You’ll have to visit Elizabeth (Liz) Rusch’s website to see all the books and articles she’s written over the decades. It’s an amazing collection of fiction and nonfiction. I’ve livened up dinner parties and entertained grandchildren with info gleaned from Liz’s submissions to the Scrivas on, say, volcano formation, or Maria Mozart, or the ozone layer, to name a few of the very many topics. Two of my recent favorite Liz books are her graphic novel, Muddy Max, and her nonfiction book on harnessing energy from the ocean, The Next Wave. See what I mean? Liz’s topics are all over the place and she likes it that way. So do I. I’m often surprised by her next writing project, but I do know one thing for sure: if it’s written by Elizabeth Rusch, it’s star quality.

So, Liz, what brings you to writing? I am a writer because I’m interested in so much about the world and people. […]

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If we Scrivas had an annual Most Productive Writer award in our critique group, we’d give it to Amber this year, along with a well deserved trip to her favorite ski lodge or spa.

Amber is the author of the forthcoming Pointe, Claw (Carolrhoda Lab, 2017), a novel about two girls claiming their own personal power; The V-Word (Beyond Words, 2016), an anthology of personal essays by women about first-time sexual experiences; The Way Back from Broken (Carolrhoda Lab, 2015), a heart-wrenching novel of loss and survival; and Sneaker Century: A History of Athletic Shoes (Twenty-First Century Books, 2015). She is the co-author with Kiersi Burkhart of the middle grade series Quartz Creek Ranch (Darby Creek, 2017). And these are just her latest books.

At various times, Amber has been a newspaper deliverer, a cake cutter, a nanny, a ballet dancer, a counselor, a sign-maker, a costumer, a clerk, a biologist, a teacher, and now—a writer. […]

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While some of us Scrivas have been together since the critique group was formed, other writers have come and gone, or, as I’d like to think, are taking a long sabbatical. Sara is the newest among us and, as you can read in her Viva Scriva blog post, she didn’t take joining lightly.

What can I say about Sara? The short version is that she is a Portland (Oregon)-based writer who works as a librarian and who will be teaching a “Writing the Other: Comics and Graphic Novels” class on September 10. Her works for teen readers and others include the award-winning novels Empress of the World and Rules for Hearts, the graphic novel Bad Houses, and numerous mini-comics, as well as contributions to anthologies, the most recent of which appears in Amber J. Keyser’s The V-WordI first encountered Sara’s writing when I deconstructed the sibling relationship in Rules for Hearts during my revisions to The Ninth Day. […]

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First up for my feature of the Viva Scriva critique group is Melissa Dalton, who has been with this writer’s critique group for as long as I have. Melissa is a freelance writer who has focused on Pacific Northwest design and lifestyle since 2008, when she started out as an Assistant Editor at  Portland Spaces (a now-defunct magazine). Since 2012, she has been a regular contributing writer for the design department at 1859: Oregon’s Magazine, where she profiles various aspects of home and commercial design around the state. Other publications include: Curbed, Salon, Portland Spaces, and salt: telling Maine stories, as well as custom publications.

Melissa has an MA in English from Portland State University, and she has studied documentary fieldwork at the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies and Duke University Center for Documentary Studies. When she’s not focused on her nonfiction work, she’s writing fiction that I am eager for you to see. […]

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I wandered over to Powell’s Books recently (a perk of living in Portland) and was delighted to discover Will It Blow? featured in the kid’s section of the store. Elizabeth Rusch (aka Scriva Liz) wrote this nonfiction thriller on Mt. Saint Helens at about the time that she was organizing Viva Scriva in 2006. How did our writers’ critique group get started? Click here to see what Liz has to say.

I had little to do with Will It Blow?, as I recall, because the book was launched in the spring of 2007, when Viva Scriva was getting its sea legs. Still, sitting on the shelves at Powell’s, Will It Blow? felt like family. I felt the urge to kvell. And I so did.

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Sketch by Scriva artist and writer Addie Boswell, 2010

Today is the summer solstice, the official start of summer. The elves at Ooligan Press are turning the manuscript for Seven Stitches into book form, and I get a breather. I’m not exactly sending my muse on vacation. The truth is that she and I are already discussing the next story (she does most of the talking). Still, for the nonce I am deadline free, and I want to use some of this time to introduce you to each member of the current Viva Scriva, the writer’s critique group that continues to nurture, cajole, advise, suggest, sympathize, guide, goad, and otherwise keep me writing and keep me sane. Over the summer and maybe into the fall, I’ll be devoting blog posts to each of these Scrivas, so you can get to know them and their work. You are in for a treat! […]

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This first week in May brings to mind the liberation of the concentration camps at the end of World War II. The Nazis had exterminated an estimated 11 million people because of political or religious affiliations, sexual orientation, or physical or mental disabilities.

Six million of these people were Jews.

Some were members of my family.

I have yet to write about those Holocaust years, although The Ninth Day (companion novel to Blue Thread and the forthcoming Seven Stitches) spirals between the free speech protestors in 1964 Berkeley and the Jewish granddaughter of Rashi in 1099 Paris, in the aftermath of the Crusader attack on the Jews of Mainz. The story touches on survival and guilt, on speaking up, and on the power of song.

The main character in The Ninth Day speaks up as little as possible to avoid stuttering.  She would have admired Aaron, the boy who stutters in Anna Olswanger’s Greenhorn. […]

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Hello, all.

I know it’s been a while, a very long while, since I’ve posted. I’ve been hyper busy on polishing Book Three. Still, I had to share this news, which came to me via a Twitter post from Ooligan Press.

The Oregonian recently compiled a list of 21 little-known must-read books about Oregon. Blue Thread shares the honors with books from many authors I admire, particularly Ursula K. Le Guin. I am blown away.

 

 

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Writers read. It’s one of the perks of this particular calling. I get to stack an armload of books by my comfy chair and sample another author’s fare without the slight twinge of guilt because this is, after all, “work.” Included in my recent “work” was reading Barry Deutsch’s Hereville: How Mirka Caught a Fish as part of the #Readukkah reviews for the Association of Jewish Libraries.

Tonight, when I light the Hanukkah candles on a 1970s birch-log menorah, I will reread How Mirka Caught a Fish just for fun. This comic/graphic novel is third in the series about Mirka, who is “yet another 11-year-old time-traveling Orthodox Jewish babysitter,” according to the cover. For those of you unfamiliar with the Hereville series, click here. You’ll know in short order that Barry is a master at writing and illustrating a whopping good tale.

The story combines universal themes of adventure and sibling rivalry with the sort of Old World monsters that my grandmother told me about, the kind that I figure also frightened and fascinated her when she was little. […]

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Rain has returned to Portland. The weather is turning cooler. I’ve taken out my favorite boots, which I’ll don nearly every day until next May, and my red rain jacket, which I’ll wear until the middle of July.

So? What’s with Untitled Companion? The word from Acquisitions at Ooligan Press is hopeful. However, as the sign says on the store that will occupy the first floor of the Janey II, I’ll have to wait a bit longer. The final decision should be made in about another month. That gives the acquisitions folks time to give the manuscript a thorough read and prepare a report to pitch to the rest of Ooligan Press. There will be edits in my future, I am sure. There will also be a title for Untitled Companion, a title that everyone (or at least the press and I) will like.

Decision coming late 2015. I am ready! […]

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