Carole Baron at Dutton has signed a new book by political satirist Al Franken, in the vein of his bestselling Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot! She signed for world rights plus first serial and audio with agent Jonathan Lazear and will publish in late 2004, around election time; the editor will be Mitch Hoffman.... One of the most successful authors at Harlequin's "chick lit" imprint, Red Dress Ink, is Sarah Mlynowski, and senior editor Samantha Bell has just signed her for three more titles, all world rights for trade paperback originals. The deal was made with agent Laura Dail. Mlynowski's next novel under her previous contract, Fishbowl, is due in October.... Harper's Dan Menaker preempted a first novel by NPR correspondent and host Scott Simon called Pretty Birds. Set in Sarajevo, it's the story of two girls, high school friends, who are recruited as snipers on opposing sides in the war there. He bought world rights from Jonathan Lazear.