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July 2023 Newsletter

July 2023

July 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 July 4, 2023

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

Next Board Meeting: July 11, 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: July 19, 2023

Children's Creative Writing Workshop

Second Thursday of each month

Next Meeting July 13, 2023

Reply to the link on our Website

This Month's Submissions

A Princely Imposter

By Mandy Eve-Barnett

The reservation caused excitement and expectation from the hotel staff. It was the main topic of conversation in the staff locker room, the kitchen, and whilst working on room service tasks. The hotel manager, Mr. Grafton, frowned and quieted his staff upon hearing the gossip and conjecture. To his way of thinking celebrities were, for the most part, self-absorbed and downright rude. The hotel’s reputation as a select venue for actors, well known businessmen, and the occasional senator, ensured its popularity. Until now though, no royalty had graced their building.

Mr. Grafton took it upon himself to organize every detail of the royal’s visit, from ensuring the penthouse suite was freshly painted, new linens and décor items purchased, and the door locks changed. No staff members were allowed entry without his presence. He kept the solitary master key clipped to his waistcoat pocket. On the day of arrival, eager anticipation within the hotel walls was palatable. Mr. Grafton stood tall in a newly purchased three-piece black suit and crisp white shirt at the entrance as a Rolls Royce parked in front of the hotel. Faces pressed against the windows on every level of the six-story building, everyone wanting a first glimpse of the Saudi prince.

The chauffeur opened the rear door and out stepped a man wearing a traditional white Robe and a keffiyeh around his head. Everyone caught a glimpse of a dark beard and bejeweled hands before he entered the foyer. Bowing from his waist, Mr. Grafton welcomed their guest and motioned for his luggage to be taken to the penthouse. There was a scurry of footsteps prior to the manager’s deep frown and a quick word for decorum to the bell boys. He escorted the prince to the elevator and bowed again, proclaiming he was at the prince’s beck and call twenty-four seven. The dark-haired man nodded his head and entered the elevator accompanied by a heavy-set man in a dark suit, a noticeable bulge on the left side of the jacket.

Within the hour, the kitchen sent up the preferred delicacies requested by the prince and delivery overseen by the straight-backed manager. Upon his return to his office, Mr. Grafton, triple checked the prince’s itinerary and requests before his rounds of the kitchen, dining room, lounge, and bar. He went through the staffing schedules and made notes. For a week the prince was afforded every request without exception, including having the swimming pool closed for his private swim every morning at nine o’clock. Meals were prepared to his specifications, and always served in the penthouse. The prince only left the hotel once a day, his destination unknown.

The prince’s departure was once again viewed from every conceivable viewpoint and a collective sigh from the staff issued as tension was released. Mr. Grafton returned home for the first time in seven days, after sleeping in his office all week. The prince assured the manger the account would be settled forthwith as he exited the foyer in a sway of white robes. Two weeks later the substantial bill was still outstanding. Mr. Grafton’s numerous attempts to contact the prince’s staff to secure payment were unanswered. A month later a newspaper headline shocked the staff, but most of all Mr. Grafton. A man pretending to be a Saudi prince had traveled from state to state, staying in numerous hotels and racking up huge expenses was arrested in Washington. His duplicity discovered when a real Saudi prince happened to stay at the same hotel and advised staff, he did not know the man staying in the executive suite, but also knew he was no relation.


Haiku written by Lana O’Neill

Fiery sun bears down

Scorch tattoos blaze earth’s skin

Squirrels yipe through spruce

Furious parched wind

Leaves a round of twirling dust

Settle into dusk

Empty cloud vessels

Smoke pillows smother skies blue

Ash chokes back rain

Willow branches sway

Nearby oak stand rooted deep

Balance fighting back

© Lana O’Neill 2023

Dream On

by Karen Probert

The dream settles in. Starting at the beginning like it has for seventeen nights in a row. Marlin lies still while "Why? Why? Why?" Runs through his brain. "I need sleep. I'm tired. Why this dream? What does it relate to? What does it mean?"

The dream unsettles Marlin. It had started the night after his daughter had driven off to college. She isn't in the dream.

Everything is going smoothly his daughter says. She likes her dorm room and since her roommate is a long-term great friend Angi tells Marlin often how great her life is. He believes her when she texts him and especially when he hears her lilting voice on the phone several times a week.

The dream has someone in it that Marlin doesn't know, has never seen. Marlin's only child is Angi. He raised her alone after Arlene died while giving birth to her. Arlene isn't in the dream either. Marlin believes that Angi is Arlene's soul in a new body but isn't sure if this is really possible.

The main person in the dream is a stranger. He's male. He's dark skinned with a beard and deeply-socketed black eyes. He's tall. He's young. When he smiles Marlin sees white teeth and laughing eyes. He moves through the dream as if he belongs there but isn't in a place Marlin knows or with other people who Marlin knows.

At 2:10 AM Marlin is sitting up in bed. Each night the dream is longer, more complex, more colorful. Each time he dreams it a detail or two is added. This is the second detail tonight so far. Marlin reaches for the notebook beside the bed. He adds the detail to the list before lying back down. He started the list on the third night of the dream. It has thirty-three details. Tonight Marlin has added ' blue cotton shirt' and now 'tan shoes'. He already has 'khaki pants' on the list and 'divers watch'. Older details are about the background which Marlin doesn't recognize although he can tell it is spring as the trees are budding. In the reality of Marlin's life it is October where both Marlin and Angi live. Arlene died in the spring. 'Is that relevant?' Marlin scowls in his sleep, rolls over again and again and thinks about Arlene's beautiful face as he falls asleep while trying to decipher what this is all about.

Yesterday he went through Angi's old high school yearbooks to see if the dream man is someone she knows. There were no matches. Angi had told him three days ago that she plans to go to some social events but isn't interested in dating until she figures out how things work in her new digs. Marlin trusts Angi but not necessarily the rest of the world.

"She'll be home on the weekend. It's Thanksgiving. I'll ask her then about a few things that I've thought about."

When Marlin falls back asleep he makes it through to 7:10 and feels better, even a bit more hopeful than some previous mornings. Marlin spends the morning on two Zoom meetings and working a proposal. At noon he goes out to buy some specialty foods that Angi likes - bagels, cream cheese, avocadoes, and oranges. At home he puts them away before checking her room is clean and her favorite towels are out in her bathroom. With only one night to go he's already excited and looking forward.

At 7:30 the next morning Marlin wakes up in a fog. It seems like he has slept through the whole night. After his 8 AM video conference he looks at his notebook beside the bed. There are no notes, no memory of waking in the night. "What has happened to the dark stranger who had invaded my sleep for eighteen nights? Will he be back? What has changed?"

Angi texts at 4:30. "On our way. See you soon. Dropping off a new friend who lives about 10 minutes from us."

When Angi arrives about 7 Marlin has snacks ready. He's been pacing for at least twenty minutes. He and Angi enjoy a great reunion and dinner together including lots of news and laughter. She tells Marlin about some of her new friends. They all sound interesting so she shows Marlin some photos on her phone. Marlin gasps which sets off a coughing spell.

"What happened Dad?" Angi asks as she pounds on his back between his shoulders. "You okay?"

Marlin squeaks "Who is that man in the blue shirt and tan shoes? Where is that park with trees turning golden?"

"On campus, Dad. It's beautiful. And that's Amir. He's the friend I drove home. Why?"

Marlin can't answer. He needs to dream.

'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 Shadow Sister by Lucinda Riley

Review by Mandy Barnett

A wonderful narrative that immersed me in the world of Star. Her doubts, emotions, fears and wants. An intriguing plot that enticed me to read on and become engaged with the characters, who were beautifully described and compelling. The story's setting was clearly visible in my mind's eye.

Highly recommended.

ATLAS: The Story of Pa Salt (2023) by Lucinda Riley and Harry Whittaker

Review by Lana O’Neill

A recent holiday in London coincided with the May 11 release of ATLAS by Lucinda Riley (co-written by her son, Harry Whittaker). I was not about to miss the opportunity to purchase the eighth and final book in the Seven Sisters series, where ‘everything would be revealed.’ On a wet afternoon in Trafalgar Square, I found a Waterstones bookstore and ducked inside to make my purchase. At £22, the value was found in 764 pages of new story, a Waterstones exclusive edition with extra material at the end and a personal anecdote shared by the store clerk. His co-worker, whom he pointed out, went to the same church as Harry Whittaker when she was a child! Sadly, Lucinda Riley passed away in 2021 so it was left to her son, Harry, to tell the final tale. Six books of characters, destinations and personal struggles come together in Geneva, Switzerland but only after the remaining story of Atlas (Pa Salt anagram) is revealed. Fans of the series will appreciate the care Whittaker took with his mother’s darlings while providing a satisfying closure. For me, a chance to travel the world, learn about the stars and believe in fate provided a welcome escape. RIP Lucinda.

The First Time Lauren Pailing Died by Alyson Rudd Reviewed by Mandy Eve-Barnett This was an exceptional narrative, especially as its theme is a subject I love. Imagine you live more than one life in parallel? Most of us never knowing about the other life, oblivious to it. But Lauren does know and that is what makes this book so remarkable. It is captivating.

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:

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

“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 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 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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