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December 2023 Newsletter

December 2023

December 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 Dec 5, 2023

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

Next Board Meeting: Dec 12, 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: Dec 20, 2023

Children's Creative Writing Workshop

Second Thursday of each month

Next Meeting Dec 14, 2023

Reply to the link on our Website

This Month's Submissions

An Extraordinary Inheritance by Mandy Eve Barnett

Abraham sighed, shrugged his shoulders within his thick black mohair coat and began to walk. As he left the brick office building, he viewed the small town square with its bandstand, circular path dotted with benches and duck pond. His breath came out as small puffs of white in the chill of the early evening. He could smell the snow in the air. December was a dark, oppressive month keeping people in their homes cozy in plush blankets and roaring fires. His mission tonight was one he did not relish. He gripped the handle of the leather bag swinging at his side. Its contents would change a family’s life forever, whether for better, or worse was up to their interpretation and agreement. It was not his place to comment, or voice his own views. He would read the document as presented and then leave them to the inevitable furor. The date of today’s meeting was circled on his calendar and had been for six years, transferred from one year to another.

When his client, Mrs. Forsyth, came to him all those years ago, he’d tried to keep his shock from showing on his face. The request was not only unusual but life changing in its extreme. The old woman had not shown any emotion as she specified her directive, tutting and raising one finger for silence, when Abraham began to speak.

“This is my decision and I expect you to follow through without question. Is that understood?”

Abraham nodded his assent and wrote out the demands as bullet points on a legal pad. His secretary, Enid, a mid-aged woman whose discretion was unquestionable would transcribe his notes the following morning. If she had any remarks on the document, they would not be voiced, she knew her place. A client’s wishes were sacristan and confidential. A week later, Mrs. Forsyth returned to sign the official documents, paid her bill there and then and left her lawyer’s office without a backward glance. Two months later the elderly woman was dead and Abraham proceeded with the first part of his client’s directions. The Will was read along with the codicil of conditions. He bore the outrage, the suspicions, the wailing at that first meeting within his office walls. Each Forsyth heir was given specific instructions to complete prior to the next stage of the substantial inheritance. Each year there were more specified demands from their deceased mother and the inevitable pushback. Abraham cited he could only follow the instructions and was unable to give them any insight into any further compliance requirements.

Now, the lawyer could deliver the last of the demands and duly keep to Mrs. Forsyth’s last instruction that he deliver the news within the old woman’s study in the expansive family home. Turning left into the treed avenue devoid of the green leafiness of spring and summer, he walked with hesitation in his stride under the twisted bare branches. He pulled back his shoulders and took a deep breath before proceeding along the stone path, bordered with topiary box hedges and tilled earth of the flowerbeds. A porch light lit his way to the ebony front door, and then pushed the elaborate brass door bell. A chime echoed in the entrance way, a place he knew from previous visits, with its black and white checkered tile, oak staircase and gilded portraits. A balding man in a formal black attire opened the door.

“Good evening, Mr. Squires. May I take your coat, sir?”

Abraham placed his bag on the floor and shrugged out of his heavy coat. The butler nodded and proceeded ahead of him down a corridor to the study. The three heirs were in attendance, anxious to have the meeting concluded. Abraham nodded to the assembled men, whose tight lipped stares were reply enough. He then sat on one of the arranged antique cherry wood chairs.

“Good evening, gentlemen. As you know this is the final document of your mother’s estate. As per her instructions I am to read it in ordinance to the previously specific conditions. Your individual compliance to those conditions will garner your share of the substantial inheritance. Does anyone have any questions before I proceed?”

Mrs. Forsyth’s three adult sons glanced at each other then shook their heads.

“Very well, do you wish to be informed of the division individually or together?”

George Forsyth, the eldest son, gripped his hands into fists, breathed in then stated, “Get on with it Squires this fiasco has gone on long enough. We all believe Mother was not of sound mind when she came up with this ridiculous idea, but as you have proved that was not the case with her own medical examination report, we just need this over and done with. My brothers and I have compiled. Just read the thing.”

Abraham slid out a large brown envelope from his briefcase and pulled out three bound documents. Each document stated one man’s name in large cursive script on the front.

“If I may, I will read them in birth order?”

“Whatever, man, get on with it,” Said Charles, the middle son. His colouring and nose shape the image of his father, whose portrait hung behind the mahogany desk. Abraham opened the first document sited as belonging to George, who features and colouring reflected his mother’s own. Clearing his throat he began. George Forsyth you have adhered to the stipulations set out by your mother in the case of the family business.

You are to receive $3 million pounds and the Presidency of the family firm.”

Abraham watched the man’s eyes grow wide and a slow grin appear on his face.

Turning to the middle son, the lawyer spoke again. “In the terms of the conditions, Harold, you have successfully gained your law degree and started your own firm with a degree of success. However, until the finances reach the specified volume you will only receive $2 million pounds and half of your shares until such time as this is achieved. Abraham watched the man straighten his shoulders and look side to side to his brothers. Both gave him a slight shake of their heads. Confident he could precede, Abraham, opened the last document and relayed it contents to Charles, the youngest son. “Charles, you have completed university and gained entry into Harvard as specified. You will receive your allotted shares in the family firm and $3 million dollars in trust until you reach twenty-five.” Abraham sat back waiting for the men’s responses. He was surprised there was no backlash. Every other meeting had ended with derision and remarks on his professionalism.

George stood first followed by his two brothers.

“Thank you, Squires. Is there any signatures required?”

Abraham placed the three thick documents on the edge of the large leather inlaid desk and pointed to the small tabs on each. Once every one signed their name, Abraham, gave the men their copies and put the file copies in his bag. A chill filled the room and all four men glanced at the window bereft of drapes to see an image in the glass of Mrs. Forsyth nodding before it disappeared as quickly as it had appeared. The four men stood dumbfounded for several moments, before shaking their heads. No one spoke or remarked. Abraham bid the men a good night and left the study. The butler aided him with his coat and opened the front door for him. His stride was hurried as he made his way home that evening. By the next morning he dismissed the vision as a trick of the light or a reflection of a portrait, no doubt.

Christmas in the Prairies

Christmas morn

A light skiff of white

Covers the land

Mounds of brown

Lay exposed

Through the delicate sheet

A white Christmas

Not as I remember

Snow near knee deep

Perfect for the making

A snowman to be proud

Sledding and skating

Snowballs made

A war declared

Three or four years

The snow inadequate

For the making

Of snowmen or ammo

Traditions unchanged


Not as it used to be


With family and friends

Christmas in the prairies

Never ask for more

- Joe McKnight

- Dec. 12, 2005

Will it be the last Christmas ?

By Pamela Winter-Beattie

I wonder if it will be my dad‘s last Christmas?

When you’ve been given a death sentence and time to prepare,

how do you live out your days?

Our time is precious and although I was not given the death sentence by a doctor,

it could happen to me at any time

We should enjoy every day.

The wonders

the sounds

the sun

If you see the sun it doesn’t always shine bright every day,

but it still gets up and wakes us

Some days we shine brighter and some days it is a dull light

we still get up

Every day is a gift is not just a cliché

We start a new day, we are reborn every morning

A chance to see what we need

A chance to ask for what we need

It’s never too late to start again as the sun starts every morning

How do you live out your days?

will they be filled with regret?

will they be filled with sorrow?

will they be filled with laughter?

will they be filled with hugs?

Will they be filled by living your best life as you are right now in this moment?

Will you say sorry where you need to?

Or reach out to those who need to hear from you?

No matter what time keeps passing and what we do with it,

You can make all the difference.

Not only for those that are given a time;

But we have all been given a time

Time to love,

Time to smile,

Time to spread joy,

Time to travel

Time to experience all the emotions!

Enjoy the highs and flow through the low

So hang on because we’ve only been given this ride

Will it be the last Christmas?

Doesn’t matter if it is

Enjoy every day here and now for what it is❤

'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 Mandy Eve-Barnett

An excellent read for all bibliophiles. Don't we all dream of owning our own bookshop? The characters are compelling, relatable and the hidden thread of mystery keeps you turning the pages. This narrative will stay with me for a long time.

The Little French Bistro by Nina George

Review by Mandy Eve-Barnett

A story of bravery, self discovery and freedom. I absolutely loved this book. Who among us wants to find our true selves?The characters are charming, real and unique. The tides, the myths, the search for love all come together in a magical story of excellent writing.

Highly recommended

It All Began with a Wedding by H.M. Shander

Review by Mandy Eve-Barnett

What a ride of emotional turmoil a reader is put through within this narrative. A real 'will they, won't they' page turner.

Superb character building with added tension and obstacles galore.

A thoroughly good read.


Review by Lana O’Neill

There is no better place to find the spirit of Christmas than through the eyes of a child. It comes as no surprise, then, that this is the font that American poet, Ogden Nash, draws from when he wrote his storybook poem just over 80 years ago. The 76-line poem is delivered in light-hearted rhyming couplets with a rhythm that is mostly four beats of unstressed/stressed syllables or iambic tetrameter, but not always. The themes of Christmas and the naughty child were not uncommon for the time and Nash’s whimsical style would easily capture the imagination children and adults alike. The poem introduces us to mischief-maker Jabez Dawes. Pronouncing the unusual name eluded me until a quarter way though, when the rhyme scheme came to my rescue. As with most of the stories and poems I’ve read from so long ago, the inevitable moral jumps out to surprise me with a lesson at the end. My biggest take away, besides speaking the poem out loud, was the possible answer to why I never really liked jack-in-the-boxes as a kid.

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

Contains the works of the winner's of the children's creative writing contest in 2020 and 2021

“Creative Writing Workshop Facilitators Kelsey Hoople and Mike Deregowski instituted a challenge 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!

From the Stars: Poetry Anthology IV

The newest edition is now available in Amazon:

“Creative Writing Workshop Facilitators Kelsey Hoople and Mike Deregowski continued their challenge from 2020 to participate in a second poetry anthology for 2021. 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

Coordinator Children's writing workshop 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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