Tuesday, January 29, 2013

In The Fray Magazine | Call for Submissions | January 2013: Mental Health in Context

Please help us disseminate this call for submissions.

Note: In addition to the theme below, we welcome submissions on all topics. In particular, we are seeking photo essays on any subject matter.

In The Fray Magazine | Call for Submissions | January 2013: Mental Health in Context
After the Newtown elementary school shooting in Connecticut, stories about mental health and gun violence abounded in the news. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that one in four American adults lives with mental illness — and a many people with serious mental health conditions are unable to access care. In many countries, the topic of mental health is still taboo, and adequate, respectful treatment is hard to find.

In The Fray is looking for original reportage, commentary, interviews, first-person narratives, and photo essays about mental health, broadly defined. Tell us about how mental health conditions or institutions affected you, your family members, or your friends. Send us stories that bring to life the experiences of individuals — educators, therapists, psychiatrists, employers, and parents — as they address mental health issues in schools, at home, and in the workplace.

Please email submissions@inthefray.org with a well-developed, one-paragraph pitch for your proposed piece — along with three links to your previous work — NO LATER THAN FEBRUARY 28, 2013.

We are open to submissions on any other topics that relate to the magazine’s themes: promoting global understanding and encouraging empathy and tolerance.

All contributors are urged to review our submissions guidelines at http://inthefray.org/submissions/.

We look forward to hearing from you.

The Editors of In The Fray Magazine

Monday, January 28, 2013

Lindsey Poppe REALLY Needed Egg Whites

It was October 1986, and I had only been married a few months. It was my husband’s birthday. In his family of six children, birthdays had always been a big deal, and since his favorite cake is angel food, I decided to invite his whole family over to our small apartment and have homemade angel food cake. This needed to be good. I was going to impress them with my baking.

The recipe called for 18 egg whites, so I carefully separated each of the 18 eggs, being careful not to get any of the yolk into the whites. I baked the cake in a tube pan, and, as the recipe calls for, I put it upside down on a bottle after baking, to cool in the pan. As it was cooling, I glanced into the kitchen to admire my handiwork, when suddenly, without warning, the bottle fell on its side, hurtling my angelic dessert to the kitchen floor. An explosion of white splattered the kitchen as I watched in horror.  All I could do was sit on the floor, mourn the death of my masterpiece, and of course, eat what was left in the pan. It was heartbreakingly delicious.

I now had a decision to make.  Do I make another one from scratch, as expected by all my in-laws (and therefore have 36 egg yolks in my refrigerator), or make one from a mix? I decided on the mix.  Surely, his family would understand…

That evening, when I served the cake, and everyone was eating it, one of my sisters-in-law said to me, "This is wonderful!  It’s amazing how much better homemade cakes are!”  I smiled and thanked her for appreciating the effort it took to make.  But mostly, I smiled knowing I would never have to separate 18 eggs again.

Cindy Brookshire, Write by the Rails guru and a wonderful writer who works in all sorts of genres  wrote this recently: We all have a cake story. Lianne Best wrote about her chocolate pound cake gone lopsided in a “Mom on the Run” column.  Now there’s a “Bake Off” challenge on the Write by the Rails website to see how many cake stories we can raise.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

1.17.13 Meeting Notes

Write by the Rails – 1.17.13 Meeting Notes

OFFICERS. Cindy Brookshire – President/Treasurer; Linda Johnston – Projects Manager/Liaison to Virginia Writers Club; Katherine Gotthardt – Liaison to the PWC Arts Council; Carol Keily – Keeper of the Membership List

WRITERS PRESENT. Tom Basham, Tracey Brooks, Cindy Brookshire, Gary Caruso, Norma Coto, Carol Covin, Patricia Daly-Lipe, Ron Farra, Katherine Gotthardt, Ressurrection Graves, June Kilpatrick, Steve Pendlebury, Jan Rayl, Robin Tucker, Dan Verner, Val Wallace

OLD BUSINESS.  Treasurer’s Report. We have $151.80 in royalties from New Departures. (Anthology is on sale at Echoes, The Manassas Museum store and Upscale Seconds in Haymarket. Cindy Brookshire has 30 books available). Northern Virginia Magazine is running an item on the book in an upcoming issue.) Cindy will file the group’s 990 tax form for 2012. Remember to register with the Commonwealth to pay sales tax on the books you sell. Virginia Writers Club. Linda Johnston is now an admin on the VWC site and will be getting our chapter information on the site. While there are NO chapter dues, at least five of us need must be members of VWC to maintain our charter. Go to www.virginiawritersclub.org to join. VWC Youth Golden Nib Contest. Robin Tucker is distributing the PDF flyer to schools and libraries. PWC Arts Council / Arts Alive! 2013 is April 13. Katherine Gotthardt, Ressurrection Graves and Claudia LeFeve are working together on our application to participate.

NEW BUSINESS.  Robin Tucker volunteered to start a Write by the Rails Google group for those not on Facebook. Fall for the Book is considering an event at the Prince William Campus of GMU next fall and would like our input on a possible writer to feature. As a local writer in Prince William County, what regional or national writer would you like to hear? Email to Cindy’s attention at writebytherails@gmail.com.

SPEAKER.  William Golden of PrinceWilliamLife.com, USAJobZoo.com and PWCPolitics.com talked about how to set up an author's website or blog on Wordpress.com (it’s free, offers 5,000 free design themes, and you can upload your posts from email with the headline in the subject line. You may also transport the post with blog comments, to your Facebook page as well. Bill offered to livestream an online tutorial for WbtR members. He maintains 140 blogs and calculates he has written the equivalent of Gone With the Wind four times over through Facebook and Twitter posts. Bill has a Web TV show called Nights of the Roundtable – if you’d like to be a possible guest, contact WGolden@PrinceWilliamLife.com. His personal goal is to “be everywhere at once, live.” Thanks Bill!

UPCOMING EVENTS.  Write by the Rails Meet and Greet, Tues, Feb. 5 from 2-4 pm at Panera, 7351 Atlas Walk Way, Gainesville. Look for a group of six or so people in the corner! “Authors Alley” at Annual Spring Craft Show, Sat., March 16, 9 to 3 pm Gar-field HS (14000 Smoketown Rd., Woodbridge – across from Potomac Mills Mall) $30 per table (special rate for authors, thanks to Cathy Hailey). Deadline to register is Jan. 29. Free admission and parking. Details and application to download here. Proceeds support students & teacher scholarships, awards and school programs.

NEXT MEETING. Thursday, February 21, 2013 at 7 pm at Trinity Episcopal Church, 9325 West Street, Manassas. Speaker:  Write by the Rails member Ressurrection Graves. Watch her read at Busboys & Poets here.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Important Update on Arts Council Funding

The following letter is from Sheyna Burt, current chair of the Prince William County Arts Council, of which Write by the Rails is a new group member:

What a difference a day makes, fellow Arts Council members.

As you may have heard, late in the day on Friday of last week word emerged that the Prince William County Executive’s budget proposal would have 1) eliminated all funding for the Arts Council, and 2) eliminated the arts grant program, transferring those funds to the Hylton Performing Arts Center for its use in reducing performance fees paid by local arts organizations.  As we worked to separate rumor from fact, we forwarded information to the County Executive about the impact of these cuts and the worthiness of our cause. 

I am delighted to inform you that the noise generated by Arts Council members and others in the community on behalf of the arts has worked … for now.  This morning the County Executive communicated to us that after a series of very productive conversations, her proposal will include NO reduction in funding for the arts, meaning that she proposes that the Arts Council and the arts grant pool be funded at the same levels as last fiscal year.  Though the grant application process likely will be subject to review, the funding will not be diverted to the Arts Center.

Part of what is amazing about this is the level of outrage that emerged from the community in the face of these cuts.  I think the message is clear: Prince William County values the presence of local artists and arts organizations.  We’re doing something right, people.

Don’t dust off the champagne quite yet, though.  The County Executive’s proposal will be formally announced to the Board of County Supervisors on February 12 and will be adopted by the Board of County Supervisors on April 23 after a series of work sessions, a community meeting, and a public hearing.  It is critical that the Arts Council organize and mobilize to make sure that the arts are protected.  Accordingly, the Board will meet briefly on February 12 to discuss strategery before breaking into committees as previously planned.  The emergency, special meeting that I was beginning to plan for February 5 mercifully is no longer necessary.

BTW, I am personally indebted to Kathy Bentz who took a major role in funneling information to the decision makers.  Without her tireless efforts, we still would be in full-blown crisis mode. 

Saving my fire and brimstone emails for a different date,
Sheyna Nicole Burt, Chair, Prince William County Arts Council

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Let Them Eat (Blue) Cake

by Carole Bellacera

Have you noticed that kids are more apt to misbehave when parents are occupied with something else?  We had guests over one night, and Leah, age 3, was playing in her bedroom with her little friend, Juanita.  The two girls had been born a week apart; in fact, I’d met Juanita’s mother in childbirth class. 
Earlier that day, I’d baked and decorated a Cookie Monster cake for Leah’s birthday, and invited Juanita’s parents over to celebrate both girls’ birthdays with us.  So, there we were—me, Frank, Ann and Rich, playing cards.  I got up to go into the kitchen to get fresh drinks.  As I opened the fridge door, I happened to glance at the cake on the counter.  And my heart dropped.
Poor Cookie Monster had been stripped clean of his blue icing.  Well, almost clean.  Several tiny little fingers had raked tunnels through what was left of stringy blue fur. 
“Ann,” I called out.  “Could you come in here a minute?”
She stepped into the kitchen, her gaze questioning.  I pointed to the cake.  She looked at it and then at me, eyes wide with shock.
Speechless, we just stared at each other.  And then I began to laugh.  She joined in, and pretty soon, we were holding onto each other, laughing so hard, we could barely stand up.  The men, hearing the commotion, came into the kitchen, and stared at us.  I pointed at the dilapidated cake.  They cracked up, too. 
“Let’s go find those little rascals,” I said, motioning for Ann to follow me up the stairs.  From her room, I could hear Leah and Juanita giggling and chatting, as three-year-olds do, with absolutely no connection to what each other was saying. 
I stepped into the threshold, and two little blue faces looked up at me.  It was everywhere—blue icing in their hair, on their cheeks, around their mouths, on their blue-tinged little hands.  Two sets of guilty brown eyes stared warily at us.  And we were off again—shrieking with laughter.
And the girls, realizing they weren’t in trouble after all, grinned at us. 
“Mommy,” Leah piped up.  “Can we have cake now?”

Cindy Brookshire, Write by the Rails guru and a wonderful writer who works in all sorts of genres  wrote this recently: We all have a cake story. Lianne Best wrote about her chocolate pound cake gone lopsided in a “Mom on the Run” column.  Now there’s a “Bake Off” challenge on the Write by the Rails website to see how many cake stories we can raise.

Monday, January 21, 2013

A Cake for Father

The Birthday Cake
by Carol Covin

It was January 15, 1968, my father's birthday.

I was making him a cake.

Normally, this would be no big deal.

In my childhood, my mother was always on a diet that nobody spoke of, so if we three children were ever going to have sweets, it fell to me to make them.

She had given me a five-minute lesson once on how to make dinner for five in 30 minutes, which she did routinely every night after she got home from work.

Boil, drain and butter the frozen vegetables, rotating between green beans, peas, corn, carrots, lima beans, broccoli, squash and cauliflower.

Boil, drain and butter chunks of potato.

Make a salad of iceberg lettuce, sliced carrots and French dressing.

Braise pork chops, chicken, fish, or steak, or bake meatloaf.

Set out glasses of ice water.

My father didn't believe in left-overs or sauces.

I never made dinner for my family, but was allowed to make the occasional chocolate chip cookies, brownies and birthday cakes.

In 1968, I was 20. 

My parents had just moved from Texas to Georgia, so I was baking in an unfamiliar kitchen.

For the past couple of weeks, I had been sleeping nearly 18-hours a day, as I waited the month between the end of Fall quarter and finals at Michigan State and the beginning of second semester at George Washington University, where I was about to transfer to be near my boyfriend.

We'd met at Michigan State a year before. Two years ahead of me, he'd graduated the Spring before and was now working in Washington, DC.

I had begun to suspect I was pregnant.

My boyfriend had called me two weeks before and told me he'd just been drafted.

I had called him a week later and asked him to make me another appointment at the doctor who'd given me my physical for my GWU college transfer application.

Making plans to go up to DC earlier than I'd anticipated, before my boyfriend left for boot camp,  I knew I needed to tell my parents.

The finished chocolate frosted chocolate cake fell off the plate onto the floor.

It is possible to scrape off the part of  a cake that has touched the floor and this is what I did.

I reassembled the cake and presented it to wish my father a happy birthday, then told them what was going on.

"What will you do if you are pregnant?" they asked.

"Well, if I am, I suppose we'll get married."

On January 24, I called them and announced we had gotten married that afternoon.

The ceremony was private, just the minister and the two of us in a chapel.

"I suppose this means you're pregnant, " my Mom replied.


He left for bootcamp on the 26th and two years later for a year in Vietnam.

We will have been married 45 years this month. 

Our two beautiful sons have given us two awesome grandchildren.

We never ate the cake.

Cindy Brookshire, Write by the Rails guru and a wonderful writer who works in all sorts of genres  wrote this recently: We all have a cake story. Lianne Best wrote about her chocolate pound cake gone lopsided in a “Mom on the Run” column.  Now there’s a “Bake Off” challenge on the Write by the Rails website to see how many cake stories we can raise.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Never trust a Beagle with a cake!

My Mom taught for nearly 47 years in Fairfax County schools. Every year she would host a party at her house for all of the teachers at her school at the end of the school year to celebrate. The party was a big deal for my Mom. My Mom is an amazing cook and would make everything she served from scratch. She's also more than a little neurotic about cleanliness and would clean for days before the party, including involuntarily drafting my sister and I into the insanity.

My first year in college my Mom married my step-father and moved into his house with his teenage daughter, Amy, and Beagle, Scruffy. Battles between my Mom and Scruffy would erupt periodically for the years they had to live together. As for Amy, poor Amy. At least my sister and I had each other when my Mom went on her cleaning frenzy; Amy was all alone against my Mom, rubber gloves, and can of Comet cleanser.

To celebrate her first year in her new home my Mom decided to make a white cake from scratch. I've been told that's a rather difficult process that entails such things as sifting flour and separating eggs. To be honest, I have no clue what it entails as I'm more of a buy a box of Butter-scotch Krimpets type of baker, myself.

The day of the party arrived. The family was banished. The house was spotless. The cake was baked, frosted, and waiting in the middle of the dining room table. Mom went upstairs to freshen up before her guests arrived. When she came downstairs she glanced into the dining room for one last check. Standing in the middle of her highly polished, solid wood, dining room table with his mouth full of cake and face smeared with white frosting like a rapid dog, was Scruffy.

He took one look at Mom and took a flying leap off the table, across the living room, through the kitchen and family room, and up the stairs to the bedrooms, all the while with cake and frosting flying in all directions. My Mom finally caught him upstairs and dumped him, rather impolitely I'd imagine, in the yard.

Somehow she managed to get the house back in order before her guests arrived, and the party proceeded, albeit without cake.

Never content to leave well enough alone, Scruffy had the last word. People with dogs know, large quantities of sugar and dogs don't mix. About half an hour into the party the "recycled" cake made a reappearance. Out of both ends of Scruffy, from one end of the yard to another.

My older sister and I like to think that this episode finally upstaged the year our cat, Mehitabel, decided to bring baby bunnies as "gifts" to the party guests.

--Kim Simons

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Remember the "Easy Bake Oven"?

The Story of the Easy Bake Oven (A Cake Tale)

"Light bulb not included." Should have been a clue.
Cindy Brookshire, Write by the Rails guru and a wonderful writer who works in all sorts of genres  wrote this recently: We all have a cake story. Lianne Best wrote about her chocolate pound cake gone lopsided in a “Mom on the Run” column.  Now there’s a “Bake Off” challenge on the Write by the Rails website to see how many cake stories we can raise.

As I thought about this passage, I realized that even I have a cake story. And I don't bake cakes. Well, once. So here's the story. I call it “The Great Easy Bake Oven Cake Fiasco.” 

Let me preface this tale by saying that women seem to do most of the cake baking in this world, although many bakers are men. Alyssa's betrothed (she hates the word "fiancé) Chris B. (to distinguish him from Amy's bf, Chris M.), is a wonderful baker. He made little covered wagon cupcakes complete with little animal cracker oxen pulling them for Alyssa's Oregon Trail-themed birthday party last year. Believe me, Chris B. can bake a cake for me any time.

Which is not to say that I am completely lost in a kitchen. I am a fair-to-middling cook and would likely not sicken most of the people I feed. I cook for ordinary situations. When it comes to the big celebrations though--Christmas, Thanksgiving, birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, funerals, bar mitzvahs--and there is a family meal where everyone brings a dish, I make the iced tea (if it's chez nous--it's easier that way). The real cooks in the family handle the main and side dishes. I know my place in the food chain. (Pun intended.)

But baking, as I have said, not so much. My ineptitude was confirmed when one of the girls received an Easy Bake Oven for a present. The commercials make it look easy to produce delicious, actual edible cakes and cupcakes in the Oven. Here's a commercial from that era. It speaks with forked tongue. (Note that the name of the product was actually the Tasty Bake Oven. I think I have suppressed that bit of information.)

So, we were set to have some father-daughter baking fun with the new oven. The cake mix came in cute little boxes, like the real cake mixes, only smaller. We mixed it up and put it in the cute little cake pans and put the cute little cake pan in the cute little oven and plugged it in and waiting to taste the results of our labors. And waited. And waited.

"Baking time" was supposed to be two minutes. After two minutes, the alleged cake was still a glutinous mass. And after five minutes. And ten minutes. It simply wouldn't turn into a cake.

The girls were disappointed. So was I. And after some thought, I ascertained the problem: the source of heat for the oven was a 60-watt light bulb. No wonder it wouldn't bake. It was about like holding the cake pan over a living room lamp and expecting it to bake.

Together, we worked out that we could use full size cake mix boxes and the oven in the kitchen to bake cakes. That worked well, but I think the emotional trauma of the Easy Bake experience put me off baking cakes forever. No doubt with proper treatment I could turn into a Cake Boss. But it's too late for me now.

I know that other people have had spectacular success baking over a light bulb. I've even seen accounts of people fixing full Thanksgiving meals with an Easy Bake. (Didn't say how long it took--days, probably.) But in our family, sadly, Easy Bake has become a code term for Never Baked or Half Baked or Misrepresentation in Advertising. I should have taken the thing back. Maybe it was defective. In truth, I think I was too embarrassed to admit that I actually thought you could cook a cake, even a small one, over an incandescent bulb. Maybe our magic was not strong enough. Either that or we needed 75 watts of blazing oven power. Yeah...that's it.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Kicking off our "Bake Off"

Lianne Best wrote about her chocolate pound cake gone lopsided in a “Mom on the Run” column.  Now there’s a “Bake Off” challenge on the Write by the Rails website to see how many cake stories we can raise.  Have you got a cake story?  Email it to writebytherails@gmail.com.  

Cindy Brookshire's Cake Story

My cake story involves kiwis and strawberries, an old girlfriend turned chef, a trip getting out of a car and a drunk, all on the night before my wedding.

No, this isn’t about my wedding cake. That was a three-layer spice cake with cream cheese frosting, chosen by Martin and I and baked by Manassas Bakery. We’d met at a party he threw to celebrate his tax return, but all his UVA friends knew he threw it to meet women. He was 25, practicing law in Manassas. I was visiting Northern Virginia for my nephew’s baptism, and was invited, since he and my brother-in-law were Assistant Scoutmasters for a Fairfax troop. I lived in Winston-Salem and worked at a TV station. Martin had not only gotten his law degree from Wake Forest, he’d also once saved Bunny Hipps, a camera operator at the TV station, from a tubing incident on the Yadkin River. With these North Carolina connections, and one really great kiss, love bloomed. We dated a year long distance, then he and his friend “Beetle” Bailey moved all my furniture to my sister’s. I found a corporate job in McLean, and we were engaged shortly after that.

Now, the cake in my story was in a small white box, handed to me by the mother of Martin’s former girlfriend the night before our wedding. His ex was a chef, and this was her present to us. As much as I told myself not to be jealous of the past or let it affect me, it did. After all, she came from a wealthy family with connections that could have assured his future. I had neither. She was part of the UVA alumni who had bonded with their shared memories. I was an outsider. This cake, for me, represented what could have been, instead of what was.

My sister and I lifted the lid to take a peek. Inside was a delicate round confection enveloped in white frosting and ringed with alternating slices of kiwi and strawberries. A fresh-baked sugary scent wafted up.  I closed the lid and carried the box out to my sister’s car. It felt heavier than its actual weight; as if I beheld the warm heart of a slaughtered deer and was about to pass it off to the Queen as the heart of Snow White.

He’s never going to see this cake, was my fleeting thought. Whatever her true intentions, I didn’t want to be the messenger.

Luckily, fate intervened. As I exited the car, the box really did slip, and landed with a dull thwump upside down on the pavement. We stood there paralyzed, first by horror and then by laughter. Finally I bent over and flipped it. We went inside my sister’s kitchen and opened the box. Since the thwump and the flip were two solid motions, it hadn’t fared badly. My sister got a knife and carefully shifted any fruit that went askew, touched up the frosting and put the box in the refrigerator.

The next morning, my sister called from the kitchen, “Who ate the cake?” I went to see, and clearly, half was gone. My brother-in-law later confessed that after drinking at the bachelor party, he got the munchies and helped himself, sorry. Fate intervened again.

I can’t remember if Martin ever had any of the cake, so lovingly prepared. Our wedding day was full of other matters to attend to, including my cousin in her orange bathrobe, modeling the long wedding veil I had sewn by hand. As she turned, she revealed my mother’s fatal error; in trying to press it, she had burned the pattern of the iron into the netting. We laughed, spread it on the dining room table, cut a shorter veil, and called it the desired imperfection to a perfect day. But that’s another story!

# # #

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Cindy Brookshire Featured on "Nights at the PWC Round Table"

"Nights at the PWC Round Table" is a new weekly web t.v. program by WbtR member Bill Golden, hosted by Connie Moser.  Bill says, "I am very happy to announce that we are introducing a series of interview with public personalities, leaders, influencers and community activists that we believe have an impact on Prince William County (PWC), Virginia."  Our own Cindy Brookshire was among the first to be interviewed.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Write by the Rails Joins PWC Arts Council

 Clockwise from left, Write by the Rails members Cindy Brookshire, Valerie Wallace, Claudia Lefeve, Leigh Giza, Mary Kay Montgomery, Nancy West and Dan Verner participated in a recent meet-and-greet at Panera’s on Liberia Avenue in Manassas.  Photo by Chip Deyerle.

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 www.writebytherails.org.  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 PrinceWilliamLife.com, 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 www.robertbausch.org.  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@gmail.com.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Is there really a grandparent conspiracy?

The Grandparent Conspiracy
                                                         by WbtR Member Ron Glaser

Who started this conspiracy of Grand parenting as a gift?

Did they change the diapers, and lug the swing and stroller and Jumperoo and furry animals and noisemaking toys from one room to the other?

Did they once again bend over the bathtub to bathe the baby, only this time dealing with their own aches and creaking bones?

Did they set up the crib and pin towels over the windows to ensure more darkness and better sleep for their Grandchild?

Did they fool with the baby monitor and figure out how to work the new-fangled bottles?

Did they worry that the rash on a tiny forehead would call into question their Grand parenting skills?

Did they follow the parents’ schedule and make notes, avoiding any independent action to prove that they were not making any independent judgments in place of the parents but were only FOLLOWING INSTRUCTIONS?

Did they check the car seat to make sure that the angle of the base was at the precise degree recommended by the local fire department, that no ordinary person could dare to install by himself?

Who started this conspiracy of Grand parenting as a gift?

Ash! You scold. Don’t whine about the work and responsibility!

Think of how your Grandchild has expanded your heart with love!

Yes, I respond. This is true.

And the Jumperoo IS fun.