As solitary as writing fiction can be, it is rarely done in isolation. Just look at the “acknowledgements” section of most novels. A wide variety of people can influence your writing: editors, agents, research assistants, spouses, friends, teachers, and critique group members, just to name a few. A smart author will listen to advice wherever he or she can get it—then try to make an objective decision about whether it is useful.
But every once in a while, we get really lucky. We find someone who not only gives us a useful writing tip here or there, but also helps us grow as writers in profound ways. He or she gives criticism, praise, support, and friendship that lasts longer than a single class or a writer’s retreat. Usually, he or she is a writer just like you and (hopefully) gets the same from you in return.
I proud to say that Renata was one of those people in my life, and I am very grateful. Even though she is leaving Electric Spec, she will always be a part of it, just like she will always be a part of my fiction. Thank you, Renata—I’ll miss you.