In Memoriam: Liz LeSavoy

Writers’ Rumpus has lost one of our own. I was surprised to discover, when I looked back through our writing group’s attendance lists, that Liz LeSavoy had joined only three and a half years ago. I was sure she’d been around much longer. From her first meeting, Liz jumped right in, completely unafraid to say what she saw as the good and the not-so-good in a manuscript. But she did so in such a way that no one could be offended or discouraged. And she was a gifted writer. The first work of Liz’s that I remember critiquing was a middle grade novel. I am still impressed with that story: the humor of it, how well she nailed the voice of a young teenage boy, his quirky father, and the details of his home and neighborhood. Liz’s picture book manuscripts have a similar sly humor. Her five posts here on the blog include some perennial favorites.

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Liz, third from left, at a critique group meeting

Liz died this past weekend after a long struggle with breast cancer. She chose to keep her illness from our group. When she started missing meetings, most of us didn’t think much of it. We’d seen her at the spring conference. She’d talked about a trip to Europe. Plus she emailed critiques for the meetings she missed. When she introduced herself to newcomers at the July meeting (the last one she attended in person), she said she’d switched from writing novels to writing picture books “because they’re shorter, and they don’t take as long to write.” We laughed, because Liz meant it to be funny, and because we did not know how little time she had. But that was Liz: fully involved, contributing to the group, sharing the good while cloaking the bad in a wry joke—and above all, figuring out how to make it all work, in order to keep moving ahead.

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Some of us at the Spring 2016 NESCBWI Conference; Liz is front and center, fifth from the left.

Liz would have submitted her work for critique next week; it was her turn. She missed the September meeting, but she emailed her critiques just a few weeks ago. Liz knew she’d never live to see her own work published, and yet she reviewed her writing partners’ work. What an amazing act of loyalty and commitment. And an inspiring example. And a whole bunch of other things that sound cliché but are very real. I don’t know what else to say, except that I’ll miss her. We all will. And THANK YOU, Liz, for being so much a part of our group.

Liz LeSavoy, 1959 – 2016

Liz LeSavoy’s Website

Posts by Liz LeSavoy on Writers’ Rumpus:
Unblocking Writers’ Block
A Writer’s Best Friend (about SCBWI)
Page-Turner Devices
Writing in Rhyme
Interview with Author Susan Holt Kralovansky and Pelican Publishing’s Antoinette de Alteriis

Liz on 12 x 12 Picture Book Challenge

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