Heather Gray

Flawed...but loved anyway.

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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 ChristmasClick 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

“I can’t believe you guys get up so early to swim,” said Kelsey.

“Don’t remind me,” said Erica. She looked like she was ready to fall asleep at the table.

“It’s only three times a week,” said Mel, “and it’s not mandatory, but anyone who’s serious about swimming makes it.”

“Not Aerin,” said Erica, giving me a sidelong glance.

“Hey, I’ve got gym first period. I don’t want to work out in the pool, dry off, and then hit the gym.”

“A weak excuse,” Erica said.

“And, unlike you two, I don’t have a ride, remember?”

“You could walk,” Erica suggested. “You only live a half mile from the school.”

“At five-thirty in the morning? No thanks.”

Mel finished the rest of her orange juice and crushed the carton in one hand before putting it down on the table. “Tatiana has gym first period, and she makes morning practice. And a few of the other girls walk to practice in the dark, so that’s no big deal. Aerin doesn’t come because Aerin is a slacker.” She met my eyes straight on.

“Ooooh,” said Erica, sitting upright. “This is getting interesting.”

A flash of anger ran through me, starting at the top of my head. I swore I could feel it run through my entire body and exit somewhere from the bottom of my feet. The air between us bristled with tension. I rose to Mel’s challenge.

“You called me a slacker?” No one had ever done that before. Other swimmers slacked off, not Aerin Keane, who gave every practice, every event, every heat, everything she had, and then some. I was the hardest working swimmer no matter what team I was on.

Then I remembered I was no longer that swimmer.

From "Swim Season"


She glanced at her watch. Three o’clock. She had a couple of hours before she would meet Kandi. She promised to let her know how the last candidate had panned out. Even though Kandi thought the marriage ad was beyond strange, she loved hearing the details. Nina smiled as a memory came into focus.
“Wait a minute. You’re going to put an ad in the paper for a husband?” Kandi exclaimed.
“Do people even read newspapers anymore?”
“Yes, Kandi. Besides, it will show up online as well.”
“Nina, why don’t you just sign up for one of those weird online dating sites?”
“They’re weird, that’s why. And intellectuals read the paper.”
Kandi laughed. “No, putting an ad in the paper is weirder.” She rolled her eyes and shook her black curly locks. “Whatever. I’ll pray you don’t get stuck with a weirdo or worse.”
“Geez, I appreciate your support, Kandi.”
“I’m here for you.”
She laughed out loud and headed for her bedroom. Kandi would flip when she learned that not only was Dwight Williams apparently normal, but good-looking too. She wondered how bad the finances were for his restaurant. If she offered to pay the money up front would he be more willing to go ahead with a marriage? Her biological clock was ticking loud and fast.
Stop being desperate.


Lydia Colburn refused to allow a child to bleed to death. Pulling a sprig of gray tree leaves out of her wind-whipped hair, she rushed inside the farmhouse and found the injured boy sprawled across the bed exactly as Mr. McIntosh had said she would. She dropped her medical bag on the floor beside Mrs. McIntosh, who was holding a blood-soaked rag against young Matthew’s lower leg.

Lydia touched Matthew; his skin felt clammy and his breath came in rapid spurts. “He’s still losing blood. Get the pillows out from under his head.” She slid her hands beneath his fractured limb and gently lifted it away from the mattress. “Put them here under his leg.”

Mrs. McIntosh’s thin hands shook as she moved the pillows. “I gave him tea from the gray leaf tree as soon as his father brought him in the house.” Her voice cracked. “I know he doesn’t feel the pain now, but it hurts me just to look at him.”

“You did the right thing.” Lydia maintained her professional tone as she opened her bag and selected several medical instruments. She peeled back the bloody rag, revealing the fractured bone. Its crisp, white edges protruded through his torn skin. “You’re going to be all right, Matthew. Do you feel any pain?”

“No, but it feels weird. I don’t like it.” His chin quivered as he spoke. He stared at his mother with swollen eyes.

Mrs. McIntosh drew her lips into her mouth as she fought the urge to cry. Her hand passed over his head with rigid strokes. “You’re going to be fine, Matthew. Miss Colburn will fix it.”

When Lydia put her hands on the boy’s leg, he recoiled and screamed. It was not from pain but from terror. With his fractured leg tucked close to his body, Matthew buried his face into the ribbing of his mother’s dress. Lydia gave Mrs. McIntosh a chance to muster her courage and make her son cooperate, but instead she coddled him. Though Lydia appreciated a nurturing mother, this was no time to help a child hide his wound. “Your mother is right. You’re going to be just fine.” She reached for his leg again. “You don’t have to look at me, but you must leave your leg on the pillow. Matthew? Let me straighten your leg.”

Mrs. McIntosh glared at the bloody wound and then began to weep. “Oh, Matt, I’m so sorry. My poor baby!”

“Mrs. McIntosh?” Lydia raised her voice over the woman’s sobs. “Mrs. McIntosh? Rebecca! I know this is hard, but please, be calm for Matthew’s sake. I need you to help me. Can you do that?”

Mrs. McIntosh sniffled and straightened her posture. “Yes. I’m sorry, Lydia.”
“I need more light. Do you have another lamp in the house?”

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.

Best Friends...Forever? (Fiction for preteens and teens)
by Krysten Lindsay Hager


Excerpt: “Landry, it’s gotta be so awkward for you to be going to Vladi’s school next year,” Tori said. “I mean, what if you run into him during the tour?"

"It’s a huge place,ʺ Ashanti said. “People break up all the time. It’s not a big deal.ʺ

Tori raised her eyebrows as if to say, “Yeah, right,” and went back to her sandwich. Meanwhile my delicious homemade soup was no longer sitting well. It never occurred to me Vladi might be around during the first pre‑freshman tour. I would be mortified if I ran into him and he was with a girl. Or worse yet, running into him, and he was with Yasmin.

Plus, I hadn’t told my mom about the breakup, so if she saw him, she’d probably go over to talk to him. I could already imagine it: “Landry, Vladi’s here! Hon? Why are you hiding behind the garbage can? Your boyfriend, Vladi, is here. Come say, ‘hello.’ Stop trying to run away. Why is everyone laughing and pointing at you and calling you a ‘loser dumpee?’ What does that mean?”

Well, maybe the world would end and I wouldn’t have to deal with high school or Vladi and my mother running into each other.

Sadly, the world did not end, and on Thursday, we all had to go to the high school for a freshman information night from 6 to 9 p.m.