Award-winning writers and teachers are set to judge the first tier of the 2014 Golden Nib writing contest, sponsored by Write by the Rails, Prince William County’s chapter of the Virginia Writers Club. Entries are due July 31 and first-place winners elevate to the state-level competition.
Prince William Today/InsideNoVa. Sports Editor David Fawcett will judge non-fiction entries. His awards include 2013 Virginia Press Association’s first place for feature writing portfolio, second place for feature writing story and first place for sports writing portfolio. He’s has been recognized 20 times by the Virginia Press Association, the Associated Press Sports Editors and the Local Media Association for his writing and he’s covered Prince William County for 25 years.
Fiction entries will be judged by Osbourn High School’s Ann Marie Stippey, English teacher with Manassas City Public Schools for 10 years and the 2014 Agnes Meyer Outstanding Teacher of the Year.
Recently named Prince William County Poets Laureate Dr. Robert Scott of Haymarket and Alexandra “Zan” Hailey of Manassas will co-judge poetry entries. Scott is a novelist, poet and English teacher at Osbourn Park High School and Hailey is an undergraduate at Virginia Commonwealth University.
The chapter deadline for Golden Nib is midnight, July 31 and—new this year—submissions will be required in email format in addition to paper format. Also new this year: Entries published in your personal blogs now qualify for consideration.
The original and one copy of each entry should be submitted by regular mail to: Maureen Arvai, The Brandt Group, P.O. Box 10102, Manassas, VA 20108 and ALSO by email to firstname.lastname@example.org . If using an overnight or private delivery service that requires a physical address use this: 9108 Church Street, #10102, Manassas, VA 20108. Please note all entries must be submitted to the local chapter for this first-tier process. Write by the Rails will recognize 1st, 2nd and 3rd place in each category. First place winners will advance to state level, if they are or become Virginia Writers Club members.
Follow state guidelines, including format, as described here
One entry per category per entrant
Fiction category: 3,500 words maximum
Non-fiction category: 3,500 words maximum
Poetry category: 50 line maximum
No late entries—both paper and email must arrive by midnight, July 31, 2014
Manuscripts must be the original, unpublished work of the entrant, and a competition winner.
Entries published in your personal blogs are acceptable
Writing published in blogs other than your own or on social network sites or in an online publication are ineligible
Entrants must be in good standing of Write by the Rails, as evidenced by attending or volunteering for chapter events and activities. Information on joining available at: www.writebytherails.org
Thursday, June 19, 2014
But not me.
The party having started.
I was the invisible,
Could I witness?
Participate? Not a chance
Fate's invitation did not include me.
So I would watch through the window,
Imagine when the rain danced on
The water, the grass, the petals,
Of my interrupting and feeling
Each drop against my skin,
Hearing it as it falls.
I would watch from my station as flowers
Pop up and then all of the sudden open.
As butterflies and bees go to work,
Kissing each bloom.
One day Fate's invite will arrive,
And My body well enough for me to
Partake. Then my dance card
Will be full,
Soaking up the warm sun,
Playing in the soft green grass,
Basking in the flowers' chitchat,
The march of the bees,
The songs of the birds,
And the laughter of the kids.
One day I will be part of spring.
by Cecilia Baldwin
Monday, June 16, 2014
Dr. Robert Scott of Haymarket, Alexandra “Zan” Hailey of Manassas Share Honors
For the next two years, Dr. Robert Scott of Haymarket, a novelist, poet and English teacher at Osbourn Park High School, and Alexandra “Zan” Hailey of Manassas, an undergraduate at Virginia Commonwealth University will share the position of Prince William Poet Laureate.
The announcement was made by Guy Lambert live on WPGC 95.5 on Saturday, June 14 at the culmination of the “Poetry & Jazz on the Lake” event, 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM at Tackett’s Mill Lakeside, 2228 Tackett's Mill Drive, Lake Ridge, Virginia.
According to the 11-member selection panel, both candidates simply blew them away with their individual creative strengths. For Dr. Scott, it was the project he proposed: using a website, a series of community seminars and a great deal of pavement pounding, Dr. Scott plans to encourage budding and seasoned Prince William poets to submit poems for inclusion into a permanent “10,000 poem exhibit.”
For Zan Hailey, it was the power of her submitted poems, such as “Around the Yellow House.”
Though still a college student, Zan has already published her work, garnered an award, mentored young writers through the Northern Virginia Writing Project and even created an on-line collection of poetry from all over, using Band-Aids® as a prompt. She is a graduate of the Center for the Fine and Performing Arts, Woodbridge Senior High School.
Around the Yellow House
The train passes—a heavy
heart—beating down the tracks.
A U-turning rickety pick-up,
matte black finish—brings dogs
to a bark across the block.
Afternoon planes fly—streaking contrails
that connect cumulonimbus clouds.
And a letter from an uncensored inmate
was left in my mailbox while I was out
walking a fuchsia petaled path,
where wild Dogwoods fade pink
with the gold of magnolias,
leaving a perfume alley trail.
A squirrel bats its tail like a duster
on a bookshelf—take in the day.
Open it slow—pocketknife blade
soundly tearing a slit—“Dear Wonderful.”
©2014 Zan Hailey
“The selection of Alexandra Hailey and Robert Scott speaks highly of the quality of education offered in Prince William County Public Schools,” said Eric Pankey, poet, professor of English and Heritage Chair in Writing, George Mason University who served on the selection panel along with poets Alirio Aleman and LeeAnn Thomas, business leaders Carlos Castro, Marie Khalili Nasiri and Mark Shaaber, teachers Alice Mergler and Cathy Hailey, library system director Dr. Constance Gilman, Sergeant Major Michael Mack, Wounded Warrior Regiment, Marine Corps Base Quantico, and high school student Lindsey Barszcz.
In fact, seven of the 14 poet laureate nominees are current or past teachers or students in the Prince William County Public School system. The 12 other poets will now form a Prince William Poet Laureate Circle to assist in joint community poetry projects. They are:
1. Phebe Ciemny, Woodbridge: student, Center for the Fine and Performing Arts Woodbridge Senior High School
2. Joe De Cesare, Woodbridge: marketing assistant, Fort Belvoir Federal Credit Union & stagehand, Hylton Performing Arts Center, Manassas
3. Brittany Crow, Woodbridge: student, Center for the Fine and Performing Arts, Woodbridge Senior High School
4. Melody Lane Ashtara De Furia, Manassas: Northern Virginia Community College, Woodbridge Campus Business Office
5. John Dutton, Woodbridge: Language Arts teacher, Beville Middle School
6. Paulette Garner, Manassas: Language Arts teacher, Parkside Middle School
7. Katherine Gotthardt, Bristow: author, editor, blog and website developer
8. Neil Hailey, Manassas: student, Center for the Fine and Performing Arts, Woodbridge Senior High School
9. Bennie Herron, Manassas: educator
10. Dora Muhammad, Woodbridge: author, editor and performer
11. Renee Ordoobadi, Bristow: student, Center for the Fine and Performing Arts, Woodbridge Senior High School
12. Heather Stevens, Manassas: author, artist and performer
As Prince William Poet Laureates, Scott and Hailey each will receive an annual honorarium of $500 from The Clearbrook Foundation, a non-profit soon to be taking space at the Tackett’s Mill Center. Each will participate in selected public gatherings in Prince William County, Manassas and Manassas Park. In their first joint decision, the laureates invited WSHS student Lindsey Barszcz, who served on the selection panel, to join the Prince William Poet Laureate Circle.
For continuing information on the Prince William Poet Laureate program, visit the Prince William County Arts Council website at www.pwcartscouncil.org and click on “literary arts.”
Thursday, June 12, 2014
On Saturday, 14 local poets will go about their usual morning routine – reading the paper, drinking coffee, walking the dog. By 6:00 PM, one of them will be named the first Prince William Poet Laureate.
Guy Lambert of WPGC 95.5 is expected to make the announcement broadcasting live on Saturday, June 14 at the culmination of the “Poetry & Jazz on the Lake” event, 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM at Tackett’s Mill Lakeside, 2228 Tackett's Mill Drive, Lake Ridge, Virginia.
Emcee Lambert plans to introduce each nominee to the public and invite them to read their poetry live on the air, with jazz accompaniment by Common Ground. In the second hour, the first Prince William Poet Laureate will be announced. All 14 nominees will be honored as a newly-formed Prince William Poet Laureate Circle. DJ Double L is also providing music. Food and wine will be available for purchase. Admission is free to the public.
The Selection Panel
A panel of 11 prominent Prince William poets, scholars and business leaders met May 30 at Northern Virginia Community College’s Woodbridge campus, at the invitation of Provost Dr. Sam Hill, to make their selection after an individual review of 14 competitive nomination packets (poetry samples and proposed community projects with names removed).
Panel members included: Alirio Aleman, poet, novelist and Spanish-language journalist; Lindsey Barszcy, student, and Cathy Hailey, creative writing teacher (Center for the Fine and Performing Arts, Woodbridge Senior High School); Carlos Castro, entrepreneur and founder of Todos Supermarkets; Dr. Constance Gilman, Director, Prince William Public Library System; Marie Khalili Nasiri, author and business owner (State Farm Insurance, Manassas), daughter of Khalilullah Khalili (historian, poet, philosopher and statesman of Afghanistan); Sergeant Major Michael Mack, Wounded Warrior Regiment, Marine Corps Base Quantico; Alice Mergler, English and drama teacher, Parkside Middle School; Eric Pankey, poet, professor of English and Heritage Chair in Writing, George Mason University; Mark Shaaber, Chief Executive Officer, SCS Integrated Support Solutions, Manassas, and Founder and Chairman, Prince William Veterans Council; and LeeAnn Thomas, poet, Assistant Professor of English, Northern Virginia Community College’s Woodbridge Campus and board member of the Northern Virginia Review.
About the Laureate Position
The Prince William Poet Laureate is expected to promote local residents’ awareness of poetry and heighten appreciation of the art form, forge a meaningful connection between poetry and the community and undertake a project or series of projects that make poetry more available and accessible to people in their everyday lives. The Laureate will serve a two-year term and receive an annual honorarium of $500 from The Clearbrook Foundation, a non-profit soon to be taking space at the Tackett’s Mill Center. The Laureate is expected to participate in selected public gatherings in Prince William County, Manassas and Manassas Park. Plans will be made to engage new members of the Prince William Poet Laureate Circle, as well.
Tuesday, June 10, 2014
Getting to Tackett's Mill
- From I-95 North (Washington, DC)
- 1. I-95 Southbound to Exit 160, Lake Ridge
- 2. Left at Second Light onto Old Bridge Road
- 3. Left at Seventh Light onto Harbor Drive and the center is on your right.
- From I-95 South (Richmond, Virginia)
- 1. I-95 Northbound to Exit 160, Lake Ridge
- 2. Left at Third Light onto Old Bridge Road
- 3. Left at Seventh Light onto Harbor Drive and the center is on your right.
Sunday, June 1, 2014
On the Wings of Eagles has been released on Amazon.com with a bonus free short story download, "A Christmas for Mata," a "missing episode" from "On Wings of the Morning."
As an early avid reader, long-time Manassas resident Dan Verner dreamed of writing a novel like the ones that engaged him so fully. Through the years, he wrote a number of short pieces, including poetry, reviews, essays, songs, articles, editorials and columns for local groups, newsletters, newspapers and magazines. After he retired from a 32-year stint as a high school English teacher, Verner had more time to write, but a novel proved elusive. “I just couldn’t sustain anything past 2000 words,” he recalled. “And I needed at least 40,000 for a novelette.”
In late 2011, he visited a local book signing and talked to a couple of local novelists who had just produced their first works. Encouraged by their advice and example, Dan drew on two continuing interests, World War II and aviation, to produce On Wings of the Morning, the story of Otto Kerchner, a Wisconsin farm boy in the 1930s who fulfills his dream of learning to fly and becomes a B-17 pilot in World War II. Kerchner is badly burned in a crash landing, but overcomes this tragedy and other heartaches to find acceptance and love in the post-war world.
“I have been very pleased and encouraged by readers’ reactions to the book. And I was especially pleased that several people wanted to know if I planned to write a sequel. I asked them to contact my publisher, eLectio Publishing of Texas, and ask them about a second book. They did, and eLectio not only agreed to a second book but also moved up the release date from November to late May.”
The second book, originally titled On Eagle’s Wings Upborne, will be available as On the Wings of Eagles on Amazon. com starting May 26 and include a special free short story bonus, “A Christmas for Mata.” (Mata is Otto’s sister.)
“eLectio asked its novelists to come up with a short story based on a character or characters in their novel. Several readers had noted that I skipped Christmas of 1942 when Otto would have come home on leave. I did write a section about his visit home but didn’t like it. Christmas is hard to write about to begin with, but I thought this promotional work would be the perfect opportunity to fill in the gap. I originally planned to continue using Otto’s point of view, but had thought of rewriting the whole book and maybe the whole series from Mata’s point of view. So, ‘A Christmas for Mata’ is narrated by Mata as she waits on a cold train platform for Otto to come home. I hope readers will enjoy it.”
On the Wings of Eagles continues Otto’s saga as he, his sister Mata and the community of Pioneer Lake make their way in the brave new world of post-World War II America. The story harkens back to a simpler world in which family and community played a vital role. In the space of a couple of years Otto starts up an airline, experiences a wedding, witnesses another fiery crash, commands a bomber squadron in the Korean War, runs an air circus and tries to come to terms with someone from his past. Verner uses fifteen “beta readers” to evaluate manuscripts, and they agreed that On the Wings of Eagles featured the warmth and rich characterization readers of all ages enjoyed in the first book.
Creative Brush Studios in Manassas will host a release party and book signing by Verner on June 6 from 5 to 9 PM as part of the start of their continuing exhibition, “Canvasing the Forties.” Mary Reilly and Kristine Raymond have enlisted artists from the area to portray people and events from the war abroad and from the home front, including Raymond's portrait based on a Library of Congress picture of a young bomber pilot which inspired Verner to write the first book.
Verner plans a nine- to twelve-book series about Otto’s life called Beyond the Blue Horizon: The Story of an American Hero. Verner has finished Book Three, On the Wings of Angels and almost completed Book Four, On the Wings of Grace, and started Book Five, On the Wings of Hope. He expects to release a new book about every six months.