When to Let an Idea Go

The short and sweet version of this post is: never. 

I’m a firm believer in the power of ideas and that there is no such thing as an idea that is ALL bad or can’t be reformed or edited to become something better or even incredible. 

Like most things, ideas are a bare minimum, a foundation, if you will, to build off and craft into something bigger, clearer, and more precise. 

Think of ideas like Legos. 

One Lego by itself is not all that impressive. Seriously, what can you even do with one Lego? But when you add in Legos of different sizes, colors, and shapes, you can build something amazing. The best thing about Legos (ideas) is that you can take them apart, rebuild, and shift them around into something different until you create something you can fall in love with. 

Ideas aren’t nailed down, limited, or cemented into a final form. They aren’t sculptures and even sculptures can be broken, keep that in mind. The only limitations on ideas are those we place on ourselves. We think that ideas have to be binary. One thing or another, but with time and care, they transform into something magical. 

Okay, if the Lego analogy hasn’t won you over, how about Stephen King?

If you’ve read On Writing (if not YOU SHOULD GO GET IT RIGHT NOW), you may remember a section on character creation. Stephen King and many writers (people, let’s not limit) constantly get ideas for characters, whether it’s in the shower, inspired by an image or a person on the street. Those inklings are fuel for future projects. WRITE THEM DOWN. Put in on a phone memo, pop open a notebook, whether it’s a handful of keywords or a full on description, put it on paper/virtual paper. Stephen King puts his on notecards and saves them for later. He picks them out of the box at random and writes. Um…that’s something I can totally get behind and how fun is that?

Alright, I’m not just here to spout Stephen King’s wisdom, I swear I have a point. Stephen King’s tips on characters can also apply to ideas. Write them down. Come back to them later if you want. Store them in a cute index card holder. Whatever. OR nurture them. Deliberate. Think of how you can develop those ideas. Don’t be afraid to be extremely detailed or only have a bare bones idea. Writing, getting it down on paper alone, will help with that development. 

Ideas are transformative. Don’t throw them away. Save them, shape them, build on them until they become something you can work with, something you can be proud of. You don’t have to use them right away or ever use them, but having them there, chilling out is a comfort in itself. 

I can’t tell you how many times people have told me to give up on ideas. I used to get mad. Because who can understand your ideas, your process better than you can? But I realized that not everyone is the same. Some people believe that letting go is helpful and if that’s you, do what is BEST and true for you. I am not that person and I also think that people should always weigh their options and make decisions that will be best for themselves. You do you. 

Always,

Jordan

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ARC Review: And I Darken by Kiersten White

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NO ONE EXPECTS A PRINCESS TO BE BRUTAL.

And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.

Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, who’s expected to rule a nation, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion.

But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point.

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review

3.5/5 Stars

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & Random House Children’s Delacorte

+++On the mature side of YA for violence and sexual situations

I wanted to love this story. Mainly because I am a historian and this area is of particular interest to me. PLUS a gender-bending version of Vlad the Impaler? Come on, who wouldn’t want to read that? This book took me a LONG time to read. It takes place over the span of years and the pacing is fairly slow up until late in the book. Most of what takes place is political maneuvering and everyday life. 

Sweeping depictions of the Ottoman Empire, the diversity there, the role of Islam, and the gorgeous scenery. Everything is painted in painstaking detail. You feel the holy glory in every landscape and sprawling city. For anyone who is interested in what the Ottoman Empire was like in its infancy to establishment, this is definitely for you. It’s informative without being too historical, while sticking to accuracy. Some scenes are brutal and graphic, particularly the ways that treason was punished, etc. BUT historically on par! 

Lada, I wasn’t entirely sold on her. A first, she’s this beastly, violent little thing with so much desire and determination in her heart that it hardens her against true emotion. She believes in tough lessons and pain. To have others fear her is to be respected. When Lada hits puberty, it’s a slap in the face that allows her to realize that she is a woman and she does have limitations in Ottoman society, but she refuses to give into their rules. Lada is fiercely herself and that self is not always likable. Sometimes, you might hate her. However, and take this with a grain of salt, when Lada falls in love and accepts her sexual power (I know), she becomes more human. She’s confused and has no female influence to help her through it. She has feelings and emotions and is totally startled and sickened by them, because she doesn’t know what to make of them. At the same time, Lada becomes so consumed by these feelings that she loses sight of her goals and the second half of the story becomes more like a romance than anything else, and as much as I love romance, I feel like part of the story was lost when that shift in focus happened. Part of Lada, her most defined part, was diminished. I think that we can be more than one thing, that Lada’s goals aren’t all she is, but she needed to learn to balance, and she struggled to do so.    

Radu (the story shifts between Lada and Radu’s perspective) is a fascinating character. There are so many layers to who he is. He wears masks, wears his heart on his sleeve, becomes the Ottoman darling, but hides a secret that could destroy him. Radu’s moment of discovery, when he realized that his love for his best friend was more that pure friendship, wow, just incredibly well written. That epiphany is made of terror and honesty, of repercussions and love. It’s bold and beautiful and laced with feels. Radu’s story is poignant and moving. He is undervalued and easily dismissed. He is seen as weak and less than. Radu is insecure, but he’s smart. He wishes people would really see him and recognize that he has things to offer to the world. Islam becomes a safe haven for him and a place to come into his own. It saves him and is the foundation with which he becomes the amazing person he does. 

Radu and Lada’s sibling relationship is complicated and becomes more so as they mature. Their love is a prickly, violent thing that is not always easy and they often resent each other, but when it counts, they’re there for each other. 

Mehmed was a big letdown for me. I kept waiting for him to become more, to be someone I could respect, could root for, but I struggled to find anything that made me want to follow him as a ruler or even a friend. It astounded me that both Lada and Radu put so much of their faith and focus on him when his personality was kinda blah (sure he was hot but…) and his choices were pretty terrible at times. I feel like more scenes to get at the heart of Mehmed, to see exactly when they loved him so much would have helped build up the emotions and shown what was at stake during battles. 

If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:

Fierce reading, 

Jordan

ARC Review: The Memory Book by Lara Avery

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They tell me that my memory will never be the same, that I’ll start forgetting things. At first just a little, and then a lot. So I’m writing to remember.

Sammie was always a girl with a plan: graduate at the top of her class and get out of her small town as soon as humanly possible. Nothing will stand in her way–not even a rare genetic disorder the doctors say will slowly start to steal her memories and then her health. What she needs is a new plan.

So the Memory Book is born: Sammie’s notes to her future self, a document of moments great and small. It’s where she’ll record every perfect detail of her first date with longtime crush, Stuart–a brilliant young writer who is home for the summer. And where she’ll admit how much she’s missed her childhood best friend, Cooper, and even take some of the blame for the fight that ended their friendship.

Through a mix of heartfelt journal entries, mementos, and guest posts from friends and family, readers will fall in love with Sammie, a brave and remarkable girl who learns to live and love life fully, even though it’s not the life she planned.

review

4/5 Stars

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

The Memory Book is a beautifully heartbreaking and poignant read that celebrates what we neglect most-the value of memory and living each and every moment to its fullest.  

I always love books that teach me something. The idea that children can get a version of dementia (Niemann-Pick) completely blew my mind and absolutely terrified me. Some scenes are incredibly written and packed with powerful emotion. The moments when Sammie realizes her disease is kicking in right before the memory loss are brutally real and hard to read. The pain and sympathy for Sammie is unreal. 

Sammie’s voice is gripping and courageous. You know exactly who she is, what she wants, and how insanely brave she is. She’s determined to overcome when her body is failing her, she refuses to give up despite every setback, and that not only makes her admirable, but heroic.

The diary entries read with such honesty, they’re oh so real and open. All of Sammie’s fears and hopes are laid bare. 

I’ve never felt more happy for a character. As Sammie falls in love, it’s a sudden realization that is so bright and refreshing. No love triangle. That perfect moment when something building floats to the surface and everything is beautiful. 

Secondary characters are complex, and while I would have liked just a hint more of their back stories, there was enough to keep me intrigued and feel their connection to Sammie. I would have also appreciated more family interactions between siblings. 

Those diary entries at the end of the book. Stomp all over my heart, why don’t you? 

Life can be so unfair and some people give into the sadness, hurt, and depression. Sammie is ever hopeful, rarely negative, and finds beauty in simplicity. That in itself, is enough to love this book. 

If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:

Keep reading, 

Jordan