There was a very big deal for Stephen Coonts at St. Martin's, where CEO John Sargent bought two new thrillers for seven figures apiece from Robert Gottlieb at Trident Media Group. One will star his series hero, Admiral Jake Grafton, the other won't; it was a North American deal, with Charles Spicer to edit, the first title to be published in late 2004.... Another seven-figure deal at the house was for three new books by suspense author (and CBS News producer) Mary Jane Clark, with Jennifer Enderlin shelling out to agent Laura Dail for North American rights.... Paula Froelich, who writes for Page Six in the New York Post and appears on TV's Entertainment Tonight, has sold a lighthearted tome called The It Guide to Jonathan Burnham at Miramax; it's designed to teach readers how to become gossip-worthy. Todd Shuster at Zachary Shuster Harmsworth made the world rights sale.... Atria's Malaika Adero bought a collection of wry takes on sex, Hollywood, family and politics by stand-up comic and Emmy Award—winning TV writer Wanda Sykes; it's so far untitled, was bought for U.S., Canada and open market from Mel Berger at William Morris and will be out in fall next year.... Richard Preston (The Hot Zone) is the latest thriller author to offer a gentler Christmas tale: his is called The Boat of Dreams. It was written for a dying friend and was originally published as a gift; now Touchstone's Trish Todd has bought it for wider distribution from agent Cynthia Cannell and will publish it as a gift book in November.... A novel that purports to offer a new villain (no, not King Richard III) in the murder of the little princes in the Tower of London was bought at Harper by Carolyn Marino. It's called To the Tower Born and is by historical novelist Robin Maxwell; it was bought, North American only, from Kim Witherspoon.... David Highfill at Putnam preempted an account of the race, won by South Africa's Christiaan Barnard, to perform the first heart transplant surgery in 1968. It's by British author Don McRae, and Highfill bought it from Emma Parry at Carlisle, representing Curtis Brown, London.... Harper's Dan Conaway has bought two more books by Michael Gruber (Tropic of Night) from Simon Lipskar at Writers House for world English rights; the first stars the same protagonist, Cuban-American detective Jimmy Paz, the second is a standalone.