Book Shelf: Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury

Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury

I really enjoyed these essays, full of Bradbury’s humor. I’m surprised I’d not heard of this or read it before now. It was included on someone’s top “books about writing” list. Glad I came across it. Definitely worth the read!

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Meet the Author: Dear Tosh by Ninette Hartley

Today we travel to to Dorset, England to chat with Ninette Hartley about how living in Italy, Maggie O’Farrell, Exeter University, Maya Angelou, a pony and carriage, Frank Sinatra, a dance teacher, Supertramp, the 2010 BBC TV Licensing campaign, and The Flintstones come together as part of Ninette’s current and past life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I returned to England in January 2016 having spent eight years living in rural Italy with my husband, actually we got married while we were living there. We are now settled in Dorset in a small cottage a couple of miles from Bridport. I spend my days, writing, reading, and walking the dog, she’s an Italian rescue dog and I think misses the warm weather — as do we!

In 2020 I gained an MA in Creative Writing from Exeter University and after graduating I completed my first memoir Dear Tosh and self published in May 2021. It’s about the loss of my twenty-seven-year old son. It’s a book for everyone about love, grief and acceptance. Learning how to come to terms with loss and that nobody is ever truly gone while they are still talked about and loved.

In which genre do you write?

I like writing creative non-fiction but I also write poetry, plays, short stories and flash fiction. I have completed a novel which is set in the 1940s and 50s. So as you can see, I definitely don’t stick to one genre.

What are you currently reading?

A book that I have known about for many years and only just got around to reading. Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. It is beautifully written I find myself lingering over every page and not wanting to rush to the end. The story of her life in Arkansas as a child is both heartbreaking and fascinating. What a wonderful woman she grew into. I was surprised to discover that this book is just the first in a series of seven. I’m definitely going to read all her other memoirs.

What outdoor activity haven’t you tried but you would like to try?

Well, I have driven and still do drive a pony and carriage. But what I would really like to do is travel around the UK for a week or two with a horse drawn caravan. I don’t want to be driven, I just want to drive myself and maybe take a friend along. I’m not sure how I would adapt to not having any en-suite facilities. I would just hope that the weather would stay fine. Maybe I should arrange to do it in Italy instead!

What songs hit you with a wave of nostalgia every time you hear them?

This is so easy. Any Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennet, Nat King Cole…any of those singers from the 50s. It takes me back to my childhood and my parents playing the Pye Black Box record player they had in our front room. I loved all of them and on top of that I also love all the songs from the musicals, ’South Pacific’, ‘Oklahoma’, ‘Guys and Dolls,’ the list goes on and on. Oh…and ‘Magic Moments’ by Perry Como. Then, moving on a few years, any ‘Beatles’ song will give me the goose bumps and then ‘Supertramp’ from the 70s. My older children remember me dancing around the kitchen playing the ‘Breakfast in America’ album.

As you may have guessed music plays a big part in my life and it was difficult to pick out just a sample of the songs and music that I love. For over 25 years I was a dance teacher, ballet in particular so I love all the music from the ballets too. I should move on to another question!

Can you play a musical instrument?

Oh…it’s another musical one! Well, I can play (very badly) the piano and the guitar although it’s been so long since I did either I probably couldn’t manage to do much. But I have always had a hankering to play the oboe, I love the sound that it makes, soulful and it pull at my heart for some reason.

I’m also very fond of the cello, at least I didn’t realise how fond I was until recently when I met an actual live cellist and he made the instrument sing to me. Don’t worry, it wasn’t anything untoward, my husband was there too and he has also developed a fondness for the cello now. My daughter played it for a while in her teens and I think one of the grandchildren might take it up.

What is the most amusing, crazy or inspiring thing that has ever happened to you?

A great deal of events both happy, sad, good and bad have happened to me during my life but one of the most exciting was in 1966 when I made a record ‘Push a Little Button’. It was written by my brother, Tony Hatch (you may have heard of him) and recorded on the PYE label. It was fantastic being in the studio, in a booth with earphones on singing the song with live musicians. A truly amazing thing for a fifteen-year-old. Sadly the record was a massive flop but it didn’t detract from the enjoyment of making it. However, there is a coda to this story. In 2010 the BBC decided to use the recording for their TV Licensing campaign. It still wasn’t a hit but I did have my 10 minutes of fame!

What’s a great piece of advice you’ve received recently.

Do not compare your writing to anyone else’s, ‘compare and despair’ was the phrase used. Write for yourself, to the best of your ability and don’t try to be someone you’re not. This goes for other areas of your life too, not just writing.

Always carry a notebook and writing implement, although these days many people make notes on their phone. Of course Hemingway is reported to have written his famous six word story on a napkin and there’s an interesting page on Barnes and Noble website which lists various surprising surfaces famous writers have written on, see here:

Do you write a journal or keep a personal diary? Has this helped with your published writings? If so, how?

As my first publication was a memoir, my personal notes and diary entries were extremely useful. When I lost my son I began writing about things that were happening from day to day over the first year that he was gone. These notes were the basis of my book. I wrote him 27 letters, one for each year of his life. This year, January 2021 was the 10th anniversary of his death. The letters date from November 20th 2020 to February 1st 2021. As I looked back over the years before and after 2011, any notes I had made were invaluable.

If you could have three authors, past or present, around your dinner table who would they be?

Alan Bennet, Elizabeth Jane Howard and Maggie O’Farrell. To begin with I think they would all get on well together and there would be no horrible pauses in the conversation. I have admired Alan Bennet for some years, his ability to remain honest to himself, his sense of humour his wealth of experience as a writer in all genres.

Elizabeth Jane Howard, I only recently discovered and once I had I devoured as many of her books as I could, notably the Cazalet Chronicles, wonderful writing and once involved with the family, it’s impossible not to want to know what happens next . . .great characters.

Maggie O’Farrell, what can I say? I love her style of writing, her imagination, the structure she uses. I’m very excited about the prospect of my dinner party! I’d like to add one more and that would be Bob Mortimer. I’m currently listening to his memoir And Away and I think he would be an absolute must at the table!

What cartoons did you watch as a child?

I loved ’The Flintstones’ and ’Tom and Jerry’. Probably because of the slapstick nature of their antics. I was too young when I watched them to think about the animators and the writers who had created the series but when I think about that now, they were very clever people. I like the old cartoons better than any of the new ones that are around. Oh dear…am I getting on a bit?

Tell us about your book.

I think I’ve told you quite a bit about Dear Tosh already but I should add that it’s is selling steadily which is a good thing for a memoir written by someone who is not famous. The feedback and reviews have been very positive, which is gratifying.

Thank you.

It was wonderful learning more about you and having you on MTA, Ninette. Here’s to continued success for Dear Tosh, and much success with future books! – Camilla

Where to find the book:

The book can be bought from my website and it is available from Independent bookshops, also through Amazon, Waterstones. There is also an audio book narrated by me and an e-book. All available through the usual channels.


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To support this website and the author’s interviewed, visit Support MTA for suggestions. Thank you! – Camilla, Founder and Host

Book Shelf: The Girl With Seven Names by Hyeonseo Lee

The Girl With Seven Names by Hyeonseo Lee

Enlightening, emotional true story of a young girl’s escape from North Korea. The book reads like fiction, and covers the time just before she crossed the border at 17 years old, through the 12 years of struggle to reuniting with her family. It’s a heartbreaking story at times, but a topic I feel we must educate ourselves about.


To support this website and the author’s interviewed, visit Support MTA for suggestions. Thank you! – Camilla

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Book Shelf: Bi the way: A Journey Over the Rainbow by Sarah Northwood

Bi the way: A Journey Over the Rainbow by Sarah Northwood

This is a great, helpful, and useful book for parents or caregivers who find themselves at the beginning journey of a family member coming out. Heck. Even if you aren’t a parent or caregiver, read this book to educate yourself. The more folks educate themselves, the less they will have harsh feelings and thoughts for matters that are not understood, or are different to what they’ve always known.

It’s an easy and quick read, and my favorite part is near the end when other family members share their own thoughts on the matter. Thanks for putting this out there, Sarah!


To support this website and the author’s interviewed, visit Support MTA for suggestions. Thank you! – Camilla

Book Shelf: Rascal by Sterling North

Rascal by Sterling North

This was a beautiful and heartwarming story. Not a book I’d normally choose to read, but my son said I should read it. He’s in the habit of sharing his books with me, telling me that I would like it, or it just happens to be a story he would like for me to read. I very much enjoyed getting to know Sterling and his friend, Rascal. As I write this, I have just discovered that this is a memoir/autobiography of sorts. I assumed it was fiction! Now, I’m even happier I read this beautiful story. The perfect read for any person of any age, who wants to enjoy a great read about friendship and the freedom of childhood.


To support this website and the author’s interviewed, visit Support MTA for suggestions. Thank you! – Camilla

Book Shelf: The Library Book by Susan Orlean

The Library Book by Susan Orlean

This was a random find while volunteering at the library. The cover, the short description pulled me in, and I’m glad it did. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. The author time hops between the past and current time as the story progresses. I enjoyed learning a great deal about the history of libraries, specifically this particular library in Los Angeles, along with a bit of history regarding librarians. A non-fiction book at its best!


To support this website and the author’s interviewed, visit Support MTA for suggestions. Thank you! – Camilla

Meet the Author: The Borders of Normal by Manuel Matas, M.D.

Today we travel to Winnipeg, Canada to chat with Manuel Matas, M.D. about how being a psychiatrist, paranormal experiences, angels, a life-threatening illness, a hippo, photography exhibitions, Touchdown Quiz, time, nature, and a bowler hat wearing giraffe come together as part of Manuel’s current and past life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am a psychiatrist, author, portrait artist, photographer, and public speaker. I currently live in Winnipeg, Canada. I have also lived in Toronto and Montreal.

My book, The Borders of Normal: A Clinical Psychiatrist De-Stigmatizes Paranormal Phenomena, was a Whistler Independent Book Awards Finalist and an Amazon #1 Best Seller in two genres – Parapsychology and Unexplained Mysteries.

I have had many paranormal experiences, including out-of-body and near-death-experiences, visions from message-bearing apparitions, and precognitive (prophetic) dreams. I share these experiences in my book, along with an exploration and discussion of extra-sensory perception (ESP), telepathy, premonitions, predestination, channeled art and science, and mediums, using a mind-body/spirit paradigm. I also explore the spiritual, philosophical, cultural, and historical aspects of these phenomena.

Many people who have these experiences don’t talk about them, even to their doctors or their closest friends, because they are afraid they are losing their minds. My intention in writing The Borders of Normal was to de-stigmatize and normalize these phenomena and to encourage people to share their own paranormal experiences.

What ignited your author’s flame?

Over the years I have written many articles, poems, essays, and letters-to-the-editor (over 200 letters published by The Globe and Mail, Canada’s national newspaper). Although I had many paranormal experiences, I mostly kept them to myself. Everything changed after I saw the angels at my father’s funeral. That was too much for me to keep to myself. Working full-time and raising a family, I didn’t have much time to write, but a life-threatening illness, from which I have now fully recovered, allowed me the time to start writing my book.

What would you choose as your spirit animal?

Oddly enough, I would choose the hippo, because I had a dream about a hippo emerging from the mud and I thought that was a good metaphor for my writing career. I couldn’t actually see the outline of the hippo until he shook off the mud.

What are you currently reading?

I’m currently reading The Overstory, by Richard Powers. It won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. The genre is Environmental Fiction. I’m enjoying it immensely. It’s a series of intertwining stories which all are based on the author’s love of and deep respect for trees.

What do you do when you are not writing or marketing your books?

I worked in my profession as a medical doctor and psychiatrist for 42 years. Now that I am retired, in addition to writing, I spend time with my family (mostly on Zoom during the pandemic), reading, drawing, painting, walking, and photography. I am an Elected Member of the Portrait Society of Canada. I have had two solo photography exhibitions.

Do you have an interesting childhood story?

I made my television debut at age 15. I was representing my high school, along with three other students from my school, in a TV quiz show called Touchdown Quiz. We won the grand prize, which was a set of the Encyclopedia Britannica for the school library, and $300 for each student on the winning team.

What is the last movie I watched and why did I choose to watch it?

Two Distant Strangers is a 2020 American short film written by Travon Free and directed by Free and Martin Desmond Roe. It was nominated for a 2021 Academy Award for Best Short Film (Live Action). I was interested in watching it because of the subject matter and because it was nominated for an Academy Award. It is about a pressing social issue – the repeated killing of young, unarmed, Black men by white police officers – and the story is presented in time loops, which I am very interested in. In fact, the nature of time is the subject of my next book.

A giraffe knocks on your door wearing a bowler hat. What does he say and why is he there?

He says,
Top of the morning
Tip of the hat
The Beauty of Nature
Is where it’s at.
He is there to remind us of the healing power of the beauty of nature.

Do I think things happen for a reason? Do you have an example?

Yes. Many years ago, a poem popped into my head and I had no idea what it meant but I always remembered it. About three decades later, while watching the movie Arrival, the meaning became clear. Sometimes things happen and we don’t know why but if we maintain the long view we can eventually understand why it happened.

What are you currently working on?

My next book is on the nature of time. What is time? Time is a mental construct. The word “time” is derived from an Indo-European root which means “to divide.” We divide time into hours, minutes, and seconds. Time divides us against each other, against Nature, and against our true selves.

It was wonderful having you be a part of MTA, Manuel! Your current book and your upcoming book sound interesting. And I completely agree with your giraffe friend, nature is a powerful healer. Wishing you all the best! – Camilla

Where to find the book:

It is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Chapters/ Indigo, FriesenPress Bookstore, Banyen Books in Vancouver. E-books are available from Kindle, Google Play, Nook, Kobo, and the iTunes Bookstore.

Connect with Manuel:

Social Media:
FB – @authormanuelmatas
Instagram – manny.matas
Twitter – @MannyMatas


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To support this website and the author’s interviewed, visit Support MTA for suggestions. Thank you! – Camilla, Founder and Host

Meet the Author: Living the Faery Life by Kac Young, PhD

Today we travel to Ventura, California to chat with Kac Young, PhD about how meditation, traveling, John O’Donohue, flying private airplanes, Irish whiskey, a handyman, and New York City come together as part of Kac’s current and past life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am an author of 25 books, and also a licensed Religious Science Minister, a Certified Archetypal Therapist and Counselor; a Certified Meditation Teacher; a Career Coach for aspiring actors and directors; and a former pilot of private airplanes. I am a certified Medical Qigong instructor, living in Ventura, CA.

When not writing or teaching, I travel the globe experiencing the energies of international sacred sites and working with advanced masters from many traditions.

In which genre do you write?

I write to the heart and soul. My books are meant to lift people up. There is plenty in the world that drags them down, but I want to be a light in the reader’s life, answer the questions, help them succeed and laugh a lot along the way.

How many published books do you have?

Twenty – five

If you could have a fantasy tea or coffee date with an author or famous person, who would it be and what would you ask them?

I would definitely want to meet John O’Donohue, poet, mystic and author of some of the finest books ever written. His books move and inspire me to live a bigger life, to care deeply for the planet and to know that life is a series of passing seasons and there is wisdom in each drop of rain. Yes, I would drink fine Irish whiskey with him until the wee hours and my cheeks were sore from laughing and my heart was filled with love.

What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself through writing?

In school the nuns told me I was a very bad writer. It scared me for a very long time. What I learned later was that they were unable to separate the writing from the subjects I was writing about. They made me feel I was a bad writer when in fact, I was just writing like a rebel. I am enjoying my new-found freedom from the scourge of little closed minds. Fortunately now, I see it as ancient history.

How do you prepare yourself to discuss your book?

The first thing I do is sequester myself for 10 minutes, meditate and release the pressures of the day. I spend the next few minutes going over my book to refresh my mind. I randomly flip through the book and stop on a page. I read what it has to say and that will be the guide for my workshop, interview or presentation. I would say the faeries are in charge at that point.

What do you miss about being a kid?

Nothing, I’m still one at heart!

What  actress would you want to play you in the movie about your life, and why?

I would definitely want Rachel Brosnahan to play me. She would look great as a redhead and she has the femininity and bravery to play me and my wild courageous life. I flew a plane at 15 and got my pilot’s license at 16. Of course she could play me! She’s got the chops. (The Marvelous Mrs. Mazel.)

List 3 interesting facts about yourself.

Pilot, Minister, TV Producer

How handy are you when it comes to fixing things?

I can fix most things. My father taught me to be independent, to take care of myself, to have an equal measure of taking care of myself and of helping others. My tool collection is wide and filled with gadgets ranging from plumbing to electrical parts and everything in between. I can rewire a circuit, fix a clogged sink and install a toilet. When I was 12, I asked for a power drill for Christmas. Thereafter, I received tools for my birthday and Christmas. I graduated college with enough equipment to open a handy service. When my father passed away, my mother saved every tool for me. You have a door that sticks? Give me a minute and I’ll be right there!

One story I remember from my twenties is that a guy asked me out to dinner and said he was waiting for some handyman to install a broken lock on his door. It got later and later and he said he might have to cancel because the guy hadn’t arrived. I told him no problem. I’d come over and have it done right away. His parents happened to be visiting. I packed up my tools, drove to his house, fixed the problem while they all stared at me. A few twists and turns and I had it working. Done! Okay then, all I had to do was wash my hands and I was ready to go. His parents were astounded. They asked him after the date, “Did you ask her to marry you?” He said he hadn’t. His mother smacked him upside the head, “What’s the matter with you…she’s worth her weight in tools!” His parents never forgot the little redhead in high heels who could fix anything in a flash.

What’s your favorite place to visit in your country and why?

New York City, the place of my birth, is stirring, invigorating, leveling, extraordinary, inspiring, teeming with opportunities and the most exciting American city on earth.

It was wonderful to learn more about you and have you on MTA, Kac!! Here’s to the Faery Life! Wishing you much joy and success! – Camilla

Where to find Kac’s most recent book:

My recent book is Living the Faery Life. You can find it where most books are sold, at Amazon and other online booksellers.

Connect with Kac:

More about Kac:

Kac Young has been a producer, writer and director in the Hollywood television industry for over 25 years. Kac has also earned a PhD in Natural Health and a Doctorate in Naturopathy. She completed 36 courses in nutrition from Baylor University. Clients come to her for advice on health, nutrition and spiritual wellbeing. Using her third Doctorate degree in Clinical Hypnotherapy, she helps people manage weight control, smoking cessation, behavior modification, stress reduction, past-life regression, and phobia management. She teaches workshops and classes in Metaphysics including, Crystal Healing, Essential Oils, Bach Flowers, Pendulum energy, Moon Energies, Feng Shui and practical classes in healthy eating and finding the perfect partner.

She is the author of 24 books.

“Crystal Power, 12 Essential Crystals for Health and Healing,” “Essential Oils for Beginners,”, “The Healing Art of Essential Oils,” “The Art of Healing with Crystals,” “The One Minute Cat Manager,” “The Enlightened Person’s Guide to Raising a Dog,” “Heart Easy, The Food Lover’s Guide to Heart Healthy Eating,” “Discover Your Spiritual Genius,” “Feng Shui the Easy Way,” “Dancing with the Moon,” “21 Days to the Love of Your Life,” “Gold Mind,” “Cheese Dome Power,” The Path to Fabulous,” “The Quick Guide to Bach Flower Remedies,” “Chart Your Course, and “Supreme Healing.” She also creates the annual Essential Oils wall calendar for Llewellyn Books, and has written two novels.

Her entertainment credits include General Hospital, The Showtime Comedy Club Network, Politically Incorrect, Circus of The Stars, The People’s Choice Awards, The Golden Globe Awards, The Genesis Awards, and several dozen talk, dramatic, variety and entertainment specials with Hollywood’s biggest stars. Most recently she was Vice President of Television Production and Development for Universal Studios Hollywood and has also served on the boards of The Director’s Guild of America and Women in Film. She won an Iris Award for her work as producer of “Mama” and a Golden Acorn Award for “Cleaning Up Your Act.”


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To support this website and the author’s interviewed, visit Support MTA for suggestions. Thank you! – Camilla, Founder and Host

Book Shelf: What We Talk About When We Talk About Books by Leah Price

What We Talk About When We Talk About Books by Leah Price

Incredibly interesting book that skims the history of books, including shifting opinions of books throughout the years. My favorite sections of the book were the last two chapters, covering “prescribed reading”, bibliotherapy, and the many uses of books in group settings. Bibliophiles will most likely enjoy this book!


To support this website and the author’s interviewed, visit Support MTA for suggestions. Thank you! – Camilla

Book Shelf: Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde

Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde

The first book I’ve read by Audre Lorde, and I plan on reading more of her writings. Originally published in 1984, the book touches on racism, being Black and how that intersects with feminism and lesbianism. I found the writings to be incredibly informative.

Quotes from the book: “I give the most strength to my children by being willing to look within myself, and by being honest with them about what I find there, without expecting a response beyond their years. In this way they begin to learn to look beyond their own fears.”

“We can sit in our corners mute forever while our sister and our selves are wasted, while our children are distorted and destroyed, while our earth is poisoned; we can sit in our safe corners mute as bottles, and we will still be no less afraid.”


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To support this website and the author’s interviewed, visit Support MTA for suggestions. Thank you! – Camilla