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 Jackal


Jackal jumped from the carriage before the dust could settle. His best chance would be to go on the offence and catch the driver off-guard. Though he'd assumed the driver had a partner, nothing could have prepared him for the vicious attack awaiting him on the other side of the door.

Jackal no sooner touched the ground than he was trampled under the anxious feet of a high-stepping horse. He'd not even had a chance to gain his footing. As he lay on the ground, Jackal both heard and felt the breaking of bone in his left leg. A couple of his ribs surrendered to the heavy hooves as well. Rolling onto his side, he took aim at the perpetrator. The sun blinded him, and he could distinguish no features on the man whose gun dared him to move. In the split second it took for him to reassure himself he was not aiming at an innocent bystander – for they were indeed in one of the numerous modest hamlets that dotted the continent's countryside – the rider pulled the trigger, and pain seared through Jackal's already throbbing leg. It felt as if the lead had burrowed its way into his very bone.

He pulled the trigger of his flintlock pistol, and the man on the horse recoiled. Even as Jackal reached for the gun concealed at the ankle of his wounded leg, he knew it was futile. The rider had a second gun in-hand before his own fingers even brushed against the grip of his hidden weapon. Pain tore through his shoulder, immobilizing his shooting arm. Another ball of lead ripped into his middle. He felt his blood seeping out onto the street.

Accepting his fate, he asked only one thing. "At whose hand am I to die this day?"

Laughter vile enough to sour port met his question. "Today the Jackal shall meet his end at the hands of The Hunter."

The Hunter? The Austrians were supposed to have him by now.

"Your plan failed, and I am free. Prepare to die."

Blackness closing in around him, Jackal released the last thought held captive in his mind.

Why God?

Cold claimed his body as he slipped into darkness. He neither heard nor felt the next shot.

Go Back

A Chaotic Coursthip by Bethany Swafford

A Regency novel


“I thought you’d never get here!” Sarah said, ignoring my question completely as she spun to face me. I frowned at her as I put my outside garments away. She seemed highly agitated, a state which I had seldom seen her in. “Diana, I must speak with you!”

“About what?” I asked calmly.

Sarah took up pacing, and for a moment I believed she wasn’t going to continue with whatever she wanted to say. “You must listen to me for once in your life!” she finally said, as though I had been disagreeable.

Sinking onto our bed, I tried to hide a smile. “Then come out and tell me what has you in such a state.”

“I think Mr. Richfield is the highwayman!”

My smile faded instantly as I stared at her. How had she come up with this ridiculous idea? “You what?” I asked in astonishment.

“There, I’ve said it!” Sarah collapsed into the chair at the dressing table. “I’ve considered the matter carefully, Diana, and as your sister, I could not let you become attached to such a black-hearted criminal!”

I couldn’t help but laugh in response to that absurd notion. “Blackhearted criminal? You cannot be serious, Sarah. I have never heard anything so outlandish. Have you been reading my novels?”

“Diana, I am being completely serious! Stop laughing!”

“How can I take you seriously when everything you say is utter nonsense? Why would you possibly think Mr. Richfield, a true gentleman if I’ve ever met one, is a common criminal?”

Sarah leaned forward, her eyes wide. “Don’t you remember what Aunt Forester said at dinner yesterday?” she asked, lowering her voice for some reason. She acted like she was about to disclose some deep secret to me, and I found myself leaning closer. “About the highwayman being around the Bath area?”

Thinking back, I did in fact remember the conversation and our aunt’s comment. “Yes, of course I remember. What about it?”

“Mr. Richfield was there!”

I failed to follow her line of reasoning. “I’m sure a great many people were in Bath at the same time, Sarah. Aunt and Uncle Forester, for example, were there for two months, I believe.”

Shaking her head, Sarah groaned. “Don’t be obtuse, Diana! You have to see the connection here. Mr. Richfield was in Bath when a highwayman terrorized innocent people. And now, he’s here, where a highwayman has mysteriously appeared to threaten our peaceful home!”

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Excerpt from ~Insurrection~

Logan stooped down next to me. He shoved aside a thick layer to reveal the straight edge did form one ledge leading down under us. Dust rose from all the shifting pebbles and dirt, forming a thick cloud. I coughed again, the chalky clumps forming on my tongue, drying out any moisture that had been present.

Rolling my tongue around my mouth and thinking about this hidden step and the lowered tunnel ceiling, I crawled around Logan toward the rocky canvas. While the camouflage job excelled, the lamp overhead showed a glare on the cave wall, where a crack extended from beneath the rocks and up to where the ceiling joined the arch. I knocked against the rocks with a balled fist, tap, tap, tap. A hollow thud followed. Knocking again a few inches up, I listened for the difference between the sounds. Crumbling texture fell away as the hollow sound echoed with my tapping.

Logan continued shoving rocks from the middle of the passage over to the side, making an indented pit from the ledge he’d found. On a whim, I took my X-11 from its holster and pounded it against the wall. The crust fell away like dry paint chipping from a dried surface.

“What are you thinking?” Logan asked, panting, stopping his shoveling and clapping the dirt off his gloved hands. Beads of sweat dripped down his temples.

“Look.” I pointed to the crack. “What if this is some kind of faux wall? Like it used to be an entrance to a cave but got covered up for some reason.”

“Well you might consider what could be on the other side of the wall and why it was closed up.”

“Hey, Einstein, I’m just exploring a little.” Logan shrugged. “Whatever you like. Just be careful, Rambo.”

“What is—who is Rambo? What is that?”

“Just watch out.”

I nodded.

He went back to shoving rocks toward the side of the tunnel floor, causing a surging of rocks next to me. I propped my knee up to gain a little extra leverage, and swung the bat against the wall once more. A crack spread from the vertical line toward the place where my weapon struck. “Give a little room.” I breathed out to Logan, and he leaned away. I swung the X-11 again, striking the wall with as much force as I could manage.

The wall splintered like an eggshell, the small hole where my weapon hit spreading with rapid abandon. Logan shoveled another pile of rocks my direction and the ground under me shifted. “Wait,” I ordered. Gritty rocks jerked beneath my knee.

Logan tossed another mound of rocks toward me.

“Hold up,” I said. What was the sound? Scuffling? Shuffling? Rushing water? And then, beneath me, the rocks shoved forward. Coursing through the fractured wall, the sediment and I surged toward darkness.

“Logan!” I dropped my weapon, grabbing the air, finding dirt, dust, and only moving surfaces.

Time stopped.

My body, however, did not.

The wall gave way, crunching and crackling, drizzling my head with dusty chunks. My feet had no grip beneath me, and the weightless dropping sent waves of shocked fire through my ribs. A scream escaped my mouth, echoing, buried beneath the waterfall of rubble plunging toward doom. I closed my eyes to block out the dust and the waves of terror.


Available on iTunes, Kindle, Nook, and more! Only $4.99!

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.

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?

The Duke Conspiracy - a sweet, Regency Romance
~ A spying debutante, a duke, and a conspiracy. Can love be found despite their feud? ~
Available for $0.99 wherever ebooks are sold, including Amazon:


Alex gazed at his old friend in admiration. If anyone had ever told him he would be standing in Burlington House surrounded by Elgin’s Marbles debating with Miss Rosamund Smythe about who might be conspiring to entrap him into marriage, he would never have believed such a claim. But here they were. And she looked mighty fetching as she gazed up at him expectantly. He had to make an effort to remember what she had said. Oh yes, something about ideas to investigate. He wondered absently what she could possibly know about investigations and clues and all that. But she was right. They needed to have a direction. The only trouble was he was drawing a blank about any possible ideas.

All he could do was shrug helplessly. “I am so sorry, Rose, but I have absolutely no idea where to start. To the best of my knowledge I have never had any dealings with Broderick. I developed an instant dislike of the man upon first making his acquaintance, but I cannot even tell you why, as we have barely conversed.”

The duke was clearly flabbergasted over this development and was even slightly ashamed to not have a ready solution. Rose must have realized this. She hastened to reassure him. “Never mind about that. We both agreed earlier that the best place for us to start is with Lady Anne. That will have to be my job, as you will just be walking straight into their plot if you try to do anything about it. Now, I really must be going, so we must hurry and establish another appointment to meet up to discuss any of our findings. In the meantime, you should speak to your solicitors or man of affairs or whatever you might have along those lines and see if they are aware of any issues Broderick might have with you. Those gentlemen might know more on the subject than you.”

“How did you get so smart about such things?”

Alex was intrigued by the blush that spread over her face at this unanswerable question. The only thing she could offer was “My father is a diplomat,” with as much dignity as possible.

Alex allowed the moment to pass and was rewarded by the look of relief on her face. He hurried to make an appointment as they saw her maid approaching. “Would it be remarked upon if you come here again tomorrow or the next day?”

“Probably not,” Rose answered. “My mother never rises before noon and is really only concerned with how I spend my evenings. But you had best give me at least one day to try to make the acquaintance of Lady Anne, so let us say the day after tomorrow. That gives me a day and a half to gather as much information as possible. I shall start with my friend Lady Elizabeth. She is a font of knowledge about the ton, as well as being friendly with Lady Anne.” While she was speaking she fumbled with her drawing supplies, finally tucking them under her arm. “Wish me luck,” she concluded as she once more faced the duke.

The duke watched a myriad of emotions chase themselves across his companion’s face. He was unable to identify most of them, but he thought she looked rather wistful as she offered him a brief curtsy before she hurried away without another word.

Alex stood in the same spot for several moments, watching her retreating figure, wondering if she would look back before exiting the building. He was unprepared for the profound disappointment that swept over him as she strode away with purpose, never once glancing back in his direction. Slowly bringing his focus back to the statue she had been sketching, the duke allowed the entire interlude to play itself out in his mind. Giving his head a shake to rid himself of the melancholy that had befallen him, he followed in her footsteps and strode from the hall.

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~ Happy Reading ~

Embracing Hope by Janell Butler Wojtowicz

Allison’s fears overflowed. “Why do you love me?”

Drew’s mouth dropped open. “What?”

“I’m the exact opposite of you. I grew up on a Nebraska farm where we barely made a living. You grew up in Connecticut in wealth and influence. I was fat and geeky in high school, and you were the best-looking and most popular guy. Everybody in your family is a high-paid professional. My father was a struggling farmer, and Grandpa spent his life selling feed and seed. You wear tailored suits, designer ties, and expensive cologne. I buy whatever is on sale and never wear perfume. Aren’t couples supposed to have mutual interests and traits, so they don’t go in different directions as time goes on? She was stunning with the perfect hair, perfect make-up, and a model’s body—which I never had and never will. She was musical and the Homecoming Queen. Even her name, Kendra, is high-class. How do I measure up to that? She was the prized red rose and I’m … I’m the puny Lily of the Valley that hides the ugly cement foundation.” She flipped a hand at the dense foliage next to the porch.

“This is the first time you’ve said Kendra’s name to me.” Drew pulled her tight against him. “Please don’t compare yourself to her, don’t run yourself down, and don’t put her or me on any pedestal because we’ll fall off really fast.”

“How did you meet?” she began.

“At her sorority party during our freshman year at UConn.”

“What attracted you to her?”

He shrugged. “What a nineteen-year-old guy usually sees first: Her beauty.”

“Why did you fall in love with her?”

He took a moment to reply. “She made me feel unique, and said I had the potential to do great things. She was an encourager. She had an unwavering faith in God, which wasn’t just endearing, it was my security. I felt closer to God just being with her. That’s why I’ve had a hard time this last year. It’s like her death separated me from God.”

“What was your wedding like? When was it? How many attendants? How many guests? What type of reception?” she rattled off.

“It was in August after we graduated, six attendants each, and the reception for three hundred was at her parents’ estate.”

Allison felt dizzy. “Estate?”

“That doesn’t matter. Next?”

“Where did she get her wedding dress?”

His eyes narrowed. “New York.”

“What size?”

“I have no idea.”

“Size two?” She didn’t wait for his answer. “And your honeymoon?”

He sighed. “Jamaica.” Drew pulled his fingers through his hair. “Sweetheart, I wish you’d—”

“Did you call her sweetheart?” The word almost stuck in her throat.

He pinched the bridge of his nose. “No.”

“What did you call her?”

“It doesn’t matter.”

“Yes, it does! What did you call her?” Allison demanded.

“Darling. I called her darling. Allie, all these details mean nothing to me.”

“But they mean something to me! How can I compete with her?”

An excerpt from Crawling to the Light:

When I turned into the parking lot of Wings of Love, I laughed at myself. Last night, I didn’t want to come here. Now, I wanted to.
A parking lot attendant directed me to a different part of the church from where I was last night. As I made my way inside, a few people said good morning and welcomed me. Many of them looked like they were around my age and enthusiastic about being there, something I had a hard time wrapping my head around. This reminded me of the kind of people and young age ranges this church attracted. Anyone around my age would never be seen at church, at least at Central Presbyterian. And if they were, it is because they had to be there.
None of them judged me on how I was dressed. In looking closer at them, the young men had long hair and tattoos and wore biker gear, or a button-down shirt with its shirttails out and cargo pants, as if they just got out of bed and had no time to get dressed. The young women had strands of hair highlighted in pink, purple, and green, and had piercings in their nose and upper lip. The black I was wearing blended in, as if I already belonged here.
I also saw a table that had complimentary coffee, orange juice, and doughnuts. There were some people hanging out there, talking to each other.
And this was no quiet, tomblike church. There were screens in the lobby that had videos showing announcements, a personal message from someone welcoming everyone to church, and a testimony from a young man who had had struggles with alcohol and being physically and verbally abusive.
“Hey! Aren’t you Melissa?” Someone said my name. It was a male. Although no one here knew me, I still looked around. This same voice kept calling out my name.
I didn’t recognize anyone, so I just thought this young man was calling someone else of the same name.
Then I saw him.
“Jimmy!” I shouted.
His arms were open, ready to give me a hug. I fell into his embrace; tears sprang to my eyes, and my body quivered. “It’s alright, Melissa. Don’t cry; everything is going to be alright.” Jimmy held on to me; I felt his strong arms upholding and protecting me.
I was too choked up to talk. Did he have any idea how much I needed him? That was why I was crying. Tears of joy, surprise, and relief.
“This is the best place to be right now. You’re safe.”

Next Door to a Star by Krysten Lindsay Hager
YA contemporary fiction for 99c


Excerpt: “Hadley, did you see the new Celebrity Snooper blog today?” Aunt Faith asked. “Simone is in it with Lauren Gere.”

“What? She didn’t say anything about that. Werethese super old pictures?”

“Here,” she said. “I’ll pull it up on my phone. It’s Simone and Lauren walking along the boardwalk with some blonde girl and a boy.”

“Does it say when that happened?” I asked. I couldn’t believe Simone wouldn’t have mentioned Lauren had already been here.

Faith found the site on her phone and stared at it. “I’m not sure, but I guess it was pretty recent. Here, look.”

Simone was on the phone in the picture and the blonde girl with them was Morgan. But what was worse was that the boy was Nick and Lauren had her hand on his arm.

Great, it was probably the same night I called Simone and she was too busy to talk. Maybe I was the one on the other end of the phone in the stupid picture. I had missed my chance to meet Lauren, and Simone never even told me when she was in town. I guess I wasn’t cool enough for her to admit she was friends with me to somebody like Lauren. Who was I kidding? A TV star wanting to hang out with me? We weren’t friends at all. I was somebody she ran to when she needed something. And Nick was probably humoring me until his new celebrity girlfriend called him back. I wanted to throw up all over the table.