I have some exciting news that I’m thrilled to finally be sharing with you. I recently finished writing my travel memoirs—a collection of stories about my journeys on 5 continents around the world over the past 11 years!
What It’s About
The book is about my trips off the beaten path and in the moment, which have often had a goal (unintentional at times) of self-discovery. It’s very similar to what’s on this site. But even better. Deeper. Funnier. Quirkier. And grittier. Think Chickybus on Steroids!
How It’s Set Up
The book is divided into 6 main sections referred to as “rides”—one for each country or region—and the stories/more specific destinations are called “stops.” You, the reader, are a “rider”/“passenger.” And you’re right there with me, in the moment, every step of the way.
Although I’ve been to many countries, the book focuses on just 11 of them—those that were story-worthy. Here’s a list: China, South Africa, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, the USA, Turkey, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. Here’s the itinerary—I mean, synopsis!
List of “Rides”/Sections
Ride #1: Silence is Golden (People’s Republic of China)
Imagine teaching English in China—10 years ago—in the province where “Chairman Mao” was born. On this ride, my simple English-teaching mission gets complicated by “lingdaos” (young Communist Party leader-students) and a mysterious chalk drawing in my classroom. Do I give in to my journalistic urges to ask questions or do I keep quiet? More importantly, am I able to connect with my students’ hearts and minds?
Ride #2: Removing the Mask (South Africa)
My plans to visit/help out South African friends, recent crime victims in Ecuador (where we first met), go awry when I learn that the safari we’ve planned is going to be a “family vacation.” With three young boys joining us. Memories of my own less-than-ideal childhood are stirred up and I want to run—to the lounge bar. But then, I see an opportunity to be in the moment with the kids. Do I take a risk and embark on my own possible healing journey—or not?
Ride #3: Viva la Revolución (Central America/Mexico)
As a Latinophile who’s “enamorada” with the word “revolución.,” it makes sense that I’d want to travel from Nicaragua to Mexico—in one month—and on chicken buses. Join me (and a friend) for younger-man temptation, heart-warming encounters with locals and yes, a 12-hour chicken bus ride full of quirky characters. The name of that story? Chicky Bus. The type of self-discovery? Well, you’ll have to get the book to find out…
Ride 4: Floating Feathers (USA)
This ride begins at a Native American ceremony in the Northeast, where a boyfriend and I hope for peyote “medicine” to mend our troubled relationship. Later, I go off the beaten path in New Mexico and have a random yet powerful experience on a Native American reservation. Then, in a cabin in the wilderness, I come face to face with one of my deepest fears. What do I do and who am I after the experience?
Ride #5: Turkish Delight (Turkey)
Imagine if the Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar made a Turkish film. If so, then this ride would provide the plot. It begins like a Shakespearean comedy and then, when I head East, it morphs into a tragedy (or perhaps a black comedy). As I simultaneously pass through Kurdish terrorist checkpoints and clash with a friend, the tension builds. And the climax—a la Almodóvar—leaves you wanting a cigarette—and a shot of “raki” (a strong Turkish drink)!
Ride #6: 40 Arabian Nights (the Middle East)
After some personal setbacks, I feel a certain pull to the Middle East—the Arabic language and the culture. A random invitation to stay with a Circassian-Jordanian family leads me to travel, solo, to Jordan and “bad-boy” Syria. After several wild rides, I’m drawn to Lebanon, where a quest to meet a Colombian hermit leads me to a place of paradox and introspection, where only I can answer the deep questions.
Would Love Your Advice/Input
Title of the Book?
I’m not sure yet. I’m considering a few (and am open to suggestions). In each case, there would probably be a short main title, followed by a longer subtitle such as “…and other ‘rides’ on the Chicky Bus.” Seems to make sense since many people already know the name and because it represents the concept. What do you think?
1. Nomadic Namaste (sounds too much like India?)
2. Meeting a Hermit in Lebanon (not quirky enough?)
3. Paradox of the Hermit (too deep?)
4. Chicken Bus Epiphanies (?)
5. Chicken Bus Diaries (?)
6. Tales from the Chicky Bus (maybe just call it what it is and leave off the subhead—or would only those who know this site get it? or would others perhaps be interested in the unusual name?)
I’d love for the title to capture the essence of the book on three levels—quirky, fun and deep—versus just being limited to one. Do you think that matters? Which title do you like the most and why? Any other possible names you can envision?
Publishing—Self vs Traditional?
Traditional publishing: The process seems to take forever, and I’d really like to have this book available early next year. If I got published this way, I think it would take a year perhaps. And I would only get a small cut of the profits, right? And I believe that I’d have to do my own marketing anyway. Is it worth it?
Self-publishing With this option, I could get my book out there much faster and could make more money per copy, but…I’d have to learn a lot about the e-book process, formatting, etc. I’d have to market it myself (but I think I know how to.) I’d have to create a cover or hire someone to do so. My PhotoShop skills are just so so.
Also, I would also want an on-demand print option so those who like paperbacks could get one. How long would all of this take? How much work would it be? And is it worth working with a company that handles some of it for you and gets a bigger cut than normal?
I believe there are many possible audiences for this book, including:
- Independent travelers (solo/couples) whose style is similar to mine
- Tourists/package travelers/armchair travelers who prefer vicarious off-the-beaten path experiences
- People outside the US (including those in the countries I’ve written about) curious about a solo female/American traveling internationally
- ESL/EFL students interested in American culture from an international perspective
- Educators (eg, ESL, anthropology and political science professors)
- Metaphysical/spiritual types interested in risk-taking and “in the moment” living
- Anyone who enjoys reading memoirs, slice of life stories and/or being entertained
Special thanks to anyone who’s taken the time to read all of this and to those who are offering advice. I greatly appreciate your interest/assistance and I look forward to publishing this book at, when it first comes out, to offering some complimentary copies to friends from Twitter, Facebook and elsewhere. Y’all rock!
Want to Read a Chapter for Free?
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Special thanks to those photographers over at Flickr whose photos I borrowed via Creative Commons.