31 March 2006
The theme is doorway, in 80 words, and according to the rules on Fictional Musings, it's not too late to enter. Stories will be accepted until midnight (PST) tonight, which actually means for us Midwesterners, the e-mail needs to be sent by 2 a.m. Full contest details are here.
Word Nerd entered, and you can read all 79 of her words in the story "Go Through."
If you aren't feeling inspired, read the ones posted so far. There are many good ones and some great twists.
30 March 2006
Author: Rachel Caine
Length: 330 pages
Genre: urban fantasy/chick lit
Plot Basics: After dying a couple times and saving the world a couple times, former Weather Warden Joanne Baldwin takes a job at a TV station to try and live a normal life. But she's got a cop bent on revenge following her, a divorced sister moving in (unexpectedly) and a starring role in the brewing conflict between the Wardens and the djinn making normalcy hard to come by.
Banter Points: The action doesn't stop in this series. The proverbial saying about things going from bad to worse is holding true for Joanne and the result is another edge-of-the-seat page-turner. The few qualms that Word Nerd had with this series back at the very beginning (like David the Djinn just not sounding like a name to really inspire power or fear) have all been artfully explained away.
Bummer Points: November. Book five doesn't come out until November. That's roughly 214 days of waiting to find out what happens next. It's not fair.
Word Nerd recommendation: If you haven't started the series, you could save yourself some grief and wait until all six books are out. On the other hand, Word Nerd needs people to commiserate with, so on second thought, read them. Read them now.
29 March 2006
Word Nerd guesses that tidbit works when teaching people how to sing (obviously, the musical doesn't end there) but in writing that piece of advice is, how shall we say it, more fluid.
The beginning isn't always clear.
Case in point: Yesterday, Word Nerd started tinkering with another little story featuring the Lady Aisling and Tulio di Lorenzo, from her story "21." It was going well, making sense. Until, all of sudden, hours later, Word Nerd realized the place she was starting this new escapade was completely wrong. The story doesn't begin in a coffee shop. Oh no, it likely begins in Tulio's house.
Case in point #2: Last summer Word Nerd wrote a story for the Aestival Festival contest in Menasha about a woman going to witness an execution in the state of Florida. The first draft started with her in the car driving to the prison. The final version begins with her pulling into the parking lot of the prison.
Beginnings are an important thing in a story. Too weak, the reader stops reading. Too far from the action of the story, the reader may also bail because nothing's happening.
If you are writing and are unsure of the beginning, try it another way or skip ahead in the story to a place where you know the plot.
27 March 2006
The first writer who responded was J.A. Konrath, who turned around these answers a mere 60 minutes after Word Nerd sent the questions.
Konrath is the author of the Lt. Jacqueline "Jack" Daniels mystery novels, Whiskey Sour, Bloody Mary, Rusty Nail and the forthcoming Dirty Martini. To learn more about him, go to either his website or his blog, A Newbie's Guide to Publishing.
J.A. Konrath's answers are in italics.
1. Place you do most of your writing:
I do 95% of my writing at my desktop computer, 5% on my laptop.
2. While you write, do you do anything else (munch on carrots or drink tea or listen to heavy metal, for example?)
Nope, I just write. Usually I sit for about four hours at a stretch, and can average about 2500 words a day.
3. Why did you decide to be a writer?
I love to read. I have about 5000 books on my shelves.
4. What author(s) inspire you?
Robert B. Parker, Lawrence Block, Max Allen Collins, David Morrell, Robert Walker, and anyone else who has been able to stay in this business for 40 books or more.
5. How long did you have to work on writing before your first book was
accepted for publication?
I spent 12 years trying to get published, and wrote 9 unpublished novels, getting rejected 450 times, before my first sale.
6. What made you keep working until it was done?
Quitting is for wimps.
7. How did you feel when you first saw your name on the cover of a book?
I cried. But I cried like a man, like Stallone at the end of Rocky 2.
8. If you had to actually live the life of one of the characters in your book(s) who would you want to be and why?
Harry McGlade. He's rich, says whatever is on his mind, and is unbelievably lucky. Some readers think I've based Harry off of me, except for the rich part. And the lucky part.
Title: Grim Tuesday (Keys to the Kingdom, book 2)
Author: Garth Nix
Length: 321 pages
Plot Basics: Arthur Penhaligon nearly died in the fantastical and creepy House on Monday. When Monday ends, Arthur finds a new enemy in Grim Tuesday who has the power to destroy not only the world of the House, but Arthur's family and that world as well.
Banter Points: Nix's imagination must have been in overdrive when he set out to write the Keys to the Kingdom books. Where the first one introduced readers to a whole slate of oddball creatures (the Fetchers taking the top slot), Grim Tuesday brings in even more, with a sentient eyebrow, the very weird Scouchers and a legalistic bear.
Bummer Points: It was only the second book in the series and Nix sets up the end for the next one ... the drawback is the whole series is not published yet.
Word Nerd recommendation: These are great for a reader looking to fill the void between now and the next Harry Potter book. Also fans of Neil Gaiman's warped world in "Neverwhere" would probably like this.
25 March 2006
But Word Nerd's story "21" has been posted on Fictional Musings .
A little bit about process here: It took about 20 minutes to write the original first draft of "21," which was scribbled out long-hand. The nugget of the idea came out of a dream that Word Nerd had. The dream was so strange, she had to do something with part of it.
Several days of revisions ensued and a critique at the Oshkosh Area Writer's Club helped get this in the form it is now.
24 March 2006
So here goes an attempt of an explanation of what makes it home with me from the library and what actually gets read.
1. New books by authors Word Nerd has read before. This one is self-explanatory. If she liked the writer in the past, that gives a new book by the same writer a boost.
2. Recommendations. Word Nerd listens to what other readers tell her. This will even get her reading things outside of the genre(s) she prefers. For the record, she even is currently borrowing a bona fide chick lit book from a friend who recommended it.
3. Title/Cover Art. This is seriously how Word Nerd found Rachel Caine's Weather Warden books. The cover was catchy enough that she checked it out.
4. Blurbs/Reviews. These can sway Word Nerd either way. A blurb, for example, comparing Rachel Caine to Laurell K. Hamilton was persuasive. Likewise, the review for Gentlemen & Players was good enough that Word Nerd picked up the book without having really ever heard of Joanne Harris before. The review for John Irving's new book has made Word Nerd leery, despite previously reading and enjoying Irving.
5. First sentence/paragraph/chapter. This is often the criteria after Word Nerd gets the book home from the library. Maybe the cover art looked cool, or it looked like a good genre fiction book. Case study -- Word Nerd checked out the first book of K.J. Parker's Fencer trilogy because it looked like decent fantasy. After reading the first few pages at home, Word Nerd took it back because she was bored.
6. Commitment. Sometimes length is a factor. Or the due date. Or the level of engagement the book will require. Case study #2 -- Word Nerd has Garth Nix's second Keys to the Kingdom book and George R. R. Martin's next book checked out. She's been waiting for the Martin book for years since his last one came out. But, she' reading Nix. It's shorter. It's also for kids meaning the characters have a high probability of living through the story. That cannot be said for Martin's book. So why Nix over Martin? After finishing Ivanhoe, Word Nerd decided she wanted to coast through a book before tackling another long and involved one.
23 March 2006
These are not particularly useful words, and certainly ones that are unlikely to show up in Word Nerd's day-job writing.
But... here are 10 fun words -- fun because they either mean odd things or just look funny.
Word Nerd knows the definitions of these words -- but post the best one(s) you can think of for what they might mean.
22 March 2006
In a news story Word Nerd saw yesterday, there was an omnious reference by the reporter to the impact this court ruling could have in the publishing world. That reporter left out just what the impact could be.
So Word Nerd turned to Miss Snark for an answer, which she kindly supplied.
Author: Sir Walter Scott
Length: 500 pages (the edition Word Nerd read had bigger type and several plates of pictures)
Plot Basics: Religion crosses with the politics of old England as Brian de Bois-Guilbert, a Knight Templar and supporter of Prince John who is trying to take over the throne of England, becomes enthralled with Rebecca, a beautiful Jewess. When she is tried by the Templar Order as a witch, it is Wilfred of Ivanhoe -- a supporter of the missing King Richard the Lionheart -- recently returned from the Crusades who comes to her aid.
Banter Points: It's a little odd reviewing a classic, but Ivanhoe was thoroughly enjoyable. Unlike some other classic novels, it doesn't get bogged down in unnecessary details.
Bummer Points: The book is full of high-falutin' language and "thees" and "thous." Every now and then, some of the sentences seem backwards because of it.
Word Nerd recommendation: It's a great classic and a story Word Nerd is glad she tackled in its original form, after growing up with the movie. If you'd rather discover this enchanting story without all the thee/thou language, find a copy of the 1982 made-for-TV movie version with Anthony Andrews as Ivanhoe, Sam Neill as Brian de Bois-Guilbert and Olivia Hussey as Rebecca.
21 March 2006
In Britain, there is a copyright case in court saying Dan Brown, author of the wildly popular "DaVinci Code" borrowed liberally (as in, too liberally, as in plagiarism perhaps) from Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh's non-fiction book "The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail."
If Baigent and Leigh win, it could hold up the release of the movie version of "The DaVinci Code," scheduled to open on May 19.
In a story about the DaVinci chaos this morning on NBC's "Today" show, the reporter also mentioned that if Baigent and Leigh win, it could "rock the publishing world." Just what that impact might be was left out of the story, but Word Nerd has sent an email to the esteemed Miss Snark to get some input on this unanswered question.
20 March 2006
The calendar year, yes; but Word Nerd's literary year ends today.
Word Nerd's literary year runs from March 21- March 20, only because March 20, 2002 was the date she started keeping the list of books read. The first entry was, by the way, Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley, a required book for a paper in her last sociology class needed for the minor in college.
Since Word Nerd's not going to finish reading another book today (too many pages of Ivanhoe left and not enough time) it's fair to make the accounting of the past year today.
From March 24, 2005 through March 17, 2006, Word Nerd read 79 books. Since the list began in 2002, Word Nerd has read 279 books. This year's total is only two more than last year's, so Word Nerd is guessing that probably 75-80 books is really all she can read in a year.
Word Nerd only started counting pages read in December, but from then until March 17, the total pages was 8,261. A little math puts the estimate for the year at around 33,000.
Since all of this list keeping started because of an essay question asking what the best book was you read in the last year, Word Nerd's answer for this year is Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller.
17 March 2006
(This will be much better if you read it with an Irish accent).
Top o' the mornin' to ye, me hearties.
In honor of St. Patty's Day, Word Nerd wishes you the luck of the Irish and Erin Go Bragh and all those green sentiments.
And to send up her tribute to this holiday, Word Nerd is offering up book titles and poems in celebration, written about Ireland or by the Irish.
Word Nerd cannot forget to mention William Butler Yeats, her favorite Irish poet since she was a wee bairn (ok, since senior year of high school English, but close enough...)
Other Irish titles include:
How the Irish Saved Civilization, by Thomas Cahill (non-fiction)
1916 and 1921, by Morgan Llywelyn (fiction)
Patrick, by Stephen R. Lawhead (fiction)
Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man, James Joyce (Irish author)
Angela's Ashes, Frank McCourt (Irish author)
The Artemis Fowl series and The Supernaturalist, by Eoin Colfer, (Irish author)
16 March 2006
Title: Midshipwizard Halcyon Blithe
Author: James M. Ward
Length: 228 pages
Plot Basics: Halcyon Blithe inherits his family's magical powers in late adolescence and suddenly has the ability to follow the family tradition and be a wizard on one of the king's navy's dragonships. But, young Blithe has a lot to learn.
Banter Points: Ward, a writer from Elkhorn, Wisc., has a great idea here that's a combination of Patrick O'Brien, Robin Hobb and Harry Potter. Blithe serves on a ship built into a live dragon, complete with cannons and lots to learn about wizardry and serving on a first-rate ship of the line.
Bummer Points: A good idea needs good execution in the writing and Ward's book is unfortunately a little slow. Blithe spends the first half of the book just learning stuff from his superior officers. When the plot actually hits, the suspense is underplayed and it's a bit hard to believe that Blithe is really in danger.
Word Nerd recommendation: There is the perfect setup for a sequel with Blithe moving up in the ranks of the naval wizards. Word Nerd hopes that as Blithe advances, so does the level of peril he faces. Though this book is on the adult shelves, it would be great for YA readers -- easily understandable and no questionable content (The naval battles and scrapes that Blithe gets in to aren't overly violent).
15 March 2006
Last week, the Word Nerd led a discussion with the Oshkosh Area Writer's Club about writer's block.
One participant in the discussion said that the opposite of writer's block would be able to write at any time, any where.
Which brings us to flash fiction.
Rather like JA Konrath's 69 word story contest from last week, flash fiction is far, far shorter than a traditional 2,000-5,000 word short story. Some people classify 55 words as flash fiction. Others will go up to anything less than 1,000 words.
Flash fiction is just what it sounds like -- a flash of an idea, but with a definable plot.
In short, these are the sorts of stories that should be able to be written any time, any where.
This site offers some tips on how to write good flash fiction. The answer here is to be a merciless editor.
Word Nerd would also offer up flash fiction as a solution to all those pesky little ideas running around in a writer's head that either aren't long enough for a full piece or just need to be put on paper so they will stop running around and leave a writer in peace to get on with other writing.
It's not devoted to flash fiction, but Fictional Musings posts only stories under 700 words, and many of these shorts pack a punch.
If you want to try writing flash fiction, try also setting a time limit. What kind of a story can you write in 15 minutes? In 10? In only 5?
If you come up with a good one, post it.
14 March 2006
Flying is only tolerable because it involves hours of sitting where the only useful thing to do is read.
However, what to read on an airplane is complicated question. The book needs to be long enough to last for 6 hours on a plane, but not so long that Word Nerd will get scoliosis from having it weigh down her carry on bag as she has to make a connecting flight. Moreover, since there's nothing else to do on the airplane or at the gate but read, the book must also be interesting/suspensful/gripping/a page-turner, etc., so that Word Nerd doesn't get bored.
Bottom line, Word Nerd is at this time, stumped, about what she should check out from the library to take on the plane.
She needs your help. Post your recommendations for what the next airplane book(s) should be. Here are some past airplane books to help you refine your recommendations.
Timeline, Michael Crichton
Devil in the White City, Erik Larson
Watership Down, Richard Adams
Fool's Errand, Robin Hobb
Body of Evidence, Patricia Cornwell
Wizard's First Rule, Terry Goodkind
Various Stephanie Plum novels, Janet Evanovich
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, Michael Chabon
13 March 2006
Author: Jack Whyte
Length: 623 pages
Genre: fantasy/historical fiction
Plot Basics: Uther Pendragon lives his life torn between his home in Cambria, where he ends up being king, and his home in Camulod, the place that he loves. When his long-time enemy Guhlrys Lot attacks Camulod, Uther goes to war, setting off a series of events that leads to the birth of his son, Arthur, and Uther's own downfall.
Banter Points: Word Nerd should have stronger arms after lugging this tome around for as long as it took her to finish it. Whyte did answer a few questions that he had raised in the previous books.
Bummer Points: Where to begin... Word Nerd's review of the first half of this book is here. The second half, sadly, was not as much better as she hoped. This book was like Star Wars Ep. III... everybody knows that Anakin is going to turn into Darth Vader. Likewise everybody knows that Uther is going to meet Ygraine (Lot's wife) and be the father of the legendary King Arthur and that Uther isn't going to make it past the end of this book (doesn't matter which Arthur version you read... Uther never lives.) Moreover, Whyte takes all the magic and mystery out of the Uther/Ygraine meeting... in some versions, it's Merlin who enchants Uther to look like Ygraine's husband or at least spirits Uther into the castle to, er, umm... meet her. Instead, Whyte makes it humdrum by having Uther's forces capture Ygraine so she's conveniently around to attract Uther's notice and Merlin (Merlyn, in Whyte's version) is back in Camulod.
Word Nerd recommendation: The first six books in this series were so good which makes Uther all the more disappointing. Still, Word Nerd will be undaunted and will press on with the series, hoping that when Arthur reappears it will be worth the wait.
10 March 2006
Authors themselves will use other names for themselves, or create characters who are known by more than one persona.
Can you match the following secret identities with their true identities? Click here to test your knowledge without the answers.
Some are characters and some are authors. (Sorry that Word Nerd couldn't figure out how to make these show up next to each other, in nice column tables... she's a Word Nerd, not an html nerd...)
1. George Eliot = Mary Ann Evans (real author)
2. Jason Bourne = David Webb (book character)
3. Lemony Snickett = Daniel Handler (real author)
4. Zorro = Don Diego de la Vega (book character)
5. J.D. Robb = Nora Roberts (real author)
6. Richard Stark = Donald Westlake (real author)
7. Spider-man = Peter Parker (book, well, comic character)
8. Batman = Bruce Wayne (book/comic character)
9. the Scarlet Pimpernel = Percy Blakeney (book character)
10. Currer Bell = Charlotte Bronte (real author)
Authors themselves will use other names for themselves, or create characters who are known by more than one persona.
Can you match the following secret identities with their true identities? Some are characters and some are authors. (Sorry that Word Nerd couldn't figure out how to make these show up next to each other, in nice column tables... she's a Word Nerd, not an html nerd...)
1. George Eliot
2. Jason Bourne
3. Lemony Snickett
5. J.D. Robb
6. Richard Stark
9. the Scarlet Pimpernel
10. Currer Bell
a. Percy Blakeney
b. Bruce Wayne
c. Donald Westlake
d. Charlotte Bronte
e. Don Diego de la Vega
f. David Webb
g. Daniel Handler
h. Mary Ann Evans
i. Nora Roberts
j. Peter Parker
09 March 2006
In the last month, Rachel Caine and JA Konrath have both finished writing their next novels.
Understand, these are not labors of years... no, we're talking the labor of a month here... and according to Caine's blog, a push of close to 20,000 words in the last two or three days.
Word Nerd knows this is possible -- the National Novel Writing Month freaks (I mean participants) do 50K words in one month.
She's in awe of them too.
Because here's the rub: the Word Nerd could probably crank out the 40,000 remaining words left to write in the first draft of the work in progress in the next month. Probably here means, "if she abandons sleeping and ignores the mounds of cat hair that will take up residence under her desk and behind doors because she's writing and not vaccuming, etc."
So what's the difference? Is it the fact Konath and Caine had contracts forcing them to finish the books? Possible. Very very possible.
But there's a vicious circle, here, thinks Word Nerd. How do you get the book contract for the sequel when the first one's not done? And if there's no deadline pressure, how does the first one ever get done?
08 March 2006
Word Nerd's deadline for having the next chunk of the Work in Progress ready for critique at the Oshkosh Area Writer's Club is now just under six weeks away.
The fun (read: easier) part of writing this chunk is done and now Word Nerd is into revisions.
That means, the delete key is OK.
Repeat: "The delete key is OK."
This was a huge hurdle for Word Nerd to get over as a novice writer -- taking anything out. Fiction teachers will admonish young writers that they must learn how to "kill your darlings." Maybe it's the perfect sentence, but if it's not the perfect sentence in that piece, it's got to go.
Last night, Word Nerd had to scrap several paragraphs that she liked. Liked, but realized didn't work. They were partially out of order and partially non-sensical now because of earlier changes. Delete. Delete. Delete.
Along the same vein of repeating "the delete key is OK," Word Nerd is trying to psyche herself up to set aside an entire chapter (or two) that she's written. They are good... but it's becoming clear that they will not advance the plot the way it needs to go.
The Delete key is ok...the delete key is ok... the delete key is ok.
07 March 2006
"House" is one of Word Nerd's favorites, in large part because the character of Greg House is so well-written.
But, you say, he's abrasive, mean, condescending, a jerk even.
Bingo. In fact, Word Nerd doesn't even like him. But she tunes in, week after week.
The House character is an anti-hero, a man people love to hate.
Anti-heroes are outsiders. They make people nervous because they go against the grain, are often abrasive and have a deep-rooted flaw or personal failing.
For non-House fans, other anti-heroes include such notables as Han Solo, Don Quixote and to some extent, Batman. The anti-hero is one of the archetypes for characters in any kind of media -- film, literature, TV.
So why watch a show/read a book about such an individual? Because, anti-heroes change. The show isn't really about the medical mystery du jour, it's about how House and his team interact. As people.
Every so often, the audience is given a glimmer of hope that House really has feelings under his stony facade and that he can change. Remember in Star Wars Ep. IV, when Han Solo walks away from the Rebellion after getting his money? Remember how great it is when he comes back during the battle for the Death Star, that he changes his mind and does something altruistic?
Yep. Same kind of thing with House.
Minus the spaceships.
06 March 2006
Title: Chill Factor
Author: Rachel Caine
Length: 337 pages
Genre: urban fantasy/chick lit
Plot Basics: Weather Warden Joanne Baldwin saved the world (twice) and died (twice) but she's back (human again) as the last chance for the Wardens and a secret society to stop a teenager named Kevin, currently in possession of the most powerful djinn ever, from destroying everything.
Banter Points: Lots of kudos to Caine for creating a sustainable storyline. Rather than approaching the sequels with a "what-kind-of-trouble-should-my-heroine-get-into-this-time" mentality, it's clear after three books that Caine has a Plan for the series. That's a capital-p Plan because each book is linked to the sequel and the action keeps rising. There is resolution for each book's central plot, but that action usually precipitates what will happen in the subsequent book. The regular cast of characters is also back -- David the djinn, Rahel the djinn, Lewis Levander Orwell (formerly the most powerful warden ever), Marion Bearheart and Paul Giancarlo.
Bummer Points: Turns out, this whole series isn't out yet. Book 5 comes out in September... no date yet that Word Nerd can find for book 6. No wonder somebody coined that phrase about suspense and killing.
Word Nerd recommendation: The blurb on the book cover of Chill Factor compares Caine to Laurell K. Hamilton, but Word Nerd says Caine is better than Hamilton. Fans of the early Anita books that maybe got turned off somewhere after book 6 will like Caine because these books don't trade away the plot.
03 March 2006
1. Kinsey Millhone, A is for Alibi, and all those other alphabet mysteries, by Sue Grafton
2. Daisy Buchanan, the Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
3. Cecily Cardewm The Importance of Being Earnest, by Oscar Wilde
4. the White Witch, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis
5. Fanny Price, Mansfield Park, by Jane Austen
6. Lady Rowena, Ivanhoe, by Sir Walter Scott
7. Edna Pontellier, The Awakening, by Kate Chopin
8. Ellie Arroway, Contact, by Carl Sagan
9. Lucie Mannette, A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens
10. Rebecca Bloomwood, Confessions of a Shopaholic, by Sophie Kinsella
Anything over 7, you're a real word nerd.
Anything less, maybe it's time to review some titles. (Or their movie versions)
Like that one, blow the dust off your bookshelf and see how many of these fictional chicks you recognize. Bonus points for naming authors and books.
1. Kinsey Millhone
2. Daisy Buchanan
3. Cecily Cardew
4. the White Witch
5. Fanny Price
6. Lady Rowena
7. Edna Pontellier
8. Ellie Arroway
9. Lucie Mannette
10. Rebecca Bloomwood
02 March 2006
She did not, however, read Dr. Seuss. (ducking, just in case lightening strikes after this kind of a pronouncement.)
Instead, her selection was "The Day I Swapped my Dad for 2 Goldfish" by Neil Gaiman. She probably enjoyed it more than the kids.
Gaiman also wrote the Sandman comics and such novels as "Neverwhere" and "American Gods." This was his first foray into kids' books, team up with illustrator Dave McKean to do the drawings.
The result is a sharp, witty story with very spiffy pictures and a comic-book-esque layout about a boy who has to go to great lengths to get his dad back after a deal for some goldfish goes badly.
Er... um, share. If you want to.
BookSellerChick today asked about the concept of "Book Therapy."
Basic idea, do you read specifics books if you are looking for solace/therapy or do you feel like you need solace/therapy after reading some books?
Discuss -- what books move you, for good or bad?
01 March 2006
Genre: fantasy/historical fiction
Plot Basics: Uther is the man who eventually becomes the father of King Arthur, but he has his own life and challenges as he feels his loyalty torn between Camulod and the Pendragon Federation over which he becomes king.
Banter Points: Whyte goes back in time for this book in his Camulod Chronicles to fill in the story of Uther, since the majority of the series is told from Merlyn's perspective.
Bummer Points: The length. Oh, and how dull the first half is. Word Nerd has a hunch that the second half of the book is going to be great. That is the part where Uther goes after his life-long nemesis, Gulhrys Lot of Cornwall and in the process, steals Lot's wife, Ygraine, who becomes the mother of Arthur. The first half has been a litany of events in Uther's life, many of which the reader knows already because this same ground was covered in past books, albeit from Merlyn's side. There's only one event where Uther's perspective shed something new on the story. To tell this drawn out history, Whyte also abandons his former crisp, first-person POV used in all the other books in favor of an omniscient third. While the omniscient third saves him from horrid POV switches between chapters, it also dissolves the book into much telling and not enough showing.
Word Nerd recommendation: Whyte's books have been so good and such a good rendition of the King Arthur mythos that Word Nerd is sticking it out. Yes, there is a hiatus coming between the first and second halves of Uther, but Word Nerd has a lot of hope that this one and the next ones will pick back up to his standard.