Write On! Member Martha Burns has been a photographer for many years. Belly Dance: Celebrating the Sacred Feminine, her coffee-table book, combines prose and poetry with her beautiful photography; Dr Christiane Northrup (Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdon) wrote the book’s forward. Burns discusses her process and her journey in this Write On! Author Q&A.


Why and when did you start writing?
I had a journal when I was 8 years old. The kind with a little key. In a busy and loud household, it was my haven.

When did you start taking pictures?
My father was a salesman and he did a lot of things on barter. One day, he brought home a Minolta SRT 101 – it was Annie Leibovitz’s first camera too. So, I went to the local Thrifty’s, and they taught me how to use it. I have been taking pictures ever since.

Why did you “create” Belly Dance: Celebrating the Sacred Feminine?
I had to. I was really inspired by the belly dancers I saw. I needed to do some healing, which I was able to do through belly dance. It taught me about the whole mind-body-spirit connection.

I needed to share my stories about how dreams come true, amidst many obstacles. I actually started doing this book more than 10 years ago, and put it away. But it kept calling to me. I finally released it this year.

Why belly dance?
Because belly dance captivated me. I went looking for a book with photos of belly dancers, and I didn’t find one. So that’s when I knew that I would be the one to do it. Belly dance is so beautiful and powerful at the same time. And the movements connect me to my female ancestors in a really deep way.

How was it to self-publish?
If I had to do it over again, I would probably have sought-out a publisher.

The upside was I had total artistic control, which was pretty amazing. I mixed the photos I took with quotes that meant a lot to me. And I was able to mix in different types of papers and textures.

How did you go about gathering quotes from so many powerful women?
I would go to a bookstore and I was drawn to the books of the authors I needed to quote. I then sent out a request for permission.

Dr Christiane Northrup came to me in a dream: “Why don’t you get going on that belly dance book of yours?” she asked. Since she was such an inspiration, I wrote and told her so, and asked that she write the book’s forward. She said she would be delighted to do so. Once she agreed, I knew I had to do this.

Do you have any advice for photographers?
Take your photos and slides out of the drawers, the attic, or wherever you have had them. And share them with the world.

Advice for writers?
Don’t edit yourself.

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you firest started working on Belly Dance: Celebrating the Sacred Feminine?
I wish I knew that it could be done. It took a certain momentum that was beyond me at the time I started.

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  2. […] Save the Date: Martha Burns will be signing her book – Belly Dance: Celebrating the Sacred Feminine – at Village Books in Pacific Palisades on Monday, March 15. For a peek behind Martha’s story, read the Write On! Author Q&A. […]

  3. […] on Monday, March 15 from 7:30 pm – 9 pm. For a peek behind Martha’s story, read the Write On! Author Q&A. RSVP on […]

  4. […] 0 Great meeting last night! We welcomed Casey, Tim, and Scott. We gave encouragement to Martha, who is having her next booksigning on Monday, March 15 at 7:30 pm at Village Books in Pacific […]

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