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Hot Deals
John F. Baker -- 5/15/00

Baron Takes Lescroart to Dutton
In her first big buy since moving over as president of Dutton, Carole Baron has signed a two-book deal with an author of legal thrillers who was one of her key writers at Delacorte: John T. Lescroart. The North American rights deal, for what agent Barney Karpfinger described as a "highly significant sum," calls for the first of the two books, titled The Hearing, to star Lescroart's series hero, San Francisco lawyer Dismas Hardy. That book will be published next April, followed by an NAL paperback. The second book isn't titled yet. Baron will continue as the author's editor. His bestsellers include Guilt, The 13th Juror and his most recent book, Nothing but the Truth. Karpfinger is expecting to make the same deal shortly with two of Lescroart's key European publishers, Heyne in Germany and Headline in the U.K.

Stories of Shakespeare's Women
Yet another short story collection recently made a solid, if not spectacular, sale, to Kris Puopolo at Scribner for a trade paper original. But this one has a notable gimmick: all the stories in the collection, titled Her InfiniteVariety, are about women who had some connection with Shakespeare, either as women in his life--his mother, his sister, Queen Elizabeth--or as characters in his dramas. The author is one of publishing's own: Pamela Rachel Berkman, who works at Jossey-Bass in San Francisco. The sale was made, for North American rights only, by Jenny Bent at Graybill & English in Washington, D.C., to whom Berkman sent her manuscript blind. Three publishers were interested, and Puopolo's was the best bid. There's a further offbeat angle to the story: Berkman is a direct descendant of anarchist-author Alexander Berkman, jailed for the attempted assassination of Henry Clay Frick.

Ballantine Buys Southern Author
Jeanne Braselton is a new Southern author whose work was sent out larded with praise by the likes of Anne Rivers Siddons, Lee Smith and Kaye Gibbons, so it didn't take agent Stella Connell of Southeast Media & Literary Associates in Oxford, Miss., long to make a deal. It was a six-figure, two-book, world-rights sale to Ballantine editorial director Maureen O'Neal. The first of the two books is A False Sense of Well-Being, said to be a darkly comic novel about the search for meaning and passion in the lives of women. According to O'Neal, it has "all the best qualities of Southern fiction--humor, warmth and wisdom." The author is a syndicated reporter for a paper in Rome, Ga. Another recent buy by O'Neal was of a new diet book by Joyce and Gene Daoust, whose 40-30-30: Fat BurningNutrition was a hit. The new one is The Formula: A 14-Day Plan to Balance Your Diet, Lose Weight and Supercharge Your Life,and O'Neal's buy was another six-figure world rights one, with publication set for next spring. The sale was made by Dean Williamson and David Vigliano at Vigliano Associates.

Two-Book Deal for Terry Bradshaw
The celebrated sportscaster and former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback has signed with Pocket Books executive editorial director Emily Bestler for two books, an autobiography and a second nonfiction work. The deal, for world rights, including first serial and audio, was signed with Frank Weimann of the Literary Group International, and Bradshaw's personal manager, David Gershenson. The former football star will write in his memoir of his time on the field as well as in the broadcast booth, and the lessons he has learned along the way. The book is scheduled for fall 2001.

Boost for Black Thriller Writer
The first book by D.C.-born Norman Kelly was Black Heat,starring a sexy black female PI, and was originally published by a small press, Cool Grove. Now the author's agent, Richard Abate at ICM, has made a two-book deal for Kelly that will see that book, and another, published at HarperCollins's Amistad imprint, where new publishing manager Mannie Baron made the high-five-figures buy of world rights. The first novel, which agent and editor both liken to early work by Walter Mosley, is about a search for the daughter of a slain civil rights leader; the second, Phat Death, has a Caribbean music background.

Short Takes
A new book by Californian Catherine Ryan Hyde (author of the novel Pay It Forward,which will be a Kevin Spacey movie) has been signed, six figures for world rights, by Chuck Adams and Michael Korda at Simon & Schuster. It's called Electric God, and was sold, like Hyde's previous books (Walter's Purple Heart is still to come out) by Sausalito, Calif.-based agents Michael Vidor and Ann Sheldon-Vidor.... Agent Ed Wintle at Curtis Brown has sold Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes to Miramax's Harvey Weinstein, for a mid-six figures, for producer Tom Sternberg.
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