Heather Gray

Flawed...but loved anyway.

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Wordy Wednesday

January 11, 2017

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)!!


Mail Order ManClick to Buy

“What are you doing?”

“What does it look like I’m doing?”

Sarah had already taken half of the laundry down, folded it, and placed it in the basket she’d found nearby. Samuel shook his head in resignation and helped Sarah get the remainder of the laundry down. Sarah had no intention of leaving until she had done something for this family.

Working together, the two took care of the laundry in quick order. Samuel carried the basket back around to the front porch where he tried the front door. The door opened easily.

“It’s not uncommon for people to leave their doors unlocked around here,” Sarah told him when he raised his eyebrows in surprise.

“I understand, Sarah, but this door doesn’t even have a lock on it. They couldn’t lock it if they wanted to.”

Since her father passed away, Sarah always made sure to lock her doors and latch her windows when she went to bed at night. The mayor had given her strict instructions for her safety, and she had promised him she would do those things. She understood people not locking their doors when they trusted their neighbors, but she couldn’t fathom a door not even having a lock on it.

When they stepped into the house, Sarah was surprised by what she saw. Everything surrounding her was neat and tidy. The wallpaper was peeling, and the furniture was older than time itself, but everything was clean. There was no dirt or clutter or filth like one might have expected based on the outer condition of the farm.

Sarah nodded her approval.

“Mary takes good care of her home, doesn’t she?”

Samuel grunted in reply, still not convinced nobody was home.


Go Back

Landry in Like (fiction for teen and preteens) by Krysten Lindsay Hager


I stared at the clock and I had ten minutes until I was on, so I pulled out my phone and took a few selfies in the room. My eyes were shut in the first one, the second one was blurry, and somehow I cut off my own head in the third one. I positioned myself near the mirror so I could see my face, then I took a deep breath, tried to smile naturally, and took the picture. The pic wasn’t bad, but I looked, well, like me. I had been hoping it’d look like a mature, sophisticated model — someone a casting director (or some actor like Bradley McMillian or my favorite soap actor, Colin, from As the Days Roll On) would see on TV and feel the need to meet, but nope, I appeared just like a fourteen-year-old who was terrified and wearing too much lipstick. I sighed and blotted my lips.

“Landry? We’re ready for you,” Jalen said. I followed him down the hall. He asked if I was nervous and I nodded, afraid to open my mouth and puke everywhere. “You’ll be fine. Pretend it’s just you and the host having a regular private conversation. All you have to do is focus on Nadia and not worry about anything else, okay?”

Yeah, except for the fact about a million other people would be watching, too. Well, maybe not a million, but all the people who ate breakfast around this time in Grand Rapids anyway. That and my older relatives in Chicago, who my mother told me had somehow, even though they couldn’t download anything to save their lives, now knew how to livestream a talk show in Michigan. Just my luck they’d all get technologically advanced in time to witness my humiliation.

Jalen walked me onto the set, which was way smaller than I imagined. I sat next to the host, Nadia, who was reading some cards.

“Hi,” she said holding out her hand. “Nice to meet you. Okay… American on-jah-new. On-jah-new,” she said. She shrugged. “Sorry. I’ve been struggling with that word all day. Okay, we’re ready.”

The director counted us down, and all of a sudden, Nadia sat straight up like her spine was on fire.

“Welcome back! Today we have local model Landry Albright with us. She was a contestant on the American…” she paused, “Inge—Ingénue contest.” Somehow seeing Nadia get thrown by how to pronounce the name of the show made me relax. “Now tell us, Landry, how did you get chosen for the show?”

“I tried out a few months ago when they had auditions at the Perry mall. And then I got called back a few times. I didn’t make it into the final round, but they called me back for the Wild Card round.”

“How exciting. What was it like to get a second chance at this competition?”

My mind went blank. I knew I wasn’t supposed to talk about what happened with sabotage, so I said, “It was an amazing opportunity. I met a lot of great people and got a new hairstyle.”

The crew laughed, which I wasn’t expecting, and I felt kind of stupid. Did I sound like a little kid talking about my hair? “

Well, it looks lovely,” Nadia said with her white teeth gleaming. “Is modeling what you want to do after you graduate?”

“Well, after high school, I plan to go to college, but I’d like to keep modeling, too. And maybe even try acting.”

“Great, great. What do you want to major in when you get to college?”

With the hot lights beating down on me, I couldn’t even think of what people did major in other than what my own parents did and I couldn’t say, “Med school like my dad,” because no one would ever believe me, so I said, “Business, like my mom.” I said, “She’s my role model,” to earn extra brownie points with my mother.

“Oh, that’s so great. So you hope to follow in your mother’s footsteps?”

Um, no — bor-ing! “Well, my favorite Ingénue model, Talisa Milan, studies business so she can learn to read her own contracts and I admire her, so I’d like to be able to do that, too.”

“Talisa is quite the pioneering model, isn’t she?” Nadia said. “Well, thank you so much for coming on today, and we wish you the best of luck.”

“And we’re clear,” a voice boomed out. Nadia nodded to me. “Good job.” I got up and walked off the set and realized I had no clue where to go next. Jalen walked me back to the green room and told me I did “Awesome.” Then he said, “I’ll go get your mom from the set.”

From the what? Then I saw her — my mother walking from the direction of the set.

“Hi, hon,” she said. “You did so well.”

“You weren’t — you didn’t—”

“Well, they weren’t sure about you being alone, you know, the fact you are a minor, so they let me come and be on set. I hid behind a camera so I wouldn’t make you nervous.”

Ugh! My mommy had to be on set? How embarrassing!

“Come on, let’s go get breakfast, and I’ll take you back to school.”

“Can we go to a restaurant?”

“No time. The school allowed you an hour and a half as a favor, so we only have about a half hour left. I’ll get you a fast food breakfast sandwich and you can eat and change in the car.”

How glamourous. I’m sure all models ate breakfast burritos and changed into navy blue school pants in the back of her mommy’s car, too. Why was my life so lame? I mean, I was just on TV, shouldn’t I at least get, like, a pretty salad and some water in a fancy glass with a slice of lemon in it? Not a paper cup of orange juice with a clown on the front.


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.

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Jess ladled chicken soup from a cast iron pot into bowls, handing them to people in the line. She was unaware of Garth’s presence until she held out a bowl and he reached for it, his fingers lightly touching hers. Her gaze instantly flew to his face. Jerking slightly, she spilled soup on the table.
“I’m sorry, Garth.” She reached for a towel. “Did it burn you?”
Garth grinned in delight at her confusion. “Not at all. It’s all on the table. Here, I'll do that.” He reached for the towel, intentionally touching her hand again. Jerking back, she banged her elbow on the cast iron pot.
“I don’t know what’s wrong with me.” She rubbed her elbow gingerly. “Just clumsy tonight, I suppose.”
Garth wiped up the soup and laid down the towel. “Are you alright? You hit that pot pretty hard.”
Jess picked up another bowl, filled it, and handed it to the man waiting behind Garth. “I’m fine.” She busied herself filling more bowls.
The line had backed up behind Garth, so he moved on; thrilled that she was so aware of him. It gave him hope.
After everyone was served, Jess filled a bowl, took some bread, and joined Grandmother, who sat chatting with some ladies.
Grandmother observed her closely. “Jess, luv. Are you alright? I saw what happened at the serving table. Your cheeks are flushed. You’re not taking ill again, are you?”
Jess avoided Grandmother’s gaze as she broke off a bite of bread. “No, I’m fine. Just a bit clumsy.”
Grandmother spotted Garth approaching their table. “Garth, luv,” she called as he approached. Jess accidently dropped her spoon into her soup, splashing some onto the tablecloth. Grandmother looked at her curiously then back to Garth as he sat opposite Jess.
Jess retrieved her spoon, casually glancing at him then back at her bowl.
“Garth, I’m glad to see you here,” Grandmother was saying. “I wasn’t sure you’d make it.”
His eyes rested on Jess’s downcast face. “I wouldn’t have missed it for anything. Besides, Dad and I both came. If anyone needs us they know where to find us. Most everyone’s here tonight anyway.”
“Neville’s here as well?” Grandmother asked in surprise, her eyes scanning the room.
Garth looked around. “He’s here somewhere.”
Jess was thankful for Grandmother’s presence when she suddenly slid her chair back from the table. “Excuse me, my luvs, but I need to speak to someone.”
Jess groaned inwardly. Maybe Garth would see someone he needed to speak with and would go away. His presence was making her uncomfortable.

My excerpt is from One of Forty,

He’d prayed for hours about his rash decision in agreeing to pick up a practical stranger, and he’d come up with—Do it! It was the right thing, even though it wasn’t easy and it seemed to be interfering with his other goals.
Locks double-checked, Joshua shut the car door. The concrete stoop was cracked and leaning to one side. Rust coated the metal railing like a brittle paint. He’d reached the front door without incident. Yay for small victories.
The flimsy outer door almost ripped off in his hands. There went his victory. And when had he turned into the Hulk?
He tried to let it go slowly, easing it to the frame, but it banged closed anyway. He cringed and searched to see if anyone had noticed. Thankfully he was alone.
He tugged his suit jacket into place. Why did straightening his clothing build his confidence?
Mrs. Manis’ instructions were to climb one flight of stairs and go to the end of the hall. Bronze numbers reading two hundred forty would be on the door. Forty had got his heart pumping, just a little, but then he’d remembered there was the two hundred to consider. And that helping Melody was leading him away from being the one of forty the missionary board needed.
He climbed, avoiding the boards that appeared loose or weak. Light flickered, making the dark stairwell eerie. He expected moans and groans at any moment. The place resembled a haunted house.
Something ran past his leg and he jumped. He might have squealed, but he hoped not. He didn’t want to lose his man card.
He looked back and forth to make sure no one saw him. Uh-oh. A girl, not more than three feet tall, stood before him. Maybe he should reach out and test to see if she was corporal or not. He really needed to get a grip.
She spoke. He wasn’t sure whether to be relieved or worried. Her lower lip trembled. Now he was in real trouble. It wasn’t a ghost but a crying girl.
He squatted but didn’t touch her. “I think it ran that way.”
She sniffled. Yup, she was going to cry. Why hadn’t he spent more time in the church nursery? Then he might know what to do.
He blurted. “May I help you find kitty?”
She ran her finger under her nose and chewed on her trembling lower lip. She seemed unsure of her answer. He was a stranger. Maybe she’d been taught not to speak to strangers. Good for her.
“How about I take you to your mommy and she can help you find kitty?”
A smile tilted her lips and she nodded. Before he could ask where her apartment was she turned on her heel and skipped to the end of the hallway.
Was she going the same direction as him?

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:

I press my fingers to my eye, now swollen tightly shut. There’s no hope of even trying to open it. I haven’t looked in the mirror, as usual, to examine the damage. Rolling onto my side, I hear myself groan as I plant my,feet firmly into the floor to brace myself. My shaky legs struggle to support my body weight. I should have eaten more for dinner, but I was just far too distracted.

I stumble into the bathroom and almost scream when I look at the image gaping back at me in the mirror. Either my face is just really pale, or it’s an illusion created by the sharp contrast against the giant, dark bruise that engulfs my left eye socket and upper half of my cheek. I whimper as I press my fingers to it. What was I thinking?

Then I relive it once again . . . his touch . . . his kiss . . . like warm, fiery ice numbing the pain and traveling from the surface of my skin to the depths of my soul. I’ve never been touched by a guy in that way. I’ve never had a guy even interested in me in the short, yet entirely too long, eighteen years of my life. I could feel the passion, yet complete respect he has for me in that brief moment that I’ll never forget.

I can’t fight the painful grin that engulfs my bruised, battered face as I relive every second of it once more. “Snap out of it!” I bark at the love-stricken, monsterlike image of myself reflecting back at me. I twist the faucet on as cold as I can make it. Bringing the chilling water to my aching cheek, I try to numb some of the pain, and subconsciously, some of the warm, irrational feelings that I know I shouldn’t have. I stare at myself in the mirror again. I can’t go with him tomorrow. As badly as I want to, I just can’t! I sigh and then groan.

A few moments later, I trudge back to my bed. It’s only 2130. I know it’s early, but there’s no fight left. I mutter the words under my breath. “Lord, show me what I should do.”


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Betty could hold in the sneeze no longer. She drew in a deep breath. "AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHCCCCCHHHHOOOOOOO!" When recovered from being doubled over, she grabbed a small rock and threw it at her brother.

"Ouch! That hurt!" The straps of Nathan's patched overalls slipped onto his muscular shoulders as the teenager cranked with all his might. One stray curl fell over his forehead. Great effort was needed to bring up the long metal tube filled with water from the well. Betty grinned as the weight of the load in the cylinder almost lifted the teenager right off his feet.

She stood, manning a wooden bucket, awaiting the water. Neither she nor her younger sister Nancy cared one bit about getting their flour sack dresses dirty leaning on the rocks surrounding the well opening. Betty's little dog danced with excitement.

"Isn't he handsome?" The Boston Terrier's pointed ears perked up as if knowing he was the focus of the conversation. "I still can't believe Wilson is my dog." Betty knelt to scratch the little dog's chin.

Nancy put her hands on her hips. “Humph. It’s downright amazing he’s here at all, considering where he came from. The only reason that ugly John Henry Hannigen gave Wilson to you was to get you to go out with him. But even that shouldn’t be enough.” Nancy continued to watch for the cylinder. “That boy is ugly. Inside and outside.”

Betty pictured John Henry. Tall. Lean, even skinny. Raggedy blonde hair he wore a bit too long. His smile was worse, the missing front tooth emphasized a rather mean streak. Wrinkling her nose, she sat on a rock.
“Now Nancy, be nice. Go out? Even if I wasn’t frightened of the whole idea, Mama won’t let me go out with any boy. Besides, I’ve heard a dog is better than a man any day. Ain’t that right?” She patted her leg for the dog to jump into her lap. “Yes it is, isn’t it sweetheart? Let me call you sweetheart , I’m in love with you…” Betty held her ear toward the dog’s muzzle. He licked her neck and she laughed.

“Get up here and do your share!” Nancy grumbled.

“Ah, she’s just plain jealous, ain’t she, Wilson?”

“You’re all wet, that’s what you are!” Nancy grabbed the cylinder which had just emerged from the well. She released the water directly on Betty’s head. Wilson yelped, jumped away from the cold wetness and began barking. Betty hopped up from her perch on the rock.

“Drat it! I worked hard to get that water!” Nathan seemed angry.

Betty studied his face and knew right away he was just pretending to be mad.
“Did any go in the bucket?” Nathan asked.

“Here,” she said. “Let me wring out my dress over the bucket. Wouldn’t want all that hard work to be wasted! My lands, little sister, you beat all.” Betty dripped what water she could into the bucket, then flung spray from her wet hair at Nancy.

"As I sat there drinking my tea, remembering the rather strange circumstances in which the cottage had become my home, the cat came in. Not a particularly interesting event in itself I’d agree, except this cat walked in through a solid wall."

An Accidental Murder - Book 1 of The Yellow Cottage Vintage Mysteries (Book 2 out end of Jan)

Middle Grade time travel adventure

On Amazon at


It wasn’t a whole pot, just a broken shard the size of Jim's hand, etched with squiggles and curvy lines. He traced one squiggle with his finger, blew the dust off, and began digging around the next. He flicked out some dirt and pulled the awl through the design again.

Suddenly the air turned electric. A low hum began, a vibrating bass thrumming through his body. He stopped, senses on alert. A blue haze shimmered on the edge of his vision, but when he turned, it vanished.

He waited, and the forest seemed to wait with him. A branch cracked behind him. He dropped the clay fragment and whirled.

The hum deepened and rolled through the air. The shimmer of blue reappeared, and this time Jim could look directly at it.

His feet seemed rooted into the ground. He needed to get out of this place, get back to Granger Village, but he couldn’t take a step. He crouched and hugged his knees.

His skin turned clammy, a rush of dizziness overtook him … he crumpled.

Seconds stretched to minutes. Jim didn’t know how long he lay there, huddled against the strange sensations. He fought it, whatever it was he was caught in, until the hum lightened and then disappeared. His dizziness passed and he warily opened his eyes.

His gaze followed the tree trunks up to the sun sparkling through the branches, the thunderclouds mysteriously gone. He sat up, pressing his hands into bare dirt instead of old leaves. And behind him, where he had tripped just a few minutes earlier, where there should be nothing but a small clearing, stood a weathered log cabin.

“This man tried to infiltrate our society. He was caught attempting to upload a virus into the latest batch of MIHs. Tried and failed.” Fishgold then withdraws a scalpel from his pocket letting it glint in the July sun. He snaps rubber gloves around his hands and holds the knife with expert precision.

“Let this be a warning to any of those who dare to join the rebellion. You will be caught. Treason such as this will not go unpunished.”

He turns toward the man as the soldiers step forward and grabs the rebel by the arms, forcing him to stand.

“Any last words?” Fishgold asks as a soldier holds the microphone in front of the man.

“Long live the rebelli—”

His cry is replaced with a shriek of pain that echoes through the silent multitude as Fishgold presses the scalpel against the man’s neck. In a few swipes, he’s removed the thin layer of skin where the tattoo was. The man tries to pull his head away from the knife, but his chains and the soldiers restrain him. Fishgold makes one more cut fully removing the tattooed section of the man’s neck.

From my seat, I see the blood run down the back of his neck, soaking into his shirt. Taryn clenches her eyes shut. I wish I could, but I can’t stop staring. This can only mean one thing. The man is a Natural Born. His tattoo is a fake, and he’ll most likely die for his cause.

Yellow Rock
Western Romance novella

“I guess Clem was right. He’d told me you had no use for women. I guess you must still be in mourning for your wife. I’m so sorry for your loss,” she said, reaching out to put her hand on his. His skin, thick and browned by the sun, quivered under her fingers. When he spoke, it was heavy with emotion, but she couldn’t decide which kind.
“To be honest, I feel guilty because I haven’t mourned for long. I’ve often wondered if my love for Birdie was based more on gratitude than real love. She saved my life. Something so powerful does something to a person’s way of thinking.”
“I suppose it does. That’s too bad,” Willow whispered, wondering if her attraction and trust toward Dutch was for those same reasons. He’d saved her life, and she’d done nothing but cling to him ever since. Maybe it wasn’t love, maybe it was only gratitude. The thought weighed itself in her mind until it fell like a rock to her gut. She realized she’d been truly happy thinking she might be falling in love. She withdrew her hand realizing she couldn’t have been falling in love with a man she didn’t know.