Henry Holt's John Sterling has paid what is described as "substantial" money (we hear around half a million) for a new book by Bernard Lefkowitz, whose Our Guys, about a group of New Jersey high schoolers accused of raping a retarded teenage girl, was a surprise hit for the University of California Press and, later, an even bigger one in its Vintage paperback edition. The new title is In the Company of Women; it tells the story of a group of women who took on the Wall Street brokerage firm of Smith Barney and its intensely male ethos -- and workforce. Sterling called the Lefkowitz proposal on which he acted "just about the best I've ever read." The agent was Joni Evans at William Morris.



A small eight-year-old literary agency has helped put its author on the map with a big sale to a big house. Now a second sale for the same author, before the first book is even published, is helping put the agency on the map. The agents are husband and wife Michael Vidor and Anne Sheldon of the Hardy Agency in California's Marin County, and their author is local-writer-made-good Catherine Ryan Hyde. As reported here last year (Aug. 3), Hyde's Pay It Forward was bought by Simon &Schuster's Michael Korda and Chuck Jones after they heard good word on the movie prospects. (It is to be a Warner movie, with director Steven Reuther and writer Leslie Dixon attached.) Now the same pair at S&S have taken Hyde's next, Walter's Purple Heart, also, said the agents, for a good six-figure sum, and are planning to publish no more than nine months after Forward appears this fall. Meanwhile, an option on Walter's, which is about a man bonding with the spirit of a slain WWII vet in a hunt for his widow, has been taken by Jonathan Treisman at Flatiron Films, who had originally optioned the first book. Heady stuff for a writer who began her publishing career at little Russian Hill Press -- and a welcome recognition for the Hardy team, who were in town last week showing around their wares.

The name Dan Green, for many years a power at Simon &Schuster, remains one to be reckoned with, and now his son Simon, who works at his father's Pom agency, has just made one of his biggest sales to date: a low-six-figure sale to new S&S editor Geoff Kloske (formerly of Little, Brown) for a first novel set in Montana just after the battle of the Little Big Horn. For author (and City University of New York creative writing teacher) Andrew Huebner, his book, American by Blood, was something of a labor of love, based partly on what he knew of his great-great-grandfather, a U.S. cavalryman at the time. The story, which begins as a troop comes upon the carnage of the battlefield the next day, is "simple but powerful, and beautifully written," noted Kloske, who preempted it after a rapid read, in a deal that won him world rights. He hopes to publish early next year.

After a prolonged seven-month negotiation, Miramax has optioned the movie rights to The War Journal of Major Damon "Rocky" Gause, the first-person account of Gause's escape from a Japanese POW camp and his later voyage with one companion across the Pacific to Australia. The deal, made by Bill Contardi at William Morris, with agent Mary Tahan at Clausen, Mays &Tahan, calls for Matt Damon and Ben Affleck to produce. The book, acquired for Hyperion by Will Schwalbe, will appear in the fall.... Tracy Sherrod at Pocket Books has made a six-figure deal for Sister Friends, a photographic study of African-American sisters and close friends, with pictures by veteran NYT photographer Michelle Agins and text by Julia Chance of Essence magazine; agent was Jennifer Lyons at Writers House.