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Copy of October 2021 Muse

October 2021

“A man who tells secrets or stories must think of who is hearing or reading, for a story has as many versions as it has readers. Everyone takes what he wants or can from it and thus changes it to his measure. Some pick out parts and reject the rest, some strain the story through their mesh of prejudice, some paint it with their own delight. A story must have some points of contact with the reader to make him feel at home in it. Only then can he accept wonders.” — John Steinbeck, The Winter of Our Discontent

Editor's Note:

The Strathcona Writers Muse is a forum for members of the Writers Foundation of Strathcona County to provide an opportunity for members to publish their works. Anything published in our letter is eligible to receive a publishing credit. We accept poems and short stories of 1000 words or less normally but longer pieces can be accommodated if they can be published in parts. We are always in need of new items for each month so don't hesitate if you have something we can put into our publication.

Send submissions to care of Henry Martell, editor.

Important Dates

Virtual Sharing Meeting online

Next date October 5, 2021

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

Next Board Meeting: October 12, 2021

Also is the date for the Annual General Meeting for the Writers Foundation.

Newsletter Submission Deadline: October 25, 2021

Monthly online Creative Writing Workshops

Held last Saturday of every month from 12:30 to 2:30 pm

Go to the website to register - click the RSVP and the link will be emailed to you prior to the workshop.

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 Oct 20, 2021

Children's Writing Workshop

Next Meeting October 14, 2021

Reply to the link on our Website

A huge thank you to the Board, vendors, attendees, authors and readers for making this year's Words in the Park such a success. If you missed any part of the day, there are videos up on the Facebook page. Make sure to like, comment and share.

This Month's Submissions


Annual General Meeting for Writers Foundation of Strathcona County October 12/2021

All paid members are eligible to attend and as last year this meeting will be virtual and the link will be provided to all those who respond via the website or an email notice.


by Karen Probert

As we neared the cave we heard a strange rustling sound. Being an hour later than intended we were walking quickly and hardly noticed the sound until we stopped to allow Marianne, James and Isla to catch up.

"We have less than a half hour to go. Everyone holding up?" our guide Kwomo said in his carefully modulated English.

"I remember seeing this cave this morning when we passed it in intense sunlight. It looks more ominous now", said Isla, who we all knew was easily intimidated by things she had never encountered before.

"We'll just skirt it, not enter it, so it's just a signpost that we'll soon be back at our camp", Kwomo ensured us.

James piped up. "Then let's get going."

Everyone drank from their water bottles, then adjusted their daypacks, took a deep breath of the warm air and began walking single file along the dusty trail. The trail turned right as it passed the cave and not very far away we saw the tents of our camp glowing against the setting sun.

"We'll be there before dark, thank goodness" called out Marianne from the back of the line. "Been a long day. Could use a drink."

"And a shower" laughed Isla.

Just then the rustling rose to a crescendo. Everyone stopped, turned towards the cave's dark mouth as hundreds of thousands of small black bat bodies rose from the entrance into the darkening sky. The staccato beat of wings obliterated any other sounds. Several of the group focused cameras on the scene which was over in a flash.

"Wow! What an ending to a great day. Unexpected. Fabulous. I thought we were finished photographing wildlife for today and then this. Just icing on the cake."

"James, your enthusiasm is unrelenting. Let's just get back to camp and then we can see if any of our shots are more than just a blur."

"Okay, Manny. Let's go. We'll all follow you", James said as he put his telescopic lens back in his pack and covered his regular lens with its cap. He slung the camera case over his shoulder.

In James' gallery in London, months later, as a man handed his credit card to the salesman he said, "Who'd ever have thought that a photo of a bat in flight could be called art? But I love this shot. There's something primeval about its open mouth but it also looks benign and even attractive against the setting African sun. Just have to have it."


The minute hand hovers before counting time

A slow progression toward home time and freedom

Methodical work dampens the mind

Pretense of attention is practiced with ease

Tasks are metered out to fill time

Sly glances shared with companions

Distractions welcomed with relief

A mental countdown fills every brain

Expectation an undercurrent among those gathered

The atmosphere boiling electricity in harnessed excitement

Soon they will be let loose – free of restrictions

Freedom into summer full of games, friends and sunshine

Bar-be-ques, bike rides and picnics

Sandcastles, salty water and discoveries in rock pools

Climbing mountain trails, campfire stories and smores

Time will no longer be counted, its hold forgotten

Days will be languished within, time lengthens

Enjoyment and carefree abandon

Fills everyone’s time

Mandy Eve-Barnett

Across The Back Fence

by Karen Probert

When the phone was answered I heard, "This is Adam."

"Hi, Adam. It's Kate who lives across your back fence. The fellow working on your house says he can't get a hold of you. He has a question. I told him I wouldn't give him your phone number. His number is 555-687-9328. Please call him."

"There's someone working on my house? I don't have a contract for anyone to do anything."

"He was working on new fascia when I got my first coffee at 8. I could see him up the ladder. Later he was up on the roof. Then he came to talk to me over the fence."

" Kate, I'm totally confused. I'll call him and then call you back."

The phone went dead.

I paced through the living room and back into the kitchen. The workman was sitting on Adam's picnic table with his phone to his ear. When my phone rang I said," Hi Adam."

"There's a problem, Kate, that I have to solve but it's clear he's at the wrong house."

Adam hung up again but when I called back it went to voice mail. I left a message, "When you and Carrie get home come over for a drink and fill me in. I'm intrigued but hope you can resolve it."

The rest of my day was a total write-off as I couldn't concentrate on anything. I did notice that the work had stopped across the fence. About 4:45 I saw Adam and Carrie climb a ladder to come over the fence and hop down onto my picnic table. I went out to meet them. Adam started with," They shouldn't let dyslexics write work orders. We're 1812 and the work was supposed to be done at 1821. That's just up the street on the other side. What the hell!"

I handed him a glass of chilled wine. Carrie already was using hers to cover the grin on her face. Adam took a gulp and continued, "I talked to the manager. They replaced the entire fascia and fixed some flashing on the roof and were getting ready to hang new eavestroughing. They'd pulled the old ones off. They're going to put the new ones up for us tomorrow, No cost. No cost! I still can't believe it"

By this time we were all laughing. Before Adam and Carrie climbed back over the fence they hugged me.

"You're phone call saved us a couple of thousand. We owe you. Thanks. Thanks again."

A Fall Walk by Mandy Eve-Barnett

Gerald replaced the letter into the envelope, folded it in half and pushed into his jacket pocket. With a scarf wrapped tightly around his neck to keep the fall chill from creeping in, he pulled on gloves and his heavy hiking boots. “I’m just popping out for some fresh air, Martha.” “All right, dear, the soup will take about two hours, so don’t go too far.” Gerald tutted under his breath. Martha always had a schedule and woe betide you if you didn’t keep to it. He called back as he exited the warmth of the house and entered the golden hued avenue. “I’ll be on time, Martha.” With determined steps, he walked along the treed avenue focused on his destination. Turning a corner a bird flew upward from its foraging in the leaf litter startling him. “Silly bird!” he turned to follow the bird’s flight path and tripped. Stumbling with hands outstretched to save himself. One hand became entangled in the wheel of a bicycle and Gerald and the rider crumpled into a heap on the verge. “Oh my God! I’m so sorry. I tried to stop when I saw you falling, but wasn’t quick enough. Are you okay?” The young man’s voice was tense with worry. “Just a bit shocked. Although, I think I may have hurt my hand.” “Let me see. Can you take off the glove?” Gerald pulled at the woolen material and winched. “Oh, that doesn’t look good. I’m going to call an ambulance.” “It’s just bruised, an ice pack will suffice, I’m sure.” “Well, you will have to do that quickly. I should come with you to make sure it is not more serious. I’m a doctor.” Gerald looked at the young man - how can you be a doctor? You look as though you’re in high school. Not wanting to be rude, Gerald kept his thoughts to himself. “I live just up here. It’s not necessary to come – really.” “I insist.” Gerald let the doctor accompany him home. Martha, of course, made a huge fuss. The envelope’s content would have to wait another day.

'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.

When Robins Appear by Densie Webb

Review by Mandy Eve-Barnett

A remarkable tale of a mother and daughter dealing with love and loss, joy and pain. Their relationship ebbs and flows, as we 'see' each of their inner thoughts and turmoil. A story that brings real life into sharp focus. I enjoyed it immensely.

Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver

A beautifully told story centering around a particular house during two different time periods. Barbara has expertly woven the two storylines and the inhabitants lives together. The core of the novel centers on the real life of a intriguing woman, Mary Treat. Someone history should take notice of and celebrate. THE OUTSIDER (2018) by Stephen King Review by Lana O’Neill Stephen King has written over 60 novels since 1967 and I am reluctant to admit that this is the first one I’ve read (except for his non-fiction bestseller, On Writing, which I’ve enjoyed twice). My only excuse would be that I’ve watched several of the movies adapted from his books and all of them left me with plenty of heebie jeebies and no desire to taunt my imagination any further. That said, reading The Outsider was an absolute treat. From the horrific beginning to the shocking end, King’s telling of the supernatural is paced as a page turner without resorting to short chapters cut off in mid-reveal. His experienced hand effectively colors the small town of Flint City, Oklahoma and its residents so that both are as real as you and I, while juxtaposing them against the unreal and leaving the reader to wonder, if something could actually be lying in wait under the bed. Classic Stephen King!

THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT (1983) by Walter Tevis Review by Lana O’Neill

As an eight-year-old, my biggest worry was catching the right bus from school (especially in the winter) and my biggest hope was getting a singing stint on Kiddies on Camera with my best friend, Michelle. By the time Walter Tevis’ protagonist, Beth Harmon, was eight she was alone, living a flat-lined existence in an orphanage. Her biggest worry and hope were one and the same- ensuring she got her daily allotment of little green pills (‘vitamins’ to the orphans, tranquilizers to you and me). The Queen’s Gambit is a story of an unremarkable girl. who found the game of chess amid the unpromising circumstances life threw at her. This cerebral game is written into the story like a secondary character and readers may become lost in the terminology, if not, the strategies. For my part, watching the Netflix television series of the same name beforehand, went a long way towards my understanding of the game and thus my enjoyment of the plot. The book, though, provides a window to Beth’s thoughts, thus the key to understanding her journey inside a world she mastered to become more than remarkable.

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:

“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 2020 - 2021 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 Pamela J. Winter Director Poets in the Park Co-ordinator Guy Chambers Director Poets in the Park Co-ordinator Amanda O'Driscoll Director Instagram Coordinator Library Liaison Email: Website: (

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Writers Foundation of Strathcona County All rights reserved.


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