top of page

January 2022 Muse

January 2022

“Read, read, read. Read everything  —  trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You'll absorb it. Then write. If it's good, you'll find out. If it's not, throw it out of the window.” — William Faulkner

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

Writers Circle Virtual Sharing Meeting online

Next date December 7, 2021

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

Next Board Meeting: January 4, 2022

Newsletter Submission Deadline: January 25, 2022

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 Jan 19, 2022

Children's Creative Writing Workshop

Second Thursday of each month

Next Meeting January 13, 2022

Reply to the link on our Website

This Month's Submissions

The Tree

by Henry Martell

The snow is falling heavily as I cross the field. I can still see clearly enough, the flakes are large and fall softly to the ground where they cover everything in an airy, fluffy cover. The air isn’t severely cold and doesn’t catch one’s breath of freeze the eyelids. When I was younger and made this trip with my dad, we had some days that were worse than this and dad always said to just dress properly.

As my sister got old enough, she joined our fun expedition and for years we all went out together across this same field to the forest at the far end. That forest had a multitude of spruce trees to choose from, and we could cut a tree down each Christmas and never run out of trees. Those days were the best times, everyone happy and excited. We tried to pick a clear and sunny day, not bitter cold. Mom would pack us a lunch with thermoses full of hot drinks. We would be out most of the day crossing the field, picking out a tree, cutting and hauling it back to the house. Once there, we had to trim it to fit, put it into the stand and then into the house.

After set-up, we would huddle around a fire in the fireplace and talked about our great trek and decorate the tree. Needless to say we would fall exhausted into bed afterwards. Today, all the old excitement and anticipation is gone. I hate the way things are now. I hate the truck that spun out in front of my dad’s car a year ago. They declared him dead at the scene, and we never got to say good bye. But that wasn’t all, something in my mom and sister died way as well. Mom never smiles or laughs like she used to and my sister wallows in a funk all the time, never coming out of her room. At the funeral one of my uncles came up to me, put his arm on my shoulder and said, “You’re the man of the house now, Jeremy. It’s up to you to do all the things your dad would have done. I’ll be there to help you if you need it, just call.”

I had no idea what he meant by that. Did he expect me to take his place? I was a different person than my dad and all I wanted was for everything to go back the way it was. I’m out here now all by myself, pulling the toboggan to haul the tree across this old field, in a perhaps futile attempt to do just that. I thought my sister might come with me, but she didn’t care. Mom didn’t seem to either, she only said, “Anything you want to do, dear, you go ahead.” I did get a glimmer of hope when I asked my sister if I got a tree would she want to help decorate. She answered, “Maybe, I don’t know.” That was enough to justify my whole trip. One thing leads to another and in the morning, mom got up and made me a lunch and hot drinks, like she did all those years before and wished me well on my way. I started to believe things would be start being better now. This one little thing would help everyone heal and come out of their grief and start living again. At least that’s what I’m hoping will happen.

Permission and Hope

I lose hope

You are slipping away

Not all at once

Bit by bit

Faster than before

You retreat

Come back

Retreat a little more

Old clichés of

Light bulb not on

Elevator stuck


Then you are back

A smile – A joke

A remembrance

Hope ever eternal

Springs back

The fight is still there

A little

Not much

The pull of others

Stronger than mine

I give permission

You smile

I tell you I love you

You smile

Who is giving who

Permission and hope.

Marilyn Spilchen (08)

Limbo-land by Mandy Eve-Barnett

We all know the strange limbo-land between Christmas and New Year. A land of past and future. The Christmas celebrations are over, but memories remain. The glitz of the holiday décor is still shining, but with an absence of gifts and anticipation. Leftover meals are the norm – turkey this and that- accompanied with moans of ‘not again!’ echoing over the dining table. Half boxes of chocolates and sweet cookies scatter tables and shelves, tempting some to taste, while others resist. Gifts are put away, to use, or keep for another day. We think on our excesses - too much alcohol, too much food, too many treats partaken. Pine needles fall as the tree begins to whither, needles prickling under foot,falling into crevices, and appearing for months to come. The hustle and bustle, frantic preparations and worry, vanish leaving us with a feeling of anticlimax and tiredness. We slouch on the sofa, watch mindless shows feeling at a loss after so much activity. Some may use this time to reorganize, restock, renew, while others feel undecided and goalless.

As we languish in this limbo-land feeling heavy and worn, gradually a spark begins to form. A new celebratory opportunity awaits. Party plans are made, and excitement builds again as family and friends look forward to a New Year. The stroke of midnight is filled with kisses, hugs and new promise. We once again find new purpose and are full of possibilities, goals, tasks and ideas. Expectations are highfor a new year, a new start, a new you – everything is possible. We pack away the decorations letting the house breath again with a lightness and uncluttered space. We may be missing the glitter and sparkle but find satisfaction in a fresh home. It gives us the opportunity to begin with a clean slate as we go forward into unchartered country – a New Year.


This is an official notice of a SPECIAL MEETING for all members to vote on the revisions to the WFSC Bylaws.

Your presence is required to ensure the change is voted on as per the Bylaw mandate.

The special meeting will be held on 11th January at 6:30 pm via a Zoom link, which will be sent to you prior to the meeting and after your RSVP of attendance to this email.

Please SVP your attendance.

Thank you for your support in your writing group.

The Board

'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.

The Bookshop at Water’s End by Patti Callahan Henry

A great story of self inflicted expectations, loss, life's struggles and the strength of bonds within family and friends. I enjoyed being immersed in the town, its people and the elements and situations surrounding it. Well crafted characters and plot arc. A really good read.

Happy New Year!

Review by Mandy Eve-Barnett


Review by Lana O’Neill

There can be no confusion about the order of events in this murder mystery written by P.D. James. The Murder Room is divided into three headings: the people and places, the first victim, the second victim, and the third victim. A logical mind will appreciate this and sink into their armchair, detecting with confidence alongside Commander Adam Dalgleish and his Special Investigation Squad from New Scotland Yard. Red herrings abound, as with any mystery to be solved. But for me, the hope of aiding and abetting Dalgleish’s investigation vanished into the maze of James’ articulate and extensive descriptions within the first hundred pages (a red herring in and of itself). By the time the first victim met his demise, I was playing a game of cat and mouse with character motives and more theories than my memory could process. The thrill of the climax was eclipsed by how I felt when it crept up on me during the wee hours and chilled my spine despite the heat of a cozy blanket. James successfully immersed me into the lives of her characters and as such, created a first-hand witness to a crime.

THE GRAVEYARD BOOK (2008) by Neil Gaiman

Review by Lana O’Neill

Neil Gaiman teaches an excellent Masterclass on the art of storytelling. In it, he references his 2008 tale for children 10 and up (plus this adult), The Graveyard Book, when explaining character motivations and desires. He read an excerpt about how a human baby named Bod (short for Nobody) came to live in a graveyard while being raised by ghosts. I was immediately disappointed that I read that lesson at night because I couldn’t go to the library that instant to borrow it. But when I did get my hands on it and read through the fantasy/horror story, I was left absolutely enchanted by how Gaiman was able to invoke my long-gone child’s imagination and leave me with that sense of wonder undoubtedly reserved for his intended audience. Despite the title, this story is about living life to its fullest…a beautiful lesson to learn at any age.

OUR DARKEST NIGHT (2021) by Jennifer Robson

Review by Lana O’Neill

I met Jennifer Robson when she was promoting her 2014 book, Somewhere in France, during an author’s program through our Strathcona County library. I purchased a copy and went on to learn about a moment in time during the Great War while enjoying the story within about a woman’s desire for independence amid the confines of British polite society and the uncertainty of war. Robson’s most recent novel, Our Darkest Night, was found in the Hot Off the Express section of our Strathcona County library. I was immediately transported to 1940’s Venice during World War II and the world of an Italian Jewish woman named Antonina (Nina for most of the story). The skill to immerse the reader into a time and place through the eyes and emotions of her character is, at first, unnoticed. Only when feelings of despair, fear, and utter sadness creep in during Nina’s moment in time amid the evils of the holocaust, can the reader appreciate (and in my case, step away for a breather) the commitment Jennifer Robson made to telling this story in such a way that only a very unfortunate few can verify.

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 2021 - 2022 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 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

Want to change how you receive these emails?

2 views0 comments


bottom of page