Diane Reverand of HarperCollins's Cliff Street imprint, has been buying up a storm recently and looks set to go well into 2001 with a range of books to teach us how to live smarter. TV's Judge Judy (Sheindlin) has a new book on family due next spring, bought from the Jane Dystel agency. The three guys who wrote the bestselling What Men Want have come up with a sequel offering further advice to the opposite sex: Marry Me!: How to Get Mr. Right to Pop the Question. The three, Bradley Gertsman, Christopher Pizzo and Richard Seldes, are now experts on the question; two of them have become engaged since the last outing. Agent for this one was Stedman Mays at Clausen, Mays &Tahan. Another from the same agency's Mary Tahan is The Stranger in the Mirror, a study of dissociation (a mental disorder of which split personality is the extreme end of the spectrum), which authors Maerlene Steinberg and Maxine Schnall claim is far more pervasive than one might expect. A yoga teacher with such ultra followers as Madonna, the monosyllabic Gurmech is offering The Seven Human Talents for next winter, also through Dystel. Dallas agent Jan Miller auctioned a new, untitled book by Keith Herrell -- cited by the WSJ as one of the nation's top motivational speakers (and whose self-published Attitude Is Everything became a stellar seller) -- and Reverand won, paying what we heard was an upper-six-figures price. Finally, on what Reverand calls "the pro bono side," is a new study of poverty in the midst of affluence, Growing Up Empty by Loretta Schwartz Noble, who wrote Starving in the Shadow of Plenty. Her agent is Ellen Levine.

Another of those former editors who resurface as agents is John Talbot, formerly at Simon &Schuster and Berkley (where he edited Tom Clancy's series books and reprints). Perhaps unsurprisingly in the circumstances, his biggest sale to date is a recent two-book, world rights, six-figure one to Bantam, of two novels by an expert on submarine warfare, J Buff. The first of these, Deep Sound Channel, involves tactical nuclear exchanges, some 50 years in the future, between the U.S. and a revived German Axis combined with old-guard B r South Africans. Buff, who is just that when it comes to submarines, had his material vetted by active-duty U.S. and British sub commanders -- and unlike most nuclear tales, according to Talbot, the war really takes place in this one. The Bantam editor is Katie Hall.

An appropriately named new thriller author who is being compared by both agent and editor to early Patricia Cornwell -- and who also has a Southern coroner as a heroine -- is Karin Slaughter, and she has just made a three-book deal with senior editor Meaghan Dowling at Morrow. Her agent, Victoria Sanders, described the deal, in which Dowling preempted, as a high-six-figure one for world rights. Slaughter, who is 28 and lives in Atlanta, has set her series of books starring coroner (and pediatrician) Dr. Sara Linton in rural Georgia. Dowling describes them as "visceral, edge-of-seat stuff" that also bears ech s of Thomas Harris. The first title, Blindsighted, will appear in summer 2000, and A Faint Cold Fear and Kisscut will follow, probably at yearly intervals. Sanders reported, incidentally, that this is the third multi-book deal she's made for a first-time author in the past month; the others were with Doubleday and Bantam.

Not to be outdone by IDG's extensive Dummies series, Macmillan USA, while it may be suffering transitional-ownership bends at present, still has some sturdy deals to chalk up for its Complete Idiot's Guides, now up to 200 titles in 16 languages (and a quarter-million dollars in foreign rights sales). For one thing, it has just sealed a six-figure, seven-year exclusive partnership with Dell for a mass market Idiots series, to be launched next spring with 12 titles. Book club rights have been sold for 30 titles so far, and Dove Audio has licensed exclusive audio rights to publish a minimum of 24 titles. Meanwhile calendar publisher Golden Turtle is doing a couple of CIG Year 2000 daily box calendars. It d sn't hurt to be dumb.

That fine writer Mary McGarry Morris, whose Songs in Ordinary Time was one of Oprah's more adventurous picks last year, will be back with a new book next year. According to her agent, Jean Naggar, who made the deal with Viking's Kathryn Court for what is understood to be a good-size six figures, the new novel is called Fiona Range and is the story of a young woman who, with the best of intentions, creates appalling difficulties for herself and others as she seeks her true identity.

First-time novelist John Sedgwick, who bears a famous name (Edie is a cousin), has sold two books to Dan Conaway at HarperCollins, via agent Chris Dahl of ICM. The first, a novel called The Dark House, is described as a psychological thriller in a Hitchcockian vein, about an emotionally dead young man who follows people at random, until one day.... Sara Bershtel at Holt/Metropolitan has bought what sounds like a highly unusual book by a very young scientist, Olivia Judson, a National Science Foundation graduate. Her book, tentatively titled Dr. Tatiana's Sex Advice for Creation, is a comic attempt to apply human standards and values to the natural world. Georges Borchardt was the agent.... Pocket Books has acquired mass market rights to Stephen King's first two novels, originally published by Doubleday in the '70s and in print ever since. Carrie will be out in October and Salem's Lot in November, both with new introductions by the author.