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)!!


An Informal DateClick to Buy

The change in Dr. Jameson’s voice gave warning. Whatever was coming next, Owen wouldn’t like it.

“Do you remember when I explained why we wanted to relocate you from Chicago to our lab here in Virginia?”

Owen remembered all right. He’d hoped, however, that the pharmaceutical company would wise up and realize they were better off not forcing the issue.

“It’s time.” Dr. Jameson built a funeral pyre with his voice.

Owen’s stomach dropped despite the uncomfortably angled chair that seemed to want to force all his internal organs northward.

“Gyermeck Pharmaceuticals will be asking the FDA to fast-track the drug. All our paperwork is in order, and our stats back up the drug’s release. The waiting period with the FDA, though, is... problematic.”

“A Pomeranian has more chance of convincing a government agency to take action. You send me in there, and the drug will end up permanently sidelined.” Owen knew his limitations. People were one of his biggest.

Dr. Jameson’s mouth lifted at the corner. “I’m not asking you to go into a meeting or address Congress. Nothing of the sort.”

Owen should feel better, but he would reserve judgment until Dr. Jameson finished. “Then what?”

“There’s a reception...”

“Uh-uh. No way. Seriously? A social gathering? I’d rather testify before Congress if it’s all the same to you.”

“Unfortunately, it’s not all the same, and Gyermeck isn’t backing down on this. The reception is next Thursday night. That gives you eight days to procure a tux and a date. Find someone who can fill in the awkward silences for you. If you don’t...”

Owen was still shaking his head. “Sending me to a social gathering like that will guarantee Gyermeck never gets approval to release the drug.”

Dr. Jameson stood and moved toward the door. “I know it’s not what you wanted to hear, but it’s part of your contract. I’ll check back with you on Tuesday to make sure you have a tuxedo and a date.”

“And if I don’t?”

“I’ve been instructed to see to it that you attend even if it means I dress you myself and hire an escort to accompany you.”

The door closed behind Dr. Jameson, but Owen remained in the chair. He was supposed to find a date to take to a reception — presumably a government reception — or the pharmaceutical company financing his research would hire one for him.

Could the day get any worse?

A crack echoed in the confined space of his office.

Oh no...

Owen landed on the floor.

Time for a new chair.

Go Back

Landry in Like (clean fiction for preteens and teens) by Krysten Lindsay Hager


“I hate my life,” I said staring in the mirror.

“I thought last night you said everything was glorious,” my mother said, standing in the doorway with a cup of coffee.

“That was before my stupid skin decided to betray me. Look at this pimple.” “Hon, I’m sure it’s not as bad as you — oh wow. Well… uh, do you want to borrow some of my cover up?”

“I knew it! I’m hideous. I am a troll. I am gross—”

“You’re fine. You just broke out. Probably from all that foundation they used on you over the weekend at the Ingénue competition. TV makeup is a lot heavier. In a couple of days it will be gone. No big deal.”

“But Mom, I was going to tell everyone about the Ingénue stuff today.”

“So, how is your breakout preventing that?”

“They’re all going to stare and say, ‘Why her? She’s not that great. She’s not even pretty. Just look at her nasty skin.’”

Landry, no one would ever say that. For one, it’s not true, but that’s such an awful thing for anyone to come out with. You’re making too big a deal out of this—kids aren’t that mean.”

Okay, that confirmed it: my mother was never, EVER a teenager. I used my Little Rose cosmetics concealer on it and even tried to use my round brush to blow dry the right side of my hair into my face to cover the pimple. It would help if I knew how to properly work a round brush. I had watched hairstylists use them on me, and it seemed so simple. They would whisk the brush through fast and my hair would come out looking smooth, yet full, and it would lay just right. But when I tried it by myself, I got the brush caught EVERY single time. I’d wind up with bristles clumped with hair that had been pulled out. And the part of my hair that didn’t come out into the brush would be sticking straight out like a witch’s. I was convinced beauty schools taught hairstylists some sort of sorcery to get the perfect blow out with a round brush. It was the only possible explanation.

I did the best I could with my hair and put on the navy sweater and khaki pants that made up my boring Hillcrest Academy uniform. The school acted like they were super laid back without a traditional uniform. “Oh, at Hillcrest, we don’t implement a uniform, but rather our students partake in a color code.” Seriously? We were all dressed in boring beige, khaki, navy, and white — all colors that made me look like a dead goldfish. Once in a while we could sneak certain shades of blue in, like that boring washed-out blue you see mail carriers wear.

The Duke Conspiracy – a sweet, regency romance
~ A spying debutante, a duke, and a conspiracy. Can love be found despite their feud? ~ (only $0.99)


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.

~ Happy reading ~


Kurt Jansen sat in his rusty, red pickup and stared at the Victorian house surrounded by tall pines and bare-branched hardwoods. Faded black shutters hanging cockeyed by a single hinge and peeling white paint on the clapboards testified to many years of neglect. The place didn’t look much better than the penitentiary where he’d spent the last six years, but it was better than staring at prison bars.

The structure resembled his life. A life in disrepair.

He stared at the photo in his hand. His heart twisted at the innocent faces of his two children. He vowed to put aside all the bitterness and anger from his unjust incarceration in order to get this restoration job. This was the first step to seeing his children again—the children he hadn’t seen since they were six months old. He put the photo back into his wallet.

Approaching the house, he wondered whether the inside looked as bad as the outside. Outward appearances didn’t always tell the whole story, in houses or in lives. Piles of melting, dirty snow lay alongside the lane, sidewalk, and in the shady parts of the surrounding acreage. Despite his vow, his heart felt like the snow—cold and corrupted. Resentment and despair still hovered in the dark corners of his mind, even though he’d prayed to God to take them away.

Stepping onto the wooden porch, he let the vision of an elderly lady with white hair, glasses, and sensible shoes flit through his mind. The image suited the proprietress of the future Hawthorne Valley Inn of Hawthorne, Massachusetts. Was she the answer to his prayers? Even though he prayed, he still wasn’t sure whether God answered prayers.

The floorboards creaked as Kurt stepped toward the door. He wanted to pray that the Lord would help him get this job, but he couldn’t bring himself to voice the words. Instead, he released a harsh sigh and rapped his knuckles on the weathered wood of the warped screen door. It rattled in the frame.

Moments later the inside door opened. A tall, slender young woman, dressed in blue jeans and a gray sweatshirt spattered with several colors of paint, answered the door. She stared at him through the screen with wary, pearl-gray eyes. “May I help you?”

Her throaty voice reminded him of a female disc jockey who played love songs on the radio late at night. Curly strawberry-blond hair framed her face and fell to her shoulders. A sprinkling of freckles across her nose made an attractive face strangely youthful, but he sensed she was older than she appeared. He figured she was only a little younger than his thirty-two years. Somehow she seemed familiar, but he didn’t know why.

Title - Long Lost Neighbors

You can buy here -

Excerpt -

She stopped dead in her tracks at the sound of a deep voice calling her name. Brushing a strand of hair away from her eyes, she looked up at the man standing before her.
“Yeah?” Her eyes slightly squinted as she tried to figure out how this person knew her.
But then she saw it.
The answer was written in the man’s eyes. Ali had never seen anyone else in her entire life who carried the same deep blue irises as her best friend once did.
“Greg?” She was shocked! Of all people, of all places and after all these years, she would have never guessed to have run into him here in Lost Lake. “I can’t believe it!”
Both of them smiled widely at each other before simultaneously closing the gap between them in an embrace. They held each other tightly for a moment, neither of them wanting to let go.
When they finally did, Greg was the first to speak. “Wow, Ali. You look amazing.”
She caught the way he looked her up and down, clearly liking what he saw, and instantly she blushed. “Oh, thank you,” she shyly giggled. “You look pretty good yourself.”
“Why, thank you,” he said with swagger.

From my forthcoming book, HER BROTHER'S KEEPER:

Bats? There were bats in the cave? As if the cold and the damp and the pitch blackness wasn’t bad enough. Cassie backed out as quickly as she could, which wasn’t very quick at all. She had to stop after every single step to make sure she still had her footing; she wasn’t going to risk falling down and cracking her skull on a rock.

That was the wrong thought, because it brought to mind an image of her unconscious body laid out on the floor of the cave, blood pouring from a gruesome head wound. And of course the bats would be attracted to the blood, and they’d flock out by the hundreds to – what? Did bats drink blood?

Slave, by Laura Frances

I think it’s the thunder when my eyes first flutter open. I was dreaming about my first day of school.

'Breathe, Hannah. That’s right. In the nose. Out the mouth. Remember,' Father said, 'they need us.'

'But what if I answer wrong,' I said, wiping my nose with my sleeve. 'What if I can’t learn the problems? Will they shoot me if I’m wrong?'

'No,' Mother interjected. But I saw the look they shared. 'Besides, we’ve been teaching you all the math at home. You’ll be way ahead of the other kids.' She knelt in front of me and straightened my coat.

'Will they kill the other kids? If I’m better than them? I don’t want to be better. They’ll hate me.'

I think it’s the thunder the first time I hear it, but the second time I know that I’m wrong. The second time the rumbling sounds, the walls shake, and white dust falls from the ceiling, floating in the stream of dim light that glows through a hole in the curtain. I lie paralyzed, waiting and listening. I’ve heard explosions before, but never in the night; never when the machinery is shut down and the Workers are asleep.

A noise like tapping is drifting from outside, though I can barely hear it over the thumping in my ears. Five minutes pass, and nothing happens. Nothing but the tapping and the thumping and my breathing.

As my body is relaxing again, an explosion blasts so close to my building that the window shatters into a million pieces, and a scream rips from my throat. I yank the blanket over my head and tremble as cold air blows through the empty frame. The curtains slap against the wall.

The sound from outside is no longer a tapping. It is the popping of guns and the shouts of men, and my heart stops dead in my chest. I force myself to get up. Hurrying to the corner shower, I huddle on the floor, covering my head in my blanket.

My lungs aren’t obeying and I can’t breathe. Tears sting my eyes and freeze on my cheeks. There is no protocol for this. There are no rules for what to do when the valley is exploding. If I run outside, where will I go? And I will be shot on sight. That is the rule I know well. It was pounded into my brain by anxious parents. It was preached at me by worrying neighbors.

'Do not go outside,' my father would say to me. 'Not ever, Hannah.'

The Prophetess
Get a copy here:

The Jewish man stepped off the podium and walked toward me. The daemon was afraid, confused—a whirlwind of his emotions blew through my body. The man regarded me a moment, his eye calm. The two younger men I had seen earlier with him came up behind him. Further back in the crowd, I saw Lydia.
The man pointed.
“In the name of Jesus Christ,” he said, “I command you to come out of her.”
People who saw it tell me I bent over double—that my feet stayed rooted to the paving stones and my body bent backwards in an impossible contortion until the top of my head touched the ground. I felt the daemon go out of my mouth, just the way he came in. He felt like fire. I screamed but then, as if reality had suddenly changed, I opened my eyes. I lay on the rough granite cobblestone, bruised, my whole body aching, but the sweetness and bliss of being free of the daemon rolling over me like warm water, like summer rain, like a fragrant breeze.
I pressed my palms, trying to raise myself up, but collapsed. My shoulder throbbed where Marius had punched me. He held his hand, his face etched with pain. The people in crowd, at least what I could see of them, stood there shocked. Aspasia, her face white with fear, knelt beside me.
‘Drusilla?” she whispered.
“Are you all right?”
“My shoulder hurts. I can’t stand.”
Just then I heard the swishing of a skirt. Lydia sank down so she could be even with me.
“Drusilla, I’m here,” she said.
I looked into her pretty eyes—grey and full of love. My words came without my thinking of them.
“He’s gone,” I said, having to express my amazement and my joy.
“I know. Paulus cast him out. You are free.”
Free, I thought, but now I could not give prophecies. As if in answer to the fearful realization gripped me that moment, a shadow fell on me. Marius. He stood over me, holding his swollen fingers, his eyes full of rage.
“Get up,” he ordered, his teeth clenched.
I tried to raise myself.
“Master, I cannot.”
He started to shout at me, but Lydia rose to be even with him.
“Marius, have some pity on the girl. The demon went out of her. It’s a miracle her back isn’t broken.”
He did not hear the last part of what she said.
“The daemon is out of her?” he sputtered.
“The teacher I follow cast him out.”
He gaped, looking around for them. I scanned the crowd. I did not see them.
“They’re gone,” Lydia said.
Marius lowered his eyes. I felt such fear I thought I might faint. His gaze said murder.
“Is this true?” he asked me.
I nodded, then, remembering my status as a slave, said, “Yes, Master, it is true. The daemon is gone from my body.”
Marius looked bewildered.