

See Changes!

Carol Covin, Who Gets to Name Grandma
Nancy Kyme, Memory Lake
Ross Murphy, You Will Never Dance Alone, Dancing with the Devil
Dan Verner, Biscuit City blogger, master of ceremonies
Leigh Giza, Found and Lost, workshop coordinator

First in a Series of Writing and Publishing Workshops

Library conference room is being used by another group at 2 pm.  So we need to wrap up at 1:45 pm.  Tentative format:  30 minutes for intros and each panelist’s key points.  Remaining 45 minutes is Q& A.  MC will facilitate to keep conversation going.  Lisa & Dan will work with panelists by e-mail.  Panelists are encouraged to create their own handouts – marketing tips or any other great take-away.

Winery at La Grange’s 2nd Annual Fall Arts &Crafts Festival:  This is still on for Saturday, October 13.  No fee to participate. Write by the Rails will have a presence there.  Contact Nancy Kyme at

NEXT MEETING:  Monday, July 30 at Cindy Brookshire’s house, 8908 Fort Drive, Manassas.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Advice for Writers--Better by Half

by WbtR Member Dan Verner

Sometimes, revision means discarding a particular word that doesn't "ring" and finding one that does. Other times it might mean going through and looking for passive voice. Or the same words used in close proximity to each other. I wrote something recently and used the word "personal" three times within two sentences. Sometimes I can substitute a synonym. Sometimes I have to reconstruct the sentence(s). All these things come about when I am throwing down a first draft. Just get it down and fix it later.

For this post, I want to consider cutting parts of writing. I know, none of us wants to discard a single precious word that flows from the ends of our fingers (or however else you might produce writing--I don't want to limit anyone here). Most of the time, though, making something shorter makes it better.

I have had the good fortune to write a column for two local papers in the past four years, and typically, those columns run to about 750 words. I can write more, but I don't want to irritate my editor by forcing her to rework a piece to make it shorter. That's my job. You probably recall the inverted triangle (pyramid) structure of a news story. Important stuff in the lead paragraph (but punch it up!), other stuff in order of decreasing importance. That's so if the poor long-suffering editors needs to cut your deathless prose, they can lop it off at the end with little lost. Columns, not  so much since the last sentence where I put wisdom of the ages (or a really weak pun, whatever).

So, I had a story I had written a few years ago and had never published. Yes, I sometimes write things for the fun of writing them. I know that's an odd practice. This wonderful story ran to 1500 words, and I needed to cut it down to 750 for the column.

My practice is first to go through and eliminate paragraphs that can depart. There are usually two or three.

Next, I see if I can cut out some of the dialogue. I like to use dialogue because it speaks to me (there's your weak pun!).

Then, I chop out sentences that would enjoy a respite.

And finally, we get down to it when I cut out words that aren't necessary.

That's how I cut the story in half. Actually, it took longer to edit the column down to size than it would have to write a fresh one. But I liked the approach and message of a piece and it's worth taking the time to make it right and to make it shorter.

And that's the long and short of it.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

A Sunday Post

My God Rides the Metro

Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other's eyes for an instant?
Henry David Thoreau

My God rides the Metro.
He watches tunnels blur by
like ages prodded en windowed route,
sudden stops of thought.

He smiles at soft-fingered children
kneeling on orange benches,
eyes and noses conceiving steam
on this miraculous glass.

My God rides the Metro.
He holds his breath as it climbs,
skips in its tracks into sunlight,
plods over passing waters,
those unknowing rowers below.

God smells hard work and damp papers,
notices holes in briefcases and bags,
watches for auras most of us miss
as we wish for the stop at our station.

My God rides the Metro,
but no one ever looks up.
He sighs alongside travelers,
crowds with perspiring eyes.
God sees himself in passengers,

hopes we might seat ourselves near him, 
or nod in his general direction,
assure him he’s still alive.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Stacia Kelly Offers Useful Tech Tools for Writers

Every artist has tools to help them succeed, whether you are Leonardo da Vinci, or the budding artist with paper and crayons (heaven forbid they started on the wall, but who knows where they’re moved to create). In days past, most writers have paper and pen. Today, we’ve migrated to laptops, smart phones, iPads, Twitter and blogs.

Corrina Lawson wrote on, “Top 10 Geeky Things You Don’t Know About Romance Writers.”  She stated, “Before I started reading and writing romance novels, I never would have thought there was anything remotely geeky about romance writers. Wrong, wrong, wrong. They’re some of the most geeky people on the planet.”

And is she ever so right!

What works? What doesn’t? For each writer, it can be different, but a few tools truly help revolutionize your writing process. This is a new list of the ones I’ve found to be the most helpful (I’ve deleted the obvious ones like computers, websites, Facebook and Twitter.):

  • Google Docs – Don’t want to buy MS Office? Why bother? Google docs gives you access to your files anywhere and anytime. Google’s been making improvements every day. Another plus, if you’re co-writing, you truly can write in real time with your partner. I’ll do that and copy it all back into Scrivener when the writing session is done.
  • TaskPaper – Mac software, your electronic to do list. Great desktop version. Remember the Milk is an online one that links to Gmail if you prefer. If you’re working with a co-author, you can try out ActionMethod. It lets you delegate tasks to others too.
  • AutoCrit – an online editor, it calls out over-used words, cliches, repeated words, and more.
  • Skype – I use it to carry on conversations all day long with fellow authors as well as my accountability partners.
  • Scrivener – Scrivener has changed my writing LIFE. I won’t write another book without it. Although, if I were still on a PC, I’d probably test out Liquid Story Binder as an alternative. Consider this, when using MS Word, I end up closing the doc and every time, it opens back to the front of the document…I had a hard time getting back to the place I was editing. With Scrivener, where I close it is where it opens the next time. And, the programmers have built in compile features for eBooks. I highly recommend trying it out.
  • Day One -  it’s a Mac based journal that syncs to your iPhone, iPad and Mac. Great when you’re away from your desk and want to get something on the page and have it be there when you get home. Yes, you could just type it up and email yourself, but where’s the fun in that?
  • Simplenote  – a way to sync Scrivener with your iPhone or iPad. I’m still getting hang of this one.
  • Aeon Timeline – useful when you’re darting through time and space like I do with the Goddesses. Or, the Samurai sisters.
  • MindNodePro – mind mapping software for when you’re truly stuck and want to throw all the ideas out there that you can and see what sticks.
Yes, most of these apps can be replaced with pen and paper. But, as I’ve mentioned before, my handwriting is horrible nowadays so if I want to be able to read things later, it’s better for me if they’re electronic.

WbtR member Stacia D. Kelly is the urban fantasy author of Phyxe: Goddess of Fire as well as the author of Muse, focus, and the upcoming book, Reduce You. You can find her work at and She lives in Prince William County, VA with her husband, son, some crazy cats and a hyper but loveable Mini Aussie Shepherd.

Invitation to Symposium

Sent to Cindy and Pete
On behalf of the Virginia Writers Club, I am inviting you and any other interested members of Write by the Rails to attend the Virginia Writers Club’s Navigating Your Writing Life Symposium at the VWC’s discounted membership rate of $75.  The symposium will be held on August 4 from 9:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. at the Dickinson Fine and Performing Arts Center, Piedmont Virginia Community College in Charlottesville.
...Charles J. Shields, New York Times bestselling biographer of Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee and And So It Goes: Kurt Vonnegut: A LIfe, will be the keynote speaker. Other bestselling authors will join him sharing their experiences and knowledge throughout the day with the audience. Further information and the full schedule is also appears on our website.
Your members should register as "VWC Guest" and enter code "KUOE8MTF"
Now accepting registrations by credit card or check at

The Symposium and registration form is included in the attachment and can also be printed and mailed for those who prefer not to register electronically.
Please contact me if you have any questions. After July 28 until the morning of the Symposium, I will be out of town with only random access to my email. VWC Vice President Betsy Ashton:  and Executive Director Linda Layne: are standing by to help as well.
I have marked my calendar for your September 8 meeting and look forward to meeting you both then, if not at the Symposium.
June Forte
President, Virginia Writers Club

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Cindy Brookshire Interviews WbtR Author B.N. Peacock

Bastille Day with Local Historic Novelist B.N. Peacock
by WbtR Founder, Cindy Brookshire

Interestingly enough, I commemorated the 222nd anniversary of Bastille Day this past weekend with the Manassas author B.N. Peacock, whose historical novel, The Tainted Dawn, is the first in a series about the great naval wars between England and France, 1792-1815.

It’s not often you run into someone whose hero is Lord Nelson of the Royal Navy.

B.N., or Barbara, as neighbors greet her on dog walks around Old Town Manassas, has been writing most of her life. She won honorable mention in a national writing contest in middle school for a short story on the Battle of Bunker Hill, as seen through the eyes of a British correspondent. She spent a college year studying in England, earned several degrees, traveled extensively, met her husband, Dan Peacock while working at the USDA in Washington, DC, built a house with him in Culpeper, raised two children, nursed an ailing mother for almost two decades and then, in the late 1990s decided to write a series of books that began with The Tainted Dawn.

England and Spain are on the brink of war. France, allied by treaty with Spain, readies her warships. Three youths – the son of an English carpenter, the son of a naval captain, and the son of a French court tailor – meet in London, a chance encounter that entwines their lives ever after. The English boys find themselves on the same frigate bound for the Caribbean. The Frenchman sails to Trinidad, where he meets an even more zealous Spanish revolutionary. As diplomats in Europe race to avoid conflict, war threatens to explode in the Caribbean, with the three youths pitted against each other.

She finished the manuscript in 2005, on the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar. By that time she and Dan had moved to a home in Historic Manassas. There, she began querying editors – and collecting rejections. She tackled the hard task of editing by lighting a candle and setting it near her laptop while the soundtrack from Les Miserables fed her muse.

Finally, in January 2011, her manuscript was accepted by She signed a contract, worked with Fireship’s editor, and in March 2012, The Tainted Dawn was published.

Peacock is currently working with a publicist to market the book. A book reviewer herself for the Historical Novel Society, she has garnered three reviews through Library Giveaways and Goodreads, and will soon have two more reviews by the Military Writers Society of America and The Copperfield Review. David Hayes of Historical Naval Fiction recently interviewed her:

Meanwhile Barbara Peacock continues to collect material for the second novel in the series, as yet unnamed. She recently traveled to the Fells Point Maritime Museum in Baltimore, Maryland, to visit the home to one of her characters, and was delighted to talk to a colonial re-enactor at the Virginia Museum of Transportation in Roanoke, who showed her how to load and fire a 1766 French Charleville Musket.

Peacock keeps a box of books ready to sell or consign for $15 a piece in her car trunk, much as John Grisham or Tom Clancy did when they started out. Would Herman Melville have done the same from his steamer trunk? She recently did a book signing at Opera House Gourmet in Old Town Manassas, and is lining up one for later this summer at 2nd & Charles in Woodbridge.

Her advice for other writers in the local Write by the Rails networking group: “Never ever give up.”

B. N. Peacock's website.

Excerpts of her novel:

# # #

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

"Monster" by Leigh Giza


Feed it and it grows
Starve it and away it goes
Your choice, I suppose


WbtR member Leigh Giza lives in Gainesville with her husband, John. She writes poetry, blog posts, humor, and the occasional Roving I column for Bristow Beat. You can check out her blog at

Monday, July 16, 2012

A Poem About Poetry


by Pablo Neruda 

And it was at that age ... Poetry arrived
in search of me. I don't know, I don't know where
it came from, from winter or a river.
I don't know how or when,
no, they were not voices, they were not
words, nor silence,
but from a street I was summoned,
from the branches of night,
abruptly from others,
among violent fires
or returning alone,
there I was without a face
and it touched me.

I did not know what to say, my mouth
had no way
with names,
my eyes were blind,
and something started in my soul,
fever or forgotten wings,
and I made my own way,
that fire,
and I wrote the first faint line,
faint, without substance, pure
pure wisdom
of someone who knows nothing,
and suddenly I saw
the heavens
and open,
palpitating plantations,
shadow perforated,
with arrows, fire and flowers,
the winding night, the universe.

And I, infinitesimal being,
drunk with the great starry
likeness, image of
for myself a pure part of the abyss,
I wheeled with the stars,
my heart broke loose on the wind.

(Translated from the Spanish by Alastair Reid)

Pablo Neruda was the pen name and, later, legal name of the Chilean poet and politician Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto. He chose his pen name after Czech poet Jan Neruda.

Neruda wrote in a variety of styles such as erotically charged love poems as in his collection Twenty Poems of Love and a Song of Despair, surrealist poems, historical epics, and overtly political manifestos. In 1971 Neruda won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Colombian novelist Gabriel García Márquez once called him "the greatest poet of the 20th century in any language." Neruda always wrote in green ink as it was his personal color of hope. 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Slugging Along in DC Metro

Traffic, slugs, and the cycle of life
by Kristine Meldrum Denholm

I was a slug-picker-upper. It was about a decade ago, but I remember those late afternoons: the frenzied dart onto southbound I-95 followed by an abrupt halt at the Pentagon to grab my people, my slugs.

They succumbed wearily into my car, as I aided and abetted two unknown Feds everyday into my 2- door Saturn coupe with promises of a quick getaway in the HOV-3 lanes rocketing down to the Potomac Mills area.

Though they uttered a few sighs when it came to comfort in my file-cabinet sized car, their small talk seemed acceptable, so we ventured into the highway of life together.

Swapping an occasional story was usually pleasant, though sometimes stinky (by that hour deodorant and defenses were worn down). There was the 7-foot man who wasn't happy to be in my car, but still managed to read the paper; the 20-something woman who chatted my transmission off but was so kind, and the 40-something man who didn't want to utter a syllable, not to be outdone by Grumpy, who didn't like the agency I worked for.

(I also remember when no one wanted to be my slug because I was nine months pregnant, which labeled me "unpredictable", in a let's-not-have-a-baby-on-rush-hour-95-sort of way.)

I usually didn't say too much to my slugs, because I wanted these slugs, selfishly needed them, and I didn't want to get a bad slug reputation. (Being deemed Talkative was akin to Bad Driver.)

Slugs feed on each other, and I didn't want to be branded in the slug community, which would only result in a decreased selection of slug riders and lobbying against me. Plus, by the end of the day in my job in a press office, I was pretty much done with talking.

And so went a life of slugdom.

Fast forward 10 years, and though slug-ism should be a distant memory, it's not.

I sit in car pool lines now, waiting on my three children at two different schools.

I spend entire quarters of an hour waiting in the line, speed-reading the newspaper leads, jotting to-do lists or thank you notes, writing story ideas, but always using my time judiciously, a characteristic which never left me from my Washington days, because we all know what we secretly think of idle (read:wasted) time.

It occurred to me in one of these car pool lines, that my life is strikingly similar to my old life as a picker-upper, slug section.

The car's still a Saturn, but now a four-door Vue. The kids sometimes want to talk about their day, and sometimes don't, particularly if it involves my interrogations -- and they don't give me a dime for 20th ride.

I'm a free chauffeur to them, yet I cultivate their potential.

Like slugs, I want them to want and need my ride. They don't necessarily appreciate it, but they're intent on getting from point A to point B quickly.

I'm satisfied with this quid-pro-quo arrangement. I'm getting to know their tales pretty well, though I admit to tuning out some of the finer points.

Do I need to hear a play-by-play on Joey throwing up at lunch?

So we form a slug-like alliance: I pick them up from school and they tell me their stories.

Or they tell each other their stories, and I eavesdrop. They poke each other because they're not comfortable sitting together, but they put up with it, and surprisingly they don't deck each other in my backseat.

And today, when we arrive home with a few extra minutes on our side, I announce, "We got one whole half-hour! We now have more time for homework!"

The groans are drowned by my mental to-do list. I remember their basketball practice tonight and contemplate how to squeeze in homework and dinner before practice.

"So, what do you guys say we hit the drive-thru line?"


When she's not Head Chauffeur, WbtR member Kristine Meldrum Denholm is a published freelance journalist and humor columnist. Her bylined work has appeared in Police Magazine,, Chicken Soup for the Soul: A Dog's Life, Cleveland Family Magazine, NJ Family Magazine, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, WOW! Women on Writing,, and many other outlets.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Interview with YA/Horror Author Claudia Lefeve

WbtR author Claudia  Lefeve talks about her passion for writing young adult literature (YA), science fiction (Sci-Fi).

1. What kind of YA and horror do you write?
I generally refer to myself as a speculative fiction writer, as sci-fi and horror fall under the speculative umbrella. I currently have two books out in my Travelers Series (YA Sci-Fi) and most of my short stories are horror. My sci-fi novels are nowhere near what I consider sci-fi (no aliens, spaceships, or space operas), but center on alternate realities and time travel. My horror stories are more subdued (no blood and guts), relying on imaginative twists as a literary device.

2. Why did you pick these genres?
I kind of fell into writing YA. The voice was there for a teenage heroine and as for YA sci-fi, the genre came after I wrote the first book in the series. I had ever intention of writing a paranormal romance, but someone it fits somewhere in-between. As for horror, it will always be my favorite genre, both in media and print. I grew up reading Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Ray Bradbury and H.P. Lovecraft, as well as watching shows like The Twilight Zone (I'm watching that now as I'm typing!), Tales from the Darkside, and The Outer Limits. I am forever grateful for my parents who never censored what I read or watched on TV growing up! 

3. What advice do you have for writers who want to pursue YA and/or horror?
Learn it, love it, live it! Basically, read your genre. I generally read 2-3 books a week, when I'm not on a deadline, and I generally split it between YA and horror. In the last two weeks, I've read Alice in Deadland by Mainak Dhar, Troll or Derby by Red Tash, and ARC of Pines by Blake Crouch, Open Minds by Susan Kaye Quinn, and Initiation by Imogen Rose. The best advice for writers is best said in the loosely paraphrased words of Stephen King, "Write everyday and read a lot." 

And for a little shameless self-promotion, my collection of short stories, unDead Dixie Debs, is now available in eBook format on Amazon and Barnes and Noble! Print version to follow... 

Thanks for having me! 
Claudia Lefeve was born and raised in the Gulf Coast border town of Brownsville, Texas, a curious place where folks see curanderas in lieu of shrinks, tortillas are served at every meal, and even gringos speak Spanish.  She currently resides in Northern Virginia with her husband and two pugs.  Find out more at

Monday, July 9, 2012

WbtR Organizational Meeting Notes

Write by the Rails – Summer Tune-Up Meetings
Sundays@2pm - 8908 Fort Drive, Manassas

July 9 – Cindy Brookshire, Chip Deyerle, Leigh Giza, Marv Josaitis, Claudia Lefeve, Dan Verner

Vision – What do you want out of Write by the Rails?
·         To meet local writers, networking, get out and be with others
·         To get better at the craft by seeing what works for others, improve from those who have more experience, to share lessons learned
·         To encourage each other to be creative and productive
·         To make our writing known
·         To learn how to get a book to market
·         To broaden the perspective of the community, to appreciate local creativity
·         To fill the dead zone between Washington DC and Richmond with a creative zone for writers
·         To fill the gap within the Prince William County Arts Council with a vibrant literary community
·         To nurture a community of writers and be nurtured; to make members dreams happen
·         To increase our own visibility as writers (Facebook, blog)

Obstacles – After one year as a group, what is keeping us from our vision?
·         Figuring out if we want to be organized (by laws, etc) or loose networking on Facebook
·         Anthology vs no anthology – we are/are not ready to showcase
·         Money matters – bank account or non-profit, which should come first
·         Writers are introverts not extroverts
·         Some of us are not comfortable selling our books out there, getting up to talk
·         Self-interest – only wanting what you want out of the group and not willing to give back
·         So many genres (fantasy, romance, non-fiction) but not enough diversity of writers (age, race)
·         Publishing platforms – traditional vs. self-published, print vs. e-book
·         We don’t have a clear chain of command in decision-making
·         We don’t have a board or some advisors to help steer us
·         We don’t have enough programming – speakers, workshops, vs. book sales at events
·         We aren’t connected into the schools

Resources – What can we connect with to overcome our obstacles and reach our vision?
·         Toastmasters – develop as extroverts to market books
·         PWC Library System, NVCC Continuing Education, Center for the Arts, Chamber of Commerce, Lifelong Learning Institute to offer courses such as “Marketing for Authors” to share our expertise
·         James River Writers and Virginia Writers Club (Northern Virginia Writers) to learn best practices
·         Member talents – Nancy Kyme (finance), Chip Deyerle (by-laws), survey monkey (Claudia LaFeve)
·         Print media (News & Messenger, Prince William Living), hyperlocal news (,,, etc) for jobs and publicity
·         Schools – awareness of scholarships, speakers

Action Plan – What can you do to use resources to overcome obstacles and advance our vision?
·         Claudia LaFeve will create a survey, using Survey Monkey, to the membership to ask basic questions to the full membership.  The group that met on July 8 will help decide what the questions will be, such as, do you want to work toward becoming a non-profit, or remain a loose Facebook networking group?  Do you want to move ahead with or delay the anthology?
·         Leigh Giza will look into finding places where we can meet at least bi-monthly face to face in the western (Gainesville/Haymarket/Bristow), eastern (Woodbridge/Dale City/Dumfries) and central (City of Manassas to Hoadly/Minnieville Rd) Prince William region.
·         Chip Deyerle, who has done by laws for the fire company, will draft an easy to understand constitution and by-laws based on information Nancy Kyme gathered from the Manassas Art Guild and the Northern Virginia Writers’ chapter of Virginia Writers Club – if results of survey indicate this is the avenue we want to pursue.
·         Cindy Brookshire will gather a list of resources to add to the Write by the Rails blog, based on the brainstorming under “Resources” (Toastmasters to educational institutions to local media).
·         Cindy Brookshire will learn “mail chimp” to create a monthly e-news for local writers to share their news (sign up for e-news on blog).

“How To Market Your Book” Workshop
A panel discussion with local members of Write by the Rails
Saturday, September 8
12:30 p.m. – 2 p.m.
Bull Run Regional Library
8051 Ashton Avenue, Manassas

·         Leigh is asking Claudia Lefeve, Nancy Kyme and Ross Murphy to be on the panel
·         Chip Deyerle will be coerced to provide a banjo prelude/interlude
·         Leigh Giza will MC and introduce panel
·         Dan Verner and Leigh Giza will handle set-up and clean-up
·         Cindy will handle publicity starting Aug. 1

NEXT MEETING:  Sunday, July 15 @ 2pm – Cindy Brookshire’s,
 8908 Fort Drive, Manassas