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February 2024 Newsletter

February 2024

February Writers Muse

Published by the Writers Foundation of Strathcona County

“Writing is an act of discovering what you think and what you believe.” -Dan Pink

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

Location in the Birch Room in the strathcona county Library or online

Next date Feb 6, 2024

RSVP on the website. If you choose the on line option, a link will be emailed to you prior to the meeting. You do not need to be a member of WFSC to attend a meeting.

Next Board Meeting: Feb 13, 2024

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: Feb 21, 2024

Children's Creative Writing Workshop

Second Thursday of each month

Next Meeting Feb 8, 2024

Reply to the link on our Website

This Month's Submissions

A Letter and A Half

By Karen Probert

     In the chill of winter after sodden snow had fallen fast for two days, Megan had finally shoveled a path, almost a tunnel, to her mailbox. The bright blue mailbox door hung open. The box was packed full of heavy snow. Scraping that out with her aching hands she extracted three envelopes. Two were business things so the stamped return addresses were still clear enough to read. The handwritten addresses on the last envelope were all smudged and smeared but still not totally obscured. Clearly the ink had run while the now frozen envelope was still soaked.

     Megan's mind whirled, "Who is this from? Where is it from? Could it be from Andreas?"

     In her warm kitchen Megan laid the three envelopes on a towel to dry. Setting a fan to blow across the table she began making a cup of hot chocolate. She sat. She thought about Andreas. She drank the revitalizing hot drink. She turned each envelope over before going for a hot shower. In leggings, a fleece top and heavy socks Megan headed back to the kitchen.

     Slitting open the still damp business envelopes she pulled out the paperwork. "Nothing important. Just to file when they're completely dry."

     Very slowly and carefully she slit the still slightly soggy third envelope. She laid the two enclosed pieces of paper on to the towel. A lot of the writing had run but she could read some of it. One of the pieces was roughly torn. She examined that piece before realizing it was in her own handwriting. "Oh, God. It's half of the letter I wrote to Andreas about a month ago. Is he so angry that he tore my love letter in half? Why send it back to me?" Megan's warm tears trickled down her cheeks. Very slowly she began to work out what was written on the full page letter. As she worked through it she wrote down the parts she could: 'My d__r M. How miss r talks. Wh__ letter rec____d only h__f. The en____lo__ was t__n in half_______....'

     When she was finished she'd figured out most of it. Her scribbled translation read: "My dear Megan, How I miss our talks. When this letter was received only this part arrived. The envelope was torn in half but enough of my address was still there. I've never received the other half. I put the half back in to show you what part I had. My hope is that I understand from it that you'll still love me and want me to come back after my six month deployment. I'll call you when I get back so we can clarify that. That is what I want. We can have a great life together. Much love to my true love, Andreas".

     With bright eyes shining Megan was shaking with laughter. What a day this had been. What hopes had been regenerated.

Lord of Mighty Fire

By Mandy Eve-Barnett

With a cloak of deep ebony wrapped around his shoulders, Izor descended the stone stairs as they wound ever downward. The air grew colder with each twist of the towers circular staircase. The walls were wet and the constant drip, drip, drip made Izor’s eye rhythmically twitch in time with each water droplet. He rubbed his eye in frustration, immediately regretting the sudden movement as he wavered on a narrow step and gasped. Now, he stood perfectly still, breath held waiting for any sound or movement from below. If his present was detected, his deception and months of planning would be for nothing, and certainly end in his death.

As his lungs began to fight for air he let out a long slow breath and again listened. No sound rose from the depths of the cavern. Izor stepped downward once more towards a faint red glow. The air’s temperature began to change from cold and damp to warm and dry. He was close now. Gripping the glass and metal flask to his chest, he stepped onto flag stones. This was the most dangerous part of his mission. Fear made sweat trickle down his face and back. He needed to keep it in check and concentrate.

A low huffing sound came from the far side of the enormous cavern, the dragon slept, its nostrils flaring with each breath. It was one thing knowing of the beast’s existence, but another to actually see it with his own eyes. Izor’s body froze as his eyes grew wide. With pure power of will, he stepped away from the stairs and held up the flask and began reciting the spell.

Lord of Mighty Fire

Within your magnificent spire

Your gift is powerful and supreme

Give of your fantastic gleam

I offer you the blood of sacrifice

A true and worthy price

Izor waited for the dragon to open its eyes, again reciting the chant over and over in an ever frantic fashion. It was his only protection, or so it was said. Now, he would find out if the tales were true, or false. Will he live or die?

Loving Past Infinity

                        by Karen Probert


One love has lasted - deep, powerful, strong

Through millions of rights, an occasional wrong

Past taken for granted, while stretched apart

First loving is easy; staying together's an art

Standing up for loving right, or drowned in self-doubt

Laughter always overrides tears, giving in, giving out -

This is loving past infinity.


Written by Lana O’Neill


The black and white cackler

Gazes down on me from above

Hopping from far branch to near twig

Sliding from thicker inner to thinner outer

Gurgling in mild weather merriment

Gossiping to the bluey across the street

Who isn’t listening

But watching my hands

Place seventeen unshelled peanuts

Within easy scoop and grab range

Inside an irregular target

Only when my back is turned

And my footsteps recede

Does the urban reaping begin

Ending moments later

When seventeen unshelled peanuts

Have been harvested

Not perfunctorily but clinically

Behind a blur of bluey black and white

Leaving the triangular wooden feeder

Swinging like a drunk cuckoo clock pendulum


'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.

WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING (2018) by Delia Owens

Review by Lana O’Neill

Delia Owens’ 200-word prologue captures the essence of a North Carolina marshland so completely and poetically, that I found myself immediately mesmerized by what I had just learned and a bit jarred by what was to come. Story and plot are lyrically woven into the fabric of the mystery behind a gruesome discovery and the ensuing aspersions thrown on a young woman, a local outcast. Intriguing characters and thoughtful dialogue work seamlessly together to create a novel length ‘poem’ about loneliness, survival and the exhaustive, and oftentimes toxic, search for belonging. Where The Crawdads Sing is a page turner that should be read slowly and with patience in order to properly appreciate the nuances of humanity’s beauty and tragedy so expertly portrayed in Owens’ debut novel.

The Lost Chapter by Caroline Bishop

Review by Mandy Eve-Barnett

What a delightful narrative of lost friendships, misunderstanding, second chances, and renewed hope. I loved the parallel between two of the characters and their inner growth. A must read.

A Great and Terrible Beauty by Gemma Doyle

 Review by Mandy Eve-Barnett

An intriguing story of a school for young ladies and the discovery of an unexpected magical realm. The author has expertly created a wonderful array of characters, all with their own arcs within the main plot. I loved the twist in the tale.


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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