Heather Gray

Flawed...but loved anyway.

header photo

Wordy Wednesday

Hi Everyone!

Welcome to Wordy Wednesday!  Share an excerpt fewer than 500 words from your family friendly book in the comments below.  Be sure to include the title and one buy link.  Then go spread the word about this post so even more people will find it.

Happy reading (and writing)!!


An Informal Christmas - Click to Buy

Rylie ran for the elevator. A man in a faded denim jacket stood inside with the back curve of his left shoulder facing her. He didn’t acknowledge her high-speed sprint in his direction. Nor did he stop the two brushed steel panels from sliding closed between them.

She thought of pushing the button and forcing the doors to reopen. Honestly, though, did she want to get stuck in a metal box with a man who didn’t care about basic courtesy toward his fellow mankind? Not likely. Rylie huffed out an exasperated breath as she started up the stairs. Three flights up. It could be worse.

With a shove to the door, she exited the stairwell and stood on a narrow landing with skylights above and a view of the hospital’s lobby below. Ten steps to the left, and she broke through to the hallway-of-no-return. Nobody came up to this floor unless they worked in one of the three departments exiled here. The first door belonged to the chaplaincy. The second led to the main office for the hospital social workers. The third door, decorated with construction paper butterflies and cotton ball caterpillars, was home sweet home — Child Life.

“I can’t believe how rude people have become!” Rylie vented about the man in the elevator as she stepped past the colorful decorations and into her domain. Suzie, the part-time department head who kept their ship running tighter than junior size spandex on a burly linebacker, wasn’t at her desk. Their offices were anything but spacious, though, so she was likely still within hearing distance. After all, what was a good venting without someone to listen?

“I was running for the elevator, but the guy inside didn’t even wait for me. He let the doors slide closed. Because obviously it wasn’t big enough for two of us.” She left out the part about his back being to her. Absolving him of guilt wasn’t high on her priority list at the moment.

Suzie emerged from The Vault, a nether region of their office used for storage. She dusted her hands off and frowned at Rylie. “We have company.” She waved at the man following behind her. “This is Mr. York. He brought several boxes of stuffed animals for our kids.”

No way. Not… Lots of guys wore denim jackets, right? It couldn’t be the same…

“Sorry about the elevator. I got wedged into position by my dolly. I thought I heard someone calling, but by the time I turned myself around, the doors were closed and I was on my way up here.” His voice reminded her of a lemon tart, decadent smoothness with a sharp aftertaste. For some reason, she found herself tempted to savor the sound rather than pucker. Too bad her mind was already made up about him. He might have proven interesting.

Go Back

The anthology "Everbloom: Stories of Living Deeply Rooted and Transformed Living" is now complete and ready for release! It's a beautiful collection of essays, stories and poetry to encourage and come alongside women in all seasons of life.


Here is a sampling of some of the writing....

"But here is the surprising thing we learn from the tree: We know more than we think. We have lived through more than we acknowledge. We are stronger than we realize. Each of our experiences adds a ring to our tree...There is a generation of saplings who need a forest of people with their many-storied rings, each telling of God's redeeming grace." (Bronwyn Lea, p. 98)

"Above the noise, my voice starts to rise
Amplified by travel companions emptied of pride
Beyond care of critical eyes I write with freedom and joy
Now journeying, yet sheltered, under the Master's family eye." (Sharon Hoover, p. 85)

"Surely there's more to feeling good about ourselves than feeling good about ourselves. I think there is. I see it on the faces of a few women I know in their seventies and eighties, women with wide waists, sagging chests, and creased, smiling faces, faces brightly turned to others. These women who feel good about themselves, but clearly they feel even better about others." (Lesley Leland Fields, p. 176)

"Strength. Courage. Endurance. There are the attributes of my maternal grandmother...She was a true survivor and woman of great faith. Hers was not an easy journey, and that journey continues to speak into my life and inspire me decades later; and it always will..." (Terri Kraus, p. 198)

"A trinity of capacity
Expanding dimension and scope
A magnitude of out-of-proportion love
A bigger on the inside kind of love ..." (Tammy Perlmutter, p. 223)

"You may not identify yourself as an advocate any more than I did, but God has given you unique experiences, preferences, pains, and passions. And you, too, can grow into them as expressions of faith and hope in God." (April Yamasaki, p. 125)

Heather, I have read your Wordy Wednesday excerpts every chance I get. I really liked this one. I wish you much success in all you do, in all you write.

"Unexpected Allies and Recurring Warts"


Ruth watched the tan of the tree trunks as they went flying past. Then the white of a sign caught her eye, “FREE KITTENS,” it read. “Dad!” she shouted, squirming in her seat like a five-year-old promised a newfangled toy.
“What, hon’?” He asked.
“Kittens!” She pointed at the sign as they went zooming past.
He didn’t say anything but glanced at her briefly with an accommodating smile. They turned around in a nearby driveway and then pulled into the drive where the sign was located. Ruth was out of the car before the engine was turned off, her excitement bubbling over, but she waited for her father to get to the front door so he could ring the doorbell. A middle-aged man with high cheekbones, sandy blonde hair, and brown eyes answered the door. “Here fer the kittens?” he asked them.
Ruth nodded eagerly.
“Follow me.” He led them out to a shed where there was a box stuffed with old towels and two meowing kittens. “There’s two more ‘round here somewheres.” He looked around, pushing some boxes here and there until he found an orange tabby. “Here’s one.” He brought it back and deposited it in the box.
The two already in the box were wrestling with each other. One was another fully orange tabby and the other was orange with white spots on his tail, paws, and chest. Ruth knelt by the box to pick up the adventurous tabby that had been returned to the group.
“How old are they?” Her father asked.
“About eight weeks,” the gentleman replied. “I’m Jason Smith by the way.”
“Nice to meet you, Jason.” Her father firmly shook hands with him.
Ruth gently scratched the kitten she was holding on the top of its head. It meowed softly and placed a paw lightly on her shoulder. It turned little green eyes to look up at her and meowed again. It shivered a little, as if frightened. Ruth held it closer and continued to pet the ball of fluff, hoping the attention would soothe it.
Ruth looked up as she heard a loud, helpless, drawling meow. “I think I hear the missing kitten.”
“Yeah, he’s always getting’ inta trouble.” Jason scratched his head for a moment and they all went quiet.
The meow was heard again, equally as loud, but somehow more demanding. It was a clear cry for help, but not a meager pleading one, it sounded more as if he was saying, “Why haven’t you gotten me out yet?”
Jason went toward some shelves in the back of the shed where the sound seemed to be coming from. He moved some boxes, tools, and miscellaneous junk around until he found a little orange and white head along with a white paw sticking out from a corner. He moved a box aside to reveal a ginger and white kitten with its head and leg protruding from a box of throw-out rags.

Next Door to a Star (Contemporary clean young adult fiction)
by Krysten Lindsay Hager



Charlotte called later and asked if I wanted to go with her to the party tomorrow .I went to put on my fake tan and imagined myself walking into the party looking all tan and gorgeous, and everyone would be wondering who I was and why they hadn’t asked me to hang out with them before. Connor and Lucas would want my phone number, Nick would be begging me to go out with him, Simone would realize I was cool, and Morgan would want to be my friend.

Then reality set in. First, the fake tan squirted out of the bottle all gooey. I rubbed the cold cream all over my arms and legs and put a little on my face. Simone had said you had to wash your hands well or it would stain your palms. I wasn’t sure how to put the tanning stuff on the back of my hands without getting it on my palms and drying, so I decided not to put any on my hands at all. I sat on some paper towels so I wouldn’t get any brown stuff on my bed, but it seemed to dry fast.

I woke up the next morning and I was definitely darker. My face was kind of orange, but my arms and legs had streaks on them. It was like somebody had burned me with a curling iron. Plus, my hands looked like I had white gloves on compared to the rest of me. I couldn’t go to the party all streaky. People would make fun of me. I thought about putting the tanning stuff on all the lighter places on my body, but then it might look like I had a disease.

I ended up wearing a long sleeved shirt and jeans to the party. Charlotte had on a t-shirt and shorts when she came to pick me up.

“Aren’t you hot wearing all that?” she asked.

“I want to be covered for the mosquitoes,” I said. “Malaria is nothing to mess around with.”

I wasn’t the only one wearing jeans at the party, but I felt like I was dressed for a winter carnival when I saw Morgan and Pilar. Pilar had a deep pink halter top on with tiny jean shorts, and she had put some shimmery stuff all over her arms and legs. Morgan was wearing a blue crocheted tank top, and she would have passed for at least seventeen. She had her curly blonde hair down for a change, and all the guys were sitting around her.

“She’s so fake-looking,” Charlotte said as we watched Morgan and Lucas dance.

Morgan seemed so confident as she moved her hips. I wouldn’t be able to dance so free even if I was alone in my own bedroom. I was glad I had worn jeans because I would have seemed like a skinny kid next to Morgan’s muscular legs.

Sweet Surrender - a clean, regency romance
~ Can a lost love be rekindled? ~


Julianna made a graceful curtsy and finally managed to raise her eyelashes and survey the room. It was not playacting that caused her sudden intake of breath as she saw her old beau again. In fact, it took all the force of will she possessed to keep her reaction within bounds. At that first brief encounter, she had been too surprised to take in his splendour. No one had told her the viscount had grown even more handsome in the ensuing years, the strength of his jawline more pronounced, and just the very slightest of grey at the temples in his nearly ebony hair. Forcing her jaw not to drop open in shock, Julianna felt her stomach flutter with nerves as she gripped tightly to her friend’s hand and tried not to cause an ill-bred scene in Catherine’s parlor.

~ Happy reading ~

Innocent Tears by Iris Blobel

Ignoring Nadine’s companion, he knelt down in front of the girl and rested his arm on his leg. “Hey, little Muffin!”

“Hi.” Nadine’s reply was shy, nothing more than just a whisper.

They both looked at each other. “Are you my dad?” Nadine asked with slightly more voice, but still hiding behind Emma.

Flynn nodded and replied with warmth in a voice that came straight from his heart. “So it seems.” He just couldn’t get his eyes off the small child. No doubt she was Sarah’s child. He choked back a smile. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, indeed. Flynn stood up and went back to his chair and took the small parcel out of the bag he'd left there. Then he returned and crouched down in front of Nadine again. He gave her a wrapped box. “Buying presents for girls is new for me, so I hope you like it.” Okay, he felt odd, and he knew he owed Joyce big time for this, but how was he supposed to know what young girls liked?

Nadine let go of Emma’s hand and hesitantly came out from behind her. She took the box with both hands and looked at Flynn. “Thank you,” she whispered.

Escape the Pain to Survive (1 of 3: The New Waiver trilogy)

Christian YA action/suspense

All profits will be donated to the veteran organization 22KILL through March 31st.

Paperback (free ebook included):

Amazon kindle:

He stops the truck next to me. I climb in without speaking a word. I’m way more nervous than the last time I did this. There’s still some daylight, so there’s even more of a chance someone will catch us.

He looks over at me and doesn’t say a word. I’m sure he’s surprised I showed. The sparkle in his eyes confirms it all the more.

We travel down the dirt road, past several fenced areas that I’ve never seen before.

“I need you to climb in the back until we get out of here.” He pushes a button tucked underneath his steering wheel. A metal door opens underneath the back seat. “It’s gonna be tight, but you won’t be in there long.”

Fear grips me. If I climb in there and he’s not being honest with me, he could take me anywhere he wants and no one would ever know. I glance at him and notice a gun tucked into his belt in the small of his back. Everything in me should say that this is wrong. I must be completely out of my mind! Even if he doesn’t hurt me, they’ll torment me to no end if they ever find out what I did.

“Sam, you have to trust me, or I’ll turn this truck around and take you right back. We’re only a mile away.”

I hesitate but climb across the center console into the back. I have to lie on the floor and roll to get into the small metal compartment. It is so compact, I barely fit. The door slams shut. It’s too dark to even see my hand in front of my face. I gasp as panic surges through my tense, rigid body. I strain to slow my breathing. My heart is already racing out of control. Far too many times, I’ve been trapped in the dark, helpless. It never ended well.

A hand grabs me. I jump and yelp, cowering in the back of the little metal box. I can’t breathe. I feel like I’m suffocating. “Breathe Sam, breathe!” I whisper to myself.

The truck stops. I can’t hear anything except the ringing in my ears from the deafening silence. He’s going to hurt me! This is some kind of trick! It’s my last chance! “Help! Help!” I scream hideously. I frantically claw at the walls, pounding on the door that once opened to let me in. I slam my fists against the solid metal, harder and harder.


Tears well up in my eyes and stream down my terror-ridden cheeks. “Help! Help! Let me out!” The truck starts to move again. I continue pounding on the door. He has to hear me! He must hear me! He’s taking me somewhere, and I’m never going to get out. I’ll never escape! “Please! Please! Let me out!”I bring both knees into my chest and launch my feet full force into the door.


I continue my frantic struggle for who knows how long.

“Please! Please let me out!” I sob into my trembling hands.

At last, I hear it.


I look up. It’s opening! I yelp and press myself as far as I can into the back, cowering and bracing myself. I cover my face, ready for the strike!

“Sam?”His voice sounds surprised, concerned. “It’s okay. We’re out.”

TRY ME, I AM JESUS: A Muslim's Journey with Christ
by Syed Ibn Syed

It was nearly nine o'clock on the night of December 24, 1990. I was seventeen years old, sitting alone in a park, contemplating the recent turn of events. My mind was racing back and forth between incidents that could potentially have a very debilitating effect on my entire family. Wave after wave of emotions crashed through my soul. I was feeling angry, upset, sad, and lost. Yes, that was the word, lost. I had no one to turn to for help. The future seemed so bleak, and the more I thought about it, the more it seemed to be slipping away into oblivion. Everything was so confusing; a host of questions bombarded my mind. Why were these things happening the way they were? Ours was a very good, God-fearing family. Then why these problems? Was Allah not pleased with me? Had I failed in any of my duties toward Allah? I had tried to keep my eyes and thoughts focused on the Almighty and had striven to fulfill the requirements of Islam to the best of my knowledge. Then why had this storm brewed in my family? I cried out toward Allah, the Almighty, Most Beneficent, and Merciful, yet the heavens seemed strangely distant. As I sat deep in thought, one question superseded all others. What use is this life after all that has happened?

WITCH'S MARK (a young adult novel)
by Sarah Norkus

Dread squeezed Emily Grace’s heart in a vise as the word “witch” reverberated around the meeting house. Her worst nightmare had just materialized in the form of a teenage girl screeching and pulling at her puritan clothing as she accused Em of witchcraft. Em shook her head, her denial drowned out as more voices chanted “witch.” Her terrified gaze locked on Samantha, frozen in place next to the dais, one purple lock of hair accentuating her too pale face.

The sound of the mallet striking the table on the dais and the magistrate shouting for order, added to the chaos of the three teenage girl’s screams and the loud shouts of “witch” by the frenzied villagers. Em’s heart started to pound like a trip hammer and she nearly jumped out of her skin as a commanding voice shouted.


The room became as quiet as a tomb. A chill crawled up Em’s spine as the magistrate’s cold gaze fell on first her and then Sam. “It is our degree that these girls shall be removed to Ingersoll’s Ordinary and examined for the mark of the witch.”

In Witch’s Mark, Em, Megan, and Sam journey back in time to the Salem Witch trials, where one girl is accused of theft, two are accused as witches and heart break ensues as two girls return to their time and one is left behind.


Nina Warrenton checked her watch for the umpteenth time. He was late. On the one hand, she was thankful; on the other, she was annoyed. Who makes an appointment and shows up late? Granted living in the D.C. Metro area guaranteed multiple opportunities to be late, but she made an effort to arrive on time to any appointment. Too bad the unknown Mr. Williams didn’t hold the same virtue.
She sighed. Had she acted prematurely? Putting an ad for a husband was a little archaic, but she believed it would get the job done. However, none of the previous candidates had panned out. One man had been released from prison a couple of months ago. Another had answered her ad with the hope of moving out of his mother’s place. Still, another had answered her ad because the voices in his head had prompted him to. She shook her head.
Maybe the face that Mr. Williams was missing was God showing her he wasn’t the one. Maybe he was prematurely balding or had the personality of wilted lettuce. Of course, she had prayed that God would send her the right man, but there was no guarantee He would acquiesce to her request.
She tapped her pen on the table and looked around the room. The coffee shop was filled with D.C. metropolitans ready to embrace the autumn air. It was a gorgeous day with a light breeze and the preferred seventies temperature. Was it possible that Mr. Williams was already here and hiding behind a coffee mug or laptop, to secretly get a first impression without her noticing? She peeked around the shop, but she was the only one alone.