The Founding of the Viva Scrivas

by Elizabeth Rusch
Published on: April 15, 2011
Categories: Basics, Other Topics
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Comments: 3 Comments

I’ve been in critique groups before, for my magazine writing and for my children’s book writing. They faded away mostly because of busy schedules.

So in 2006, I found myself without a critique group but with a grave need for feedback on a number of picture book manuscript and a brewing middle grade novel.  I had met various people over the years whom I liked, respected, and admired. People who seemed like good writers, good critiquers, and good people. Niceness was a non-negotiable criteria. Funny a close second!

I thought of Nicole Schrieber, a graduate of Vermont College MFA in children’s literature. I knew two people from the program who told me to look her up when she moved to Portland from Los Angeles. I did and I liked her immediately. She joined another critique group in its last days, but it was enough time for me to tell that she was a talented writer and excellent critiquer. So I invited her. She brought along her friend Sabina Rascol, who had a delightful picturebook called The Impudent Rooster and more projects in the works.

I thought of Amber Keyser, who I met at an SCBWI conference in Seattle. We had both gravitated to the NONFICTION table at lunch time. We sat together and it was like the rest of the conference melted away. It was love at first sight. Here was a fellow mom, a scientist (I love science), and outdoor adventurer, and a children’s book author with this lovely book called Paddle My Own Canoe. I had kept her postcard about the book and now I had a reason to contact her. I did and she asked if her friend Ruth Feldman, a nonfiction kids book author who was writing a couple of middle grade novels, could also join. I said sure.

Then I contacted folks from another critique group that had petered out due to busy lives, new babies, new jobs. The clever, hilarious, talented Mary Rehmann was up for it. Yay!

I also knew of two amazing up-and-coming young writers. They had both served as interns/writers assistant to me so I knew first-hand that they were lovely, fun, and talented. They had commented on my work and I had seen their writing, so I knew they would be wonderful to have in the group. Melissa Dalton and Addie Boswell, who already sold her first picture book The Rain Stomper, joined us. Addie is also an artist and it’s such a wonderful viewpoint to have when you want comments on a picture book.

So I gathered all the emails, picked a place and time to meet, and the rest is history!

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3 Comments - Leave a comment
  1. I am so happy that you looked me up! Hurray!

  2. this post is quoted by A Writer’s Dates « Viva Scriva says:

    […] buddy. She’s the one who later invited me to join her at a newly-forming critique group [see Liz's early post about the forming of Viva Scriva]. For the longest time, Nicole and I met Thursday evenings at the same fun cafe in Portland’s […]

  3. […] was organizing Viva Scriva in 2006. How did our writers’ critique group get started? Click here to see what Liz has to […]

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