Who Are the Writers of Write By the Rails?
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Your Write by the Rails Board
Katherine Gotthardt, President
Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt, M.Ed., writing concentration, hails from Northern Virginia. She considers herself a writer by nature and by trade, having begun writing for fun as soon as her mother helped teach her to read.
An active part of the literary community, Katherine is current president and a founding member of Write by the Rails (WbtR), the Prince William Chapter of the Virginia Writers Club. Katherine has been a Prince William County Poet Laureate nominee and was the winner of Inside Nova’s 2019 and 2020 Best of Prince William award in the category of author. Her poetry and prose book Get Happy, Dammit: Staying Inspired and Motivated in an Often-Unhappy World received a Silver Award from the Nonfiction Authors Association. Katherine's children’s book, A Crane Named Steve, hit number one in its category on Amazon in 2019. Katherine then took first place in the free verse category of Loudoun County Library Foundation’s 2020 Rhyme On poetry contest for her piece "Discussion Topic." The Prince William Arts Council and Poet Laureate Circle awarded her the 2020 Outstanding Poetry Project Award for her leadership in Write by the Rails' Poems Around Town poetry installation. In 2021 Katherine earned second place for "Aftermath" in a Poetry Society of Virginia national contest and the regional Seefeldt Award for Arts Excellence in the category of Individual Artist. She won first place in the Virginia Writers Club statewide Golden Nib contest in the poetry category for her poem "Kayak."
While Katherine is well-known for her poetry, she also has established a solid reputation for writing articles, columns and short fiction. She is a full-time marketing writer for a government contracting company and is published in dozens of journals and anthologies. She has authored nine books: Poems from the Battlefield, Furbily-Furld Takes on the World, Approaching Felonias Park, Weaker Than Water, Bury Me Under a Lilac, Late April, A Crane Named Steve, and Get Happy, Dammit. D.C. Ekphrastic: Crisis of Faith was released in December 2020.
In her "other" life, Katherine is a marketing writer for an IT company and CEO of ATW- All Things Writing. She works with local publications such as Brides & Weddings magazine and is Director of Content Marketing for Prince William Living. Previously, she wrote for Bristow Beat, News & Messenger, PW Business, Potomac Local News and the Quantico Sentry.
Katherine aims to use her professional background to elevate the practice of writing and give writers a space where they will be recognized as laborers honoring a timeless craft. "Writing is hard work," she says. "I want that work to be valued."
Jan Rayl, Vice President
Most authors love to read a good story as well as tell one. Write by the Rails Vice President, Jan Rayl, is no exception. She is an avid reader as well as a writer. The display cases she is pictured with are one of the many ways Write by the Rails promotes its members. These display cases honored local authors for a month!
Jan was published in both No Additional Postage Necessary and New Departures, anthologies by Write by the Rails. Jan has a short story about coming of age in New Departures. In No Additional Postage Necessary, she wrote a short story inspired by the postcard on the cover of the book.
Jan is a Registered Nurse with additional certification in infusion (intravenous therapy). With over forty years of nursing experience. Jan felt a strong desire to pass her knowledge to the next generation. She currently teaches nursing full-time and continues to see patients part-time. Jan has been published in many nursing journals. In the professional journals, Jan writes primarily about her nursing specialties of home health care and infusion nursing.
Jan has also written some poetry and is a frequent reader at Spilled Ink. Spilled Ink is the local open mic night for area writers that Write by the Rails was instrumental in starting. Like most writers, Jan is working on a novel, a few short stories and a couple of poems.
Jan is a blogger and primarily writes about travel and reviews books. Jan will give her honest feedback on books she has read. Of course she will follow her Grandmother's sage advice: “Praise in public, punish behind the wood shed.” Some of the books Jan reviews have been written by award-wining, famous authors. Other book reviews are on books from fresh authors with books hot off the press, many from Write by the Rails. Learn more about Jan at her blog Write4Jan.
Jan hopes you can find your writing home with the encouragement of the members of Write by the Rails. This group has authors from many genres and is very supportive of its members. Jan says, "We have had folks come to a meeting with an idea. Mix that idea with a little help from members of Write by the Rails and voila! Published authors!"
Brian Donnell James, Member-At-Large
Brian Donnell James is a United Nations and a National Poetry Month award winning poet
who regularly speaks at universities and colleges across the country. He is an emerging writer
who has been published in Africa and Europe and throughout the United States. Brian's work has
appeared in several anthologies and literary magazines of merit. He is a poet Fellow for the
Martha’s Vineyard Creative Writing Institute and has been a poetry judge for Penguin Random
House, Maryland Library System, We Need Diverse Books, and Poetically Correct.
Rebecca "Becks" Sosa, Secretary
Previously a photojournalist, Becks Sosa graduated from the University of Florida with a journalism degree. She switched careers to education and, now that her three children are grown, is an author. She says her strength is the life she has had with her husband and children - their sense of humor, singular drive and quirky personalities inspire her.
Becks is author of The Industrious Giraffe: A Suburban Tail. This illustrated children's story features Daddy Giraffe and is the first Suburban Tails book to be published.
"Daddy Giraffe is unstoppable when he decides to do something," says Becks. "And my husband is the same way. This character is based on him."
Even the smallest, uneventful things can lead to great stories, Sosa believes. Her imagination is especially sparked by the mundane. And, she believes, a good sense of humor helps.
As secretary, Becks documents meetings, events and board actions. She is part of the larger decision-making process of the WbtR board.
John Dutton, Member-At-Large
John Dutton has taught language arts to middle school students in Prince William County for more years than he can remember. Seeing that the life of a teacher is filled with stacks upon stacks of papers waiting to be graded, he prefers spending his time as a classroom scribe writing alongside his students. He enjoys writing poetry and stories because anything is possible when pencil hits paper!
In January 2015, John began hosting Spilled Ink. Spilled Ink is an open microphone night celebrating the written word held on the fourth Friday of the month at Jirani Coffeehouse in Old Towne, Manassas. It is open to all writers, authors, poets, or scribblers. All are welcome to read or listen. Please see his website at www.SpilledInkVA.com. John has published two books: Armadillo Lost Her Pillow and Argument at the Airport. His third book, Billy Pug’s Bad Day, is now in its final stages, so look for it soon.
Carole Keily, Treasurer
Carole Keily spent many years working in the banking industry. She’s also worked as a piano and voice teacher, a yoga instructor, an organist, a not-for-profit board member and magazine editor, and publicist for a small business.
She’s currently the parish administrator at Trinity Episcopal Church and the online editor for Prince William Living.
This is Carole’s second time as Treasurer of Write by the Rails. She previously held the position from 2012 to 2015. She’s been treasurer for at least three non-profit organizations.
Carole has been published in New Departures, an anthology by Write by the Rails. She has written for numerous corporate publications and manuals, for newsletters and podcasts, as well as for Prince William Living magazine.
Nancy Wyatt, Member-At-Large
Nancy has a varied background in business, voluntarism, holistic healing, writing, and personal advising. She has managed diverse departments, ranging from fiscal and administrative operations to police and emergency operations, while working for multi-national corporations, non-profits, higher education, a state government, and small businesses across the United States.
As the owner of My Persuasive Presentations, LLC, she provides classes and services as a writer, editor, trainer, life coach, and public speaker. She has many holistic healing certifications and offers a wide variety of Life Coaching and Spiritual Counseling services with an emphasis on stress and pain management.
Nancy won several awards for volunteer work in prisons and shelters, and she served on boards of directors and community task forces for many years.
She authored Three Hots and a Cot, Stories of Courage from People Struggling with Homelessness, Addiction, and AIDS. Nancy also wrote, produced, directed, and acted in a one-act play, “Break the Chain,” about domestic violence.
She loves being able to understand people of all ages, cultures, and walks of life. Her greatest gift is being able to show people the beauty in themselves that they may not have known exists.
2021 WbtR Members Going Full Steam Ahead