Monthly Archives: December 2014

From Our Wordsmiths Newsletter – Highlights from Ursula K. Le Guin

Highlights from Ursula K. Le Guin

On November 19, 2014, Ursula K. Le Guin was honored at the National Book Awards. Below are some excerpts from her inspiring and insightful acceptance speech.

I think hard times are coming when we will be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now and can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies toother ways of being, and even imagine some real grounds for hope. We will need writers who can remember freedom. Poets, visionaries—the realists of a larger reality.

Right now, I think we need writers who know the difference between the production of a market commodity and the practice of an art. Developing written material to suit sales strategies in order to maximize corporate profit and advertising revenue is not quite the same thing as responsible book publishing or authorship.

Yet I see sales departments given control over editorial; I see my own publishers in a silly panic of ignorance and greed, charging public libraries for an ebook six or seven times more than they charge customers. We just saw a profiteer try to punish a publisher for disobedience and writers threatened by corporate fatwa, and I see a lot of us, the producers who write the books, and make the books, accepting this. Letting commodity profiteers sell us like deodorant, and tell us what to publish and what to write.

Books, you know, they’re not just commodities. The profit motive often is in conflict with the aims of art. We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art, and very often in our art—the art of words.

I have had a long career and a good one. In good company. Now here, at the end of it, I really don’t want to watch American literature get sold down the river. We who live by writing and publishing wan —and should demand—our fair share of the proceeds. But the name of our beautiful reward is not profit. Its name is freedom.”

For more interesting info, tips and inspiration see our December newsletter!


SLO NW Critique Groups With Openings

Below you can find a list of critique groups that are currently open to new members. NW critique groups are a wonderful benefit of NW membership. To be eligible to participate, your NightWriters dues must be current. While we cannot be, and are not, responsible for any outcomes from these associations, we hope they lead to great creative magic and magnificent literary works! If you see a group that you would like to join, or visit to observe, please e-mail Andrea Chmelik at for contact information.



Poetry Critique Group Emerging! Any poet can join. Any poet can benefit from input of a group, regardless of experience. Email and together we can set time and place to meet.

Moderator: Irene Chadwick



Meets in the South County. Critiqued at a fast pace, in a process where members critique each other’s writing electronically, followed by a face-to-face meeting twice a month. Meetings are held 1st and 3rd Saturdays at 10am. Contact moderator for details and directions.

Moderator: Lili Sinclaire



Meets the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays from 9:00 am-12:00 noon (subject to change). Adult and children’s fiction and nonfiction. No genre or skill level restrictions. Meets in Paso Robles.

Moderator: Lillian Brown



New group starts Saturday May 10. All levels and genres, short stories, poetry, novels and memoirs. Work is exchanged one week prior to group meetings. 1500 word limit on submissions. Meets the 2nd and 4th Saturdays from 9:00-11:00 am. Contact moderator for location.

Moderator: Tom Snow



This group was invented to fill a need for a Los Osos/San Luis Obispo group that incorporates writers who generate stories, essays, novels, poetry—you get the picture—writers of any description. Whether or not you wish to publish, we’ll help you with ideas to improve your writing. Led by Sharon Sutliff, we meet on the 2nd and 4th Mondays at 9 AM and usually wrap up in time for lunch. We meet in various locations. Call one of the moderators to arrange a visit, or get more information.

Moderators: Sharon Sutliff and Audrey Yanes


WHAT IF? WRITING GROUP II (Wed. Afternoon Group)

For all writers of fiction and creative non-fiction. Meets every Wednesday in Los Osos from 3:00pm to 5:00 pm. Not a traditional NightWriter critique group. Work is produced in each session, then analyzed according to the objective of the day’s goal. Based on writing exercises designed to jump-start the creative process (gleaned from a variety of published authors), these sessions take writers through the process of writing fiction from inception of idea to the final resolution. This group is for all writers who want to learn the process of crafting a well-told story while developing their own voice and style. We explore such topics as ideas, character, story arc, tone, voice, POV, tension, dialogue, resolution, writing mechanics, etc. There is a small monthly fee involved for this class to cover materials.

Moderator: Susan Tuttle


WHAT IF? WRITING GROUP III (Monday Evening Group)

This group is on hiatus at this time. If you are interested in an evening class, contact the moderator.

Moderator: Susan Tuttle



Lili Sinclaire is considering FORMING A NEW GROUP for ADULT NOVELS in a process where members critique each other’s writing electronically, followed by a face- to-face meeting.

Moderator: Lili Sinclaire

Tagged ,

SLO NightReaders – December Pick

For December, we selected Katya Cengel‘s “Bluegrass Baseball: A Year in the Minor League Life”. Following four Minor League baseball teams in Kentucky through the 2010 season—the triumphs, struggles, and big league hopes and dreams—the book tells the larger story of baseball in America’s smaller venues, where the game in its purest form is still valued and warmly embraced.


 The story begins before the season with national-anthem singing tryouts in Lexington, then tags along with players, staffs, and fans at home, in the office, and on the field, offering a rare glimpse of the unglamorous reality of Minor League ball. From the front-office staff in Bowling Green planning kooky promotions, to a trainer grocery shopping for a team on forty dollars a day, to a new wife coming to terms with her husband’s transitory lifestyle, to a father struggling to make it back to the Majors and a Cuban defector blowing everyone away with a 100-mph-plus fastball these are the people who live to make baseball happen, in all its nitty-gritty glory.

Katya Cengel lives in California Central Coast and was a presenter at the 2013 Central Coast Writers Conference. She has written about everything from retired dancing bears in Bulgaria to the world’s largest machine gun shoot in Kentucky. Her work has appeared in Newsweek, National Geographic and among other publications. A World Affairs Journalism Fellow in 2005, she received second place in the Society of Professional Journalists Green Eyeshade Award in 2006 for her series “Lost Boys, Torn Families”. Her book “Bluegrass Baseball: A Year in the Minor League Life” (University of Nebraska Press), was one of five finalists for the 2013 Kentucky Literary Award.

Tagged , , , ,