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November 2021 Muse

November 2021

“A man who tells secrets or stories must think of who is hearing or reading, for a story has as many versions as it has readers. Everyone takes what he wants or can from it and thus changes it to his measure. Some pick out parts and reject the rest, some strain the story through their mesh of prejudice, some paint it with their own delight. A story must have some points of contact with the reader to make him feel at home in it. Only then can he accept wonders.” — John Steinbeck, The Winter of Our Discontent

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 November 2, 2021

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

Next Board Meeting: November 9, 2021

Newsletter Submission Deadline: November 26, 2021

Monthly online Creative Writing Workshops

Held last Saturday of every month from 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.

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 Nov 17, 2021

Children's Creative Writing Workshop

Second Thursday of each month

Next Meeting November 18, 2021

Reply to the link on our Website

WFSC Christmas Party (Virtual)

December 14, 2021 7 pm

Members to have food and drink of their choice and to read a winter themed story. It has been suggested that in lieu of the ten dollar gift, that a donation to a charity be given.

This Month's Submissions

On October 12th 2021 the Writers Foundation held its annual general meeting. All members have been sent the minutes if they wish a more detailed account of the meeting. In general, it was a successful year again despite the covid restrictions. Our meeting, like all others, was held virtually. All committees reported on their years activities and for all, it was successful. Words in the park was virtual again this year and included workshops that were well attended as well.

Elections were held for the board of directors and Mandy Barnett and Joe McNight were re-elected as Secretary and President for three more terms.

Henry Martell, Beth Rowe, Amanda O'Driscoll and Pamela Beattie were re-elected for 1 year terms as directors.

John Wheeler was elected as a board member for a one year term.

Guy Chambers resigned as director but will continue in his role with Poets in the Park.

An Empty Space

a day in the back

a kid standing in a field

feet heeled

sinking in

a bare canvas

hands on the head

blind to the edge

dry to the bone

as to one’s alone

afternoon hush

still in the hills

foot drag about

of thoughts faraway

on one’s keeping

loosen eyes drifting

cold shoulder grasping

overlooked swirling

an empty space

doesn’t have a place

doesn’t have a face

one’s toe knotting

somewhere out there

there’s a voice to listen to

out of the near

naked to the day

a call to the ear


the shoes

to pursue

not what matters to the who

it’s you

stand on your feet

get along with life

and get back to it again

By Guy Chambers


Written by Lana O’Neill

New backyard garden

hot afternoon sun bursts forth

autumn’s harvest

autumn’s harvest

april seedings harden into

ripe red romas

ornamental corn

rainbow husks and kernels ripen

autumn’s harvest

autumn’s harvest

entwine vines with tendrils

downy pumpkin blooms

orange crunchy carrots

sugarcoating pink tongues

autumn’s harvest

autumn’s harvest

thanksgiving table displays

large yellow sunflowers

scarlet runner beans

invite hummingbirds to feast

autumn’s harvest

autumn’s harvest

giving bounty from the earth

used backyard garden

ROAD TRIP THOUGHTS by Mandy Eve-Barnett

Road trips are a joy, incorporating

New places explored

Frequent wildlife encounters

Cherished memories to share

Increased expectation and excitement

A check list of essentials made

Local sights and attractions investigated

Reservations confirmed and paid

Double checked suitcase contents

Cooler bag filled with bottled water

Snacks bought to dispense

Extra footwear, jackets and sunglasses

Early morning start, packing the trunk

A double check before we drive away

Puppies walked, fed, then harnessed in

Breakfast our first stop along the way

Routes taken – off highway & gravel

Multiple stops for photo opportunities

This is the only way to travel

Wildlife and scenery abound

Arrival at our lodgings, truck unpacked

Dogs walked, fed then settled

Organizing of our spaces, preferences known

Comfortable companionship not meddled

Evening meal eaten, then to relax

Tomorrow’s adventure discussed

Reading and writing commence

Time is not rushed

An easy morning routine

New adventures and sights shown

Snacks gathered and packed

Our destination known

'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.


Review by Lana O’Neill

There can be no confusion about the order of events in this murder mystery written by P.D. James. The Murder Room is divided into three headings: the people and places, the first victim, the second victim and the third victim. A logical mind will appreciate this and sink into their armchair, detecting with confidence alongside Commander Adam Dalgleish and his Special Investigation Squad from New Scotland Yard. Red herrings abound, as with any mystery to be solved. But for me, the hope of aiding and abetting Dalgleish’s investigation vanished into the maze of James’ articulate and extensive descriptions within the first hundred pages (a red herring in and of itself). By the time the first victim met his demise, I was playing a game of cat and mouse with character motives and more theories than my memory could process. The thrill of the climax was eclipsed by how I felt when it crept up on me during the wee hours and chilled my spine despite the heat of a cozy blanket. James successfully immersed me into the lives of her characters and as such, created a first-hand witness to a crime.

THE GRAVEYARD BOOK (2008) by Neil Gaiman

Review by Lana O’Neill

Neil Gaiman teaches an excellent Masterclass on the art of storytelling. In it, he references his 2008 tale for children 10 and up (plus this adult), The Graveyard Book, when explaining character motivations and desires. He read an excerpt about how a human baby named Bod (short for Nobody) came to live in a graveyard while being raised by ghosts. I was immediately disappointed that I read that lesson at night because I couldn’t go to the library that instant to borrow it. But when I did get my hands on it and read through the fantasy/horror story, I was left absolutely enchanted by how Gaiman was able to invoke my long-gone child’s imagination and leave me with that sense of wonder undoubtedly reserved for his intended audience. Despite the title, this story is about living life to its fullest…a beautiful lesson to learn at any age.

OUR DARKEST NIGHT (2021) by Jennifer Robson

Review by Lana O’Neill

I met Jennifer Robson when she was promoting her 2014 book, Somewhere in France, during an author’s program through our Strathcona County library. I purchased a copy and went on to learn about a moment in time during the Great War while enjoying the story within about a woman’s desire for independence amid the confines of British polite society and the uncertainty of war. Robson’s most recent novel, Our Darkest Night, was found in the Hot Off the Express section of our Strathcona County library. I was immediately transported to 1940’s Venice during World War II and the world of an Italian Jewish woman named Antonina (Nina for most of the story). The skill to immerse the reader into a time and place through the eyes and emotions of her character is, at first, unnoticed. Only when feelings of despair, fear and utter sadness creep in during Nina’s moment in time amid the evils of the holocaust, can the reader appreciate (and in my case, step away for a breather) the commitment Jennifer Robson made to telling this story in such a way that only a very unfortunate few can verify.

Billy Summers by Stephen King

Simmering tension throughout with an unlikely friendship between a good 'bad' guy and a victim. King has accomplished a captivating narrative, with a glimpse at people in an underworld of hurt and money colliding with everyday life and its consequences.

Mandy Eve-Barnett

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 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 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 © *2021

Writers Foundation of Strathcona County All rights reserved.


Our mailing address is:

PO Box 57083 | Sherwood Park, Alberta | T8A 5L7

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