It’s Meet the Author Monday! Each week we meet a new author and get to know a little about them, their writing process, publishing experience, and tips for other writers. Today we’re talking to Margaret Weiss, author of Eat Your Rice Cakes: Discovering Empowerment After a Life-Changing Diagnosis.
About Margaret Weiss:
Margaret Weiss, RD, CDCES is a dietitian and a diabetes care and education specialist. She graduated with a BA in Psychology from William Smith College, and completed her training in nutrition and dietetics at Saint Elizabeth University and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.
In addition to her own private practice, she has served in a number of healthcare roles in both hospital and ambulatory settings. She has appeared on the CBS Evening News with Jonathan LaPook and has been an invited speaker for grand rounds at several hospitals, national support organizations, the New Jersey state dietetic association, and several dietetic internship programs around the country. Her work has also been profiled in the national publication Today’s Dietitian and several local New Jersey publications.
Formerly from the east coast, she now lives in Colorado and enjoys trading in the stock market, hiking and cross-country skiing.
Stay in touch with Margaret and find out about upcoming events at www.margaretweissrd.com
About Eat Your Rice Cakes:
TWENTY-FIVE YEARS AGO, Margaret Weiss, RD, CDCES was happily raising her family in central New Jersey when she was diagnosed with celiac disease. With little support for what was then a relatively unknown condition, she was forced to face her reactions and behaviors as she navigated many, often unpleasant, life changes to accommodate this disease.
- Are you experiencing a range of emotions and behaviors related to your own condition that you’d like to understand better?
- Are you interested in behavioral theories that might help explain and guide your actions as you navigate significant change?
- Are you looking for a way to transform your mindset about your diagnosis with constructive and reliable best practices that are forward-looking and healing?
Drawing on her experience as both a person with celiac disease and as a practicing dietitian, Margaret wrote Eat Your Rice Cakes to explore this journey of change. With humor and pragmatism, she speaks to both
patients and providers of healthcare with a combination of personal
and professional experiences that illustrate our responses to significant
upheaval. Eat Your Rice Cakes offers an inspirational way for all readers
to process life-altering change across a wide range of medical disorders
with an ultimate vision of empowerment and compassion.
Author Interview with Margaret Weiss:
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- Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
With this book, I tried to portray my original thoughts and experiences as both a patient and a healthcare provider. Interestingly, I believe – based on my experiences – that my original thoughts are relatable AND what the readers want!
- What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
Without a doubt, professional editing. Much needed for this first time author, and my editor was an expert in organizing and guiding my thoughts and writing. I went through both developmental and copy editing with this one editor over a period of about one year and I think it was worth every penny.
- What do you owe the real people upon whom you base your characters?
I based all of my stories and characters on real people and experiences, personal and professional. As I say to these people in my Acknowledgments, “Heartfelt thanks for allowing me into your lives, for allowing me to help with your most challenging moments. Your trust in me, your encouragement, and inspiration have taught me lessons that will live on and help others for years to come.” And I really DO believe that my interactions with these people will result in a “trickle down” to future patients and providers who read my book – and for that I owe them extreme gratitude.
- What does literary success look like to you?
In the post-launch period (I launched EYRC on May 6, 2021) I have divided my view of literary success into two areas. 1) Obviously book sales and reviews are one indicator that my book has touched many lives and 2) From a professional perspective, I have so far been able to get EYRC into the curriculum of three educational/dietetic internship programs around the country for the 2021-2022 academic year, and many other programs are still evaluating the book. For me, acceptance by the academic community is a true measure of and a way to find literary success and legitimacy for my book.
- Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice?
Writing this book synthesized so much for me professionally, personally and spiritually. I think I’m a truly different person after putting this book together, and because of the growth I experienced, I agree that writing can be a spiritual practice.
- How many hours a day do you write?
For this book I wrote consistently 2-3 hours per day for about one year. I liked the regularity of short, consistent bursts of writing and found that my concentration dipped after that period of time. I mostly wrote first thing in the morning when the house was quiet and my husband was still sleeping (I’m a morning person!)
- Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
Due to the confidential nature of personal and professional stories in this book, I worked very hard to maintain privacy for everyone involved. To that end, while all of the experiences or situations really did happen, I did change details or settings to protect identities in some instances.
- What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
Personally I am a very direct, to-the-point person, both in writing and in conversation. One of the most important ways my editor guided me was to develop the way I described things, to include more detail and sensory perceptions, and to work on developing my introduction to topics so that the reader would understand how I arrived at certain points and conclusions. In the beginning I was very short and clipped in my writing and this made for an undesirable and perhaps confusing experience for the reader. I think I have greatly improved with this concept.
- What inspired you to start writing?
The idea of this book – that the combination of my experiences as both a patient and a provider offers a unique perspective for counseling – has been inside of me for over a decade. Frankly, the Covid shutdown gave me the time and focus to put it all into writing and tell the world what I had to say.
- Are you on social media and can your readers interact with you?
Yes I have a social media presence. My website is MargaretWeissRD.com, and there you can find links to my other pages on Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.
- How do you deal with the emotional impact of a book (on yourself) as you are writing the story?
As I mentioned, this book synthesized so much for me from a personal, professional and spiritual sense. Actually, I’m still experiencing realizations and aha moments about my personal life and my career as time goes on, as I re-read passages and I hear feedback from readers. I experience intense pride and gratification when I see how the concepts in the book come together in such an impactful way, for me and for others.
- What was your favorite part, and your least favorite part, of the publishing journey?
My favorite part is the finished product and how I have published a total and accurate expression of me. My least favorite part was being patient when my manuscript was “in line” behind others in my editor’s pipeline; I found it hard to keep up the writing “flow” in my brain and while I waited my turn.
- Where can readers find out more about you and your books?
- Tell us about the process for coming up with the cover.
Another of my favorite parts was the creation of the cover. I happened upon a wonderfully responsive and talented graphic artist who made the process easy and enjoyable. When we first met we had a long conversation about my background and the book, and I think she really understood where I was coming from. She created a few options and was very receptive to changes/adjustments, no pride or ego got in the way! It’s so important to find someone who can really relate to your story.
- Favorite quote (doesn’t matter the source)
“The biggest room in the world is the room for improvement.” ~Helmut Schmidt
- What do you like to do when you are not writing?
I love to trade in the stock market, hike and cross-country ski.
To learn more about Margaret Weiss, here’s where you can connect with her:
- LinkedIn: Margaret Weiss, RD, CDCES
- Instagram: CallMeMissWeiss
- Twitter: @margaretweiss22