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April 2023 Newsletter

April 2023

April Writers Muse

Published by the Writers Foundation of Strathcona County

“There are perhaps no days of our childhood that we lived as fully, as the days we think we left behind without living at all: the days we spent with a favourite book.”

Proust: on contemplating why we read.

Editor's Note:

The Strathcona Writers Muse is a forum for members of the Writers Foundation of Strathcona County to publish their works. Anything published in our letter is eligible to receive a publishing credit.

Important Dates

Writers Circle Virtual Sharing Meeting online

Next date April 4, 2023

RSVP on the website and the link will be emailed to you prior to the meeting.

Next Board Meeting: April 11, 2023

Poets in the Park

Poets in the park meets the third Wednesday of every month online.

Reply to the link on the WFSC website

Next scheduled meeting April 19, 2023

Children's Creative Writing Workshop

Second Thursday of each month

Next Meeting April 13, 2023

Reply to the link on our Website

This Month's Submissions

A Secret Love by Mandy Eve-Barnett

Hidden from view

A secret cash

Images of my crush

My own little stash

They will never know

The beat of my heart

Longing to reveal

Secret love dart

Under covers

Kisses on paper

Night voyeur

My heart breaker

Casual conversation

A heated blush

Sitting too close

Do not gush

A longed for ask

Comes true

Enthusiastic yes

A date with you

Evening stroll

Moonlight glow

A question voiced

Didn’t I know

Since first look

Anxious to ask

Reciprocated love

A feared task

Together we are

No longer hidden

Sweet love shines

Hearts stricken

Hidden Images

By Mandy Eve-Barnett

It was supposed to be a straightforward clear out of a house, after the old resident was moved into a nursing home. The families, like so many others, were indifferent to the stuff left behind. Their main focus was selling the property to fund the senior lodge fees.

My four work colleagues paired off to tackle the first and second floors, leaving me with the attic. I knew it was on purpose; after all I was the newest member of the crew, as well as the smallest. The extendable ladder creaked its way down from the ceiling hatch and I shook it to make sure it was secure.

There is a certain aroma to an attic, a mixture of damp, mouse droppings, decaying leather and wood and, of course, a huge number of dusty cobwebs. Pushing aside the fragmented spider lace, I shuffled along a wooden beam and sat legs akimbo. I found the usual discarded old Christmas tree, tattered luggage, forgotten photo albums, and old boxes filled with goodness knows what, and the detritus of a family’s life. I filled black bag after black bag and then lowered them down to the first-floor landing. A few items I gave a second glance at, others were consumed by the plastic without a curious stare.

Three hours into my task and there was the farthest north corner to clear and I would be done. Pressed between two roof struts was a rectangular shape encased in leather. There were noticeable rodent teeth marks on the surface, and one corner was tattered. The object was my arm span in size. It was a struggle to pry it from its position. Rocking it back and forth, I eventually freed it and then undid the buckles holding the two thick leather straps. Inside were two canvases’ both were landscapes, one of a beach below rocky cliffs, the other typical English rolling hills and a castle in the distance.

I’m no art expert, but these seemed really good to my untrained eye. Not the usual box store images, but real paintings, with texture and depth. I sat and gazed at them for a while wondering why such beautiful images would be hidden away, rather than displayed. My inactivity was interrupted by my foreman popping his head up through the hatch.

“You nearly done up here, Andi?”

“Yeah, I was just looking at these nice paintings. Seems a shame to dump them.”

“Take them if you want – perks of the job. There was no mention of any items to be kept.

We’re taking five for coffee before we leave. See you in the kitchen in a minute or so.”

“Thanks, I’ll be down.”

Carefully wrapping the old cracked leather back around the canvases, I buckled the straps and lowered it, letting it slide down the ladder. Resting my find against the hallway wall, I joined the rest of the crew in the kitchen for a well-earned rest.


By John Wheeler

The opulent midnight blue Brougham Carriage, pulled by four robust stallions, entered the outskirts of the township. The rugged, sometimes jarring, trek from London had been uneventful and the carriage driver had made good time on the well travelled road. It was dark when the transport and its four passengers arrived. It had been overcast all day and the cloud cover had continued into the night blocking out any view of the moon or stars.

On board were four passengers. A short middle-aged man with eyeglasses wearing a tailored gray suit that was snug around his pudgy middle had introduced himself as Angus McConnell. A brown satchel was slung across his body. Beside him sat a tall, athletic, good looking fellow, sporting a tailored navy-blue suit, and had cheerily announced himself as Robert Beckworth.

Seated across from them, facing forward in the carriage, was a pleasant, elderly man-of-the-cloth by the name of Pastor Emmett Brown. A white rosary draped around his neck. Beside him sat the lovely Lady Elizabeth Montgomery, resplendent in a light blue off-the-shoulder long flared crinoline dress. Her natural blonde hair was piled high in complicated curls with a tiny matching hat perched on top. Conversation between the four had been polite, airy, and non-confrontational. Everyone seemed to get along.

The carriage rounded a corner and was making its way up a lane between several buildings. The four travelers were tired from their long jaunt and looked forward to arriving at the way station where they all would disembark, and then go their separate ways. However, a matter had to be dealt with before arrival. A matter that would be talked about by the driver and his four passengers in the days to come.

The passengers heard a large thud on the roof of the carriage, like something heavy had landed. The carriage swayed slightly. It startled Lady Montgomery the most.

“What was that?” she asked timidly, her eyes wide with fear.

The carriage slowed to a stop. The lane was dark. Only the dingy light from a single coal gas lamp post at the end of the lane provided any illumination. Pastor Brown poked his head out the door opening for a quick look, and then faced the others.

“There’s someone on horseback blocking the road,” he said firmly.

Suddenly a masked figure dressed in black, wearing a tri-corner hat, barged the top half of his upside-down body into the carriage through the opposite door opening. In each hand he brandished a small flintlock pistol.

“Ello, Ello,” he said loudly in a cockney accent.

Lady Montgomery screamed. The door beside Pastor Brown flung open and there stood another man dressed exactly like the upside-down character. His gloved hands were empty, but a flintlock pistol was tucked in his belt.

“Everyone out!” he commanded as he stepped back. His voice was hoarse like he had been yelling all day. “Driver? You, too! We’ll make this as quick as possible.”

The driver slowly climbed down from his perch. His empty hands went up. Nobody in the carriage moved.

“I said, everyone out. NOW!” he shouted.

One by one the frightened passengers stepped out into the chilly night air. Lady Montgomery was last. She noticed a third man, dressed exactly like the other two, quietly sitting horseback in front of the carriage. He had a pistol leveled at the group. Everyone, except Angus McConnell, put their hands in the air. He clutched his satchel close.

“Three! Quit clowning around. Get on the roof and cover them.” Demanded the masked man standing in front of the driver and passengers. “Two? You alright?”

“Right as rain, One, “replied the masked rider unflinching.

The masked man known as Three crawled to the carriage’s roof. He tucked one of his pistols into his belt.

“Gentlemen and fair Lady,” announced the masked man known as One. “Allow me to introduce ourselves. I am One. The man on horseback is Two. The spry fellow on the carriage roof is Three. We are not here to harm any of you. We are from a branch of his Majesty’s Intelligence Service called … The Kingsmen. We wear masks to keep our identities secret, so we may work in the shadows to keep this country safe. We are here this night to retrieve what has been stolen.”

He stepped toward the rotund Angus McConnell and pointed at the satchel. “In there are the architectural drawings for a bridge that he has stolen. Why? We believe to blow it up!”

One took another step toward the now sweating Angus McConnell. One held out his hand. The pudgy man looked at the ground and surrendered the satchel. The other passengers looked at Angus in shock.

“His majesties government and I thank you for your patience and understanding,” said One with a slight bow. “Driver, be sure to clearly tell the local constabulary what happened here. Let Mr. McConnell explain how he came into possession of the plans.” He took two steps back. “Please do not follow us. Two? Three? We are leaving.”

The trio ran or rode off into the dimly lit night. Quiet fell on the stunned group.

“I am not riding with this horrible man!” Lady Montgomery announced angrily. “Driver, take my things to the way station. I will collect them in the morning. I am walking.” She turned and stormed off into a nearby alley and disappeared from sight. The driver made sure the others, particularly Angus, were loaded into the carriage before leaving.

Elizabeth knew these lanes well. As she walked, she removed the tiny hat and let her curly hair fall to her shoulders. She soon came upon a tavern. She tossed the hat away before entering. Once inside she recognized a familiar face and approached him.

“You did well tonight, Elizabeth. Your tip paid off. Well done,” he said.

“What’s the matter?” she replied. “Don’t you think I make a good Kingsman, too?”

Writers Foundation of Strathcona County Hello members,

We are excited to announce this year's Writers Conference.

As writers, we want to expand our writing skills and explore new avenues for expression. This is the conference for you!

Mark your calendars and sign up for a fact-filled day.

29th April 2023

8:30 am registration

9:00 am - 4:00 pm - 4 sessions, Q&A after each one.

Coffee breaks

Bring your own lunch

Community Room 2, Community Center, 401 Festival Lane, Sherwood Park.

Underground Parking available

Register here: "" Annual Writers Conference | Writers Foundation of Strathcona County

Learn New Writing Techniques, Hear Stories from other Writers, and Share in the Fun of Writing!

'If you don't have the time to read, you don't have the time or the tools to write' - Stephen King

What Are You Reading?

The Muse wants to know what other writers are reading! Are you doing research for a story? Are you reading a great book that you want to tell others about? E-mail the editor and let us know about your book.


Review by Lana O’Neill

Did your mother ever tell you to ‘get your head out of the clouds’? If so, then Daughter of the Moon Goddess is for you (just don’t tell mom). The story of Xingyin, born in the Pure Light Palace to Chang’e, the Moon Goddess, is one of fantasy, magic, sacrifice and romance. And as with all enticing stories, a compelling conflict and a fateful decision hooks the reader before the end of the first chapter. Xingyin sets out on a quest into unknown kingdoms of the Immortal Realm. And it is through her eyes that our senses experience Tan’s mythical world in this debut novel. The lyrical quality of her writing creates an ethereal effect which transports the reader into the world of immortals. Imagine summoning a cloud, stepping on and being whisked away from danger into another realm. I can already see a movie or a six-part series on Netflix!

Watching You by Lisa Jewell

Review by Mandy Eve-Barnett

Well constructed story and plot with well rounded characters and an abundance of teasers of who done it. The interaction between the characters was fun to read and the ending a surprise. I recommend this book highly.

Insomnia by Kelly Covic

Review by Mandy Eve-Barnett

What a wonderful collection of paranormal stories. The author takes you into a world of each character with expert ease. I particularly enjoyed Music Box, it has a great twist and Idle Thursday, because its subject matter is one of my interests. I recommend losing yourself in these narratives.

The Rise of Rynn by Bianca Rowena

Review by Mandy Eve-Barnett

This is quite the story for any YA reader, full of intrigue, mystery and adventure. We follow Rynn on a personal journey fraught with emotion, struggles and ulterior motives surrounding him and his path to become a Master.

There are dark forces and disturbing themes within the narrative.

Reborn by Jenna Greene

Review by Mandy Eve-Barnett

The author initially immerses you into a world of hardship and lost hope, a cruel society dependent on facial marks. Then a chance is given and we follow their journey and struggle and forging hope for something better.

A wonderful story, where the reader is invested in the characters plight.

Highly recommended.

Bastard Sorceress by Verna McKinnon

Review by Mandy Eve-Barnett

What a wonderful magical world Verna McKinnon has created. Full of surprising twists and turns, magic and characters you love.

A superb story - highly recommended.

Publications available from our foundation.

Anyone can purchase these works through our website at


We are excited to announce new publications through the Foundation.

The winner's of the children's creative writing contest in 2020 and 2021 have been compiled into a book. It will be at a special price until September 30th. Link:

A Creative Mind: Poetry Anthology III

The WFSC challenged its members to write a poem-a-day for 30 days and the poetry shared in this anthology are part of the results. Participants were allowed to submit up to five selections with others chosen at random to fill the book as needed. We think you’ll enjoy reading the as much as we did. We have selections from 14 poets offering 81 selections ranging in styles, voice, and direction, but all focused on the title / theme of the day

“Creative Writing Workshop Facilitators Kelsey Hoople and Mike Deregowski challenge you to participate in national poetry month.” As part of Poetry Month for April 2020, the challenge was to write to the overall theme - The Great Escape. A different title posted each day provided inspiration for writing a poem a day for thirty days. It was a challenge worth taking up as many of the participants could no longer meet in person due to COVID-19 measures, but they could support one another online! This collection of poetry includes submissions from qualifying WFSC members for 2020. Challenge yourself! Enjoy!

“Creative Writing Workshop Facilitators Kelsey Hoople and Mike Deregowski challenge you to participate in national poetry month.” As part of Poetry Month for April 2021, the challenge was to write to the overall theme - When Life Changes. A different title posted each day provided inspiration for writing a poem a day for thirty days. Amidst the COVID-19 challenge, getting creative was an outlet for our writing group, which enjoyed connecting online and being inspired. This collection of poetry includes submissions from qualifying WFSC members for 2021. Challenge yourself! Enjoy!

Available for purchase:

DWP WFSC's publication prior to the Writing Prompts book shares stories of Canadian writers.

We write from the heart about people who are important and things dear to us.

We write with a spirit that leads us to explore and explain.

We write. We are passionate.

We are Canadian.

Postcards from Canada proudly features the words of members from the Writers Foundation of Strathcona County in celebration of being Canadian – during this 150th year of Confederation. Share with us as we take you on a journey across Canada with our words, our images, our verse, our prose… Postcards from Canada - Wish you were here! Get your copy for $14.95 through the following:

Amazon POD:

Available for purchase:

Writers Foundation of Strathcona County 2022 - 2023 Board Members and contact information:

Joe McKnight President Bethany Horne Vice President Never Been Better - Editor Linda Pedley Treasurer Web Site Administration 780-445-0991 Mandy Barnett Secretary Writing Circle Host/ Writing Prompts/ Newsletter Editor Karen Probert Past President 780-464-6632 Beth Rowe Director Your Lifetime of Stories Coordinator 780-718-7253 Henry Martell Director Newsletter Coordinator Amanda O'Driscoll Director Instagram Coordinator Library Liaison

Copyright © *2023

Writers Foundation of Strathcona County All rights reserved.


Our mailing address is:

PO Box 57083 | Sherwood Park, Alberta | T8A 5L7

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