I wrote The Wedding Officiant's Guide (now in its 2nd edition from Chronicle Books) based on more than a dozen years of officiating at weddings. I also wrote and self-published Helen and the Masters, a biography of my great-grandmother, a Sacramento ranch wife and mother who became something of a mystic. You can read an excerpt here. (Support Hicklebee's Bookstore in Willow Glen by buying Helen and the Masters there!)
How can one person write such different books? The first is a practical guide to performing a service in your community, and the second is a biographical examination of spiritual process. I've embraced both writing and spiritual studies from an early age -- starting perhaps by walking alone, at the age of eight (with my family's apartment key on a string around my neck), to the Green Street library and also to a nearby church in the Cow Hollow area of San Francisco. The library lent me eight new books a week, and the open door at Saint Bridget's gave me a quiet place to sit in silence and gaze at the light falling through stained glass windows. I later graduated from U.C. Berkeley with an English major (Mark Twain was my thesis subject) and a minor in comparative religions.
At 17 I started on the writing path by reading my poems in bookstores, libraries, bars, and on the radio, and traveling as much as I could on a microscopic budget. Later I entered the world of trade magazines as a proofreader and an assistant editor. Then I grew a career in book editing, web writing, copy writing, and leadership communications. For years I wrote in the voice of the company, or the voice of the boss. Sometimes I wondered if I had a voice of my own.
All that time, I was a seeker of spiritual practices for myself: informally studying Christianity (especially the mystics), elementary Judaism and some Sufi writings, sitting with the Society of Friends and meditating with Zen Buddhists. I studied yoga, including a semester of Ayurveda (nature- and nutrition-based healing). I was ordained as a nondenominational, interfaith minister in 2002 and officiated at more than a hundred weddings before I wrote The Wedding Officiant's Guide.
After a dream in which I was dying before ever having written a book in my own voice, I turned down a promotion at my company and enrolled in writing classes at San Jose State University. During seven years of studying part-time for a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, I finally allowed the literary and spiritual parts of my life to collaborate and intertwine. The Wedding Officiant's Guide was written during that time, and an early draft of Helen and the Masters served as my thesis. I caught the biography bug after time-traveling to the early 20th century to learn about Helen. Now I am going even further back, researching and tracing the life of an art magazine editor in the Gilded Age.
My essays and poetry have appeared in Catamaran Literary Reader, Reed Magazine, Caesura, and About Place Journal.