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.


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


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