Upcoming Events

   May 29
SSA Valley of the Sun Chapter @ 2:30—4:30pm
Tempe Public Library
Judith Starkston "Writing Historicals"
(see article here)

   June 19
SSA Forum @ 11am—2pm
Tucson City Center InnSuites
Rajendra Srivastava, "Behind the Bars: Prison Stories"
(see article this page)

   June 26
SSA Valley of the Sun Chapter @ 2:30—4:30pm
Tempe Public Library
discussion panel "Traditional Versus Self-Publishing: Which Is Best for You?"
(see article here)

   July 17
SSA Forum @ 11am—2pm
Tucson City Center InnSuites
David Robrock, "The Literary Apprenticeship of Mark Twain"
(see article this page)

   June 26
SSA Valley of the Sun Chapter @ 2:30—4:30pm
Tempe Public Library
discussion panel "Traditional Versus Self-Publishing: Which Is Best for You?"
(see article here)

   September 30
SSA Writing Contest Deadline
(see contest page here)

To R.S.V.P. SSA Forum
Leave Phone Message
at 546-9382
or e-mail: ssabrunches@gmail.com WEDNESDAY before the Forum
$25 with reservation or
$30 paid at the door

   A lot of people have never seen a prison, and what they know about this institution is, in large part, from movies; TV shows; books and articles, both fiction and non-fiction; and talks by politicians and prison officials. Most of it is stereotypical, biased, and baseless.

   Rajendra Srivastava (Pen name: Rajendra Kumar) has worked at the Arizona State prison for about 16 years as a psychologist and has visited many prison systems around the world. The knowledge gained has provided him with material for his writings. In addition to a few professional articles he has written many fictionalized stories and a novel (The Devils and the Damned) focusing on prisons, its operations, philosophy, staff and inmates. The reader, while being entertained, gets the truth about a system which is mired in myth and misinformation.

   Raj will speak about how his prison experiences translated into his literary endeavors. His prison stories, while enlightening, will make you laugh, cry, be infuriated, and amused. His talk will be especially helpful to those who wish to use prison as a setting for their writings.

   Raj's writings cover other subject matters also, which have resulted in two collections of stories, Memories of a Distant Star and Vishwaroop. Both books and his novel are available from Amazon.

   Mark Twain (1835-1910) is one the best known and most popular American authors. He wrote such classics as Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, along with numerous other novels, travel books, short stories and sketches. In his lifetime he was a highly regarded public speaker. In 2010 the first volume of his autobiography, which he restricted to publication a hundred years after his death, was published. Thus Mark Twain has had new material published for three centuries in a row.

   Mark Twain is of course the pen name of Samuel Langhorne Clemens, who was born and raised in modest circumstances in Missouri. After a stint as a typesetter and riverboat pilot, he went to Nevada Territory with his brother in 1861. After a year as unsuccessful prospector he went to work as a newspaper reporter in a Nevada mining town and eight years later was one of the best known and richest authors in America. How did he progress so rapidly in his literary career?

   A standard answer would be that "he was a genius," which really doesn't tell us much. Even extraordinary talent needs education, guidance, mentoring and encouragement. It occurred to me that the answer might be found in Roughing It, his second book which was published in 1872. The book describes Twain's adventures and experiences in Nevada and California in the years 1861-1869 which could also be considered the years of his literary apprenticeship. None of the chapters directly covers his apprenticeship but I found references to his literary activities scattered through the text. So I literally "cut and pasted" my way through an online copy of the book and eventually had an account of his literary apprenticeship in his own words. I filled in the gaps with quotations from his autobiography and published letters and then spliced and glued them altogether, sanded it off and put on a couple coats of varnish so no one would notice the work marks.

   Whenever someone plays Mark Twain the question of "will you be in costume" comes up. Well, I could appear in an appropriate costume but no one would recognize me. When we think of Mark Twain we think of an old man in a white linen suit, an image popularized by Hal Holbrook. Holbrook was doing a middle aged Mark Twain, full of worldly wisdom (and a touch of worldly weariness). Holbrook's does "MarkTwain.2" so to speak. I want to do the early Mark Twain, when he experienced minor setbacks and major triumphs, the Mark Twain who couldn't believe his good fortune ("MarkTwain.1"). This Mark Twain wore black suits when he was giving a public lecture (where he was heralded as "The Wild Humorist of the Pacific Slope"). The lecture will cover the years from 1861 to 1873 as Twain progressed from a beginning newspaper reporter to a short story writer and author of popular travel books, culminating in the publication of his first novel in 1873. Also to be covered will be his introduction to public speaking and how he met his wife-to-be (who became his in-house editor for the rest of her life). As Mark would say, the doors open at 10:30 and the trouble begins at 11:30.


James E. Cox was recognized by the Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance (SAACA) for his service to the country as a veteran of the Korean conflict and his contributions to the Arts as a recognized Poet Laureate of the International Society of Poets at their Oro Valley Council meeting on May 4, 2016. After an interview, the students from Canada Del Oro High School in Oro Valley, Arizona created a body of multiple art pieces depicting honors received during Jim's lifetime. The student project will be displayed in the Council Chambers for the month of May, and then transferred to the Oro Valley Library.

The Write Word
published bi-monthly by the Board of Directors
of The Society of Southwestern Authors
P.O. Box 30355, Tucson, AZ 85751

Board of Dirctors

Chris Stern:

Vice President
Rajendra (Raj) Srivastava: rajendrasrivastava@outlook.com

Jay McCall: jmccall415@msn.com

Recording Secretary

Corresponding Secretary

Membership & Forum Programs & Reservations Chair
Sharon Lashinger: srlashinger@hotmail.com
Reservations: 546-9382 or
E-mail: ssabrunches@gmail.com

Members at Large
Dan Baldwin: baldco@msn.com

Bob Hunton: rlh10@cox.net

Debora Lewis: deboraklewis@yahoo.com

Penny Porter: wporter202@aol.com

Jim Snedden: jimsnedden@comcast.net

Danette Young: dmyoung3@gmail.com


Conference Co-Chair

Writing Contest
Bob Hunton: info@ssa-az.org
contest page

Speaker's Bureau Coordinator

Writing Group Coordinator
Write Word Editor
Mike Rom: writeword@ssa-az.org

SSA Home Page:


Mike Rom: writeword@ssa-az.org

NOTE: Deadline for next issue is the 15th day of July