Heather Gray

Flawed...but loved anyway.

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Wordy Wednesday

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)!!

Here's an excerpt from An Informal Date. (Click here to find on Amazon.)

“She stood on the pew.”

Owen’s mom tsked. “I’ve stood on a dining room chair before when I’ve needed help to reach something. How is that any different?”

“That’s in your house. Would you go over to someone else’s house, pull out one of their dining room chairs, and climb up on it?”

His mom chuckled. “I suppose you have a point there. What if we were at your grandmother’s house, though? Or someplace where I felt comfortable and familiar enough to make myself at home?”

Owen grunted. “People aren’t supposed to make themselves at home in church, though.”

“Are you sure about that?”

The ground shifted under his feet, and Owen decided to back out of the conversation. He wasn’t ready to jump into that quicksand yet. “That’s not important right now. I need to understand why she got upset when I pointed out that she’d been standing on the pew. It’s not like I said something she didn’t already know.”

Mom exhaled with a half-laugh-half-sigh. “You’re not going to dig in your heels and demand that pew-standing be punishable by flogging, are you?”

Owen ran a hand through his hair. “No. Not giving your son the answer he needs, though... Well, no promises there.”

“Ha. Nice one.” Owen’s mom was one of the few people who always knew when he was joking. People generally took him literally. He couldn’t blame them, either, since he often did the exact same thing to other people.


“Very well. You were stating a fact, but your friend Kimi might not know you well enough to realize that. Most people, when they say something of that nature, mean it as condemnation.”

“Huh.” Owen leaned back in his chair. “Are you sure this isn’t just a female thing?”

“I’m pretty sure it applies across the board — men and women.”

“So... stating fact is a form of judgment?”

“In social settings like this, yeah, most of the time. For example, if you tell someone their shirt is blue, it’s not a big deal. If, however, you tell them their shirt is too small, then you’re judging them for being overweight or eating too much or not being able to properly dress.”

Owen shook his head. “So when I commented on her pew-standing, what was I saying? I wasn’t calling her fat, was I?”

Mom’s chuckle gave him hope. “No, not fat. Maybe a sinner or a heathen or something like that, but not fat.”

One sentence from his mother, and his hope was dashed. Which was worse? Calling Kimi a heathen or calling her fat?

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I really don’t know how to explain it. I couldn’t even explain it to myself, really. It didn’t make sense that I was this upset, and yet I was. I didn’t know how long Ben and I had been in the hallway together, but it couldn’t have been more than three or four minutes. And then he preached for a while. Was that really enough time to have fallen in love with him? Was that really enough time for me to begin hoping for any far-fetched situation that would allow me to date him?

“How would that even work?” I asked Piper. “Dating a pastor, I mean. If he were single, which he’s probably not. And actually interested in me.”

She shrugged again. “Pretty much like any other relationship, I would think. Except you’d only go out to dinner at potlucks, of course.”

I knew she was teasing me, but the idea that it would be just like any other relationship didn’t seem right. He was a man of God, right? Surely there were different rules for that. Hadn’t there been some sort of swearing-in ceremony during which Ben had been given a list of guidelines, and maybe his special clergy parking pass for hospital visits? Different rules had to apply. Granted, I didn’t have much knowledge, or anything to compare it to. Father Horatio was single, but he was a priest who had taken a vow of celibacy. Apart from that, I knew nothing. Well, apart from movies. But The Preacher’s Wife starring Whitney Houston didn’t seem like the ultimate authority in this situation. Even to me.


Excerpt from INDELIBLE, Volume 3 of the "Insurrection" trilogy

“Logan!” I called out, peering around the curved walls.
Still no response.
Rounding the corner of the circular hallway, the elevator doors rested open, the lights dimmed somewhat inside.
“Alright, about to enter the elevator. Still no word from Deck about what I’ll find on Level Three?” Radio silence from the other end of the line. Pushing the buttons inside on the wall panel, those thick doors slipped closed. The air purred, gurgling and whining louder than it had before, gliding along with us down the hidden cables into the earth. “Tucker?”
Static trickled through the coms. “Do you copy?” I pulled my X-11 out of its sheath. Weapons ready. “Hey. Tucker. Logan. Anybody.”
Not even a clicking. Basic empty sound waves crashing around the chasm.
“Fine. I’ll Little Red Hen this sucker.”
Dinging, the elevator stopped, halting with a bump. Directing my gaze to the weapon in my hands, I nodded. It’s go time, Sling. Us and Bobby K.
Drawing the bat up, poised, readying to swing, I stepped sideways to get a clear jump on any incoming traffic. Those doors slid open.
Flickering lights reflected in the tile on the floor. Creeping along on my toes to diminish any squeaking shoes, my senses took control. If only I wasn’t in the POD, I could interpret a lot of these so much better. The ANTs anxiously quivered in pockets of adrenaline deep within my veins. I let them help me surge forward through the hallway.
Glancing around the corner, approximately ten feet away, a black blob lay on the floor. I whipped back from the corner, taking in a gulp of air as the ANTs bubbled in waves. Peeking back around the corner, the black blob stayed where it was, a uniform taking shape, one leg bent in a strange contortion from that of a healthy human. My heart seemed to pause. The room became hot as a desert, rippling with a spiral of heat. They didn’t have other humans show up in the POD. The Commander said it was a texture thing, that they could create landscapes easier than realistic humans and they wanted it to be as realistic as possible. Maybe Canaan had been able to work on his graphics resolutions?
Questions buzzed around my head and I dipped my head around the corner to scope out the mound on the ground once more.
He looked lifelike.
I didn’t like that.
Still no sign of oxinals. Feeling the fire of my insides beginning to seep into the cool folds of my uniform, I took the steps toward the uniform on the ground. Breath caught in a web in my throat.
His helmet had fallen to one side, a smooth jaw closed as if in a deep slumber, facing the wall. Kneeling down beside the stiff body, I placed the X-11 on the ground without a clank or a clunk, and balled my gloved hands into fists.


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Ebooks, print, and audiobooks available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and online retailers.

Vivir el Dream by Allison K. Garcia:
The fates of an undocumented college student and her mother intertwine with a suicidal businessman’s. As circumstances worsen, will their faith carry them through or will their fears drag them down?

“Like the expert in the law, we want to justify ourselves,” Pastor Martinez preached in Spanish. “Who is my neighbor? Not those Mexicans. They came here to steal the jobs I would never work anyway.”
The group chuckled.
Pastor Martinez continued, his face growing serious. “Not that black gang member. How can I love someone like that? Not that senator who voted for those deportation laws, right? Not the lady who calls me names as I pass by her house?”
God tugged at Linda’s heart. Her biggest prejudice was against people who were prejudiced. It was a struggle not to judge them, one she often failed.
“We only want to love those who love us back, but that’s not what God calls us to do. Jesus asked which person acted as a neighbor to the injured man: the people like him who left him to die or the Samaritan who was despised by the Jews? ‘The one who had mercy on him,’ the expert answered. ‘Go and do likewise,’ Jesus told him.
“We are called not to hate the ones who want to deport María and Diana but to love them by showing them mercy. The only way to find that love and mercy is through connection with our Lord and Savior.”

Landry in Like (Landry's True Colors Series) by Krysten Lindsay Hager

Clean teen fiction for ages 10 and up.

I wanted to call my friends and tell them about being on the talk show, but Mom said we had to be at the TV station super early — even before school started. She said I could text them, but I had to turn off my phone and go to bed.

“I’m waking you up at four a.m.,” she said. “You have to be there at five-thirty.”

“Can I just call Peyton and Ashanti? Please?”

“Fine, but you have five minutes and then that phone is mine and you’re in bed.”

I dialed Peyton, but her mom said she was in the shower. I told her mom about the show tomorrow and said my mom wouldn’t let me stay up any later to call Peyton back.

“How exciting! I will make sure Peyton knows, and I will be watching you tomorrow. Good luck, honey,” Mrs. Urich said.

I called Ashanti next and told her.

“Get out. Get. Out. No way. This is so exciting!”

“I’m so nervous. My stomach is already doing cartwheels. I can’t do one, but my stomach can. Seems unfair. What if I throw up before I go on? I did that right before I went on at the statewide Ingénue modeling competition in Detroit, and my mom had to give me a cough drop to cover up the smell.”

“I’m sure you’ll be fine, but… just in case, take a cough drop with you,” Ashanti said. “Good luck. You’ll be great and I’ll go set the DVR now.”

I hung up and sent a text to Vladi, India, Devon, Thalia, Tori, and Ericka, so no one would be mad and feel left out. Then I shut off my phone. Mom poked her head in the door to make sure I was in bed.

“Night, hon. Try to get some rest,” she said.

Easier said than done. I stared at my ceiling while thinking about all the things that could possibly go wrong tomorrow. Seeing as the show was on in the morning, I never got to watch it, so I had no idea what the set was like — did it have super high chairs and I’d struggle to get into them? And what if it had those higher stools that were kind of tippy and my rear overshot the seat and I fell off? Or what if the prep questions got lost and the interviewer asked me random things like my feelings on nuclear war or asked me about some foreign political leader who I had never heard of before, and I appeared stupid? Why did I say I’d do this? I tried to get comfortable and it felt like I had just dozed off when I felt my mom shaking my shoulder.

“Rise and shine, TV star,” she said.

His movie star good looks, the flowing shoulder length jet black hair and the confident way he strod on to the floor could only be the future baseball hall-of-famer known as the “Eck.” He showed what a class act he truly was as he was the only one who stayed from start to finish! I remember thinking how enraptured all the kids were sitting around him in a circle on the floor hanging on every word as he regaled them with story after story.
Take Care, Keith “indie” Guernsey

A Spring of Weddings Collection
Enter giveaway at:

Excerpt from A Proxy Wedding:
“You want me to do what?”
Carly James couldn’t believe her ears. She stared at her cellphone to ensure it wasn’t a prank call. One glance around her apartment told her Ashton Kutcher wouldn’t be jumping out to inform her she’d been pranked. Plus, the military phone number on the caller ID assured her it was her best friend, Brenda, calling.
“I want you to stand in for me at my wedding. You’ll be my proxy bride.”
“I’ve never even heard of such a thing.”
“It’s real simple. You say the vows as me and voilà, I’m married.”
Carly plopped down onto her oversized living room chair. Her head felt like she just jumped off a swing. “Why can’t you wait and plan a wedding like normal brides, Bren?”
“Because we both have orders that will only widen our separation. I’m headed to Alaska once this deployment’s done and Adam has orders to Japan.”
She bit her lip. That was a pretty far gap. Brenda had met Adam on a work trip to Las Vegas six months ago. Despite the fact they were only around each other for one month, it was enough for the two to bond and start a relationship. Now, they wanted to marry. She shook her head at the fastness of it all.
“So if I stand in for you,” she started cautiously. “The marriage will be legal and you can get your orders changed?”
Seems harmless enough. “Then only the bride has to have a proxy?”
Silence spanned the airwaves.
“Bren, are you still there?”
“Yes, I am. I, uh…the answer is no.”
“No?” Incredulity filled her voice. “What does that mean?”
“It means Adam should be having this same conversation with his best friend. We want both of you to stand in for us.”
Carly groaned. This had trouble written all over it.
“And I might as well tell you, it needs to happen in Montana.”
“What? Are you insane?”
“Carls,” Brenda whined, using her nickname. “Montana is the only state that does a double proxy wedding. We could have hired a service to take care of all the necessary paperwork, but that just seems so impersonal. We want it to be special even if we won’t be together when it happens.”
She squeezed her eyes shut. This was not happening. Had she rolled out of bed only to land in some alternate universe?

FINDING HOPE only $0.99 this week.

Noah’s breath hitched when the front door opened. He hadn’t expected Beth to be so young. Her large brown eyes crinkled when she smiled. She was lovely, despite the lack of hair on her head. Either she was making a fashion statement, or there was a medical reason. He guessed chemotherapy, but certainly wouldn’t ask. He extended a hand. “You must be Beth. I’m Noah Cooper.”

Her hand was tiny in his, but her grip firm. “It’s nice to meet you, Noah.” She released his hand and stepped aside. “Please, come in.”

The small foyer led to a combined living and dining room space. An area rug and oblong coffee table complemented the brown and cream couches, while a mid-century modern dining table with six padded chairs completed the room. Beth had good taste.

A woman, about four inches taller than Beth, stood and came his way. “I’m Pam Nichols, Beth’s friend, and fellow teacher.”

For a moment Noah thought she might hug him. She offered her hand instead and pumped his vigorously. “Hi, Pam. I’m—”

“Noah Cooper. Yes, I know. You’re the reason I’m here.”

“Pam!” Beth pulled her friend to the couch where they sat side by side. She motioned for Noah to sit in the matching love seat. “I hope you don’t mind that I asked Pam to join us this evening. It’s not that I was worried or anything, but my husband was a police officer, and he always taught me...” She stopped, took a breath, and looked him in the eye. “The truth is, I’m a little nervous about all of this, and I needed the moral support.”

Her honesty eased some of Noah’s own nerves. He liked Beth and knew instinctively she’d been a good choice to raise his daughter. “Trust me, if my brother wasn’t getting married next weekend, I’d have been tempted to ask him to tag along for the same reason.”

“I’m pretty sure you can handle yourself.” Pam grinned. Beth glared at her friend before turning back to Noah. “You’ll have to forgive Pam. She often forgets to filter her thoughts.”

Noah laughed. He appreciated Pam’s presence. Between the two women, he doubted anything would be left unsaid. “You think I could have a cup of that coffee?”

“Where are my manners?” Beth poured. “Cream or sugar?”

“Black is fine.” He reached for the mug and spotted a file folder with his name on it sitting next to the tray. Brow furrowed, he wondered whether the information inside was for him or about him. He looked up to find Beth staring his way.

“I’m not an overly protective mom, but I am a mom. I’m also a teacher, and I believe in doing my homework.” She poured coffee for herself. “My husband had some very good friends on the force. When Amanda finally told me about you, I took them up on their offer to do some checking around.”

An excerpt from PROVIDENCE: Hannah's Journey (fiction from II Kings 5)
In the tent of an enemy army commander...

“But now I need to eat. Do you cook?”

She beheld Naabak’s eyes. “Not well.”

A deep, hearty laugh filled the warm air. “You and my wife.”

Liquid seeped from the open sore which was his nose. He hardly seemed to care.

He urged her forward and sliced the rope from her wrists with a silver-handled dagger. The tremor in his better hand caused her to utter another prayer.

“Cut a plum.” He indicated a paring knife lying on a plank of wood.

“You trust me?” With a weapon?

“Do not worry. I am still strong enough to overcome you. If we wrestle, I do not need to kill you. The touch of my skin will.”

She poured Naabak a cup of water and impaled pieces of fruit on a pronged stick. While she was already unclean from touching Naabak’s leg, she would not tempt the infection by lingering at his mouth. She offered him food. “Are there other prisoners? Hebrew men?”

He chewed his plum. Her question seemed to mean nothing to him. To her it meant everything.

“Rarely. We have little need of farmers.”

She stilled as her heart stuttered. Heat flushed her face. She did not mean for Gil to sacrifice his life. He was an escort. To their prophet. She and Gil had walked on soil tread by Abraham and Moses. He was the first man who had accepted her. All of her. His touch sent her soaring to the heavens. She closed her eyes to calm the grief welling in her soul. Somehow she would see the prophet, even if it took years. Gil’s death would not be in vain. She would not let him down.


Her eyes flew open. “Yes—” She swallowed hard. “Master.”

“Do not bother to pack for me. When we leave for Damascus in the morning, it will all burn.”

She nodded.

I already have left everything.

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