As an Aussie seeking publication in a US dominated e-publishing world some things you assume are a given clearly are not.
When I wrote Happy Birthday, Nancy Tobin, I wrote it in English. At least I thought I did. Turns out, nothing is quite that simple.
Story complete, critiqued, polished, rewritten, re-critiqued, whisked into outer space by aliens, prodded, probed, formatted and good to go, I sent a sample on its merry way to my publisher of choice. Happy with the final copy, I sat back and waited, and waited, and waited, until at last I got a nibble. Could I send the whole manuscript? Mai oui, of course. Then, would I rewrite the sex scenes to make them hotter? Well, in for a penny in for a pound. Finally, an offer to publish my baby, in English.
BUT, hmm, whose English? The contract said I had to use US spelling. So, who cares? What are a few lost U’s and the occasional S morphing into a Z between friends? If it got my book into the public domain and made women weep with unrequited lust for my hero, I could sacrifice the odd letter here and there.
Contract signed, I waited for my first round edits. They arrived and I opened the file. What eternal hell was this? My editor had interpreted, use US spelling, for make it a US novel…NOOOOOO!! Thankfully, she is an angel and when I emailed my horror at having my gorgeous Aussie hunk, that would have the ladies panting with pent up frustration, changed to a down home American boy, she spoke to ‘management.’
Oh, what sweet joy it was when the answer came back, lose the Aussie spelling, keep the Aussie slang. However, this came with a caveat. Keep the Aussie slang that made sense. So began a period of tense editing where words like ‘lounge’ were tossed aside to be replaced with ‘living room.’ Would American readers understand the word ‘git’ if read in context. I even got complemented on how clever I was to know when it was appropriate for my hero to use the word ‘bugger’ in a sentence. After much deliberation, the process was complete. My hero and heroine are still Aussie’s living in Australia and most of my slang survived. I was thankful I hadn’t used some of our more colourful expressions, such as ‘cooked chook,’ because nothing could have saved them, and it seems the names of more intimate body parts are universal.
I recently read pages and pages of comments on another blog about changing stories for the US market. Which begs the question, as a reader, do you want books set in other countries to be adapted to become stories set in the country you live in?
NB: No U’s or S’s were harmed during the writing or publication of this article.
Suddenly single on the eve of her fortieth birthday, Nancy Tobin’s not sure turning middle-aged is worth celebrating. She's stuck in a dead-end job as the boss’s bitch with only her morose Labrador for a companion. What does she have to party about? Maybe if she ignores the whole birthday thing, it will just go away.
Hot, twenty-six-year-old Jake Turner has other ideas. When he bumps into Nancy at the library, he sees a woman in need of a wake-up call. Determined to unleash the beauty hidden beneath the sad façade, he schemes to relight her spark. He wants to give her a birthday to remember but he ends up being the one who can't forget: a visit to his apartment becomes a weekend in his bed where he discovers an offbeat, unpredictable, sexually adventurous woman he never wants to let go.
With Jake, Nancy can do anything, her life can be whatever she chooses. But this new and exciting relationship teeters on the edge of destruction when her soon-to-be ex-husband reveals the reason for Jake’s initial interest in her. Can Nancy trust Jake when he finally tells her he loves her?
Nancy sat alone at the table near the student café. Despite her best intentions not to, she searched the male population for Jake. He must have been teasing. Why would a cute young guy be interested in her? She stared at the nubile female bodies as they walked past, their belly buttons proudly displaying all manner of trinkets and tattoos and yelling to the world, I’m young, supple, and the best shag you could ever have. She looked down at herself and saw the roll of flab above her waistband. Her body appeared to yell, I’m old and saggy and too fucking tired to care if I ever shag again. Why would he even give her a second thought? Perhaps it was a dare or a joke.
“Excuse me; is this seat taken?”
The voice dragged Nancy back to reality, and she looked up, surprised to see a familiar face. Her cheeks burned, and she struggled to speak.
“No, please, feel free.”
Jake slid into the seat next to her. “So, Nancy, we meet again. Are you stalking me by any chance?”
Nancy was quick to shake her head. While she had been hoping to see him again, she had no intention of revealing that to anyone. She could barely believe it herself. Was she so desperate for love she would latch on to the first male who showed a glimmer of interest? No matter why she attracted him, with her track record, she should avoid good-looking young men like the plague. “No, absolutely not. Are you sure you’re not stalking me? I was here first.”
His deep, sexy chuckle resonated through her. “Touché. You guessed it. Someone is paying me to follow you.”
“Well, they’re wasting their money, I can assure you. There is nothing to see here.”
“Let me be the judge of that. Did you miss me?”
Nancy tore her eyes away from his and tried to sound nonchalant. “I haven't given you a moment’s thought since you left the library.”
He put his hand over hers, and she felt the blood rush to her cheeks again. When he leaned closer, she closed her eyes. The smell of his musky cologne and the feel of his breath on her face as he whispered in her ear made her stomach lurch and her heart rate lift.
“Liar, but it’s okay. I’ve been thinking about you too.”
Nancy opened her eyes and snapped her head around to glare at him. No one in their right mind would think about her. She refused to be the butt of anyone’s joke. Her hand hovered in midair as she fought the urge to slap his face. Jake leaned back and put his arm up. Deciding he wasn’t worth it, Nancy dropped her hand and snatched her empty Coke bottle off the table instead.
She clenched her teeth. “Fuck off, you git; you’re not funny,” she spat out.
Without another word, she got up and stomped back to the library, tears of frustration stinging her eyes. Stupid, stupid woman!
Thank you, Lillian, for joining us today.
If you’d like to read more about Jake and Nancy, one lucky commenter will win a free copy of Happy Birthday, Nancy Tobin.
If you can’t wait, you can buy it here.
And to keep up with Lillian, you can visit her site.
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