top of page

January 2024 Newsletter

January 2024

January 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

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

Next date Jan 2, 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: Jan 9, 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: Jan 17, 2024

Children's Creative Writing Workshop

Second Thursday of each month

Next Meeting Jan 11, 2024

Reply to the link on our Website

This Month's Submissions

Last Christmas by Wham

Mandy Eve-Barnett


“I love you with a passion, darling, you have my heart.”

Jeremy’s declaration in the front seat of the car dispersed into the heated air, as he drove to the Christmas party. Michelle did not answer just smiled and gazed out at the wintery streets as they passed. It was not the reaction he’d expected. All year long their relationship grew from acquaintances to friends and eventually to lovers. She was his perfect, his one, and to show his adoration he’d bought a special gift for her. A ring.

As he drew up to the house, sounds of merriment could be heard and coupled with the bright lights twinkling and flashing it made the evening all the more festive. Jeremy turned to kiss Michelle before exiting the vehicle, but she was already halfway out of the door. He frowned but got out and locked the car. She grabbed his arm as they walked up the driveway and his anxious worry disappeared.

The house was full of revelers some more merry than others by the slurring of welcome and unsteadiness of their gait. Discarding their coats in top of a pile on an entryway sofa, they entered the throng of merriment. A huge Christmas tree stood in one corner, music blared from the stereo and mistletoe hung from every vantage point known to man. Jeremy leaned into Michelle’s ear to ask what she would like to drink. She answered a tall gin and tonic. He saw anxiousness in her eyes, but why.

Then he saw her – Adele – standing by the bar, her laugh infectious and loud. Now he knew the reason for Michelle’s hesitation to come. No one had told him his ex-girlfriend would be present. He kissed Michelle within a hug and went to the kitchen to grab their drinks.

Freddy was chatting to several revelers and looked up at Jeremy. He held up his hands before Jeremy could speak.

“I know, I didn’t know she was coming either. Heather kept it on the down low. She knew you would not come if you knew. When Adele walked in I was going to call you, but realized you would already be on your way. I’m sorry mate.”

Jeremy gave his friend a hefty slap on the back, and then said. “As long as she keeps away from me and Michelle, it’s all good on my part, but I’m not too sure about Michelle. If she feels uncomfortable we will leave.”

Michelle was standing in exactly the same spot when he got back with their drinks. She leaned in to whisper.

“Did you know she was here?”

“Absolutely, not! Come on let’s go in the other room.”

As the party progressed, the alcohol lessened their inhibitions and when Michelle was elsewhere Adele approached him.

“Hey, stranger, how are you?”

Jeremy couldn’t help his response. After all she’d dumped him last Christmas. “Oh, just peachy thanks, I’ve found someone who really loves me.”

Adele’s smile faded and she looked downward. “I know I was a shit, Jeremy, but when cupid’s arrow hits what can you do?”

“You’re full of it, Adele, you know that? You could have broken up with me before Christmas. Not broken my heart after I gifted you that brooch. By the way where is it?”

Jeremy liked the guilt that crossed her face, and then bit his lip as she drew back her bolero from her dress.

There it was in all its glory, the diamonds sparkling in the light.

She unpinned it and handed to him. “I don’t deserve it. I am sorry.”

Jeremy took the brooch and put it in his pocket. His eyes met Michelle’s across the room. She gave a small smile and raised her glass. This Christmas he really was giving his heart to someone that deserved it.

The Sights, Sounds, Smells, Taste and Touch of Christmas

By John Wheeler

Do you see the lights, shine in December?

Reminding us of, friends to remember.

And decorating, evergreens so bright.

Festive holiday, Christmas time done right.


Do you hear the noise, the cacophony?

Of irate parents and their progeny.

The old yuletide tunes in the shopping mall,

blaring “Its Christmas, God bless one and all.”


Do you smell baking, that’s made from the heart?

Gingerbread, shortbread, and sweet butter tart.

And then a turkey. Biggest one ever!

A bouquet of smells, mixing together.


Do you taste Christmas? Once all the work’s done!

The turkey, the yams, potato, and bun.

Wonderful flavours, from heaven on high.

Then out comes dessert, a freshly baked pie.


Do you touch Christmas, as it approaches?

The holiday mood, gift overdoses.

With tidings of cheer, a question is due.

Can you touch Christmas? Or does it touch you?

After Christmas

                                   by Karen Probert

After they took the tree down Dan drove it to the open lot from where it would be hauled away, chopped into mulch to be distributed under trees in local parks. He felt righteous because it would not be wasted. On returning home he made hot chocolate for Anita with lots of mini marshmallows. He added a lot of Baileys to the mug before pouring in the chocolaty drink. He poured himself a double shot of scotch over one ice cube. 

     Sitting on the floor Anita had begun to look at each bauble off the tree. If the damage was just minute or not at all she placed it in the empty egg carton or box. If she thought a repair would be simple she set it on a tray from the kitchen. If it was crushed, crumpled or smashed she dropped it into the garbage bag or swept it up and put it there. 

     Dan noticed the stiffness of her shoulders and the tear streaks on her soft cheeks. Planting a kiss on the top of her head her said, "I'll help, love. Here's some hot chocolate".

     "Thanks, Danny. Can the chair be fixed do you think or just thrown out? Brando hit it really hard when he went down. I think the leg is broken."

     After one sip Dan put his scotch down before lifting the chair off the floor where it had fallen on its side. One back leg was on a bad angle. The leg shuddered as the chair was picked up. Where the bottom covering in that corner had torn he could see that the joint was indeed broken. "I think it has had its last sitter" Dan sighed as he carried it out to the garage.

     Coming back Dan waved at his neighbour George who had called "Great Christmas. Love the snow. Hope you all had a great time." Dan chose not to respond.

     Anita had cleared away all the debris in the living room. She stacked the cards that had been strewn across the floor and furniture. She'd unplugged the twinkle lights over the curtains and wound them up to be stored until next year. When Dan touched her arm she spun around with fear bright on her face. Then she sank against his chest as sobs pounded out of her. "All ruined. All destroyed. Even the good memories from the past are gone. Brando and Dad ruined it all. I won't do this again. Not ever. We can't."

     When the phone rang Dan looked at the screen. "It's your Mom."

     "No. I won't talk to her. She'll say it was an accident. She'll say it was the tension of being laid off from work that had Dad so uptight. She'll offer to pay for the ornaments and tree. She'll ask me to forgive them. I don't want her rationalization or her money."

     Dan pressed stop to end the call. He turned airplane mode on the phone knowing that otherwise it wouldn't stop ringing for hours. "Do you want to go for a walk, Anita? It's lovely outside and might help us to feel better."

     "Yes. Let's get out of here."

     With boots, scarves, hats, jackets and mittens on they walked for an hour in the frosty air until the sun was beginning to set. They talked about Brando bringing wine after being told "No Liquor". They talked about Dad walking unsteadily on the way in and dropping the box of gifts Mom had carefully wrapped. "Since we couldn't bring liquor I decided to have a few first." he'd stated before bellowing out a laugh. They talked about Anita planning the feast for early afternoon so everyone would go home before dark when Mom couldn't drive. That plan at least had worked. As the presents were handed out and been opened there'd been no surprises. Brando had bought all his gifts at the liquor store and brought them in colourful bags he's purchased there. Mom, as always, gave everyone socks and gloves, scarves and gift cards from McDonalds and Boston Pizza. Dad gave everyone a card with a $50.00 bill inside. Brando had wanted everyone to taste the liquor he'd bought for them. Everyone said, "Not today, Brando". He yelled at Dad "Mine not good enough for you?" and Dad yelled back "Never was!" Then before anyone could react both men got up and pushed each other. Brando even belted Dad's chest with a fist. Dad stumbled against the tree which crashed against the dining room table and rolled to the floor. Mom kept saying "Stop this silliness. Sit down both of you." But Dad ran at Brando hitting him on the side of his bad knee. That's when Brando, all 280 pounds of him, fell onto the chair and hit his head on the wall. Dan had stepped in, grabbed Dad and took him to the front hall to get into his boots and coat. Mom and Anita had supported Brando till he stood up. They held him there until Dan came back.

     "Dad's ready to leave now. He's in the car. Mom, please get your coat on. Here are your car keys. I'll pack up your gifts and meet you in the front hall." Anita had taken Brando into the kitchen and given him a glass of water. She'd turned off the oven. The smell of turkey was in the air. She checked to see if Brando had any injuries. Calmly she spoke, "That was unfair, Brando. After Mom and Dad are gone you can get on your outdoor stuff on. I'll put your gifts in your backpack. You'll be okay to walk home but you can't have your car keys. I'll drop them in your mailbox tomorrow." As Brando started to object, in a quiet but firm voice Anita hissed, "Shut up. Just shut up. As usual you and Dad ruined everything so just shut up!" Brando did as he was told.

     When Dan and Anita returned home they managed to eat some of the turkey and vegetables. They decided to open a bottle of wine and exchange their own small gifts to each other. Slowly a calmness had taken over. Dan quietly said, "Next year let's go on a cruise over Christmas." Anita smiled for the first time all day. "Great idea. We'll just tell everybody starting now so it's no surprise. Let's make that our new Christmas tradition."

'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.

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.

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

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

Want to change how you receive these emails?

4 views0 comments


bottom of page