Speaking strictly in terms of educational and emotional growth and development, when it comes to my hoodlum buddies, there’s no doubt cyber technology has left its mark on my life. My "Hood" evolution echoes that of the stories already told, but here's my spin.
Some where around five years or so ago, I started hanging out on the e-harlequin website hoping to glean some tips on how to improve my writing and become involved in the secret world of authors and editors.
Well, it all seemed secret to me at the time. I was totally unfamiliar with how to function among this group of people I’d admired for so long. Although I’d read tons of romances from a very young age on, I was also somewhat of a science geek. As someone who, for fifteen years previous to logging onto the eharlequin website, had felt the need to keep the romantic side of me fairly well hidden, I was stepping out of my comfort zone big time.
On top of that, I viewed authors and editors as largely untouchable for the most part, even though common sense told me that notion was silly. I wasn’t sure how to talk to anyone or what to say, and I also feared that my ignorance would be a source of insidious failure that would laugh me right off the forums.
Much to my delighted surprise, this was not the case at all. I lurked for a little while—okay, a long while, and after much contemplation, I took a deep breath and stuck a toe in the water. What I came to learn was that, just like everyone else in this world, the people I was getting to know who were, sure enough, authors and editors--*gasp*--were regular living and breathing human beings who had hearts of gold!
It didn’t take long after that. One by one I met each and every one of my soon-to-be Hood friends. We hung out together, watched, read, and learned about each other without even realizing it.
As the weeks of the Round Robins unfolded, it soon became apparent that not only did some of us just seem to bond very well together, but also that many of us were in the same place in our writing careers, and I, for one, was surprised to learn that I’d even begun to feel a little protective of those I’d befriended, especially when a rare snarky person surfaced.
When Roxanne St. Claire came along and jokingly asked if she could play in our sandbox, the Writing Round Robin took on a whole new dimension. Once Rocki stuck her feet in the sand with us, her wonderful personality and generous heart won us all over immediately. She was a Hood, through and through, only we didn’t quite know it yet. What we did know, was that from those days on, we all felt a need to stay connected and find a way to take our friendships to the next level.
Everything fell into place and when we started our own group, we each began to soar, finding strength from each other and learning as we went. Between all of us, and especially Rocki, who fell into place as our fearless leader and accepted her crown graciously, there was a plethora of knowledge and good will.
My successes, including a fateful eharlequin Writing Round Robin win, I credit enormously to my friends in our Hood. Also, I have one short story and a novella which are both available now at The Wild Rose Press, and a novel, also from the same publisher, which will be released sometime this year (still waiting for a release date any day now) and will be available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Borders etc.
After writing my novel, I realized a need to grow even more. It may sound strange, but I feel like I’ve really only gotten to know myself very well in the last ten years or so. I recognized that although my work had its fulfilling qualities, it wasn’t a perfect match for me and I needed to make a change.
After working in the medical field for fifteen years as an MLT/ASCP (Medical Lab Tech certified by the American Society of Clinical Pathologists), I returned to college at the University of Pittsburgh. I am currently a full time student in my junior year of pursuing a double major in Psychology and Sociology. In fact, often times you'll find me on my other blog talking about the subjects I study in classes.
I love to help people, and my decision to take a different approach was based on a need to have contact with people on a more personal level than my lab work allowed. I have plans to attend graduate school and train to become a licensed therapist, but although my time may be limited presently, I also plan to keep feeding my love of writing and my need to help people through more short stories, novellas and novels.
I am happiest and feel the most productive in life when I can help people, especially an underdog type of person. If I can touch someone through my writing and make a life better in some way, even temporarily as an escape, I feel like I’ve made progress toward meeting my purpose in life. Btw, I’m a strong proponent of having a purpose in life. It’s fulfilling, to say the least, for myself and hopefully also for anyone I’m able to help through my work.
I feel right at home in the Hood. My Hood friends are like a second family to me now. They’ve been a never-ending source of support and joy. I can only hope I’ve done, at the very least, a little of the same for them.
The name of our group, Romancing the Hood is derived from a spin on a combination of the English folklore character Robin Hood, the Hollywood movie Romancing the Stone, and last but certainly not least, the e-harlequin Writing Round Robin where we all met and grew together.
And that’s how I grew into a “Hood”.
If you enjoy reading and writing, and you’d like to hang out with us, we’d love to have you join us.
I promise not to be so long winded next time. :)