San Antonio poet, essayist, and anthologist Naomi Shihab Nye is completing work on her first novel. The protagonist of Habibi (Simon and Schuster) is an Arab American teenage girl in present-day Jerusalem. The book is based, Nye says, on her own “travels and travails before coming to Texas” and explores “the mysterious brew of love, politics, and identity in growing up.” Habibi—the title is the Arabic word for “darling”—will be published next spring.…Coming in November from Bastrop’s Carolyn Banks is A Horse to Die For (Fawcett), the fifth novel in a series of comic mysteries she describes as “murder-tra-la,” where the mostly bloodless crime is really an excuse for characters to speculate about whodunit. This time the heroine, Robin Vaughan, notices that the horse her best friend has gotten for Christmas looks eerily similar to one that supposedly succumbed while she was stable-sitting.…Lars Eighner, the Austin-based author of Travels With Lizbeth, is at work on a comic novel to be published next year. As yet untitled, it features characters of the crusading sort: One is committed to banning romance novels, which he believes are the root cause of problems between the sexes. Another is convinced that what the world really needs is “a Jewish studs calendar.” And yet another is courting the protagonist’s bulimic mother and wants to fatten her up: “I’ve seen her binge. If she would just stop purging…”