Meeting Pics
Grounds Central Meeting 2
Grounds Central Meeting
2018 Fall Writers Workshop Panel

Who Are the Writers of Write By the Rails?

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WbtR Authors First Friday Manassas Festival Event
WbtR Prince William East End Meeting
June, John, Jan
Genilee Sharon Swope Parente

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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. She has been a Prince William County Poet Laureate nominee and was the winner of Inside Nova’s 2019 Best of Prince William award in the category of author.

While Katherine's first love is poetry, she also holds an interest in writing articles, columns and short fiction. Besides being published in dozens of journals and anthologies, she has authored Poems from the Battlefield, Furbily-Furld Takes on the World, Approaching Felonias Park, Weaker Than Water, Bury Me Under a Lilac, Late April and A Crane Named Steve. Her eighth book, Get Happy, Dammit, was released by Local Gems Press in June 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, Potomac Local News and Manassas Patch and is Director of Content Marketing for Prince William Living. Previously, she wrote for Bristow Beat, News & Messenger, PW Business 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."

Katherine's full profile can be found on LinkedIn.

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!"

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.

Ready to learn about becoming a member?

See our membership application page for information on benefits, dues and more.

Cathy Ryan, Treasurer

Cathy Ryan enjoys writing, gardening, and playing piano. She lives on a small farm near Haymarket, VA with her husband and a cat.  The cat supervises both writing and gardening and leaves the house during piano practice. 

Cathy has worked in research biology, obstetrics, farming, schooling horses, and raising children (which is not all that different from schooling horses). She is a graduate of the Odyssey Writing Workshop, Orson Scott Card Literary Bootcamp, Heritage Workshop at George Mason University, and Donald Maas’s High Tension Workshop. Published articles appear in ‘Horse of Course’ magazine; short stories appear in ‘Beneath Ceaseless Skies’ and the anthology ‘Deep Waters.’ She has three novels and a website ( in various states of revision. She hopes to have two of these published in 2019.

Cathy looks forward to serving WbtR members in her position on the Board.

WbtR Members Going Full Steam Ahead

Alyce Campbell

Amanda Kaufman

Becks "RL" Sosa

Brian James

Brian Swidal



Cathy Ryan Fall Writer's Workshop 2019

Cathy Hailey

Cathy P. Ryan

Cindy Brookshire

Diane Kaufman

Donna Kutchna

Fall Writer's Workshop Panel 2019

Ellen Butler

Faith Stilwell

Genilee Parente

George Harben

Inger McPhail

Katherine's Table Fall Writer's Workshop 2019

Jada Ledbetter

James P. Wagner

Jamie Highfill

Jan Rayl

JoAnn Lord Koff

John Cowgill

John Dutton

June Forte

Becks Marty Book Signing Fall Writer's Workshop 2019

Tamela J. Ritter

Tana Suter

Timothy Horn

Tom Mullen

Victor Rook

Victoria Parrell

Zachary Tamer

Fall 2019 Writer's Workshop 2 2019
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