elf: Emily the Strange: Misery loves company (Misery Loves Company)
[personal profile] elf posting in [community profile] sps
Because of the recent YAGay fiasco, I went looking at Smashwords for YA (or close to that) GBLT fic. I did my normal filtering... ignore anything over $6 and anything with cringe-inducing errors in the blurb and anything without a preview.

I found a promising-looking story: Familiar Scars by Christy Leigh Stewart; just under 30k words for $1. I clicked on the listing.

Stark black-and-white drawing of a girl in emotional distress with black-and-white wavy sections dividing the page around her. Title in gothic font. Compelling (or at least interesting) book cover art by Megan Hansen; I'm going to try to remember that name, because I like her art style.

Tags: fiction, romance, horror, lgbt, humor, speculative fiction, gothic, historical, dystopia, victorian, historical romance, dark humor, general fiction, gender bender, abused, beta hero, disfigured, emotionally scarred, scarred

Looks good! (Well, if your tastes run to that kind of thing, which mine sometimes do.)

Description: Orphaned, throat slit and left for dead as a child, Orabella struggles to survive with her fellow victim, Rosalyn. She'll grasp at any bit of luck, until it becomes too good to be true. Mr. Satine is willing to offer his home, heart, and riches over to the beautiful Rosalyn the moment he lays eyes on her. His intentions seem obvious, but become less so when he shows no romantic interest in her

Ooh, nifty. UST with a twist, maybe. Only 10% preview (which I think is stingy, but if there's enough to give me the flavor of the book, I don't mind); clicked to see if I liked it.

Prologue was fascinating, setting up some kind of dystopic future where orphan children are bought by unhappy citizens. I was hooked. Then I got to the first chapter.
This is what the sailor must see when he looked at her. Orabella tried to see her through his eyes and could indeed understand his fascination. On stage, even in this run down back-alley club, Rosalyn seemed like an otherworldly goddess. No one would be able to fathom who or what she had been. No one would guess her to be the sweet and innocent girl Orabella tucked in beside her each night. No one would guess that the silky hair draped mysteriously across her face was hiding what they lovingly called her “Devil’s eye.” The bright red eye she had gotten as a child when her adopted mother kicked her in the temple.

Orabella’s mark of that night would be less shocking, she supposed. Yet, she still kept it hidden in high necks and frilly lace around her jaw. Enough to cover the ghastly scar from behind her ear to her chin. It was easy enough to cover and Rosalyn openly admitted envy. Orabella wasn’t blessed with an ounce of Rosalyn’s beauty and counted herself lucky she was the one with merely a scar. If Rosalyn had been so lucky, she would have left Orabella years ago for a better life. She might have even been able to marry and pull herself out of the gutter. As it was, she needed Orabella. Guiltily, Orabella was relieved.
Half a dozen paragraphs like that--each with a sentence fragment, each with that pretentious "I AM BUILDING A DARK STORY; SEE MY FORESHADOWING" phrasing--and I was ready to download the sample so I could print it out so I'd have something to throw against the wall.

I want to cry. The story itself looks fascinating; the characters seem interesting; I can't tolerate the writing enough to read it.

For those who might want to try: contains graphic violence and potentially other triggery content. Does not claim to have NC-17 content.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-09-27 03:15 am (UTC)
fionnulaharp: (Default)
From: [personal profile] fionnulaharp
Guiltily! Really? Guiltily?

Yet -- with a comma?

Sorry, my inner editor wants to take that paragraph apart and parse it. I don't think it's possible.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-09-27 11:07 am (UTC)
nashira: ((Animals) Sulky Kitty)
From: [personal profile] nashira
....That's sad, it's kind of a cool cover, too. Especially by smashwords standards.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-09-29 06:58 am (UTC)
labingi: (Default)
From: [personal profile] labingi
Thanks for the anti-review. Can you explain a little more what is so strongly ticking you off in these paragraphs? They don't seem that bad to me. They're not inspired by any means. There's no interesting imagery, etc. They are very "telly-not-showy." And you're right that they are heavy on the "dark story" and "foreshadowing." It's a bit purple.

But I wouldn't say the prose is painful by the standards of popular fantasy (traditionally published). The sentences are clear and--over-fragmenting aside--mainly correct. "Orabella's mark of that night" is a weird phrase and awkward, but the rest seems to flow reasonably well.

I'm curious as to what I'm not seeing that is sparking such horror. (Or maybe I've taught developmental English for too long?)

(no subject)

Date: 2011-09-30 12:15 am (UTC)
labingi: (Default)
From: [personal profile] labingi
Thanks. That explains it:)

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