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 a look at An Informal Affairwhich can be found in the Love at First Laugh box set,

Maverick, in khakis and a midnight blue polo, slid into the booth opposite Lia. “Sorry I’m late. One of the ushers thought he saw a mouse, and everybody went crazy. Took a while to calm the masses.”

Lia chuckled. “I thought the usher’s job was to seat people at the beginning of service. What role do they play when service is over?”

Maverick tapped his fingers on the table. “None, normally, and I don’t think today’s theatrics did anything to change that.”

“I don’t like suspense in my movies, books, or lunch conversation. Spill it. What did the usher do?”

“There’s a reason you and I don’t ever go to the movies together. You realize that, don’t you?”

She gave him her best do-as-you’re-told stare.

Maverick shook his head, and the diner’s fluorescent lights picked up the sable threads that ran through his normally coffee-colored hair. “The usher thought he saw a mouse, and being the good brother-in-Christ he is, he wanted to take care of the problem rather than make more work for someone else.”

Lia squinted at him. “How does that lead to a crazy horde of churchgoers?”

He sighed. “It wasn’t a mouse. It was one of those curved weird things women use to keep their buns in place. You know, the kind you put the big stick through to hold it on the head? Only, this one was velvet or something.”


“The usher thought it was fur. Hence the mouse scare.”

Lia set her glass of water down. “It wasn’t still… in a woman’s hair? Was it?”

Maverick rubbed a hand down his face. “Mrs. Peabody. The usher tried to swat it out of her hair, and her husband took exception to that. He tried to go all Bruce Lee on him. It would have worked, too, if Mr. Peabody wasn’t eighty-two years old. Sadly, his Kung Fu days are long behind him. By then, another usher jumped in to restrain Mr. Peabody. So Mrs. Peabody hit him upside the head with her purse.”

Lia tried to picture the dignified Mrs. Peabody beating on some poor usher with her purse. “How on earth did you break it up?”

Another sigh.

“One of the women had a whistle. You know, the kind you use for scaring away would-be attackers? So she blew it.” He winced. “Boy, was that thing loud. It’s a miracle she didn’t blow out anybody’s ear drums, or the foyer’s front windows.”

Lia contained her laughter, but barely, and only because they were in public. “So how did you end up involved?”

“I had sound duty today.”

“I forgot. Your job is to make sure the mics work without a feedback screech.” Why waste time on subtle digs when you knew how to push a friend’s buttons?

“Yeah, well, that one wasn’t my fault. Somebody messed with my settings.” He shuddered. “Anyway, I needed to shut all the equipment down, so I was late leaving the sanctuary. Two minutes sooner, and I’d’ve been out of there and reading about this on social media rather than replaying the video in my head.”

“I guess it’s your good luck you were doing sound today, because that video sounds like it’s one worth replaying a time or two.”

Go Back

An excerpt from Secret Angel by Cherry Christensen…

Hannah scanned side to side, searching the trees and ground for movement. With every hurried step, billowing puffs escaped her mouth into the frigid December air. She sliced through the snow, pursuing the paw prints leading across her back yard in the direction of the lakeshore. Only last night, three inches of fresh powder had blanketed her hometown of Glen Arbor.

She continued trailing the tracks as her brunette curls whipped in the wind. A half zipped wool coat rustled against her hips, and flannel pajama pants failed to ward off an icy draft running up her legs.

“Jingles! You’re going to make us both catch pneumonia.”

Hannah paused briefly, hitching a ragged breath. Examining the ground, she spotted tracks from some of the local wildlife. One pair led in the same direction as Jingles’.

“Haven’t you learned not to chase the critters?” she mumbled, tramping forward along the trail. The faint sound of twigs snapping just ahead caught her attention. She was getting closer. Two minutes—and ten frostbitten fingers later—she found Jingles perched on a tree stump by Lake Michigan. Evidently, whatever he’d been chasing had gotten away.

Introducing Bubbles the bubble blowing dragon. My six year olds favorite line..." Oh, and don't worry--Bubbles got a piece of pie, too!"

"Missing" by Peggy M McAloon & Anneka Rogers Christian Fantasy

Elle’s chest hurt. She was waking up, but she was having difficulty breathing.

The pain diminished as she fought to open her eyes. Her breathing was normal again, and the pain in her chest didn’t bother her at all now.

She looked around. The place she was in wasn’t a room she recognized.
Everything was white. There were no pictures on the walls. She was in bed, covered by a white blanket of some sort. She felt the spread between her thumb and forefinger. It was an unusual material. Not like anything she remembered.

There were two chairs by a window. They both had white cushions.
It looked like a hospital room, but something wasn’t quite right.

The door opened.

“How are you feeling?”

“I hurt some, but I guess I’m okay.”

The man dressed in white approached her. He reached for her hand.
“You’ve had some very demanding experiences, Elle. You are but a child, and no child should have to endure the loss you suffered when your father died. He was an incredibly good man and a brave man. You know that, don’t you?”

“Sure I do. Poppy was the best. I . . . I miss him so much. I got to say goodbye, but it wasn’t enough. There were so many things I wanted to talk to him about, but he’s not here.”

“He’s not gone, Elle. He is in the very air you breathe. Have you looked up at the stars at night and tried to talk to him like he asked you to do?”

“Sometimes, but it’s not like looking into his eyes. He laughed through his eyes.”

“You have his eyes.”

“Mom says that too.”

“Do you laugh through your eyes, Elle?”

“Not like I used to. It’s been too hard lately. There’s a scroll, and a prophecy everyone thinks is about me. I want to be strong, but I don’t know how.”

“We are never asked to do more than we are able.”

“Do you believe that?”

“It is the truth, Elle.”

“Whose truth is it, then?”

“Do you believe in God?” the man asked.

Elle ran her fingers over the blanket again. It was as soft as duck down.

“There were times I wasn’t sure.”

“Why did you doubt?”

“I was angry at Him for all the bad things that happened. And when the Zorins stole my voice—”

Elle jerked upward into a sitting position. “I’m talking.”

The mysterious bearded man chuckled. “Yes, you are.”

“No, I mean I’m talking out loud. I’m talking through my mouth.”

“You were telling me why you doubted God.”

“Oh.” Elle wrapped her arms around her knees. “When the Zorins stole my voice, I thought maybe there wasn’t a God to stop them. Or there was, but He didn’t because He was mad at me.”

The man didn’t say anything.

“I told God I was sorry.”

“He heard you.”

“Why did He let them take my voice?”

“You let them take your voice, not God.”

"I am more convinced than ever that..."
For more, please visit page,117

From *Incomplete* book two of the Insurrection trilogy:

Forty five minutes later, they still hadn’t showed, nor were they communicating on the silenced radio feed. Logan paced nervously. We’d hit a dead end on the left branch [of the tunnel], crumbled rocks having fallen in on the corridor many years prior to our arrival, about fifty feet into the space. We’d explored the central tunnel branch as well, finding a sharp decline ending at a dead end carved out of the rock about half a mile into the tunnel.
So we waited.
Standing in a circle in the open cavern, the four of us discussed our next course of action.
Logan continued to glance down at a watch that wasn’t on his wrist. “We sit tight for two more minutes before heading down the corridor,” Logan decided, the rest of us affirming in a chorus, when a white flashing light bobbed around from deep within the third corridor.
Humming, buzzing, and clicking echoed around the cavern.
“What is that?” I asked, and Logan jerked his head toward the hall.
Before I could see the yellow lights, I heard them, felt them, rocketing along, rotating through their protocols.
“Incoming!” Chisholm’s panicked yell echoed through the atrium. He seemed to be about a hundred feet away, nowhere near on our HUD screen.
The oxinals soared on his heels. They couldn’t calculate their enemy’s location, but they knew he was present and unaccounted for. They swung up and down, zipping along in a zig-zag pattern, six of them patrolling, searching, dispatched to execute. Chisholm flung his arms wildly, trying to gain speed in the thin hallway, crouching occasionally and then sprinting to avoid them.
His voice attached to the network. “Incoming! Incoming!”
The four of us waited with ready abandon, Logan and I closer to the tunnel, Watson and Odili further behind us, more suspect to danger in the enclosed area without the NEXIS suits. Chisholm dove into the open space, rolling between Logan and me.
They sensed our two exposed soldiers.
Chisholm uprighted, bouncing to his feet and shifting into a ready position, chest heaving from his sprint.
Six orange dotted lines filled the void of the tunnel, spreading out in a hexagonal pattern to scan the room for any available targets. Two projected straight toward Watson and Odili.
“Six bogeys. Aiming and ready, coming in at 20,” I chattered, readying for the mix. Our HUDs projected their presence, but I wanted to give the Watson and Odili a heads up.
“Watson, Odili, if you want out, go now,” Logan ordered through a clenched jaw. This could be a blood bath. Or rather, a fire storm.
Odili turned, footsteps crunching into the darkened distance. Where was Charge? Where were the others?

Purchase Insurrection and Incomplete at for only $4.99 each! Insurrection now available on audiobook!

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 look at the door just as it swings wide. A young, nerdy-looking character stands in its place. His gray suit is clean and pressed. His shiny, black hair is slicked neatly back against his head. I can’t decide whether his thick glasses make him look more like a mad scientist or just a complete geek. “Welcome!”he chirps in a tone that greatly enhances his nerdy persona. “We have some paperwork to take care of. Follow me.”

We follow him down a short hall and into a large, empty room with a metal desk in the center. On the desk lies a stack of papers, an ink pad, and a camera.

“This is your last stop before you enter the training complex,”he says as he lowers himself into the red, plush chair behind the desk. “You signed a waiver when you got on the bus stating that you agreed to not leave the program facility unless authorized to do so. This one is similar, but you are now agreeing to be a part of the program. As such, you will abide by all the rules, regulations, and training methods.” His beady eyes glance over the forms in front of him. “Oh! And of course, you’re agreeing to the penalties in the case that you don’t comply.” He smirks in an obnoxious manner as if to indicate he knows something we don’t. “Finally, you’ll agree to not divulge any information about the program to anyone except fellow participants, under any circumstances.” He looks up at us, eagerly waiting.

I glance around the room. The others stand frozen in silence. I’m glad it’s not just me feeling uneasy about signing a consent form for a program that I know nothing about.

"Be sure to read it thoroughly before signing,” he continues. “Then I just need a full set of fingerprints and your picture.”

“What happens if someone isn’t comfortable signing this form?” asks a small but sturdy-looking redheaded girl near the back of the room.

“Well  .  .  .   you already signed the first form, so you can’t leave.”

She takes a deep, shaky breath. Her young, hazel eyes widen with terror.

“But if you don’t sign, you can’t go further either. So that leaves you in limbo, which of course, is where you are now.”

“Limbo?” asks a tall, slender boy standing next to her, not looking any older than fifteen.

“Yes, limbo. We have some, well few who refused to sign. They live in a building not far from here. Essentially, they work for food and don’t leave the facility.”

“So they’re prisoners?” probes Kate.

The nerdy guy scratches his head and adjusts his glasses. “Not prisoners, just—”

"Okay, well I came here to stay outta prison, so give me the form.” She snatches one from the stack, glancing at it for a few seconds before signing. Flashing it in front of his face, she hands it over.

“Did you read it?” His little beady eyes partially concealed behind his glasses shift back and forth between her and the page.

“Of course! I’m a speed reader.” She slams her hands down on the desk.

An excerpt from Crawling to the Light

There was no music on in the car, not even the classical music my parents listened to on public radio. The silence was making me stir-crazy.
Ten minutes later, we arrived at Central Presbyterian Church, the church I’ve gone to from the moment I was born. My parents, and their parents, went to this church, got married in it and raised their families here. I was expected to do the same thing.
To my knowledge Chris or Cindy were cooperative about going to church. In fact, Cindy still kept in touch with a few of the people she was in youth group with. For reasons unknown to me, nobody expected me to be like her. I looked and acted much different from her, to where it almost seemed like we were worlds apart and not related.
I remained separated from my parents the entire time before church started. They chatted with almost everyone else, a lot of whom they have known since they grew up here in town. They were hoping their kids would be friends with me. However, that wasn’t the case. No one gave me the time of day, not even at the Sunday night Bible studies I’ve been going to since preschool. I had to go back here tonight for that very thing.
I had the church bulletin in my hand, which had the responses to everything the pastor said. They were the same as they have been, every week, year in and year out. It was all so meaningless. I’ve gotten to where I just mumbled the words. My mom noticed it every time, nudged me, and later gave me a lecture lasting no less than thirty minutes. And we got nowhere every time.
Turn to page 325 in the burgundy hymnal.
“Solid Rock.”
The church had a piano and an organ. The players of both have gotten older, and no one could take their place. I didn’t sing very well, so I just mouthed the words. My mom had a strong second soprano voice, my dad a baritone. They were always so caught up in their duet they didn’t notice I wasn’t singing.
During the sermon, I went straight into daydream mode, staring at the stained-glass windows, wondering what any of the pictures on them meant. As far as I was concerned, it was about something that happened many thousand years ago and was hard to grasp in this day and age. It was beyond me why my parents thought I was going to be a better person for coming here.
As soon as church let out, I headed straight for the car and stayed there. I must have been there for an eternity before my parents came. I didn’t speak unless spoken to. I responded with a grunt or five words or less, looking out the window.
But we didn’t go home right away. My parents had this thing about looking at houses after church, which they did almost every time. This was so boring. I wanted to get home, to my room, to my own world, where I was not forced to do anesthetizing things like these. Why look at these houses, knowing they were not going to live in them? It was beyond me why they always did this.
After what seemed like an eternity, we got home. I went straight to my room and changed clothes. Finally, I could be who I really was and not who I needed to be. I stayed in my room the entire afternoon, talked on the phone to Belinda and Samantha. In our conversations, we came up with a plan of escape for me: once I got to Sunday school tonight, I was going to sneak off down the road to a strip mall and meet up with Wayne.
A junior in high school, Wayne Youngblood was the biggest drug addict at our school. In fact, he was the only one there, which made him stand out and fearsome when anyone was around him. He was in a few of my classes and was nice to me. He defended me a few times, too.
He was the only guy I knew of who talked freely about Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix. Most of the t-shirts he wore were tye-dyes of either of them. Whenever he could, he’d relate anything about both beloved rock legends into his conversations, as if he personally knew both of them. He did this in every class-when he actually was in them.
Wayne marched to the beat of his own drum, and sometimes I followed him. One day, he and I skipped school and went to the McDonalds a block from the school to get a Big Mac and a Coke. But he ended up getting food poisoned from it.
Tonight, I was going to follow him even closer. ****
When I got in the car with my mom, I was unusually eager to go to church. My mom didn’t ask why; she and I have never been able to communicate very well, especially as I’ve gotten into my teen years.
She used to volunteer at this Sunday school until last year; she thought I needed the personal freedom from her and my dad, and both of them had gotten really busy with their jobs. I was so overjoyed when she made that decision. She didn’t need to know half the things I was getting into anyway-or the things I was capable of doing. She probably had no idea what I planned for tonight.
I rushed out of the seat of the car when we pulled into the parking lot. When I got inside, everyone was already in conversations, none of which I was in, nor ever would be.
Fern and Lauren, two girls I wanted to be friends with back in the sixth grade, turned me down every time I invited them over to the house for a slumber party.
Miriam, Todd, and Molly thought I was ugly and avoided me, as if I were invisible.
Andrew, whom I had a mad crush on in the sixth grade, was already being considered for some Ivy League colleges. He traveled to Europe most summers with his family. There was a possibility of him skipping a grade and graduating a year early. He considered my struggles with school a waste of his time. It really hurt me.
Though I didn’t have to go, I went to the bathroom and stayed in one of the stalls, waiting for seven o’clock to come, when everyone would meet in the Sunday school room. When it did, I made my way out to the now empty lobby. Why stay around when everyone was going to ignore me? I tactfully made my way out to the empty strip mall a few hundred yards away to meet Wayne.
This is it-my chance to escape!

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.

Stealing the Hieland Jewels by Sarah Norkus

In the year of our Lord, 1746, a fortune in jewels are stolen from a Scottish Lord fleeing the Hielands ahead of the British Army’s wrath. Secreted aboard a ship bound for the British colonies in America, the gems are smuggled onto a wagon.

Destination: Williamsburg, Virginia

In 2009, in a rundown Palladian Villa near the Appomattox River, a two hundred-forty-year-old skeleton is found beneath the floorboards of the east wing. When sixteen year-old Emily Grace inadvertently touches a delicate finger bone of the skeleton, a vision explodes in her mind. In that moment, she sees a young girl dressed in colonial-style clothing struggling with a man twice her size. The man slaps her. She falls, hitting her head on a stack of bricks.

Horrified at the sudden vision, Emily struggles to her feet as vertigo hits with a vengeance. She staggers a few steps before collapsing and passes out.

In Stealing the Hieland Jewels, Emily and her boyfriend, Josh, are unwittingly whisked back in time to the eighteenth century. As the teens struggle to save the life of the young girl from Emily’s vision, their interference incurs the wrath of her would be assailant, Angus Blackburn, and inadvertently draws the teens into his obsessive search for a Scottish Lord’s stolen gems.