Newsletter 47: January 2010

Up and Coming for Submission

In 1998, when art collector Peter Silverman first laid eyes on the portrait of a young woman in a Christie’s catalog, he felt a deep twinge of love and longing. Listed as “German, early 19th Century,” the 9-by-13 inch drawing in chalk, pen and ink on vellum, mounted on an oak board, was undeniably lovely. But Silverman was also fairly certain it was not nineteenth century at all, but rather fifteenth century. Beyond that he was afraid to contemplate. “I didn’t dare speak the L word,” he recalls. (L as in Leonardo, as in da Vinci.) It didn’t matter in any case, because this one got away. Silverman was the underbidder at the auction; the winning bid of $22,850, was received by Kate Ganz, a prominent New York art dealer. But Silverman never stopped thinking about the drawing. It haunted his dreams. Nine years later, he was browsing in Ganz’s gallery when his heart nearly stopped. There it was. There she was. The drawing, which would later be titled “La Bella Principessa,” sat in the gallery with a price tag very close to the original 1998 auction price. THE LOST PRINCESS, written with Kathy Silverman, is the story of how Peter Silverman acquired his princess and then went on to prove without a doubt that it was a lost drawing by Leonardo da Vinci. The book will include illustrations and photographs of the work, “La Bella Principessa,” which is currently in a bank vault and now tentatively valued at $150 million, as well as forensic photographs showing da Vinci’s fingerprint and palm print. A riveting tale, THE LOST PRINCESS blends passion and science with an astounding conclusion and will delve into the advanced forensic technology that ultimately revealed the truth of the drawing’s origins. But the heart of the story and its true drama lie in the eye of the beholder—in this case an experienced and impassioned art professional who could still believe in miracles.

IF SONS, THEN HEIRS opens in Philadelphia with 30-year-old Rayne Needham heading to South Carolina to visit the great-grandmother who raised him on the family’s small farm. Nana Selma has kept the land that her husband lived—and died for—and cherishes the idea that Rayne will take it over. But the farm is “heir property”—land once given to ex-slaves by General Sherman after the Civil War. These properties are governed by laws that make them hard to keep over the generations, especially for families like the Needhams, who have scattered around the country—and the family soon learns that they are not the only ones who covet their ancestral land. Rayne has his own life in progress: a construction business just awarded its first city contract; the mother who abandoned him, who has just come back into his life; a grandfather in prison; and the beautiful girlfriend, to whom he’s afraid to commit; and her young son, who son has begun to call him Dad. With intimacy and compassion, acclaimed author Lorene Cary has crafted a beautiful and sprawling family saga about the power of family secrets, the hard legacy of lynching and segregation, and the resilience of the human spirit.

For all of its woes, Detroit is a place defined by startling human dimensions. It began in the 1600s as a French trading post and farm village. It became a fur trading hub, then an industrial center, first making kitchen stoves and, eventually, cars. Dreams grew along with the industry, and Detroit became a beacon of hope for blacks fleeing rural Southern poverty – and the Klan – in the 1920s to the American Dream it embodied for waves of immigrants eager to work in factories bearing the names Ford, Chrysler and Chevrolet. Detroit is a story, now, of dreams dashed. In October of 2009, journalist Scott Martelle saw an article about the City of Detroit’s plan to use $5 million in federal stimulus money to help 3,500 families stave off foreclosure and keep the lights and heat on heading into winter. In a mark of how deeply into depression Detroit has fallen, as many as 50,000 people showed up to apply for the program, forming a sprawling, brawling mass of financial desperation in what was once the nation’s economic engine. DETROIT: A BIOGRAPHY is a narrative of the city through the stories of the people who live there. Through them, Martelle will describe how its collapse has come through a mix of corporate hubris, globalization and ill-conceived government policies overlaid with the same racial and class divides that exist in all of our major cities. A sweeping and compelling look at the disintegration of this great city, it is a story that resonates far beyond the Rust Belt.

In 1981, ten-week-old Abigail came home with Sydney Eddison from Storrs, Connecticut with a certified pedigree and information about joining the Jack Russell Terrier Club of America. Sydney found it necessary to do so within a week. Short of leg but long on personality, Abby changed the writer’s life, and she quickly learned that these creatures are – in a word – special. Now, having survived nearly thirty years of the engaging, impossible dogs, she shares her story with its ups and downs, hilarity and frustration, joy and sadness in A REIGN OF TERRIERS. With warmth and loves she brings to life the enjoyment and exasperation she has had living with this happy breed. Independent and brutally honest, they have a limited interest in pleasing the people who wait on them but at the same time, they are fiercely loyal and would defend their owners the death. They are off-the-charts intelligent, but obedience training is an oxymoron. They don’t obey commands, they make deals. They also make people laugh. It’s these and other personality traits that have endeared them to so many, and Eddison will expound on them all and share why there is much more to these dogs than their obvious charms.

When Catherine Whitney moved to picture-perfect Grand View-on-Hudson, a riverside community north of Manhattan, she thought she’d been dropped onto a bizarre post-feminist planet. In particular, she noticed that the women of her neighborhood were everywhere during the traditional working hours, except joining their harried husbands on the slow bus to Manhattan. She saw them as early as 6:00 a.m., jogging down the road pushing power strollers, their sleeping infants bobbing gently on ergonomic cushions. She saw them at 7:00, in sweats or sometimes nightgowns, kissing their commuting spouses goodbye. She saw them at noon, planting roses and weeding their fertile lawns, and then again at 3:00, lining the road to await the school bus’s return. By day, Grand View-on-Hudson was a woman’s place, landscaped in traditional scenes. It wasn’t exactly Betty Crocker’s neighborhood, but it felt weirdly anachronistic. The funny thing is, Grand View-on-Hudson had once been ground zero for the feminist movement. A five minute walk down the road from Whitney’s house was the stately Victorian where nearly fifty years ago Betty Friedan, a self-described “housewife,” mother and writer penned The Feminine Mystique, a manifesto of women’s liberation. When Whitney first learned of the house’s historical chops, she wondered why there was no plaque announcing its famous ghost. It didn’t take long to unravel that mystery. Betty, it seems, was not a very popular neighbor. She soon found evidence that Betty’s contemporaries were less offended by the message than by the messenger. Betty was strident, disruptive and difficult, and her loud, sometimes physical, altercations with her husband raised many eyebrows on the road, as did her unconventional parenting style. Legend has it that she was banned from carpool duty after she sent a taxi—a taxi!—to pick up the kids from an after school program. Forty-seven years after Betty wrote The Feminine Mystique, an elderly gent on the road, who was once her neighbor, dismissed her legacy with two words: “She drank.” In BETTY AND ME: AN IRREVERNT TRIP THROUGH FEMINISM’S NEIGHBORHOOD, THEN AND NOW, Whitney contemplates the differences between Betty’s day and the current scene in Grand View-on-Hudson, and the odd and disquieting time warp that exists there. Along the way she’ll explore the many questions that plagued her as she channeled the ghost of Betty: Were women any different than they’d been nearly fifty years ago? Were they still torn and tormented by the dissonance between achieving personal fulfillment and meeting family responsibilities? If they could afford to, would women abandon work? And what might she learn from her own life and the lives of women around her, still struggling after all these years to have it all?

When Jeremy Gerard visited his father’s mistress on the kibbutz in northern Israel where she was dying of cancer, he noticed a gold wedding band on the ring finger of her right hand. “I had it made from jewelry your Dad gave me,” she said quietly, as her husband pushed an old wheelbarrow around the garden outside. Her affair with Gerard’s father began when he was a teenager, but it had ended thirty years ago. While this woman had chosen to wear the symbol of that affair for the rest of her life, Gerard, an editor, cultural critic and reporter at Bloomberg News, had wrestled with the legacy of his tormented father, a charismatic teacher whose demons included violence, alcoholism, infidelity, grandiose dreams and humiliating failures, all of which crippled his four sons. MY FATHER’S MISTRESS opens with the stunning realization that gives the book its title, follows Gerard’s detective work as he pieces together a family history rife with deception and trauma, and traces the inspirational saga of his search to understand its impact on his life and those of his brothers. A coming-of-age tale, this unflinchingly honest memoir will resonate with every man who grew up with a father whose public persona concealed darker truths – and with every woman who has tried to love such a man.

For years, Elena Azzoni had been perfectly at home with her sexual status and had not looked twice at a man. A coming-out story, two long-term girlfriends and one tiara to her name, she was a genuine lesbian. She was, in fact, Miss Lez. For each year, New York’s foremost celebrity drag king, Murray Hill, hosts a lesbian beauty pageant – a contest she had won in front of a packed room of 300 cheering attendees that led to magazine and news interviews, photo requests, a stint on the LOGO Channel, invites to elite social gatherings and sold-out performances to her one-woman show. Then came The Adjustment. A hot yoga class with an even hotter instructor awakened a physical need inside of her. Confused, embarrassed, but also insatiably curious, Elena set out on a man-dating adventure. In A YEAR STRAIGHT she chronicles her first year of dating men – a year during which absurdly inconceivable and embarrassing scenarios unfold. Uproariously funny and, at times, cringe-worthy, Azzoni’s journey of rediscovery is a deliciously twisted romp into her zany dating exploits.

Born into a privileged but emotionally dysfunctional family, Gianni Agnelli was a heady mix of Renaissance prince, roving foreign ambassador, captain of industry, elder statesman, bon vivant, womanizer and consummate political string-puller. In 1985, Agnelli was arguably at the height of his influence. He had taken Fiat on a dizzying expansion spree into European and US markets, and had brought pizzazz to the stodgy brand by buying Ferrari and Alfa Romeo. When Italy-based foreign correspondent Jennifer Clark crossed paths with the Fiat chief at an industry dinner, she was struck by how elegantly he wore the mantle of being Italy’s most powerful businessman. What wasn’t clear back in the mid-1980s was that Gianni Agnelli’s strategy to diversify out of Fiat’s core car business into media, banking and insurance would, by the time of his death in 2003, have placed the company so gravely at risk that the family almost lost control. THE AGNELLI DYNASTY is the gripping story of how the Agnellis built Fiat into a leading international automaker and of how they almost lost it; of how the manager that saved Fiat for the Agnellis has now staked the company’s future on a risky alliance with Chrysler; and of how the latest generation of this proud family has been plunged into chaos by an inheritance trial in a Turin court that pits Agnelli’s daughter Margherita against the rest of the clan. In this gripping high-stakes narrative, Clark will unlock the hidden dynamics of one of Europe’s most powerful families, at a time when it has become a driving force in the U.S. auto industry.

Just a few short months ago, New York City’s Burger of the Month Club consisted of, and existed for, its seven members. Following featured stories in the New York Times and on the Today show, the group has become an international phenomenon, attracting attention throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, Australia, Switzerland, Tokyo and Singapore. Why so much interest? What exactly is so special about seven guys who get together once a month for a burger? Trained food critics they are not. In fact, standing in a cramped subway on the way to work each morning, you could not pick any one of them out of a crowd. In THE BURGER OF THE MONTH CLUB, Jason Beckerman and his friends will describe how, for over five years, on the third Monday of every month, they throw aside all of the monotony and worry of their everyday lives to sit down and share a burger and beer together. With a focus on the best burgers and restaurants they’ve visited and listed on their website, www.BurgerRankings.com, this delightful book celebrates both the bonds of friendships and the quest for the perfect burger. Flavored with the interesting people they’ve met, including chefs, celebrities and women, and the crazy stories that have happened to them along the path to burger notoriety, they will bring new meaning to something many of us take for granted – the company of good friends.

Wedding receptions often follow the same old patterns. Sure, the prayers are different, but after the “I dos” the receptions are pretty much the same. They all have the traditional elements: the best man speech, the maid of honor speech, and of course the couple’s first dance. For NPR correspondent Rob Sachs and his wife Anna, there were only two types of weddings— ones that were conducted by rabbis and ones that were conducted by priests. When Rob realized there were many more traditions out there than the ones they had attended, and more ceremonies and parties that celebrate tradition and culture, he came up with what he thought was an ingenious plan: What if he and Anna set out on a quest to find these different customs? And then, what if they incorporated them as they renew their vows in ten distinct ceremonies that follow these traditions? Crazy, right? Lucky for him, Anna didn’t think so. In MARRY ME TEN TIMES OVER: A JOURNEY THROUGH THE WORLD’S MARRIAGE CUSTOMS, the couple celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary by doing just that. Among the traditions they explore are Buddhist, Jewish Orthodox, Sufi, Quaker, Navajo, Metaphysical, Hindu and African wedding ceremonies. In this fascinating undertaking, Sachs will share the meaningful insights he has garnered along the way by highlighting the commonalties that we all share and celebrating the differences.

Know-it-alls who are short on knowledge have always had a loud voice in America. But today, they’ve proliferated and their sounds can be deafening and inescapable. Cable news pundits, bloggers, politicians, conspiracy theorists, and everyday people constantly engage in false certainty—often without even being aware of it. Tomorrow, there’s a fair chance that you’ll see two people arguing with bitter, absolute certainty about the intricacies of global warming—never mind that neither of them could really tell you the difference between sleet and hail. When Darwin said, “ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge,” he might as well as been talking about almost any online forum or message board. The democratization of the Internet is just one factor that’s fueling it. It’s no secret that the clever and erroneous voices can easily push out reasoned viewpoints in competing for fleeting insta-fame. In a time when attention and volume trump fact, COCKSURE AND STONE STUPID, by admitted and hopeless know-it-all Ron Geraci, will serve as tactical handbook and humorous epistemology primer. It will launch a scathing assault against the spreading annoyance of false certainty and the loudmouths who peddle it and investigate why, in today’s day and age when anyone can be instantly fact-checked, we continue to argue ideological points of view and get it wrong, time after time, when it comes to the facts.

Darwen Arkwright is a twelve-year-old English orphan with coffee-colored skin who has recently been brought to the States after the death of his parents. Living with his Aunt Honoria, a well-meaning but cold workaholic with no kids, Darwen starts attending Atlanta’s fancy—and utterly joyless—Hillside Academy. He has trouble fitting in, but soon finds himself unexpectedly in pursuit of a mysterious bird which seems to be calling to him. The bird guides him to an old mirror shop at the back of a mall where he meets the curious shopkeeper—Mr. Octavius Peregrine—and is encouraged to take home one of his equally curious mirrors. To Darwen’s astonishment he finds that after nightfall the mirror becomes a kind of doorway to a strange and beautiful world of forest, elegant machinery and tiny fairy-like creatures with mechanical wings. Other things live in the Mirror World too, however — hulking, terrible creatures which seem bent on its destruction and which are working to cross over into the real world in their quest for a particular kind of energy derived from human children. Darwen and his misfit friends from Hillside are the only line of defense and any success will require dangerous trips to the Mirror World and the unraveling of ancient mysteries, even as they try to survive Hillside’s classes, teachers and bullies, some of whom might also be linked to this dark other world. For Darwen, victory will require more than skill and courage. It will demand that he learns about his own strengths, some of which are bound to things from his past which he has heretofore thought too painful to consider. THE OLD MIRROR SHOPPE, the first middle grade novel by bestselling adult author A.J. Hartley is a tour de force that will delight, enchant, and inspire younger readers while seamlessly crossing over into the adult market as well. (Please note: This project is represented by Stacey Glick.)

VISION QUEST, by former Days of Our Lives actress, Deborah Lytton, is a new young adult paranormal romantic thriller destined to keep you reading late into the night. Fourteen-year-old Natasha is cursed, or so she thinks. Her whole life, she has known she was different, because of her visions. Natasha sees the future. And it is during one of her visions that she sees she is about to die. Natasha is then kidnapped from her foster home and taken to a mysterious underground cave in the Arizona desert. There she will discover that her captors are actually her rescuers. Galina, Alexander and their adopted fifteen-year-old son, Chayton, have saved her life from the man who is trying to kill her. With her new friends to help her, Natasha learns to accept her visions as a gift, rather than a curse. And she learns to use her power in ways she never thought possible. She also discovers that despite her initial hatred for him, she has developed feelings for Chayton. She has fallen in love with the one person who, because of his own troubled past, can never love her back. On a journey that will take her from the Arizona desert to a foreboding castle in France, Natasha will have to disguise not only her outside self but her inner self in order to find her real mother and save her from the man who wants to kill them both.  There is only one way to survive, and she’ll have to use her greatest weapon–her mind. But time is running out, and she may be too late. (Please note: This project is represented by Stacey Glick.)

RIGHTS ROUNDUP

Innovative Publishing & Culture bought Vietnamese rights and Pearl Publishing took Thai rights to the first four books in Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy series: VAMPIRE ACADEMY, FROSTBITE, SHADOW KISS and BLOOD PROMISE. Kinneret purchased Hebrew rights and Borgens bought Danish rights to the first two books in the series. German publisher Egmont/Lyx will publish BLOOD PROMISE, along with the next two, SPIRIT BOUND and an as-yet-untitled book. Simplified Chinese rights to Jack Kilborn’s AFRAID went to Shanghai Literature and Art Publishing House. THE MAZE RUNNER, THE SCORCH TRIALS and THE DEATH CURE by James Dashner were purchased for publication in Brazil by V&R Editora (Brazil). The first book in the series will be published in the United Kingdom by Chicken House/Scholastic; V&R Editora purchased North and Latin American Spanish rights; Chicken House Deutschland will publish the German language edition and Nocturna will publish the book in Spain. AJ Hartley’s THE MASK OF ATREUS will be published Alnari in Serbia. La Factoria de Ideas purchased Spanish rights to Hartley’s WHAT TIME DEVOURS. Eksmo purchased the rights to that and ON THE FIFTH DAY for publication in Russia. All three will be published in Turkey by Alfa. Boogle Books picked up Korean rights to Phyllis Chesler’s WOMAN’S INHUMANITY TO WOMAN. Simplified Chinese rights to Susan RoAne’s FACE TO FACE went to Gold Wall Press. THE SHIMMER by David Morrell will be published in Hebrew by Odyssey. Roger & Bernhard will publish the German edition of William Gurstelle’s ABSINTHE & FLAMETHROWERS.

Audible bought audio rights to Victoria Laurie’s Psychic Eye series, including: ABBY COOPER, PSYCHIC EYE; BETTER READ THAN DEAD; A VISION OF MURDER; KILLER INSIGHT; CRIME SEEN; DEATH PERCEPTION; DOOM WITH A VIEW and an eighth, as-yet-untitled book. They will also publish her Ghost Hunter series, including the titles: WHAT’S A GHOULD TO DO?; DEMONS ARE A GHOULS BEST FRIEND; GHOULS JUST HAUNT TO HAVE FUN and GHOULS GONE WILD.

RECENT SALES

Maureen Sullivan at Dutton Children’s Books bought Heather Brewer’s five book series The Slayer Journals, the spin-off to The Chronicles of Vladamir Todd series in a North American deal by Michael Bourret.

UNWANTEDS by Lisa McMann sold to Jennifer Klonsky at Simon Pulse in two book World rights deal by Michael Bourret.

World rights for SIMPLY TO WELL DONE by Aaron McCargo, Jr. with Mary Goodbody went to Justin Schwartz at Wiley.

Lauren Abramo sold North American rights to Fran Hawthorne’s THE COMPANIES WE LOVE to Allison Trzop at Beacon Press.

Aaron Wehner at Ten Speed purchased World rights to Brad Thomas Parsons’ BITTERS from Michael Bourret.

RAPTURE PRACTICE, Aaron Hartzler’s humorous memoir of growing up in a fundamentalist Christian home, went to Jennifer Hunt at Little Brown Books for Young Readers in a World English deal by Michael Bourret.

Edward Engoron’s CHOCLATIQUE, written with Mary Goodbody, sold to Geoffrey Stone at Running Press in a World English deal.

World rights to SIMPLE ASIAN MEALS by Nina Simonds sold to Pam Krauss at Rodale.

SANTITOS AT LARGE by Jacqueline Carey went to Jaime Levine at Grand Central in a World English deal.

North American rights to Mike Edison’s DIRTY, DIRTY, DIRTY, an irreverent history of pornographic magazines in American culture, went to Denise Oswald at Soft Skull Press.

Colin Broderick’s memoir of his troubled childhood in Northern Ireland, THAT’S THAT, sold in a North American deal to Emily Timberlake at Three Rivers Press.

Andra Miller at Algonquin bought World rights to THE SILVER GIRL, a new novel by award-winning author Tayari Jones.

Stacey Glick sold World rights to Shirley Damsgaard’s DIE STANDING to Emily Krump at Avon.

North American rights to PIZZA AND FLATBREAD IN 5 MINUTES A DAY by Jeffrey Hertzberg and Zoë François went to Pete Wolverton at St. Martin’s Press.

World rights to Robin Mather’s THE FEAST NEARBY went to Aaron Wehner at Ten Speed Press.

Anne Stuart’s (Should we use her pseudonym, Kristina Douglas?) RAZIEL was sold to Abby Zidle at Pocket Books in a two book, North American rights deal.

FEARLESS FAIR ISLE by Kathi Taylor was sold to Erica Sanders-Foege by Stacey Glick in a World rights deal.

PACIFIC AIR by David Sears went to Bob Pigeon at Da Capo Press in a World rights deal by Jim McCarthy.

World rights to SUGAR, SUGAR by Kimberly Reiner and Jenna Sanz-Agero sold to Lane Butler at Andrews McMeel.

Will Hinton at HarperCollins acquired North American rights to Kathryn Casey’s latest as-yet-untitled true crime on the murder of Keri Baker.

Barbara Kelley and Shannon Kelley’s UNDECIDED sold to Krista Lyons-Gould at Seal Press by Jessica Papin. The authors retain British and translation rights.

HOW BILL O’REILLY SAVED CHRISTMAS by political blogger Michael Wolraich was purchased by Bob Pigeon in a World rights deal.

Jessica Papin sold JACKPOT by Jason Ryan to Keith Wallman at Lyons Press in a World rights deal.

North American rights to Francis P. Arena and Tanya Bastianich Manuali’s REFLECTIONS OF THE BREAST went to John Colby at Brick Tower Press.

Michael Bourret sold World rights to Joelle Anthony’s THE RIGHT AND REAL to Stacey Barney at Putnam Books for Young Readers.

Alan Rinzler at Jossey-Bass purchased World rights to Alan M. Singer’s CREATING YOUR PERFECT FAMILY SIZE from Stacey Glick.

World English rights to SLEEPWALKING by Amy Huntington sold to Tara Weikum at HarperCollin’s Children’s by Stacey Glick in a three book deal.

THE FIVER PERCENT SOLUTION by Peter Coleman was purchased by Clive Priddle at PublicAffairs from Jessica Papin in a World English deal.