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March 2022 Muse

March 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 March 1, 2022

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

Next Board Meeting: March 8, 2022

Newsletter Submission Deadline: March 28, 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 March 16, 2022

Children's Creative Writing Workshop

Second Thursday of each month

Next Meeting March 10, 2022

Reply to the link on our Website

This Month's Submissions

Sewn Wish by Mandy Eve-Barnett

Rachel smiled as her grandmother patted the seat beside her. This was Rachel’s most favourite place in the world. Up close to Grandma Posy and in her lavender-scented sewing room, converted from a spare bedroom in the old Victoria house. The sun always seemed to shine through the large bay window. Rachel sat transfixed watching her grandmother’s fingers deftly dart the needle back and forth through yards of fabric. It was a warm comforting place to be and no matter what type of costume Rachel asked for, Grandma was able to make it to perfection. Silks, satins, cotton or even gauze were no problem for the expert fingers and skill her grandmother possessed.

This particular costume was very special, as Rachel wanted to impress her new boyfriend at a fancy dress party. All her school friends had been excitedly telling her what they would be wearing. There were the usual princess’ and glamour girl outfits but Rachel really wanted to stand out. She had pondered many options but none were good enough. Danny had to gasp when she descended the stairs. Eventually, frustration drove her to Grandma Posy.

“Grandma, I need your help.”

“Well, of course, my darling, what can I do?”

"I need a costume that will be unique for a party but all I can think of are the mundane mermaids, vampires, and princesses. They are all so boring.”

“Let’s put our thinking caps on then.”

Now Rachel sat contentedly watching a gossamer garment form into a sparkling vision. As her Grandma attached star-shaped crystals and sequins, Rachel’s excitement grew. She was confident in the knowledge that no one else would be a shooting star at the party.

Texting by Karen Probert

The text read, HELP. I’m off the highway. Snowing. Mark replied, What highway? Where? It’s not snowing here. Leanne looked over his shoulder at the phone. “First thing we need to know is who sent the text.” Mark tapped the screen to make a number come up, but neither of them recognized it. “Don’t know. But we have to do something.” Mark texted, What’s your name? Where are you? The phone buzzed. Casey. In my truck. Highway 567 near Airdrie. “God, that’s a long way from here. I’m going over to the RCMP detachment. Are you coming, Leanne?” Leanne looked up, startled, and then grabbed her coat and purse. “Yeah. I need to know. Let’s go.” In the office, they showed an officer the series of texts. Looking at Mark and Leanne, both straight in the eye, he asked, “You don’t know a Casey?” “No, sir, we don’t. But we’d like him to get the help he needs.” Mark looked straight back at the officer. “We’ll do that. I’ll send a report now to the local detachment there. They’ll find him.” Leanne leaned forward with her hands on the desk. Her eyes were brimming with tears. “How will we know he gets rescued? We need to know or we’ll worry all night.” Office Johnson smiled at her. “An officer out of Cochrane is on his way now. He has reports of two vehicles off in that area. It’s snowing hard there tonight he said. I’ll tell him to have Casey text you when he’s safe. Okay?” “That’s good. I’m glad we could help. Maybe we’ll meet him someday,” Mark said as they got up to leave. “Amazing what you can do with a cell phone even if you don’t know the person calling.” Leanne took Mark’s hand. “I feel a lot better. I didn’t know what to do before. Coming here was a great idea.” At home they left the phone on the table. It seemed to haunt them. Mark kept turning it on to check that it still had power. Leafing through a magazine didn’t hold Leanne’s attention for long. She wandered into the kitchen. She hummed a tune, but lost her concentration before the end of it. She decided to make some dinner although she wasn’t feeling hungry. As they were clearing the plates the phone vibrated against the table. Mark snatched it up. The text read, Thanks. Safe! Truck’s been towed to Cochrane. Thanks again. Leanne grabbed the phone and texted back, Glad to hear. Stay safe. Stay in touch, before she started to cry. A large bouquet of flowers arrived three days later with a note, Can we meet next time I’m in Edmonton? Text me. Casey. Three months later Mark’s phone buzzed just as he arrived home from work. He was surprised that the house was dark. Where is Leanne? In the dark, he could see the lighted text. Hey, Mark. Casey and I have flown to Cancun. I know you’re surprised, but I’ll explain when we get back on the 4th.

A New Beginning

by Karen Probert

His father used to say, "Oh, buck up. It isn't so bad."

His mother said nothing. She'd just give him a look that said it all - "Don't upset your father with your little problems. He has enough problems without adding yours."

But it was bad, really bad when his skin turned red in huge blotches and then deep purple after the pustules burst to spray the mirror in the bathroom with bloody pus. The scars were deep like pits. That's what the kids at school called him - 'Pits'.

Carl stopped swimming. He stopped showering in the school locker room as his upper back and butt were riddled with the same rupturing boils. When he applied for the Junior Camp Leader job his mother had to take him to a doctor to have a medical certificate signed. "I'll wait outside," she said when the nurse called Carl into the office.

Dr. Adams examined Carl, weighed him, took his blood pressure, and printed out a request for blood work. He read the form from the camp and filled in parts of it as he went along. As he worked he asked Carl questions about what he ate, what he used to wash and shampoo his hair, how he felt about his skin problems. Nobody had ever asked Carl this before so Carl decided to be honest. "Awful. It's disgusting. I've tried eating differently when I can but I have to eat what Mom cooks and puts in my lunch. I bought some special cleanser but it stung and didn't help. I went on the internet to try to find something that would work but I didn't find anything useful." Tears were pooling in his eyes.

"Carl, you're fine to be a camp leader so when I get the blood work results I'll have the nurse call so you can come back to pick up the paperwork. It should only take a day or two if you go downstairs to the lab today to have the blood drawn. Do it before you go home."

Dr. Adams asked who had brought him to the appointment, then called the nurse who brought Carl's mother in. In a strident voice, Dr. Adams asked, "Why didn't you bring Carl in sooner? He's going to have serious scarring if this continues. It'll affect his life now and later. It's treatable. I want to treat him so I need you to sign this permission slip. The drug is tetracycline and may have some contraindications but it will clear up these infections. He's to stop drinking cow's milk. He can have almond or soy milk instead. No soft drinks. Fries and other fried foods only once a week or less, no chocolate. Is that clear?"

Dr. Adams waited while Carl's mother blurted out, "We thought it was just hormones and he'd outgrow it."

"Well, it isn't. Can you follow these guidelines? And make sure he takes the pills every day with breakfast?"

Carl's mother nodded. While she signed the paper, Dr. Adams looked at Carl. "Carl, can you do this? Can you follow these instructions?"

With tears on his face, Carl answered, "I'll do whatever it takes. I promise."

With a stern look at Carl's mother, Dr. Adams said, "Get this prescription filled today. Start the medication tomorrow. It'll take a couple of weeks to see a noticeable difference. Bring Carl back in three months. Make the appointment today before you leave the office."

The car ride home and dinner time were as quiet as it always was. Mom said nothing to Carl. She'd had the prescription filled while he was having the blood work done. She stopped to buy almond milk on the way home.

Carl's father said, "I hear we have a new regime. I hope it works," before he went back to reading the paper. Carl knew then that his mother had told his father. No one asked him how he felt. No one ever did. Although he didn't say anything Carl felt relief, confident that someone cared, hopeful that his future would be better. Dr. Adam's prescription would be just the beginning.

'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 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!

MARIE ANTOINETTE-THE JOURNEY (2001) by Antonia Fraser Review by Lana O’Neill

Antonia Fraser’s 20-year-old work about France’s most famous Queen is extensive and detailed.Hints of sympathy resonate against the misogyny and hostility Marie Antoinette experienced right up to the moment she was guillotined. My knowledge of this Austrian-born wife of King Louis XVI has been limited to a famous but unfortunate cake quote and a fortunate 2002 visit to Versailles, a perfunctory glance at her bedchamber,and a walk through the Tuileries and Place de la Concorde where the most tragic events of her life took place. The age of this book is young compared to over 260 years of resources surrounding a woman who lived between 1755 and 1793. Needless to say, Antonia Fraser’s deep dive into the letters and archival material of this larger-than-life woman was made easier to enjoy through her conversational style, relegation of opinions to questions and adherence to her references.Fraser’s non-fiction writing chops speak volumes about the quality of her work and now, having finished my first, I will search out another. But not before a small breather with some fiction sorbet. Or would cake be appropriate?

THE BURNING LAND (2009) by Bernard Cornwell

Review by Lana O’Neill

The fifth book in Bernard Cornwell’s The Last Kingdom series continues with the adventures of his warlord hero, Uhtred of Bebbanburg. Cornwell’s telling of how England came to be with Alfred the Great on the throne and Uhtred as the instrument of this king’s will is as entertaining as it is educational.

Violent clashes between Vikings and Anglo-Saxons during the late ninth century abound and many are based on real events of the time. Religion figures prominently too as Christianity is marching alongside Alfred in the ultimate quest to supplant Odin, Thor, Loki and company in favor of Jesus Christ. We hear the story, first person, from Uhtred as an older man recollecting his glory days. His ability to hurl insults is fun reading as is his self-described prowess with his weapons, Serpent-Breath and Wasp-Sting.

Cornwell’s series consists of 13 books and it was only in 2020 that he released the final installment, Warlord. For those that enjoy a visual depiction, four seasons of The Last Kingdom is available on Netflix with the fifth season in production.

The Golem & the Jinni by Helene Wecker.

Review by Mandy Eve-Barnett

Absolutely loved this story. Ancient worlds, magical beings, glimpses into a creatures mind, secrets and interconnections galore. Beautifully constructed world building and plotting. I was drawn into the characters and their world easily and waited with bated breath at times for what was to come. I will certainly be buying the next book!

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.


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