Friday, February 27, 2015

Poem: The Bald Eagles Nest

The Bald Eagles Nest
by Victor Rook (From Poetry Pizza)

They soar above the barren trees
A pair that knows no flock
Two bald eagles nesting down
With eggs on winter's clock

Their heads bob up and then back down
Shifts change upon the hour
Mama stays and guards the nest
While high above he'll scour

The people watch, the people see
They view them far away
For who could resist this lovely sight
Our Nation's bird display

Then one day machines move in
Strange sounds add to the mix
For planes and trains already surround
Their home of leaves and sticks

The empty plot of land beside
Would make a pretty penny
But the Realtor declares, no building yet
It's the City getting ready

We're only laying down the lines
And far enough away, they say
But people watch, and people see
Their homeland ebb away

The bloggers blog, the people write
The papers make their calls
The authorities give them answers
To coddle all involved

The facts are blurred, the distance fudged
To fit within the laws
Why ruffle any feathers
Just the ones who bear the claws

They'll fill that space, inch by inch
No matter what it takes
Unless the people save the day
And someone hits the brakes

What will be, we do not know
Once the babes have taken wing
For they may leave, forever gone
And no one saved a thing

(Since this poem was written, full construction has begun.)

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Sunday, February 22, 2015

Destruction of Bald Eagle Habitat in Manassas, Virginia

Update 3/6/2015: Prince William Times agrees that the City of Manassas should hold off on construction until late Summer, when the fledglings have left the nest. Here's the story.

Update 3/2/2015: Video I just shot today of the loud construction going on in front of the eagles nest. What if that pounding causes an egg to crack? Or spooks the adult to crack the eggs by accident? Or makes them leave the nest so the eggs freeze?

Update 3/1/2015: Poem I wrote for the eagles. Feel free to share the link.

Update 2/27/2015: It is my hope that the City of Manassas patiently follows the guidelines laid out by the Department of Fish and Game and hold off on any further construction until the eggs have hatched and the young have left the nest, which would be sometime around July or August. Or, even better, buy up the few acres in front of the nest and extend the parkland to protect these birds and their offspring for generations to come.  Look for articles on this in the Prince William Times and Manassas Observer soon.

It was just two months ago when a friend pointed out to me that there is a giant bald eagle's nest near the DMV in Manassas, Virginia. Of course, I had to get these amazing birds on film. What I discovered is that the pair have raised young in this one location for several years. One of the workers at the NEC building across the street enthusiastically shared stories of watching last year's young hatch, as well as the parents foraging for food and feeding the eaglets.

Photo of the eagle parents taken by Ann McIntyre on January 19, 2015
Now I drive by this past week and see several construction vehicles parked in front of these few precious acres, and a For Sale sign for the plots. Please don't tell me that Weber Rector is actually going to tear down this habitat and destroy the home of our national bird. The pair of eagles is about to hatch new young as I write this. I plead for the news media to investigate and for public outcry to prevent this from happening.

Update 2/24/15: Google Map shows construction NOT outside the required 660-foot buffer zone for work near an eagle's nest. The media is reporting that it is. It clearly is NOT. Try about 250 feet.

Below is the video I shot of the eagles on Feb. 4, 2015.

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Friday, February 20, 2015

Do you read a self-published book like a self-published book?

Self-published books have certainly gained a much greater acceptance in the literary landscape than even three years ago. If the cover design for a self-published book is professional looking, and the book has received the scrutiny it deserves for grammar and punctuation, then why shouldn't it? But I'm wondering how many people pass through the pages with a bit more skepticism and trepidation. Do readers constantly remind themselves that the book is not coming from a major publisher and a well-known author, or are they fine with that?

One problem I've noticed in the past is having friends and family read my writing. Some of them have a hard time separating me from my work. They hear my voice throughout the pages, instead of their own internal voice and the voices of the characters. Some are amazed that I would reveal so much, even if it's all made up. I remember one of them, a local bartender, was shocked that I wrote a horror story collection, yet she had no problem running on home for a Walking Dead marathon. Her response was, "Yeah, but I don't have to sit next to the writers." She was taken aback by my funny, sinister laugh every time I told her about offing a new character.

I recently finished reading two of Stephen King's short story collections.  And as much as I wanted to like them, to truly enjoy them, most of the stories ended.....just...ended....with no real payoff.  Then I went back to a few of my own shorts and thought I had done a better job. And that rarely happens. Authors are more critical of their own work than anyone else's. And then I wondered what would happen if I slapped my name on a story by Stephen King, and his on one of mine. My initial reaction is that people would find nothing wrong with the Stephen King version of me, but would set out looking for problems with his story with my name on it. Who is this new author? I don't know him. He can't be good. Wouldn't it be funny if they responded, "You're no Stephen King," while reading the piece by Stephen King?

Of course, I've read plenty of reviews where readers trash a popular author, even if they had praised that author in the past. Those "He really went downhill with his new book" responses. You see them all the time. But I wonder how many of those readers approach a self-published book a bit more harshly. Or do they give it a fair shake? Do they need the media buzz to convince them that they may be reading, in fact, a brilliant piece by an undiscovered author?

I'd love to know what you think in the comments section below.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Prospero's Books Dedicates Special Section to Local Author Books

(Manassas, VA) February 11, 2015 -- Prospero's Books in Old Town Manassas is pleased to announce that a special section within their store on 9129 Center Street is now dedicated to local authors. Located in the front of the store, the display features new books from award-winning and up-and-coming authors who reside in the area. The genres range from humor and horror to mystery, memoir, history, poetry, military, and children's stories.

Prospero's has always been supportive of the local author community. Authors frequently appear for book signings during first Friday and other special occasions. One such writer is Victor Rook, whose satirical horror story collection People Who Need To Die appeared on the cover of the December 7 Washington Post. Novelist and former school teacher Dan Verner now has three books available in his On the Wings series about a Wisconsin farm family making their way in a post-WWII America. Katherine Gotthardt's Poems from the Battlefield eloquently captures the unique aspects of the Civil War in Manassas and Prince William County, Virginia. And children's author Belinda Miller has several books out in her Phillip's Quest series about a gnome roaming the magical lands of Twistedoak and Winterfrost.

There are many more treasures to be found, like non-fiction military books by Robert F. Dorr. Mr. Dorr has well over seventy books to his credit and had his first work published in 1955. Hitler's Time Machine is his first foray into full-length fiction. Author Marvin Josaitis has two books available on the shelf: A Former Priest Speaks Out and Pennies from Heav'n. And there are many more.

Patrons are encouraged to peruse the local shelves with every visit and seek out the wonderful talent within our area. Perhaps a book by a local author will be the focus of your next Book Club get together. Or you would like to schedule a book signing with one or more of these authors at your business. Reading and sharing locally produced literature is a great way to enrich our lives and support the author community at the same time.

Write by the Rails is the Prince William Chapter of the Virginia Writers Club. Our purpose is to raise the profile of the local literary community and explore ways writers can nurture, cultivate and help that community grow. The chapter is open to published and unpublished writers affiliated with Manassas, Manassas Park and Prince William County. Membership in the Virginia Writers Club is NOT a requirement for chapter membership, but is encouraged to widen the scope of the individual’s knowledge and reach of their art and marketing abilities. Chapter meetings are held on the third Thursday of the month at 7 p.m. at Trinity Episcopal Church, 9325 West St., Manassas. The next meeting is Feb. 19, 2015 and the guest speaker will be Ian Moore from Accessible Instructional Materials (AIM) of Virginia speaking on the topic of “How to make kids’ books accessible to disabled children.” For more information, contact or visit

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