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December 2022 Muse

December 2022

November 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. We accept all manner of submissions from short stories, poetry and book reviews. We prefer short stories of 1000 words or less but longer pieces can be accommodated if they can be published in parts. We are always in need of new items, so don't hesitate if you have something we can put into our publication.

Send submissions to care of Henry Martell, editor.

Important Dates

Writers Circle Virtual Sharing Meeting online

Next date Dec 6, 2022

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

Next Board Meeting: Dec 13, 2022

Also will be the annual WFSC Christmas party

WFSC Annual Christmas Party Dec 13, 2022

Lakeside Village Rec Center

#2 Georgian Way

7-9 pm

Pot Luck

This year we will be having the Christmas party in person once again.

Please bring a $15.00 Secret Santa gift plus a Christmas Story

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 Dec 21, 2022

Children's Creative Writing Workshop

Second Monday of each month

Next Meeting Dec 12, 2022

Reply to the link on our Website

This Month's Submissions

Adele’s Reaction

Adele picked up the yellow napkin and dabbed her lips. The blue ceramic bowl was now nearly empty of chicken broth. That’s when she noticed the crack rising upward through the cloudy glistening liquid, dotted with bright orange carrot pieces, ground green peas and white threads of noodles.

Her fists clenched and she looked around for a waitress. Other diners, in the café, were chatting and eating happily, unaware of the rising fury Adele felt coursing through her body. How disgusting!! Were these people not aware of the germs that infest such a crack in ceramic? Her heart rate increased as her face and neck blushed deep red.

She raised one hand and motioned to a young waitress, who nodded in acknowledgement and walked toward Adele. Taking the girl’s hand, Adele pulled her downward to face the bowl – her anger now apparent.

“Do you see it? It’s deplorable! I need to speak to the manager.”

The young woman cried in alarm and hurt at Adele’s grip.

“Please let go. What am I supposed to see?”

“The crack, girl, look!”

Puzzlement showed on the girl’s face and Adele poured the remaining soup onto the table before putting the bowl in front of the waitress’ face.

“There – now do you see it?”

The surrounding customer’s watched in alarm at this altercation and a stocky bald-headed man walked to Adele’s table.

“I must insist you let go of my employees arm this instant.”

Adele swung around to meet his stern look.

“Are you the manager?”

“Yes, I am, and my employees are not to be treated in such a way.”

“How about your customer’s? Look at this germ ridden crockery. You should be vigilant in the health of your clientele.” Adele held the bowl up to the man’s face, tapping her foot and clenching her teeth.

“My apologies if there is something wrong, Miss but there is no need to manhandle my staff.”

Adele could not contain her anger a moment longer, she threw the offending bowl and it smashed through the café’s front window with a resounding crash.

“Now there was no need for that, I’m calling the police.”

“Do what you like; I will be reporting this incident to the public health center forthwith. If you are happy to serve such substandard crockery, then there must be even worse conditions in the kitchen. If I become ill, I will be taking you to court.” Not waiting for a reply, Adele barged her way past the shocked manager and waitress and walked out of the café. The room filled with exclamations and murmurings. A tinny voice uttered from the manager’s cell phone – “Hello’ which emergency service do you require?”

Mandy Eve-Barnett

Christmas Eve

by Karen Probert

Previously published in "Make A Joyful Noise - An International Christmas Anthology" 2020

Jennifer lay quietly, breathing deeply so it would seem like she was sleeping. Just in case anyone was checking or listening, or even cared. Her left foot itched so she rubbed it against the warm sheet where the raised edge of the mattress pushed up. That didn't really relieve the itching but it felt good to be doing something, anything but just lying here.

She had at least another hour before she could get up, open the door, creep along the hall to get to the top of the stairs. One day last week she had practiced doing that. The floor was almost silent right along the side where it met the wall. Not like the middle where the floor creaked and snapped when you ran across it. The stairs were exactly seventeen steps from the bedroom door. The stairs had been a practicing place too. Jennifer had walked up and down the middle, down the left side, up and down the right side, even from one side of each step to the other to find places where she could step without making the steps crackle and groan as she moved over them. The idea to sit down and slide on her pajama covered bottom from one step to the next was a revelation when she realized it was almost soundless.

Jennifer could hear quiet voices from the living room. Her mother and Arnie were talking and laughing a little bit. She knew when Arnie needed another beer as the couch cushion made a swooshy noise as he got up, then she heard his heavy feet crossing the hall, then the fridge door creaking open against the broken hinge before the bottles clinked together and the door was closed with a groan and a clank. By straining she could even hear the expulsion of air and bubbles from the bottle after the opener popped the top off. This house muffled no sounds.

That is what made these sounds comfortable - they were everyday sounds now, gentle sounds. Not like last Christmas Eve. That was the last time she'd seen her father. He had spent that afternoon musing a bottle of ten-year-old scotch he'd been given by a customer. When her mother had arrived home he had tried to stand up but it took four attempts for him to get out of his chair. By then his face was angry and red. Jennifer's mother had protested when he tried to kiss her and put his hand on her bottom. Jennifer's mother had said, "Not here, for heaven's sake, the child is watching and you're drunk as a skunk." Her voice was calm but there was a bitterness underneath that Jennifer didn't understand.

Her mother had asked, "You got the present today, right?" and then she looked at Jennifer's father and said resignedly, "Rob the stores are closed now. You promised. You promised that you'd do that, that at least you would do that. You didn't. Now it's too late. It's too late for anything! Rob, listen to me. Go to your mother's or somewhere now. And don't come back. Just don't ever come back."

Jennifer had heard her father yell, heard her mother cry, heard her father wail and break things, heard her mother call 911, then heard the sirens and policemen. She had stayed under her bed until her mother came to find her. Her mother was shaking and the bloody line on her face was raw looking. Her mother just held Jennifer on the bed until they both fell asleep.

The next morning was Christmas. Jennifer's stocking was full of candies, an orange, Jumping Jacks, a blue India rubber ball, a new skipping rope with bright pink handles, and some hair ribbons. Under the tree was a beautiful brown-ringleted doll with real glass eyes from her Grandmother Pearce in England. There was a new pale yellow dress that she had heard her mother sewing for her nights after she'd gone to bed. Jennifer had even seen some tiny scraps of yellow fabric and so hoped it would be the pattern with puffed sleeves. It was. There was a present from England for her mother too - a soft wool paisley shawl in mauve and beige .In another parcel were three books and some crayons from her father's mother, Grandy, who worked at the library and got to take home books that were in nearly new condition but that no one wanted to borrow. There was no box from Santa Claus, no red wrapping paper and silver ribbon to savour before opening it, no BIG gift as Jennifer's mother said on the telephone to Auntie Sue later that day.

Jennifer knew that BIG gifts don't really come from Santa Claus. BIG gifts were the treasures that your mother wanted you to have especially but that were costly so you had to wait until the last paycheck of the year to pick them up from layaway. Daddy was supposed to pick up the pale blue bike last year but he didn't. Jennifer's mother picked it up in January so Jennifer had been able to ride it all summer after she learned to keep her balance. It was a wonderful bike and she loved it but knew that her mother was very disappointed that Christmas day had been ruined by not having it there.

This year Jennifer thought that Arnie wouldn't forget to pick up a present. She had heard her mother remind him this morning and he had promised. Jennifer just wanted to creep down to see if it was there in it's red paper with a silver ribbon. She didn't want her mother to look like last year with makeup not really covering her bruised cheek and black eye. She didn't want to see her mother's flat sad eyes and slightly shaky hands while she told her sister she would divorce Rob. Jennifer's mother and Auntie Sue cried a lot last Christmas.

Arnie had brought light back into Jennifer's mother's eyes and a smile to her lips. Jennifer felt safe again. He wouldn't forget the present, she knew he wouldn't forget the present. Christmas could be Christmas again if he just didn't forget the present.

Yuri’s Little Helpers

By John Wheeler

Yuri Petrovich lay on his tender back in the Russian snow looking up at the clear Russian sky. He had landed hard after ejecting from his Sukhoi SU-27 jet fighter and it felt as if every atom of air had been forced from his lungs upon impact with the frosty surface. The cold air was slowly returning to his lungs, and he knew he had to get moving. He painfully sat up and did a diagnostic of his body checking for broken bones and lacerations.

Fortunately, nothing was broken, and he found no blood leaking from his flight suit. The young aviator slowly rose to his feet and released the parachute harness freeing himself of the protective umbrella that had saved his life. The cold December air slowly crept into his flight suit, and he began to shiver. It was definitely time to find shelter, but first he wanted to check the jet’s crash site. Perhaps, he could send off one more distress call.

Yuri was completing a turn to return home to Monchegorsk Air Base, near the Port City of Murmansk that sits on the banks of the Arctic Ocean’s Barents Sea. Suddenly, his instrument panel lit up informing him engine one was on fire, followed by the warning that engine two had flamed out! Then the entire aircraft began to shake violently, and a piece of the port side wing sheared off. The Sukhoi SU-27 began to spin. Yuri fought to gain some kind of control, but the wounded and moribund aircraft would not let him. He was going down!

Yuri broadcast his Mayday distress call and stated his believed position. He repeated the message three times then pulled the ejection lever. He had never ejected before, and the shock caused him to temporarily blackout. The fighter pilot came to moments before he smashed into the frozen expanse, but he was able to remain conscience on impact. Now he footslogged toward the smoke of the poorly maintained aircraft’s crash site, a distance much farther than anticipated.

Exhausted and cold Yuri found the mangled airship in a thicket, as well as something totally unexpected. A group of five short men wearing colorful winter clothing of red, green, and white had put out the fire and were feverishly working with various tools to get into what remained of the cockpit.

“Hello, Comrade Yuri Petrovich,” a child-like Russian voice said from behind him. Yuri spun, his hand reaching for his sidearm. A short man dressed similar to the others stood before him. His empty hands were slightly raised, and he had a smile on his face.

“Easy Comrade. We are here to help. Come with me if you want to get out of here,” he stated in perfect Russian. The hued character gestured toward the wreck and began walking toward it. Yuri quietly followed his eyes taking in everything. His presence was acknowledged with smile and nods. Yuri, being Russian, remained stoic!

The diminutive cadre eventually was able to pull the radio and began working on the unit. A parabolic antenna seemed to appear out of nowhere, was attached to the twisted tail section and aimed toward Murmansk. They pulled the circuit board and replaced all the damaged components, then tested it, with skill and confidence. Yuri was amazed they knew so much about Russian Air Force technology, considering this information was supposed to be confidential, but he let them continue. Who were these proficient people?

A flask was handed to Yuri by the fellow who found him.

“Here,” he offered. “Drink to warm yourself.” Yuri drank and instantly felt warm. It tasted like apple cider.

“Ready,” one of the workers announced.

Yuri was handed a square fifteen-centimeter piece of pasteboard paper. On it was written a series of numbers.

“These are the GPS co-ordinates to this location,” said the one Yuri believed to be the leader. “Come! Get on the radio so your comrades can find you.”

Yuri took the transmitter and started calmly broadcasting his Mayday signal over and over until a voice responded. The aviator could not believe his good fortune! They had actually rebuilt the radio. He responded by giving his GPS position and was informed a rescue helicopter was enroute. Yuri signed off.

The undersized troop gathered their equipment and began to depart.

“WAIT,” Yuri hollered. “I must know. Who are you? Why me?” Yuri was so grateful his eyes began to water. While the others trudged away the group’s leader approached Yuri. He looked sternly at the young aviator.

“The Boss informed us you were on his “nice” list because of some kind of charity work you do. He told us you must be home for Christmas.” Suddenly, he looked up. “Helicopter coming. I must go. Merry Christmas, Yuri.” He spun on his heel and raced after his comrades.

Yuri Petrovich finally realized who they were. They may be Santa’s little helpers, but today they were Yuri’s Little Helpers.

'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.

Whistler's Night by H.M. Shander- Review by Mandy Eve-Barnett

A chance encounter on a mountain top - a past relationship, a misunderstanding and deeply buried emotions - all create a cute enjoyable easy read. A fun novella for sure.

Ready to Burn by Mandy Michelle Review by Mandy Eve-Barnett

A truly fiery story as the author takes you through a complex storyline with tension under currents, great character development and sexy firefighters! You will be sizzling at the end.

Saving Grace by Katie O'Connor Review by Mandy Eve Barnett

A great cozy romance but with a feisty heroine, whom I loved! Grace is her own woman, but with an empty heart for all but one. The one who 'got away' through her own fault. Katie O'Connor has written a super range of characters, set in a small town setting, where everyone knows your business. Hidden emotions and past choices keep the reader guessing as to the outcome

ESCAPE FROM GERMANY (2019) by Kurt F. Jensen

Review by Lana O’neil

The Provincial Archives of Alberta is a treasure trove for all things in our provinces past. This includes a recent publication by Ottawa author, Kurt F. Jensen about a true Canadian war hero who happened to hail from our capital city, Edmonton. Jensen goes into great detail about Danish born immigrant Pete Anderson, from his early days in the country of his birth to his start in Canada and eventual success as a businessman. However, it was the title that caught my eye. Anderson’s World War I experiences, eventual capture by the Germans and his daring escape makes for intriguing reading. Especially as we prepare to remember those who served and sacrificed so that we may enjoy freedom every day.

FROM THE ASHES (2019) by Jesse Thistle

Review by Lana O’Neill

The inner workings of your heart with be tested while reading this raw memoir by Jesse Thistle. A Metis-Cree, Thistle shares a heartbreaking journey so vivid that it’s hard to believe he’s recollecting, not only, as far back as three years old but also an adolescence and adulthood mired in alcoholism, drug abuse, violence and homelessness. He writes with a wholesome frankness which pulls the reader into his world and it is that same frankness that has the reader hoping, even willing for him to find the peace and happiness he deserved so long ago as a toddler. His voice is clear and full of knowing and with it, his rediscovered version of the value of a life he was born into.

IN THE DARK WE FORGET (2022) by Sandra SG Wong

Review by Lana O’Neill

Amnesia is an unwelcome antagonist in, Edmonton writer, Sandra SG Wong’s recent thriller In The Dark We Forget. Immediate tension and ongoing suspense create a page turner the moment the protagonist (no name dropping here) wakes up on the side of a highway. She spends the rest of the novel piecing together fragments that may or may not be relevant to events that unfold after every discovery. The first-person point of view and detailed descriptions heighten the sense of frustration, urgency and fear experienced by an amnesiac. Settings in British Columbia, Alberta and especially, Edmonton are a pleasant surprise because the familiar terrain provides a small advantage when wading through the quagmire of family dysfunction, social commentary and psychological gymnastics.

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.

Publications available from our foundation. Anyone can purchase these works through our website at


We are excited to announce new publications through the Foundation.

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

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 2021 - 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 © *2022

Writers Foundation of Strathcona County All rights reserved.


Our mailing address is:

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

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