The Kindiverse Where everything's made up and the posts don't matter.

Welcome to the Kindiverse

Hi, my name’s Kindig. Nice to meet you.

I’m glad you happened to stop by because I have some ridiculous things to share with complete strangers. If you’ve ever said to yourself, “I wish I could go to just one page to find awful comics, personal accounts of the life of an unknown writer, and some pictures of cake,” then I’m here to grant your rather unambitious desires. Reach for the stars, pal.

If you like what you’re hearing so far, stop in again for new posts, comics, and more as I’ll be updating regularly.

Much more to come soon!

Dogs, Design, and Depression

I’m a terrible blogger.

It’s been, what, over a year? Like, well over a year? I have a few good excuses. Here’s one:
wally1 wally2 wally3 wally4

After years of begging my husband to ask the landlord if we could get a small dog, Chris finally budged in the first week of January – and the answer was yes! I immediately went online to find somebody to adopt, looking for a Chihuahua/Chihuahua mix (we have a TINY end unit condo, so we really needed a small dog). On PetFinder and another website, this profile for a Chi mix named Wallis Simpson kept popping up. Her pictures weren’t that great, she looked kind of ratty, but something made me keep going back to her profile. Maybe it was the name – I LOVE the story of Wallis Simpson and King Edward VII, and she’s such an obscure historical figure these days so I guess the name just caught my eye and stuck in my head. I called the Dog Tired Ranch in Mena, Arkansas where she had been rescued, and I immediately started the adoption process. The ranch mom(?) Janet – who is an amazing woman, by the way – kept telling me that Wallis was much cuter in person, but I didn’t really take that to mind since I’m a huge dog lover and any dog that is mine is automatically the cutest dog in the world.

Well, a couple weeks later, Chris and I are standing in a freezing cold Mariott parking lot at 4AM waiting for the dog transport trailer to show up with it’s delivery of adoptees. We’re probably the third or fourth in line, and I feel like I’m about to explode with anticipation. What if the dog doesn’t like me? (Impossible – ALL dogs like me. I mean it. They go out of their way to get a scratch from me. It’s really weird.) What if she’s mean? What if she’s not even on the truck?!

Finally, it’s our turn and I ask the transport manager for Wallis from Dog Tired Ranch. He heads back into the trailer while I rock from heel to ball, holding the fleece blanket I brought to my chest to attempt to warm it up. I turn to Chris to say something, probably to complain that the guy is taking too long and that they forgot to stop in Arkansas or something, when I hear everyone on line behind us go “awww!” I look back at the trailer and see the transport manager carrying what looks like a stuffed animal down the steps, big black eyes shining and fold ears forward and alert.

“Is that our dog?” I ask Chris out of the corner of my mouth without taking my eyes off the impossibly adorable creature heading our way.

“I don’t know. But don’t say anything,” he whispers back.

The transport manager passes the tiny tan dog to me, sticking her right into the blanket I’m holding out to him, and the living teddy bear immediately starts licking my face like crazy. Chris gets the manilla envelope of adoption papers (confirming that this is indeed Wallis), and we get back into our Highlander. It’s almost an hour’s drive home, but tiny little Wally won’t stop wagging her curly tail and licking my face. She even licks Chris’ hand with the same fervor when he tries to pet her while driving. She has a sandpapery tongue like a cat, so by the time we get home, my face is chapped from more than the cold weather. We thought Wally would be all over people, but as it turns out, she just took to us immediately. Maybe she just knew she was heading for a permanent home?

Anyway, these days, Wally follows me everywhere. I can’t be out of her sight. Yes, she’s super attached, I know, but it’s so damn endearing. And, as it turns out, she’s sensitive to migraines and alerts me hours before I get one. In her early days in NJ, she was very defensive of me, barked at every dog, was near impossible to walk on the leash, and screamed (yes, SCREAMED) when we went outside. She quickly became known as the psycho dog of the complex, and everyone knew her name. But, with some advice from a dog trainer neighbor and a lot of devotion, I was able to train Wally out of her leash aggression and her defensiveness, and whatever the screaming was about (anxiety?). Now, we walk around the whole complex side-by-side, and she HAS to meet every dog she sees – for social reasons rather than protective ones. She can even play at the dog park, though she gets a little overwhelmed and acts shy, tending to stay close to me rather than playing with the other dogs. But she does love my mom’s dog and my brother’s dog, which makes holidays much easier and more fun.

Pro tips: For leash aggression or pulling, try the Freedom Harness and the double leash. For anxiety, try a ThunderShirt. Also, give your dog treats for every little bit of good behavior, and they’ll progress much faster. I would give Wally a piece of a treat as soon as she set eyes on a dog, before she even had a chance to growl, and I would say “It’s okay” at the same time; now if I don’t have treats on me and she gets anxious, I just have to say “it’s okay” and she settles down a bit and keeps walking. This is how you cut down on defensiveness.

Also, I’ve switched careers completely. Last you heard, I was a desk jockey, working data and managing small projects. Now, I’m taking advantage of my hereditary artistic talent – what little I possess – as well as nepotism, and I’m working as an Interior Fine Artist for my brother’s LLC. Interior Fine Artist is what we call ourselves – it’s a fancy term for faux finish painters/muralists/custom design artists. It’s the first job I not only like but LOVE. Every project is different, I learn something new almost every day at work from the most talented artist I know (that’s not nepotism speaking, my brother actually is disgustingly talented), and I’m actually confident that I’m good at what I do.

Another one is a little more personal, but I’m sick of people being shamed for having mental, anxiety, etc. disorders. So, on that note, I’m coming out of the closet – last July I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder and Severe Panic Disorder with Agoraphobia. And here my family just thought I was a major bitch. (To be fair, I did too.) Oddly enough, this was probably the best thing that ever happened to me – being diagnosed, I mean. I was unhappy for a long time, wasn’t querying my novel or working on a new one, and I went from 114 lbs to 170 lbs in a little over a year. It wasn’t until I got help – really good help; I have the best psychiatrist in the world – that I realized I’d never actually been happy in my life. Now, with the right treatment, it’s like I took off sunglasses I didn’t know I’d been wearing my entire life and finally can appreciate things in their right light. On the upside, it’s something I have in common with a few of my favorite people: Edgar Allan Poe, Rainer Maria Rilke, and Vincent van Gogh… And Billy West.

My PSA for the day: Get help! Being ashamed to go to a therapist is so outdated – and not in a cool, vintage way. If you have a hunch that something might be wrong with you physically, you go to an MD, right? There should be no difference getting checked out by a counselor/therapist, even if you go just once. Consider it a mental checkup!

Do You Hear the Fangirls Squee?

Don’t blame me for not posting for a month. Blame Victor Hugo. And Naughty Dog.

I just finished Les Miserables today. Okay, well, I just finished as much of Les Miserables as I want to read. In short, the Friends of the ABC bits are over. Hugo, I only came here for Enjolras.

SPOILER ALERT: Though, seriously, if you haven’t read the 150 year old book, watched any of the film adaptations, or seen the Broadway show, well, you really should.

victorhugo

Les Miserables was the first Broadway show I ever saw and liked (Annie was the first, and it BLEW). “Do You Hear the People Sing?” was stuck in my head for weeks. The image of Enjolras on top of the barricade was burned onto the insides of my eyelids, fueling my then budding compulsion to write. There was also some lovey dovey shit in there, but it was all about the Friends of the ABC for me. And the Thenardiers. They were funny.

That was, geeze, probably 15 years ago, and I’ve only recently decided to tackle the book. Now, I’m no stranger to nineteenth century French literature (Alexandre Dumas is my favorite author), but, damn, Hugo sure loves his tangents. No disrespect to Victor Hugo, who was a literary master, or to Les Miserables, which is a masterpiece, but I’ll be honest here – I read a good 600 pages before saying “F*ck it” and moving on to the good parts. The ENJOLRAS parts.

It didn’t take long for me to get as irritated by Marius <3ing Cosette as Enjolras himself was. Seriously, dude, we’ve got more important shit to worry about, like, um, THE STARVING MASSES perhaps? Go listen to Dashboard Confessional and cry about it, Marius. We have a freaking riot to get underway. Jean Valjean, even you stop being interesting after you bust out of that nun’s fake grave. Enjolras, you had me at le Republique. I’m an Enjolrastifarian.

enjolras

From the very first description of Enjolras, Hugo pretty much paves the road for Fangirldom. Enjolras is beautiful, intelligent, convicted to his cause, and – perhaps most importantly – chaste. He’s so devoted to the Republic, he can’t even think about girls, and this sets him on a pedestal so unreachable, he becomes the angel Hugo repeatedly compares him to. As if it’s not obvious enough that Hugo is drooling over his own character even as he writes him, Grantaire is thrown in there to not only foil Enjolras but to fanboy over him to the extreme. Grantaire, the nihilist, the cynic, the dispassionate one, is devoted to one thing: Enjolras. Why? Because Enjolras is everything Grantaire is not. Plain and simple. Sure, it’s an ancient idea that opposites attract, but it’s ancient because it tends to be true. And with Enjolras and Grantaire, it feels much more real than most other opposite pairs in contemporary writing. In fact, their pseudo-friendship is a thousand times more poignant than Marius and Cosette’s crappy love story.

Enjolras is the revolution personified, and Grantaire is the face of people’s scorn. Enjolras is everything Grantaire wants to be, but Grantaire can never unknow what he knows except for those moments when Enjolras is there to eclipse even the shadowy doubts of his hopelessness.¬† Seriously, the fanfic writes itself.

ENJANDGRANT

Look, I get it. I get the 50-page chunk of Napoleonic history that appears for no blessed reason. I get that this isn’t just a story about a riot in Paris, it’s a philosophical manifesto. I get the descriptions of buildings that we never freaking go into. I get the unnecessary backstory of background characters that don’t even talk in the book. That was how they wrote back then, though Hugo may actually be one of the more tangential writers of even his time. I know I’m gonna get a lot of flak for this, but I really could’ve done without Valjean’s constant do-gooding-and-then-jailbreaking-and-then-do-gooding-again, the whole Javert coo coo crazy obsession with his warped ideas of justice, Marius and Cosette in general, and Fantine, too. A novel can’t be all war, it has to have some romance in it, and I get that. But the romance of Enjolras and Grantaire (and romance can mean bromance) would have fulfilled the love story needs of a separate book, a book about the Friends of the ABC, a book with sweeping passages of Napoleonic history thrown in just for the f*ck of it, following Little Gavroche on his sidequests, delving into the rich backstories of each unique insurgent.

My point: if you skim Les Miserables with a discerning enough eye, you’ll find L’Abaisse, which is a way better book.

 

Khan Noonien Smaug, Consulting Detective

I’m warning you guys right now: what follows is a bunch of babble.

So, as previously posted, I’ve completed my final revision is finally done. Finally. How many queries have I done in the two weeks since I finished it? Two. Yeah, I know. Why am I dragging my feet? I don’t know. I’d like to blame it on my new job. So I will.

I don’t know how many of you out there are aspiring writers like yours truly, or how many of you potentially aspiring writers subscribe to Writers Digest, but I have a thing or two to say about this month’s (or whatever it is – WD has, like, 8 issues a year, which is super random) edition. The cover boasts that this issue is Your Guide to Genre Fiction. Being a YA Fantasy writer, I got all skippitty-doo happy and excited. Then I flipped through the magazine only to realize that by “Genre Fiction” WD meant to say “Pretty Much Just Horror Because It’s Not Like Anyone Buys Sci-Fi or Fantasy, Right?” As if I didn’t already feel like Ally Sheedy’s character in the Breakfast Club of authors, a magazine written specifically for writers has to drive that nail flathead deep into the coffin. I’ll just go back to making my dandruff art and hoping someone will give me a makeover so the captain of the wrestling team will notice me.

Am I high? Maybe I’m seriously delusional, but I thought that, within genre fiction (and I don my literary hipster glasses anytime I have to refer to ANYTHING as “genre fiction”), fantasy was kind of a big deal – and not just for larpers. Maybe I’m just being egocentric, but when I hear “genre,” my first thought is “fantasy.” Well, whatever. Up yours, you damn literary jerkwads. FANTASY RULES. SUCK IT.

wrong-unicorn-10

Speaking of genre (sure, why not), after seeing Star Trek: Into Darkness and falling in love with Benedict Cumberbatch, I decided to finally watch Sherlock. It took me this long because I effing hate Sherlock Holmes in general. The Hound of the Baskervilles is up there with The Old Man and the Sea, A Farewell to Arms, and The Catcher in the Rye (I would literally rather watch paint dry than read any of those books again). But, like so many other fangirls, I was hooked on Johnlock – uh, I mean, Sherlock – after the first ten minutes or so and watched all six episodes this weekend. Twice. I could listen to BC read the phone book and be throwing BAFTAs at him, but this show really is just so clever and the chemistry between Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman is unbeatable. There better be a Sherlock reference in the next Hobbit movie.

shock blanket

 

Live from My Couch, it’s Friday Afternoon

My last revision is finally done, guys! Bourbon all around!

As I emotionally prepare myself for this year’s first round of rejections, I begin my next project: taming the chipmunk that leaves next to my patio. I’ve been feeding him almonds regularly, hoping to either gain his trust or fatten him to the point of immobility. Also, I made the Set Phasers to LOL homepage of Cheezburger.com.

vulcanharplove

I know. I’m being SO productive in my downtime.

That Much Closer to Dying Happy

I will not blog while drinking bourbon.

I will not blog while drinking bourbon.

I will not bahreiah ashwile haidlnadjf!!1111

Guys! Heather and I made the homepage of Autocowrecks with our silliness! Check it out!

Dear Everybody: I’m Still Alive

No, I didn’t die. Don’t listen to that crazy internet rumor that I just started right now.

There’s been a serious lack of updates on the Kindiverse as of late because I just started a new job, and I’ve been super exhausted. But for those of you who just can’t live without my posts (I know you’re real), don’t worry – I’m working on some stuff to put up real soon. There may even be some actual bonafide writing stuff on here one of these days. Or, y’know, more crappy comics about Elizabethan playwrights. Who knows.

In the meantime, I’m working on my final (for realsies this time) revision of my novel, trying not to be deterred by Steam, which automatically starts up every time I power on my computer. How’s a Dovahkiin supposed to get any work done these days?

That reminds me. If you haven’t seen Dovahbear yet, YouTube that shizzle. There’s a mod out now that lets you have the Dovahbear as a follower, but I’m hoping for one that lets me play as the bear itself.

dovahbear-2-700x393

WTFilm: BMX Bandits

If you’ve been searching for the best crappy 80s movie ever produced, your quest is at an end.

bmxbanditspig

This weekend the Ginger and I were flipping through Netflix when we stumbled upon the multiple award-nominated gem that is BMX Bandits. It stars a 16-year old Nicole Kidman in her first feature film (who could forget her earlier role in the made-for-Australian-television movie Bush Christmas?), Angelo D’Angelo (the less successful Australian forerunner to Mario Lopez), and what I’m convinced was the actual police department of Manly, New South Wales.

wtfnicolekidman

Oh my God, you guys. Once you’ve accepted that you won’t be able to understand half of what’s being said – due to the accents, mumbling, and either Aussie slang or 80s slang or both – this movie is pure cinematic gold. But don’t give up and watch it on mute because the original score and the two featured songs are slathered in such a thick coating of 80s cheese, Oprah would spiral back into the fat phase of her endless yo-yo cycle just by listening.

bmxbanditsbaddies

What’s the plot? you might ask. Something to do with maybe stolen walkie-talkies that were maybe¬†illegally shipped from the U.S. (apparently, nothing is legal in Australia, even though there are bigger problems than radio interference Down Under, like the fact that 98% of the fauna wants to kill you), and for some reason there’s kids riding bikes being pursued by two mentally deficient criminals who drive their getaway car as if they’re steering with their ass cheeks. BMX Bandits features what may be the greatest high-speed car/bicycle chase ever choreographed, and Nicole Kidman’s 18-year old wigged male stunt double does some rad tricks while the other two teen protagonists look on in what must be well-disguised discomfort or blatant bi-curiosity.

So get on Netflix (or, if you don’t have Netflix, hunt down the bargain DVD) and watch this treasure trove of a film. Be sure to email and tweet the guys of Rifftrax about it too because the only thing BMX Bandits is missing is a healthy dose of ridicule.

Taking Out the Trash: Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

I don’t like to trash books. I really don’t. Maybe because I haven’t published one myself and therefore have no street cred, or maybe because I hope to publish one and would be super sad if people hated it. But every once in a while, a book comes along that makes me ask myself, “How did this get published?” Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater is one of these books.

When I came across this New York Times Bestseller (let that sink in), I was excited because a.) Young Adult Urban Fantasy is pretty cool and b.) so are werewolves. It didn’t take long for me to hate this book, and it wasn’t just because of the overuse of adverbs throughout.

Grace is the novel version of Emily, a.k.a. Egg, from Arrested Development. She is the epitome of uninteresting – even her own parents aren’t interested in her. Luckily, only some of the book is told from her perspective. Oh, no, wait – not luckily because Sam is even worse.

homophobic-seal-300x300

Sam the werewolf – Sam the guy who is doing to werewolves what Edward did to vampires – is every stereotype any uninteresting twelve-year old girl would come up with for her fantasy boyfriend rolled up into one. He has a lot of unbelievable, unrealistic qualities (I don’t know any heterosexual males who can tell me what a camisole is), but what made me close the book and almost walk away before I hit the hundredth page is his tick of writing lyrics in his head any time anything happens. I could’ve let this cheeseballishness slide if said lyrics were any good or at least mediocre, but they’re complete, cringe-inducing crap just like everything else in this book.

I can’t really say there are two distinct voices because both viewpoints are told in the same Ben Stein-esque monotone in my head. If each chapter wasn’t labeled with its designated POV, the only tell-tale signals would be Sam’s crappy lyrics and Grace’s “wahhh my parents let me do whatever I want and I hate that because they shouldn’t have their own lives.” There’s also no strong plot that I could figure out until the last forty or so pages of the book, and even then I wouldn’t call it compelling. There are, like, two or three problems the cast of characters has to deal with, and none are convincing as things the reader should invest their emotions in.

At one point, there’s a scene where Egg and Samantha and the popular rich girl from Egg’s school, who at the time is nothing more than an uncomfortable acquaintance to Egg, all make quiche together for no clear reason. For five pages. Then there’s a whole chapter where the author tries to convince us that her protags are the bestest couple the literary world has ever seen by having a complete stranger ooh and ahh over their Super Apparent Cuteness and Perfection.

Maybe what should be the biggest problem with this book is the lack of credible fantasy rules concerning the werewolves. A discussion following the Quiche Scene points out all the holes in Stiefvater’s set of non-rules for her wolves, and these holes never get filled. They’re left as flawed and contradicting for the remainder of the “story.”

Reading Shiver made me rethink my opinion of Beautiful Creatures, which I wasn’t crazy about. By page 300, I couldn’t care less what happened to Lena or Ethan, but that was because they bored me with their repetitive conversations and long stretches of who-gives-a-shit non-activity. However, Ethan’s voice was totally believable. S.E. Hinton is still the most convincing woman writing a man’s POV, but Ethan never felt like less than a real guy. It was the great writing that got me through Beautiful Creatures‘ less than great story without ever feeling like I was being tortured.

Shiver has no such redeeming qualities. Remember what I said at the top about adverbs? Count all the adverbs in this post and double that number. That’s how many adverbs, on average, are on each page in Shiver.

Don’t read this book unless you hate yourself and think you deserve to be in pain. Or if you’re just way too smart and need a way to dumb yourself down.

Ralph the Pwner

I’ve been a bad blogger. No updates in over a week. Barely any tweets. I blame my new computer and the endless sales on Steam.

On that note, it’s taken me, like, three weeks, but I’ve just finished The Well at the World’s End by William Morris. This book is the grandaddy of all modern fantasy and was highly influential on Tolkien when he was writing The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, but it’s nowhere near as heavy – Morris doesn’t describe the exact shade of green contained in every blade of grass whenever the scene changes. There are even a couple times when Tolkien should probably have been sued for lifting right from The Well, but whatevs.

I’m going to have a few more points to make about this book in the near future, but for starters here’s a rage comic of one of my favorite moments early in the story.

 

Ralph_Monk_Rage

Unicorns. Unicorns everywhere.

It’s been a while, but I’m just now recovering from the mental hangover from last Saturday’s events. I’m talking, of course, about the Unicorn Writers Conference.

Yes, that’s for real what it’s called. Yes, they were selling all sorts of paraphernalia with unicorns on it. Yes, I forgot to buy a t-shirt, but I did get a commemorative mug and tote included in the price of admission.

The UWC was a great experience for me, a total amateur and first-time conference goer. Not only was it educational and eye-opening, but I met a lot of other awesome newbies. It was a great way to find out that I’m not alone, that there are a lot of aspiring authors who share my fears and doubts.

After a day of brewing up contingency plans in light of the freak snowstorm followed by a restless night in a really nice suite (restlessness due in part to jitters, in larger part to the sumo wrestler turned tap dancer staying in the suite one floor up), Heather and I steeled our introvert nerves and headed off to St. Clement’s Castle. Somehow, we made a table full of acquaintances by the time Matthew Pearl gave the key note speech, and then it was time for a long day of workshops. It was kind of like twelve hours of school except I gave a damn about what was happening. We had such a good time, we were reluctant to leave our new writers-in-arms by the end of the night, feeling silly to have ever been nervous at all.

So, for all my fellow aspiring authors, if you haven’t gone to a writers’ conference yet, do it. They’re expensive (UWC is the cheapest I’ve found so far), but it’s well worth it to learn from the varied workshops and to get a chance to network with other writers, agents, and publishers. Also, spending the day in a castle strewn with unicorn-emblazoned regalia is just totally awesome.