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Mitchard Moves to Harper | Fishwife to First Novelist
Mom on the Answering Machine | The First Submarine
First Novel to Become Trilogy | Short Takes

Mitchard Moves to Harper
Jacquelyn Mitchard
,whose first novel The Deep End of the Ocean made history--and major bestsellerdom--as the first Oprah pick, is moving from Viking to HarperCollins for her third novel, where Jennifer Hershey has bought world rights to A Theory of Relativity for a sum that is not being disclosed. Agent was Jane Gelfman of the Gelfman & Schneider agency, who was understood to have submitted the manuscript only to Harper. Hershey describes the book as a deeply moving tale of the struggle between two families over custody of a child. Publication is expected early next fall, and the book will be on offer to foreign publishers at Frankfurt.

Fishwife to First NovelistThat's the story of Canada's Donna Morrissey, who worked in a fish plant in a remote corner of Newfoundland before casting away her hairnet and rubber boots and going back to school to teach herself writing. Her agent, Toronto's Beverley Slopen, says her spelling still isn't great, but her storytelling ability is not in doubt. Her first novel, Kit's Law,was a bestseller last fall for Penguin Canada; just came out to wide acclaim in the U.K., where Morrissey made a big hit on a Hodder publicity tour (it was her first trip abroad); and was bought for Germany's Heyne Verlag right after last fall's Frankfurt fair. Now the States will have a chance to see what the fuss is about, via Houghton Mifflin, where Janet Silver and Susan Canavan bought American rights and will publish next spring. The book, which has a Newfoundland setting, is about a young girl who has to take on the responsibility of looking after her retarded mother when her grandmother dies.

Mom on the Answering Machine

Listen to your mother.
Ad agency exec Amy Borkowsky has a lot in common with many other Manhattan career women: a mother who's always on the phone with sage and often unnecessary advice about life, love and what to wear. The difference is that Borkowsky's were mostly on her answering machine, and she made a CD of Mom's messages that proved a hilarious hit, selling more than 20,000 copies and making Amazon's Hot CD list. There's plainly a book there, and Greer Hendricks at Pocket Books was the one to land it, buying world rights, plus electronic and first serial, from agent Karen Gerwin at ICM. The book, Amy's Answering Machine, will be a small illustrated hardcover that will include lots of motherly messages, plus commentary from the grown woman who was advised to go to the bathroom before lining up at the Motor Vehicle Bureau, and not to wear a bra on a plane because it would set off the airport metal detector. Pub date is, naturally, in time for Mother's Day next year.

The First SubmarineAt a time when the fate of a Russian submarine is very much in the news, and shortly after the raising of the Confederate sub H.L. Hunley off Charleston, S.C., it seemed time, to Burford Books president Peter Burford,for another look at the famous vessel, which during the Civil War became the first in history to sink an enemy vessel in battle. He therefore commissioned Edwin P. Hoyt, a notable writer of naval history, for a new book on the Hunley--which, incidentally, was recovered by a team backed by author Clive Cussler.Agent Jake Elwell at the Wieser & Wieser agency made the world English rights deal.

First Novel to Become TrilogyA first novel called Friendship Cake, bought last year by HarperCollins roving editor Joann Davis as one of her very rare forays into fiction, has performed so well that the powers at Harper decided to ask the author, North Carolina minister Lynne Hinton, for two more books set in the same community, Hope Springs, N.C. Hinton, who meanwhile had also sold Davis an unrelated novel, Things I Know Best,agreed, and the deal was done, for Harper San Francisco, with agent Sally McMillan, also a North Carolinian. In the process, Harper, which had ceded foreign rights on the first book to the agent, got world on all three titles. There is a thought, suggests McMillan, that Hinton may have the makings of a new Jan Caron,though she insists their styles are very different.

Short TakesA first story collection, Gigantic, by Marc Nesbitt,has been sold to Morgan Entrekin at Grove/Atlantic for both his American and his new British operations; Nesbitt was a student of novelist Charles Baxter at Michigan, and the sale was made by Amy Williams at the Gernert Agency.... Steven Malk at Writer's House made a strong six-figure deal with Regina Hayes at Viking for four new titles in the popular Time Warp Trio series by children's author Jon Scieszka, who as part of the deal will speed up production to two titles a year.