By Molly Snyder Senior Writer Published Oct 28, 2005 at 5:25 AM

JoAnn Hornak loves salsa dancing. She loves going to salsa clubs, listening to salsa music, pondering salsa moves, dreaming about finding the perfect salsa partner and - thanks to a book deal with the prestigious Penguin publishing -- writing about the salsa lifestyle.

Hornak's new book, "Adventures of a Salsa Goddess," hit bookstores a few weeks ago. It's a semi-autobiographical romantic comedy about a 41-year-old woman's passion for salsa -- and senores. Hornak admits it falls in the "chick lit" genre, but says male readers won't be disappointed.

"If men read this book they'll gain invaluable insights into the female psyche for less than $15, which is much cheaper and far less painful than years of marriage or relationship counseling," says Hornak, who started writing while volunteering in Tanzania, Africa in the late 90s.

“Adventures of a Salsa Goddess” is the story of 41-year-old Samatha Jacobs’ quest to find a lifelong partner in Milwaukee—fictionally dubbed the city “with the absolute worst, most abysmal marital statistics for single, professional women” in the country. It’s all part of an assignment for her job at “Tres Chic” magazine, which adds an interesting twist.

The 320-page book moves swiftly and gracefully. It's an easy read, with just enough brain food to keep your mind mambo-ing, and funny enough to turn your remote control into a wallflower for the evening.

"I didn't write this book to change anyone's life, I just want to make people laugh and get them to try dancing," she says.

Hornak lives in the Story Hill neighborhood and, consequently, the book is set in Milwaukee and features many Milwaukee-inspired people and locations, including Miller Park's sausage race, a brewery tour, Summerfest, Prospect Avenue, Elsa's (called "Ilsa's" in the book) and Club Havana ("Club Cubana" in the book.)

Although the novel is loosely autobiographical - both Hornak and Jacobs are single salsa nuts and enthusiasts of Latin culture - most of the plot is fiction.

"The main character's mother, for example, is a total bitch, but my mom isn't. She's wonderful," says Hornak.

Hornak started salsa dancing in 2001, just a few weeks after deciding to quit her job as a District Attorney and write full time. During the early stages of her freelance career, she was published by Newsweek (she also wrote theater reviews for and took swing dancing at the Ale House. Finally, a friend told her if she liked swing, she should try salsa.

"It changed my life," says Hornak, who makes weekly trips to Chicago to dance at the Green Dolphin and Buzz.

Currently, Hornak is working on her second book and working with a film agent to, hopefully, twirl her story across the silver screen. She is also promoting "Adventures of a Salsa Goddess." (Go to her Web site for a list of upcoming signings, some of which include free salsa lessons.)

“Discovering salsa has been wonderful, but what changed my life was following my dreams,” says Hornak, who strongly encourages everyone to do the same.

JoAnn Hornak's Website is

Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.

Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.