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Did you always know you wanted to write?

I think most authors do know from an early age that they want to be a writer. But the honest truth is, I did not. I always excelled at math and science therefore I pursued my strengths. When I got the urge to try my hand at a novel, I was a little nervous to admit my desire. But my best friend reassured me. “Sure,” she said, “you never wrote in a diary or studied English in school, but when everyone wanted the low-down on what happened at a party, they asked you. Because you’ve always been a great storyteller.” It felt like permission.

When and where do you write?

When I first started writing, my kids were still small and at home. I got up early and wrote while everyone was sleeping. Now they’re older and in school which gives me daytime hours to write when I’m not seeing patients. I prefer to write at home. I’m easily distracted so anytime I try to write at a coffee shop, I find myself listening to the music or other people’s conversations. I prefer quiet and my desk where I can spread things out. I write first drafts by hand. My brain works better looking at paper instead of a computer screen.

What is your writing process?

I am definitely a plotter. After I let an idea marinate, I create extensive outlines. I simply cannot start a story if I don’t know how it will end. That said, the plot may change dramatically throughout the course of revisions.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Read widely. Writing a novel takes a long time, a lot of diligence and patience. Commit to working on your project as often as you can. What you do everyday matters more than what you do once in a while. Find a community. I met my writing friends years ago at a conference. We’ve remained friends for a decade, celebrating and comforting each other through the ups and downs of our publishing journeys.

What are your favorite craft books?

I’m a huge fan of SAVE THE CAT by Blake Snyder and WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL by Donald Mass. I also think all aspiring writers should read BIRD BY BIRD by Anne Lamott.

How do you find an agent?

Find books that have a similar tone or feel to your writing. In the acknowledgement section, most authors will thank their agents. Once you have names of agents who gravitate toward your style, look up their websites and see if they are accepting new submissions. Then send them a succinct query letter. Develop thick skin. Rejections happen to most everyone in this business—even the most successful authors. You must believe in your project, believe in yourself, and persevere!