Nancy Thayer, a popular author of women's fiction, is moving to Ballantine under a preemptive two-book deal made by editorial director Linda Marrow. She made it with Meg Ruley at the Jane Rotrosen agency, and will publish the first of the pair, The Hot Flash Club, this fall.... Doug Pepper at Crown's new conservative Forum imprint bought a book by Norman Podhoretz tentatively titled Hating America, about the roots and manifestations of anti-Americanism; he took world rights from Glen Hartley at Writers Representatives.... Clarkson Potter editors made several recent buys: Chris Pavone took The Experts' Guide to Life from Jennifer Joel at ICM, North American rights; edited by Samantha Ettus, it's a collection of 100 brief essays by experts on how best to perform myriad everyday tasks, from reading a newspaper to mowing the lawn. Pam Krauss got world English rights in a book called Eat It Raw by supermodel Carol Alt, about the benefits of extreme vegetarianism; Laura Dail was the agent. Finally, Shaye Areheart laid out seven figures for the next book by Deepak Chopra, called The Seven Spiritual Laws of Leadership; this was a world rights sale by Robert Gottlieb at Trident Media Group.... A new editor at Riverhead, Susan Lehman, made her first buy, preempting a major biography of former Chief Justice Earl Warren by a Pulitzer Prize—winning L.A. Times journalist, Jim Newton; it was a North American rights buy from Tina Bennett at Janklow & Nesbit.... Random's Ileene Smith preempted a Dickensian saga called The Laments by first novelist (and screenwriter) George Hagen, about a peripatetic family seeking a home in the world; it was a two-book world rights deal with agent Henry Dunow.... The Bellwether Prize for fiction that embraces social change, a $25,000 award endowed by author Barbara Kingsolver (with book publication guaranteed) is seeking entries for its 2003—2004 contest. Details and application forms are at