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)!!


Redemption - Click to Buy

Wishing she would trust him, Art brought them to the end of Main Street and began leading them around the community's center, known as The Green. "Is there anything you need to tell me?" he asked.

"Such as?"

"Have you received correspondence from anyone unusual? Have you noticed any strange people in town watching you? Following you?"

"Arty, you're starting to spook me." He had long ago stopped allowing anyone to call him Arty, but on her lips the name sounded musical.

"It's not my intention to spook you, Minnie, but it's important you understand I'm keeping your secret at a cost. You need to be honest with me, and you need to let me know if anything unusual happens, even if you don't think it's important. I can't watch you all day long, so I need you to be looking out for yourself and reporting to me anything you notice that's out of the ordinary."

She nodded in the dimming light and said, "Okay, I'll try. I'm not very good at trusting people."

"Who do you turn to when you need advice?" he asked.

"No one. I figure things out for myself. I've had to." Her answer rang with quiet defiance.

"I hope you'll eventually feel you can count on me," he said. She started to protest, but he stopped her. "I think I understand." He looked at her, hoping she could see how earnest he was. "Try to remember that while you may not be able to think of a person to trust, you can always trust God. He's listening all the time, and He gives great advice."

With a sigh, Minnie said, "I know. I'm afraid I've been a terrible disappointment to Him, too."

"You say 'too' as if you've got a whole slew of disappointed people to contend with."

"If you knew the whole truth, you'd be added to the list of people disappointed in me."

"I doubt that, Minnie," he said, his tone casual. "We all make mistakes, and most of those times, we're harder on ourselves than anyone else is. If you're so certain you've let down the people around you, maybe it's because you're disappointed in yourself."

Minnie's look was peevish, but she didn't protest. "Give it some thought, that's all I ask."

Minnie nodded, her raven locks bouncing with the motion.

"You're all grown up now, aren't you, Arty Paulson? You didn't just grow into your Adam's apple and get an adult job. You went and did some maturing on the inside, too, where it matters most."

"We all have to grow up eventually."

"Thank you for wanting to look out for me and for wanting me not to be so hard on myself. I'll give some thought to what you said."

"And you'll tell me if you see anyone unusual around town or if you get anything strange in the mail?"

"Yes, sir," she said with a mock salute.

Go Back

10 Steps to Girlfriend Status (Bird Face book two)

Who would’ve guessed that looking through old photo albums could get me into so much trouble?

It happened to be Friday—the day before the wedding. No, not mine! I’m only fourteen, and this is Louisiana, not New Hampshire.

I arrived on time at LeMoyne High School, via the Mom-mobile, wearing a skirt that made the best of summer’s leftover tan. Baseball-player and heart-throbbing hunk David Griffin leaned against a tree on the front lawn.

Steps toward achieving girlfriend status:
1. Meeting before school (Check.)

We’d known each other since last year, but at the start of ninth grade our friendship expanded like a Cajun cornbread hushpuppy in hot oil.

“Hey, Wendy. TGIF,” he shouted.

Man, his grin killed me. “TGI-uh-TD-uh-BTW,” I countered. It was really hard to concentrate when he was all I could see.

He burst out laughing and ran a hand over his curly brown hair. “What?”

“Thank goodness it’s the day before the wedding.” Like always, heat crept into my cheeks as I drew near him. I smiled big to camouflage the reason.

“Yeah, and I’ll be there with a tie and everything.” His green eyes dazzled me. “Unless you un-invite me.”

“Not a chance. I need all the moral support I can get.” I’d never tell him Mom allowed me to invite no more than two friends, and he was one of them. If he only knew how much I looked forward to seeing him away from his jock buddies.

We started up the steps to the main entrance as the first leaves of autumn danced across our path in the warm breeze.

“Well, I might mess up somehow and make you mad today.” He stuck an arm out and prevented someone who was coming down the steps from running into me.

“You won’t wiggle out that easily.”

We reached an intersection of halls and turned in opposite directions.

“See you later,” he said over his shoulder.

It took every ounce of willpower not to look back at him as he walked away. But too many pairs of eyes watched, belonging to too many of his friends and teammates who’d poke and tease him.

We weren’t a couple—at least not yet. Why invite ridicule or ruin my chances? LeMoyne was three times the size of Bellingrath Junior High, and to say there were a lot of pretty girls here was an understatement of gross proportions.

SKETCHY TACOS - Inspirational YA Travel Novel
By Meg D. Gonzalez


The scent of sizzling quesadillas, bubbling soups, and slow-roasting meat made my mouth water. They dripped with flavor. I couldn’t wait to taste every single one. On the cordoned-off street, strings of flags crisscrossed the blue sky. Children laughed and kicked a soccer ball through winding legs. Everywhere the colors were so vivid they almost hurt. And the music… Ecstasy filled the notes. It’s no wonder I stopped and stared.
“A group of dancers, the Folkorico, filled the main stage. The raw beauty of their dresses and dance froze me to the spot.” I wished to pull out my sketchbook, but I knew the skills to capture the fluid movement eluded me.
“Julia stopped with me, but she was impatient. She couldn’t see what I saw. The rest of the class went ahead. When Mrs. Danphe found us, she didn’t scold us. Instead, she watched with me.”
She whispered, “It’s magical, isn’t it?”
The reality of Mexico spins into my vision.
Pins and needles prick my shins, and I shift my position. “She told me about the exchange program she used to run. Mrs. Danphe wanted to revive it for me.”
Knots form beneath my ribs. Julia’s response to her offer came before I could open my mouth. “Mila wouldn’t last a week.”
And here I am, ready to prove her right.
Mrs. Danphe’s reply echoes through me. “You’re stronger than you know.”
Rosa’s lips stay shut. A spark ripples in my chest. She doesn’t trample my thoughts with her own. She listens to what I have to say.
The warmth of her gaze fills me with the courage to finish. “At the festival, I fell in love with the Mexican culture. I wanted to experience the place that birthed such beauty.”
And I had to know if I could do it on my own.
“So what do you want?” Rosa says again. This time she doesn’t wait for an answer. She hands me the list and walks out the door.
The black type and purple loops create a jarring contrast. It fits the two women in my life. The two voices in my head.
But what does my own voice say? It’s been years since I’ve had the space to listen… if I ever had it.
With hesitant fingers, I search for my pencil set and choose a medium shade. In tidy print, I write, “Determine who I am and impress Rosa’s friends and family with it.”
Shavings fall to the ground until a fine point forms. I scratch, “Improve my art.”
Mom does not approve of my hobby. She wants to fit me into her tiny bubble and keep me packed away, safe and sound.
The pencil twirls between my fingers. “Decide what to study in college.” Then maybe, just maybe, I’ll have a chance of convincing my parents to let me leave home to go to a university.
My hands shake. I pick up a stack of clothes and put them in the drawer Rosa emptied for me.
I have to stay. I have to prove I’m self-sufficient.
Besides, it’s only six weeks. What could go wrong?

FINDING THE WAY BACK ~ Sweet Contemporary Romance
On sale for $0.99 (regularly $2.99)


Hazel turned to face the director and Mr. Wolenczek behind him. “I want to speak with Ian for a moment before I make a final decision. If all goes well, I will take him in and do whatever I can to aid his recovery.”

A furrow formed between Director Cole’s eyebrows, and he drew in a breath. “I’m not sure—”

“Let me go in first,” Mr. Wolenczek said. “Ian knows me, so it might go better if I introduce you before you talk to him.”

“That’s fine.” Hazel ignored the director’s displeased expression and followed Mr. Wolenczek to the door of the observation room.

He typed a code into the keypad by the door, and the light turned red. Opening the door, he stepped inside and spoke in a low, even tone. “Ian, let me know you hear me.”

Ian lifted a hand in a halfhearted wave before letting it fall into his lap again. Mr. Wolenczek stepped farther into the room and motioned for Hazel to join him.

“Ian, this is Hazel Baker. She’s a nurse practitioner and would like to speak with you. All right?”

The same hand lifted briefly in acknowledgement, but otherwise Ian showed no sign that he was aware of the world around him.

Hazel glanced at Mr. Wolenczek, and he nodded. Drawing in a calming breath, she stepped forward and knelt before her soon-to-be patient and housemate. “Ian, they’ve asked that I bring you to my home so you won’t have to stay here any longer. Would you like that?”

He lifted his head ever so slightly and met her gaze with chocolate brown eyes. The shadows of horror were unmistakable, but she suddenly had a feeling he was aware of a lot more than he let on.

She gave him a smile and laid her hand on his arm in a show of friendship. “I have a four-year-old daughter. Her name is Ellie.”

Ian studied her for what felt like an eternity before he finally gave a single small nod. He dropped his gaze again, and Hazel glanced at Mr. Wolenczek. He shrugged, offering no help in deciphering the nod. She turned back to Ian.

“Does that mean you want to come stay with me?” He nodded again, and Hazel gave his arm a gentle squeeze. “All right, then. We’ll make arrangements to transport you to my house.”

She stood and followed Mr. Wolenczek out of the room. As he and the others discussed the transportation plan, she glanced through the glass wall. Ian met her gaze and held it for a few seconds before looking away again. He stretched out on the bench with his back to the hall, and Hazel tried to return her attention to the discussion around her. Unfortunately, she couldn’t get those troubled brown eyes out of her mind. It felt like he was trying to tell her something, but what?

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.

“I am more convinced than ever that....”
page 127
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Embracing Hope (Christian Contemporary Romance)

The wind howled and thunder clapped as Allison’s father, hanging onto his John Deere cap, dashed across the Riley quad and into the gazebo. She scampered after him through the pouring rain. He took her right hand to help her jump over a rising stream that surrounded the gazebo.

“That caught me by surprise!” her dad laughed, whipping off the drenched cap. Chris leered at her! She yanked her hand free, and ran out to the quad as he disappeared in the torrent.

Just ahead, Drew crossed a bridge over the rising water with his left hand outstretched. A thick gold wedding band gleamed around his finger. Allison rushed to him and was about to collapse in his embrace when a flash of lightning exposed Chris’s menacing face. He seized her right arm. She wrenched away, and thrashed through the rushing current flowing over the bridge.

Chris’s raucous laughter closed in behind her as Allison slogged through knee-high water to the parking ramp. She hit the car’s remote in desperation a dozen times. Finally. the door flung open and a surge of water poured out. Chris sprang from the driver’s seat, grabbed her arm, and attempted to drag her inside, but she frantically jerked free.

Trudging through waist-high water up the ramp, Allison fought against the bone-chilling cascade that threatened to sweep her away. Chris’s hand dug painfully into her right shoulder from behind, but she wrestled away. Level after level, he jumped out of flooded and smashed red cars, grabbing her right arm over and over again until it hung grotesquely at her side.

By the time she reached the top level of the ramp, the water was up to her chest and the turbulent current began pulling her under. She saw her father and Drew standing on the precipice of the ramp. With rain and hail pelting her, Allison hoisted herself up onto the ledge. Each man dissolved into Chris! They lunged at her and she screamed as the freezing black waters swallowed her.

Paperback and ebook on Amazon; also Nook, Smashwords, Kobo


“Welcome to the most boring part of what you will be doing for the next couple of months,” she droned, glancing up at me for a second and then down at the stack of papers in her hands. A breeze drifted through my hair and I realized I hadn’t looked in a mirror for at least two weeks. Facing this clean-cut, put-together, and crispy-clean woman, I felt slouchy, grimy, and just totally hungry. I ruffled my hands through my hair, trying to flatten out the wrinkles and tangled knots. It was to no avail. I knew my splintered rag of a mop snarled beyond control. Opening and closing my mouth, starting to say anything, something, I paused. I didn’t know where to start.

“Can I get some breakfast?” I asked. “Like, a waffle would travel far right now.”

Tanya blinked at me, then scanned her paper and poised ready with the pen. “Name?” she asked.

“We’re going to fast-forward for right now, Tanya,” Soldier Guy said, crisp as a carrot. “Basics, DNA prep, and secondary background check.”

Tanya nodded. She opened a drawer and pulled out a black shiny ball about the size of a baseball. “Hold this in your right hand,” she said, handing it to me. “Don’t squeeze it too tight.” Heavy and cold, the ball lit up with white lights, tracing the outline of my hand. A pin pricked the pad on my first finger. I gasped and released the ball. It beeped twice. “This scans your fingerprints and samples your DNA. Other hand,” Tanya said.

I sighed and did what she said. A little bead of blood popped up on my finger while scanning the other hand. Beeping twice again, the ball pricked that finger, as well.

“Once I have your prints in the system, you will have limited access to use the PASS plates.”

“I’ll get her started on those,” Soldier Guy said to her, nodding to the stack of papers, holding out his hand, and standing.

She handed him the bunch and a pen, nodding. “I need them before the end of the day. Otherwise I can’t proceed,” Tanya said with a stern tone.

“On it,” he said with a quick and curt nod, as if to dismiss her.

She went back to her papers, quite busy and attentive with them.

“Alright, Mack,” he said to me. “Let’s go.” He took two steps toward the wall panel where the other guys had exited, before noticing I stayed seated. Without turning around he said, “Waffles are this way.”

Available for only $4.99 on Kindle, Nook, iTunes, Kobo, Scribd, and Smashwords!

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 really should just retreat out that door. It’s bad enough that I walked in on his workout. It would make it far worse if I try to do my own pitiful attempt at exercise. But I can’t. I refuse to show weakness. They already have their eyes on me. He saw me come in. I have to do something.

I approach the mat cautiously, unsure where to start. Miserably failing my first attempt at a push-up, I drop to my knees and modify them like I always did in gym class. After ten, I stand and do some jumping jacks. My leg stings and throbs, so I quickly switch to crunches. Agh, so weak! I wish he couldn’t see me. I wish I hadn’t come in at all.

I aimlessly try to figure out a method to my madness. I must look like a floundering fool. To make it even worse, as I rigorously do my crunches, I note that he’s stopped his intense, imaginary fight. Arms folded across his thick, muscular chest, he’s studying me.

Ignore him, Sam! Ignore him!

“You really need to focus on exercises that will enhance your fighting skills,” he states from across the room.

I stop and sit frozen on the mat.

“Come over here.” He motions to the bag.

I plod over to him, hoping he can’t see me cowering on the inside as I stare at the floor like a whooped puppy.

Standing next to him without the jacket makes him seem even bigger and scarier. He looks like one of those superheroes you see in the movies, except superheroes don’t dress in all black and try to scare a group of teenagers. His T-shirt simply can’t hide the fact that his entire torso is solid muscle and his arms are bigger than my legs. His shoulders must be almost twice as broad as mine. I already knew I was built like a sickly child, but now I feel so much smaller and weaker. The things he could do to me!

“I want you to throw front and reverse jabs into this bag for one minute. Then increase intensity on the second, and go all out for the third.” He instructs as if he’s taught drills on the bag many times before.

I strain just to remember what front and reverse jabs are. I’m sure he taught it earlier tonight, but I wasn’t paying attention to the terminology.

He reads my mind and proceeds to demonstrate. It’s simpler than I expected. He has his left leg in front of his right with his knees slightly bent in what he calls his “fighting stance.” Naturally, his front jab is just a straight shot thrown with his left fist, and his reverse jab is thrown with his right. He strings them together fluidlylike a well-oiled machine.

My eyes shift to his massive arms as he thrusts several more powerful strike combinations into the bag. I catch several glimpses of small, black print etched on his shoulders, just barely concealed by the sleeves of his T-shirt. I wonder what it says.

He steps away from the bag, waiting as I stand frozen. “Go ahead.”

Mercy's Prince:

Mercy set a bowl of porridge in front of Rafael. When he grabbed his spoon, Mercy placed her hand over his. “We must be thankful first,” she said. “Will you say the blessing?”

Rafael's eyes widened, and then he became shy. “I never said it, Sissy. Papa always said it.”

“I know, love. But Papa is not here. You are the man of the house until he comes back.” Mercy squeezed her brother's hand to reassure him.

“I can do it. I know what to say.” Rafael straightened, bowed his head, and closed his eyes. “For this food we are to eat, may we be thankful. Amen.”

“Amen.” Mercy smiled at the pleased look on his face.

While they ate, Mercy replayed yesterday's incredible childbirth over and over, but it was Sister Providence's words about her “gift” that had shaken her most. Was she truly a Healer, then? Was that how it happened for Papa? If only she could ask him about it. She placed her spoon in the empty bowl.

“Did you ever watch Papa Heal someone?”

“Only when my arm got broke.” Rafael wiped his mouth and held up his right arm. “This one, 'member?”

“I do remember.” Mercy felt his wrist for the knot where the break had been. Frowning, she cupped his arm and closed her eyes. With a gasp she Saw clearly that the bone had not healed properly and what she needed to do to make it right.

When she started to drift, Rafael shook her, insistently. “Sissy! Wake up!”

Mercy opened her eyes. Rafael frowned in concern.

“What happened?” She glanced down at Rafael's wrist. The knot was gone.

“There was light in your hands,” he said. “Like a candle. It was warm, too.” He moved his wrist back and forth. “It feels better now.”

“Was there a light when Papa Healed you?” Mercy shivered, suddenly cold.

“No, Sissy.” Rafael slid down from the stool. “Can I play now?”

“Yes, love.” Mercy tried to smile, but she couldn't stop the chattering of her jaw.

After Mercy wiped off the bowls and spoons, she went out to her herb garden behind the cottage, hoping the soil and the sun would calm her inner turmoil. She knelt among the plants and inhaled their mingled fragrances. If Healing was a gift from the Most High, then it would explain how she Saw things that eyes alone could not possibly see. It would also explain why something she could only describe as power coursed through her hands but also used up some vital part of herself. Despite the warmth of the sun, Mercy shuddered.


He moved aside as she walked in and a hint of spice made her stumble. He smelled divine. She walked pass a mahogany partition with aqua etchings running through it. His place was a mix of black and beige, but every now and then, she spotted her favorite color. It was definitely a bachelor pad. She walked forward and paused as a huge Saint Bernard got up from one of the sofas and lumbered over. He walked over to her and nudged her with his massive head.

A dog! She had always wanted one growing up. She dropped to her knees and ran her hands through his thick fur. “Aren’t you a beauty.” She’d debated on getting a dog once she was older, but could never decide on a type. She reached behind his ears and began scratching them. He rumbled low in his throat and his left foot began thumping. “Oh you like that do you? Such a handsome fellow.”

“I cannot believe what I’m seeing.”
She looked over her shoulder at Dwight. “What? I put I like dogs on the survey.”

“Yes, but Beast doesn’t like people.”

Her mouth dropped open. She promptly closed it hoping she avoided the guppy look. “You named him Beast?” She turned back to the dog. “You’re not a Beast are you? He’s obviously confused.” Beast continued to thump his leg and rumble. She snuggled her face in his fur. “You smell like you just came from a bath. Did you prep for the date too?”

She heard Dwight laugh and the sound sent shivers up her arms. She looked at them. Yep, goosebumps took over, raising the tiny hairs on her arms.