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May Newsletter

Newsletter May 2021

'If you don't have the time to read, you don't have the time or the tools to write' - Stephen King

Editor's Note:

The Strathcona Writers Muse is a newsletter to members of the Writers Foundation of Strathcona County. It also provides an opportunity for members to publish their works. Anything published in our newsletter is eligible to receive a publishing credit. Since very few, if any, submissions are refused, it is a wonderful way to publish your work. We accept poems and short stories of 1000 words or less. Longer pieces can be accommodated if they can be published in parts. Works can be essays and opinion pieces as well as short stories and poems. 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 online

Next date May 4, 2021

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

Next Board Meeting: May 11, 2021

Newsletter Submission Deadline: May 24, 2021

Monthly online Creative Writing Workshops

Held last Saturday of every month at 12:30 to 2:30 pm

Go to the website to register - click the RSVP and the link will be emailed to you prior to the workshop.

The Sentinel

By Dennis Wilson

I grew tired of looking out my office window this last winter. I felt restricted; cooped up.

I was. I could sense cabin fever slinking around me; trying to encompass; overtake me.

The only consolation to the dreariness of the snowscape I had squinted upon day after day; the only bright spot that lit up the boringness of the view, was the lonely sentinel standing always at attention. The sentinel is an old gnarled tree that has seen a multitude of seasons come and go. It understands, much better than I, how the seasons work, one into the next in order.

Today, if I could hear the ancient tree speak, it would declare, “I’m not dead, as it would seem. I’m simply waiting for budding-forth time to come. Then I will again give you shade on those hot days of summer when ice-cold tea is your best friend.”

No, that is not correct; that is not how I feel bout you.

You are more than a provider of shade for me.

You, Sir Sentinel, are my friend.

Summer Contradictions

Escape into the wildness of summer

Lush boughs of green and abundance of colour

Replacing steel grey and mirrored facades

Floral scents and mountain breeze

Instead of choking emissions

Warmed skin by summer sun

Rather than brash dry forced air

Bird song and nature’s silence

Replacing constant tumult

The fluttering of wings against a breeze

In lieu of thrashing of trash

Unending vistas to the horizon

Opposite of contorted glimpses of sky

Laughter issues unbidden

In place of anxiety and stress

Open spaces, room to inhale

No constriction of thought or breath

Expansion of time and soul’s mending

No inhibition of exhilaration

Time to play, time for tranquility

Leaving all the ruskus

A moment of peace captured

Least it escapes into turmoil

Summer is a blessing

Cherish its joys

Nurture the memories

Heal your soul

Mandy Eve-Barnett

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. Adams prescription would be just the beginning.

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. Saying Goodbye is Easy by Kathie Sutherland Review by Mandy Eve-Barnett A compelling, complex and enlightening narrative, full of truths, struggles and internal emotions. Every reader will find a connection with the struggles, highs and lows of the narrator. A courageous, heartfelt and revealing story, told in short stories and reflections. This book will change your outlook on your life and your life's path. THE KITE RUNNER (2003) by Khaled Hosseini Review by Lana O’Neill This debut novel of Khaled Hosseini is a poignant tale of loyalty and betrayal before, during and after the turmoil of the Russian invasion of Afghanistan in the eighties. Hosseini, an Afghan-American born in 1965 in Kabul, is more than qualified to write the voice of first-person narrator, Amir. We first meet Amir as a grown man but he immediately whisks us back to his childhood so that we may understand him better and why he must try to be good again. Hosseini colors the story of Amir by immersing the reader into the Afghan culture, including its food, people, language, religion and many more delightful depictions. The reader, though, is not spared the horrors of innocents in a war-torn country, especially as Amir comes to realize that ‘sometimes bad people stay bad’. The Kite Runner reads like a trial for the human condition where courage is the key to redemption and thus, freedom.An emotional read, for sure Miss Benson's Beetle by Rachel Joyce Review by Mandy Eve Barnett Absolutely loved this book! Great characters, story, tension, discovery and the power of finding your true self. The descriptions transported you to the locations. I thoroughly recommend it. THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY (2020) by Matt Haig Review by Lana O’Neill Have you ever wondered, ‘what if I’d chosen different?’ I’m sure we’ve all contemplated a crossroad from our past, the ensuing decision and its’ aftermath. Be it good or bad, to be human is to have regrets. How else can we look back on them during times of inner reflection and make judgments of ourselves? But let’s step beyond reality for a moment. What if you could go back, with your current knowledge, and choose another path at that crossroad? Robert Frost analogies aside, the idea is intriguing if not a bit intoxicating. The Midnight Library, by bestselling author Matt Haig, is a journey into this very idea. Haig winds this never-ending philosophical question into the story of Nora Seed, a young woman lost amid the regrets in her life. A fantastical library is the portal through which she can live that choice not taken in an attempt to fix her original mistakes. Reality may not offer second chances on such a grand scale and maybe it shouldn’t. But readers will surely find themselves looking inward as they follow Nora’s journey. Her ultimate decision will reward the reader with a sense of enlightenment and purpose.

CLANLANDS by Sam Heughan & Graham McTavish Review by Lana O’Neill Sam Heughan and Graham McTavish, actors who portray Jamie Fraser and Dougal MacKenzie in the Outlander TV series, take readers (and fans) on a journey through the Scottish Highlands. Their aim, ‘to find the real Scotland and what it means to be Scottish’, is merely the tip of the iceberg (or ‘munro’ if I’m allowed to change the metaphor in order to stay true to the theme). The history of the clans is violent, but storied while the land itself plays a major role in ancient conflicts and modern adventures. The language shines a light on a unique culture with words like "clatty," "thrapple," and "swally." And then there is whisky, which invokes language of its own. While Scotland’s weather may be described as "dreich" and too much whisky may leave you looking a bit "peely-wally," this ancient land and its peoples provide a colorful background to the funny, yet poetic narration in Heughan and McTavish’s book, Clanlands. Pour a wee dram and make a toast to this enjoyable read. Slàinte Mhath!

The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish 2017 First Mariner Books This novel plays out between two time periods and involves one large house and the discovery of archival quality documents. The difference between 1600 and the early 2000s becomes evident as historians delve into the background of the discovered treasure of writings. Documentation of the find is a competitive pursuit within the university department. Working together, the two current era mismatched main characters develop a work relationship as they research together transcribing a series of letters to reveal a secret about the author of those letters and the identity of a young Jewish woman who scribes for a blind rabbi. In London during the mid-1600s, we get to know a community ravaged by the effects of the plague and its lasting impacts on their lives and livelihoods. But that is not the only disease that infects society – we see the disease of racism as it existed then. Both pandemic and racism are timely topics… and have we eradicated either of them today? Recommended interesting read of 575 pages. Linda J. Pedley

Here are some publications available through our website

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 from or or by contacting any member of the Board. $14.95

Make sure to grab the newest writing prompt book published by The Writers Foundation of Strathcona County.

To order these publications or to inquire about our foundation or to join our foundation please visit our website

Writers Foundation of Strathcona County 2020 - 2021 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 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 Guy Chambers Director Amanda O'Driscoll Director Instagram Coordinator Library Liaison Email:


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