Upcoming Events

   Oct. 3
SSA Santa Cruz Chapter @ 1—2:45pm
Joyner Library
Memoir authors panel "The Healing Powers of Writing Our Truths"
(see article here)

   Oct. 16
SSA Forum @ 11am—2pm
Hotel Tucson City Center
Jeff Babcock, "Writing About Death"
(see article this page)

   Nov. 20
SSA Forum @ 11am—2pm
Hotel Tucson City Center
Duke Southard, "What's Stopping You From Reaching Your Writing Goals?" & Writing Contest Awards
(see article this page)

   Nov. 7
SSA Santa Cruz Chapter @ 1—2:45pm
Joyner Library
JoAnn Bassett "Self-Publishing—Professional Results on a Shoestring Budget"
(see article here)

To R.S.V.P. SSA Forum
Leave Phone Message
at 809-5008
or e-mail: ssabrunches@gmail.com WEDNESDAY before the Forum
$25 with reservation or
$30 paid at the door

   All my life I knew I would one day go back and write about the time I nearly died on the icy slopes of Alaska's Denali (aka Mount McKinley) in 1967. As is often the case, an obsessive addictive behavior was the cause which triggered the event that nearly did me in. But it was not an addiction to drugs, alcohol, food, workaholism, nor any of the other things that create havoc in our lives. My addiction was to adventure—more specifically to the danger of pitting myself against Mother Nature, at her worst—and with the reality of coming face to face with the 'Grim Reaper' himself. Even today, I am fascinated by the mystery of death—that 'final frontier' we must each cross when our time comes.

   For nearly thirty years, I was an avid mountain climber—caught in an ego driven sport—week in and week out, 12 months a year, for nearly thirty years. Like most addicts, my goal was to feel better, more important, and more exceptional. Yet I could never see that this need for recognition was being fueled primarily by a wounded ego, and my low sense of self esteem. In 2010, my wife and I left Alaska, and moved to Green Valley, Arizona to care for her aging father who was approaching his final years in the usual way—by growing old.

   Living with my father-in-law's slow demise, I soon discovered I now had the time—and yes, the inclination to take a good look at my lifelong relationship with danger—and it's inherent attraction to cheat death. So I wrote a book about it in 2012 entitled Should I Not Return, which is not your typical mountain climbing story. My book goes back into all the variables that nurtured and enabled my poor self-concept.

   My book Should I Not Return reveals facets from my early childhood, as well as my parents' failings and strengths. The challenges of adulthood were followed by my first failed marriage. Then came the raising of our four children in today's 'blended family,' and the trials and tribulations of marriage to Peg—my loving wife of thirty years. I also discovered a passion for looking at some of the backgrounds of the early pioneer climbers on Denali—in an attempt to draw parallels to my own experience.

   In 2014, I continued to address my confrontation with Death on Denali, (the title of a DVD I created), which delved further into my story—and into the my desire to more fully understand and explore the concept of writing about death.

   I graduated in 1969, with a B. A. in Secondary Education and then taught two years in Groton, Connecticut. In 1972 I returned to Alaska, where I received an M. A. in Special Education, and worked as a Special Ed resource teacher in the Anchorage and the Matanuska-Susitna school districts. During this time, my brother and I oversaw the mountaineering program at the University of Alaska, Anchorage. Together, we introduced countless students to the joys of climbing, with expeditions to Denali and many of Alaska's surrounding peaks. I've written articles for the Anchorage Daily News and Alaska Magazine. My wife and I are currently both retired and work part time at the ACE Hardware store in Green Valley. I am also working on a second novel which continues to explore the concepts of death and dying. My book will perhaps be entitled—The Final Frontier—and it will have nothing to do with Star Trek.

   What can we as writers glean from our critics? Duke Southard will take us on his journey as a "second career" writer and will explain how the many critics of his writing brought about changes to his approach to his work. Beginning with Robert Newton Peck, a harsh critic of his first novel as a work in progress, through to editors' manuscript evaluations of his later novels, this program will address the growth that can come from critique groups, other professional writers, critics, publisher and agent rejections, friends, family, and that most important critic of all, our inner self critic. Specific examples from his work and the work of other authors will be used to illustrate the positive (and possibly negative) impact which criticism may have on a writer.

   Southard, author of four novels and two non-fiction works, is the recipient of the first place award in the 2016 Writer's Digest Writing Competition in the personal essay/memoir category, and the first place award in the same category in the 2015 SSA Writing Contest.

   Three of his novels have been selected as finalists in the New Mexico/Arizona Book Awards and his first novel, A Favor Returned, was also finalist in the 2014 Indie Publishers Next Generation Book Awards. He was a public school educator for thirty five years before officially beginning his writing career. He and his wife, Barbara, lived in New Hampshire for forty years before moving full time to Arizona in 2009.

   At this forum, we are also presenting awards to the winners, honorable mentions and commendations from the SSA Writing Contest. Each will receive a StoryTeller with the winners and honorable mentions published in it, and commendation names listed. All attendees will also be able to purchase copies.

   Forums are at Tucson City Center InnSuites. Remember, you save $5 when you register by Wednesday prior to the forum ($25 for registered guests, $30 at the door). Call in your reservations to Danette Young at 520-809-5008 (new number, leave a message) or e-mail ssabrunches@gmail.com.


Sharon K. Miller's second novel in The Clay Series, The Clay Endures, launched on July 30 in Silver City, New Mexico, at the annual Clay Festival.
The Clay Series, published by Buckskin Books, chronicles the tale of one pot, three women, and eight hundred years, taking the reader back in time from the 1980s in The Clay Remembers (2015) to the 1860s in The Clay Endures, and, finally, to the twelfth century in The Clay Sustains (2017).
Set in Tucson with a small scrap of desert known to locals as the Romero Ruin in Catalina State Park as the focal point, The Clay Remembers tells of an archaeologist, on the run from an abusive husband, who finds the broken pieces of the pot and reconstructs it even as she reconstructs her life. Her spiritual nature opens her to the secrets and songs in the potsherds, and she finds a kinship with a woman who lived on the site in the nineteenth century and the woman who made the pot centuries before.
In The Clay Endures, Esperanza Ramirez and her husband are the first to venture beyond the Santa Catalina Mountains, coming to this place to start a cattle ranch. Esperanza struggles to hold on to their dream in spite of loneliness and the constant threat of death at the hands of the Apaches. When she finds an ancient pot while digging her garden, it offers the companionship of another woman who lived and struggled here. Will it be enough when she delivers her stillborn child alone, when outlaws attack, and when the mysterious Apache who watches from a distance makes his move?
Both books (in print and digital formats) are available at most online retailers and at Antigone's and Mostly Books in Tucson. See www.sharonkmiller.com for more information.

Thelma Rea's Bittersweet Resort: A Memoir of Our Ozark Odyssey, was published by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform in March, 2016.
Bittersweet Resort is a warm, funny memoir about the eleven years Dick and Thelma Rea survived the Ozarks. In 1971 they bought nine run-down cottages on Table Rock Lake and rented them out for $11 to $17 a day. Meet their memorable neighbors, including the man who kept his dead mother in a Kenmore freezer for 56 days, trying to resurrect her. Follow the escapades of their guests: many are hilarious, some bittersweet, and a few tragic. Experience the awakening of a backward mountain country, brought to life by an amazing chain of five lakes straddling Missouri and Arkansas, built by the Corps of Engineers. Visit Branson before it became a country music phenomenon. This is a story of transformation. The Rea children adapt to a school built by the WPA in 1936—a one-hour bus ride from their remote home. Dick progresses from New York City executive to carpenter/plumber/man-of-all-trades. Thelma steers the neglected resort into a popular destination. Take this journey with them. Travel back to a simpler time. You'll wish you had been a guest at Bittersweet Resort.

Duke Southard's fourth novel, Cracks in the Wall, was released in early July. The book is inspired by his work on a true crime story of a murder in his hometown of Wolfeboro, New Hampshire. The novel was also the subject of a feature article by Dan Shearer, editor of the Green Valley News, which was published on July 20, 2016.
Duke signed copies of Cracks in the Wall, at the Country Bookseller in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire in August. The novel is receiving much attention in the New England area and there was a good turnout.
Duke, Denise Roessle, Bob Hunton, Eve Crook, and Ken Williams were featured in a July 10, 2016 article in the entertainment section of the Green Valley News. The article, titled "Book Publishing Today," shared the journey to publication of their books.

Sharon Sterling submitted two books from her Arizona Thriller trilogy to the Colorado Independent Publishers Association EVVY Awards and placed 2nd with Fatal Refuge in the Fiction/Mystery & Detective category. Her first book, The Well, earned a merit prize in the Fiction/Action Adventure category. It is set in central Arizona, and Montezuma Well (which is near Montezuma Castle National Monument). It features a psychotherapist and a native american woman. Fatal Refuge is set in Yuma Arizona and Kofa National Wildlife Refuge. Its protagonist is the Native American woman, Kim Altaha and the psychotherapist is a secondary character. I don't know what to tell you about the Colorado Independent Publisher's association, except that the contest is not limited to Colorado residents, naturally. P.S. I also judged for these awards. I did the "self-help" category, the "romance" category and "family relationships" categories, one book from each category. Two of the books I judged were also "finalists."

Gene Twaronite is excited to announce that my first poetry collection Trash Picker on Mars has just been published by Aldrich Press (an imprint of Kelsay Books).
Read what one advance reviewer has to say:
"Trash Picker on Mars provides readers with the ideal collection of poetry. Why ideal? Because there is truly a poem or more that will resonate with every stripe of reader. Readers will find poems ranging from edgy to whimsical to thought-provoking to inscrutable to perceptive. The collection is ideal for browsing, multiple readings, and sharing. The true sign of a good poem is that it is easy to read aloud, while stirring subsequent discussion. Those wise enough to acquire Trash Picker on Mars will find the collection to be both satisfying and inspiring. —Suzanne Barchers, EdD, Former Managing Editor, Weekly Reader.

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 November