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.)

“I didn’t mean to upset you yesterday.”

Her lips dipped down in a frown.

“About the pew.”

They dipped lower.

“It might have sounded like I was judging you.”

And lower.

“I wasn’t, though. Sometimes I state facts and other people hear judgment.” He swallowed. “I’m sorry if that happened.”

Kimi nodded, and a tentative smile replaced the frown. “In that case, apology accepted.”

“Will you go out with me?”

Her eyes widened.

Owen sighed. “That came out wrong.”

“So you don’t want to take me out?” There she went with that whole rising-an-octave thing again.

He shook his head. “I do, but...” Owen set his coffee down. Thank goodness, no one else was thirsty this morning. “I’m required to attend this reception. I’m supposed to make small talk with the people from the FDA so they’ll approve the drug Makayla’s getting. I was told to get a tuxedo and a date.”

“What happens if you don’t?”

No way would Owen answer that question. Even the most socially inept person didn’t admit his boss had threatened to hire him an escort if he couldn’t score a date for himself.

He did what every educated American does. He sidestepped the question. “It’s this coming Thursday evening. Are you available?”

Her eyes filled with laughter, but somehow it didn’t feel like she was laughing at him. “I have study group that night, but I might be able to miss it this week.”

“What are you studying for?”

“I’m working on an art therapy degree. I’m in the home stretch. Thesis, internship, and all that.”

Owen’s head tilted to the side of its own volition. “You don’t need a study group for a thesis.”

“No, but you do need one if you want help preparing for your boards, which I’ll be taking as soon as I jump through all the right hoops and officially graduate.”

“When will that be?”

She frowned. “I hoped December, but I’m having a hard time getting in enough intern hours, so it’ll most likely be next May instead. We’ll see.”

He’d always suspected there was more to Kimi than a warm smile and hot coffee, but he hadn’t known how to ask without sounding like an inept stalker. So he’d stayed quiet. The questions bubbled up inside of him, though. Where was she interning? What was her thesis about? Did she expect her boards to be difficult?

Someone stepped into line behind him, and Owen forced his curiosity into submission in favor of the more immediate need. “Will you think about Thursday?”

She grabbed a napkin from the nearby holder. Pulling the pen from behind her ear, she jotted down a phone number and pushed it across the counter to him. “Call me sometime tomorrow and I’ll have an answer for you.”

He nodded and turned on his heel. She hadn’t said no, and even though he again stumbled over the cable protector, he didn’t spill any coffee on his lab coat. The day was getting off to a first-rate start.

Owen arrived back in his office before realizing why his coffee hadn’t spilled when he’d tripped. He’d left his cup sitting on the little counter at Kimi’s kiosk.

She was definitely going to turn him down. She’d be a fool not to.

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Excerpt from Further Adventures in Barn Town - (Barn Town Series #2) by Eve Culey
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..... Cogburn stayed just out of the staff’s reach and taunted the Sheriff with catcalls of crow while dancing across bales of hay. I stayed up in the loft after my search and burrowed back down into the hay. I was ready to go help the Sheriff again if he called, but I hoped he could manage without me. After all, it was very cold out there, out of the warmth of the hay. No need for both of us to be popsicles, I thought.

Then it happened. Rooster Cogburn made a mistake. He zigged when he should have zagged and was cornered behind an extra door leaning against the east wall. It had been put there for storage and made a great place for me to catch a snack. With no way out he was trapped like the “rat rooster” he was. The Sheriff yelled in triumph and grabbed that sorry excuse for a rooster and held him tight.

The Sheriff’s wife, Honey, who had earlier ventured out into Barn Town, adorned with a coat, hat, scarf, gloves, and shoes to watch and lend vocal encouragement to the Sheriff, was presented with Rooster Cogburn by a very triumphal but tired, cold and limping Sheriff. I peeked over the loft edge to watch. The Sheriff’s wife held the culprit tightly while the Sheriff applied the no crow collar to Cogburn’s neck according to the instructions. I watched as the collar was checked again to ensure that it fit properly. Cogburn was released to the ground and promptly fell over. I snickered.

“I can’t breathe,” Cogburn whispered. I could barely hear him. “I can’t move. My legs, I can’t feel my legs,” he gasped. I watched as he lay limp as a wet noodle. I saw the Sheriff pick him up gently. I could tell that all anger was forgotten as the Sheriff readjusted the collar making it a little bit looser and placed Cogburn back on the ground. Cogburn jerked, flopped, and jerked some more.

I started down from the loft as Cogburn gasped and muttered, “I’m dying,” and then dramatically flopped around on the ground, twitching, jerking until finally laying still and not moving. By this time I was beside the Sheriff as he picked him up and again checked the collar. I could tell that it was not tight.

“It is placed as the instructions indicated,” the Sheriff muttered, “but something is definitely wrong.” The Sheriff looked at me and shook his head. It seemed the rooster had died or was dying, unable to breathe or to walk.

Not knowing what else to do, the Sheriff very reluctantly removed the collar. Then the Sheriff placed Cogburn on the ground in hopes he would revive. The very instant Cogburn touched the ground, he was gone. The blur from that rooster would have done the Flash proud as he disappeared into the darkness. It had all been an act by a crafty and tricky villain.

The Sheriff stood there shaking his head. Turning toward
Village House, he said, “I’m done.”

Excerpt from OOPS-A-DAISY a humorous middle-grade novel

Okay, so I was standing in the middle of a television studio about to shoot my first commercial. Woohoo! I’d been dreaming of getting my big break for a super long time. I’d dreamed of nothing else but becoming the next Gloria Florez. And since G-Flo started out in commercials, I figured I was on the right track.
“Places!” a stagehand hollered.
I bolted to the set, which was designed to look like an average kitchen.
“You Daisy De La Cruz?” the stagehand asked me. “ mean yes!”
He pointed to a piece of masking tape stuck to the floor. “If you’ll come over here and stand on your mark, we’re just about ready to shoot.”
I rushed over to the spot as quickly as I could, considering I was wearing a shaggy dog costume with about twenty tons of fake fur hanging from it, and slid a rubber doggy mask over my sweaty head. Once I was in position, a Miss America look-alike wearing too much make-up joined me on the set.
“Lights! Camera! Take one!” Snap.
Miss America gazed into the camera and sang to the tune of
London Bridge.
Queeny once had stinky breath, stinky breath, stinky breath.
Yuck! I almost choked to death.
Now she’s better.
I came in on cue, continuing the song.
Mom gave me some Stink-Away,
Stink-Away, Stink-Away.
Now my breath is A-Okay,
I’m all better.
The announcer’s voice piped in. “Stink-Away is all natural and safe. Side effects may include loud barking, non-stop scratching, and increased car chasing. Why not try Stink-Away today?”
“Cut!” the director hollered. “Let’s try it again. This time, Queeny, howl like you mean it.”
By the time we ran through sixteen takes, I was dripping so much sweat that my howl was full of meaning.
The director fingered his beard and exhaled loudly. “Why don’t we take a short break?”
After trudging down the hall a few steps, some furniture came into view. I dropped onto a leather couch, leaned back and pulled a piece of paper from a hollow ear inside the mask. It was a letter from my grandfather.
Since my Abuelo lived in Puerto Rico, he spoke fluent Spanish, but he was still trying to learn English. I’d scanned his note five or six times. It was a little tricky to understand, but I unfolded it and read it again.
To a speshel grill,
I hapy you making crumercial. Now you on your way to bee big star. I no you will go farm and become a big celery. I wish I could have tocked longer on the fon the udder day but it was getting late and it was time to eat my zipper. I look forward to visit you soon.
P.S. Hapy 12 birdday – Use the chick to by what you want two. Lov,
Your favorit Grandfeather
“Let’s roll!” the stagehand hollered.
So much for rest and relaxation. When I’m heading up my own studio the actors won’t get a measly little five-minute break. No way! I’ll give them at least six.

Minutes later I found myself sitting at a table in the little snack shop, and the Creature handed me steaming coffee in a paper cup. I took the cup reverently in my hands and kissed its smooth white lip.


“I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw you walk through the door,” Greg was saying. “I’m a big fan of your work. I loved Ice Children―the story about the addicted kids. It was powerful.”

He lifted his eyes. They were beautiful, like my coffee―deep and dark and warm―and his voice was like crushed velvet.

But I squinted at him. My tepid desire to make chitchat was fading, probably because the Creature was a handsome man, and I wasn’t feeling very charitable toward handsome men―having just been dumped by one.

My experience generally was that when a man became exceptionally helpful, he usually wanted something. In my case, that something almost always had to do with my films: free advertising, sometimes; favorable coverage; or in one case, the chance to be a star. I’m going to write a blog post about that one someday.

In short, I just didn’t trust fine men. So it was ironic that I had somehow gotten tangled up with their king.

“I’m glad you liked the film,” I mumbled.

“St. Jude’s is glad to be hosting you,” he assured me. “Do you mind my asking what brings you to our town?”

“I’m on vacation,” I drawled, shooting him a pointed glance over my coffee cup.

“Bay Hill is a beautiful place for it,” he agreed pleasantly. “It’s very peaceful―or at least, it is usually. You’ve arrived at an interesting time.”

I rolled my eyes to his and waited for the other shoe to drop, and sure enough:

“St. Jude’s is at the center of controversy right now,” he explained. “The hospital is owned by a church, and it barely breaks even most years.

“But a few weeks ago, a real estate developer offered to buy this hospital. As you can see, we’re overlooking the ocean, and the developer’s plan is to turn this property into a resort. You can imagine what a new resort would mean to a struggling local economy like ours.”

I gave a noncommittal grunt and buried my face in my coffee cup.

He shook his head. “People here have become…less than objective. Everyone in town has taken sides.

“I guess you have to deal with that a lot in your line of work,” he murmured, taking a sip of coffee. “The pressure to take sides.”

I thawed―just a tiny bit―because the Creature had stumbled onto my pet peeve. I pressed my fingers to my temples and repeated my weary motto:

“A documentary isn’t about taking sides! I can’t make anyone hear me, but it’s about presenting both sides of a controversy and letting the viewers reach their own conclusions.”

“You mean you get pressured to slant your stories?” he asked, with an expression of wide-eyed innocence.

“You can’t believe what people have done to try to influence me,” I replied grimly. “Bullying―bribery―manipulation―you name it.”

He made a face. “That’s just terrible.”

Loved An Informal Date and also One of Forty. I enjoyed a book by Brett Armstrong, so already bought Day Moon and hope to read it soon. Krysten Lindsay Hager's books look good, as do Barbara Britton's. Iris Blobel is a new author to me, so I am now following her on Amazon and will try one of her books.

PROVIDENCE: Hannah's Journey--inspired by II Kings 5--Will God heal an enemy army commander?

Hannah stared at a miracle. The commander of Aram’s army had been wasting away in a hammock of hides and now he embraced his wife forcibly, with passion. She had never seen two people kiss other than in a customary greeting. Naabak and Reumah’s kiss lasted and lingered. Gil did not shield her eyes from their desire. Her belly warmed knowing that the heir Reumah desired could come to pass. Joyous laughter jiggled Reumah’s chest.


Her head jerked toward the shout.

The scrape of iron against metal chilled her teeth.

Konath’s blade stood ready to strike. Rage, not love or loyalty, quaked the bronze rounds on Konath’s breastplate.

She stepped backward into the wall of the basin and lost her balance. Gil grasped her shoulder and shoved her nearer to Naabak. She fell from the force of the push.

Konath’s sword gleamed in the vicious sun. He aimed the tip at her heart. “I should have killed you in that stable.”

Naabak boomed a command in Aramean.

Konath lunged in her direction with his weapon extended. The jab of the sword came swift.

Her vision blurred. She scrambled to her feet and tried to scream, to draw a defender, but all that came forth was a high-pitched whine.

PROVIDENCE can be found on Amazon in print and e-book: ttps://

One of Three looks interesting. It is on my list to read, but I got it while it was free!

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.

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.

Day Moon (Tomorrow's Edge Book 1)
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“Everywhere I look there’s some kind of trap or clue to a puzzle I never meant to try to solve.”

“I guess I can understand that,” Lara said, a grimace on her face.

“Are you sure?”

“No, but I like you enough to give myself time to figure it out.”

Elliott’s cheeks grew rosy and he wanted to apologize, to erase the hurt in her cocoa eyes, but he couldn’t begin to frame it in a way that would cover it justly.

He couldn’t let it end on that note. He had to turn it in the right direction. The words came to him in a rush and, like a wave crashing on the shore and then receding, they escaped his grasp again. The only person I trust right now is Christ, but you’re the closest anyone else could come.

Those words remained out of his grasp because vexation descended upon him as he wondered at the truth of the words. Am I really trusting Christ? Grandpa used to tell me, “Perfect love drives out fear,” but that certainly doesn’t look anything like how I act.

More than Lara’s ire, this realization hurt him. He was truly failing everyone.

Before him stood the doors to the library. Elliott noticed Lara’s arms were crossed and tense. Grasping the door, he pulled it open and said, “Lovely ladies before bumbling, and apologetic, boyfriends.” The taste of iron drifted faintly onto his tongue as he bit down on his cheek in horror at what he had just said.

Lara rolled her eyes, but her posture relaxed as she strolled in. Elliott couldn’t be sure, but he thought she wore the ghost of a smile as well.

Inside the library, things looked much like their last visit, largely empty with lights dimmer than most buildings of similar purpose in more developed cities. Behind the circulation desk, Elliott caught a flicker of motion, as Rosalyn saw them and stiffened as if they were specters rather than patrons.

Shooting Lara a quick glance, Elliott shrugged. Lara shrugged back and mouthed, “Go ahead.”

By the time the pair made it to the desk’s edge, Rosalyn had regained some of her composure. The librarian’s discomfort was seemingly displaced by confusion…and annoyance?

Before either teen could speak, she addressed them both in an even, but clearly strained tone. “Why are you both here?”

“We ran into some…complications following the tips you gave us,” Elliott replied, trying not to sound abashed over circumstances that were not his fault.

“And you think I can do something about it?”

“No,” Elliott rejoined, “but you can give us some answers. Like, what is going on, and what my grandfather was trying to clue us into.”

Rosalyn’s arms were perpendicular to one another and she rested her head in the palm of the vertical. A faint moaning sound escaped her lips. “You both think you can find answers here? Wonderful. We’re all as good as dead.”

This book sounds interesting. I can't wait to read it.