Monthly Archives: January 2014

Blog Tour Post #4: Jan Rayl

One of the things that I love about traveling is the differences in the common everyday ordinary things. My best example of this is toilets. You have to “go” and in another country this means figuring out a couple of things before you can “go.” First what kind of sign are you looking for? Not every place uses the international male/female symbols for signage. Banos, Toilette, Water Closet – WC, Loo, Banheiro, Privy, Necessary, and Lavatory are just a few of the common words for bathroom seen internationally.

So now you spot the sign, WC, in the corner and you are off to take care of business. But wait you need to check for a couple of things before you get down to business. Do you need to pay to enter the bathroom? Many times there is a dial on the door that reminds me of the old fashion gumball machine where you insert a coin turn the dial and then the door clicks open.

Once you are safely inside now you need to look to see if the important paper is present. Many places you either bring your own paper or you purchase a few sheets for a few pennies. It pays to carry one of those small packs of tissue in your purse when traveling overseas. In many countries they do not use paper they use water so you will definitely need to supply your own if you want to use it.

Ahhh relief now you have to figure out the method of flushing. Flush devices are most commonly on the floor, wall, or on the tank. On the tank I see many countries have the small flush button and the large flush button for use depending on what it is necessary to flush away. If you look at the photo above, a WC in Ireland, the paper is behind the seat on the wall. The flush is actually a chord just visible in the right corner coming down from the tank.

Jan is a travel and book review blogger. Jan is also a multi-media artist. Other fascinating travel facts, recommendations, adventures and reviews of the ever important vacation book can be found on Jan’s Blog at or on Facebook at drop by and leave her a comment.



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Blog Tour Post #3: Tamela Ritter

Ashes Cover

Dan asked me to talk about my book, how it started, how long it took to finish. I feel like I never shut up about it, and yet, when I went online to see what I’d already said, there wasn’t much there. I think because I’ve been carrying this story around with me for so long, that it grew up with a large collection of writers who over the years has read it and heard about it for so long that I feel I’m tiring people out.
But Dan asked.
From These Ashes started as a collection of writing exercises about a boy. It was also a way to exorcise these thoughts and feelings I had created around the myth and fable of my brother who had died when I was 10—he was 14.
When I put all these pieces together, I realized that they were telling a compelling story but they were missing something. You can’t tell a story about longing, finding home and the pieces we miss when we lose ourselves if I didn’t give this boy a family. And since the main reason this story existed was to tell a story of a brother, I gave him a sister—and Naomi was born. And then she sort of took over.
She is in no way me. I mean, sure, she has my smart mouth, but her struggles were not my struggles, her dreams are not mine. And (my mother would very much like me to point this out) Naomi’s traumatic childhood was not even close to mine. That book will have to wait until my mother is no longer with us. (I KID, MOM, I KID!)
But seriously, I started the book with no goal of actually writing a book, and of course it’s the one that became one. The ones I’d written before that and believed would be my first and second best sellers, still sit here on my hard drive mocking me in their terribleness. That is, seems to me, how it works in this world.
From the first word until I typed “The End” took a little over a year. Of course, it wasn’t really the end for a long time after. I workshopped it with a large, eclectic writers’ group in Connecticut—where I was living at the time—editing and adding to it as I went. Then I shopped it around for agents. Got a few nibbles but mostly it was that they didn’t know how or where to sell it.
So, I found a smaller, more concise writers’ group, a group who was as dedicated to getting published and being the best we could be as I was. I workshopped it again, made it better and dabbled with a few small presses, but I had no idea how to go about it.
So I let it sit.
And sit.
I wrote other things, had some short stories published, won a few awards, started a literary charity, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. All the while that novel sat there silently chanting that it not be forgotten, constantly reminding me that no matter what else I wrote and what accolades I received from them, this book was still to date, the best thing I’d ever written.
But where? How?
I did what I did with my other novels, my terrible novels. I put it away and started to write other stories, other books. I fell in love with other characters, ones that weren’t brother and sister, weren’t broken in the same ways, weren’t looking for the same things. I wrote lots of other things. Or more precisely, I started lots of other things.
I really don’t know what I would have done if one day, almost 10 years after I had written those words, “The End,” I hadn’t received an email from someone who years before I had workshopped the novel with. What would my life have been if she hadn’t, in the years that passed, gone on to get her Masters in Publishing, hadn’t started working as an editor for Battered Suitcase Press, and hadn’t remembered me and my novel?
It’s not something I even want to think about. Not anymore.
Thankfully I don’t have to. It is done, and I have done it.
Tamela J. Ritter was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, her debut novel From These Ashes was published in March 2013 by Battered Suitcase Press. She now lives and works in Haymarket, Va. You can find her on Twitter or on Facebook

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Blog Tour # 2: Katherine Gotthardt


Katherine was the first person from Write by the Rails that I met in the three-D world.The writers’ group formed in August, 2011, and while I had friended a number of people in the group, I had not met them in person, so, in December, after a choir rehearsal for Christmas music, I took myself over to Mayfield Middle School in Manassas, where a couple of authors were having a book signing. Katherine was there along with local author Nancy Kyme. I spent some time talking with them, and Cindy Brookshire, one of the founders of WBTR, came along. I was impressed with these local writers. Since then, I’ve come to know Katherine as a compassionate, talented lady who writes using a number of different genres in a range of styles. But I’ll let her tell you more in her own words. Katherine Gotthardt:

I am honored to be part of this blog tour and thrilled that Dan’s blog is my first stop!  I know Dan through Write by the Rails and have become familiar with his exceptional non-fiction and fiction because of our mutual affiliation.  Here’s to Dan and Write by the Rails!

While I am at it, I would like to thank Write by the Rails members Stacia and Nick Kelly for arranging the tour.  What a great idea.

As for me, I’m a poetry, fiction and prose writer.  Poems from the Battlefield, a collection of my Civil War themed poetry, original and archival photos and period quotes, was published in 2009. My children’s book, Furbily-Furld Takes on the World, was published in 2010.  Approaching Felonias Park, a novel focusing on predatory lending, was released in November, 2011.  Weaker Than Water, a second collection poetry, came out in April, 2013.

In addition to founding Writers for a Cause, I am an active member of the Prince William County Arts Council, Write by the Rails (of course) and the League of Women Voters, Prince William Area.


My resume can be found on LinkedIn. I’m available for speaking engagements and workshops.  Email for information.

All that out of the way, I humbly submit one of my older poems.  This poem was drafted in the mid 1990’s when I was still an undergrad.  I recently rescued it from a stack of paper containing poems that never made it to my PC.  They were written on a Mac Classic, which passed away shortly after I graduated.  I hope to get all those poems typed up some day and maybe even use a few in the book I plan to release later this year. 

Oh.  Did I spoil that surprise?  I guess I have to really do it now that I’ve made it public.  That’s what happens when you put things in writing.  You must take responsibility for your words, one way or another.

Without further delay, then, prepare for an old poem.  I hope you enjoy it.


Katherine Gotthardt

Cold Romantics

That day in winter when you and I declined

to work an average day, instead deciding

to traipse across the field of fallen snow beside

my house, that day when we inoculated

the earth with our high booted prints,

we kicked through grains of ice, feeling

the stiff water resist our toes,

then sink to softer snow beneath.


Holding hands, we ran from tree to tree,

listening to the muted sound of feet breaking through surface:

crunch-squish, crunch-squish, crunch-squish.



We reached the broken-down wall that used to mark the line between

my neighbor’s house and mine. Resting here,

we watched the defeated barrier that stretched from where

we stood to as far as we could see. Here and there,

a round or jagged rock poked its ancient head from beneath

its snowy sheath, as if looking in wonder at its brothers still seated

atop each other. White beards grew from the hardened heap,

and antlers made of ice.


We cleared a spot and sat atop, holding some cold

between our wet, raw fingers. We felt for gaps hiding

among the stones and pulled from the crevices their winter teeth,

laughing quietly at the freeze boring its ends

into our steaming palms.


We never regretted forfeiting that day’s pay, sparing

some time to revel in God’s sublime. We were as children,

still amazed how quickly icicles melt.


Katherine Gotthardt

Copyright 2014







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