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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. 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.

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.

Katherine Gotthardt Write by the Rails Poet Laureate Outstanding Poetry Project Award


JoAnn Lord Koff, Vice President

Poet and photographer JoAnn Lord Koff is a graduate of Lynchburg College with a B.A. in English and a minor in Writing. She taught high school English, Creative Writing and Advanced Composition until she retired to raise her two daughters in Manassas. She is now a grandmother of two. Her collection of poetry and photography, Sand, Pebbles, Fossils, and Rocks, was nominated for the Library of Virginia’s Literary Award in Poetry in 2019. In 2020, at the ArtFactory in Manassas, JoAnn hosted a solo exhibit entitled "Camera Eyes: On Poetry" comprised of 25 poems accompanied by 27 photographs from the book.

With many awards and publications to her name, JoAnn was a Prince William County Poet Laureate nominee and was named Best Author of Prince William County by InsideNoVa for 2021. In 2021, JoAnn was invited to become an artist with ART4US Coop.  Her black and white photograph "Moonlit" was accepted in their internationally juried art show,  CounterCurrent, which ran for three weeks, in Gallery B, in Bethesda, MD.  “Moonlit" was selected as a finalist and sold.  JoAnn’s photograph “On the Edge of Sunrise” was selected to be in the show "Beauty Will Save the World" at the historic and prestigious Arts Club of Washington D.C., during the month of September, 2021. “On the Edge of Sunrise" sold opening night. JoAnn's next show will be held in D.C. and Naples, Italy.
Her photographic portfolio is available at  www.art4us/joann.

Learn more about JoAnn's work at

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.

Returning Member? Pay dues here.

Need to pay by check? Pay to the order of Write by the Rails and send c/o Alan Meyrowitz, Treasurer, 5284 Antioch Ridge Drive, Haymarket, VA 20169.

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 InkSpilled 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 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. 

WbtR God Box

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Alan Meyrowitz, Treasurer

Alan Meyrowitz received his Doctorate in Computer Science from the George Washington University. He worked for the federal government in managing basic and applied research in artificial intelligence and robotics. His creative writing includes poems and short stories published in Broad River Review, Eclectica, Esthetic Apostle, Existere, Front Range Review, Jitter, The Literary Hatchet, The Nassau Review, Poetry Quarterly, Shark Reef, Shroud, The Storyteller, Vine Leaves Literary Journal, and others. In 2013 and 2015 the Science Fiction Poetry Association nominated his poems for a Dwarf Star Award. He self-published two chapbooks: poems in Overheard At The River’s Edge and speculative poems and stories in Night Thing. Alan co-authored a third chapbook, The Forlorn Heart: Poems of Loss and Grief. He has also co-authored stories and poems with his wife, Barbara Meyrowitz.


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.           

WbtR Members Going Full Steam Ahead

Alan Meyrowitz

Alivette Vigo

Allison Zebrowski

Alyce Campbell

Amanda Judd

Barbara Meyrowitz

Becks "RL" Sosa

Beverly Ann Bendekjey

Bill Jeffries

Brian James

Brian Swidal

WbtR Annual Meeting 2021
Cathy Ryan Fall Writer's Workshop 2019

Carole Keily

Catherine Smart

Cathy Hailey

Cathy P. Ryan

Cindy Brookshire

David Beye

David Holloway

Dean Hunter

Dianne Cabot

Diane Mosimann

Dottie Ward-Wimmer

Fall Writer's Workshop Panel 2019
Fall 2019 Writer's Workshop 2 2019

Ellen Butler

Jada Ledbetter

Jan Rayl

JoAnn Lord Koff

John Cowgill

John Dutton

June Forte

Inger McPhail

Zoom Meeting
John Dutton Fall Writer's Workshop 2019

Nancy Wyatt

Nancy Kyme

Nate Hoffelder

Natalina Reis

P.M. Hernandez

Sharon Krasny

Susan Bardenhagen

Tana Suter

Thomas Mullen

Ryan Walker

Terry Cox-Joseph

Victor Rook

Zachary Tamer

Writing at Fall Writer's Workshop 2019



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