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October 2023 Newsletter

October 2023

October 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 Oct 3, 2023

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

Next Board Meeting: Oct 10, 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: Oct 18, 2023

Children's Creative Writing Workshop

Second Thursday of each month

Next Meeting Oct 12, 2023

Reply to the link on our Website

Notice of Annual General Meeting for Writers Foundation of Sherwood Park

Tuesday, October 10, 7 pm

This meeting will be held virtually again this year so check our website for login instructions.

All paid up members are eligible to attend and vote so make sure you are current.

This Month's Submissions

CONNECTION by Lana O’Neill


The ripples on the water below appeared motionless but upon steady inspection I could see random white foam crests roiling up and back down with steady precision. Fishing boats dotted the sparkling ocean canvas as each captain deftly cut through the dark blue surface while plying their trade. This living painting stretched out before my eyes in welcome just as the sun’s rays breached the airplane window and warmed my cheeks. A sensation of happiness infused my body as if to assure me that I made the right decision, for once. The thought made me smile and my shoulders relaxed for the first time since stepping onto Jack’s plane. Jack. Big surprise there. I can’t decide if he’s a just privileged 24-year-old computer geek who owns expensive toys or a modern-day savior with the old-world charm of a prince and the heart of a knight. It doesn’t matter. He’s the reason I can call this island paradise home and maybe, just maybe find some peace.

The plane’s engines changed from hum to growl as the front end of the cabin dipped in descent and the unwelcome sensation of nauseating weightlessness found my stomach. I focused on the scene below and could see the jagged edges of the neighboring islands creeping into view. The ripples on the water could be easily seen dancing in small rhythmic cycles as the sun alternated between twinkling and shadowing the water’s surface. Flat brown-beige patches spanned random sections of land and made up the last vestiges of a seasonably warm winter for these parts. Soon enough, every island would be cloaked in a symphony of greens vibrant enough to make the islands look like floating forests from above.

“Ms. Easton. We’ll be landing shortly. Would you mind fastening your seatbelt?”

I turned my head and saw the smiling face of Tammy Norris. Tamara, if you obeyed the nametag on her uniform. I realized I was staring but made no move to correct my social miscue. She had to have a flaw somewhere and from the moment I met her, I had been determined to uncover her secret. So far, no luck.

Tammy narrowed her eyes. “Ms. Easton?”

Nope. Not one wrinkle. “Hmm? Sorry, of course.” I dug around for the metal buckle as slow as possible before finding it then allowing her to hear the unmistakable click of compliance, addressing her concern for my safety. I looked at her in a mock need for approval. “How’s that?”

Straight white teeth gleamed back at me in response. “Perfect. We’ll be on the ground right away. I’m sure you’re looking forward to seeing Mr. Campbell.”

Wouldn’t you like to know? I started to give Tammy my best closed-mouth smile in an effort to act indifferent but more importantly, to minimize the appearance of my smile lines. Judging by the expectant look in her freshly mascaraed grey eyes, I feared I wasn’t pulling it off. Screw it! I turned toward the window instead. The fading thump-thump of her black patent sling-backs on the aisle carpet reassured me of the solitude I won but reminded me what I lost when I left Seth to fend for himself. My bigger concern was how to make contact with him without anyone knowing.

The plane banked to the left giving me a wide-angled view of the flat parcels of checkerboard land surrounding the airport and the empty runway in the distance. Barring any unforeseen delays, I should be off the plane and on the road in my rental in ten minutes. I could see the parking lot beyond the airport and thought I saw Jack’s distinctive baby blue Ford half ton truck. Well that’s a surprise. Maybe Tammy has a reason to be jealous of me. It doesn’t matter. That’s not why I accepted his help. As the plane neared the runway, I gathered up my tote and dug around for some lip gloss and a brush. A quick sniff near my armpits and I immediately opted out of beauty and focused on hygiene.

Is Creativity Important? By Mandy Barnett

Simply put – yes - creativity is as important to our health as physical activities. It gives us the opportunity to explore new ideas, gives us new ways of thinking and allows us to problem solve. Through self expression we can create our own ‘visual’ creation of our feelings, ideas and experiences. It may manifest in a painting, a piece of pottery or a story, no matter the medium we use, the act of creating gives us many benefits.

Firstly, we become better problem solvers. How you ask? No ‘art’ form has a user manual so we have to learn new and resourceful ways to overcome a predicament in our creation, whether we are working with a physical object or a concept. Secondly, we connect to other people creating in the same way giving us an instant sense of belonging and community. This allows us to exchange ideas, provides feedback and a sense of connection. Creativity also helps with stress relief. When we are using our hands, minds and energy doing something we enjoy and creating something, daily life disappears as our concentration is on that particular endeavor. Once in the creative zone, time feels limitless and the more we immerse ourselves in it the more time we gain. We also gain a better sense of self awareness and expression. When we create we gain insights into our habits, impulses and desires, which in turn allow us to express ourselves better in our daily lives. When we create we can take risks and try new things.

Other benefits include saving money (well it can if you don’t go overboard with the creative supplies!) When we learn how to make something not only do we get a great sense of fulfillment but negate the need to buy those items. We can create specific items for family and friends, engage in community or charity projects, and maybe even sell our creations.

Here are some benefits for various creative activates.

1. Writing – there are many genres of writing from journaling to creating a novel. It is a vehicle of expression that can be deeply personal and allow us to voice deep seated problems or a way to formulate stories and ideas we want to share.

2. Singing – physical benefits are correct posture and lung capacity but it can also boost our immune system. It is also a great way to have fun and learn new music within a group.

3. Dancing – is a fun way to get fit. It improves muscle tone, cardiovascular health, balance and coordination and can be enjoyed alone or in a social setting.

4. Painting, drawing and sculpting – visual arts have a significant impact on the areas of the brain that process emotions, pleasure and reward and it also reduces anxiety. Although, visual art is subjective – we like what we like – the colours, shapes and textures create a pleasing experience.

5. Playing an instrument – early musical lessons have been found to improve reading and math skills as well as improve brain functions, such as problem solving and memory retention. Apart from the fact that music is enjoyable to listen to and create.

When we ‘create’ something from scratch we get a real sense of accomplishment and the more we practice the better we become. Finding a group of people, who share our enthusiasm and support and help us when we are learning the ‘ropes’ expands our social circle, and gives us the ability to be innovative and imaginative.

There are many groups and organizations within Strathcona County that you can investigate for your particular creative interest. Here is a small selection.

1. Writing – The Writers Foundation of Strathcona County

2. Singing – The Festival Singers

Lamb For Dinner

by Karen Probert

Julia lifted the last dish off the table to carry it over to the sink. She decided the meal had been a total disaster. Viciously scraping the remains of congealed meat and juice off the platter into the bin released some of her frustration. Angelo was still out on the driveway seeing his parents and grandmother on their way home. She could hear their voices but not their words even though from the tone she knew they weren't speaking quietly or with good humour. Angelo's Catholic-Italian-American-heritage family didn't want him to living with, or worse to come, possibly marrying a Protestant background red-haired, blue-eyed Irish girl. Actually Julia was only Irish as a third generation. She was from Australia so knew that her accent confounded Angelo's family. He said, "It doesn't matter. They'll learn to love you." Julia doubted that. Secretly using an app Julia had been learning Italian for enough months to comprehend some of the conversation at the dinner table. She was supposed not to understand. Angelo had explained to his grandmother that the meat was lamb, not horse. Her face had shown her distain while she suggested chicken would have been a better choice. 'If there's a next time I'll cook chicken' was Julia's thought as she heard the car finally backing out of the driveway, She watched as Angelo ran his hands through his thick black curls, then down across his face before slapping both thighs. As he turned towards the house he adjusted his expression. He wasn't about to show Julia the consternation he felt. He needed to be smiling as he came in to help her load the dishwasher. Julia decided right then that both she and Angelo needed to stop the deception that all was working out well for them as a couple. They loved each other but lying about family relationships wasn't healthy or helpful. She'd start tonight in the hopes that Angelo's guard would be down after the stressful hours just now were over and he'd be relaxed. As Angelo came into the kitchen he saw Julia's face as she turned to him. It was obvious to him that she was 'in a mood;, not angry but what?' He didn't know. He kissed her. "That was a wonderful dinner, love. The lamb was perfect with that roasted cheesy cauliflower. Your tiramisu was the best texture as a dessert. Thanks for doing all that work." He wrapped his arms around her to pull her close. While they rocked back and forth he felt some tension release from her shoulders and back.

After the dishwasher was full and running Angelo took out the garbage as Julia rolled the tablecloth and napkins into the laundry hamper. As she poured the last two glasses of smooth red wine into kitchen glasses she suggested they sit in the living room to relax. Angelo checked his phone before saying, "Just a text from Mom. They are home safe and going to bed." He typed in "Good night, sweet dreams," in Italian before setting his phone down on the table. He picked up the TV remote before Julia spoke quickly " No TV yet, Angelo. We need to start a discussion about family. I know you had to convince your grandmother to eat the lamb. I think you explained that it wasn't horsemeat. So far there is no trust. I know they all speak enough English after two generations here to understand me despite my accent but they won't allow themselves to let me know that. If I'm ever to get close to them we have to be able to communicate with each other." Angelo stared down between his knees. He tried to take a deep breath to slow himself down. "I didn't know you knew Italian" came out as a bit of a growl. As he looked at Julia she could see he was upset and confused.

"I don't or I would have. I've been trying to learn some and looked up some words before tonight in case I needed to explain. I'm trying but it's difficult because I know they don't accept me as your partner. I'm pretty sure they are trying regularly to change your mind about me." Angelo's head spun up as he looked shocked. "My mind is made up. I love you. You are my partner as you put it and they have to adjust to that. No question." Taking a deep breath before turning towards him, Julia started with "Then how can we work together to do that? The big family barbecue at your sister's is this weekend. The only people I'll be able to talk to are her kids, Manny and Christa as all the adults will be speaking Italian far too fast for me to understand anything. Unless you help me decide what to wear I'll get that wrong too. For a barbie in Australia or with friends here I'd wear shorts, a tank top and a big sun hat. I doubt your mother or grandmother would approve. What will your sisters wear? And your female cousins? Dresses?

Angelo bit his lip and raised his open hands in a shrug ."Never thought about clothes being an issue. You looked great tonight. I love that yellow dress on you but maybe Grandma and Mom might think it was casual for a dinner party. I don't know. Honestly I don't." The creases in his forehead deepened. "Let's look at photos from last year's family barbie to see what the women wore. Will that help?"

As the wine glasses slowly emptied Julia and Angelo shared photos on his iPad. "I see what you mean", he said," I've never thought about it. Carrie and the cousins are sure flamboyant aren't they?"

Julia laughed for the first time all day. "I can be flamboyant. I'll hit the thrift store on my lunch hour Monday and choose something bright and flouncy. Apparently I'll need spangly sandals too. And big earrings and maybe a couple of bracelets."

Angelo reached over to hold her hand. "Promise me you won't straighten your hair or dye it black or wear red lipstick. Please promise."

Julia thought about how this conversation was going. Pleased that she'd started it she decided this was enough for today. It had Angelo thinking about some small changes. Maybe that could lead to bigger ones. "I love you too, Angelo. I see all the men in these photos are in black pants and white dress shirts. Could you wear a short-sleeved blue cotton shirt on Saturday or would that be too trendy? You have black cotton slacks and sandals too? Would that be too modern?" "It's always so hot to wear suit pants so I'll think about your idea. Maybe not the sandals yet" A smile crossed Angelo's face. "I think we should drain the last dregs of this wine and head off to bed. None of the friends we're meeting for Frisbee golf and a picnic tomorrow are Irish, Italian or anything other than just Canadian like us so we can relax and enjoy the day wearing whatever suits the weather. Come to bed now so I can show you how much I love you." He held out his hand. Julia smiled. The day would end well after all.

'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.

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 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!

“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

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