Newsletter 38: January 2007

Peter Lefcourt

Through acclaimed novels such as The Deal, The Dreyfuss Affair, and Di and I, Peter Lefcourt has established a passionate following among readers who love sophisticated satire combined with lyrical, sharp prose and mordant wit. We are proud to welcome him to our client list.

His first collection of stories, My Dermatologist’s Salon, contains a dozen off-beat tales, ranging from the activities of a strange philosophy coven made up of a group of dermatologically challenged patients of a Tarzana, California, skin doctor, to a glimpse of the golden years that would have awaited Marilyn Monroe and James Dean had they avoided checking out at a younger age.

In progress is his new novel, entitled Jet Lag. Set at the Cannes Film Festival, which Peter attended in person in 2004, we follow the adventures of a half dozen seriously jet-lagged characters through ten days of frantic deal-making, drug taking, parties, couplings–all in a setting that is more akin to a street bazaar in Tashkent than a celebration of the art of cinema. The action takes place against the backdrop of a major political scandal. No one gets out of this one unscathed.

Peter Lefcourt is a self-styled ‘refugee from the trenches of Hollywood,’ where he has distinguished himself as an Emmy Award-winning writer and producer of film and television. He is the author of seven novels and numerous screenplays.

UP AND COMING FOR SUBMISSION

Dwayne Betts spent a third of his life in prison. At 24, most of his adulthood could be accounted for in holidays missed. A series of Christmas cards shipped to the prison that housed him that year. He went from being a 16-year-old honor student to spending time in some of the worst jails in the state of Virginia after being charged as an adult for carjacking. But, as a terrified teenager in a brutal system, he turned to books to fill the hours and to keep him from becoming a monster. He read everything he could get his hands on and then he started writing essays and poetry. A few months after being released, Dwayne met Yoa Glover, co-owner of Karibu Books in Bowie, Virginia. Impressed with the young ex-con’s knowledge and love of literature, Glover offered him a job at his store. While working at Karibu, Dwayne started community college, getting superlative grades, good enough, in fact, to earn him a full scholarship to Howard University. He also became store manager and began a book club for disenfranchised teens–like he had once been. Dwayne introduced these kids to the power and salvation that is to be found in literature, something he learned the hard way. Dwayne’s memoir will be an inspirational, hard-hitting, and necessary account.

Most people want to avoid danger; their lives planned out and lived conventionally. They prefer their sharp edges removed and hazards covered and barricaded. But there is another type of person, the sort who understands the rewards of dangerous living, seeking out peril on his or her own terms. THE ART OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY is for those who won’t abide living a safe but uninspired existence. It is for people unwilling to slow down, stay away from trouble, and live a sensible but boring life. For them William Gurstelle, author of Backyard Ballistics, Whoosh Boom Splat, and Adventures from the Technology Underground, puts forward an alternative: A practical yet thoughtful do-it-yourself guide, the book explains how to make and use a bullwhip, drive fast, drink absinthe, make gunpowder, smoke cigarettes, wrestle apes, survive a night in jail, eat fugu, throw knives, hunt snakes and myriad other living-dangerously skills. Something like The Dangerous Book for Boys, this book really is a bit dangerous, and it’s not for young boys. It is edgy, passionate, and sophisticated yet maintains a common sense attitude. Living dangerously has its own rewards.

Tuesday, September 11, 2001, began benignly as a typical day in U.S. aviation with an anticipated 35,000 aircraft scheduled to make their way across the skies of America. The country was bathed in sunshine signaling a high volume, low-delay schedule for the nation’s airspace and the 4,500 airliners filling the early-morning skies. All this would change suddenly, dramatically, and tragically as the nation realized it was under attack by its own aircraft. While Americans were rendered confused, shocked, and fearful, the aviation and military communities strove mightily to comprehend and resolve the utter chaos engendered by these unthinkable acts. In mere minutes, air traffic controllers would look at every airliner as a possible threat. Air crews were confused and frightened by the horror unfolding as they received scant bits and pieces of information, and from that made critical decisions to fulfill their mandate: the safety of their aircraft and passengers. Some aircraft feared they had hijackers on board, and some of them did, while others were mistakenly declared hijacked as a result of misinformation, or pilot errors that on any other day would have been deemed inconsequential. Military pilots were faced with discriminating friend from foe as they launched to defend against an enemy that had not been contemplated, in a war for which they had not trained. All were thrust into their worst nightmare, and many would never work in aviation again, too traumatized by the four hours when, for the first time in history, the nation’s airspace was shut down and the military took control of the skies. TOUCHING HISTORY: 9/11 FROM THE AIR, takes America to a place it has never been, and to places it is not allowed to go: into the cockpits of airliners and fighters, the airline command centers, the control towers and military battle cabs, and, most importantly, into the lives and minds of those who found themselves on the front lines in the air war over America. Written by Lynn Spencer, a mother and an airline pilot, this work of non-fiction is the result of years of research and hundreds of interviews with the pilots, controllers, and commanders, all of whom were called upon to respond as the aviation system was turned upside down in a matter of hours. With her intimate knowledge of flying and air traffic control, she is able to take the reader by the hand to walk them through the most horrifying and ultimately inspiring hours of aviation history.

People expect rabbis to be austere figures staring out from old paintings on synagogue walls whose eyes follow you around the room wherever you go like black light posters. They are sagely men whose stern features speak of Eastern European Talmudic academies and lost traditions of lives spent learning in faraway places. As someone who looks more than a bit like a German tourist, Rabbi Andrea Myers is distinctly not the stereotypical rabbi. In I’LL BE HOME FOR PASSOVER, Andrea discusses what it means to survive and flourish on your own terms. For her, that means leaving behind her Lutheran upbringing, coming out as a lesbian, converting to Judaism, and becoming a rabbi. She sees her memoir as being part of the centuries old tradition of the tisch, rabbis telling their stories at the communal table. Hers is the story of a search for answers that often leads her to unlikely places, finding in the end that the answers might never matter as much as the questions. Andrea’s fantastic sense of humor combines with her expertise as a liberal Jewish professional to look at the experiences of a convert in an unprecedented way.

The Reagan years were flagging toward their conclusion, the stock market was flush, and an entire network geared toward sports had become a broadcast juggernaut. Money and fame and cocaine were there for the taking. This was 1986, and good men and women with untold potential were engaged in acts of self-destruction, from Oliver North to Ivan Boesky to Len Bias, the 22-year-old can’t-miss NBA prospect from Maryland whose death would forever change the way a generation viewed two All-American pursuits: sports and drugs. On June 17 at Madison Square Garden, the National Basketball Association gathered for its annual draft. What took place will forever be remembered as a prelude to disaster. Bias, picked second, died two days later. Chris Washburn, picked third, and Roy Tarpley, picked seventh, saw their careers dissipate amid drug use and petulant behavior. Others, like William Bedford, the sixth pick, and Dwayne Washington, picked 13th, were outright busts, great talents who never lived up to the possibilities. In fact, the best player in that draft turned out to be an unknown second-round pick from a school called Southeastern Oklahoma State, who would end his career as a comically exaggerated representative of the new school of athlete. His name? Dennis Rodman. In the tradition of David Halberstam’s October 1964 and Jonathan Mahler’s Ladies and Gentlemen, The Bronx Is Burning, Michael Weinreb‘s 1986 presents that year’s draft as a prism through which one can view both that year and an entire era in American history. Mistakes were made, a new attitude was born, and in the end both a nation and its athletes were forever altered, for better and for worse, by what took place.

Can a little Black girl from Flint, Michigan, rise from her segregated, blue-collar neighborhood to assume key positions at three Fortune 500 companies, including the top communications position at Starbucks, one of the most respected and admired brands in the world? The answer is yes and yes again. Over a nearly 30-year career, Wanda J. Herndon defied the odds and held top positions in the Michigan House of Representatives, the Dow Chemical Company, and the DuPont Company. Most recently, as Senior Vice President of Global Communications at Starbucks Coffee Company, Wanda earned global recognition as an expert in the field of corporate communications. With her impeccable professional credentials and ability to ‘keep it real’ with all people in all environments, Wanda is uniquely qualified to share the secrets to corporate success from an African-American woman’s point of view. DREADLOCKS IN THE BOARDROOM will give a demystifying account of the corporate environment and confirm there is a place for those who seek admittance to the boardroom even if they wear dreadlocks. From interactions with receptionists to CEOs to Hollywood stars, Wanda in her sometimes serious, other times humorous style will give a firsthand account of corporate life and what she learned while leading the communications functions of world-class companies. With its message of hope, courage and triumph, DREADLOCKS IN THE BOARDROOM will inspire others to ‘come as they are’ and seek entrance to corporate boardrooms. The author has declared that it’s ‘Wanda Time’ and will deliver an important, inspirational as well as entertaining business book for African-Americans in particular, but that also will resonate with all women (and maybe some men whose egos allow them to take advice from a woman).

Perennial bestseller Ann Rule and two-time Edgar winner Carlton Stowers both call Kathryn Casey one of the best writers in the true crime genre. She’s spent the last two decades reporting on crime across America, often focused on her home state of Texas. She’s an award-winning journalist, who’s reported on serial killers for magazines including Ladies’ Home Journal and on the murder of a Texas blues singer for Rolling Stone. Along the way, she has written four exceptional true crime books and appeared on Oprah, Dateline, Montel, A&E, and CourtTV. Now, Kathryn has plumbed her vast experience and turned her talents to fiction. Her first novel, SINGULARITY, tells the fascinating story of Lieutenant Sarah Armstrong, a Texas Ranger, profiler, and single mom, who’s called in on the most bizarre string of serial killings to ever hit the Lone Star State. Still reeling from the death of her husband, Armstrong is caught between the worlds of politics, big Texas money, and the need to stop a brutal, ritualistic murderer before he claims another victim. SINGULARITY catapults readers across Texas, from the mansions of Houston to the small towns of the Big Thicket. It is a phenomenal debut from a great talent who knows well of what she writes.

We have reached a time in human history in which we have unprecedented control over our genetic future: the idea of ‘designer genes’ and ‘designer babies’ is no longer science fiction. Susan Tannenbaum, MD, is a practicing Board-certified anatomic and clinical pathologist with a background in biology, immunology, and immuno-hematology. In her upcoming narrative work, she explores the possibility that couples and individuals will be drawn to the goal of producing a child designed to their exact specifications, not unlike designing their dream house, limited only by available reproductive technology. At this moment, couples searching for egg and sperm donors will accept only the best, at least in their terms. For example, donors of short stature or modest intelligence need not apply. Parents always want the best for their children, and will predictably try to replace their own unhealthy genes or gene combinations with healthier ones: for longevity, tall stature, thin physique, good vision, low cholesterol, and so forth. But there is a worm in this apple. Humans have learned through experience in agriculture that selective breeding, genetic manipulation, and, yes, eugenics, have resulted in unplanned problems in plant and farm animal populations. The same is true for our pets: just look at the inbred dogs that wind up with dislocated hips, lymphomas, and nasty tempers. Susan’s concern is that in our mad dash to achieve the supposedly perfect offspring, we will repeat the mistakes of the plant and animal breeders–what may be lost on our way toward the tall blond ideal?

In July of 2006, AP reporter Beth Harpaz contributed an article to a series for the service on parenting. Rather than the usual reportage, Beth offered her personal thoughts on raising a son, now 13. Reaction to the article was overwhelming, and she began to ponder expanding the story into a book. UNJUMPABLE SON: A MOTHER’S TAKE ON THE 13th YEAR is the funny, caustic, occasionally frightening result. Like it or not, 13 is the new 18. In an Erma-Bombeck-meets-David-Sedaris tone, Beth confronts head on the challenges of parenting, the time when knowing something is a normal part of development doesn’t make you any less likely to tear your hair out or sniff your offspring for any sign of illicit substances. She questions where the line is between dabbling in bad behavior and becoming an all-out juvenile delinquent who would have made it through adolescence if only he didn’t have a Terrible Mother. There are many books out there about the wonder, tenderness, and tedium of caring for young children, but there’s very little on coping with the terror of adolescence. UNJUMPABLE SON is like Marley and Me (only the dog is the author’s son), a warm, witty consideration of both the fun and the frustrations of parenthood.

When top Los Angeles restaurateur Allie Ko‘s marriage starts to unravel at age 37, rather than turn inward or rely on her girlfriends for advice, she does what comes naturally: she goes out to dinner. The twist is that her husband and business partner, celebrity Chef Jean Francois Meteigner of La Cachette, does the cooking while she shares meal after fabulous, four-star meal with other men. The other men are not lovers but friends whose colorful love lives start out as the subject of playful fascination and a welcome escape from Allie’s own problems. Soon, though, they become an unexpected (yet ideal) window into understanding the opposite sex and exploring the complexities surrounding her own troubled relationship with Jean Francois. In CONFESSIONS AT MY TABLE: Secrets Spilled over Food and Wine about Why Men Fall in Love, Allie puts her professional people skills to the ultimate test. By delving deep into the most intimate, honest, and often bizarre feelings of her guy friends, she places her own marriage under the microscope and asks how she and her husband can fall in love again or if it is even still worth trying. In what is a totally original approach to answering a timeless question, the journey promises to become required reading for anyone who has ever loved and lost or felt trapped inside a once fairy-tale relationship turned bad. (Please note, Jim McCarthy is the agent on this project.)

‘Loss of freedom is, without a doubt, a fate far, far worse than death.’ So begins the diary of Elspeth McGregor, found interred in the walls of a farmhouse in Scotland 400 years after it was written. Interwoven with the tale of her imprisonment and trial for witchcraft, midwife Elspeth narrates her life as it leads up to its unfortunate end. In doing so, she hopes that her daughter Sarah might know a way of life that is being destroyed by a dominant and foreign culture. DIARY OF A WITCH is a captivating tale: from Elspeth’s childhood spent learning the old ways from her mother Morag, to her journey from Scotland to England escaping persecution after her mother’s death, to the plague years in London with an actor husband who works with a playwright named Shakespeare, and on through her life as she comes to know firsthand both the joys and pains it offers. Colleen Passard‘s DIARY OF A WITCH is a tremendous and well researched historical novel. At turns enchanting and poignant, it is an evocative and compelling tale of a life filled with tremendous joy and terrible sorrow. (Please note that Lauren Abramo is the agent on this project.)

William Lilly is a hopeless gamer geek’an escapist in ratty black t-shirts, clutching a velvet dice bag. The more he escaped into comic books and games, the more his own wife, charismatic, pink-haired Tiger turned outward to social, sexual pursuits. Not that she had to turn all that far’Will and Tiger’s lovers Siouxie and Stephen share the House of Cats, the suburban commune the four polyamorous folks call home. And it’s all been leading up to Tiger’s brutal announcement in the middle of a road trip: ‘I just don’t see you as a primary anymore.’ Luckily for Will, their road trip is leading them to the rural township of Butterly, Oregon, to visit Tiger’s father and new stepmother. From the moment the geezer newlyweds fling open the door to welcome them, Tiger and Will both breathe a sigh of relief. It’s impossible not to see the glow of their love. Impossible not to feel jealous…and inspired. Is it possible that between games of D&D, nude hottub gatherings, and Buffy house-parties, Tiger and Will are missing out on the joys of monogamy. Are there joys in monogamy? Phoebe KitanidisBE MY YOKO ONO is a comic consideration of love, lust, and geekdom in an era of increasing lifestyle possibilities. (Please note, Jim McCarthy is the agent on this project.)

RIGHTS ROUNDUP

Kontinents purchased Latvian rights to David Morrell‘s Scavenger. World Polish rights to that title went to Albatros; RHK took Japanese rights; Droemer will publish the novel in Germany; Otovorena Knjiga took rights for Serbia and Montenegro; and World French rights went to Grasset. World Hebrew rights to Morrell‘s Creepers were bought by Odyssey Publishers. Three other David Morrell novels, Assumed Identity, Desperate Measures, and Extreme Denial were sold to Albatros in a World Polish deal. Jacqueline Carey‘s Kushiel’s Dart, Kushiel’s Chosen, and Kushiel’s Avatar sold to VGS in a World German deal. World Korean rights to Larry PhillipsZen and the Art of Poker were sold to Econ Publishers. Random House Korea bought World Korean rights to Barack Obama‘s Dreams from My Father.

First serial rights to Greg Smith‘s Mob Cops sold to the New York Daily News.

RECENT SALES

World rights to Rabbi Matthew Gewirtz‘s The Light at Our Core were sold to Lorena Jones at Ten Speed Press.

Stacey Glick sold World rights to Tilar Mazzeo‘s biography The Widow Clicquot to Genoveva Llosa at Collins.

Christel Winkler at Wiley purchased World rights to Gluten-Free Girl blogger Shauna JamesBeyond Wonder Bread from Stacey Glick.

Lonely Planet picked up World rights to Doug Lansky‘s Signspotting 2, the sequel to the bestselling original from agent Michael Bourret.

Michael Bourret also sold World rights to Bill Duggan‘s Strategic Intuition to Myles Thompson at Columbia University Press.

Melanie Charlton‘s organization guide on how to Shop Your Closet sold in a World rights deal to Anne Cole at Collins. Stacey Glick is the agent on this project.

Renowned chef Rick Tramonto‘s latest, Osteria Coobook, with Mary Goodbody, was bought by Jennifer Josephy at Broadway. The author retains British and translation rights.

Stacey Glick sold Jonathan Mayo ‘s account of what it is like Facing Clemens to Rob Kirkpatrick at Lyons Press in a World rights deal.

North American rights to T. Lynn Ocean ‘s next novel, Brokerage Sour, were purchased by Katie Gilligan at St. Martin’s. Stacey Glick is the agent on this project.

Ann Harris at Bantam bought North American rights to Dan Fagin‘s riveting expose about cancer clusters in Toms River.

Marc Songini‘s next title, a true account of a bloody mob conflict entitled The Boston Massacres, sold to Mark Resnick at St. Martin’s. The author retains British and translation rights.

Michael Bourret sold The Moon, a new picture book from celebrated author Anne Rockwell, to Emily Easton at Walker.

Bite Your Tongue, a second YA novel from Jamie Michaels, was purchased in a World rights deal by Krista Marino at Delacorte. Michael Bourret is the agent on this project.

North American rights to Alicia Rockmore and Sarah Welch‘s organization guide, Get Buttoned Up, were sold to Sheila Curry Oakes at St. Martin’s.

Stacey Glick sold World rights to Nicole Rees‘ cookbook Baking, Unplugged to Pam Chirls at Wiley.

Rachel Safier will be editing a collection entitled Boy Meets Girl for Jennifer Kushnier at Adams. Stacey Glick placed World rights to the book.

World rights to Christopher Flett ‘s informative What Men Don’t Tell Women about Business were bought by Emily Conway at Wiley.

Illustrator Joe Fenton‘s first children’s book, What’s Under the Bed?, was purchased by Justin Chanda at Atheneum. Michael Bourret is the agent on this project.

True crime author Carlton Smith ‘s two latest titles were bought by Charles Spicer at St. Martin’s. The author retains British and translation rights.

Justin Schwartz at Wiley bought World rights to Kim Haasarud‘s 101 Sangrias and 101 Champagne Cocktails from Michael Bourret.

Michael Bourret also sold World rights to Krista Marino at Delacorte for Antonio Pagliarulo‘s Night of Iago, putting a contemporary spin on the famous character.

Paulette Mitchell‘s omnibus, The 15-Minute Gourmet, was sold to Pamela Clements at Rutledge Hill in a World rights deal.

Valerie Cimino of Harvard Common Press bought World rights to Hallie Harron‘s cookbook Cheese Hors d’Oeuvres from Stacey Glick.

Stacey Glick also sold Betsy Block ‘s Mama Cooks to Antonia Fusco at Algonquin in a World rights deal.

Lauren Abramo sold World rights to Bear Heart Williams‘s spiritual memoir, The Bear is My Father, to Paulette Millichap at Council Oak Books.

Larry Rosen‘s Me, MySpace and I was purchased by Amanda Johnson Moon of Palgrave from Stacey Glick in a World rights deal.

Two true crime titles from Michele McPhee , about a murder on Cape Cod and the Entwhistle case, were purchased by Charles Spicer at St. Martin’s. The author retains British and translation rights.

Away Games, a memoir about basketball and Prague by Dave Fromm, sold to Mark Weinstein at Skyhorse Publishing in a World rights deal. Lauren Abramo is the agent on this project.

Frank McClelland and Christie Matheson‘s Wine Mondays was sold to Valerie Cimino at Harvard Common Press by Stacey Glick.

Christie Matheson is also the author of Green is the New Black, an eco-chic book that sold in a World rights deal to Shana Drehs at Sourcebooks by Stacey Glick.

True crime author Thomas Henderson ‘s next two titles, on the Mercer and the Unger cases, sold to Charles Spicer at St. Martin’s.

Orangette by popular blogger Molly Wizenberg was purchased by Sydny Miner at Simon & Schuster in a World rights deal by Michael Bourret.

Cynthia Sherry at Chicago Review Press bought World rights to Gerald Callahan‘s intriguing look at gender, Aphrodite’s Children.

Lauren Abramo sold A Book for All Seasons , an Alzheimer’s workbook by Cynthia Green and Joan Beloff, to Wendy Harris at Johns Hopkins University Press. The authors retain British and translation rights.