Reality Reviews – Intro – 1

See, one of the things we’ve noticed is that the romance and erotica publishing industry is amazingly unmotivated to catch little errors. Or BIG errors. Regardless of whether you prefer fluffy happily-ever-afters or more gritty realism with your male/male love stories, we do think that it would be nice if both author and editor had done some work before the reader got there.

And so we acknowledge, and link to, the Cranky Editors–the people who do the job that no one wants, and who dare to suggest that the precious, undying prose we have so arduously scrawled actually NEEDS proofing, editing, and possibly a rewrite or three. We aren’t saying these people can’t write. We are saying that the standard needs raising.

For the sake of the readers, who deserve well-crafted, well-written, well-edited tales…we salute and praise the cranky, ornery editors who are not afraid to say that something is foolish, ungrammatical, ambiguous, or flat out wrong. The ones with standards.But we have to agree with J K Richard on Wierdly Light, who says:

“What this charade (referring to an appalling story) (and others like it) have shown me is that what the publishing industry really, really needs… is Simon Cowell.

“No, no and no Lanaia. What you have written here is utter rubbish. Do you have a day job? No? I suggest you find one.”

“I’m sorry Cheryl. You said you were a what? You couldn’t find a well written novel if it was rubbed all over a skunk’s bullocks and placed under your nose.”

“Roval publishing? What is it exactly that you’re publishing? You call that a web page?”

“Utterly hopeless.”

And so, in this spirit, we bring you the first in what will, we hope, be a series of Reality TV style critique. Think of What Not To Wear. Reality Reviews. Because sometimes the baby Jesus really wants to poke–with a very sharp stick–the people who think that grammar and punctuation are optional extras.

In this first section – yes – this isn’t “historical” fiction but that’s basically because there are far fewer m/m historicals than there are m/m everything elses. After the recent wank when we dared to criticise outside this genre, we hesitated to post this entry, but fuck it – no. Who else is trying to raise the standard?

We can’t be the only readers who are tired of writers who think that the only plot they need to worry about is the one against the audience. We can’t be the only ones who are sick to the teeth of characters who, if they were any more wooden, would be sequoias, or sex scenes as a substitute for plot, or sex scenes written by people who haven’t even bothered to check that their characters’ antics are even possible. Here, at last, you will get truth in advertising. Many of these Reality Reviews will be based solely on the excerpts posted online. We think this is fair. If we were standing in a bookstore, flipping through a book, it would not take us four hundred or so pages to know if the book was tripe. One chapter would suffice. Sometimes less. Thus it shall be here.Think of us as Simon Cowell. It takes a lot to impress us. A LOT. Also, we are not going to worry about whether this hurts anyone’s feelings. There are plenty of scam artists out there who will be more than happy to flatter, wheedle, cajole and lie about the quality of inferior work in order to cheat the naive new writers out of a buck. The truth may hurt–but it may also save time, money and heartache in the end. We will be tough. We will go through each excerpt sentence by sentence with a red pencil. If you’re published, we expect professional workmanship.We do not give a jot about diplomacy, your author’s darlings, or your fragile self-esteem. And yes, we would treat best-sellers the same way. (We may, in fact. Watch this space.)

Enough with the warning. On with the show. Our text is in bold.

Planet Earth is failing.

See, that’s what happens when you don’t go to cram school with all the other planets.

Global warfare and asteroid bombardment have left the planet devastated… perhaps beyond repair.

As opposed to, y’know, mild devastation that you can fix with a squirt of Elmer’s Glue.

Now a small group of terra-formers have just seven years to rebuild Earth’s ecosystems.

Terraforming is one word. And why the seven-year deadline? Does Earth have a seven-year truce from armies and asteroids, perhaps?

Failure means exclusion from the Federation;

Well, FINE. We’ll just go join the Klingons or the Romulans instead!

without the Federation’s assistance Earth is condemned to death.

So let me get this straight.

1) Earth’s scientists apparently have to save Earth before Earth can join the Federation.
2) If they fail, Earth will both perish and be excluded from the Federation.
3) However, Earth is currently excluded from the Federation anyway, because the scientists have not yet succeeded.
4) Without the Federation’s help, Earth is doomed to die.

So Earth is doomed to die without the Federation’s help, and can’t get the Federation’s help until Earth scientists succeed without the Federation’s help.

Well. It’s nice to know that Catch-22 is alive and well in this universe.

Adam, an Earth biologist, and Evan, a scientist from the Mars Colony,

Adam and Evan? I think I just threw up a little in my mouth. I’ll bet that Evan pronounces it EEE-van and not EH-van, too.

find it impossible to resist the passion that draws them together despite prejudices and mutual mistrust.

Whose prejudices? Theirs? Society’s? And if neither trusts the other, how long is that passion going to last?

When a new asteroid strike leaves them stranded — with Earth’s hope for the future resting on their shoulders

What, saving Earth is the job of Adam and Evan alone? Well, I guess that two people would count as “a small group of terra-formers.”

–- they find themselves fighting for their lives and the life of an entire planet.

“You take one hemisphere, I’ll take the other.”

A science fiction thriller and a tender love story, Paradise Earth is an epic story of apocalypse and rebirth.

As long as neither Adam nor Evan are the ones giving birth, I’ll be happy.

Excerpt:

Evan took a step closer and knelt in front of Adam’s chair.

There’s always someone kneeling or being submissive in one of these stories, isn’t there?

He traced a line from the top of Adam’s forehead down his nose, over his upper and lower lip to his chin. A feather touch. Adam tilted his head back and closed his eyes. His lips tingled where he’d touched.

Where he’d BEEN touched. If “where he’d touched” were correct, that would mean that Adam had done the touching, not Evan.

When Evan’s lips met his, the tingle turned into a slow burn.

Being kissed caused a “ gradually increasing sense or show of anger“?

The kiss deepened.

Of course it did. When was the last time you heard of a kiss shallowing?

Adam tasted longing, or could it be his own longing?

What, he’s tasting himself?

He didn’t care; he looped his arms over Evan’s shoulders and drew him closer. His cock, already half-hard from just looking at Evan, grew erect and thick. It squeezed his pants tight

I can just picture Adam’s erect, thick penis encircling the trousers and making them tight.

and he reached down and unbuttoned his jeans.

Jeans. Wow, I’m so impressed. Such innovations of fashion the people of the future have to look forward to.

Evan slid closer so that their chests met, and Adam pressed his cock against Evan’s flat belly. “I want you so bad,” he whispered, their lips still touching.

Keep in mind; despite the fact that Evan’s chest and abdomen are on a level with Adam’s at the moment, and despite the fact that both are kissing, Evan is still kneeling. The guy’s got to be a freaking giant.

Evan nodded, his eyes closed.

“Open your eyes.”

He did, and a jolt ran through Adam’s belly at the sight of his irises. Close up, they were more incredible,

More incredible than what?

with swirls of molten gold and bronze,

Which indicates a problem with processing protein, putrefaction of protein and kidney malfunction.

metal eyes,

This is making me think of a character from Orson Scott Card’s Speaker for the Dead. The boy had metal eyes, and he was constantly turning them on and off.

with cat’s pupils.

So not only is Evan sick. He can barely see in what a human would consider normal daylight.

The pupils widened as Adam watched, taking over the whole eye so that they were nearly black. Black with desire.

Ever have your pupils dilated by a visit to the eye doctor? Yeah. That’s what’s happening with Evan. His pupils are dilating as wide as they can, which means that lots of light is pouring onto his retina. And this is a guy who doesn’t see well in light normally, mind you.

Nothing is quite so special as looking at your true love and being blinded by the light.

Evan took Adam’s hand and put it firmly on his cock, thrusting his hips so that there was no question of his arousal.

If Evan hadn’t thrust his hips forward, Adam would have thought him a shy and decorous man.

He rolled Evan’s cock in his hands, massaging it through his jeans. Thick, hard as granite, and long, reaching almost to his waistline…

Which makes very little sense, as the penis should, logically, be pointing down…at least as long as Evan keeps his trousers on.

<b>SNIP!</b>

Evan’s eyes grew heavy-lidded and a low purr started to rumble in his broad chest.

This guy has so many feline features that I’m just going to start calling him Catboy.

He too undid his jeans, and his cock sprang out, ridged with pulsing veins and purple-tipped. He took it in his hands and pumped it slowly. He smiled, showing his white teeth with his slightly elongated canines. “I want to suck you.”

Oh, sheesh, not ANOTHER space vampire. I’ll bet he vants to suck Adam’s everything, too.

Adam nodded, his voice locked in his chest.

That’s not normally where people keep their voices…

His heart beat so fast he could see it lifting the skin between his ribs.

Um…sinus tachycardia means that the heart is beating too hard and too fast and that the blood isn’t circulating. Therefore, buddy, you DON’T have an erection. All the “stiff cock” you keep talking about is just a hallucination due to dizziness, lack of blood to your brain, and the possibility that you’re going to black out.

He leaned further back in the chair, baring his long, flat belly. Its line of dark curls seemed to beckon a hand or a mouth to follow them to where they pointed — straight to his cock.

It’s like a road sign written in hair: “PENIS, STRAIGHT AHEAD. GO SLOW.”

“But first I have to show you something, and you can decide afterwards if you still want me.” Evan moved gracefully, standing up. First he stripped off his shirt, folded it, and set it on his chair. Then he shed his jeans.

What, again?

Naked, he stood for a minute in front of Adam, a feral smile curving his lips. Not a hair on his body, just smooth, golden tan skin,

Evan waxes, it seems.

and his cock, erect and thicker than Adam had expected.

Thicker than he expected after he felt it and discovered it was thicker than he expected?

Then something twitched,

My mind went to a very bad place at this point.

and Adam saw he also had a tail.

The first shock over, he nodded to Evan. “Turn around.”

Evan’s grin broadened. “Hackles and a tail, are you sure you want to try?”

In biology, a hackle is a feather, usually from the neck of a chicken. I suppose that’s appropriate, though. I mean, all he’s been talking about for the entire excerpt is the wonders of his cock.

The tail was hairless and short, only about thirty centimeters,

About 11.8 inches, according to the Inches/Centimeters Converter.

but muscular. It moved like a snake, curling and then straightening.

I’m just wondering how this prehensile tale will be used as a sex toy. I know it will be. I survived the Harry Potter fandom. After a while, there are some things you just KNOW.

“Can you control it? How do you keep it hidden in your pants?”

Very, very carefully, I’d imagine.

Adam’s cock twitched in time

It’s a metronome!

to Evan’s tail’s movements.

Little shocks of pleasure ran through him,

Ran through which man?

starting in his belly and pouring toward the tip of his cock.

The tail caressed Evan’s buttocks, then curved, inserted itself into the crack in his ass and thrust slowly, disappearing nearly completely.

There is a reason why pet groomers cut hair away from the anus. Unpleasant things (shit, bugs) can stick to the hair. Infections develop that way.

So basically, this is the least sanitary and least sane thing Evan could be doing.

And he’s pretty much asking for a staph infection.

It’s all very very EWWWW.

Adam’s mouth grew dry as he imagined walking around all day with a twitching tail up his ass. He’d come every five seconds, that’s what would happen.

It’s a tail, not a penis. There are bones in there that aren’t going to want to be doubled in on themselves 24/7. It’s not going to be a very comfortable butt plug. And if he’s sitting or standing, I think he might have trouble angling upward and hitting the prostate, too. Also, unless that tail is self-lubricating, pushing it into the anus should hurt. I wouldn’t think that hair inside a sensitive area would be very pleasant, either.

And as he watched, Evan’s cock grew harder. Evan threw his head back, the hackles on his arms rising nearly straight.

I’m guessing this is hair on his arms, rather than a feather on the neck of a chicken. Pity. I liked the chicken neck better.

“Oh God.” Adam arched his back, a jewel-like drop of come popping from the tip of his cock.

Pearls before swine, eh?

“Suck me, now,” he begged.

What the hell is that comma doing in there?

3 Responses

  1. You make some good points here, but I’d have to say that my biggest peeve with the m/m romances I’ve read concerns some rather baffling technical problems with the writing. It’s hard to believe that any editor worth his or her salt would let a manuscript slip by with, say, POV shifts all over the place, but I’ve seen that problem in several different novels. This is something that’s routinely addressed in most beginner’s writing classes!

    So I have to wonder if these “editors” in the e-book publishing industry actually know what they’re doing, or if they’re just so desperate for material that’s even marginally competent that they’re willing to accept anything that meets their minimum standards.

  2. Oh Lord. *wipes eyes* I’m gonna have to go and rewrite my latest sex scene now. You’re an evil person, you know? :D

    One brief ‘nit’ – the tail was described somewhere as hairless. So that makes it perfectly all right to shove it where the sun don’t shine. Or not. ;)

    As to editing – actually, this is a bit of a myth about e-publishers. Speaking from experience, they’re more likely to edit something to death than not edit at all. But the standard does vary and different publishers have different rules (no contractions, always use contractions, no passive voice, no passive tense [if there is such a thing], etc) which can make it quite hard if a writer is writing for more than one publisher. And sometimes the rules are applied very inflexibly, leading to language that no longer entirely makes sense.

    Ok, lecture over. ;)

  3. LOL! I’ve read that book all the way through. Did you know that Evan’s tail also doubles as a mind-probe antenna? Serious crack fiction, but I rather admire it for just being so very very bizarre. I’ve never read anything else like it.

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