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May 2022 Muse

May 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 May 3, 2022

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

Next Board Meeting: May 10, 2022

Newsletter Submission Deadline: May 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 May 18, 2022

Children's Creative Writing Workshop

Second Thursday of each month

Next Meeting May 12, 2022

Reply to the link on our Website

This Month's Submissions

A Magical Ring by Mandy Eve-Barnett

Prince Ellon looked upward and saw his father’s castle standing atop the steep crag. Its walls were honed from the very cliff face. Dark grey slabs towering above him as he walked the sandy beach below. His father’s insistence that he take a wife, weighed heavily upon him. There were many beautiful young women all too eager to become his betrothed, but he was reluctant. None were willing to dirty their clothes on the beach or abandon them for a swim in the sea. He found their lack of spirit and their trifling concerns boring. Why could he not find a woman with a more adventurous spirit?

As he kicked the damp sand a glistening object flew forth and landed a few feet away. Puzzled the Prince picked it up to find a bronze ring made in the shape of a mermaid. It was a most unusual ring, so he placed it upon his finger to admire it all the more. Once the ring encircled his knuckle, a waterspout began to rise from the waves and foam. The Prince watched in astonishment as the water twisted and curled, gradually forming into a woman’s upper body and a fish’s tail. What witchcraft is this? He tried removing the ring, but it stuck fast. The water ceased its swirling and the Prince looked upon the most beautiful face he had ever seen.

“You have been granted your wish, young Prince. Behold your wife.”

“I have not made any such wish.”

“Did you not want a wife who would swim in the sea with you, a wife who will also wander along the beach with you?”

“Those were my private thoughts. I did not speak them aloud.”

“The ring hears your thoughts and grants you the wishing of them.”

“If that is so then how could you walk with only that tail?”

“Think legs for me and they will appear, young Prince.”

The Prince wished it so and there appeared long shapely legs where once there had been a fish’s tail.

“Will this magic last?”

“Yes, my Prince, as long as you continue to wear the ring.”

“Then it shall never leave my finger. Have you a name or do I wish that too?”

“My name is Serene but of course I will go by any name you chose for me, my Prince.”

“Serene is a very lovely name and I will certainly not change it.”

The Prince covered her nakedness with his cloak and escorted Serene up the cliff path. Once in the throne room he announced to his parents and the court that he had found his future wife. The wedding was a splendid affair with courtiers coming from far and wide. No-one knew the new Princess, but all agreed she was indeed a very beautiful young woman. The Prince spun a tale of travelling to another land and finding her abandoned. No-one questioned the story – after all he was the Prince.

The Prince and Princess were very happy together and took many evening walks down on the beach. Unbeknown to the household they would swim together with the use of a simple wish from the Prince, as merman and mermaid in the cool waters. The Prince had his perfect wife and the mermaid could return to her natural element every night.

Pennyworth’s Problem by Kathie Sutherland

Anna Sharp storms out of the corner office and into the posh reception area, her normally pasty white face reddened with rage. The clunky heels of her polished knee-high boots thump across the marble floor. The sheaf of paper she carries in her hand swishes, and if she had let her firm grip relax, would have sent the pages fluttering to the floor, paving a path to the receptionist’s desk. Anna spat out her words as she tossed the pile of columned sheets over Mabel’s desktop.

“Dammit Mabel! What’s the matter with you? I thought you knew the difference between a debit and credit. The new accounting system is the best there is and is supposed to eliminate this sort of mess. Really! It’s not rocket science.”

Mabel stammers, “So sorry Miss Anna. So sorry. What did I do wrong? Her hands trembled so much she couldn’t unscrew the lid from the fountain pen she’d used since she started work for Pennyworth and Sons 30 years ago. When she finally readies her pen, she picks up her stenographer’s notebook and struggles to flip to a page without any shorthand on it. On an empty sheet devoid of ink blotches or symbols, she sits ready to record instructions.

Mabel’s husband Roy yells at her the same way as he often does when she makes mistakes. Her reaction is the same. She cowers waiting for another rain of insults. Her chin trembling, tears slip from her eyes and course down her cheeks caught in the wrinkles around her mouth.

“Oh, come on, Mabel don’t start blubbering. We can’t have that! If you don’t stop, you’ll be escorted from the building by 4:30 today!”

Roy would be livid if she were fired. He counts on her salary to meet the mortgage payments, so she musters all the courage she can find in herself, sniffs and reaches for a tissue. She grits her false teeth until her jaw aches and tries to encourage herself. “You can do this.”

Mr. Pennyworth Senior emerges from the corner office, smoothes down his fine white hair and stands for a moment at the door. Despite his stooped back and grey skin, traces of his handsome looks still show through. His voice carries dignity and a firm authority.

“Anna, calm down! What is the problem here? Whatever it is, there is no need for this abuse. I didn’t raise you to be harridan. Stop this barrage right now.”

Anna, her face now flushed with embarrassment, stops in the middle of a sentence. She’s obedient to her father, although she resents him.

Mr. Pennyworth continues, “Mabel is a loyal employee and deserves to be treated with respect.”

Mabel’s hazel eyes fill with tears again but this time it is with gratitude for Mr. Pennyworth’s compassion.

“With due respect Father, I’ve explained the system over and over again but Mabel just doesn’t get it. We need to relieve her of her duties or we will be left behind in the market, and our company will go under.”

“Anna and Mr. Pennyworth, please forgive me. It’s the computer that I don’t understand. Give me a ledger and I’ll manage, but the accounting program is beyond me. Perhaps your young grandson, Jeremy can coach me?

Jeremy’s been sitting quietly in the waiting area watching the interaction. His long-fingered hands hang between his knees, the right fiddling with the chain bracelet on his wrist. Long unkempt hair hides his face, but when he stands and hikes up his baggy jeans, he is transformed.

“She’s right Mr. Pennyworth! Between the two of us we can figure out a way to get her up to speed. I know the technology. She knows the accounting. We can work together, right Mabel?”

Mabel nods, unable to find words to respond, in the same way she finds herself mute after one of Roy’s yelling sessions.

“That’s great Jeremy! I knew there was a solution that works for everyone.” Mr. Pennyworth’s voice is jovial. He’s pleased to have the problem resolved.

Anna fixes long-lashed eyes on Mabel’s round glasses but her words discount Mabel entirely. “Jeremy, how long do you think it will take the two of you to get up to speed?”

“I’d say two weeks. Tops.”

Anna hesitates a moment. When she speaks her words have lost their sting. “All right. But there will be no second chances. No improvement, no job. You got it?” Anna gathers her papers with Mabel’s help, then turns on her heel and walks swiftly to her office.

The charged air dissipates.

Mabel lets out a long breath and smiles for the first time in a long while. She smoothes her skirt. “Grab a chair, dear. Can I get you a coffee?”

“No thanks, I don’t drink brew. I’ll go down to the pop machine for a can of Pepsi! Can you wait a minute?” He ambles down the hall and returns a few minutes later carrying his drink. When he takes a swig the snake tattoo on the side of his neck flexes.

Jeremy clears his throat. “Okay. Let’s start at the beginning.


Written by Lana O’Neill

I can’t imagine fleeing

My home

And all that I know

Which is safe

I can’t imagine breathing

The fetid stench after mortar fire

Upon a children’s hospital

Occupied fallen


I can’t imagine seeking

Refuge beyond the rubble

On legs stained with blood


Not mine

I can’t imagine crying

Tears laced with DNA dust

Falling unbidden



I can’t imagine surrendering

A warm yellow sun

Naked in a blue sky

For the cold shroud of concrete

Enshrining hope

I can’t imagine usurping

Fear with strength

The shield denying death

By an ego riddled

Vacuous fist

I can’t imagine inspiring

A community of billions

Protecting every hanging thread

Weaving defiance

I can’t imagine standing

Up to the covetous neighbor

Who would see me kneel

Choosing ‘Ni’ over ‘Da’

I just can’t

'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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