It would be wrong to say that Bud Shrake has finished writing one third of a new novel; it’s actually an old novel, one he has been writing off and on for the past fifteen years. “It’s about love, violence, sex, and murder,” the 65-year-old Austinite explains, and is set in the Republic of Texas in 1839; characters include a land-crazed lawyer, a land speculator, and Sam Houston. Look for the book to be published by Simon and Schuster next year.

Houston’s Kathleen Cambor is tight-lipped about her own novel-in-progress, the follow-up to her acclaimed debut, The Book of Mercy; all she’ll say is that it’s about “the relationship between philanthropy and guilt, between robber barons and working people.” Cambor plans to turn in a draft to her publisher, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, by this summer, when she takes over the University of Houston’s creative writing program.

Killer Gorgeous must be a beaut. Although it won’t be out until next month, Fort Worth novelist Jane Holleman’s debut—about a rich woman who wants to die, so she asks a gangster to murder her—has won her a multibook deal from Simon and Schuster. She has already penned Hell’s Belle, due out by year’s end, about a woman who sleeps with married men and kills them for their infidelities. “I’ve written it,” she says, “on behalf of everyone who has ever been a cheated-on wife or a mistress.”