Cooking for Ruth—Soon To Be a Book!

Many of you already know that I once had the privilege of hosting a dinner party for Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. My law professor father had known the future justice since the 1960s, and when she agreed some years back to come speak at the UCLA Law School where Dad taught, I’d impetuously offered to cook dinner for her at my parents’ home.

You can imagine my surprise—and abject fear—when she accepted the invitation.

lots of china, glassware, and silver were used at the dinner

Soon after the momentous occasion, I began drafting a memoir about the months of planning, preparations, and angst leading up to the event, and culminating with the Grand Dinner itself. But then there it lay, collecting dust, so to speak (it was actually on my computer hard drive).

Until two years ago, when—at the urging of my wife, her mother, and several friends who’d read the manuscript—I pulled it out and started reworking the piece.

And it needed a lot of work. For although by this time I’d had four mystery novels published, a personal memoir required a completely different kind of narrative arc from crime fiction. (No, RBG did not end up investigating a murder at my parents’ house—though come to think of it, that would be a pretty fun book!)

I spent many months revising and editing the manuscript, and once I felt it was ready for submission, I sent it to my agent. She loved the memoir and began sending it out to editors.

at the dinner, my dad between Ruth and me

But then the rejections started to roll in, all saying pretty much the same thing: “We love the book, but Leslie doesn’t have enough of a ‘platform’ for us to take on this project. So sorry.”

What this means is that I didn’t have a half a million Twitter followers and several dozen “influencers” talking up my product on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok—which is now, alas, required of pretty much any new non-fiction or memoir author.

After a good little cry, I set out to investigate other options. And that’s when I discovered She Writes Press, a curated hybrid publisher committed to getting out the work of women writers, based solely on the merit of the book, rather than the fame or platform of the author. Excited to have found this different path to publication, I submitted my RBG manuscript to the press.

Only to be rejected.

Undaunted (okay, so maybe I was a little daunted), I worked on the book further, using the assistance of a developmental editor who helped me truly find the “story” within my story. And after several more months rewriting and revising, she told me she believed the book was ready. So I resubmitted it.

And this time they said yes.

So I am beyond thrilled to announce that Cooking for Ruth: A Tale of Scallops, Justice, and Love* is going to be published by She Writes Press, release date: spring, 2023.

Think of it as a mash-up of Julie and Julia and Notorious R.B.G.


*(The subtitle is a work-in-progress; do let me know what you think of it.)

Readers: Have you ever impetuously offered to do something, only to be completely panicked when the offer was surprisingly accepted?

43 thoughts on “Cooking for Ruth—Soon To Be a Book!

  1. Congratulations! What an honor to have had the opportunity to not just meet, but to break bread with RGB. I can’t wait to read the book!

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Leslie, I cannot wait to read this book. So glad you stuck with the onerous submissions process (a challenge RGB would have appreciated, I bet) because it’s going to be AMAZING. Love the subtitle, too. Maybe you could put the “scallops” at the end, with the unexpected twist word as the clincher? (Cooking for Ruth: A Tale of Justice, Love & Scallops)

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Huzzah! So much to celebrate here. First, there’s the memoir itself–and I like the idea of a genre-bending RBG mystery. Secondly there’s praise for She Writes Press, a women-supporting-women enterprise. And finally there is the sharing of what must have been a warm and wonderful evening. I’m just now deciding what wine would pair well with the novel. A white one, surely–to compliment the scallops! And I’m chewing on the title (in a cerebral sort of way). It’s hard to make an informed decison without having read the manuscript–so I don’t know what kind of love is involved. Is it filial love, love of the law, respect for RBG? And the word “love” just sort of thuds on the page–at least to my ear. You have two two-syllable words–one concrete and one abstract (scallops, justice)–followed by a wide-open concept one-syllable word (love). MY MFA is in poetry so I’m caught up in anaylzing the metrical feet. BORING! But how about this? Perhaps substitute “admiration” for “love.” The rhythm of the title doesn’t simply end–it resonates on the tongue. Cooking for Ruth: A Tale of Scallops, Justice, and Admiration. Or maybe even “respect” for the final word. Then the “r” sound carries through. But here’s what I know. Call it what you will: I’ll read it!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Leslie, I AM SO EXCITED FOR YOU!! This is going to be AMAZING!! No ideas on the subtitle yet. But I have to say, the sidebar notion of RBG as an amateur sleuth might be equally brilliant! Who better than to write murderous wrongs and deliver justice, lol?!

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Leslie, Well done!!! This is such a credit to your perseverance and ability to adjust/readjust/readjust in the face of adversity. I can’t wait to buy it and enjoy, vicariously, your experience. Best wishes. Ruth

    In answer to your question: My husband and I just signed, last Thursday, a contract for construction of our new home in Charlottesville, Virginia. This will be our 7th move in the past 15 (by next year’s completion – 16) years. Given that we’ve not lived in Charlottesville before (except since this August when we sold our condo of 2 years in a different city), it is daunting and terrifying. This time, if we get something wrong in the design, it’s our fault!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I seem to remember telling you about the memoir some years back as you drove me to the airport after Malice…

      Good luck with the house construction, my dear–very exciting (but daunting, too)!


      1. Dear Leslie – we were at Arlington National Cemetery this past weekend and I overheard one of the Rangers telling someone how to find RBG’s gravesite. It’s been recently completed with her information, in addition to Marty’s. I took a picture for you (and for me!). Hmmm – just realized I have no way to attach it on here so I’ll see if your old email address still works :). I thought of you!


  6. Congratulations, Leslie!! Your memoir sounds incredible! Will the recipes you prepared be included? Also, now I so want to read a cozy mystery starring RBG, lol.

    Liked by 2 people

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