A first novelist mentored by Sapphire made a two-book deal with Monique Patterson at St. Martin's Press. She is Harlem-based Kalisha Buckhanon, whose writing has won several grants and awards, and her book is Upstate, an epistolary novel; the deal, for world rights and audio, was signed with former editor turned agent Tracy Sherrod.... Naturalist Bernd Heinrich (Winter World), who keeps a close eye on nature on his Vermont farm, has signed with Ecco publisher Dan Halpern for two more books, one a memoir, The Snoring Bird, about his family surviving the Nazis in WWII Poland, the other a sequel to last spring's hit called Summer World. The agent for the North American rights deal was Sandy Dijkstra.... Holt's Jennifer Barth signed Wall Street Journal columnist Sue Shellenbarger to an untitled book on the midlife crisis she sees ahead for women who have been shaping their lives in the closing years of the 20th century. It was a world rights deal, made with Amanda Urban at ICM.... Ayesha Pande at Farrar, Straus & Giroux bought a memoir of motherhood by TV actress Catherine Burns called It Hit Me Like a Ton of Bricks; the book describes how Burns's contentious relationship with her mother changed drastically when she became a mother herself. Pande preempted from agent Sarah Burnes at Burnes & Clegg.... Matthew Kelly is a dynamic speaker on the Catholic front who has already self-published several books with a total of 750,000 copies in print. He's just signed a mid-six-figure, two-book deal with Caroline Sutton at S&S Touchstone/ Fireside for The Rhythm of Life and The Seven Levels of Intimacy, to be published in January 2005 and 2006, respectively; the agent for the deal—world, first serial and audio—was Joe Durepos.