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How my book came to be…

Throughout my many solo travel adventures I’ve always sent written gibberish to my friends describing my latest saga of tomfoolery. The majority of them always said “you should write a book” but I just thought they liked my emails because of my comical sexploits and my use of the word F***, a lot.

Whilst teaching English in Rio, trying to conjure up a plan to prevent myself from working until the age of 90, I saw a writing competition advertised on social media requesting short stories from women who had travelled solo in Latin America. Bingo! Clearly it was a sign- even though I am dyslexic and had no writing experience or talent. But, I did have a life threatening experience that happened in Mexico which I was sure would grab their attention. Whilst travelling alone on a night bus through Oaxaca (traitorous at the time in 1997) the bus was held up by 14 ‘Zapatistas’ gorillas, all wearing balaclava’s and armed with AK47’s. I was very lucky to come out of that situation unscathed.

The death defying Zapatista story got chosen along with thirty- five others which became my first publication ‘Alone Together: tales of sisterhood and solitude in Latin America’.

You can purchase this book here:

What I didn’t include in my short story was that I and the other two gringos on the bus, got so drunk once safe in the nearest village, climbed out the hotel window using bedsheets (the front door was locked) and ended up hanging upside down on a stripper’s pole in a strip club, interrupting the full-on lesbian lick out on stage. But I digress…

This publication gave me the confidence to write my own book. I started writing ‘Samba, sex and self-loathing’ in 2016 whilst living in Rio. Being single and childfree meant I had time to write in between teaching. However, my book soon became my boyfriend, addiction and tormentor.

The book began as a collection of my travelling tales and stories I heard along the way. I wrote and wrote (300,000 words to be precise) with no storyline, middle or end which sounds ridiculously naïve and slightly worrying. Each character grew from a mixture of different women I knew living in Rio and other countries. Then I made the major discovery that a debut chic-lit novel should be no more the 12,000 words! Only a couple hundred thousand words to loose.

The edit began. Around this time my brother asked me about my USP which made me think (as a dyslexic) why does he want to know what pen-drive I’m using? But his question made me find my middle and the end. After seven complete re-edits, I finally sent it to an editor/proofreader which was a complete waste of money.

Agitated, my mum then offered to proofread it for me. I explained a thousand times the book was fiction, worried she’d think it was all auto-biographical, I was pretty sure she knew I wouldn’t sell my knickers for money. However, I did feel sick every time I knew what chapter she was reading. She later said that some of the sex scenes made her eyes bleed but then fell about laughing straight after- so the stars realigned and everything was alright in the world. My brother also helped format it which was equally as dark and disturbing for him.

I finally sent my eighth complete re-edit to publishers which was soul obliterating. After nine months of rejections, I started to think I’d written a pile of absolute turd. But being erotica no publishers would touch it. The book also doesn’t fit into one category- it is a combination of sex, travel and contemporary feminist issues, aimed at older women. I’m a determined little madam and eventually I decided to self-publish which has been an absolute social media marketing minefield of hell but that’s another story.

Read my blog ‘How NOT to self-publish an erotica novel’ here.