Two Months Until Novel #5

ARCMy next full-length novel will release on November 5–less than two months away now. I’m excited to introduce readers to the Harpes and McLeans–feuding families in southern West Virginia. I found it oddly refreshing to write a character who’s . . . well . . . a little bit terrible. Inventing Serepta McLean was the most fun I’ve had writing a story. Here’s hoping she turns out alright. Eventually.

And here’s a snippet featuring the heads of each clan. I hope it whets your appetite for When Silence Sings.

Several men led by Webb Harpe rode horses up to the steps. One circled the house as if to see who might be hiding in the dairy, the smokehouse, or the corncrib. Serepta stared her enemy down.

“We’re looking for my nephew,” Webb said.

“And you thought he’d be here?” Serepta braced her hands on her hips, pushing her jacket back a notch as she did so.

Webb’s eyes flicked to her pistol and then back to her face. He might doubt any other woman’s willingness to shoot him, but not hers.

“Colman was on his way to White Sulphur Springs by train when he went missing not so far from here. Seemed like a good place to check.”

“Ah, the one who fancies himself a preacher.” She sneered. “Did you think he’d come and try to save my soul?”

“Some things aren’t worth saving.”

Serepta wanted to laugh. As if such shallow words could wound her. Instead, she leveled her cool gaze on Webb and waited. Sometimes silence was the most meaningful response.

“You got Jake in there with you?”

Ah-ha. Now Webb had revealed his true intent. “What business is that of yours?”

“He killed my boy.”

“That he did.”

Webb spit and narrowed his eyes. “Can’t let him get away with something like that.”

Serepta kept her peace.

“I’m betting if it’d been the other way around and your boy was the one dead, you’d be hunting his killer.”

Serepta slowly lifted her chin and looked down her nose at Webb. “My boy would have had the sense not to get killed.”

Webb’s jaw clenched, and she could see a vein popping out on his forehead. Good. Angry men made mistakes.

The horse he was riding sidestepped, and Webb got a gleam in his eye. “Had any liquor go missing lately? Guess somebody didn’t have the sense to keep that from happening.”

Now it was Serepta’s turn to grit her teeth. But she wouldn’t let this buffoon push her into doing anything foolish. “Liquor’s a lot easier to replace than a son. Maybe you’d better start looking to replace that wife of yours with one young enough to make you another heir.” She heard Charlie grunt but didn’t acknowledge the sound. It was too far, she knew it, but she would not let this man best her even when it came to cruel words.

Webb’s face paled, then flushed scarlet. He reined his horse around. “Come on, fellers. We’ve got a man to hunt and kill.”

It was as though the words they’d spoken still hung there in the chill spring air. And they left Serepta cold—her words almost as much as Webb’s.

Categories: Appalachian, Reading, Writing

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