Sunday, September 1, 2013

The Most Glorious Prize

Hello, Fellow Awesome People!

We (Alice and Quinn, duh) met about a year ago, but as it turns out, we have been neighbors most of our lives. Well, we grew up in neighboring states anyway. Recently, we decided to take a road trip back to the homelands to visit with some friends.

Here's the thing about these friends: they are all race car drivers. Seriously. That's what they do. So the big event that weekend was going to be a kart race among some of them. These karts go about 40 mph, which is pretty fast for what could be considered a children's toy. They were all pretty psyched for it. Well, it was the general consensus that the two of us would just be in the way if we tried to drive against the “professionals” (Weekend Warriors) so we decided (slash were requested) to sit out the race and find other ways to occupy our time.

We hiked all the way across the street to a Target where we found all kinds of awesome swag. Right when we walk through the door, we are greeted with GIANT cat erasers. Seriously, they are giant (At least three inches). And only one dollar a piece. Two please. #StillKids #ButWithAnIncome



After wandering the store, trying on superhero masks and checking out their sweet CD collection, we stumbled into an aisle filled with the most glorious selection of coloring books two grownups could hope for. Kittens, My Little Pony, The Avengers... Heaven. We armed ourselves with some crayons (Crayola, 24 pack) and set off to create some masterpieces. #BestDayEver

Right as we were leaving the store, the guys picked us up. Apparently, their race got pushed back and we suddenly had a couple of hours to kill. We decided that Dave and Busters was an appropriate place for young adults to hang in the middle of the day. What kind of shenanigans could we get into there? As if we weren't acting like children enough, we were suddenly armed with some D&B's cards and given free reign of the whole place. They even let us play without supervision! #ProbablyAMistake. We scoped out the prize area to determine what our goal ticket count would be for the day. Almost immediately, and simultaneously, we spotted the most glorious prizes – Unicorns! It was fate. And that was it. The day would not end until we each had a unicorn in our possession.

We have hinted before that we are competitive people. We like to win. We have to win. And when the prize is a unicorn, it doesn't matter how many people we have to crush to get there. We even bartered with our friends to exchange a few of our precious swipes on a four-person game of air hockey for all of their tickets. I mean, the game was fun, but we didn't have time to waste! The minutes were ticking away and we had unicorns to save, I mean, win!

The clock struck. The karters were anxious to get to the track. We used up all our credits. It was the moment of truth. We took our collective winnings to the register and weighed up our tickets. And when the total ticked across the screen, we both lost whatever adult composure we had left. We won the unicorns! Completely enthused, we rushed over to the rack to pick out our new friends, nearly knocking out a 5-year-old in the process. She was picking out a unicorn as well. #GoodTaste. As we decided on what color to get (white with a pink or blue mane), she looked up at us and exclaimed, “I've got a pink one, too!” We both looked down at the little girl and laughed. She was hugging her new unicorn and sporting a T-shirt with a cat on it. In that moment we knew there was hope for the future, and humanity. This little girl was on the right path. 

This post might seem pretty random, and it kind of is. But we can turn this around. We realized something important that day. Fantasy is something you grow into, not out of. We have a lot of dreams and ambitions, and sometimes it seems like we are living in a fairytale. But the reality is, we are just doing what we have to do, what we want to do, to be happy.

Sometimes dreams do come true. For example, we now both have pet unicorns.



Keep living your daydream,

-Alice & Quinn

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Holding on to Lightning


Hey Everyone!  

It’s Quinn today. :-D 
        
I hear people have mixed feelings on horses. Apparently they are either really scary or crazy magical, depending on your personal experience. I am going to go with magical, that sounds way cooler. And they can totally be scary and ferocious, but we’ll get to that later. Trust me, it becomes relevant.

I used to ride horses when I was younger. I rode all the time, and it started from the age of three/four when my parents rented a pony for my younger sister’s birthday party. It was great! I was hooked, and soon I was taking my first lessons at a real stable. My sister rode with me, and it was something we both enjoyed together. Even when we moved away in 1st and 2nd grade, we found another barn and kept riding. Then fate stepped in and threw me a curveball. We had always borrowed other people’s horses to show, but the barn owner started pushing my parents to buy a horse of their own… Buying a horse, in case you are unaware, costs a ton of money. So let me tell you, I was devastated when my mom broke the news that we would no longer be taking lessons.

At the time I didn’t realize just how expensive it was or how much space a horse required. We tried the tactic of convincing my parents a horse could live under the stairs in our basement, that the space was a perfect stall. (It isn’t, but when you’re younger everything seems larger than it actually is). We also tried the argument that my dad would never have to mow the grass again. (Again, this was a terrible argument because we didn’t even have a half acre lot; also, we lived in the suburbs where any farm animal is NOT allowed. This is again a foreign concept to a kid). We still were able to go trail riding every so often, but my time on a horse slowly faded away.

At one point I decided enough was enough and I tried to create a spell to find a Unicorn. Yup, you heard me correctly, spells find unicorns. All I needed to do was think really hard and, boom! A unicorn would come take me on any adventure I wanted to go. (Yes, I had friends. #NotMany #StillHadThemTho.) I could probably find that original notebook if I tried, and all you would see is a single word written towards the back, Lightning. (Because, imagine that, I can’t write spells. #NotGifted #IWasReallyYoung.) At least I had managed to name the Unicorn I had wanted to find. I also wanted it to be entirely black. So at the age of nine or so, I had my favorite animal picked out. I did some research a few years later, because, of course, I never really entirely grew out of that phase, and found my favorite breed of horse, the Friesian (they are entirely black).

 This brings us to the present.

I’ve been out of college for two years and I finally realized it has been way too long since I’ve been on a horse. So horseback riding became an instant addition to our list of hobbies and awesome skills. Alice and I talked, and we knew going in that it may not be feasible to ride every week, because who knew that the price on horses wouldn’t drop over the past 10 years? But we want to be able to talk about it, and write about it, like we are pros and not like we read about horseback riding on Wikipedia. Plus, it’s awesome. It’s a great workout and something you can really bond with people over. Honestly, everyone should try it at least once in their lives.  

Someday we are going to get refocused on archery (it’s been way too long), and the connection between riding horses and shooting arrows is obvious. #InstantBadAsses

Anyway, I did some research for the area and found a local barn. The rest is becoming our awesome history. I have been riding there now for a few months and absolutely love the place! It’s a very chill environment, not a show barn where everyone owns their own horses. It’s perfect for people who want to learn how to ride, and even for those who will eventually move into showing.

I am still inexperienced, considering the number of years that I have been out of it, and there are new challenges each time I ride. Like, for example, tacking up a horse, which is something I had never done in my entire life. I mean, who knew that horses didn’t like having the girth tightened? #Figures. Each horse handles situations differently too (like people), but I am slowly beginning to figure all of this out. And one day, I will finally get Alice out to the barn! I know she would love it, so hopefully very soon. #TakeTheHintAlice

Story time! Because the first time I rode with the main group was interesting… I had never had to canter a circle in order to avoid catching up to people and had no idea how to initiate that sort of movement, so instead I tried to slow my horse down. Turns out, this was a mistake. Poor thing got a little confused #MyBad, and turned and started cantering right down the middle of the ring, right toward all the jumps! Luckily, I managed to keep her feet on the ground, but I was still struggling to get her under control. After a few unsuccessful attempts of circle cantering, the instructor finally had to get everyone else to come to a trot so that she could pull me aside. #Embarrassed. BUT, I learned from the experience and still love riding, even when I feel foolish. Plus, now I'll totally be ready when my spell really does work and I have a pet unicorn living under my stairs. #HoldingOnToLightning)

With each mishap you learn, and continue to move forward. You can’t be distracted when riding, so it’s a great way to clear the head, stay focused, and get back to reality. A lot has happened to me over these past few weeks, so I am really thankful for all the different groups I am a part of and the support that each one provides! Get out there and try something new! It’s worth it, I promise.

Happy Adventures,

- Quinn

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Real Life

Hey Everyone!

It's Alice here today. #NoSupervision #PracticallyAnAdult

I know you all are used to reading fascinating stories about our lives that are just waaay too entertaining and full of wit. That's because we are awesome. But we are real people too, and sometimes our lives are less than fun. And sometimes, it takes more than sarcasm and wit to make sense of our troubles.

I have a few friends who are going through some hard times. They are all facing different situations and they are all reacting and coping in different ways. Sometimes its a little overwhelming trying to understand how someone is feeling in a situation you have no experience with. And then sometimes its hard to watch someone struggle with a situation you've been through. Its easy to sit here and say that someone should handle a problem a certain way (especially on the internet), but the internal confusion and mindset of someone struggling isn't always so clear. Sometimes when things happen that we don't expect or can't explain, it becomes really easy to lose our sense of self. Hard times always bring with them the hardest questions, like: Who am I? Was I always this person? What am I supposed to do now?

That's a lot to take in all at once.

Here's the thing, life is kind of hard. We all struggle with relationships, with our bodies, with our jobs, with everything happening in the world around us. Pretty much everything. But that's the point. We all struggle. We are all going through this life for the first time. We all make mistakes. We all experience failure and heartbreak and disappointment. But we can all get through it. Seriously, all of us. We can do this.

Quinn and I are lucky. We have a novel to keep us and our minds busy. We have support systems that keep us going when we feel like falling down. We have friends that constantly remind us that there is hope.

Because there is hope. For all of us.

For those moments when you don't feel that lucky, remember that there are people out there who care. There are people who want to hear your story. They want to help.

Actually, you can go ahead and put Quinn and I on that list. Seriously.

Keep your heads up, kids. Life gets better.

-Alice

Saturday, August 10, 2013

A Time of Innocence

Hey Everyone!

We have been super inspired lately to get words on the page for both our novel and the blog. We even bought a book (The Write-Brain Workbook) to help us get started and to keep us on track. This book is full of interesting prompts and has required us to think about things we never would have on our own.

Today, we are going to share one of the prompts we used with all of you. The exercise is called Not Guilty. It was a very simple prompt:
Finish the story. Start with: It was a time of innocence...



It's Alice's turn to go first, so here is the story that she came up with:

It was a time of innocence. I laid back and looked at the sky. The clouds resembled shapes and I was creating a story in my head. The sun was warm on my face and arms. The field was overgrown and the smell of daisies filled my nose. I could hear my sister calling in the distance. Soon she would join me and the circus in the sky would continue and we could play along. We would be the dancers, soaring through the air like we had wings. We would walk the tightropes high above the crowd, daring gravity to pull us down. And we would tame the lions, pacing the cage and exciting the crowd. The world was ours, and we could be anything we wanted.

I heard Elizabeth's voice from far away. Soon, it dragged me back to reality. The fields and clouds and daisies are gone. They are a time of the past. The time we all tried to hold on to, the time we all desperately missed. We knew there was no going back. We could only relive it in our heads. But now that so much time has passed, its hard to figure out what was real and what we just need to believe. I ran through my stats like I did every morning: My name is Kristen Hall. I am 5'7”, 120 pounds. Brown hair, green eyes. As of yesterday, I have 127 kills, 150 assists. I imagine my face on a trading card and kids excited to have mine in their deck. Somehow, that makes the world seem less bleak. I get out of bed and scratch another line in my notebook; one more day survived.

Elizabeth is already geared up for battle. She hands me my bow and we step outside. The world is different now, but it is going to be ours.

And here's Quinn's story:

It was a time of innocence before they had become fully aware of what was going on. While the intent of their job was hidden from them, they went about their business, believing that their research was in fact being used to help people. In fact though, everything that had been done was done for motives that were not so pure, and their ignorance on this matter made them accomplices. Trying to create a fail-safe once they had discovered what they were helping to develop, the girls began the day with large cups of coffee. “I can’t believe we are about to do this,” one of the girls looked over at the other, who was bent over a computer screen on the lab bench. She looked up, “Me either, let’s just pray that they don’t catch it right away. We need to be long gone before that happens.” They both nodded silently. They both knew what was at stake, yet somehow this didn’t seem like enough to completely redeem them just yet. They still had no idea what it was going to be used for, so their next course of action was vague.

“It’s almost done.” The door to the lab opened just as one of the researchers finished speaking. It was their boss. Both girls froze, not knowing what to do next. They couldn’t shut everything down, that would be suspicious, but they needed to hide it somehow. Their boss walked through the lab to where they both sat at a bench, working with some of the lab equipment. One of the girls had quickly changed the computer screen to show a microscope image of the Petri dish she was looking at. “How is everything going?” The boss looked at both girls. “Good, moving along. Should be finished in the next day or so.” “Good.” He walked back out of the lab, not having found anything suspicious like he had originally thought. He had thought catching them off guard would present him with concrete evidence, but it didn’t. Satisfied, he went back to his office. Both girls took a huge sigh of relief, and went back to what they were doing to complete their project, and prevent anyone from being able to replicate what they had created.

#NailedIt #PracticallyProfessionals

As usual, we really enjoyed this writing exercise. And we (of course) recommend that any of you writers out there give it a try and see what happens. Who knows? It might be the start to a best-seller! We would love to hear what you guys have to say, so feel free to message us with your own attempts!

Until some later date,

-Alice & Quinn

Peace.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Imagery for Inspiration


Hey Everyone! 

The good news is, we have been doing A LOT of writing lately!  The bad news is, most of it has been focused on the novel and not so much on the blog.  #BallDrop.  So, to make things up to our blog, we have decided to post one of the exercises we use to help our writing.

A while ago, Quinn went on an adventure and took some awesome pictures.  This sparked the idea of looking at a picture and writing any story that came to mind.  The scenes could be for our novel, or just for fun.  Anything to get the creative juices flowing.  It is also great practice for writing from different perspectives and developing new characters.

The first picture we decided to use is this:  


Using this picture as inspiration, we both set to work writing anything that came to mind.  We didn't go into this exercise with a direct focus.  Instead, we wanted to see where the picture would take us.  We didn't write for a terribly long time, but we both came up with totally different scenarios!  It is pretty cool actually, what you can pull from a picture if you use your imagination, and how different people can see the same image. 

To avoid an incredibly long post, we have pulled the first paragraph (or so) from each story to share with you guys.  Keep in mind, these are totally raw, unedited, and may not lead to anything relevant.  But if you are writing and come to a roadblock, or need some new inspiration, this is a really cool idea to get things started.

The following is the beginning part of Quinn’s story:

      It was an overcast day, ensuring that the night would be even darker. The large mansion loomed upward in the midst of the mountains, but the guests didn’t seem to notice as they rode up the long drive to the entrance. The steep pitch of the different peaks in the roof made it nearly impossible to walk out on them, but if you looked closely, the frame of a person could be seen sitting on the west end. Without moving, the person was barely noticeable, but one of the young girls in tow caught a glimpse of the figure and started to imagine what he (assumed to be a boy) was doing. As it turns out, this assumption wasn’t totally incorrect. There was a boy who sat on the roof, and with his impeccable vision, noticed the young girl in the car and registered that she had indeed spotted him. With the rain seeming to be on the way, and the cars being emptied by the butlers as the guests were welcomed into the home, the young boy slowly moved from his position and slid down to one of the flatter areas near the window he had crawled out of. He would find the girl, as he knew she would be looking for him.

The next excerpt is from Alice:

      She used to make up stories for herself when she was alone or scared. And they always started the same way: Once upon a time, in a place far, far away... Inevitably in the story, the princess would be saved, the hero would defeat the evil, they would find love and live happily ever after together. Now, as she looked out from the balcony of the castle in this land the boys call home, she couldn't believe that this is how the fairy tale was going to play out.

      The view from her room was misleading. You couldn't tell from here that the world, and other worlds she thought, were crashing around them. From here you could only see the castle, standing tall and strong, surrounded by the forest that promised to protect them. The sky was expansive, and even though it was overcast and gray, it gave her a sense of peace. From here, she wouldn't mind being the princess in one of her stories. She probably wouldn't even mind one of the boys being her prince.

      But fairy tales are for children, she thought. We aren't children. Not anymore. All the innocence they could have had in the beginning of this war was taken from them. Now they were warriors, and worse than that, they were believed to be the villains. “It's not our fault,” she said out loud to herself. This was forced on them; they were pawns in a bigger, more destructive game. Maybe if she keeps repeating it, she will start to believe it.

Those are the beginnings of... something.  Or nothing.  Who knows?  We do know we had a lot of fun doing this and it was a great exercise to get us writing.  All of you writers out there should give it a shot, its a great new perspective! 

We will try harder to keep you all updated.  But until next time, keep being awesome.  #WeWill.

~ Alice & Quinn

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

We Have More Hobbies Than You Do!

Our original list when deciding on hobbies / things to try.

I know we have been totally slacking in at least catching everyone up on what we have been doing, so here goes. Well we have an agenda of hobbies; so far it looks like this:

Mondays* – Kickboxing
Tuesdays* – Yoga or Horseback Riding
Wednesday* – Kickboxing or Yoga or Horseback Riding
Thursday* – Blank
Friday* – Sometimes Kickboxing, or Traveling
Saturday* – Blank or Traveling
Sunday* – Blank or Traveling
*Marks days in which we are awesome. Also marks days in which we try to keep up with writing. (Usually at Panera)

Things we are looking to add:
  • Horseback Riding (Alice)
  • Archery (Quinn bought a bow, so now we just need to work on getting that in the schedule more often)
  • Sword Fighting
  • Aikido or some other form of martial arts... suggestions?
  • Rock Climbing
  • Synchronized Swimming (WHAT?! Who put that in there?)
  • Dancing (Just kidding - we are humans)
Keeping in mind that we have a budget, some of these things may have to be rotated around. Plus, we need to do the whole job thing to pay for all these hobbies, and that takes away time from trying new things and adding to our schedules. It sure is a great time though! So far we haven't tried something we don't like, so stay posted for more experiences!

~Alice & Quinn

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Poetry Slammed

 Oh the joys and sorrows that poetry can bring to a person's life... If you can understand it, that is.
Poetry is widely reguarded as one of the most intimate forms of writing, a medium to express feelings and emotions that we couldn't normally convey. Poetry provides truth and meaning allthewhile coloring it in metaphor and exagerated language. Plus, you have to be super cool and deep to appreciate it. #That'sUs
In our efforts to expand our writing experience, we decided to try out some poetry. We figured it would be a good way to practice our writing skills and force us to use more descriptive and creative language. #LetTheCreativeJuicesFlow. Our goals for writing poetry are (for the moment) purely academic. We truly want to push ourselves as writers and give ourselves a starting platform. Maybe one day we will publish everything, but for now, it's just for your amusement.
We have documented our first attempt at writing poetry (of course). And since it is supposed to be creative and we usually hand-write all of our posts anyway (using only the best pens in the coolest colors), we decided to lay out this post a little differently. #TakeAllThePictures!
We perused the internet for a starting point and guidence in our poem writing and found a great exercise! We recommend it for anyone who has never written poetry before and needs a basic place to start. So, read on and enjoy!
How to Write a Good Poem:


This is an important note everyone! We did not come up with these steps! Step 1 through Step 6 came from various websites: http://www.squidoo.com/how-to-write-poetry, http://www.wikihow.com/Write-a-Poem, http://www.ehow.com/how_6675600_write-quick-poem.html. #CredibleResources
Notice at Step 7 we decided we needed more direction. As stated, we consulted Oprah (http://www.oprah.com/spirit/12-Ways-to-Write-a-Poem) to help us out. #OprahKnowsEverything. 
The 12 steps are designed to get you on the right track and make you think about what you know and what you want to say. Listed at the end are some suggestions on how to get your poem started. These suggestions worked for us. This is by no means the only way to write a poem! But like we said, if you are new at this (like us) or are just stuck and need a little push, this may be a good place to start.

Using the 12 Questions and the Helpful Tips, we both attempted to write our own (coherent) poems. Here are the results!! First up: Quinn.

Quinn's Masterpiece:

Alice's Turn!!





Behold: Alice's Work of Art:

#NailedIt #BothOfUs
So there they are, our first attempts at poetry. I don't think it's too early to say that we have promising futures ahead. Look for us at a poetry slam near you. (That's what it's called, right?) #Whatevs.
Until Next Time,
Alice & Quinn

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Why We Want to Write... Because Fiction!


We want to write a novel for the following reasons:
  •    The characters can do anything that we dream of. Their reality can be anything.
  •     We can create technologies that don’t exist, or that we would never be able to make work otherwise.
  •     We can combine any genre into one book, and it will work because it’s fiction.
  •      We want to inspire people, encourage them to try new things.
  •      We want to escape “real life” for at least an hour or so a day. Writing is a good release.
  •    We don’t want to have any regrets.
  •      We want to get all the thoughts and ideas, no matter how weird, bizarre, or crazy, out of our heads.
  •     To take a risk, to start a project that will take a lot of time and effort to complete and not quit.


-Alice & Quinn

What A Novel Idea Part One - Memoirs of Our Imaginations


Hey Friends!  (You guys are our friends, right?)
We have a confession to make to you all right here on the internet.  Are you ready?  We are total and completely undeniable nerds.  Whew, we said it.  We always have been.  More to that point, we love to lose ourselves in books and the worlds that they create for us.  We are going to assume that a lot of you feel the same way and that you too spend countless hours on the internet reading threads about your favorite books in-between actually reading and rereading all your favorite books.
But, dear reader, have you ever thought about writing a book for yourself?  Have you ever created an idea so meaningful and influential (at least to yourself) that you had to share it with the world?  Have you tried to write it down?

Here’s the deal.  It’s a lot of work to write a book.  Forget coming up with a noteworthy idea and writing and rewriting until it resembles something coherent.  There’s publishing to think about, editing, marketing, all the boring stuff (to some) that has to be done for the book to be successful.  And then, after all that work, people might not like it.  And so, we have another confession to make: We (both of us) have let these things prevent us from writing a book.  It has always been in the back of our minds, even before we met each other. 

We are going to guess that this is the case for at least some of you guys, too (we are doing a lot of assuming today, but hey, all of the most complicated engineering problems can be solved if you have enough assumptions).  And that’s completely fair.  There are a lot of questions to be asked when writing a book and sometimes the answers are scary.  We are both engineers and in the engineering spirit, we question everything.  We approach every situation with the same logical, stepwise manner, and we ask questions, a lot of questions.  How much time will it take to write the novel?  What are the steps to get it published?  What is the cost?  Is the idea marketable?  What are the risks?  What steps can be taken to mitigate the risk?  What is the chance for failure?  How large will the failure be?  Where will the failure be, with the equipment, with the customer, with the quality of the writing, with the marketing?  And the list goes on…  

Today we are announcing to the world that we are throwing all the risk analysis out the window.  We are going for something big.  Something bigger than www.zazzle.com/Catpicsallday* .  We are going to co-write a novel (because everything is more manageable when you have an awesome team).  There will be no risk analysis, no mitigation, and we may fail.  This could be the biggest failure of our lives.  But we are going to write the novel we’ve always wanted to give to the world (and wanted to read).  The customer might not like it, a publisher might not see any worth, an editor might tell us to scrap the idea and go in a different direction.  These are all things that can happen, but we are going for it anyway.  We will be having many fun and entertaining discussions with each other about the direction, the characters, and the plot points that move the novel forward. There will be plenty of erasing and starting over by our own accord.  One of the perks with being in a great team, we don’t get offended when the other says an idea sucks in so many words :D.  Instead, it can become the theme for comical blog-posts. Lucky for us, the engineering side of our brain helps out with that!  I mean, we’ve written like 6 blog posts so far, so we clearly know what we are doing.

So in addition to all the other random things we decide are blog-worthy, we are now going to provide insight into our book-writing process.  We’ll be sure to share with you all our inspirations, our writing techniques, resources we’ve found helpful, all our frustrations, personal successes, and hopefully some self-discovery along the way.  And then with some insight, hopefully some of you will choose to do the same and follow your creative dreams. 



A Possible hint at our theme for the novel. That and Quinn likes the night vision feature.
So, here we are in another moment of clarity.  Our lives are (once again) taking a new turn that hopefully won’t end with us bruised and battered along the road (although that is very possible considering we may develop over-confidence due to our kickboxing skillz).  We hope you enjoy our adventure through the process of discovery and our engineering mindset, mixed with our bizarre imaginations, of how to write a meaningful story.  If, nay, when, we get to the stage of being edited and preparing to submit to publishers, you all will be the first to get information about the actual story.  In the meantime, we’ll be dropping hints and pieces of the book for you all to sample (we do want this to be somewhat a surprise).  This is our new beginning, writing the Memoirs of Our Imaginations.Description: https://mail.google.com/mail/images/cleardot.gif




Until then,
Alice & Quinn