My latest book is titled, NUDE MICE: And Other Medical Writing Terms You Need to Know. It’s a comprehensive resource that demystifies medical jargon for both novice and more experienced writers. And nude mice do exist. They are specially bred rodents that lack thymus glands.
Tell us something about yourself.
I currently live in the mid-Atlantic region with my husband, two college-aged children, and three frisky canines. I’ve worked in the field of health care in some capacity ever since I grabbed my degree and headed to my first career job as a speech-language pathologist in a private school in suburban Philadelphia. I launched my freelance medical writing career 18 years ago, after my children were born, because I realized I wanted more flexibility and freedom. It was an unplanned career change, but one that has been very rewarding.
What inspired you to write this book?
The language of medicine can be confusing, even when you have a quasi-medical background as I did. I wrote this book because I know from experience that writers who write about health care and medicine need a tool they can turn to when they want to figure out what medical professionals are saying and translate it into accurate text for their target audience. And the title came naturally as well. When I was getting started in this field, I was editing a document for a large pharmaceutical company and the term “nude mice” kept appearing. I was certain the writer had made an error. Of course, it took me a while to find a resource that explained what a nude mouse was.
How did you publish this book? Why did you decide on that publisher?
In 2008, a colleague and I formed a company, The Accidental Medical Writer, and made the commitment to write books like this one and develop other resources for writers. We realized that the quickest way to get a product to market was to do it ourselves, so we used a print-on-demand model. We choose Booklocker as our POD publisher and have been very pleased. Another reason we choose the POD route was because we wanted control of our products, and we felt the POD model gave us the greatest control.
How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?
This is an interesting question. I fell into the writing profession quite accidentally. When I worked as a speech-language pathologist I frequently created patient-education materials for my patients and their families. I also wrote some chapters in textbooks. Writing was a very natural extension to my clinical background. It wasn’t until I needed a career change to suit my changing lifestyle as a parent that I considered becoming a writer.
What do you believe is the hardest part of writing?
For me, the toughest part of writing is putting my butt in the chair and getting started. I’m great at thinking about writing, but getting down to the nuts and bolts of writing can be quite a challenge. Of course, when you are a freelance, if you don’t write, you don’t get paid. So that’s a motivation for getting started every morning.
How do you do research for your books?
First I begin by thinking about what resources I needed when I began my writing career but couldn’t find. I also look at emerging trends I think writers should be aware of and whether I can write about them. I frequently get questions from novice writers, which give me a steady stream of ideas for what writers want to know.
What are you reading now?
I am an avid reader of both fiction and nonfiction. Plus I’m a member of two book clubs, so I’m always reading something it seems. I just finished Look Again, by Lisa Scottoline, a local author, and I’m currently reading The Aztec Heresy by Paul Christopher.
What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?
Another tough question! I enjoy most genres, with the exception of hard-core science fiction. And I have too many favorite authors to mention here. I like books that are written well from a mechanical standpoint, and I like character-driven books the best. If I can’t connect with the character, then it’s not the book for me.
Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?
My business partner and I are each working on a book. Mine will focus on social media marketing, but that’s all I can share right now.
What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?
Don’t give up. If you want to become a writer, learn all you can about writing. And find your niche. My niche is medical writing; every writer needs to find his or her own particular niche.
Where can readers learn more about you and your book?
Readers can learn more about me and download excerpts from my book at the website, http://www.theaccidentalmedicalwriter.com.