Heather Gray

Flawed...but loved anyway.

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Wordy Wednesday

December 28, 2016

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)!!


An Informal DateClick to Buy


“She stood on the pew.”

Owen’s mom tsked. “I’ve stood on a dining room chair before when I’ve needed help to reach something. How is that any different?”

“That’s in your house. Would you go over to someone else’s house, pull out one of their dining room chairs, and climb up on it?”

His mom chuckled. “I suppose you have a point there. What if we were at your grandmother’s house, though? Or someplace where I felt comfortable and familiar enough to make myself at home?”

Owen grunted. “People aren’t supposed to make themselves at home in church, though.”

“Are you sure about that?”

The ground shifted under his feet, and Owen decided to back out of the conversation. He wasn’t ready to jump into that quicksand yet. “That’s not important right now. I need to understand why she got upset when I pointed out that she’d been standing on the pew. It’s not like I said something she didn’t already know.”

Mom exhaled with a half-laugh-half-sigh. “You’re not going to dig in your heels and demand that pew-standing be punishable by flogging, are you?”

Owen ran a hand through his hair. “No. Not giving your son the answer he needs, though... Well, no promises there.”

“Ha. Nice one.” Owen’s mom was one of the few people who always knew when he was joking. People generally took him literally. He couldn’t blame them, either, since he often did the exact same thing to other people.


“Very well. You were stating a fact, but your friend Kimi might not know you well enough to realize that. Most people, when they say something of that nature, mean it as condemnation.”

“Huh.” Owen leaned back in his chair. “Are you sure this isn’t just a female thing?”

“I’m pretty sure it applies across the board — men and women.”

“So... stating fact is a form of judgment?”

“In social settings like this, yeah, most of the time. For example, if you tell someone their shirt is blue, it’s not a big deal. If, however, you tell them their shirt is too small, then you’re judging them for being overweight or eating too much or not being able to properly dress.”

Owen shook his head. “So when I commented on her pew-standing, what was I saying? I wasn’t calling her fat, was I?”

Mom’s chuckle gave him hope. “No, not fat. Maybe a sinner or a heathen or something like that, but not fat.”

One sentence from his mother, and his hope was dashed. Which was worse? Calling Kimi a heathen or calling her fat?

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Looking for a YA fantasy adventure as your next read? Here's an excerpt of my YA fantasy, The MirrorMasters:


The cool water invigorated me as it splashed against my skin. I wiped my hands and patted my face dry with a towel, meeting my eyes in the mirror. In the florescent lighting, my complexion shone snow-pale, ghostly pale, even though I’d already started working on a "summer tan." It was a hopeless cause.

Jenny should have showed by now. Kevin should have, too. He didn’t have to babysit tonight. My nerves would ease, at least a little, once all my friends arrived. I wanted to hear Kevin say he didn’t notice anything strange by the cemetery. It would start there, if anywhere, and he lived the closest to it.

The lights flickered, then went out. Startled, I jumped. Darkness and the scent of cucumber-melon air freshener enveloped me. My breaths quickened. Limbs trembling, I groped for the light switch and managed to find it, but flicking it up and down did nothing. Midway toward the doorknob, my hand paused as a bright flash in the mirror caught my gaze. I froze.
Where was that light coming from? This bathroom didn’t have a window.

It was coming from the mirror.

Transfixed, I saw the images in fragments. A soft glow of white light amid the trees. A blonde girl struggling out on the church grounds to protect herself and her sister — the Stanford twins! — against a man with ice-blue eyes. Strange symbols on his weapon that flashed, faster and faster, and hummed, higher and higher in pitch until it emitted a burst of green energy. One sister crumpled, while a boy with those same ice-blue eyes chased the other into the woods.

Then a wave of a hand, and shattered glass reassembling itself. Lightning bolts of electricity from a dark, cloaked figure striking a brunette girl. Her body, small and slender, falling to the floor — Jenny?

A hole in the ground, surrounded by headstones.

I stepped back, toward implied safety. That did not just happen. Oh, blazes, it did. The last trace shadows of a freshly dug grave, now covered, lingered in the glass.

"What is that?" My voice sounded small and tight to my ears in this enclosed space. I rubbed my arms in a vain effort to warm myself. Goosebumps prickled all along them. Dread seized me, settling like lead in the pit of my stomach.

I blinked as the images disappeared, leaving me in complete blackness again. Heart pounding in my chest with a desperate need to escape, I fumbled for the doorknob, barely restraining the impulse to pound the door like a crazy person when my fingers failed to find it. Out in the game room, I heard the patio door slide open. Kevin said something to David and Kara, but his words were muffled, indistinct, worried. A jolt of fear shot through me. What if Kevin told them Jenny had been hurt — or worse — just like the mirror had shown?

"Leah, come on," David called.

"Coming!" My hand finally grasped the doorknob. When I turned it and pushed, the bathroom door wouldn’t budge. I pushed again, harder. The door still didn’t move. "Guys, wait! I’m stuck."

Their only reply was the sliding glass door slamming shut.

Finally, for the first time since the incident, I
had silence.
Which meant nobody was around to keep me from escaping
to my special sanctuary. I could meditate, take a quick trip to the
world where I always felt whole. Where I always felt needed and
appreciated. Not like here, where it seemed as though every step I
took was in the wrong direction.
I positioned myself flat on my back and closed my eyes,
drinking in the quiet. Every silent second that passed brought me
closer to a point of total relaxation. My breathing was my only
point of concentration.
An itch irritated my nose, but I ignored it. For this to work, I
had to remain motionless. Only once my body had convinced itself
I was sleeping could I peel my spirit out of its physical shell.
Once the itch passed, another started on my left kneecap.
The urge to scratch was almost unbearable, so I silently counted my
inhalations to distract myself.
One. Two. Three. Four. Five.
The spot in the center of my forehead, my Third Eye, started
to ache from the effort. It only took a moment before I could feel
my inward self, my astral body, start to vibrate with a desperate
need to escape its prison.
To help speed along the process, I imagined a rope sinking
into my torso, lassoing around my soul and little by little pulling,
until finally…
There was a sudden rush of freedom and I, well, the inner
part of me soared through a silver tunnel. The sensation of being
reborn pulsated through my soul as I careened through the portal
at an unimaginable speed.
A deafening whoosh sped past my ears as I broke through to
the other side, floating on an invisible cloud in the Heavens. The
weightlessness hit me fast, and only a thin, silver cord connecting
my spiritual body and physical body at the belly button offered
I tipped forward, then overcorrected, flipping backward.
With no firm ground to land on, the reverse summersaults
continued until I tightened my core and willed my body to stop its
circus act.
Once I was still and upright again, I marveled at the beauty
before me. Marshmallow clouds littered the powder-blue
atmosphere, interrupted only by the frequent majestic rainbows
gracing the landscape. A natural warmth breathed on my skin.
Perfect. Everything here was perfect.


Nina Warrenton checked her watch for the umpteenth time. He was late. On the one hand, she was thankful; on the other, she was annoyed. Who makes an appointment and shows up late? Granted living in the D.C. Metro area guaranteed multiple opportunities to be late, but she made an effort to arrive on time to any appointment. Too bad the unknown Mr. Williams didn’t hold the same virtue.
She sighed. Had she acted prematurely? Putting an ad for a husband was a little archaic, but she believed it would get the job done. However, none of the previous candidates had panned out. One man had been released from prison a couple of months ago. Another had answered her ad with the hope of moving out of his mother’s place. Still, another had answered her ad because the voices in his head had prompted him to. She shook her head.
Maybe the face that Mr. Williams was missing was God showing her he wasn’t the one. Maybe he was prematurely balding or had the personality of wilted lettuce. Of course, she had prayed that God would send her the right man, but there was no guarantee He would acquiesce to her request.
She tapped her pen on the table and looked around the room. The coffee shop was filled with D.C. metropolitans ready to embrace the autumn air. It was a gorgeous day with a light breeze and the preferred seventies temperature. Was it possible that Mr. Williams was already here and hiding behind a coffee mug or laptop, to secretly get a first impression without her noticing? She peeked around the shop, but she was the only one alone.



He removes his jacket, hat, and gloves and tosses them to the ground. He studies me as he closes the distance between us like a robotic machine, stopping directly in front of me.

He can’t be serious. He’s almost twice my size and solid muscle. Clearly he’s a skilled fighter. He’s our instructor, for cryin’ out loud!

He stalks around me, looking for an opening to make his first attack. Reality sets in as he throws a sharp, lightning-fast jab to my face.

I jump away as his fist just barely grazes my cheek. How is this a fair fight? I begin my typical retreat, but he lunges out with his long, powerful body and captures the same leg Kate got—the same one I keep leaving open.


Stars flash across my line of vision as my head slams hard into the mat, way harder than last time. The air rushes from my lungs. I grimace in agony and terror. Now I really wish I remembered to tuck my chin. I try to squirm from his grasp, but I can’t move or even breathe. The weight of his body pins me in place as if I somehow got trapped under a massive rock and it’s slowly crushing me to death. I’m helpless . . . completely defenseless . . . just like I’ve always been.

“Fight!” he shouts.

Fight! That same word I always heard in my head every time I was restrained and beaten, but I never did.That same word I always thought of every time I cowered in the corner, but I just stayed there and blocked my face to soften the blows. That same word that resonated in my heart and soul every time I thought I wouldn’t live to see the morning—

But wait! I’m still here. Did I fight, but never knew it? Does he really see something in me that I never saw in myself?

I snap back to reality. He has me straddled above the waist. He’s like a giant compared to my tiny, frail stature. How can I ever get him off me?

He throws a jab to my face.

I try to block it with my forearm, but the force still sends a sharp, searing pain through my head. I glance up at him as I helplessly cower, covering my face. But his eyes! They’re not fierce with anger or heartless and cruel. Instead, they’re pleading with me, calling for me to see something greater in myself . . . telling me he expects more . . . believing already that I won’t accept failure this time. A spark of ambition ignites. A driving force to succeed, a hunger to be something more, something stronger and better than the victim I always was, suddenly drives me on. I won’t fail this time. I can’t!

A New Witch in Town (Maybe Two) is a light clean fantasy.

“To tell you the truth, we are known as witches. But to answer your question, this town is not made up only of witches, but there is rather a high concentration of us here. We are quite a big community, yes,” Isidora said.

“Witches. Okay. I would like to be alone now. Do you mind going out to do your witching things while I try to... Oh, my goodness! Aurora! Oh, my.. oh, my... What are you doing to her? I must go and get her.” Kimberly tried again to sit up, still very pale and trembling.

“Calm down, Kimberly. Please, listen to me!” Isidora's authoritative voice cut through Kimberly's panic.

“We are not going to do any harm to you or to Aurora. Do we look like evil people, or have we done anything to you?”

“No, you didn't, but...”

Isidora sat on the bed beside her. “Wait and listen. We are magical, as magic has existed since the beginning of the Universe. Indeed, do you think there's something more magical than the Universe? Than life itself? Can't you see that everything is magic around you? Always? We have only learned how to connect with the Universe, with the hidden powers that make everything be. We have always been considered like a devilish race while we are more God's progeny than anybody else. Whatever you might mean by God.”

Isidora looked up at Lucille, who nodded.

“We learned how to control powers long ago, at the beginning of the human race. Mind powers that every creature in the whole Universe possesses. We found the way to master those powers and, generation after generation, this ability has entered our bodies, so that now every witch gives birth to witches, our powers being inherited with our genes. It has been so for thousands of years now.”

“Okay, I believe you. Whatever. I want to go and get Aurora now.”

“She will be here in a few minutes. My granddaughter, Ravyn, is bringing her here. You cannot drive in this state!”

“And I don't want Aurora to go around with strangers.” With a pale face and drawn skin, Kimberly tried to sit up once again, this time with more strength. She sat on the bed, looking for her shoes.

“Kimberly, how can we show you we don’t mean any harm to you or Aurora?” Lucille asked with a forced, worried smile.

Kimberly raised her gaze to Lucille.

“Wait a minute. What has this all to do with me? Why don't you just leave me, this poor... human soul, alone? I didn't look for you, so please, can’t you just stop looking for me?”

Lucille and Isidora exchanged embarrassed looks.

“You cannot fight against your destiny,” Isidora said solemnly.

“What do you mean?”

“I mean...” Isidora sighed heavily. “You are a witch, too.”

Sugar and Spice:
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The woman’s piercing eyes looked as if she wanted to shoot daggers right into his soul. “Reese!” She marched over to him, her beautiful mouth mashed down in apparent anger.
“I-I’m n-not—-”
She rushed right into him, bumping his arm, and the cake he’d been holding dropped from his hand. The dish crashed to the floor, breaking into several pieces. She grabbed his arm. “What are you doing here?”
“B-but I-I--” Lord, please help me. You know my stutter gets worse when I’m upset. Please open my mouth so that I can speak to this woman – a woman whom my identical twin brother has probably treated wrong.
“Are you here to torment me?” The woman’s voice resonated in the room. The toddler in the high chair howled, staring at the angry woman with wide, frightened eyes.
He needed to get a handle on this as soon as possible. He’d just opened his bakery and he didn’t want to risk losing customers so soon. He focused on the woman, pushed his glasses up on his nose. When he fiddled with his glasses, the woman’s dark eyes snapped, as if she realized her mistake. She licked her full lips, leaned closer to him, peered into his eyes. “You’re not Reese.”
“D-do you m-mind going into my office in the b-back?” Blue Spring was a small town, and he could imagine a lot of the residents talking about this incident while they ate dinner that night. He gestured toward the nosy crowd. “D-don’t want to d-disturb the c-customers.”
The pretty woman took a few steps back, glanced at the crowd, as if suddenly realizing she’d caused a scene. Her chocolate brown eyes widened as she covered her quivering lips with her hand. She looked mortified, and he didn’t want to risk her leaving before he had a chance to explain. “D-don’t leave.”
He needed to be sure she was okay. He touched her elbow, breathed with relief when she didn’t shove his hand away. He led her behind his counter and into the back hallway. He then coaxed her into his office, offered her a chair. Continuing to silently pray about his voice, he fetched a cold bottle of water from the refrigerator and handed it to her.
Did she need a few minutes to calm down? Well, he’d go and check on the customers and give her some time alone. He returned to the sitting area. A few customers had already taken their exit. The remaining patrons gave him curious looks. He grinned at them before cleaning up the cake and broken dish from the floor. “S-sorry about that. W-woman troubles.”
A few of them chuckled. He washed his hands and sliced another piece of cake and served it to a customer at one the tables. After he’d rung up a few orders, he finally made his way back to his office.
The woman clutched the bottle of water in her small hands. Her leg jiggled. The bottle was half empty. Good. Maybe the cold water helped her to feel better. He took a seat behind the desk.
“Who are you?” Her beautiful lips barely moved as she voiced the question.
“I’m Mason, Reese’s i-i-identical t-twin b-b-brother.”

“Life After e.l.e. is a post apocalyptic dystopian that will keep you turning the pages. J.C. Morrows is a must-read author!” ~ Mandy Fender, Award winning author of the Defier series


The muscles in my legs were screaming from over-use, burning with exhaustion. . . but I knew I couldn't stop. . . I could not rest. To stop or even to slow down would mean death.

If I didn't get to the gates in time, if I didn't make it, I would be locked out.
They would close them, lock them and it would be too late. They didn't wait for anyone.

I knew this better than most.

I had watched, screaming, while my father had been locked out. I had screamed and cried and begged until someone had to drag me away to the infirmary.

I had fought them all the way.

I had struggled and scratched and even bit at those who were pulling me away, trying desperately to get free, to see him again, to call out to him over the walls, to tell him I loved him one last time, because I knew I would never see him again.

No one survived on the outside—not overnight.

It was the first rule we all learned. Some learned it the hard way. You were either in the compound by sunset or you were dead.

Now I was on the outside—and I was out of time.

So I ran.

I pushed my over-taxed muscles even harder. I could already hear the sound of the heavy wheels that moved the doors into place.

And I knew—I knew I was not going to make it. . .

Here is an excerpt from the first of a new Teen/YA mystery series The Mysterious Package - available from AMAZON (ebook or paperback)

Excerpt from Chapter 1:

The scenery flew by as Hannah and Tamar rode the first leg on Amtrak from Baltimore, Maryland to Rutland, Vermont. It was the Saturday before Thanksgiving, and the girls were on the way to their grandparents’ house to help prepare for Thanksgiving Day. The rest of the family would arrive Wednesday or Thursday.

It hadn’t been easy to get the high school to excuse the students from two days’ classes the following week. But both were honor students and they had promised to keep up with their school work. With over eight hours of train ride, Wi-Fi, and available plug-ins, the girls would have plenty of time to get their pesky homework out of the way.

Even though Tamar and Hannah had travelled this route many times, the scenery distracted them. They enjoyed the view of the cities, small towns, and landscape. As the train edged north, vestiges of the last snowstorms were evident. Dirtied piles of snow, not big enough to even call drifts, dotted the landscape.

“Leave me alone!” A woman’s high-pitched plea shattered the constant drone of conversation and the hum of the train as it moved along the tracks.

Both girls turned toward the source of the scream. A girl, about their age, was pushing a young man away. She had medium brown, straight hair to her waist that swung from side to side as she tried to pull away from the man.

Conversation stopped as passengers watched the two, but nobody moved. Hannah and Tamar exchanged glances and as one they walked up to the pair.

“Hi! Do you know where the restrooms are?” Tamar asked the man.

As she spoke, she and Hannah positioned themselves on either side of the girl. While her polite words and sweet tone were innocent enough, the sisters stood firm and stared him down.

Up close, the young man appeared to be a few years older than the girl. He had dark hair, piercing blue eyes and the shadow of a beard. His wrinkled shirt, dirty jeans, and more than hint of body odor contrasted sharply with the girl’s coral V-neck cashmere sweater and black designer pants. She clutched her Kate Spade bag and tears trickled down her cheeks.

He glared at Tamar without speaking. When Tamar held his gaze, he released the girl’s arm and slithered away.

“I’m Hannah, and this is my sister Tamar. Are you okay?”

“I… I think so. I’m Gwen Singleton. Thank you. Can you believe that jerk followed me from the Café Car.” She considered the two girls in their casual jeans and sweaters. “I think I’ll go back to my seat now. Business class.” With a forced smile, Gwen sashayed down the aisle and into the next car.

“I wonder what that was all about.”

Here's a little excerpt from my award-winning YA sweet romance Passing Notes about a ghost who teaches a boy to write love letters. I hope you enjoy it.

When I got in my room, I flipped on my computer and went to Bethany’s favorite social network site. I stared at her updated picture and read her recent posts. Nothing at all about me—good, bad, or indifferent. I wasn’t her awesome new boyfriend or a hated ex. It was like I simply didn’t exist. Like the night at the drive-through never happened at all.

I typed on her wall: Miss you.

You too, came a quick reply.

All right! She was online.

Call me?

Can’t. Too much homework.

1st day back?

I didn’t have any homework, so I kind of had trouble believing that. Maybe the Advance Placement classes dug in faster.

C u 2morrow?


Oh no. Sure is not the same as yes. Not the same by a longshot. Sure is very, very unsure. It’s a waffle. It’s the weak, wimpy kid brother to “I guess so”. It is the kind of affirmation that makes you feel like your request is an obligation. What could I do?

I typed quickly, my heart pounding in my chest and my fries from earlier scorching the back of my throat.

I really did think you looked beautiful today. You always do. I’m sorry if I texted something that upset you. From my heart, sincerely, you are gorgeous in every way from your looks to your brain and your heart. In fact, it’s the brilliance and sweetness that are what make you so stunning. I’ve never met anyone like you, and I hope you’ll give me a chance to show you how much I adore you.

The words poured out of me. I’d never written or said anything like that before.

For an hour I sat and stared at my computer screen, waiting for some kind of reply. Midnight came and went, and nothing happened except that the wall filled up with questions and comments from her friends about my post. All of them tore it to shreds like I was some weird stalker trying to inflict mental anguish on my girlfriend. A handful asked who I even was.
I hoped the reason she wasn’t responding was because she actually was doing homework or had gone to bed. Only, I’d posted this right on her wall where all 382 of her friends were clearly reading it too. Surely one of them had called her to ask, “Did you see what that Mark guy wrote?”

Why didn’t she respond?

I finally shut down my computer and slipped into bed, wondering as I began to doze off if I’d get another note from the ghost writer in the morning telling me what I’d done wrong this time.

Ghost writer. Yeah. That made perfect sense. Instead of throwing books around, slamming classroom doors, and screeching through hallways, this ghost chose to haunt the high school by teaching random kids how to write better love letters.

Even though there was nothing remotely scary or believable about that concept, I wound up not sleeping a whole lot that night.

My latest novel, entitled THE INHERITANCE, published this month, is a romantic mystery with cozy elements. It's available in print and ALL ebook formats:

Here's a brief excerpt:

Late that afternoon as Jen left the house and started to drive away, a strange sound whizzed across the open front car windows from the driver’s side through the passenger side. She was startled by the sound. Her heart began to pound. Jen glanced over at the thicket of overgrown shrubs and trees to the side of the grounds that led back into woodlands. Had the sound been a bullet? If so, it had nearly hit her. Her hands shook on the driver’s wheel as she took off at high speed.
One block away she heard the police siren and saw the flashing lights. She groaned. Not again! He signaled with his hand, pointing his index finger for her to pull over. It was all she could do not to burst into tears.
Grant Coleman approached the car like a gunfighter in a spaghetti western. “I thought you learned something the first time,” he said. “Guess I was wrong. License and registration.” He held out his hand with a bored, impatient gesture.
“I have a very good reason for speeding.”
The smile was more of a smirk. The man was infuriating! “I’ve heard them all, but you can try.”
“As I left my grandmother’s house, a bullet passed through my car. I had the windows rolled down. So they weren’t broken, but it just missed hitting me.”
He stared at her. “Maybe it was a kid with a Beebe gun. Are you certain it was a bullet breezing by you? How familiar are you with weapons?”
“Not familiar at all, but I know what I heard.” Jen swallowed hard. “I think someone might have intended to shoot me.”
He let out a loud laugh. “In Bloomingvale? I doubt that very much.”
“So you’re not taking this seriously?” She folded her arms over her chest.
“Admit it. You’re just looking for an excuse to keep me from writing you another ticket.” His intense gray eyes bore into her like the steel blade of a dagger.
Jen raised her chin and stiffened her spine. “You are so wrong. Why don’t you check the area near the house, just to see if you can find anything.”
“Waste of time.” He leaned toward her and she felt his breath on her cheek which caused her to shiver. “Tell you what I will do though. I won’t write you a ticket this time because that’s the most creative excuse I’ve ever heard.”
“So glad I managed to amuse you,” she said.
Jen watched him drive off. He was probably still laughing, the sexy jerk. Several people had come out of their houses and were staring at her. Jen managed to restart her car and drove off before others gathered. She certainly didn’t want to make a spectacle of herself. Letting out a shaky breath, Jen wasn’t certain now if she’d really heard what she thought she had. A professional law enforcement officer didn’t think anything of it. She supposed it might have been nothing at all. Maybe it was a child with a Beebe gun as he suggested. But try as hard as she might, Jen couldn’t convince herself.

This novel is a “clean read” suitable for young and old readers alike.