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June 2022 Muse

June 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 June 7, 2022

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

Next Board Meeting: June 14, 2022

Newsletter Submission Deadline: June 27, 2022

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 June 15, 2022

Children's Creative Writing Workshop

Second Monday of each month

Next Meeting June 13, 2022

Reply to the link on our Website

This Month's Submissions

Story written from the prompt:

"You come to a fork in the road but go straight ahead."

It was a T-junction with one of those big yellow and black checkered signs which indicated that you were supposed to turn left or right, no chance of straight ahead. No road straight ahead. But I knew my destination was straight ahead. I had an old map from when there were no paved roads here. I guessed I was going to have to do this the hard way. A car pulled up behind me and stopped so the time had come to be decisive. I turned right. About fifty yards along there was a gravel pull out so I drove in and parked. Gathering a full water bottle, a granola bar, and an apple into my pockets after lacing up my hiking boots, I locked my purse in the trunk before zipping my keys into an inside pocket of my jacket. I walked back to the Y in the road to enter the bush across the ditch. There were many paths - some from people who, by the looks of some droppings, were accompanied by their dogs. "Not good stewards of the land" played in my head. Some paths were from deer - narrow and delicate like their feet. Then I was on a bike path, which seemed to go straight and made it easier to walk without pushing branches aside. After an hour and having climbed over one fence and two small hills, I started looking for a place to sit down to eat my snack. My energy was waning. With the wind hidden by clouds, it was cool although I was sweaty from exertion. A glint of metal showed ahead when the sun popped through the clouds. As I neared that I realized I was out of the woods and into a rectangular clearing where only small trees had sprouted. The area was littered with empty pop and beer cans and plastic bottles. On the right side of the clearing was obviously a fire pit where kids came to drink and party. But there, the most amazing thing, was that the fire pit was actually the base of an old fireplace with the rocks and cement foundation of a house. This was what the kids used to sit on or lean against. This must be the house on my map - the house my great-grandfather built. The house where my grandmother grew up. Before my grandmother died I'd asked her to tell me stories about being young, about living on the farm. She did. She described the house to me. We drew the map together and on the back of the map a floor plan of the house. I now sat on what had been the foundation wall of her tiny bedroom to eat my granola bar and apple. Using the drawing I could imagine the whole house as she had described it to me. As the clouds scudded west and the sun came out I cleared away all the bottles and cans to piles behind the old fireplace. On my notepad I wrote, "Please recycle these." Then I posted the note with a heavy rock on top of the low wall. Lastly, I picked up all the old wrappers and plastic bags, stuffing them into a bag I always carried when I hiked. Before leaving I wrote one other note, fastening it to the old stone mantle over the fire pit, "Please keep this house cleaned up - it is sacred ground."

By Karen Probert

Favourite Toy by Mandy Eve-Barnett

Not a child interested in dolls, I fell in love with a store window display doll sitting in a pram. Initially, the store owner refused to sell it, but my Mother persuaded him. My large dark eyed, black haired doll was my only one. Almost as large as me, I adored her. I called her Tina.

Fleeting glance

A store window

Viewed display

Oh she’s lovely


Refused sale

Irate reaction

Temper tantrum

Eased by promises

Tactical talk

Only this one time

Your doll purchased

An Artist’s Secret by Mandy Eve-Barnett

A broad sweep of purple splashed across the canvas intersecting a pale blue circle. Lawrence squinted at the effect considering the next brush strokes placement. Danielle’s call from the bottom of the attic stairs brought him back to reality. “I should be back by eleven in the morning, Lawrence. See you love.” Lawrence answered with a quick goodbye and sighed with relief. He would have the studio to himself. Turning slightly to his right, he peered at the blobs of acrylic paint. Which colour to use next? Crimson strokes were added to the canvas. Lawrence worked until the natural light faded – he never painted in artificial light as it distorted the colours. As he began to tidy up, he stumbled against the table. Stupid, you know it’s always just there. Try to remember your step, that’s what the eye doctor told him. Lawrence still didn’t know how to tell Danielle, that he was going blind. His paintings were their livelihood. Galleries bid in competition with each other for them. He hid his depression from his wife. A false smile whenever she was around. With great care, he descended the narrow attic stairs, then down into the kitchen. He bumped into the counter leaving a painful hip and a cup and saucer fell to the tiled floor as he passed the breakfast bar. His sight was deteriorating faster than he thought it would. As he felt along the counter, his fingers came into contact with a piece of paper. Lawrence squinted at it but his wife’s writing was too blurred to make out the words. Danielle must have left food for him but first, he needed to clear up the broken crockery. Arms outstretched he made his way to the broom cupboard. I’ll have to memorize all of this and remember my step count. Eventually, he grabbed the dust pan and brush and turned toward the counter again. Stretching out his foot, he found the smashed china and bent to scoop it up. As he knelt down, the enormity of his condition hit him once again. How would he continue to paint when he was totally blind? Was it even possible? Would Danielle leave him? Could he look after himself if she did? Up until now, he had managed to hide his diminishing sight from her. She fussed over him so that luckily she hadn’t noticed his hesitation in walking and he used clues from her conversation, so he could pretend to notice the bird on the back porch or the actor on the TV. But now was probably the time to tell her the truth and what would be would be. In the attic studio, the painting dripped down onto the floor. One half of the canvas splashed with colour, the other totally bare.

The Breakup

Edith sat alone at the bar of the restaurant nursing a vodka martini waiting for the dinner date to arrive. She had made a reservation earlier. Her black diagonal slit, belted midi dress showed off the curves of her thirty-eight-year-old frame, one she worked so hard to maintain, it went well with her well-coiffed dark hair and diamond stud earrings. Completing her ensemble was a pair of black slingback pumps and a knockoff St. Laurent black purse that could fool any woman able to get close enough to inspect. She didn’t have to wait very long.

A pretty young woman in her mid-twenties wearing a floral print cocktail dress was seated at a table by the restaurant hostess. Edith watched as a waiter soon came by and placed a plastic vase containing a dozen red roses in the center of the table. She couldn’t hear what was said, but she could tell by the young woman’s sparkling eyes and bright smile the flowers had worked their magic. Edith tossed back the remainder of the drink she had paid for upon ordering.

“Show time,” she said to herself.

Edith got up, sauntered over to the young woman’s table, and seated herself opposite the now shocked young woman. Edith pushed the flowers off to one side allowing a better view of the young woman and the remarkable crafted pendant that hung from her neck.

“Hello,” said Edith looking at the young woman. “Glad to see the flowers arrived. Just thought I better come by to tell you Charles will not be coming tonight or ever.”

Just then a waiter appeared. “Can I get you ladies anything from our bar?”

Edith turned to the waiter and replied, “I’ll have a …sidecar.”She turned to the young woman expecting her to say something. The young lady seemed catatonic. Edith addressed the waiter. “She’ll have a champagne cocktail. We’re celebrating.”

The waiter smiled and nodded. “I’ll be right back with those drinks.” He turned on his heel and left.

Edith returned her attention to the young woman. She said nothing, enjoying the awkward moment. She knew the young woman was aware of who she was.

Finally, Edith said, “That’s a very nice locket you have there. I have one just like it.”

The young woman cleared her throat and seemed to come out of her stupor.

“It’s not a locket. It’s a pendant,” she said meekly as her hand moved to cover it.

“No. It’s a locket. There’s a trick to opening it.” Edith held out her hand. “Don’t worry. I’m not going to break it or throw it across the room. I want to show you that it does open.”

The young woman looked at Edith’s hand then at Edith. Slowly, her hands moved behind her neck to open the small clasp on the chain. She removed the pendent.

“You promise?” she asked tentatively.

“Yes, yes.”

She put the pendent and chain in Edith’s hand. Edith pulled her hand back immediately began fiddling with it.

“My grandfather liked puzzles. He had the jeweler put a secret button on it so nobody could open it unless you knew how.”

The locket popped open in her hand. Edith looked at the pictures contained inside. Then she leaned over the table to display the inside to the young woman. The young woman leaned forward to see better.

Just then the waiter arrived. He placed the drinks on the table. Edith interrupted before he could begin.

“We’ll need a couple more minutes, if that’s all right.”

The waiter nodded and left. With her free hand Edith picked up her drink and took a swallow.

“Gawk,” she said after tasting it. “Why did I order that?” She set the drink on the table.

The young woman didn’t touch hers. She kept staring at the small black and white pictures inside the locket.

“This is my mother and this is my grandmother,” said Edith indicating each with her finger. Her eyes began to water. Then her face contorted into an animal snarl. “He had no right giving you this!” she said quietly as she restrained herself from coming over the table. She snapped it shut.

The young woman sat back in her chair; fear etched across her face.

Edith took a deep breath and slowly let it out. She picked up her black purse and opened it. The distraught thirty-eight-year-old woman dropped the locket and chain into the purse then removed a folded sheet of paper.

“You are probably wondering how I found out,” began Edith. She picked up her napkin and dabbed her eyes. Neither said anything. Once composed she began.

“I’ve known since you and Charles began emailing each other. Years ago, I hacked into his account so I could keep tabs on him. You are not the first dalliance he’s had, by the way. It was when you sent this heart-felt emailed love letter…” She dropped the printed page on the table. “…that I finally decided to act and set you straight. I was the one who emailed you stating that I had agreed to divorce him. I was the one who set today up.” She paused picked up the brandy and orange flavoured drink and finished it.

She grimaced again. “How do people drink this stuff?” She returned the empty glass to the table. She rose and loomed over at the frightened young woman.

“You are to stop seeing him. If you try calling you will find his cell phone number is no longer in service. If you try an email, all you will find is me. Try any other form of social media, all you will find is me. You two are done. Am I clear?” Before the young woman could respond Edith answered, “Good!”

Edith straightened up. “Enjoy the flowers.” And with that she turned and left the restaurant.

John Wheeler

'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 Smart One by Jennifer Close

A glimpse into a family's thoughts, their interactions and events that cause friction, reassessment and belonging. Well crafted characters that you will become involved with, finding some similarities within your own family dynamics, others far from your experience. Mandy Eve-Barnett TASTE: MY LIFE THROUGH FOOD (2021) by Stanley Tucci

Review by Lana O’Neill

Everyone loves Italian food! This was apparent when I hastily scanned the pages of Stanley Tucci’s recent memoir, Taste: My Life Through Food. Italian influenced recipes were scattered throughout the book and I couldn’t wait to see the standouts he chose to include and possibly try out for myself (maybe not the stiff drinks). It was like having dessert before the main course. Yum! But, as I immersed myself in this intimate telling of the foods that defined various stages of this actor’s life, I realized that I had merely sampled an aperitif, so to speak. Stories and food are a successful pairing and for good reason. Both can be enjoyed with family, friends and even strangers while imprinting everlasting memories easily and often times, unexpectedly conjured up by the faintest aroma connected to a moment in time. Tucci goes back to his childhood and through the years with astonishing clarity, deadpan humor and human insight resulting in an entertaining main course that left me wanting more by the time I finished the last page. I guess that’s what the recipes are for, including the Martini, Negroni and Old- Fashioned!

The Last Time They Met by Anita Shreve Review by Mandy Eve-Barnett

I really enjoyed this character base narrative. I was drawn into the story's characters and their internal dialogues. The format of living their lives backwards was a unique and novel way to write the book. The ending was very unexpected!

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

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