Friday, February 29, 2008

*Romance is in the Air* Releases...

Romance is in the Air with short novellas by Sherry Jones, Susan Atwood and Robin Bayne will be available at By Grace SOON!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

*Romance is in the Air* Blurbs and Excerpts


Whispers in the Wind by Sherry Jones

Overworked Grace Belden hears whispers in the wind. Could Braden Colter be her voice of destiny?

Grace Belden looked her sister’s desperate face before her gaze dropped to Claire’s nine-month’s worth of swollen belly.

“I need a physical presence at that location, Grace. I wouldn’t ask but…” Claire’s voice trailed off, but Grace knew the words she’d left unspoken as well as the wording in the vendor contract.

“Only for you, Claire, because you are my baby sister who looks like she’s ready to pop.” Grace gave a sigh over her designer outfit she’d not had time to change, however, she turned to reload the cart with the afternoon’s required supplies. “And because after today my life will never be the same.”

“Oh, pray tell me the reason, Older Sister O’ Mine.” Claire settled deeper into her chair to prop her feet up on a stool.

“Your sarcasm pains me, but I’ll tell you anyway. I whispered my heart’s desire into the wind, which, according to Madame Zelda, means that my wish will come true. She’s a nice lady. I didn’t want to hurt her feelings.”

“Very poetic. I hope you wished for a date.”

“A romantic stranger would have to drop from the heavens. There is no suitable date material in Maydale, Texas. That means for today, you are my only date. On that note, I’m off feed the world.”

She guided the snack cart from the vendor’s supply area to the main circuit of the park. Lord, it had been years since she’d done this job. Her parents had owned the concession contract then. She lifted her face to the afternoon sun and breathed deeply, though her tired feet protested the long walk.

I’m waiting for you, Grace.

“What?” Irritation knitted her brows into a frown. She’d go put in a vacation request Monday morning. A person who heard voices in the wind clearly needed a break.

Will You Be My Valentine? by Susan Atwood

Beth is perfectly content with her plans for Valentine’s Day---a date with an old romantic movie and a hot pizza. Why does she feel a stab of jealousy while helping her new neighbor choose a Valentine’s gift for the woman he is planning to ask for a date?

“Wait one minute, Jack. I have a great idea, but I have to take this delivery first.”
Beth returned in a few minutes with a selection of chocolate flowers.

“How about these? They’re my favorites. They’re pretty, women love chocolate, and they won’t be hurt by the cold.”

“They’re perfect. And I know she’ll like them,” he said, eyes twinkling.

The Red Hat by Robin Bayne

Joe can’t believe the annoying woman from the theater was the new sales rep—could he learn to work with both her and that hat?

“Can you believe this woman?”

The voice came from behind her. Meg stiffened in her cinema seat. The scents of popcorn and tacos floated around the theater as the previews began, and she relaxed.

“What is with that hat?”

The voice came again, slightly louder this time. Someone was upset with her hat! It wasn’t that tall. What was his problem? She shifted lower in the seat, but that hurt her lower back. Theme music flowed from the speakers as she felt her friend’s gaze on her.

“Don’t worry about him. Just watch the movie. Think about that appointment you have tomorrow with your first sale customers.” Tina patted Meg’s arm then ripped open a box of Sno-Caps. Meg nodded and tried to ignore the man behind her, thinking all the time that his voice sounded slightly familiar.
* * * *

Joe Dalton entered the model home slash sales office the next morning, prepared for a meeting with the builder about materials he needed for cabinetry on lots ten and eleven. The smell of hot coffee greeted him as he headed directly for the house’s modern kitchen. As he passed the library off the main hall, he peered in, but didn’t see the real estate agent he usually chatted with. Instead, on the oak credenza behind the sales desk, sat a red felt hat with a small feather tucked in its trim.

The red hat he’d seen at the movies last night.

Now, he really needed that coffee.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

By Grace Release Tidbits

Get the inside scoop about the short shorts in February's Romance is in the Air anthology, available from By Grace this week!

Sherry (Shara) Jones ~ Whispers in the Wind

Living in my part of Texas, prone to short winters and long months of warm weather, we can guarantee that by the end of February, spring really is just around the corner. Despite a last few freezing days, the crepe myrtle trees, with their beautiful fuchsia color explosions, manage to survive our weather and flourish.

Sometimes two people, despite the obstacles and against the odds, manage to find each other and create an attraction so strong that their love seems to whisper in the wind…

Susan Atwood ~ Will You Be My Valentine?

This story arose from the “What If...” game. What if... the new neighbor you maybe-sorta-kinda have a crush on came into the card shop where you worked and you had to help him pick out a Valentine’s Day gift for another woman?

My heroine, Beth, loves old, romantic movies. So do I :) Some of my favorites are “An Affair to Remember” and “The Philadelphia Story.”

Robin Bayne ~ The Red Hat

When I was in high school I did some local modeling, and my favorite prop was a red felt hat. I liked all sorts of hats, but that was my favorite, and that is the hat I envisioned when I wrote “The Red Hat.” However, I never wore it into a movie theater like my heroine does in the opening of the story. The Valentine’s theme during the month of February also made me want to use a prop of this color, to go along with all the red hearts being sent among lovers.

The setting is actually one from my life. Before I started working in the mortgage banking industry I worked for a builder as a sales rep, and the model home I worked from is the one I set the story in. The hero, though, is completely from my imagination.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

By Grace Release Week...*Romance is in the Air*

By Grace is releasing a romantic anthology this week, with short stories from Sherry (Shara) Jones, Susan Atwood and Robin Bayne.

Sherry (Shara) Jones

Sherry (Shara) Jones began seriously writing in 2002 with an eye towards publication. While writing her first romance novel, she penned short stories to submit to national magazines. Imagine her shock and complete amazement when the very first story she submitted, sold!

Since that time, she has been fortunate enough to be published with By Grace Publishing, as well as with sister company, Moonlit Romance.

It’s been a fascinating, enriching, and worthwhile adventure made even more enjoyable by the people that she’s met along the way.

Sherry's Backlist: Tall, Dark and Daddy (By Grace); The Haunting of Sarah Dyson/Out of the Shadows (By Grace); Blue Plate Special: Pops' Girls: Lessons in Love (Moonlit Romance); The Long Way Home/Pops' Diner (Moonlit Romance)

Susan Atwood

Susan Atwood fell in love with creative writing in elementary school. Her first story, “The Three Kittens” garnered a congratulatory note from the principal. Writing got put aside for “real life” in the form of college, career and family. A chance “how-to” find in the library book sale convinced her to stop scribbling and get serious about writing.

Today, “real life” consists a home in the Midwest with her husband, three children, a dog and a cat.

Susan's Backlist: The Pendant: Callie (Moonlit Romance)

Robin Bayne

Robin Bayne is the award-winning author of five novels and three novellas, and is a regular contributor to the “Spirit Led Writer” ezine. Her essays, articles and devotionals have been published in the God’s Way Book series, Cup of Comfort Devotionals, The Secret Place, Christian Communicator, Writer’s Journal and many other publications. She has given workshops at regional and online romance writing conferences and the Writer’s Digest World’s Largest Writing Workshop. She lives in Maryland with her husband of sixteen years, and works a "day job" as a mortgage underwriter.

Robin's Backlist: From the Winds (By Grace); The Good Samaritan (By Grace); The Scent of Falling Snow/Christmas Grace (By Grace).

Thursday, February 21, 2008

*Temporary Intrigue* by Judy Huston

Luckily for Dimity Forbes, it’s not really an issue that she has made a disastrous first impression on Josh Williams. Romance is currently running a poor third on her priority list - or is it?

Luckily for Josh, he can see that this wacky, accident-prone blonde is totally the wrong type for him. Even if it seems that some of those mishaps might not be quite so accidental after all, it’s nothing to do with him, and he’ll take good care to stay away from the temptation she represents. Or will he?


He had laughed with her, then his smile faded. Moving forward, he frowned down at her.

“What on earth have you been up to now?”

Almost but not quite touching, the fingers of his right hand traced the bruising down the left side of her face.

“Another stupid accident. A car nearly ran me down on Thursday night.”

Dimity wasn’t quite sure how she found her voice. The electricity seemed to have transferred itself from the air to his fingertips and zapped across the millimetre between those fingers and her skin, setting off a series of pleasurable mini-shockwaves and almost taking away her breath in the process.

He winced, putting his hand on the wall close beside her head, studying her closely.

“Are you okay?”

The lift door slid open onto the short hallway that led to the third floor’s main work area. Waiting, tapping the toe of one shiny black shoe, was Gail. Her expression of impatience changed to indignation when she saw Dimity apparently enjoying an up close and personal with someone, then altered again to surprised recognition.

“Josh!” She held out her hand. “Good to see you. I was at meetings all day Friday, but I heard you looked in.”

“Very briefly.” Josh shook hands, also briefly, Dimity was pleased to see.

“Melissa’s on leave for the next three weeks,” Gail went on. “You can use her office.”

Josh nodded.

“Thanks, she showed me where everything is. I’ll need to borrow one of your support staff occasionally.”

“Unfortunately we’re in a state of flux with staff, but I’ll see if I can find someone - competent - to help you.” Gail shot a toxic look at Dimity who was trying to edge past unnoticed. “I noticed you called in sick on Friday. That must be a record, after only four days work.”

“For someone who was involved in a serious accident only three days ago,” said Josh, stretching the truth without a blush, “I think she’s doing pretty well to front up for work at all.” His tone was mild, but there was a hint of frost around the edges.

Yes! Dimity gave the air a gleeful mental punch. Gail bridled.

“Fortunately her absence didn’t seem to make much difference,” she snapped.

“Really?” Josh’s eyes were alert. “Then if you don’t have much for Dimity to do, I’m sure you won’t mind making her available to help me out for the three weeks.”

Available SOON! From Moonlit Romance!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Intriguing Tidbits

Temporary Intrigue really grew out of two things: one was a wish I had, several years ago, to buy two paintings I saw in a small art gallery in a historic riverside town near the Australian city of Newcastle where Temporary Intrigue is set. I’m no art connoisseur but the paintings, depicting Australian native animals, struck a special chord with me. I went home agonising over the price that I couldn’t afford but very much wanting those paintings on my wall. When I finally decided I would buy them, and hang the expense, I went to the gallery only to find – of course – they had been sold to someone else. They haunted me until I wrote them into Temporary Intrigue.

The other trigger was my mother’s habit of visiting her great aunt once a week, taking me with her when I was a child. While they talked, I retreated to my great aunt’s sunroom where she kept piles of women’s magazines, filled with short, romance fiction stories. I read and read, weeping over the sad parts but always confident of the prospect of a happy ending, a prospect that rarely failed to materialise. I became addicted to romance fiction. One day, I decided, I would write a romance novel of my own . . .

Temporary Intrigue by Judy Huston releases this week at Moonlit Romance.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Moonlit Romance Debut Novels

This month, Moonlit Romance is delighted to present Judy Huston's debut Moonlit novel, Temporary Intrigue. Let's take a look at a couple other debut novels Moonlit Romance has released.

Lady Irina by Josh Lockwood
Irina Petrova, a member of Czarist Russia's royal family, is stuck in Southeast Alaska, and wants to return to the extravagance of the court. Until her father imprisons the one man that captures her heart.
Nathan Hawkins was making a career for himself as a ships’ captain and owner. A foray into Alaska to trade for furs would be the perfect money making expedition. Being captured by the Russians was the least of his worries when he fell in love with Lady Irina.

Can he overcome the difference in their social classes to feel worthy of her? Will she go against the edicts of the Czar to be with him?

Haunted Hearts
by Jessica Raymond

Beth Albright returns to Buckinghamshire country-house Hoblington Grange to perform a paranormal investigation, unaware that her client is Sam Aston-Wilkes, her first love.

The house seems almost alive, and its eerie atmosphere only grows when, during a storm, Sam reveals the heartbreaking truth about why he broke up with Beth. He is determined to protect her by any means, even if he can’t protect himself, yet all she wants to do is solve his problems before the portentous investigation deadline that could cost Sam everything runs out.

Her doubts about whether she can fix the shattered heart of the man she never stopped loving grow as the forces of the Grange, both past and present, close ranks to influence Sam and Beth’s destiny. Will they make it, or will their love be doomed to fail, like those who have gone before them?

These Moonlit titles can be found in the 2006 catalog at the Moonlit Romance website.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Moonlit Romance Release Week: *Temporary Intrigue* by Judy Huston

Judy Huston Biography

After following the path of newspaper journalism for most of her working life, Judy decided to hit the freelance trail a few years ago. Since then she has ghost-written private biographies for people who want to put their life stories into print for their families. She has also had some children’s stories published, as well as articles for literary magazines. Most importantly she has accumulated a library of romance novels, because she enjoys the relaxation of reading them and the challenge of trying to write them.

Judy has two grown up children and an ongoing procession of cats. She lives in the Hunter Region of New South Wales in Australia, not far from the coastal city of Newcastle, which provides the setting for her first romance novel, Temporary Intrigue, published by Moonlit Romance in February 2008.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

University Day: Muse Training Tips

Need help taming the Muse? We read Valerie Parv's Muse Obedience School and then came up with our own commands.

Judy Huston
Roll Over

When your muse has mastered the basic training requirements, you may like to move on to some simple tricks that can benefit both of you. ‘Roll over’ is one that can go a long way towards overcoming the challenge of the dreaded writer’s block.

No matter how engrossing a particular work may be, there will be times when your muse becomes a little restless or even bored with the work she is doing and, eventually, refuses point blank to keep going.

In preparation for such a stoppage, have another work on the go or in the planning stage. When your muse makes it clear that she has had enough of the current work for now, encourage her gently to turn to the other project.

Enjoying distractions and always curious, your muse will be pleased to leave the familiar task to investigate something new and different. This works much better than pressuring her to continue and, you will find, brings her back refreshed and willing to refocus on the first task. By making the trick an enjoyable exercise, you’ll soon find your muse will roll happily from one work to the other on command, helping you to make progress on both in the process.

Walking to Heel

Muses love to go off (goof off?) on side tracks. If your muse tries to coax you down a different path, don’t let yourself be tempted. No matter how pleadingly your muse gazes at you with soulful eyes, no matter how strongly she tugs you towards the byway, be firm. Let her know that you appreciate her suggestion, note down its details quickly and assure her you and she will return to explore it when the time is right, but for now you have an agenda that must be followed. Remember, that detour will still be there when you have completed the work you promised yourself you would do. If you follow your mischievous muse down the other road now, however, you may find it actually leads nowhere constructive and you will have deprived yourself of time and focus for the work you need to finish.

Sherry (Shara) Jones
1. Miss Muse – Come. Sit here by me. Have you lost weight? This is non-caloric chocolate. All the taste, no calories. Promise. We have a few eensy little chapters to write – no pressure. Really.
2. Here is your feather boa. You rook mahvelous. No. Really.
3. Here is your tiara. Only the best the dollar store has to offer.
4. Music. You know how you love music. Yessssss. Just close your eyes…
5. Now…you may begin… Wait! Where are you going??
6. Oh. I forgot the “visual” portion. Yes, he is something to look at….I’ll just tape his picture by the monitor. No, I can’t airbrush away his clothes….

Susan Atwood
When training your muse, you must realize that her schedule is not always your schedule. And while it is inconvenient to be woken up at 2 a.m. with pages and pages flowing through your mind like a river, sometimes that is when the muse is most active. While a tape recorder or notepad is helpful, on those occasions when she just won’t stop yakking, it is really best to just get out of bed, fire up the computer and have at it. You will return to bed in a much better frame of mind and will find that the hours of sleep that you have left will be extraordinarily restful.

Robin Bayne
Pray for muse. Ask for guidance on where it should take you.
Exercise muse—take a walk, outdoors or on the treadmill.
Caffeinate muse—entice muse with hot fresh coffee. (you may want to do this step prior to exercising muse for best results)
Reward muse—after writing, enjoy your favorite comfort read.

Josh Lockwood
SPEAK – This command is normally given in the wee small hours of the morning, after the muse has wakened you from a sound sleep, and you just want to get the dictation over with. I don’t have this particular problem with Blabbermouth ... she just never shuts up.

PAUSE – This command is for when she’s talking faster than you can type.

REPEAT – And this is for when you’ve typed everything you can remember and want her to go over it again so you don’t leave anything out. Blabbermouth gets very upset when I leave stuff out.

Laura Hamby
1. The Right/Write Now Command: You're on a deadline and your muse has taken off for parts unknown? Try this Right/Write Now Command. Lay in a supply of "Muse Bribery" Treats, play some mood music and see if you can't entice her to come home. Given the fickleness of some muses, this may or may not work. If it doesn't work, chances are you got the wrong Muse Bribery Treats.

2. The Let Me Sleep Command: Keep a notepad and pen by your bed for jotting down the ideas your Muse throws at you while you're trying to go to sleep. Write down all the ideas she gives you, promise you'll get right on it after you'd gotten some sleep and are bright-eyed and bushy-tailed enough to do these wonderful, magnificent ideas justice.

3. Nice Muse Command: Never fail to let your muse know you appreciate her and love her. Don't forget to tell her what a nice muse she is, what a good muse she is and reward her for a job well done when the WIP is finished.

Judy Jarvie
Your muse may lead you to develop a hygiene fixation – the best ideas often come in the shower. Your hair will never have been quite as clean when you’re in the middle of the black moment. And beware of allowing the pearls of your wisdom to vanish down the plughole – keep a pad and pen nearby.

Muses get most vocal during long energetic walks. So dig out those all terrain boots and take her for a power hike across rough terrain. That’ll teach her to make you dig so deep! And think of the calories you’ll be burning as you go. Win win.

Gina Hartoog
The Brace Command – Sit forward at computer with arms over head.
This command is useful for an onslaught by the muse – too much too soon. Equally useful when the muse takes a vacation!
The Hold Command – Put your muse on hold while you carefully maneuver your vehicle off the road. Muses have a dreadful habit of showing up while you are driving at top speed on the highway - without a pen or paper insight or the ability to use either.

MG Braden
1. Sometimes the Muse needs a vacation – if she isn’t there and you can’t find her, no matter how hard you try, think about how hard you’ve been working her. Do you need to give her a break? Everyone creative (or not) needs some time off.
2. Sometimes the Muse will do what she wants and you must follow her – if she’s going in a direction you never wanted or planned sometimes it is good to just go with it. Sometimes you write brilliant stuff. Sometimes it’s crap. But, you never know if you don’t let her go with the flow.

Denise Patrick
The "Play Dead" command: This is when you need your Muse to STOP talking for a little while so you can finish the ideas she's given you before. Sometimes the Muse has to be convinced that it's okay to relax and do nothing. She needs similar rewards as if she's done a hard day's work - because sometimes it's hard to do nothing.

Friday, February 15, 2008

CAPA Winner


Congratulations to Denise Patrick and her By Grace novel Adopting Alyssa for being the 2007 winner of the CAPA in the Inspirational category.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day...

May your day be filled with romance, roses and chocolate!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Will You Marry Me?

Deb Kinnard's novel, My Silent Heart, received a 4.5 star review at The Long and Short of It Reviews. Check it out!

This novel is from By Grace. Get your copy today!

Will You Marry Me? A Writing Prompt

Judy Huston
He was going to ask her to marry him. Megan knew it, had seen it in the resolute set of his mouth as soon as he walked into the library, could even guess the size of the diamond in the small but oh so elegant jewelers box held behind his back.

She could see the box from the heavily curtained alcove into which she had dived minutes ago rather than allow Elaine to catch her rummaging through the drawers in the antique desk. Through the chink she had made in the curtains she could also see the acquisitive gleam in Elaine’s eyes. It was clear that she, too, guess Edward’s intention. In a matter of seconds, unless Megan revealed herself, Edward would be lost to her for ever.

Shara Jones
He jammed his hands into his pocket and strode away from the statuary garden in the center of the town park. Ridiculous idea to propose marriage to Anya in a place filled with images of perfect male specimens. That wouldn’t be exactly conducive to his plan to capture her undivided attention, or for his ego. “Why can’t I just say, ‘Anya, I love you. I want to walk through this life with you by my side.’ What’s wrong with that? Why do I need a fancy setting?” he muttered in frustration.

“The only setting I need is the one with you in it. I accept.” Anya stood like a vision beside his lone car left in the parking lot. Without another word he embraced the only woman he could ever claim as a soul mate.

Robin Bayne
Robert paced the narrow halls of his parents’ home, listening to the click of his own heels on the marble floor. He couldn’t help but wonder how Melissa would react to his proposal, but it did help that last night he could tell her without hesitation that her eyes were the darkest ebony. She’d softened when he’d used that term instead of saying “black.” In fact, she’d kissed him with enthusiasm and brought him a brandy.

Yet he was still unsure, nervous, almost perspiring as he prepared to meet her. She seemed to be angry with him so often, and he had yet to meet her family. He pivoted and paced toward the veranda. Maybe some fresh air would help calm him. Yes, a few deep breaths of fresh country air should help. And then he’d ask Melissa to marry him.

Denise Patrick
It was too cold to be standing out here looking up at the window. Unfortunately, I couldn't seem to convince myself to move. Warm light spilled out of the front door of the apartments. Only a few steps and I could be inside. Thawing out as I decided what to do. The breeze picked up and blew snow off the branches of the tree above me. I shivered as I felt the cold, wet stuff trickle down my collar. Inside my coat pocket, my hand curled around the small object I carried.

Somehow I found myself at Jessica's door. My fingers had begun to thaw, and I was sure that I was rubbing the finish off the jeweler’s box in my pocket. The door opened. Her gray eyes lit up and she squealed in delight. I was lost when she threw herself into my arms, but the hallway wasn't the place for what I'd come to say.

Josh Lockwood
She was going to say, “No,” he could feel it coming, and his heart shriveled within him. He just wasn’t good at flowery words, at making puppy-dog eyes, yet he knew that’s what she wanted. His knuckles turned white gripping the stems of the bouquet, the awkward lump of the ring box was still there in his pocket, and he knew he was going to do it in spite of himself. He took a deep breath, exhaled heavily, and pressed the doorbell.

“Please, God,” he muttered in the darkness, “hold me up.”

Laura Hamby
She couldn't refuse, this much Gary knew. What else could he do to prove to her that he really loved her? He did listen when she prattled away about her hopes, dreams, the perfect marriage proposal she'd been dreaming about since the tender age of six. She'd have to take him seriously---everything was in place. It would be perfect.

Logan watched his brother rehearsing the marriage proposal in the mirror. Hoo boy, the youngster had it B-A-D. Gary had himself so hyped up, he'd never listen to reason. Desiree found him interesting. A toy to play with as long as he amused her---fell over himself to gain her attention. The best Logan could do was shove Hope in Gary's direction to intercept him before he acted upon the worst decision of his young life. If that failed, Logan had filled his fridge with Gary's favorite beer in anticipation of having to lubricate his brother out of the doldrums when Desiree laughed in his face.

Judy Jarvie
Freda tried not to show her irritation and pulled on her ‘grin and bear it’ face. She hated arcade games – she’d deplored them as a child, as an adult she’d rather blowtorch her own eyebrows than waste time and money hoping for pointless prizes. And here was Rex winning everything in the place with ease; as if she cared.

”Look at this,” Rex invited as he flipped the prize container open and presented her with a ring. Uh-oh – surely no ring in a two bit arcade place could sparkle as much as this little beauty? He smiled, then grinned, then pushed it towards her left hand. “It’s a set up Freda. This ring’s no replica honey. So will you?”

Gina Hartoog
It was late and the beach was deserted. Garth gripped Natalie’s hand a little tighter and started back down the path to the hotel. The moon nestled behind the clouds but there was enough light to form strange shadow patterns on the cobblestones. A crisp breeze filtered in off the sea and Natalie shivered.

Garth took off his jacket and slipped it over her bare shoulders. It took him a few seconds to realize his mistake. He cursed silently. Now, my whole plan’s ruined. At a bend in the path they stopped and sat down on a small, iron bench. “I need my handkerchief,” Garth said suddenly. “Here, let me get it.”

He reached over and slipped his hand into the top pocket of the jacket. His fingers closed around the velvet box. Then as quickly as he could, before Natalie could realize, he dropped to his knees on the cobbled pathway, turned to her and said,
“Natalie Thom, will you marry me?”

MG Braden
Greg paced back and forth. It has to be just right. He wasn’t even sure he had the timing down. Maybe he should wait. Maybe not. No, he knew it had to be now, or never. With Tanya leaving tomorrow, he needed to get on it. Her promotion was very important to her.

“Hey, Greg. What’s going on?”

Greg sighed. “I’m thinking about giving Brad the Edmonton position. What I mean is… what I’m trying to say is… I’m hoping you’ll be too busy to go. Oh, God. I’m totally botching this.” Greg pulled a small box out of his suit pocket and bent to one knee. Offering up the box to Tanya he continued, “Tanya, you know I’m not good at this sentimental stuff. But, I love you. More than anything. Will you stay here and help me run the company? Will you stay here and have my children? Will you stay here and marry me?”

Tanya, tears shining in her eyes, hands trembling, reached out for the box. “Yes. Yes to it all.”

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

By Grace Spotlight...*Tall, Dark, and Daddy* by Shara Jones

Tall, Dark and Daddy
by Shara Jones

When Texas widower Rick Lawson needs a temporary nanny, he hires Angelyn Winters, a widow dead-set against remarrying. A deft hand with his son, home, and his heart, will she be the woman that could make him reconsider his one hard and fast rule - never fall in love?

Angelyn wanted it all - the "Cinderella" package; loving husband, happy children, and a happy home. A tragic accident robbed her of that dream until she meets TALL, DARK AND DADDY, Rick Lawson. Can she settle for the temporary nanny position, or will the temptation to test his 'rule' prove to be irresistible?

Tall, Dark and Daddy
by Shara Jones

"Angelyn, are you going to stay with us forever?" Cory peered up as she walked into the room. He paused in his coloring to wait on her answer.

"No, Cory. You remember that I'm only here until Maria returns from her sister's house." Angelyn took a seat on a low ottoman and crossed her arms over her knees to get a better look at his handiwork.

"I 'member. But what if Maria don't want to come back?" Cory asked.

"Doesn't," she corrected gently. "And she will be coming back very soon, Cory. And then I'll be working really hard to open my daycare center."

"But what if she don't ... doesn't come back. Will you stay, then?" he persisted.

"No, sweetheart. I'd only be able to stay until your daddy found someone else."

"But why do you have to leave? You could marry my daddy and stay here with me." Cory gnawed at his lower lip in agitation.

Marry his daddy? Oh, good Lord.

Angelyn mentally scrambled for the right words.

"No, honey. I can't marry your daddy. I have to open my daycare for the children that need someplace to stay while their parents work."

"Don't you like my daddy?" was his ingenuous question.

"Eh... yes, I like your daddy, but---"

"Don't you like me?" Cory asked, pinning her with an unwavering stare.

Her breath squeezed from her lungs and tears started in her eyes, "Oh, yes sweetheart. I like you very much, but---"

"Then you can marry him and live here with us forever," he said, picking up his crayon as if the matter had been settle to his satisfaction.

Angelyn opened her mouth, but shut it again. She squeezed her eyes shut against the unwitting longing his innocent words stirred to life.

Marriage to Rick. Her heart clenched and her breath caught in her throat. She imagined listening to his butter-warm deep voice; talking and laughing and even, loving. Heat rose in her face. She tilted her head back slightly as her imaginings deepened. She could almost feel his warm breath against her cheek; his strong muscled arms wrapped around her pulling her deep in his embrace, pressing her against the length of him. Vivid thoughts and feelings streaked through her as her thoughts became wishes and her wishes became her ultimate desire.

"Angelyn... why is your face so red? Do you got a fever?" Cory's innocent face scrunched into a frown as he surveyed her face.

A fever? Oh, yes. She definitely had a fever and Rick was the man that set her on fire.

What was she thinking? Her and Rick? Her and anybody for that matter. Maria couldn't get back soon enough!

"Daddy! I think Angelyn is sick."

Angelyn's head swiveled around as Cory bounced to his feet and launched himself at his father's form currently propped in the doorway to the living room.

How much had he overheard?

Shara Jones © 2004

Purchase Tall, Dark and Daddy by Shara Jones at in the 2005 catalog at By Grace.

Visit Sherry (Shara) Jones Online

Monday, February 11, 2008

By Grace Backlist Spotlight...*Tall, Dark and Daddy" by Sherry (Shara) Jones

By Grace Publishing: February Backlist Spotlight
Tall, Dark and Daddy by Sherry (Shara) Jones


Sherry (Shara) Jones began seriously writing in 2002 with an eye towards publication.  While writing her first romance novel, she penned short stories to submit to national magazines. Imagine her shock and complete amazement when the very first story she submitted, sold! 
Since that time, she has been fortunate enough to be published with By Grace Publishing, as well as with sister company, Moonlit Romance.
It’s been a fascinating, enriching, and worthwhile adventure made even more enjoyable by the people that she’s met along the way.

My Website:
My Space:
My Blog:

Thursday, February 7, 2008

University Day: Using the 5 Senses in Your Writing


Dayne Gearner's What Happens in Vegas has received a lovely review at eCataromance. Click HERE to read this review for yourself. What Happens in Vegas is available at Moonlit Romance.


Congratulations to BARBARA who correctly guessed that yesterday's Name That Title clues referred to Robin Bayne's The Scent of Falling Snow. BARBARA may pick any title in Robin's backlist at By Grace. Just enter Robin's name in the search box and you'll get a list. Email your title of choice and format of choice to laurahambyeditor @ yahoo dot com with "February Name That Title Winner" in the subject line.


Using the 5 Senses in Your Writing

Adding the 5 Senses to Your Description is an easy-to-read article that's not so much a "how-to" as it is a list with some good suggestions. Try writing a paragraph, as the UE authors have done, utilizing as many of the 5 senses as possible.

Judy Huston
In another time Kate would have relished their aloneness as they sat together on one of the steep, stone steps leading down to the sand. Once, at such moments, there was never enough time to say all the things they wanted to say to each other; now the only sounds were the strident cries of seagulls mingled with the rhythmic, muffled roar of waves breaking against the shoreline. In that other world, Adrian’s arms would have closed around her, holding her against him, and his strong hand would have tilted her face gently for his kiss. Now, they sat side by side but rigidly apart and only the ocean breeze caressed her body, bringing with it a tang of salt that lingered on her lips. Without thinking she traced the taste with her tongue, trying to savor again those exquisitely salt-flavored kisses - until she saw Adrian watching sardonically.

Susan Atwood
Alex had just plopped down in her favorite spot on the sofa, pulled the fuzzy blue and purple afghan up to her chin and was channel surfing when Dillon dropped a beautiful gold box tied with red ribbon into her lap. She looked up into his twinkling eyes and tugged at the satiny ribbon. Eagerly, she pulled the top off the box and was enveloped in the heady aroma of sweet chocolate. There was the familiar crackle of the fluted paper cup as she lifted a piece from the center of the box and brought it to her lips. The first bite was sinfully rich and sweet and she laughed as the caramel was pulled into a long string before she snagged it with her finger. Dillon leaned down and gave her a kiss that was every bit as sinful and rich and sweet as the confection she’d just tasted. “Happy Valentine’s Day, love,” he whispered.

Sherry (Shara) Jones
The rich aroma of the coffee woke Ansley from a dreamless sleep. Before her eyes could focus on the empty, indented pillow beside her own, Owen’s inimitable tuneless whistle wafted from the kitchen. The comforting sound grew louder as he padded back towards the bedroom with two steaming mugs. The warmth generated from the cup now held in her hand couldn’t match the coffee-warmed kiss he placed on her lips. “Good morning.”

Robin Bayne
Melissa heard the faint strains of music filtering through the room. It soothed her nerves, as did the warm, sweet jasmine tea she sipped. The atmosphere was in sharp contrast to the mad scene Robert had caused last night; his yelling and throwing of a vase had shattered the evening’s peace. Tonight, she planned to approach him again, speaking only in the softest of tones, and touching the back of his hand in a soothing manner. She’d offer him a glass of brandy, knowing the bitter drink would bring his attention to her. Then she’d approach him face to face, and ask if he perhaps today he remembered the color of her eyes.

Nell Dixon
Susie sniffed the air. “Yum, fresh bread.”
She could almost taste the fresh crumbly texture on her tongue and her stomach growled in appreciation. Overhead the fan twirled making a steady rick-rack of noise as it reduced the heat in the stifling bakery.

Denise Patrick
Diane's head whirled. Flashing lights, ringing bells, and a pungent cloud of cigarette smoke left her breathless and nauseated. She rubbed her arms against the chill of the air conditioner as she made her way through the crowd. Through stinging, watery eyes, light from the doorway beckoned her. The glass was cool against her fingertips, the door giving way to her push, and she stepped outside with a heartfelt sigh into a hot Las Vegas afternoon. Grasping the warm iron railing and feeling its heat seep into her blood, she made her way down the stairs and away from the casino.

Laura Hamby
The wind sighed through the trees, eery and musical all the same time. It carried a cool dampness with it as it caressed Nova's bare arms. She turned slowly, almost like she recognized the source of the wind, her eyes narrowed as she scanned the landscape. She worried her lower lip, tasting the tart afterbitey flavor of her lip gloss. Then came the scent she'd been waiting for---a spicy musk, and she knew for certain what the wind meant. She shivered.

Josh Lockwood
She gripped the rough stone railing even tighter and felt the coppery taste of anxiety rise in her throat at the unfamiliar surroundings: boats of all colors floating on their reflections, the voices of men calling each other in languages she couldn’t understand, and the heavy, homey smell of potatoes. The whole thing was overwhelming. Even for her.

Jessica Raymond
Demi stepped off the patio and on to the freshly mown grass. It was soft and spongy between her toes and the organically pure scent of the green blades lightened her mood. The emerald lawn stretched before her, in alternate stripes of darker and lighter. Birds flitted and sang in the trees, and the sunshine was as thick as honey in the air—she could almost taste it.

Gina Hartoog
The light flickered on, briefly, then off again. Janice squinted in the dark and tried to make out familiar shapes in the room. The smell of gasoline filtered up from the street below. Somewhere there’s a window open. She dropped to her knees and carefully began to feel her way through the darkened apartment. After several paces she felt a coolness ripple over her hair. I must be close. Just a few more feet. She flattened her palms against the wall and moved along on, one knee in front of the other. Finally her fingers hit the rough timber of the window frame. Freedom. She pulled herself up to her full height and sucked in the night air. The gasoline smell was stronger now, mixed with fried chicken and fries.

JoAnn Carter
Mike's pulse pounded in his ears. He squeezed his eyes tight and prayed. He was not sure what gagged him more, the stench rising from the pool of stagnant water at his feet, presently penetrating his worn leather shoes, or the foul rag tied securely around his mount, reeking of greased and turpentine. Perspiration dripped from Mike’s brow. The cold metal of the gun’s point rested against his forehead while his captor’s oppressive breath brushed his ear. The deep voice behind him goaded, “You’re not wanted here, Dig Boy. Now it’s my turn to dig…your grave.” The voice sounded frosty, brutal, and all too clear.

Judy Jarvie
The smooth aged leather bag made a snapping noise when opened. Rosa examined the rusted sticky hinge then sniffed; old lavender and mothballs. Wrinkling her nose she peeked inside its faded purple silken interior. She fingered the tiny glass bottle she found there. ‘Taste Me!’ invited its faded script.

MG Braden
Shivering, Janie huddled closer to the brick. It wasn’t as if it was going to maker her any warmer, but at least it kept her under the lip of the overhang. Out of the rain. The clouds, ominous and dark, seemed to bang together in a clap of thunder, right before they let loose their downpour. Lifting her Starbucks Carmel Machiatto to her mouth, she first inhaled it’s heady scent. Mmmm. Then, slowly, savouring, she sipped. If nothing else, she hoped this would keep her warm while she waited for the bus.

Name That Title... February

Time to Name That Title! Below are 5 clues provided by the author about one of her Unique Enterprises titles. Guess the correct title, and you'll win a free e-book from the author's backlist. Easy, peasy. Just post your guess as a comment. The first correct guess wins! The winner will be announced on a future post, with directions on how to claim the prize.

Good luck and have fun.

1.The story’s main setting is a dance studio.

2. The author is Robin Bayne.

3. The story was published with another author’s story.

4. The story is a sequel to an earlier story, in which our heroine was the villain.

5. After reading this story, a fellow writer told me she went to her husband as he came in from the wintry weather to see if she could observe what is described in the title.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

UE E-Mag Free Short Online Read: *Heart to Heart* by Judy Jarvie

Heart To Heart
by Judy Jarvie


I’m screaming in my head. Because being here is one.

“Is everything acceptable for Madam?” Sergio enquires.

He’s the waiter. He’s just led me over to a table with the biggest foil, heart-shaped helium balloon this side of Las Vegas. And my heart has dived like an Olympic swimmer in the front crawl of despair.

I look at Sergio. It’s Valentine's night and this is the best Spanish restaurant in town. What else did I expect? Understated seclusion?

“Senora?” he repeats, his face mirroring my confusion. “A drink while you are waiting?”

Right now I’d be happy if he brought me several cases of anything. Then I rethink and make it a mineral water. I need all my brain cells intact tonight.

Little does Sergio realise the raging mess I am inside, covered up by the cream suit. The suit, like the idea of coming here on Valentine's night, was not my finest hour.

Sergio wields the ‘Tapas Fiesta’ menus. “Perhaps Madam wishes for a different table?” He must have seen my face fall at the awfulness of his table décor. Even the napkins are foil and heart embellished.

I’m about to have our biggest heart-to-heart in years but I’ve picked the most ludicrous setting possible. Sweetheart hell.

“It’s fine.”

Moments later I’m by the window, watching the milling traffic as thoughts crowd in.
Why have I been burying my head in the sand?

Then a strange tinkling sound draws my attention. It’s my mobile phone’s muffled tune inside my bag.


“Where’s my velvet top. You ironed it didn’t you, Mum?” It’s my daughter, Becky, clearly involved in affairs of high fashion pre-date.

I sigh at the familiarity of the scene. Same old Mum duties. I often wonder if I should be buried with my turbo steam jet iron beside me. A token of my long-service to neat laundry.

“When did I ever not conquer the towering Kilimanjaro of the Hamilton family ironing? Have crumpled clothes ever messed with your social life before?”

“So it’s ironed?”

“In the drawer. Have you checked?”

“Why do you think I’m calling?” Her snort of disdain could not be more derisory if it had just sat a derision Masters course.

We often talk to each other in questions. It’s a long established Mother-Daughter communication ritual. It minimises superfluous exchanges on the route to motherly bestowed enlightenment.

“I just can’t find it, Mum!” I can hear from the tremor in her voice that this is a catastrophe of world-congress proportions. Heaven help us if I hadn’t ironed her purple top at all!

I know how she feels. The panic is zooming around inside me too. At least I can sort out Becky’s problems with just a burst of steam.

“Check Ryan’s closet just in case.”

Sometimes being a Mum is like being a natural CEO without the salary or plaudits. “Thanks, Mum”

“Bye, Becky. Have a nice night love.” She rings off with haste.

Just then Joe comes through the door and his face says it all. Why the dickens are we here?

That’s the great thing about twenty years of marriage; expressions become transparent. He regroups before kissing me on the cheek.

“What’s an amazing woman like you doing here?” he asks. “Isn’t this all a bit neon?”

“I needed to talk. In private.”


“For a minute I thought you’d booked here because you’d picked a timeshare apartment.” Joe says.

I look at him blankly.

“It’s a Spanish restaurant, Jen. The brochures I got you were for Spain. So did you take a look?”

“Not exactly.”

Somehow, I’d hoped we were gaining neutral territory as opposed to clearing the way to discuss his ‘toy project’.

“I’ve had other things on my mind.”

Since Monday. Since lunchtime at work when I picked up a test. Of course, I never imagined it could be positive. Ever. I’d thought we’d jumped off the procreational merry-go-round long ago – fifteen years ago to be exact. But since then, my mind never deviated from the topic.

How could this be? How have we gone and done this all over again without trying?

“Shame. There’s some fantastic places. I fancy mainland Spain. Alan, at work, has a villa in Barcelona.”

“I really don’t care.” I say more loudly than I intended. The couples at the next three adjoining tables look up.

“Jen?” Joe whispers.

Sergio is watching us now. His Happy Valentine's heart badge is flashing as wildly as my pulse. But he doesn’t’ realise this isn’t just ‘a cosy Valentine's meal for two’. It’s a meal for three. With a third member neither of us saw coming.
Joe is staring at me hard now.

Will I even be able to cut it as a Mum twenty years on? The sleepless nights…the nappies/feeding/weaning/teething? We were supposed to be reaping the rewards of our younger days of sufferance – getting a place in Spain. Enjoying life…

“What’s eating you, Jen?”

I hold onto the edge of the tablecloth. “I did a test. We’re pregnant. And I know we did all that – having family years ago. But it’s happening.”

Joe sits back. No doubt reeling from the personal realisation that time-share won’t be a future option ever. It’ll be story-time and nursery days.

“A little kid – after so many years of trying and nothing? When we’d given up?”

I feel the moisture on my cheek, but I just can’t help it. “Ten years trying…crazy huh? You don’t mind?”

I touch my slightly swollen tummy, signalling my gratitude to the tiny new life there. Our miracle.

Joe takes my other hand. “It’s amazing news – unexpected – but wonderful. You’re a phenomenal mum. At twenty you were great. At forty you’ll be fantastic.”

And that’s why I love him. He’s my amazing man. The one I’ve underestimated because of crazy self-doubting misgivings.

“I’m overjoyed, Jen. We’re having our baby!” He passes me the ‘Hug Me Slowly’ balloon with a smile. “Who needs timeshare anyway?”

Judy Jarvie writes for Moonlit Romance. You can find her novel, Taking the Leap, in the 2007 catalog at the Moonlit Romance website.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008


Love's Blessings by MG Braden...
Ecataromance's Best Inspirational EBook of 2007

Congratulations on an honor well deserved, MG!

Moonlit Romance in the Spotlight: *Fall in Love*Anthology...Excerpts

September Song by Nell Dixon

Erin came to New Bay on her year out from college, keen to experience the lifestyle of a vibrant seaside town famous for its surf and its surfers. Attractive and fun-loving, Erin doesn’t expect to be left with a very expensive spare ticket to the hottest concert in town.

Her boss Kelly’s solution is to recruit Dan to take the ticket off Erin’s hands and to escort her to the concert. Ex-champion surfer Dan soon accepts the offer. But why would Erin want to go on an enforced date with the geekiest looking guy in New Bay? And why doesn’t Dan surf?

Here’s a taster from September Song – © Nell Dixon 2006 from the Fall in Love anthology available from Moonlit Romance and Fictionwise.

As they rounded the cliff base, the rocky strand petered out and they entered the next bay. Dan called the kids together and they sat down as a group on the dry sand, shielded from the breeze, and had a drink from the sports bottles they all carried in their backpacks. Erin snuggled close to Dan, enjoying the feel of his body next to her and the gentle warmth of the autumnal sun on her face.

She took a long drink from her bottle and gazed along the golden curve of the bay. Unlike the beach at New Bay where there were always a few people out walking, the sands here were deserted all except for one lone surfer. The familiar figure in a black wetsuit rode the waves on a board further down the beach.

‘It looks as if Brad’s out practising early today. He doesn’t usually use this bay.’ Erin watched as Brad rode the surf onto the sand.

‘It’d be better if he had someone with him. The currents are treacherous in this part of the bay and it’s easy to get caught out.’

Erin felt Dan shift his position, moving his arm as if uncomfortable.

‘Brad’s an experienced surfer.’ She popped her bottle back in her backpack.

‘Even so, it’s still risky to be surfing alone on this part of the beach.’

She looked at Dan in surprise, he sounded unusually vehement. He called the teenagers and they set off again across the beach.

‘We need to round the next headland before the tide turns to make it to the rendezvous.’ Dan consulted his watch and looked at the tide timetable he had in his pocket. ‘Brad needs to finish up his practice soon. The currents will start to sweep in with an undertow in the next half an hour.’

Erin glanced over at Brad, belly down on his board as he waited for the waves. ‘You sound as if you know a lot about the sea. I didn’t know you surfed.’

‘I don’t.’

The Little Shop of Dreams by Jessica Raymond

Tess Worthington has finally achieved her dream of opening a gift shop in an Oxford shopping centre despite emotional struggles and debts, so when the handsome stranger she’s noticed around the mall asks her out, her happiness seems complete. Property consultant Mack Brady falls hard for Tess the more time they spend together, and after a magical Halloween celebration, he just knows she’s The One. But when the property deal Mack is brokering at the mall turns sour, Tess fears that not only has the man she’s just fallen in love with broken her heart, but he might also have taken her dreams—Little Shop and all.

The Little Shop of Dreams(c) Jessica Raymond, 2006

Tess didn’t realize how long she and Mack had been talking until she tried to take another sip of tea and found only cold dregs in her mug.

“I should let you go. We might get snowed in if we stay too late,” he said.

Tess followed his gaze out the window and saw that a coating of snow now lay across the ground. It glistened like whipped cream topped with diamonds, and she mused to herself that being snowed in with Mack was probably something she’d very much like to try and handle.

At the door, Mack took Tess’s jacket from the rack and held it out for her. She savoured the feel of his warm fingertips brushing her neck as he lifted her hair away from her collar. He gently looped her scarf around her neck when she turned, and all the while, his eyes never left hers. Tremulous warmth moved through her.

“Well, thank—”

“I’m really—”

They both laughed as their words met in the cold air outside the café. A new snow had just started to fall, the tiny flakes bright against the late-night darkness.

“You first,” she said, and began to rub her bare hands together for warmth. A gasp escaped her lips when Mack covered her hands with his and began to massage them with slow, assured movements.

“Do you have far to go?” he asked.

“No, my flat’s ten minutes away by bus.” Suddenly, she wondered if he was going to kiss her. Could she even remember how to do it? She hadn’t kissed anybody since… well, she’d rather not think about it. She would much rather be able to say that the last person she’d kissed was Mack Brady if somebody were to ask her tomorrow.

“Bus?” Mack repeated. “I think I’d feel better if you took a taxi straight home in this weather.”

“It’s all right. The stop’s only a ten minute walk away and—”

But he had already dropped one hand from Tess’s fingers and hailed a passing taxi. He quickly passed money to the driver and then turned back to her.

“Now it’s my turn to say ‘no arguments’. I’m paying.”

Tess smiled at his noble gesture. “Thank you, that’s very kind. I… had a nice evening.”

Mack’s eyes linked with hers as if on some private connection. “So did I. I’d love to see you again, Tess.”

Elation rushed through her, warm and newfound. “I’d love to see you, too.” She drank in the sight of his strong, kind face; his solid, protective shoulders; his large, capable hands. “In fact…” She trailed off and bit her lip. Was she really about to do this?

Purchase the Fall in Love anthology at Moonlit Romance... 2006 catalog.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Moonlit Romance in the Spotlight: *Fall in Love* Anthology


Meet two of the authors included in Moonlit Romance's Fall in Love anthology, Nell Dixon and Jessica Raymond. Stay tuned for excerpts tomorrow!

Nell Dixon

I’m Nell, and I was born and continue to live in a small area of the UK known as the Black Country. Happily married to the same man for over twenty years, we have three beautiful daughters, a tank of tropical fish and a cactus called Spike. During the day I work full-time as a health visitor in my local community.

In my spare time I enjoy travelling with my family in our touring caravan and exploring the countryside. I have a passion for cathedral architecture and historic buildings. I also enjoy walking, gardening and art.

Ever since I can remember I’ve loved stories and books, both reading and writing them. My first poem was published by a local paper when I was thirteen, since then I’ve had several poems published and was first runner up a few years ago in a national short story competition. I’ve also had several articles published in professional journals.

Writing romance remains my first love and I write the kinds of stories that I love to read. My publishers to date include: Little Black Dress, Samhain, Moonlit Romance, By Grace, D C Thompson, and Linford Romance. I am also proud to say I won The RNA’s Romance Prize 2007 with my book Marrying Max.

Visit my website at to read excerpts from all my books.

September Song – Fall in Love anthology

Jessica Raymond

Jessica Raymond lives in the leafy Home Counties of England with her fiance, their baby son, and a Jack Russell terrier called Popple. She’s been published three times with Moonlit Romance: her titles include the autumnal Oxford-set romance novella The Little Shop of Dreams in Fall in Love: An Anthology (Sep 2006), her debut full-length novel, Haunted Hearts, a spooky romance set around a haunted English country house (Oct 2006), and One Shore Thing, a romantic novella set in a Cornish beachside town, which appears in A Taste of Summer (May 2007). Jessica is a self-employed freelance proofreader and her hobbies include reading, shopping, gossiping with friends, watching movies, and enjoying her garden. You can visit her website at and read her blog at

The Little Shop of Dreams - Fall in Love anthology

Friday, February 1, 2008

Unique Enterprises University Day: Editor's Desk Tip of the Day

Active Voice.

A Quick Refresher Course on English 101

Active means the subject performs the action, the action is being performed.
Passive means the action is performed upon someone or something.

It's a difference between doing and happening.

A Clue That It May Be a Passive Sentence...
Keepin' it Simple For Ya.

The main verb is "was" or "were" and is followed by an "-ing verb." To wit: "He was walking past the pond." Much better: "He walked by the pond..." See how that also opens up the sentence for more detail? "He walked by the pond, stale bread for the ducks in hand." Now, it's not only active, we know why he was walking by the pond.

Vivid Verbs...
Easier to Find Than You Think.

Google "vivid verb lists." Here's a sampling of what I found. Check 'em out!

High School Vivid Verb List

The Vivid Verbs List of All Time

A 1000 Verbs to Write By, by Deanna Carlyle

And that's your Editor's Desk Tip of the Day.