Heather Gray

Flawed...but loved anyway.

header photo

Wordy Wednesday

Hi Everyone!

Welcome to Wordy Wednesday!  If you're an author, 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 more people will find it.  If you're a reader...enjoy!

Happy reading (and writing)!!


An Informal Arrangement - Click to Buy

“No, no, don’t flush the toilet!”

Maddie ran into the room, assessed the situation, and placed her hand on the patient’s shoulder, shaking him lightly. “Mr. Jenkins. Mr. Jenkins, it’s just a dream.” This was her first day working with him, but he’d been on the unit for a while. Nothing in his file indicated a history of night terrors or bad dreams.

The man in the bed groaned and thrashed. “Not… albino… horned toa’… Please, no.” Was he talking about toes or — a shudder tore through her — toads?

Had he seen one? She fought a shiver as she searched the immediate vicinity. No toads — horned or otherwise — in sight. He was obviously dreaming, but still… What did a horned toad look like, anyway? Not a frog with antlers, surely.

Every off-white nook and cream-colored cranny of the room came under careful scrutiny as Maddie continued speaking to her distressed patient. “Mr. Jenkins, wake up. You’re having a nightmare.”

His eyelids fluttered for a moment before opening. When he saw her, Mr. Jenkins’ eyes grew wide. A remnant of sleep slowed his voice. “Is everything okay?”

What was she supposed to say to that? Tell the poor man he’d awakened her deep-seated dislike of all creatures not cute and furry? Or worse, explain how that dislike had been birthed?

“You, uh, were having a dream.” Brilliant response.

Go Back

Thanks so much, Heather. Lovely idea here.

The following is a short excerpt from chapter 7 of my YA historical fantasy, "The Bookminder", released this past January. (Sequel in the works.) Enjoy!

Rousing herself, Liara made up her mind to brave the cold night, quietly whisking herself down the stairs and into the kitchen. Halfway out the door in only her nightgown and boots, she nearly collided with the wizard who had apparently decided to run back inside.
As she guessed it to be several hours before dawn, Liara was surprised to see the man so alert. But not as surprised as he was at her wakefulness, it seemed.
“Goodness, Liara. What brings you down at this hour?” Having swiftly sidestepped the collision, Nagarath stood looking over her hurried state of dress with bemusement. “I didn’t wake you with my messing about outside, did I?”
Liara shook her head and followed the mage, taking an appreciative sniff of the steaming pot over the fire. Peppermint. No wonder he was awake.
“What is it you’re doing?” she asked, craning to see if the dark garden held any further clues.
Following her gaze, Nagarath excitedly poured a second mug of tea. “Studying tonight’s full moon.” He gestured for her to follow as he strode out to the garden. “Come on.”
“What, right now?” Liara hung back, suddenly reluctant to leave her warm spot near the fire.
“No, tomorrow at midday when the sun’s up. Of course, now.”
“But it’s cold out.”
“Well, that’s what the tea is for.” Nagarath stomped the snow off his boots as he reentered the warmth of the kitchen. “Hang on a tick.”
He left Liara yawning over her tea. A brief clamor moments later heralded his return, a thick woolen blanket and an unevenly knit scarf bundled in his arms.
“There.” He dumped the soft heap unceremoniously onto a chair. “Meet me out back if you’d like. I’m hoping to see the oceans tonight!”
And with that, he was gone.
Staring grumpily at the misshapen pile of wool, Liara debated marching straight up to her room and leaving the mage to his adventures in the cold, dark night.
But of course, she wouldn’t.
What was it he said he’d be looking at? Oceans on the moon? She lifted the comical scarf and chuckled in spite of herself, certain she’d misheard. Something about the lopsided knitting pattern touched her heart, warming her as she pictured Nagarath hunched over a pair of needles, a determined frown drawing his eyebrows together.
Wrapping herself in the blanket, Liara braced herself and went out to the garden. The sharp bite of the midnight cold hit her like a bucket of icy water, dampening her short-lived burst of curiosity. Determined, for she liked to think of herself as hardy, Liara waited a moment for her eyes to adjust to the light of the crystalline moon, and then strode over the tramped-down snow to where Nagarath stood with his face pressed up to the top of the stone pedestal that had long stood at the edge of the kitchen garden.

Want to read the rest? Visit Amazon for e- and print-books:

The Countess Intrigue ~ The earl was rumored to be a murderer, now she had to marry him ~ Available wherever ebooks are sold, including Amazon:

The evening had already been harrowing with the abduction of her dearest friend from that very ballroom mere moments earlier, but it already felt like eons. After she had left it in the Duke of Wrentham’s hands there had been nothing she could do to help. She had no desire to stand about wringing her hands so she was making every effort to remain calm, keeping up appearances in order to prevent Rose’s absence from becoming common knowledge, in an effort to preserve her reputation. The last thing Elizabeth needed was to be seen conversing with the controversial earl. But despite every instinct shrieking for her to leave the man’s presence on the instant, she forced herself to meet his eye as she bade him good night.

His handsome face always made her blink. Well defined, with a sharp jaw and angular cheekbones. His skin looked smooth, as though he had just left the ministrations of his valet. His wide set eyes were a unique color, somewhere between blue and green, and leant an air of watchful intelligence to his beauty. She wondered if he found it amusing to be constantly faced with wide-eyed women or if he had become immune to it. Perhaps he took it as his due, Elizabeth thought absently, before she refocused her attention. She ought to be keeping her wits about her. Exhaustion from the evening’s turmoil was dulling her senses.

Thank you, Heather, for this opportunity.

“It’s the magic that is dispensed with your art that counts, whether to one person or to many,” Conn replied thoughtfully.
“Magic?” Taisie didn’t understand.
“Aye, it’s the heart of the craft, the love and sweat that you put into it. If you think about the old tales, the magic comes from inside the person who creates it.”
It was quiet then, neither of them speaking as they considered their conversation. After a while, Conn pulled out a pipe from the back pocket of his jeans where it seemed he always kept a flute or whistle. He put it to his lips and played and the tune sparkled, like the moonlight on the water. Taisie thought, “This is what magic feels like.”
She pulled her legs up under her skirt and put her arms around her knees, hugging them close. Her skin felt hot and itchy as if her body would jump right out of it, and into the water, needing to cool off. Her gaze was fixed on Conn’s long, slender fingers, as they danced and flew on the small pipe and she sighed, wanting them to stroke her, play with her body. The song drew to a close and she took a slow breath. When she raised her head, her gaze locked with Conn’s and she trembled. She wanted more, she didn’t know how to ask, but Taisie knew that Conn was the only one who could give her what she needed.
After a moment, he stood and held out his hand to help her to her feet. They slowly walked back up to the house, carrying their shoes, as the grass wound between their toes. At the back door, they stopped.
“Thank you for an enjoyable evening,” Taisie said.
Conn leaned forward and finally, his kiss found her lips. A spark flew between them, his mouth firm against her softer lips, and she melted towards him. Her arms reached up, but before she could clasp him to her, he stepped back. His hair had come loose over his face and Taisie could only see the gleam of his eyes in the dim light, almost feral against his pale skin. He was still holding her hand, his fingers tight against hers as he reached up with his other hand and touched her lips.
“I’ll see you tomorrow night, yes, with your Gran, at the show,” he asked. “Please, please will you come?”
“Yes, I’ll … we’ll be there,” Taisie promised.
He nodded, then turned and disappeared around the house. Taisie looked out over the field, hugging her arms around her waist as the stars spun in the sky and she thought dreamily, “Yes, this is what enchantment feels like.”
from The Black Swans To read more:

Thank you, Heather!

Dr. Tony Evans wrote the foreword for The Legacy of Nobody Smith, a biographical novel based on the life of his Uncle Smitty, Rev. James Smith, a man of influence on Evans’ formative years. Rich with history and humor, readers witness the life of an insignificant nobody discovering he’s actually the cherished child of a loving God. Book profits to benefit The Urban Alternative and The Helping Up Mission of Baltimore.

I became a nobody when I was fifteen years old.

It happened as fast as my cousin Reggie could talk.

“Your brothers and sisters aren’t your blood. They weren’t born to your parents.”

I knew that.

“Smitty, you weren’t born to your parents either,” Reggie said with a sneer. “They’re not really your mama and daddy.”

My hands curled into tense fists ready to punch that fool in the gut. Reggie was my best friend, but I wanted to leave him doubled-over, gasping for air. The problem was, Reggie was built like an oak tree. I was a skinny sapling he could snap in two. And anyway, much as I wanted to pound him with my fists, my legs were suddenly too weak to stand. How could I make him pay for what he’d said?

Reggie shrugged. “It’s the absolute truth, Smitty. I swear.”

“You’re talking like a fool.” My heart pounded blood into my ears until they buzzed.

“I’ve never lied to you before, and I’m not lying now.”

I turned and looked away from Reggie. Both sides of the street were lined with narrow row houses built side-by-side, sharing common walls. White marble steps, making a long row of oversized teeth, met each front door. To an outsider Sandtown was one of the poorest neighborhoods in Baltimore. For Reggie and me, it was home. Each house lived in by colored families like our own, poor but proud people. Just like the shared walls supported the house next door, folks in Sandtown leaned on and cared for each other.

Though the sun had set hours before, the day’s heat lingered inside my family’s house. As stars dotted the night sky, Reggie and I rested on the front steps and hoped for a breeze. People’d be lounging like this all over Baltimore tonight, the whites in their neighborhoods, and us in ours. I don’t know what the whites discussed, but in Sandtown, folks caught up on the latest family news and shared neighborhood gossip. Parents and grandparents discussed how President Roosevelt was handling the hard times. But tonight none of that stuff mattered to me, not after what Reggie had said.

We sat, saying nothing. I forced open my fists and rubbed my palms back and forth on my pant legs. Then I traced the steps’ edge with one of my hands. The marble felt solid and cool under my fingertips. My sisters and I scrubbed them over and over again, because Daddy liked it that way.

Reggie glanced in my direction. At nineteen, looking smug came easy to him. I was fifteen, struggling to breathe, fighting back tears.

“Well, say something, man. You’ll get used to it all.”

I stood and shoved my hands deep into my pants’ pockets. “Not going to get used to it. You’re lying.”

The meaning behind Reggie’s words smothered me more than the heavy August humidity as I gathered my strength, turned my back on Reggie and walked down the street.

Read more of The Legacy of Nobody Smith at

Thanks so much for this opportunity!

This is from Dream Doctor (book #2 of the Dream Series) -

I’ve been a medical student for exactly one week and already I feel like I’m a month behind. It’s very little comfort that nearly everyone else in my class feels pretty much the same.

Well, I will admit that when Janet Black confessed to me – without prompting – that she felt like she was already two months behind, it did cheer me up a little bit.

I knew it would be like this, but knowing and experiencing are very different things. However unpleasant “Lecture – 8:00 AM to 12:30 PM,” Monday through Friday sounds, it’s much, much worse. And that’s just the mornings.

A few weeks ago I was laying out on a beautiful beach. Nothing but white sand and crystal-blue water, sipping a pina colada from a coconut with my husband – that still sounds weird to say – right next to me. Just a few weeks, but it already seems like another lifetime.

I wish I was back there.

This is an extract from my afterlife romance, SAPPHIRE BLUE. Available from
Sapphire and Will, two young lovers,die in a car crash and are separated in the afterlife. It's written in dual viewpoint. This section is Will.
Everywhere Will turns all he can see is mist. It’s inside his head too, wrapping around his mind, stopping him from thinking straight.
He tries to shake the mist away, to find a fragment of memory that will tell him who he is, where he is. But there’s nothing. His mind is a complete blank. He can’t even remember his name.
He squints as a shape starts to form in the mist. It’s a man.
The man strides purposefully as if he’s heading somewhere in particular and needs to get there fast.
“You okay, mate?”
Will shakes his head. “I can’t remember anything. Where am I?”
The man pauses and looks around. “No one meeting you?”
Will frowns, trying to remember. Why would someone be meeting him? “I don’t think so,” he stammers. “Should they be?”
“Sometimes they do.” The man’s tone is casual. He shrugs. “You’d better come with me then.”
Will doesn’t know what else to do, so he follows the man. He has to quicken his pace to keep up with this stranger’s long, effortless strides and constantly looks around, trying to get some idea where they are. After a while the mist starts to fade and Will sees that they’re crossing what looks like barren wasteland. Rugged cliffs jut up along each side, gnarled trees and bushes dot the landscape here and there, and a buzzard caws as it flies overhead. It’s eerie. There’s no one around except him and the man yet Will feels like he’s being watched. Stalked almost.
“Where are we going?” he demands, fear making his voice sound shrill. “Who are you and where the hell am I?”
The man turns around. “You really don’t remember, do you?”
Something about the way he says the words sends an icicle of fear down Will’s spine. “Remember what?”
The man holds out his hand, it’s long, thin and bony. “Take my hand.”
Will stares at the outstretched hand not wanting to touch it.
“Take it if you want to remember. Or leave it if you don’t. It’s all the same to me.”
Will hesitates, a terrible feeling of foreboding seizing him. What is it he has to remember? He’s sure it’s something he’s not going to like. But he has to find out. He needs to know who he is, where he is, what he’s doing here. He takes a deep breath, reaches out and grasps the man’s hand.
Immediately, a bright light explodes across his forehead. He gasps and tries to pull his hand away but the man grips it tight, his nails digging into Will’s flesh. The light fades and pictures flash across his mind like a horror slide show. He’s getting in a car, a girl’s singing, a huge tree zooms in so close that he instinctively step back then there’s a big bang. Now the girl’s lying motionless, blood oozing out of a gap in her forehead, her neck bent at an awkward angle, her eyes open, staring. Will draws in his breath, his hand pressing across his forehead as his memory floods back and his heart shatters into jagged smithereens that puncture him inside. The girl is Sapphire, his girlfriend. He’d just passed his driving test and was taking them for a drive when he crashed.
He killed her. He killed Sapphire.

From my debut: HIGH SUMMONS



Rio’s smile didn’t fall away though she let her hand slide back to her side before coming to rest on her hip when he stepped away from her. “We need a fifth, Cheshire.”


Madrid frowned. “We will be summoning the first-born. Great risks yield great rewards.”

Cheshire Max shook his head letting his dreads swing. “Or great falls.”

He turned back to his music when Madrid stretched forward grabbing hold of his wrist. Cheshire Max spun throwing his other hand forwards with his palm facing Madrid. She flew back into the railing of the metal deck over twenty feet away. Rio’s eyes narrowed moving between Madrid and Cheshire analyzing the situation carefully. The tiger on her left arm stirred and paced down her arm through the ruins to her wrist. Its tail flicked before it yawned stretching its jaws. Rio rested her right hand against the tiger sending it back up her arm to return to its original position.

“Where do you stand?” she asked placing her hands on her hips. “Against, with, or neutral.”

“You know me, Rio; always neutral,” Cheshire Max replied turning back to his music. “Your soul is your own to destroy.”

“We will use him against his own kind. We could save hundreds.” She held up a hand when Madrid moved to approach. Fire flickered across the younger woman’s skin.

“Use him? Mammon?” The name resonated throughout the hall, and the music stuttered causing the dancers to falter for a moment and something flickered at the edge of the room. “Isn’t a weapon to be used. Mammon…” The room shuddered again, and I turned toward the door as the hairs on the back of my neck stood on end. “Will kill mortal after mortal for the glory of Hell. Mammon…” The door opened. Black smoke billowed in though the music had returned leaving the dancers back in their mass trance. “Will use you.”

“Jordan?” I whispered, and he held up a hand, but the gesture wasn’t good enough this time. “Jordan, we’ve got a problem.”

Jordan grabbed me turning my gaze upwards once more. Rio was backing away never breaking eye contact with Cheshire Max. Madrid rushed to her side, and they ran without another word. Cheshire Max crouched down low to the ground and tapped the metal with a smirk. His blue eyes staring straight into my own as runes lit across the deck and the entire room flooded with figure eights and runes. The darkness at the door faded, and a passerby closed the door without a second thought.