top of page

November 2023 Newsletter

November 2023

November 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. Anything published in our letter is eligible to receive a publishing credit.

Important Dates

Writers Circle Virtual Sharing Meeting online

Next date Nov 7, 2023

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

Next Board Meeting: Nov 14, 2023

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 15, 2023

Children's Creative Writing Workshop

Second Thursday of each month

Next Meeting Nov 9, 2023

Reply to the link on our Website

This Month's Submissions

Autumn Years

By Mandy Eve-Barnett

My summer is fading

Sad feelings pervade

I must look forward

Into a blaze of colour

Over many years

I have changed and grown

Go with the flow

As the young say

Leaves tumble and fall

Settling on the ground

Like my memories

Gathering atop one another

My time is my own now

No juggling required

Racing hither and thither

Has come to a halt

Time to reflect and gather

Mementos and photos

Placed in leather bound volumes

Treasurers to keep

My autumn years beckon

A new challenge awaits

Choices to be made

The future is bright

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire! by Karen Probert "Liar, liar, pants on fire" shouted across the playground was all that Pilar heard. It didn't make any sense to her. She didn't know that rhyming was the only thing relating the words liar and fire. She thought she would burst into flames because she had told a very small but safe untruth. 'How could I put out the fire?' she wondered as she ran gulping in air, with a stitch in her side and her heavy black braids whipping her back. In through the door letting it slam helped her helped her feel safe but she knew that wouldn't last. She'd have to go back to school tomorrow. Something there would happen to make panic set in again. "Why don't people like me?" she whispered. "I like some of them. Then they turn on me. Their faces get hard. Their eyes burn into mine. Their voices get loud. And I have to run. Then they laugh." As Pilar emptied her backpack she breathed deeply. She thought about things she needed to do. 'Put the lunch containers into the dishwasher. Lay out the note about a field trip for Daddy to see. I'm not sure why we're taking a trip to a field because we have fields all around here but the teacher said those words. I can't read all the big words on the paper yet but Daddy will and he'll tell me what it means.' As she changed out of her school clothes into red shorts and pink T-shirt she finally stopped feeling fear. Taking deep breaths she went to wash her tear-stained face. She didn't want her Mom to see that. Her family had come all this way to be safe, to get jobs and go to school without the sounds of gunfire and men shouting in the smoke filled streets. They had walked away from their town, their family and friends for four nights while hiding in smelly huts and some woods during the days. They were quiet, watchful and always scared. Daddy paid two men a lot of money. Then they crossed a creaky wooden bridge. Next they got into an old boat which moved slowly along a river for a whole day. The bottom of the boat where they sat stank of dead fish. There was no food, no clean water, no bathroom. No one spoke. When the boat stopped at a little dock they got out. The only light was a big moon in the sky. The man pointed at trees and told Daddy where to go so we followed him. Pilar's legs ached and her stomach hurt. She held Daddy's hand for what seemed like hours. And then she saw the fence with the bottom rolled up. Mom went first, crawling under that fence. Then Pilar, then Daddy. On the other side were two women. The women said "You made it. Come, we'll take you to a safe house. You've come a long way and deserve to rest." Daddy and Mom hugged Pilar. Mom smiled and kissed her cheek. "My strong little girl, how brave you have been. We're safe here. You can go to school and have friends here. We're safe." There were tears on Mom's face but Pilar knew they were happy tears. Now it had been seven months. Daddy and Mom had jobs and Pilar went to school. Mom and Daddy laughed sometimes and smiled often. In this clean little apartment they all felt safe and happy. But school was different. Pilar worried about school. Some kids laughed at her. Some told her she was lying about things - things she knew weren't lies. They were just things these kids didn't understand because they'd never had to leave their home, sit in a dirty boot or crawl under a fence to find a safe place to live. 'I was brave and strong then. I'll be brave and strong tomorrow at school. I'll stand up straight. I won't run away. I'll listen to the teacher so I can learn to read all the big words.' As Pilar set the table for dinner she got out things Mom would need to make the meal - chicken, onions, peppers, rice and beans. She wouldn't tell her parents about being afraid. She would tell them that she got an A on her spelling test, that the class had watched a movie about some animals called polar bears living in cold ocean water on an island with ice and snow. Daddy would laugh and say "Are you lying my Pilar? An island with ice and snow where white bears live. I'll look it up." But he would be smiling as he knows she wouldn't lie.

Watch and Listen

By Karen Probert And so the day began. A clock chiming, a phone ringing, feet shuffling, the smell of coffee, someone laughing. These were all new to Simone. She had never heard or smelled these things. She lay still. She kept her eyes closed. The door swished open across the rug and the lady said very quietly, "Are you awake Simone?" "Yes", whispered Simone. "Let's get you up then." the lady smiled. "Here are your slippers. In the bathroom wash your face and hands and brush your teeth after you've used the toilet. I'll wait right here for you. Can you do all that yourself?" Simone nodded. Simone did as she'd been told. When she came back to the room the lady helped her get dressed and make the bed. This was the first time Simone had ever slept in a bed so she watched carefully to see how it was done. Her old clothes were gone off the floor where she'd piled them. The lady opened some drawers. Simone got to choose clean leggings. The ones she chose were purple. She'd never had purple before. And a T-shirt with a unicorn on it. Simone had never seen a unicorn in a book or on TV. The clothes looked pretty and the shirt smelled clean and felt soft. Reaching for Simone's hand the lady said, "Let's go to the kitchen for breakfast." Simone didn't understand the words 'kitchen' or 'breakfast' but she put her pale small hand into the lady's hand. They went into a room with a big table, chairs and other things. The lady helped Simone onto a chair while calmly saying "Stay here and I'll bring you some cereal." Simone didn't know the word 'cereal'. Two other children were eating using spoons to get something out of bowls. When the lady put a bowl of this in front of her Simone saw there were blueberries on top. 'I guess this is cereal' she thought. She could see there was milk in the bottom of the bowl too. She tried picking up cereal on the spoon and chewing. It tasted sweet. It sounded crunchy. The blueberries were good. She couldn't remember when she'd last eaten. Maybe it had been yesterday before the men broke down the door of the shed. She heard them say "She's here. And she's alive.", before one picked her up and smiled when he whispered "We got you. You're safe now!." Simone didn't realize she had not been safe in the shed with the locked door. Coming out of the shed was too bright for her eyes so she closed them. When she opened them she saw Bart kneeling on the path with his hands behind his back. Bart called out "Simone, remember that I love you." Simone felt nothing. It was as if she was hollow. Bart was the only person she knew and he'd just been pushed into the back of a car with lights flashing. There were too many people, too many lights, too much noise. She closed her eyes and covered her ears with her hands. She just waited. The man carrying Simone sat on the back of a truck. The lady said, "Simone. That's a very pretty name. We're going to take care of you." The rest of the night was just coming to this house in the truck, having a bath while the lady washed and then combed her curly blonde hair. Then Simone went to sleep in the bed. She dreamed of clean smells and soft sheets. Now she had clean clothes and cereal to eat. The lady said, "After breakfast we'll talk." as she handed each child a piece of toast. Simone watched the other children when they bit into the toast. She tried it. It tasted warm and weird but she liked it. 'I'll learn' Simone thought, 'if I watch and listen'.

The Banshee

By John Wheeler

I do not recall, how we lost our way,

that hideous time, that dark Irish day.

We could not foresee what would come to pass.

A warning of death from a demon lass.

Friend Conner and I had ridden afar,

to visit his mum and his dog, Lamar.

When a chilling mist arose from the moor,

could not see a thing, our vision obscure.

We rode through the gloom, careful not to fall.

Fog was the densest that I could recall.

We rode on through it, without any fear,

and that’s when we saw her, once we were clear.

I knew what she was. A banshee … alone.

Grooming her hair with a comb made of bone.

She wore a white gown, her young face manic.

Eyes red from crying; a scene so tragic.

Then up came her arm, pointing at Conner,

with sounds only a banshee could conjure.

From her thin lips came a mournful wailing,

and my body froze from the assailing.

Her howls were a death knell, with range and breadth.

A banshee’s shriek means a family death.

So, Conner sped off, afraid for his mum.

And I rode with him, fearing the outcome.

But we were too late, and Death was on time.

A sad day for all, her passing a crime.

So next time you hear a banshee’s keening,

listen to me and beware it’s meaning.

'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.

STANDING IN THE SHADOWS (2023) by Peter Robinson

Review by Lana O’Neill

Peter Robinson has written 28 Inspector Banks novels from as far back as 1987. Standing In The Shadows is my first introduction to his beloved English character, Detective Superintendent Alan Banks. As a fan of mysteries and all things English, I think the bigger mystery is how have I not come across this series before? My first impression is immediate. Robinson, ergo Banks, knows his sixties and seventies era music. Songs titles and musicians of the time are threaded continuously throughout the story as if they were a loyal side character, like Dr. Watson is to Sherlock Holmes. The fictitious northern England town of Eastvale figures prominently throughout but not at the expense of real towns and communities, and in this case, the actual crime spree of the Yorkshire Ripper. Standing In The Shadows gets off to a quick page-turning start and from there, Robinson marries the old and the new with parallel investigations 40 years apart. The reader not only wants to solve whodunnit but also when, how and if the investigations will collide. Sadly, author Peter Robinson passed away in 2022 leaving a legacy of bestselling novels. I will be sure to search for them in our local library, starting with his first DS Banks mystery, Gallow’s View.

War of the Wives by Tamar Cohen

Review by Mandy Eve-Barnett

Exceptional character profiles and their angst and reaction to their shared devastation. Well plotted, and realistic family interactions. Highly recommend.

The Lost Bookshop by Evie Woods

Review by Mandy Eve-Barnett

An exceptional tale of generational plight, magical elements, and a common denominator - a bookstore. Through the characters eyes and experiences, I can relate and sympathize with them all as their stories interconnect and unravel.

THE WHITE LADY (2023) by Jacqueline Winspear

Review by Lana O’Neill

From fleeing Belgium during World War I to escaping Paris at the outset of World War II then secreted away to a quiet country village outside post-war London, Elinor White is anything but afraid. The grip of war pulls at Jaqueline Winspear’s newest heroine from an early age. Childhood and family become a faded reality buried in the rubble of lies, secrets and misdirection felled, not by fascists, dictators and gangsters, but her own people. Elinor’s inherent strength and aptitude for survival provide the structure upon which her successful rise into the world of spies expands with each conflict. Winspear has painted a picture with words depicting war time Europe, London, it’s people and their lives. The White Lady is an intriguing escape into the past.

Publications available from our foundation.

Anyone can purchase these works through our website at


We are excited to announce new publications through the Foundation.

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

Contains the works of the winner's of the children's creative writing contest in 2020 and 2021

“Creative Writing Workshop Facilitators Kelsey Hoople and Mike Deregowski instituted a challenge 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!

From the Stars: Poetry Anthology IV

The newest edition is now available in Amazon:

“Creative Writing Workshop Facilitators Kelsey Hoople and Mike Deregowski continued their challenge from 2020 to participate in a second poetry anthology for 2021. 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

Coordinator Children's writing workshop 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?

3 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page