Thursday, October 9, 2014

PEOPLE WHO NEED TO DIE serves up delightful vengeance

Washington, D.C. (October 8, 2014): Award-winning filmmaker Victor Rook gives us a rare glimpse into his wonderfully diabolical mind with this collection of satirical horror story shorts. In People Who Need To Die the year is 2021, and people are fed up. The World Order Alliance allows "selective" homicides to reestablish a more peaceful society. A few of the targets: Bad Drivers, Distracted Cell Phone Users, Spammers, Internet Trolls, Litterbugs, Horrible Bosses, Black Friday Shoppers, and more.
The book will be available on Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble Nook, as well as paperback, in time for Halloween 2014 and beyond. 200 pp.

Review: "Clever, funny, shocking, and cheerfully vindictive." 
-Tom Shales, Pulitzer prize-winning TV critic

Author Bio:
Victor Rook has produced several award-winning films, as well as written and edited several books. His nature film Beyond the Garden Gate aired on PBS for four years and won two Telly awards. Recent books include People Who Need To Die, a collection of satirical horror stories; In Search of Good Times, a story about a man who believes that the TV sitcom families from "All in the Family" and "Good Times" are real; and Musings of a Dysfunctional Life, a humorous and poignant compilation of everyday mid-life musings. All books and videos are available on and

Author Contact: Email:

Thursday, September 25, 2014

October 1 Poetry at the Black Box Theater

Parking is free in any "B" Lot  after 4 p.m. 15200 Neabsco Mills Road,  Woodbridge, VA 22191. The Black Box Theater is in the new Arts and Science Building. You can reach that building directly from the sidewalk or the courtyard by the pond or by walking through the other building.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Fall for the Book Sept 18: Our Own Belinda Miller, Claudia Lefeve, Robert Scott & Zan Hailey will be there!

Write by the Rails is a cosponsor of Fall for the Book, thanks to a $300 grant from the Virginia Writers Club.

On the closing night of the Fall for the Book Festival (Sept. 11-18), Fall for the Book hosts its 2nd annual celebration of fine food, superior drink, and the various stories behind the scenes of every aspect of the food industry from farm to table—and beyond! Cookbook authors, food writers, chefs and chocolatiers, novelists incorporating food into their fiction, and even the newly minted Prince William County Poet Laureates—all will be part of Haute Cuisine at the Hylton, beginning at 6 p.m. at the Hylton Performing Arts Center, George Mason University, 10960 George Mason Circle, Manassas.

The first event of the evening is a 6:15 p.m. food writing workshop with Jason Shriner. Dubbed “Prince William County’s very own pastry chef” by Potomac Local, Shriner is a food blogger, podcaster, instructor, entrepreneur, and volunteer. He began his video baking & pastry blog the Aubergine Chef in 2010 and was quickly recognized by Every Day with Rachael Ray magazine in their Talk with Friends section. In 2011, he propelled from this achievement to offering university standard yet affordable baking classes at the Manassas Park Community Center. From there he evolved his business to include private baking and pastry classes for individuals, businesses, and events where he inspires future bakers and engages audiences of all ages. He was recently recognized as one of Potomac Local’s Forty Under 40 for being an influential person in his industry and a catalyst of community impact. Today Jason continues to teach on a weekly basis and write monthly online articles for Prince William Living.

At 7 p.m., novelist Laura Florand takes the stage to discuss her internationally bestselling and award-winning Amour et Chocolat series, including The Chocolate Thief, The Chocolate Kiss, and more—books in which sexy Parisian chocolatiers woo the women they love with what they love best – romance you can taste. Her books have been translated into seven languages, nominated for RT Reviewers’ Choice Best Book of the Year, received the RT Seal of Excellence and starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Library Journal, and been recommended by USA Today, NPR, and The Wall Street Journal. Now a lecturer at Duke University, Florand is very dedicated to her research into French chocolate.

At 7:30 p.m., individual stations open for tastings, demonstrations, and discussions by a variety of chefs and food celebrities, including noted cookbook authors Amy Riolo and Joe Yonan. Riolo is an award–winning author, chef, television personality, cuisine and culture expert, and educator whose ninety-second cooking videos “Culture of Cuisine” air on nationally syndicated news shows on 28 different channels across the United States, totaling a reach of over 300 million people; her most recent book, The Mediterranean Diabetes Cookbook, won the 2011 Nautilus Book Award and was named “Best. Diabetes. Cookbook. Ever.” by Yonan is the two-time James Beard Award-winning Food and Travel editor of The Washington Post and the author of Eat Your Vegetables: Bold Recipes for the Single Cook (Ten Speed Press, 2013), which was named among the best cookbooks of 2013 by The Atlantic, The Boston Globe, and NPR’s “Here and Now.” Other participants in the tastings, demonstrations and discussions include: Robert Kingsbury of Kingsbury Chocolates and Confections, distributed throughout No.Va. and DC;

· Dave Lefeve of The Cock and Bowl in Occoquan, making recipes included in his wife Claudia Lefeve’s novels;

· Belinda Miller, whose children’s fantasy novel Phillip’s Quest, Book I: Winterfrost features whimsical recipes;

· Miguel Pires, owner of Zandra’s Taqueria in Manassas, VA;

· Jason Shriner of the Aubergine Chef; and

· Representatives of Heritage Brewing Company in Manassas.

Finally, the recently appointed Prince William County Poet Laureates Robert Scott and Alexandra “Zan” Hailey make a appearance at the event as well, talking about their work and community projects.

As a special preview of the full evening’s program, check out Rick Davis, executive director of the Hylton Performing Arts Center, discussing the program on “Be A Singular Sensation.”

The second annual Haute Cuisine at the Hylton is sponsored by Write by the Rails, the Prince William Chapter of the Virginia Writers Club.

Admission is free and open to the public.

For more information on the complete schedule of Fall for the Book events—taking place Sept. 11-18 at George Mason University and at locations throughout VA, DC, and MD—visit or download the new FftB app, keeping the entire festival right at your fingertips.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

R.P. Barr to represent Prince William in state writing competition

Manassas writer R.P. Barr’s short story “Dinner Dishes” and poem “Pink Ribbon Afternoon” won first place in the fiction and poetry categories of the first tier (local chapter) competition of the Virginia Writers Club’s annual Golden Nib Contest. Barr’s entries have been forwarded to the VWC for statewide competition; statewide awards will be presented during the VWC Annual Meeting November 1 in Richmond.

Write by the Rails, the Prince William Chapter of the Virginia Writers Club, recognized winners of the chapter writing contest – the first tier of the VWC’s annual Golden Nib Contest – at their Aug. 21 meeting.

The distinguished panel of judges included:

·         Ann Marie Stippey, the 2014 Washington Post Agnes Meyer Teacher of the Year for Manassas City Public Schools and an Osbourn High School English teacher (fiction);
·         Robert Scott, co-Prince William Poet Laureate, novelist and Osbourn Park High School teacher (poetry); and
·         David Fawcett, sports editor for Prince William Today (nonfiction).

Maureen Arvai, Content Director at Brandt Social and a freelance writer, organized the local contest.

These winners were chosen:

·         Fiction) First-Place: R.P. Barr, Manassas, “Dinner Dishes”; Second-Place: Dani Ambrose Rogero, Manassas, “The Pin-Up Girl of the Lucky Lou”
·         Poetry)  First-Place: R.P. Barr, Manassas, “Seasons”; Second-Place: Kim Lervold, “Native American’s Perspective as Columbus Arrives”
·         Nonfiction) No entries submitted

Write by the Rails will sponsor  Fall for the Book’s “Haute Cuisine at the Hylton,” a celebration of fine food, superior drink and the various stories behind the scenes of every aspect of the food industry from farm to table and beyond on Thursday, Sept. 18, from 6 to 9 pm at the Hylton Performing Arts Center in Manassas. Cookbook authors, food writers, chefs and chocolatiers, novelists incorporating food into their fiction, and even the newly minted Prince William Poets Laureate will be there. This is a free event, open to the public.

Local Teen Writers Win State Competition

Scholarship winner; 8 of 10 Golden Nib Contest winners are Prince William teens

The Virginia Writers Club has announced winners of their annual Teen Scholarship and Teen Golden Nib Contest competitions:


Renee Christina Ordoobadi - Bristow, Virginia



1st Place - "Recess" by Renee Christina Ordoobadi

2nd Place - "Identity" by Teja, Janai Barnes, Dupree

3rd Place - "Acute Regression" by Neil Adair McMillan Hailey

Honorable Mention - "Homeless" by Leah Madeline Gaush


1st Place - "Glimpsing the World" by Katherine Brown

2nd Place - "When Life Gives You Lemons" by Phebe Ciemny

3rd Place - "Pilot" by Leah Madeline Gaush

Honorable Mention - "The Face of Depravity" by Renee C. Brittigan


1st Place - "Imperfect" by Erin Marguerite McCall

2nd Place - "Puppetmaster" by Kayleigh McCoy

3rd Place - "A Heavy Conscience" by Katherine Brown

Honorable Mention - "Awaiting the Fury" by Morgan Nicole Shaffer

Eight of the 10 teen winners live in Prince William, attend Woodbridge Senior High School and are enrolled in the CFPA Creative Writing Program.

Scholarship winner Renee Christina Ordoobadi recently graduated from Woodbridge Senior High School, and was enrolled in the CFPA Creative Writing Program. In March, she taught poetry at the Write by the Rails’ Rising Writers Workshop in Manassas. In June, she was one of 14 poets nominated for the Prince William Poet Laureate and became part of the Prince William Poet Laureate Circle at Tackett’s Mill. She is a contributing writer to and lives in Bristow, Virginia.

Phebe Ciemny, who recently graduated WSHS, and Neil Adair McMillan Hailey, a junior, were also among the 14 poets nominated for the Prince William Poet Laureate and in June became part of the Prince William Poet Laureate Circle at Tackett’s Mill. Ciemny taught poetry at the Write by the Rails’ Rising Writers Workshop in Manassas in March, along with Erin Marguerite McCall, who also recently graduated WSHS. McCall taught writing and the arts at the Write by the Rails’ Rising Writers Workshop. Teja, Janai Barnes, Dupree is a WSHS junior, and writes for the Valkyrie newspaper; Renee C. Brittigan is also a junior; Katherine Brown is a sophomore, whose winning piece, “Glimpsing the World,” was published in Eddas 2014 Bifrost. She attended the Write by the Rails’ Rising Writers Workshop in Manassas in March. Leah Madeline Gaush is a freshman at WSHS. Brittigan, Brown, Ciemny, Hailey, McCall and Ordoobadi all have additional writing published in Eddas 2014 Bifrost.

“I’m so proud of all of them,” said Woodbridge Senior High School creative writing teacher Cathy Hailey, who was herself featured in the March issue of Prince William Living magazine as one of the five Influential Women of 2014.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Belinda Miller Announces Phillip’s Quest, Book II: Above the Stars

Pre-order a copy of Belinda Miller’s: Phillip’s Quest, Book II: Above the Stars, now!  It will also be available on Amazon in November, just in time for Christmas.  
Above the Stars is the second book in the Phillip’s Quest series, a magical tale about a gnome named Phillip, a squirrel named Edward and a dinosaur named Stinky on their exciting quest to find the castle of Winterfrost. This book is the sequel to the popular Winterfrost and will be filled with the same type of beautiful color illustrations, maps and recipes.   

Order a signed, first edition copy at on the "Buy Phillip’s Quest or The Ragworts" page now, for your favorite children or yourself!

Please cut/copy and paste this announcement to your newsletter or webpage.  Thanks so much for your help!

--Belinda Miller

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Write by the Rails Founder Katherine Gotthardt Named to Northern VA Poetry Post

The Poetry Society of Virginia, a statewide organization promoting the writing and enjoyment of poetry, has appointed Bristow poet Katherine M. Gotthardt Vice President of the Society's Northern Region. The Northern Region includes the D.C. Metro area, Stafford and Fredericksburg. As VP, Gotthardt will coordinate existing local programs, create new programs, raise the profile of the Society and recruit new members.

Gotthardt holds an M.Ed. with a writing concentration and has been writing and teaching for more than 20 years. A former community columnist for the News and Messenger, Gotthardt taught college level writing online and in the classroom and English as a Second Language (ESOL) at the Manassas Regional Adult Detention center. She currently freelances as a writer and editor, sets up websites and blogs, teaches blogging and writing and reports for Haymarket Beat.
Gotthardt's work has appeared in various online and text journals. Poems from the Battlefield, a collection of her Civil War themed poetry, original and archival photos and period quotes, was published in 2009. Gotthardt's illustrated children’s book, Furbily-Furld Takes on the World, an epic poem, was published in 2010. Approaching Felonias Park, a novel focusing on predatory lending, was released in 2011. Weaker Than Water, a second collection of her poetry, came out in 2013. Gotthardt expects to release a new collection of poetry in 2014.  Her full profile can be found on LinkedIn.

Gotthardt is a founding member Write by the Rails, the Prince William Chapter of the Virginia Writers Club. As part of an effort to bring more Poetry Society events to the Manassas/Prince William area, Write by the Rails will co-sponsor "Blogging for Writers," an introductory workshop to help writers improve web presence, credibility and branding. Open to the public, the workshop will be held Thursday, August 21, at Trinity Episcopal Church, 9325 West Street, Manassas, from 5-7 p.m. Gotthardt and social media expert Stacia Kelly will present. The seminar will be followed by the open, monthly meeting of Write by the Rails during which Gotthardt will discuss how to run a writing critique session. For more information, email

The Poetry Society welcomes published and unpublished poets, as well as those who just appreciate poetry. For more information about the Society, visit

Write by the Rails is a group member of the Prince William County Arts Council, which also recently named two Prince William Poets Laureate, Robert Scott and Zan Hailey. Gotthardt is one of a 15-member Prince William Poet Laureate Circle that was formed to support and fulfill the projects of the poets throughout 2014-2016, including Scott’s 10,000 Poem Project at

For more information about Write by the Rails, visit

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Three Year Anniversary: Write by the Rails Gets It Right

Three years ago, on a steamy August afternoon in Manassas, four local writers--Cindy Brookshire, Katherine Gotthardt, Sheila Lamb and Pete Pazmino--met at what was then the Simply Sweet Coffee Shop on Main Street to talk about ways they could encourage and support other writers in the area.

As the meeting ended, they agreed to meet later at Okra’s to organize. Recognizing the railroad heritage of Manassas, they named their new group Write by the Rails.

Since that day, things have changed. Simply Sweet has become Grounds Central Station, where owner Matt Brower continues to serve great food and drink and supports all manner of the arts—music, ballet, art, phonography and, of course, writing. And Write by the Rails has grown from those four writers to 257 members signed up through Facebook and other means. Early members joke about not meeting their Facebook friends face to face for months. About forty members are active.

That first year the club held networking meetings at area restaurants, started a email distribution list; publicized the group through local newspapers, online news sites and blogs; staged a literary panel discussion; sponsored multi-author book signings and displays at la Grange Winery in Haymarket, the Manassas Neighborhood Conference and the Arts Alive! Festival (sponsored by the Prince William County Arts Council) at the Hylton Performing Arts Center

The group staged a book signing at the Manassas Railroad Festival in June, 2012, and in the fall of 2012, became the Prince William Chapter of the Virginia Writers Club. The group also published New Departures in November, an anthology featuring poems, short stories, essays and artwork by its members. Eleven members of WBTR (as its members call it) joined the Prince William County Arts Council, and one member was elected to the Arts Council Board of Directors.

This past year Write by the Rails has become a chapter of the Virginia Writers Club. Chapter member June Forte and others worked to establish a Prince William Poet Laureate Program, the first a county (Richmond and Alexandria and a few other cities name laureates.). On June 14 at the Poetry & Jazz on the Lake event at Tacketts Mill, the club named Robert Scott and Zan Hailey as twin Poets Laureate.

Book clubs aren’t new, with some dating to the eighteenth century in England and perhaps even earlier. In the opening years of the twentieth century in this country, a group of writers in the San Francisco Bay area (including Jack London, poet George Sterling and short story writer Herman Whitaker among others) held informal meetings at first but soon became the Press Club of Alameda. In 1909, a faction broke off from the Press Club to form the California Writers Club, which is still active today.

The Virginia’s Writers Club dates back to November, 1918, founded by a group of writers including James Branch Cabell, the first president. Poet Ellen Glasgow hosted the first meetings at her house.

News, plans, members' writings and more are posted on our homepage,, and in the Facebook group, group is open to the public. If you are a writer (published or unpublished) affiliated with Manassas, Manassas Park or Prince William County, consider officially joining by emailing us at There is no charge to join.

--Dan Verner, Vice President, Write by the Rails