Margaret, second from left

Margaret, second from left

The stars were magnanimously aligned in matters writing and publishing when I was born, astrologers have told me. I clearly remember the thrill of reading my very first words at the age of four. Clear evidence of my future career path is indicated in a photo taken at age nine, when I started an extracurricular "Handwriting School." My pedagogy involved leading fellow fourth-grade girls in the niceties of form and style in all matters written. My first paid writing assignment came not long afterward—I won a community-wide school writing competition on the subject “What America Means to Me.” The reward was my first check for writing ($35) and a ride in the backseat of a convertible in our town’s annual Fourth of July parade.

After a two-year interlude during my college education to dance in a professional ballet company, I earned a Bachelor’s degree in philosophy and classics. While still in my twenties I directed the communications departments of the Peabody Conservatory of Music and later the UCLA College of Fine Arts, where I worked with outstanding contemporary, classical, and jazz musical artists and leading figures in film, the visual arts, dance, and theater. Despite the rich ambience of those settings, by my thirties I was ready to leave academia to explore my own creativity and purpose. I delved into the rich metaphysical and cultural milieu of Los Angeles and began the study of yoga, which has been a lifelong practice, all the time writing for different outlets. I parlayed my experience in and knowledge of a wide range of art forms into profiles of leading arts figures and explored some of the more eccentric California subcultures. The resulting stories were published in a number of publications such as Los Angeles Magazine, the L.A. Weekly, the Santa Barbara News-Press, and the Los Angeles Times. As well, I served as a contributing editor to Publishers Weekly, where I delved into the business side of publishing.

Being drawn to history and especially to the untold stories of iconic women, I wrote Patsy: The Life and Times of Patsy Cline (HarperCollins). The book was based on over a hundred interviews and explored the tragic underpinnings of Patsy’s life and art and the taboo subject of incest, along with the cultural setting of Patsy’s life in the 1950s and ‘60s. Patsy was widely praised in national media as both a biography of an important cultural figure and a history of country music. My essays and articles on Patsy Cline and her contemporaries, and on the transformation of country music from folk art to big business, have been published in several anthologies, including The Encyclopedia of Country Music (Oxford University Press). A new edition of my Patsy bio will be published later this year.

After writing the Patsy bio I signed a contract with a leading New York publisher to write a biography of the last queen of Hawaii, Liliuokalani. Hawaii had become an intense focus of interest for me when, living in Ojai, California, I met some amazing and very compelling people who were part of the Hawaiian sovereignty movement, who educated me about their past and introduced me  to the hidden aspects of reality, called huna. The story of Liliuokalani in many ways typified the “untold story” direction of my own writing interests. I sold everything and moved to Hawaii, where my four-year literary journey quickly evolved into a shamanic adventure as a result of living on the island of Molokai and studying the traditional ways and ancient stories of Hawaiian kupunas, or elders, who practiced the healing art of la’au lapa’au, kahuna healing with herbs. The entire adventure provided me with grist for a future book I shall write, however, it was not what my publisher had in mind. I don’t regret a moment of it, though, the whole journey. And now I find that this experience has only deepened my understanding of the often torturous journey that is book writing, a quality I find necessary in compassionate, insightful book editing.

Following my Hawaiian sojourn I established my home in New Mexico, where I am an organic gardener and a rural yoga teacher as well as a freelance editor—the perfect combination of practices, I believe. With the magnificent Southwestern mountains as the view out my window, with the sounds of moving water coming from the acequia that runs through our property, I have had the pleasure of editing hundreds of books and working with individual writers and with publishers to bring books into final form.