Coming Events:

Write Amid the Trees

Come one, come all! Write by the Rails invites members and non-members to attend a free writers retreat to “the best kept secret in Virginia,” as it is touted – the State Arboretum of Virginia in Boyce, on Route 50 West, 55 minutes from Manassas. The program will be held Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022 from 1 to 4 p.m. VP JoAnn Lord Koff will provide writing prompts, and a representative from the Arboretum will give a brief overview of the grounds. For more information, read this article in Prince William Living.

Let us know you're attending! Email

Annual Meeting & Elections:
Dec. 10  Online

Zoom link forthcoming

Coming Events:

Full Steam Ahead Half-Day Writers' Workshop


Join members and non-members 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Clearbrook Center for the Arts, Lake Ridge. The workshop features interactive speaker sessions, panels, networking and more!
Members $10; non-members: $15.

Writers of all genres, if you want to advance your career, this is the in-person workshop you've been asking for! Seats are limited.  Click here now for speaker info and tickets.


Member Spotlight:

John Cowgill

John Cowgill is a native of the Washington D.C. region. He spent his childhood years in Bladensburg, Maryland listening to the trains that ran nearby which sparked his interest in trains early in life. He later developed an interest in photography and writing.

The interest grew through the years when he wrote short stories and sent them through email. When he moved to Virginia, his photography and writing took off. He also loves to travel, visit museums, and explore natural areas. He began writing railroad articles for the D.C. Examiner.


It was while a historic plane was at Manassas Regional Airport where he met a man named Bob Dorr. When he told them that he wrote railroad articles, he was invited to join Write by the Rails. Months later, he was part of the group. He was encouraged to publish stories in publications like the 100 Year Virginia Writers Club Symposium. 

He was invited by a fellow member to write day trip articles for Prince William Living. The D.C. Examiner folded, and he was encouraged by a friend to start his own page for his railroad articles. In August of 2017, ‘John Cowgill: Stories of the Railroad’ published its first article. Later, he began contributing to ‘The Trackside Photographer’. He also has had articles published in select newspapers and in the National Railroad Historical Society newsletter.


He has two Facebook pages: ‘John Cowgill: DC Railroad Examiner’ and John Cowgill: Photographic Journeys’. He is a proud member of the D.C. Chapter of the National Railroad Historical Society, and he is also part of the Prince William Photography Club and the Reston Photographic Society.

New Books:

Michael Sensale

“The Knight Shade Stories: MISSING INACTION” takes readers on an intriguing journey through Spring Falls as the Knight Shade races to find a kidnapped heiress before it’s too late. The Knight Shade Files: Missing In Action may be purchased on

“The Knight Shade Files: OPEN SLAY” returns readers to Spring Falls just in time for the Holidays as the vigilante detective the Knight Shade fights the clock to stop a terrorist bomber from reining fear on everyone’s parade!  The Knight Shade Files: OPEN SLAY may be purchased online or visit Curious Penman.

Michael Sensale lives in Northern Virginia and works with a not-for-profit producing web content, community communications, activity reports, and grant support. 


He writes flash fiction, short story, comics, and micro fiction.  Mike participates with Write By The Rails and Spilled Ink at local venues and most recently at Arts Alive!.

Calling For Our Next President

This is a great opportunity to advance your writing career while serving your fellow writers. You don't need to be on the current board to step up, and no experience is necessary. Organizational and planning skills, plus time and willingness are keys to success in this position. Time commitment is two to five hours per month. Two-year term starts January 2023. Training and support provided! Email 

Calling For Our Next Secretary

Do you want to help the club run smoothly by lending a hand a couple hours per month? Consider running for Secretary! Training and support provided. Two-year term starts January 2023. Get more details now. Email your intent to run for this position and start a conversation:


Calling For
Event Committee Members

We're looking people to help plan and execute events for next year. No experience needed. You will work with the Board and other volunteers. Excellent resume builder and a way to get your name out there as you connect with guest speakers, the larger writing community and other members! Email Katherine Gotthardt, President, for details:

Are you a paid member? Do you have a book coming out? Let us know so we can promote it. Take advantage of your WbtR membership and all it offers.
October 15 is Almost Here!

Time to Submit
For Our Ten-Year Anthology!'s time to Steam Ahead, and that means submitting your stellar fiction, poetry, nonfiction and black and white art! Get your submissions in early for this collection by our membership. Click here for guidelines and submit your writing now!
Founded in August 2011, WbtR serves writers affiliated with Prince William County, Manassas and Manassas Park. We welcome all writers 18+ who feel a connection to our region and contribute their talents, no matter where they live!

Get the Benefits of WbtR Membership!
Want to get the full benefits of membership? Sign up to become a member! Or if you're already a member, simply pay your annual dues. Why do it? WbtR members enjoy:
  • membership to a developed local group with a statewide affiliation
  • reduced-cost and no-cost events
  • no-cost and reduced cost educational workshops, panels, presentations, etc.
  • access to networks of literary professionals and enthusiasts
  • members-only online discussions
  • ability to submit to club contests
  • ability to submit to club anthologies
  • ability to sell books at select events
  • ability to propose and lead projects that fall within the group's purview
  • ability to share your writing news
....and more!

Sign up or renew now! Click here. Not sure if you're a current member? Check our membership list here and if your name appears in brown, bold text, you're a current 2022 member.

We look forward to seeing you soon!

Your Board,

President - Katherine Gotthardt
Vice President - JoAnn Lord Koff
Secretary - Becks Sosa
Treasurer - Alan Meyrowitz
Members-At-Large - John Dutton, Brian Donnell James, Nancy Wyatt, Maryel Stone
Find More Local Literary Events
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Write by the Rails
PO Box 67
Manassas, VA 20110

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