top of page

March 2023 newsletter

March 2023

March 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.

Important Dates

Writers Circle Virtual Sharing Meeting online

Next date March 7, 2023

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

Next Board Meeting: March 14, 2023

Children's Creative Writing Workshop

Second Thursday of each month

Next Meeting March 9, 2023

Reply to the link on our Website

Poets in the Park

Poets in the park meets the second Thursday of every month online.

Reply to the link on the WFSC website

Next scheduled meeting March 9, 2023

April 29, 2023

WFSC Writers Spring Conference - Expanding Your Writing Life Apr 29, 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Sherwood Park, 401 Festival Ln, Sherwood Park, AB T8A 5T8, Canada

This Month's Submissions


John Wheeler

It was after midnight when the S.W.A.T. team barged into the home of suspected Mafia member Gino DeLuca and arrested him on suspicion of murder. De Luca was a large, overweight man of Italian and Sicilian descent with a grey receding hairline, and a bulbous nose with an unkempt unibrow parked above it. The Mafia Capo surrendered without a fight while his wife screamed and raved at the police about the mistake they made. He was stoic when placed in the backseat of the police cruiser.

Upon arrival at the precinct, he was led to an interrogation room and manacled to a steel table. Gino nervously sat on a steel chair and waited for what he knew was coming. Two men in similar cut suits entered. De Luca immediately determined the pair had COP written all over them. The officers sat across from him and pulled out their well used notepads.

“Well, hello Gino,” said the older of the two with a smile. “I’m Detective Malblanc.” He gestured to the other officer. “This is Detective Tremblay. You have been charged with the murders of Vincent Catroni, Albert Mancuzo and Frank Ryan. Mind telling us where you were last night? Oh wait! I’ll tell you where you were last night. You were having drinks with the three of them at Vincent’s downtown penthouse. There was a camera in the lobby and another covering the street. You were seen entering. You stayed for an hour or so then left. That makes … you … the last person to see them alive. Housekeeping found the bodies in the morning. Preliminary report says all three were poisoned.” He paused to check his notes.

“A gruesome way to die,” stated Detective Tremblay unemotionally.

Detective Malblanc continued. “An opened bottle of Glenlivet whisky was loaded with a toxin. Do you know how expensive Glenlivet is? Of course, you do. You had it delivered! A nice bottle of whiskey as a gift to the head of the Catroni Crime Family. What a…”

“I have to stop you right there,” interrupted De Luca. “If you knew Mr. Catroni at all, you would know that he doesn’t usually drink whiskey. The man is a vodka drinker! I’ve known Mr. Catroni for over thirty years, and he only ever drank vodka.” De Luca paused, and then quickly added. “And champagne. He liked champagne on special occasions.”

The two officers looked at each other then back at De Luca.

“Well, Gino. We do know that.” declared Detective Malblanc. “Which is why it took us awhile to figure out what happened.” He checked his notes again, took a breath and let it out slowly.

“You mentioned you’ve known Vincent Catroni for thirty years. We know he, personally, promoted you to captain. He’s only known Albert Mancuzo and Frank Ryan for less than half that time yet, somehow, they became his number two and number three.” He paused. ”That had to sting.” He deliberately hesitated again.

“Didn’t it Gino!”

Gino’s face blanched.

“With them gone there would be an opening. An opening for you! All you would need is a few minutes with your boss to convince him you were the man for either position. You had the whiskey delivered for them, not your boss. You knew … they preferred whiskey. Don’t bother trying to deny you had it delivered. The cameras caught the delivery boy, and we tracked him down.”

“Showed him some pictures,” added Detective Tremblay. “Guess who he pointed out as the one who hired him?”

Things were happening too fast for De Luca.

“We figure you somehow got yourself invited up to the penthouse,” continued the lead detective. “You knew Albert and Frank were there along with Vincent. The four of you got to talking and decided to have a drink. We found four used glasses.” He hesitated to let De Luca’s memory relive the tragic event. “Only Mr. Catroni decided to have a whiskey too. Maybe he wanted to be one of the boys. I don’t know. Anyway, before you could do anything, they all downed the poisoned liquor. Vincent wasn’t supposed to die. With him gone no promotion for Gino De Luca.”

“Well, why ain’t I dead too?” asked De Luca feebly.

An annoyed expression crossed the face of Detective Tremblay. “Because of a science thing called … an antidote. You took it before you got there. I bet it’s still in your system. We’re going to take a DNA swab and a urine sample. Maybe some blood. Odds are we’ll find something.”

Outwardly Gino De Luca portrayed an innocent man, but inside he knew it was over. The cops had put it all together. The terrible memory, still vivid in his brain, had happened so fast. Mr. Catroni, himself, had poured the four whiskeys instead of three and a vodka. It would be best to say nothing more.

“I want a lawyer. I want my lawyer, now,” demanded De Luca.

“Sure,” replied Detective Malblanc. “Sending an expensive bottle of whiskey to a man who only drinks vodka. Who does that?”

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)

Simple Stella

by Karen Probert

Stella stood, head bowed. She listened intently to the drone of the service. She wanted to be anywhere but here. The music stopped. The other mourners uttered a long, collective sigh as they sat for the final prayer. Stella sat down with her hands in her lap. She pressed her lips together, clasped her hands tightly and flexed her toes. Only one thought came into her mind: 'I need to get out of these tight pantyhose and this scratchy dress.'

Angus watched carefully. He hadn't really been attuned to the service. He'd just observed Stella. Her shoulders were hunched, her skin pale, her eyes darted uneasily each time she looked up. Even her feet had shuffled until she was balanced as she stood. Now she sat perfectly still after whispering "Amen."

Hours later Angus wondered why he'd been so anxious. Nothing seemed to have changed. At home Stella came into his study in scarlet and gold running gear. She'd been gone an hour before he heard the downstairs shower. When she came again to his door her hair was shining and a robin's egg blue sundress swirled above her knees. Fiery red toenails peeked out from her silver sandals.

"Are we going to dinner, love, I'm starved?" As Angus lay in bed staring at the ceiling well after midnight he sighed, 'I'll never really know her.' He replayed the dinner conversation. As Stella ordered steak, fries and a bottle of rich Chilean wine he'd seen no sign of sadness or fear. Stella had sat still, her eyes were clearly focused and she spoke quickly with no hesitation.

"That's over. It's all in the past. I'll sell the house he left me. It's worth a couple of million. It's big and bold. There's some of Charlotte's jewelry worth keeping. I'll get it appraised before I decide. His partners offered me seven million for his shares and our lawyer is checking that out to see if it's fair market value. I've told everyone I'll let them know within the month. I just stood in their boardroom yesterday in that awful black suit. I didn't tell you before because I'd made up my mind and didn't want to be distracted by anyone else's opinion. You're now married to a truly wealthy woman but I'm still your simple Stella."

Her smile lit up Angus's life. All he'd ever wanted was his simple Stella. In the past week since her father had died, he'd felt like he'd lost her. She'd hardly spoken or slept but she'd taken time off work and been out a lot without explanations. Now he realized she'd seen lawyers, made decisions, stated her timelines without his input or knowledge. As he drifted off to sleep his last thought was 'There's nothing simple about my Stella.'

25 BELOW ON 22/2/23

Written by Lana O’Neill

This cold burns my face

Slap to the cheeks

Splotches of crimson

That wind hurts my head

Invisible vice

Chugging slushies

This cold dampens my mood

Medieval dungeon

Trapped gloom

That wind disappears my warmth

Evil magician


This cold lingers too long

Uninvited visitor

Tampering patience

That this cold makes me cranky

Grandpa and taxes

Not cool

'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 Rise of Rynn by Bianca Rowena

Review by Mandy Eve-Barnett

This is quite the story for any YA reader, full of intrigue, mystery and adventure. We follow Rynn on a personal journey fraught with emotion, struggles and ulterior motives surrounding him and his path to become a Master.

There are dark forces and disturbing themes within the narrative.

Reborn by Jenna Greene

Review by Mandy Eve-Barnett

The author initially immerses you into a world of hardship and lost hope, a cruel society dependent on facial marks. Then a chance is given and we follow their journey and struggle and forging hope for something better.

A wonderful story, where the reader is invested in the characters plight.

Highly recommended.

Bastard Sorceress by Verna McKinnon

Review by Mandy Eve-Barnett

What a wonderful magical world Verna McKinnon has created. Full of surprising twists and turns, magic and characters you love.

A superb story - highly recommended.

The Messy Lives of Book People by Phaedra Patrick

Review by Mandy Eve-Barnett

This is one of those novels that grips you from the first chapter. It is a joy for readers and writers alike as you follow Liv on her journey from cleaner to ghost writer. Getting inside a writer's mind is as difficult for a reader as it is for one writer to another. A spellbinding story, I absolutely loved.

SCARS & STARS (2022)by Jesse Thistle

Review by Lana O’Neill

Jesse Thistle wrote a book of poetry. This, his second publication, is an extension of the small sample included in first book and national bestseller, FROM THE ASHES (see January 2023 Writer’s Muse review). The autobiographical collection is divided into five parts, each representing an honest glimpse of his fall into the ashes and the slow, painful rise up and out. Reading his first book goes a long way towards understanding the meaning behind his poems. But this is not necessary because his writing is strong and his message is clear. The poetic form is therapy for Thistle and is noted in his dedication. So much so, that the reader can feel the healing gleaned by his sharing of deeply personal moments. And if his gift for molding those moments into intimate reflections of his personal struggle creates a strong connection with the reader, it is this same gift he is offering to those who need it most.

THE INK BLACK HEART (2022) by Robert Galbraith

Review by Lana O’Neill

The newest mystery in the Cormoran Strike series by JK Rowl…er, Robert Galbraith weighs in at a healthy two pounds and over 1000 pages. With these numbers, the readers (and my arms) get a heavy dose of characters and their development. All the more to wonder who dunnit! The London area story is an intense cocktail of gaming chatrooms, Anime and an art commune spiked with pseudonyms, social commentary and fascists. The mixture becomes toxic over social media and inevitably bubbles over on the grounds of Highgate Cemetery, where the dead drink in a gruesome murder. The Ink Black Heart is well plotted, clever and thoroughly absorbing. Despite some late-night page turning and the resulting sleepy days, I’m happy to report that my arms are a wee bit more toned.

Villa Serena by Domenica De Rosa

Review by Mandy Eve-Barnett

A wonderful tale of reality versus dreams. Italy is a country of mystery, tradition & misconceptions. I loved following Emily’s journey from outsider to acceptance. Life is never as it seems and this book goes into one family’s world. 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.

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

Want to change how you receive these emails?

10 views0 comments


bottom of page