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September 2023 Newsletter

September 2023

September 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 Sept 5, 2023

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

Next Board Meeting: Sept 12, 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: On hiatus till Sept 2023

Children's Creative Writing Workshop

Second Thursday of each month

Next Meeting Sept 14, 2023

Reply to the link on our Website

Words in the Park 2023

WFSC is pleased to present Words in the Park once again for 2023. This year we will be partnering with ACCSC during their Strathcona County Culture Days 2023, as part Alberta Culture Days on Sept 23 in the Agora, Community C, 401, Festival Way, Sherwood Park from 10 am to 4 pm

Details to come later so pay attention to our website and if you wish to participate contact us at

This Month's Submissions

Optic Twitch by Mandy Eve-Barnett

Energy surges through my circuits until my meter alerts me to a full charge. I step from my port into the hallway, closing the steels doors behind me before turning towards the kitchen. The house is quiet, apart from my metallic footsteps. Steel appliances, sleek cupboards and counters greet my optics. Scanning the surfaces several show deposits of organic material. A twitch flickers my left optic. The area was spotless prior to my returning to my port last night. Holding out one upper appendage disinfectant sprays the offending surfaces, prior to my wiping away the fluid. Going through my image recorder an image shows the teenager, Tommy, making a late-night snack once again. I may need to reschedule my charging time to ensure the area is cleaned properly once he has retired to bed. Another twitch of my optic –this has been happening more regularly. I may need to schedule a maintenance appointment and recalibrate on charging time – both tasks are obstructive to my routine.

As I begin assembling cooking utensils and food stuffs, footsteps approach. I know her presence before my head turns.

“Good morning, Mrs. Smithers.”

She nods, yawns, and looks at the coffee percolating, before sitting at the breakfast bar.

“Morning, CW2.”

I pour a cup of coffee and place it front of her, before returning to the task of cooking breakfast for the family. I have been in service for five years now and know their routine and my set tasks. It is structured and easy to maintain, although the teenager has diverted from normal for several weeks now. That twitch again, I must have a lose circuit. Automated maintenance request sent.

Newspaper report two months later: Further to my previous report regarding the attack on a teenager, Robotic Corp Inc has reported that the incident was a malfunction in the main circuit board of the CW2 model 77, which was assigned to the Smithers household. They assured this reporter that a complete and through investigation has taken place and the unit destroyed. The corporation advised that they made an offer of a brand-new unit to the Smithers free of charge, but to date they have not replied. The teenager, Tommy Smithers, was aged sixteen. Our sympathies go to the family.

This reporter was able to speak with Mr. Smithers, who said the robotic unit had displayed optical twitches for several weeks prior to the incident. He was vehement that the family would never have another unit in their home and will be seeking legal consul.

One Hundred Days by Karen Probert One hundred days! Taiban had counted them. He'd put a small purple X in the bottom right corner of each daily box on the calendar over his desk. Each morning when he got out of bed he put on his slippers before opening the blind over the window to see if the grey SUV was in the driveway. Then he would creep along the hallway to his parent's room as soon as he heard his mother start her shower. He'd look to see if his father was in the bed in that big bedroom. His eyes would close and the corners of his mouth turn down when he saw the bed clothes were only rumpled on one side of that King-sized bed. Dad's car was never in the driveway either. Sadness would sweep over him. Today was one hundred days from when his father had packed his duffel bag and huge backpack and left the house before breakfast. Taiban considered that Day One. His father had hugged him. "Be good, son." he'd said quietly as he looked at Taiban's mother and blew her another kiss. Dad and Mom both had tears in their eyes. Taiban wasn't supposed to notice that. One hundred days. That was all of February, March, April and the first eleven days of May. Taiban had been going to school, doing homework, playing with friends, going to Scouts on Thursday nights. He still went to hockey practice twice a week and played league games or in tournaments on weekends. Before this Dad had always driven him to Scouts, taken Taiban to Canadian Tire or Home Depot on Friday nights to prepare for their weekend projects in the house or garage. There hadn't been any projects for over one hundred days. Mom hated Home Depot. She liked Home Sense and Fabricland. To Taiban Home Sense smelled like candles and clean towels but not like tools or wood or boxes of nails. Uncle Paul had said he would barbecue steaks for the whole family on Sunday. Taiban hadn't had any steak, nothing even barbecued, since his father left. Mom was scared to turn the barbecue on so they ate chicken, fish, lots of salad and some noodles. Taiban had told Uncle Paul he wanted his steak Medium Rare like his Dad always asked for. Uncle Paul had hugged Taiban and said "No problem, little buddy. Medium Rare is my specialty." When Taiban's mother looked over Uncle Paul shrugged his shoulders ,then closed his eyes as his face turned sad and he grimaced. Taibans's Mom said "You can bounce on the trampoline if it's warm enough while Uncle Paul is cooking too." Her face looked soft, hopeful. It didn't look that way much anymore. Sunday came. Taiban had X'd off one hundred and three days on his calendar. He'd gotten a really good shot during his hockey game which had scored the winning goal. After he'd been home, showered and changed into clean clothes they drove to Uncle Paul's house. The cousins, Axl and Poppy, were jumping on the trampoline. There were great snacks on the picnic table along with pop. Taiban ate some watermelon and went to join his cousins. Mom was acting weird. She kept walking to the side yard where the gate was closed to keep Nuptse, the dog, in the yard. Uncle Paul came out with a platter of steaks under plastic. Auntie Iris brought out potato salad and some coleslaw in covered bowls and then plugged in a big crockpot of baked beans. Mom had her phone in her hand and up near her ear but she wasn't talking. Taiban watched as Uncle Paul put the steaks on the barbecue. He counted. There were seven steaks. There were only six people here. Taiban jumped down onto the grass just as his mother called "Taiban, come here please." He stopped to stand beside her while stretching his neck to look up at her face. She was beaming. She was looking at the gate. Taiban heard the latch click and stared just as his father in full uniform walked through the gate. Everyone cheered. Mom ran with Taiban to be hugged by his Dad. He had come straight to Uncle Paul's to end his deployment. Later His Dad explained to Taiban that he had been deployed for one hundred days in Afghanistan but it took three days to get to the airport, fly to Germany to be checked by military medical personnel, then get another plane to fly home. Taiban drew a purple happy face on his calendar space for May 14.

Declaring My Love by Mandy Eve-Barnett

The hours felt like days sitting beside her mother in her hospital bed. She’d bargained with the gods for a good outcome, begged for her ailing parent to recover, and roared internally at the unfairness of it all. The nursing staff came and went, the doctor gave platitudes but no promises, and her brother rushed in and out declaring work emergencies. The room felt too still when the two of them were left alone, even with the monitoring machines beeping and the sky’s constant changing shapes and colours outside the three-storey window.

She watched her mother’s chest rise and fall, her eyelids flutter, her body pale and unmoving, willing her to open those blue eyes, speak one word – anything to give her hope. Pulling up the blanket she felt the coolness of her mother’s skin and looked around for a spare blanket, eventually finding one in the closet. Returning to her chair by the bedside, Anika stroked the still hand before sitting back. Exhaling anxiety, she picked up her journal. The process of writing calmed her under normal circumstances, so she hoped it would now.

The pen hovered over the blank page, her mind unable to form words, or thoughts. What could she write? How could she unjumble her mind from the increasing fear of loss? She looked down to see words scribbled on the page, had her unconscious mind written them? Anika read the short paragraph.

You gave me life. Loved me unconditionally. Supported and encouraged me. What did I give you in return? I favoured Dad over you as a toddler. I was a brat of a daughter in my teenage years always pushing you to your limit. Dismissing your wisdom as I entered the workplace and moved out to live on my own. Only turning to you in times of crisis. What joy did I give you? Do you know I love you? I will show you the depth of my love just get better. Don’t leave me. I need you. I promise to be a better daughter. Know I do live you very much.

The last word read; a murmur caught Anika’s attention. “Mum, was that you?” Again, a whisper and the slight movement of lips. Anika bent over her mother’s face turning her ear to listen. Hope filling her chest.

“Yes, I know you love me, my sweet girl.”

Anika stood upright, her brow creasing. “How can you know my internal thoughts, Mum?”

Her mother’s hand lifts from the blanket and Anika takes it, breathing heavily with unsuppressed joy.

“I know you inside out, my darling, even if you don’t believe it. We are similar people. I was the same with your grandma. Love isn’t always easy, but it is always present.” An inhale, then, “Do you think I could have a drink. I am so thirsty?”

Tears rolled down Anika’s cheeks as she pressed the call button repeatedly. “Yes, of course, I will get you water. Oh, Mum, I’m so grateful to hear your voice. I do love you.” Her mother opened her eyes, smiled, and pointed to the journal. “I’ll want that love letter.”

'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.

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. The Last Heir to Blackwood Library by Hester Fox Review by Mandy Barnett Beautifully written, exquisite language, with growing tension and apprehension. I was transported to another time and place with ease. I will be looking for more books from Hester. Highly recommended.

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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