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.
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.
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?