22 Best Authors Like Patricia Cornwell To Add To Your Crime Drama Reading List

If you love CSI-style books, you’ll want to check out our guide with authors like Patricia Cornwell to add to your must-read list. 

American crime author Patricia Cornwell is a New York Times bestselling author who is best known for her crime novels that follow protagonist Kay Scarpetta, a medical examiner based in Richmond, Virginia. Cornwell’s influence is seen across many forms of popular media, including shows like CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. The author made a cameo appearance on the show Criminal Minds, further cementing her place in the world of crime fiction.

In addition to the Kay Scarpetta series, Cornwell is known for her Andy Brazil/Judy Hammer, Win Garano, and Captain Chase series. Her work has been celebrated by myriad organizations, with Cornwell winning awards, including the Sherlock Award for Best Detective for the character Kay Scarpetta, the Gold Dagger Award for Cruel and Unusual, and the Edgar Award for Postmortem. If you can’t get enough of Cornwell’s meticulously detailed crime novels, you’ll love the crime thriller writers below.

Best Authors Like Patricia Cornwell Ranked

1. Elle Gray

Book cover of Her Perfect Crime by Elle Gray
Book cover of Her Perfect Crime by Elle Gray

Elle Gray is known for her strong protagonists and the dangerous criminals constantly working to harm them. Her recent novel, The Chosen Girl, was the first book in her Storyville FBI series. The book follows Coraline Pratt, an FBI agent working to catch the Postcard Killer. Readers love how Gray weaves multiple storylines into one novel and how she works supernatural elements into her stories while still erring on the side of reality.

Fans of Gray’s work also love the cliffhangers that come at the end of each story in a series, leaving them anxiously waiting to discover where Gray will take her characters next. Looking for more suspense novels to read? Check out our round-up of the best spy thriller books!

“You expect that your mother will be there when nobody else is.”

Elle Gray, The Chosen Girl
The Chosen Girl (Storyville FBI Mystery Thriller Book 1)
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Gray, Elle (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 235 Pages - 02/02/2023 (Publication Date)

2. James Patterson, 1947 –

James Patterson
James Patterson

Known as one of the most prolific American mystery and crime authors, Cross Down novelist James Patterson has sold his books worldwide. With more than 100 New York Times bestselling novels, Patterson holds the record for most number-one bestsellers by one author. Patterson’s books account for approximately 6% of the sales of hardcover novels in the US. Some critics state that Patterson’s work has become predictable, while others say that that’s exactly the secret to his success.

Fans of his work know exactly what they’ll get every time they pick up a new Patterson novel. Several of the author’s books have been made into feature films, including Alex CrossAlong Came a Spider, and Kiss the Girls

“Imagine life is a game in which you are juggling five balls. The balls are called work, family, health, friends, and integrity. And you’re keeping all of them in the air. But one day you finally come to understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. The other four balls…are made of glass. If you drop one of these, it will be irrevocably scuffed, nicked, perhaps even shattered.”

 James PattersonSuzanne’s Diary for Nicholas
The Chosen Girl (Storyville FBI Mystery Thriller Book 1)
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Gray, Elle (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 235 Pages - 02/02/2023 (Publication Date)

3. Kathy Reichs, 1948 –

Kathy Reichs
Kathy Reichs

Known for inspiring the hit TV series Bones, Kathy Reichs is a popular writer, professor, and anthropologist. Reichs’ bestsellers like The Bone Hacker are known for their careful attention to detail, leaving no stone unturned when digging up clues from a crime scene. Reichs is one of just 100 anthropologists certified by the American Board of Forensic Anthropology, and she puts her storied career to good use in her writing.

The author has written 21 novels, most of which are a part of the Temperance Brennan series. The series follows Temperance, a forensic anthropologist, as she works to use forensic science to solve crimes, one detail at a time.

“I hated myself for needing him at such times, for craving his strength whenever I felt upset.”

 Kathy ReichsDéjà Dead
Sale
Deja Dead: A Novel (1) (A Temperance Brennan Novel)
  • Reichs, Kathy (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 640 Pages - 08/25/2015 (Publication Date) - Pocket Books (Publisher)

4. Tess Gerritsen, 1953 –

Tess Gerritsen
Tess Gerritsen

Retired physician and bestselling novelist Tess Gerritsen is the author of the popular Rizzoli & Isles series, including fan favorites The SinnerVanish, and Listen to Me. Gerritsen started by writing romantic thrillers but shifted into the medical thriller genre in 1996 with Harvest.

She was inspired to write the book after a conversation with a homicide detective who spent time in Moscow and told Gerritsen how orphans were disappearing–and it was likely that they were being shipped to other countries as organ donors. Gerritsen has enjoyed international success, with her novels selling more than 25 million copies worldwide. 

“Mr. Samuel Knight remained a stranger to her, a silent and undemanding one, willingly offering up his secrets. The dead are patient. They do not complain, nor threaten, nor cajole. The dead do not hurt you; only the living do.”

Tess Gerritsen, The Sinner
Sale
The Sinner
  • Hardcover Book
  • Gerritsen, Tess (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 352 Pages - 08/19/2003 (Publication Date) - Ballantine Books (Publisher)

5. Iris Johansen, 1938 –

Book cover of The Naked Eye by Iris Johansen
Book cover of The Naked Eye by Iris Johansen

The Survivor author Iris Johansen left her career as a flight attendant and began writing romance novels in the early 80s. Soon after, she made the jump to suspense writing. Her first crime thriller, Ugly Duckling, became a fast bestseller. The author is known for several series of novels, including the Sedikhan series, the Delany series, the Shamrock Trinity series, the Lion’s Bride series, and the Wind Dancer series. Many of Johansen’s books feature Eve Duncan, a forensic sculptor. Throughout Johansen’s Eve Duncan books, readers can dig into her past and learn more about her motivations to fight crime. 

“He had never dreamed anyone would ever care enough to venture into the darkness to pull him into the light. He felt bewildered and awkward and filled with a strange sense of wonder. And a stranger sense of grace.”

 Iris Johansen, Lion’s Bride
Lion's Bride
  • Johansen, Iris (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 480 Pages - 01/01/1996 (Publication Date) - Bantam (Publisher)

6. Jeffery Deaver, 1950 –

Jeffery Deaver
Jeffery Deaver

Garden of Beasts author Jeffrey Deaver is a Nero Wolfe Award-winning, New York Times bestselling crime and mystery writer. Deaver started his journalism career and became a lawyer before switching to writing. The author is best known for his Lincoln Rhyme series, featuring a quadriplegic NYPD detective. Several of Deaver’s works have been made into films, including A Maiden’s GraveThe Bone Collector, and The Devil’s Teardrop. Deaver was also given the honor of writing a James Bond novel – 2011’s Carte Blanche. He’s the second American author who has had a hand in adding to the Bond series.

“Everything in the past is memory and everything in the future is imagination. Those’re both illusions – memories are unreliable and we just speculate about the future. The only thing that’s completely real is this one instant of the present – and that’s constantly changing from imagination to memory. So, see? Most of our life’s illusory.”

 Jeffery DeaverThe Vanished Man
Sale
The Vanished Man: A Lincoln Rhyme Novel
  • Deaver, Jeffery (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 608 Pages - 08/28/2012 (Publication Date) - Pocket Books (Publisher)

7. John Grisham, 1955 –

John Grisham
John Grisham

Lawyer and novelist John Grisham has sold over 300 million copies worldwide and published 37 consecutive umber-one bestsellers. The Firm was the author’s first bestseller and was quickly made into a feature film. Many of Grisham’s other works have been adapted to film as well, including The ClientThe Pelican Brief, and The Runaway Jury.

In addition to crime fiction, Grisham has also written both comedy fiction and sports fiction, including the screenplay for the feature film Mickey. Grisham has also written a legal series for children. His daughter, who is a fifth-grade teacher, inspired the series. Grisham has won several awards for his work, including the Golden Plate Award of the American Academy of Achievement and the Galaxy British Lifetime Achievement Award. 

“An eye for an eye, each killing must be avenged. You kill enough and you’re convinced that killing is good. You count the days, and then there are none left. You ask yourself on your last morning if you are really ready. You search for courage, but the bravery is fading. When it’s over, no one really wants to die.”

John GrishamThe Confession
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The Confession: A Novel
  • Hardcover Book
  • Grisham, John (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 432 Pages - 10/26/2010 (Publication Date) - Doubleday (Publisher)

8. Karin Slaughter, 1971-

Karin Slaughter
Karin Slaughter

Crime writer Karin Slaughter has sold more than 40 million book copies worldwide. Many fans of Slaughter love her series works, including the Grant County and Will Trent series. Slaughter is known for writing books in the heart of the American South. In addition to her crime novels, including the well-received Girl, ForgottenSlaughter also writes short stories. Her short stories include The Unremarkable Heart, which won the Edgar Award for best short story.

“Your mother and I had always been secretly pleased that you were so headstrong and passionate about your causes. Once you were gone, we understood that these were the qualities that painted young men as smart and ambitious and young women as trouble.”

Karin SlaughterPretty Girls
Pretty Girls
  • Slaughter, Karin (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 592 Pages - 04/26/2016 (Publication Date) - William Morrow Paperbacks (Publisher)

9. Jonathan Kellerman, 1949 –

Book cover of Flesh And Blood by Jonathan Kellerman
Book cover of Flesh And Blood by Jonathan Kellerman

Psychologist and author Jonathan Kellerman is known for his series of novels featuring Alex Delaware, a pediatric psychologist who works with the Los Angeles Police Department to solve crimes in hits like The Museum of Desire. Kellerman worked as a professor of pediatric psychology at the University of Southern California early in his career, writing novels in his garage at the end of the day. When the Bough Breaks, Kellerman’s first published novel, hit shelves in 1985. The author had five additional bestsellers while still working as a psychologist. Five years later, Kellerman decided to focus on writing full-time and has since written over 40 crime novels.

“I’ve found that the men and women who work homicide tend to be thoughtful, analytic, and sensitive. Despite a certain gruffness, that certainly applies to Milo. My best friend has closed over three hundred fifty murders and he’s never lost his empathy or his sense of outrage. Notifying families still rips at him. He eats too much, sleeps poorly, and often neglects himself while working two, three days in a row. Once you stop caring, you’re useless.”

 Jonathan Kellerman, The Museum of Desire
The Museum of Desire: An Alex Delaware Novel
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Kellerman, Jonathan (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 424 Pages - 02/04/2020 (Publication Date) - Ballantine Books (Publisher)

10. Robin Cook, 1946 – 2005

Robin Cook
Robin Cook

Robin Cook is known for combining the medical drama and thriller genres, and he’s sold more than 400 million copies worldwide. As a Harvard-trained physician, aquanaut (a doctor who works on a submarine), and a Navy veteran, Cook’s storied life experience lends itself to meticulously accurate writing. Many of Cook’s works have been adapted to film, including Harmful IntentMortal FearOutbreak, and TerminalManner of Death was an instant hit with readers, following repeating characters Jack Stapleton and Laurie Montgomery as they work to get to the bottom of a suicide case. 

If you’re searching for more thriller books to binge on a weekend, check out our list of the best Evan Hunter books. You can also search for thriller authors using our search bar at the top right of the post.

“She thought about how marvelous it would be to have a wife keeping the house in order, the meals on the table. At the same time it seemed ridiculously unfair that she could never have a wife. In fact, if she married, she would be expected to be the wife.”

Robin CookComa
Coma
  • Robin Cook, Coma, paperback
  • Cook, Robin (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 309 Pages - 12/13/1977 (Publication Date) - Signet (Publisher)

11. John Sandford, 1904 – 2003

Book cover of Ocean Prey by John Sandford
Book cover of Ocean Prey by John Sandford

Dark Angel author John Sandford is a New York Times bestselling author and Pulitzer Prize recipient. Sandford is well-known for his Prey series, featuring Minneapolis detective Lucas Davenport. In addition to his fiction work, Sandford is also known for his writing on American culture. In 1985, Sandford began to study the Midwest farm crisis. He followed a Minnesota family for a year and detailed their lives in Life on the Land: an American Farm Family, which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing. 

“The thing about Botox is that when you’ve had too much, you then have to fake reactions just to look human–and it’s impossible to distinguish real fake reactions from fake fake reactions.”

John Sandford, Invisible Prey
Sale
Invisible Prey (A Prey Novel)
  • Sandford, John (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 448 Pages - 04/29/2008 (Publication Date) - G.P. Putnam's Sons (Publisher)

12. Stuart Woods, 1938 – 2022

Stuart Woods
Stuart Woods

Novelist Stuart Woods was known for his series featuring Stone Barrington, a detective turned lawyer who handles sensitive cases for a large firm. Barrington resides on New York City’s Upper East Side, and readers love experiencing the finer things in life through Barrington’s adventures. The author wrote several other character-focused series, including the Will Lee series, the Holly Barker series, the Ed Eagle series, the Rick Barron series, and the Teddy Fay series. Woods’ final installment in the Barrington series, Near Miss, was published posthumously. 

“But with a casino, people show up and happily plunk their money down to buy nothing. Money for nothing. That’s the best business in the world.”

Stuart WoodsThe Money Shot
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The Money Shot (A Teddy Fay Novel)
  • Hardcover Book
  • Woods, Stuart (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 320 Pages - 08/07/2018 (Publication Date) - G.P. Putnam's Sons (Publisher)

13. Michael Connelly, 1956 –

Michael Connelly
Michael Connelly

American author Michael Connelly has sold more than 74 million copies around the globe and is best known for his crime novels featuring Harry Bosch, a Los Angeles Police Department detective. Connelly’s career got a jump-start when The Black Echo won the Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award for best first novel. Connelly served as the President of the Mystery Writers of America from 2003 – 2004.

The author’s writing process is unusual for mystery writers, as he states that he doesn’t always know where a book is going when he starts writing, as he operates from hunches that drive the plot forward. In addition to the Harry Bosch series, Connelly is also known for short stories, including The Perfect TriangleBurnt Matches, and The Third Panel

“There were a billion lights out there on the horizon and I knew that all of them put together weren’t enough to light the darkness in the hearts of some men.”

Michael ConnellyThe Scarecrow
The Scarecrow (Jack McEvoy, 2)
  • #1 New York Times Bestseller
  • Author of The Poet
  • Connelly, Michael (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 576 Pages - 02/01/2010 (Publication Date) - Grand Central Publishing (Publisher)

14. Michael Crichton, 1942 – 2008

Michael Crichton
Michael Crichton

Author and filmmaker Michael Crichton started studying biological anthropology in college, then earned his medical degree at Harvard Medical School. His studies poised him to become a detail-oriented writer. Many of Crichton’s novels explore the connection between humans and technology. Biotechnology writing, such as his most well-known work, Jurassic Park, allowed readers to imagine a disastrous world that didn’t seem too far off from reality. Other heralded works from Crichton include The Andromeda StrainCongoThe Lost World, and State of Fear. 

“Human beings are so destructive. I sometimes think we’re a kind of plague, that will scrub the earth clean. We destroy things so well that I sometimes think, maybe that’s our function. Maybe every few eons, some animal comes along that kills off the rest of the world, clears the decks, and lets evolution proceed to its next phase.”

Michael CrichtonThe Lost World
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The Lost World: A Novel (Jurassic Park)
  • Crichton, Michael (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 432 Pages - 10/30/2012 (Publication Date) - Ballantine Books (Publisher)

15. Lisa Gardner, 1972 –

Book cover of One Step Too Far by Lisa Gardner
Book cover of One Step Too Far by Lisa Gardner

Bestselling author Lisa Gardner has written over 20 suspense novels and is known for writing domestic thrillers. Before She Disappeared was an instant New York Times bestseller that introduced readers to Frankie Elkin, a middle-aged woman who finds people that others have decided to stop looking for. In Before, she finds herself in Boston, searching for a Haitian teenager who disappeared a few months before.

The second book in the series, One Step Too Far, follows Frankie as she explores the mountains of Wyoming, searching for a man who mysteriously disappeared during a bachelor party. Readers love Gardener’s attention to detail, as her protagonists leave no stone unturned.

“Oh, for the love of God. There is no agent more agent than you. I swear you have pin-striped ties encrypted into your DNA. When you die, the coffin is going to read Property of the FBI.”

Lisa GardnerThe Killing Hour
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The Killing Hour
  • Hardcover Book
  • Gardner, Lisa (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 324 Pages - 07/15/2003 (Publication Date) - Bantam Books (Publisher)

16. Linda Fairstein, 1947 –

Linda Fairstein
Linda Fairstein

Attorney and author of Likely to Die has been at the center of controversy for years as the head of the sex crimes unit at the Manhattan District Attorney’s office. Fairstein observed the interrogation of the Central Park Five, in which five boys were wrongfully convicted of violent crimes. After the Five’s convictions were overturned following DNA testing, Fairstein maintained that they were guilty and left the office soon after. She has published successful novels, including the Alexandra Cooper and Devlin Quick series.

“I’ve just been around too much death today not to wonder why we find it appropriate to organize our festivities in and around the tombs of all these ancient cultures.”

Linda FairsteinThe Bone Vault
Sale
The Bone Vault
  • Used Book in Good Condition
  • Fairstein, Linda (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 528 Pages - 10/21/2012 (Publication Date) - Gallery Books (Publisher)

17. Janet Evanovich, 1943 –

Janet Evanovich
Janet Evanovich

New York Times bestselling author Janet Evanovich is best known for her Stephanie Plum series, which follows its protagonist, a bounty hunter, as she works to find a way to bring in cash in her blue-collar hometown of Trenton, New Jersey. Going Rogue is the author’s latest Plum installment. While readers love following Plum from novel to novel, each book can be read as a standalone story.

Evanovich has sold more than 200 million copies around the world. In 2021, the author was honored to be named one of the Forbes 50 over 50. 2021 was the list’s inaugural year, celebrating those who made major career accomplishments after the half-century mark.

“Some men go a lifetime and never have their kid blow up a car, but I have a daughter who’s knocked off three cars and burned down a funeral home. Maybe that’s some kind of record.”

Janet EvanovichFour to Score
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Four to Score (Stephanie Plum, No. 4) (Stephanie Plum Novels)
  • Evanovich, Janet (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 352 Pages - 07/01/1998 (Publication Date) - St. Martin's Paperbacks (Publisher)

18. David Baldacci, 1960 –

David Baldacci
David Baldacci

Simply Lies author David Baldacci has published 47 novels, all of which have become international bestsellers. The author started as a writer while working as a lawyer and took three years to complete Absolute Power, his first novel. Baldacci is well-known for his series of novels, following characters from one case to another.

Popular Baldacci series include the Sean King and Michelle Maxwell series, The Camel Club series, and the A. Shaw and Katie James series, the John Puller series, and the Will Robie series. Several of the author’s works have been adapted into a film, including Absolute PowerKing & Maxwell, and One Summer.

“When a poor man gives something, that is a sacrifice indeed. When a rich man gives something, it hardly rises to the same level.”

David BaldacciTrue Blue
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True Blue
  • Baldacci, David (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 608 Pages - 09/01/2010 (Publication Date) - Vision (Publisher)

19. Sue Grafton, 1940 – 2017

Sue Grafton
Sue Grafton

“U” is for Undertow is one of the many books in author Sue Grafton’s alphabet series of detective novels. It took some time for Grafton to find success as an author. After she struggled to publish her first manuscripts, she became a screenwriter, creating scripts for several television series. Grafton stated that spending time as a screenwriter helped her hone her craft. Her first detective novel, “A” Is for Alibi, was published in 1982.

The book introduced readers to Kinsey Millhone, a California detective. While her initial alphabet novel received lackluster reviews, readers quickly fell in love with Millhone, making Grafton’s work a mainstay on the shelves of mystery enthusiasts worldwide. 

“Ghosts don’t haunt us. That’s not how it works. They’re present among us because we won’t let go of them.”

Sue Grafton, “M” is for Malice
"M" is for Malice: A Kinsey Millhone Novel (Kinsey Millhone Alphabet Mysteries, 13)
  • Grafton, Sue (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 384 Pages - 10/04/2011 (Publication Date) - St. Martin's Paperbacks (Publisher)

20. Tami Hoag, 1959 –

Book cover of Ashes To Ashes by Tami Hoag
Book cover of Ashes To Ashes by Tami Hoag

Bestselling author Tami Hoag is known for excellence in the thriller and romance genres, selling over 22 million copies worldwide. Many of Hoag’s novels are in series format, including the Oak Knoll series, the Elena Estes series, the Kovac & Liska series, which includes the hit novel Ashes to Ashes, the Deer Lake series, the Doucet series, the Hennessy series, the Quaid Horses series, and The Rainbow Chasers series.

“We never know the quality of someone else’s life, though we seldom resist the temptation to assume and pass judgment.”

Tami HoagDark Horse
Dark Horse (Elena Estes)
  • Tami Hoag
  • Dark Horse
  • ex-cop
  • Palm Beach horse set
  • Elena Estes

21. Tana French, 1973 –

Book cover of The Searcher by Tana French
Book cover of The Searcher by Tana French

American-Irish writer Tana French’s debut novel, In the Woods, was met with astounding praise from critics, winning her the Edgar Award, Anthony Award, Macavity Award, and Barry Award for best novel. The author is praised for her unique ability to combine the psychological thriller and police procedural genres. All of French’s novels take place in Ireland. While her first six books, including Faithful Place, are a part of the Dublin Murder Squad series, her most recent two books, The Witch Elm and The Searcher, were written as standalone novels. You might also be interested in our list of the best Jodi Picoult books.

“I had learned early to assume something dark and lethal hidden at the heart of anything I loved. When I couldn’t find it, I responded, bewildered and wary, in the only way I knew how: by planting it there myself.”

Tana FrenchIn the Woods
Sale
In the Woods: A Novel (Dublin Murder Squad)
  • Tana French
  • French, Tana (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 448 Pages - 05/27/2008 (Publication Date) - Penguin Books (Publisher)

22. Linda Castillo, 1960 –

Book cover of Hallowed Ground by Linda Castillo
Book cover of Hallowed Ground by Linda Castillo

An Evil Heart: A Novel author Linda Castillo is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling crime author. Castillo’s novels are unique in that they’re set in Amish Country. According to Castillo, “As a writer I love the juxtaposition of such a bucolic setting and the introduction of evil into it,” she said. “I knew I’d found the perfect setting. The Amish culture is a bit of a closed society, and I was fascinated by the mystery of that, too.”

Her work has been well-received by critics and readers alike. Many of Castillo’s novels follow Kate Burkholder, a woman who left the Amish faith and was asked to return to her hometown as the Chief of Police.

“God knows, I’m no expert on relationships, but I do know when something’s good. And this thing we’ve created between us is precious and rare. I only hope it’s not fleeting, because for the first time in my adult life, I’ve given someone the power to hurt me.”

Linda CastilloGone Missing
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Gone Missing: A Kate Burkholder Novel (Kate Burkholder, 4)
  • Castillo, Linda (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 297 Pages - 03/12/2013 (Publication Date) - Minotaur Books (Publisher)

Looking for more? Check out our round-up of the best Evan Hunter books!

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  • Amanda has an M.S.Ed degree from the University of Pennsylvania in School and Mental Health Counseling and is a National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer. She has experience writing magazine articles, newspaper articles, SEO-friendly web copy, and blog posts.