Heather Gray

Flawed...but loved anyway.

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Wordy Wednesday

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)!!


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Owen reined in his horse, and Isabel, intent on getting ahead of him, even for a few minutes, gave her horse a small heel kick to spur her past Despiadado. The poor girl showed her timidity by shying away from the big horse.

By the time she coaxed the mare around Despiadado, Isabel felt childish for making such a production of taking the lead. She, too, reined her horse in. Looking back at Owen, she tucked her chin down. "We shanʹt arrive at all if you dawdle the day away.ʺ

The sparkle in Owen'ʹs eyes should have been a clue, but Isabel was too fatigued to pay it any mind.

ʺAre you honestly going to sit there and ignore me?"

When he still said nothing, Isabel circled around with a harrumph and the tightening of her mare's reins. Then she glanced up, and her mouth fell open. Chakal Manor stood, a castle backlit by the setting sun. It wasnʹt the largest castle in all of England. Nor was it the most elegant. Nonetheless, with the sun-painted sky setting the backdrop afire and lighting up every surface, the castle looked to be dusted with rubies, golden apatite, and citrine.

"Breathtaking." As if her whispered words had been the permission needed, the sun sank over the horizon, and the brilliant colors faded to a faint yellow glow.

"Now, my fair lady, may I introduce you to Chakal Manor?"

"You never told me it was mystical."

From the corner of her eye she caught Owen's smile. "Not mystical, no. Safe. Which is its own kind of magic, wouldn't you say?"

Together they rode toward the castle. Years had passed since Jackal had shared the tale of Chakal Manor with her, one night during her stay at the Queenʹs court. She'd been too frightened to fall asleep that night, and he'ʹd entertained her with stories of his past. Some were about missions, but one was of his family estate. He'd described it to her in such great detail that as soon as she'd caught her first glimpse all these years later, she'd known.

Isabel gritted her teeth. She was no longer that helpless, frightened child, and Jackal could take much of the credit for that. He'd trained her to defend herself, and he'd taught her to believe in herself. He'd seen value in her at a time when it felt as if everyone

wished to throw her away.

"You said Jackal has gone on to London?"

Owen nodded.

ʺWill… will I be able to see him?"

She sensed rather than saw Owenʹs thoughtful gaze on her.

ʺI'll arrange it."

"I don't even know his real name."

She caught the flash of white teeth in the fading light. "Iʹll let him introduce himself. He spoke too highly of you for me not to allow him the honor."


Go Back

War of the Heart
Christian Christmas Novella
Time-travel WWII London Blitz

When a vintage snow globe sends Boston dress designer Louise Martin and British B&B owner George Walker back in time to London, December 1940, they race against the clock to reconcile a feud between their families and solve a 75-year-old mystery. As Louise relies on God then George for guidance, friendship then love, will the future George envisions strangle her own dreams? Will their relationship survive generations of mistrust, the Blitz and the possibility of being stranded in wartime 1940, never to return to their former lives?

What form of insanity had made her agree to not only come as Alec commanded but also run out in the middle of the night looking for baby products?

“Because that’s what friends do,” she repeated aloud facetiously. He’d even given her an out, and she’d passed it up—passed it up because he looked way too adorable with a baby in his arms. It made her wish…never mind that. It wasn’t a realistic wish. She’d had no choice but to help him. Besides, she had to think of the child. Someone needed to make sure it was cared for.

She stopped just short of the door and reined in her anger. Forgive me, Lord. If I’m here doing this deed, it must be because you want me here. You do want me here, right? I just wish you’d tell me why you picked me for this particular job.

Excerpt From: Cindy K. Green. “BABY & THE BACHELOR.” Part of the Kids, Kisses and Bundles of Joy bookset currently only $.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

A story of transformation and redemption.

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?

A House Divided: Scottish Historical fiction set in the 16th c.


Across the marshland he heard an owl cry. He counted the repetition, nodding in satisfaction at the third and final call, indicating the fires at the southern perimeter were set: piles of damp scrub ready to produce copious smoke. Another series of calls, this time from the west, indicating the archers were in place. And moments later the echo from the musketeers to the east. It was unlikely the muskets would do much real damage, Spanish armour of high quality and their distance from the walls nearer to four hundred yards than two, but still, surrounding gunfire would add to the illusion of attack and increase the tension for those guarding the city.
A faint splash to the left of Munro. He stiffened, relaxed again as a figure materialised at his elbow. ‘Ready for the charges?’ The engineer nodded, swung a pack onto his shoulder, melted back into the darkness. Munro followed him into the river, the chill of the water as it reached his thigh giving him pause, thankful his own load was firmly strapped to his back, well away from any danger of a soaking. He waded slowly, taking care to make as little noise as possible, keeping his senses tuned to the night noises all around him. The man in front had almost reached the shelter of the inner wall. A voice above them barked an order in Spanish; the engineer, startled, losing his footing. Munro saw him fight to keep his balance, to protect his load, and in so doing fell onto his knees in the water, the accompanying splash magnified in the silence. They froze.
Raised voices above them, one high-pitched, apprehensive, the other lower, insistent, and though his knowledge of Spanish was rudimentary, it was enough to know they argued over the sound. The spark of a tinder box, the are of a candle settling into a steady glow. The unmistakeable snap of the nocking of an arrow onto a bowstring. For what seemed like hours they remained motionless, waiting to be caught in the lantern light playing across the surface of the water around them and flickering against the projecting wall. For the shot that would surely come of their carelessness. Three times the light probed the darkness, each sweep wider than the last, the final one touching the water inches from Munro’s head.
To the left of him a moorhen protested, wings flapping. The light paused, returned, highlighting the dark body, the red beak, the twin ashes of white on the tail. A twang of the bowstring, the whisper of the arrow arcing downwards, the moorhen rising up and away. A laugh, another order, the light snuffed, the voices, now casual, fading away towards the right.
Munro exhaled, his legs shaking now that the immediate danger was past. The engineer was still on his knees, unmoving, and as Munro reached out to help him up, he toppled, the flight of the arrow that pierced his neck brushing Munro’s arm. Munro caught and held him to avoid a second splash, his fingers groping for a pulse. Finding none, he rescued the charges and lowered the body into the water without a sound.

HIGH SUMMONS by Eli Celata

A chance to win a free copy at from Amazon Giveaway:

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“Jordan?” I called cautiously. He didn’t respond. Stepping
out into the alley, I trudged up beside him. “Jordan?” I asked again,
reaching out to put a hand on his shoulder.

He jumped and backed away. “Go back inside, Jon.”

“You can’t keep brushing me off.” There was only so many
times a guy could stand being ignored.

He licked his lips. Rocking back and forth, he went from still
to an explosion of fidgeting movement. His hands clenched
and unclenched. Tossing a hand to the side, he sent tendrils of fire
down one end of the alley while his other hand shot lightning at
the ground. Jordan gritted his teeth, and I jumped back. The stoic
calm I’d come to expect from Jordan had shattered. While his
expressions had aged him before, he looked almost younger than
me in his strange tantrum.

“I killed him,” he snarled. “I killed the one creature on this
forsaken rock who had done anything for me.” He slammed his fist
into the other side of the alley. I hoped nobody was home to feel
the foundation shake beneath the strength of Jordan’s strike. “I
didn’t grow up in this, boy. I grew up with a suicidal maniac for a
mother and a father who’d rather have set the entire world on fire
than help a single living soul! His own son included! You want to
know why there’re so few magic users left? Do you?” Jordan
stormed at me. He got right up in my face with all five foot nine of
his height and towered like Goliath. “You can thank Ezekiel
Ostairius. He left over five hundred screaming in pain in a single

The Debutante Bride - a sweet, regency romance ($0.99)
~ First comes marriage, then comes love ~

Short excerpt:

As she came to wakefulness, Beth held herself very still, momentarily surprised to find herself in a strange bed, but then it all rushed back into her consciousness. She was a married lady. A countess at that. And she had only met her husband thirty-six hours before.

The thrill of freedom flowed through her as she reminded herself once more that she would never again have to return to the house she grew up in unless she so chose. Of course, she would want to see her mother again, but she allowed herself to bask in the contentment she was experiencing. She wiggled her toes and stretched her arms, reveling in the new sensation.

The unknown factor of her new husband was obviously of concern, but so far he had been remarkably even tempered. She would even go so far as to describe him as kind, at least what she had seen of him in their short acquaintance. Beth could not decide how she felt about how handsome he was. He was deliciously attractive, but she was unsure if that could be trusted. No doubt other women would find it to be a point in his favor.

True Colors (clean teen fiction)
by Krysten Lindsay Hager



Ericka’s mother picked me up at nine o’clock the next morning. The competition didn’t start until eleven, but Ericka wanted to get there early in case there was a huge line. I always had to sit in the front seat of Mrs. Maines’s SUV because even though Tori and I lived on the same street, Ericka always picked up Tori first. I think it was so they could sit together in the back. Ericka had spent extra time curling her hair, but it looked more like the “before” picture in a Bouncy Hair conditioner ad. I had put on makeup and curled my hair, but any illusions of being the next American Ingénue died when I saw my reflection in the van’s visor mirror. The curl had fallen out of my hair, and I had a foundation streak on my chin. I scrubbed at the peach colored smear and wondered why I thought I could be a model in the first place.

It had only been an hour since I washed my hair, and already, my bangs looked greasy and I swore my chin was breaking out the closer we got to the mall. I thought about pretending to get explosive diarrhea (nobody would accuse me of lying if I admitted to something super gross), but I knew Ericka would get mad at me if I backed out now. Tori was super quiet, so I asked her if she was nervous, too. She looked like she was going to puke, but she straightened her back and said she was fine.
There was already a line when we got to the American Ingénue table. The organizers made us wait the full time before they had us fill out forms. Then some lady, who smelled like cinnamon and cigarettes, took a picture of each of us and gave us stickers with numbers on them.

“Great, I got unlucky thirteen,” Tori said. “Anyone wanna trade? Landry?”

I had number twelve, and I offered to trade with her since I knew I wouldn’t get picked anyway. Besides, I didn’t even know if I wanted to be chosen. I hated being singled out. I wouldn’t even yell “Bingo” when we played in social studies. Ericka pulled out a compact and started pushing her finger against her eyelashes.

“Did you get something in your eye?” I asked.

“Duh, I’m trying to curl my lashes,” she said. “It opens up your eyes.”

Ericka wasn’t allowed to wear eye makeup, but her mom had gotten her some medicated foundation to cover up her blemishes. Her makeup looked caked on as it tried to cover up her bumpy complexion. She was allowed to wear nail polish, although for some reason it was always chipped around the edges. It was weird, but I didn’t think I’d ever seen her wearing fresh polish. Tori wasn’t into makeup, but she already had rosy cheeks and lips and pretty gray eyes, so she didn’t need much. However, I had skin the color of a dead goldfish, and my eyes were pretty uninteresting as far as blue eyes go. My mom said I was lucky to have such light blonde hair, but if you asked me, it was way too pale. Ericka called it “albino blonde.” I looked like I needed a blood transfusion without blush, and mascara kept me from looking like a newborn baby chicken.

“Okay, I need numbers one through twenty to line up,” the cinnamon/cigarette lady said, gesturing towards a big velvet curtain. More girls had begun showing up, and now the line stretched all the way down to the Mr. Fluffy Muffin Man counter. The Perry Mall probably hadn’t seen so many people since they had “free donut day.” I asked the woman in charge when we got our tote bags. I did not get there two hours early to go home without a tote bag. She snapped her gum, and she said we could pick them up after our turn on the runway.

“What runway?” I asked. Tori pointed out they had cleared some tables off in front of the curtain to make a platform. I walked to the front and looked out from behind the curtain. The tables were now part of a runway, and there were folding chairs set up for the audience to watch. It was just mall walkers and parents, but they were still people who were going to watch me walk… in heels. The competition was for girls between the ages of thirteen and seventeen, but it felt like Ericka, Tori, and I were the youngest ones there. I only saw a couple of girls from school, and the lineup looked more like something you’d see on a music video set. All the girls were gorgeous, and they had these curvy womanly bodies. I looked like a skinny little kid next to them. The first girl walked out, and I heard the judges say she “owned the runway,” and, “walked like a gazelle.” I was starting to feel ill. I wasn’t sure which way it was going to come, but I knew I had to find a bathroom — fast. I started to get out of line when Ericka grabbed my wrist.

“It’s almost time,” she said. A tiny bit of spit flew out of her mouth and hit my cheek.

I wasn’t sure why she was so intent on me going through with it, but she had a death grip on my arm, so I didn’t have much of a choice. Her number was called and she walked out to the stage. One of the other girls said she walked like a kid with sand bucket stilts on her feet, but she came back with a smirk on her face like she knew she’d get chosen.

“They said they had never seen such long legs,” she said.

Tori was next.

“She walks like a gorilla at feeding time,” said the girl behind me. I went next, and I tried to focus on not tripping over my feet. My mom’s pumps had a rubber sole on the bottom, which probably wasn’t the brightest idea seeing as my shoes were making squeaking noises as I walked. I was so nervous I couldn’t stop smiling as I walked. I looked like the plastic clown who blows up balloons with its mouth at the Pizza Palace. When I got to the end of the runway, I tried to cross my feet to turn like the other girls had, but I over rotated and ended up doing a full spin which made my kilt fan out and gave the mall walkers a view of my blue underpants. I tried to act like it was intentional and did an extra turn. One of the judges put her hand up to stop me, and I held my breath as she started to speak.

The Case of the Chinese Boxes, A "Justice" and Miss Quinn Mystery, book 4
Pre-order at Amazon:

“Oh, the infamous Miss Quinn. I’ve heard tales about you.”

Red flooded Magnolia’s face. What kind of tales could Vernon be referring to? If it was the fire at Odell, or her escapades with him, then the holiday could be ruined before it began.

“I hope nothing too horrible.” Magnolia placed a napkin on her lap. For her example of normality, he still sensed her tenseness.

“Not at all. Your father sings your praises often.”

So the man had heard tales that might sway a suitor. Jules was at it again. Justin needed to speak to the fellow on the hunting trip. The man didn’t need to find Magnolia a suitor—her future husband was right in front of him.

“I feel at a decided disadvantage, because I know nothing about you.”
Justin could have wrung Magnolia’s neck! She was deliberately being charming for Mr. Shelby!

The gentleman laughed under his breath. “Perhaps we should take this weekend to rectify that situation.”

Magnolia beamed. “I appreciate the offer, but I fear I’ll be reading most of the holiday.”

“Oh, reading? You mean you don’t intend to hunt with us?”

“Miss Quinn doesn’t enjoy hunting. Isn’t that right, dear?”

She narrowed her eyes and drew her brows downward. Oh no, had his statement just issued a challenge? That might not be good for him.

“I fear that Mr. Blakemoor is correct. Hunting doesn’t really pose enough challenge for me.”

Now the other guests were listening. Had she just insulted everyone in the room? Father was going to kill him.

Judge Filmore Tilly shook his head, sending his jowls to shaking. “Not enough challenge, you say? And reading is a challenge. Why, I could read all day and yet I couldn’t feed my family with it.”

Vernon lifted his hand. “Now Filmore, let’s not judge the young lady too harshly. She deserves to have her own opinion.”

Magnolia glowed under Vernon’s praise. He would need to get her away from the cabin and him as soon as possible.

“I didn’t mean to insult hunters, Judge Tilly, only that hunting requires multiple skills that I’m lacking. A better challenge for me would be to read.”


The judge didn’t seem to completely believe her, but at least he was letting the subject drop. Mr. Quinn’s shoulders drooped as if he relaxed. His own father hadn’t moved a muscle since the conversation began.

“I could assist you in learning those skills. I’ve been told I’m an expert rider.” Vernon popped a scone into his mouth.

Magnolia dipped her head, as if she was shy, which he knew was not the case.

“Thank you. I will consider your offer.”

At that time Mrs. Hamby arrived with extra tea and scones. He couldn’t have been more relieved to be interrupted. The trip was not getting off to a good start.