Evolving Reader

In October I read Dark Places by Gillian Flynn for the book club I’m a part of with two good friends. I wrote a post in relation to it for Anxiety Ink and referenced Mary Higgins Clark, who I read quite heavily in my early teens. I haven’t read a book by Clark in years, even though I remember all of the stories I did read with fondness. That fact coupled with my mid-reading feelings about Dark Places (mainly that I just don’t read books like this anymore) got me thinking about how I’ve evolved as a reader.

I’ve always been an enjoyer of stories, but I didn’t get into reading like a maniac until I was around 12. A lot of disruptive things had happened in my life and I was in the midst of a few transitions. This lead to the realization that there is a solace and safety to be found in books. I started reading voraciously and haven’t stopped since.

From around that time there are titles that stand out for me, stories that I know quite intimately because I so connected with them when I read them. Crow Lake by Mary Lawson, We Were the Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates, Nora Roberts’ Chesapeake Bay Saga and In the Garden Trilogy, as well as slew of her Eve Dallas titles. I also read every Clark book I could get my hands on.

I immersed myself in Revolutionary France with Sandra Gulland’s Josephine B. Trilogy. I read Anita Shreve’s All He Ever Wanted and was so angry I had to step away from such books for a while. I was horrified by When Rabbit Howls by Truddi Chase. I read a lot of John Grisham. Then somehow delved into the world of fantasy with The Witches of Eileanan by Kate Forsyth, The Song of the Lioness Quartet by Tamora Pierce, and The Merlin Trilogy by Mary Stewart (which I discussed in detail here).

I can’t remember books I’ve read more recently with the kind of detail I can recall about those mentioned above.

I suppose I’d refer to all of these books as my foundation books. I have a fondness for all of them, and return to their authors every now and then, but in some cases I’ve changed as a reader. My tastes have altered and I expect different things from the titles I pick up now. Obviously 25 year old me does not want the same things as 13 year old me.

I’m going to create a few diagrams below to show the kind of reader I was and the various paths I was lead down, much to my reading pleasure. Perhaps if you’re looking to change up your reading and aren’t sure where to start these will help you out. I’m only going to do a few genres and a few titles because otherwise this will turn into the post that never ends.

I am an enormous romance buff. I can spend hours in the romance section of any bookstore. I’ve read nearly every subcategory and I’ve figured out what I do and don’t like. While Mary Higgins Clark is always found in the mystery section, a number of her books contain a romance element. I suppose I’d have to list her as my first exposure, as well as some truly entertaining Harlequin titles I got my hands on early in my reading life.

Romantic Suspense
This subgenre ties with Paranormal Romance for my favourite subgenre. I’ve read widely within it and have pretty high standards. For the record, I will read anything by Linda Howard.


Paranormal Romance
I’ve read so many paranormal titles that I would consider myself an expert. I have become increasingly picky when it comes to pararom because I feel like I’ve seen it all and some authors are simply better at writing it than others. I don’t care for soft romantic suspense either. I like dark stories where the door stays open, if you catch my drift.


I would not consider myself a King fan, though Cell is one of the best horror stories I’ve read. One of my best friends is a huge fan so I’d have to count him, through her influence, as my horror foundation.


Urban Fantasy
I adore urban fantasy and there are so many fabulous women writing in the genre!


My fantasy tastes are all over the place. I’ve listed high fantasy with what I suppose you could call regular fantasy and medieval here. I’ve removed all the urban titles at least.


This genre is far too wide to tackle in full, so I’ve charted with titles I mentioned earlier.


I dislike that YA lit is hodgepodged all together. I sometimes wish it was organized into different genres like adult lit, but I think that time will come soon. When I was a young adult there weren’t nearly as many titles available to me as there are to kids now. I love it. But as you can see, my younger years weren’t well organized.


I have glossed over a lot of titles and genres. I have to revisit this idea with a little more research behind me.

I’d love to hear about your gateway titles and the paths they’ve lead you down! While I have more to-read titles than I will ever admit, I love to hear a good recommendation.

English Nostalgia: I’m Finally Feeling the Pull


It’s no secret that I graduated from university without a clue as to what I was going to do; it’s in my site’s bio after all. Grad school was my equivalent of hell at the time. Honestly, it still is.

In September of 2013 I worked briefly at the University and did not feel one ounce of nostalgia. I was happy to be on campus laughing maniacally at all the students running around already stressed. That’s not to say that I didn’t have my own stress, just that I was feeling my share of schadenfreude.

Still, people were asking me then if I was missing school. Those who had graduated with me were. Those who still had a semester or two to go were happily back in the swing of things. I was perfectly content doing my own thing while job hunting. I didn’t miss a damn thing about my hectic university days. I was still exhausted merely thinking about them.

It’s been three years. And I am still not missing school. I have no desire to return to school. But I am feeling some nostalgia for my life as an English undergraduate.

I’ve realized recently that while I don’t miss the work, the actual time-consuming, hair-pulling, stress-inducing, sleep-depriving work, I miss campus culture, I miss learning, and I miss meaningful discussions.

Given who I am and what I love, it should be no surprise that my English nostalgia involves me missing book discussions. That’s likely why I was so keen to start a little book club with my close friends, though I’m not quite getting out of that what I had hoped yet. It’s a young club. I also have the Anxiety Ink Book Club to scratch the itch.

I’ve had a stagnant year on the creative front, which is likely why I’m finally feeling the pull. 2017 has to see some big changes for me because 2016 has sucked.

So there, I admit I’m feeling the loss of student life. Adulthood is not what adolescent me thought it would be. Growing up should come with a warning label: Not to Be Taken Lightly.


*featured image: student life recap by Tahmid Munaz via Flickr

A Bad Reading Habit: Anxiety and Comfort in the Known

mirror by Paul Keller via Flickr

It’s no secret that I suffer from anxiety. It’s not something I talk about a lot, but those who know me, and any readers from Anxiety Ink, are well aware of the fact. It’s something I’ve struggled with most of my life though I don’t take any medication for it. I’ve learned to handle it myself for the most part.

This year, 2016, has been particularly stressful. I’m noticing that I’m falling into some bad habits in an effort to comfort myself. While comforting oneself is not a bad thing, my coping mechanisms are leading to some not-so-great outcomes.

One, I’m closing myself off. That’s never good. I’ve been using my job as an excuse; it’s extremely social and while I do get peopled-out fast, I’m using that as a fall back. It’s ok to be tired, it’s ok to not want to do stuff all of the time, but lately I haven’t wanted to do anything with anyone at all. My friend wanted me to have coffee with her last week and I almost had a panic attack because it was too close.

Now that I’ve acknowledged the pattern I can take steps to fix it. This isn’t the first time and is likely not the last.

Two, and this is the one that’s bothering me the most (which says a great deal about me), is that I’ve developed a terrible reading habit. Every once in a while, when I can’t decide what I want to read next, I pick a favourite book off my shelf. The book I select is always one I’ve read before, and what I like to do is flip through and do a cursory re-read. I also do this when I’m tired and don’t want to read a single chapter of my current book-in-progress (I’m a binger).

My intention is always to simply read a favourite scene of my already-read book before I go to sleep. However, I always end up reading basically the whole thing and stay up later than I would have just picking up my current read.

Months ago I decided I had to stop doing this because it was really cutting into my reading time. My goal was to read 68 books this year –I can’t get that done if I’m not reading new books. I did better with that reason in mind, then fell off the wagon after reading two particularly sad books. I just wanted to be in a safe book that wouldn’t tug on those threads.

Lately, I haven’t been diligent about picking up my current-reads, and not because I’m not enjoying them. I finally had to stare the problem right in the face after perusing my to-read list and seeing all the awesome books I want to read.

This habit of picking up “safe books” is yet another coping mechanism I’ve developed because my life is not without stress right now.

While this coping mechanism is not nearly as worrisome as the other, it stems from and leads to the same thing. I’m putting up walls and falling back into the known because I can’t seem to control things lately. With the books, it’s about me being afraid to pick up a new read because I don’t know what’s going to happen. Picking up ones I’ve read gives me complete and utter control of the experience because I can take away exactly what I want.

Same goes for me not wanting to go out and socialize. It’s two sides of the same problem.

I wish it was as easy as realizing what the issue is and telling myself to stop. I really do. Baby steps are required, but I’ll get there. I’ve already started a new book with a set completion date and I have coffee plans for Friday. As well as a couple of other social events for the month.

The big stressors are the things I actually need to deal with. I’m working on those, though much more slowly.

I have to ask, does anyone else suffer from this bad reading habit? I don’t actually reread the entire book, which would be one thing, I read the parts that will make me happy. It’s an odd and controlling experience I hadn’t really thought of until I stopped to write this blog post.


*featured image: mirror by Paul Keller via Flickr.

Site Revamping: Changes are Coming

Despite my post-When Words Collide update that focused largely on my networking failure, I did leave the conference with a lot of good food for thought. Some of the most important things I learned at the conference this year involved websites.

I attended a panel held by Clare Marshall who not only covered the importance of the look of one’s website and/or blog and how it should relate to you as a creator, but emphasized the why of the website. She also mentioned that your blog has to be about you, but not in the way I’ve defined that statement with my blog here.

In a private conversation I had with her because I had some follow up questions about her presentation, she mentioned some foundational elements I need to think about (but won’t bore you with here) and the importance of adding value for my readers. For the record, Clare knows what she’s doing when it comes to all things websites, writing, and self-publishing, so you better believe I listened.

Another presenter at the conference who I unfortunately missed, but who wrote up an excellent blog post about her panel, covered the importance of the website why and the importance of adding value, too. Victoria Smith’s post on Girl Tries Life is well worth a read if you have a blog or ever intend to have one.

See the theme, here? Why and value.

When I came up with my own website, I had a fragment of an idea of what I could talk about. Just me is getting old fast though. I talk about a lot on here, but I can see the disjointedness, and I don’t think I’m adding value for anyone, myself included.

As much as it sucks to admit I’m failing a bit as a blogger here on E.V. Writes, and for that I’m sorry.

In the next few months you’re going to see some changes to my overall website as well as my blog topics. I’ve focused on me since the site’s inception, but I haven’t focused on the best parts of me. Or rather, the parts of me I think could add value to a reader’s experience.

I need to re-evaluate my why, and I need to start adding legitimate value.

Why do I blog? I want to spark discussion with like-minded individuals across the web. I want to share what I’m doing as a creator and hear from consumers and other producers and start a dialogue.

As for value, there are two things I’m highly devoted to: reading and writing. I blog about writing and writing related frustrations on Anxiety Ink, so I don’t want that to be a large focus here. And while I discuss elements of reading there, I want to devote myself to more of that here.

I’m not going to turn E.V. Writes into a review site. Even though my true passion lies with books, that’s not what I want to do. I’m going to figure out how to balance it out because I know a lot about books, I read widely, I have a background in applying literary theory, I enjoy literary theory, and I’m lucky enough to be able to dissect books from both a reader’s and writer’s perspective.

I’m also going to start sharing the best elements of the research I do, which is where my writer side will play further in. It’s about time I delved back into proper writing habits; instead of making more work for myself I’m going to blog about what I’m learning about. Given that teaching is the best way to understand something inside and out this sounds like a pretty good idea to me.

These are wide-scope ideas; as I go and figure out more what’s working for me, things will narrow. I hope you’ll bear with me as I start site revamping. Finding my niche is going to take time and bravery, but I’m ready to take things to a better level.


*Featured image: Elgin Mermaid 202… by Darron Birgenheier via Flickr

Winding Down After When Words Collide 2016

I left the Delta South Hotel approximately 24 hours ago, my exit heralding the end of When Words Collide 2016 for me. Overall, it was a great festival. I was really impressed by the panels I attended and I learned a lot –there’s so much knowledge I can’t wait to start implementing in my writing and on my respective blogs.

In reference to my last post about WWC, concerning all the prep work I had envisioned, certain aspects of my attendance were a failure. To be brutally honest, I set myself up for failure from the get-go.

I’m talking about networking here. Deciding that I could do a complete 360˚ personality turn and dive head first into networking with less than 4 weeks to prepare is up there on the list of Dumbest Ideas Ever. Worst though, is the fact that I didn’t actually end up making time to prepare in that small space of time, so I turned myself into a sleep deprived head case for the festival.

I psyched myself out, got barely any sleep in the weeks (and especially the couple of days) leading up to WWC, and couldn’t do anything that I wanted to do. Have you any idea how hard it is to be outgoing, friendly, and cognisant on no sleep? Usually I’m ok with very little sleep, but I was EXHAUSTED when I arrived at the conference on Friday. I was barely functional, and it just got worse from the moment of my arrival on.

I designed new business cards…whoopty doo, when I couldn’t even strike up the energy to place myself in situations where the exchange of said cards would be appropriate.

I went in with the semblance of a game plan…whoopty doo when I went and hovered by Kate’s merchant spot any time I didn’t have a panel.

I went in with the mental mantra that I was going to talk to lots of people…whoopty doo when I was so tired I kept avoiding eye contact because I was petrified of trying to maintain my end of a conversation thread.

Yes, I’m being hard on myself, but I’m so unimpressed right now. At least I can identify where I went wrong.

The weekend was not a total bust. I did manage to meet a couple of new people, and I had lunch with a group on Saturday, and I managed not to make a colossal ass of myself though there were a couple of moments where I really put my foot in my mouth hard. Such is my state of existence though on a regular day.

Sunday was by far my best day of attendance because I had really given up on networking by that point so I was much more relaxed –funny that that’s the day I had more conversations with people. I crack myself up sometimes.

There is a light side to this dark mess I created. I now have business cards I’m not reticent to hand out. I now know that I need to start working on networking right now so that I’m ready come next year (my whole day job point in my last post ignored the fact that at my job people come to me and strike up conversation, not the other way around). I now have a couple of ins I need to figure out how to utilize come next year. And I need to remember to bloody relax.

The front of my new cards.

The front of my new cards.

And the back.

And the back.







You win some, you lose some. I’m glad I’ve walked away from this year’s festival with the knowledge of what does not work for me, and a new plan for aspects of my business that will help me with networking next year. It’s all a matter of starting small and letting that snowball build up on itself without me desperately trying to push it up a hill.

If you attended this year how did your plans go and what did you think of WWC? I also have a post on Anxiety Ink with a few more specifics of my own attendance than I mentioned here.