Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Recent New Releases from Martin Sisters Publishing

Morning Glory by Allison Blanchard

This war is far from over. This war is only the beginning.

For Adeline Jasely, the threat of both her life and the lives of those she loves is only getting greater as she delves deeper and deeper into the mysteries of the Chippewa tribe. As she falls more in love with Cole, she must make a choice: stand up and fight for what is right or wait for the next person she loves to be taken away.

Book Two in the Forget Me Not Trilogy, Morning Glory continues the saga of Adeline and Cole, their newfound love, and the threat of those who wish to end it all.

Will Adeline grow stronger under the threat of more war and bloodshed or will she be unable to fight for those who need her?

My GRL by John W. Howell

John J. Cannon successful San Francisco lawyer takes a leave of absence from the firm and buys a boat he names My GRL.

He is unaware that his newly-purchased boat had already been targeted by a terrorist group. John’s first inkling of a problem is when he wakes up in the hospital where he learns he was found unconscious next to the dead body of the attractive young woman who sold him the boat in the first place.

John now stands between the terrorists and the success of their mission.

Murder on Consignment by Susan Furlong Bolliger

Anxious to acquire some killer deals for her on-line resale business, Pippi O’Brien enlists the help of her long-time shopping buddy, Shep Jones. However, they get more than they bargain for when the owner of a local consignment store, The Classy Closet, turns up murdered and Shep becomes the number one suspect.

When Shep asks for Pippi’s help to clear his name, she is only too eager to take on the case. Before long, she’s searching for suspects with the same enthusiasm that she uses to scour clearance racks for good deals. Only, she quickly finds out that it’s difficult to maintain a booming resale business while playing detective.

Adding to the stress, Pippi is recruited as a stand-in maid of honor for her cousin’s pending nuptials and soon finds herself stretched tighter than her poor-fitting bridesmaid dress. To make matters worse, wedding bells are also chiming for ex-boyfriend, Detective Sean Panelli, and the uber-possessive Sarah Maloney.  Will Pippi be able to keep her cool, nab a killer and perhaps even reclaim her man? Or, will she find herself next on the list of bargains to die for?

Monday, January 13, 2014

A Quick Lesson on Capitalization (VIDEO!)

Today we're sharing with you a quick lesson on capitalization from one of our MSP editors. You can choose to watch the 3 minute video or read the text below it!


When to capitalize:

1. Capitalize any word that starts a new sentence.

2. Capitalize all proper nouns. This is a golden rule. If you do not know if you are using a proper noun, a dictionary will tell you. Proper nouns are words such as names, specific cities, specific states, specific countries, specific oceans, specific continents, specific mountain ranges, specific mountains, specific seas, specific monuments and specific wars or titles that are followed by a name. "The highest mountain in the United States is Mount McKinley."

3. Every word of a book, movie, song, painting, play or short story title other than an article (a, an, the) or a preposition (at, before, beside, between, down, during, except, for, from, in, into, near, of, over, on, onto, to, toward, under, with, without and any others that I have forgotten) should not be capitalized. There is an exception to the rule (of course). It is optional whether you capitalize any preposition of four letters or longer, though most people prefer not to capitalize any preposition.

4. Capitalize Mom, Mother, Ma, Dad, Father, Pa, Grandma, Grandpa, etc. if you are using the word as a name.

5. Capitalize parts of the country such as the Northeast, the South or the Southwest.

6. Capitalize monuments such as the White House.

7. Capitalize the first person pronoun, "I."

When NOT to capitalize:

1. Do not capitalize a title unless a name follows the title. Even the president and the pope do not get special treatment. "During the Civil War, the president was President Lincoln."

2. Do not capitalize a relation unless the relation word is a name. "I called my mother, Mom."

3. Do not capitalize north, south, east or west if you are talking about a direction rather than a place. "In the Northeast, the ocean is east of the mountains."

4. Do not capitalize the words, "street" or "avenue" unless they are attached to a name. "The street that she lives on is Main Street."

5. Do not ever capitalize for emphasis or to give a word more power. A common noun is a common noun and common nouns are not capitalized.

6. Do not capitalize specific buildings unless they are monuments. "She lived in a white house on Salem Street that was about twenty miles north of the Empire State Building."

7. Do not capitalize the first word in a list that directly follows a colon.

8. Do not capitalize the first word in the second half of a split quotation unless it starts a new sentence or follows another capitalization rule (name or proper noun).

The most important rule to consider when you are deciding if you are writing a proper noun (capitalize) or a common noun (do not capitalize), is to consult a dictionary like "Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary." Yes, it does still exist. "Webster's Instant Word Guide," (little black book) is used to find correct spelling and often does not distinguish between common or proper nouns, so do not rely on it. If you are writing a query letter or if your writing will be judged, and you are unable to decide whether or not to capitalize, it would be better to rewrite the phrase or sentence in a way that eliminates the questionable capitalization.

Monday, January 6, 2014

On Cemetery Hill by Shawn Brink

Today, Author Shawn Brink delights us with a short story. Check it out!

Below is a copy of one of my recently published short stories. Feel free to read. If you do like this story, then I would recommend reading my novel: The Space Between which is available for purchase in both print and electronic formats through Martin Sisters Publishing at

Posted on February 24, 2013 by Lori on

Behind them was Gettysburg. Before them was Cemetery Hill. It had been thirty years since blood spilled down that slope. Yet, after all that time, the bloodshed still haunted Samuel.

He alighted from his carriage, and glared at the land before him. In one hand, he held an aged Bible while his other caressed his wife’s delicate arm.

“I must do this alone.”

With those words, he parted from her and started up the hill. She let him go. But her tears flowed in evidence that his departure was not her desire.

As he ascended Cemetery Hill, old memories descended upon him. It had been thirty years, but he could still smell the conflicting combination of gunpowder and wildflowers. Through his eyes, the air was smoky. In his ears, boomed cannons that had not fired for three decades. His skin tingled with fear just as it had in 1863.

In 1863 he had been one of many pawns in a game of chess. Lincoln and Davis had been the players. Many men served as game pieces. Many game pieces paid with their lives.

He looked back briefly and saw his wife in the distance. He almost turned back. But he resisted. He needed to do this. He had to stop his nightmares.

He ascended further and heard the screams of men. And when he looked down, he saw them just as he had seen them in 1863.

Some were slithering like wounded snakes. Others were struggling in tangles of their own entrails. Still others were too near death to slither or struggle. And for a lucky few, death had already arrived.

Perspiration soaked him as he navigated around these apparitions. He ducked as the pale form of a horse jumped over him, ectoplasmic blood pouring from its bullet-riddled chest. Then, with one final squeal, it collapsed and moved no more.

These were his demons. They had tortured him for three decades. But there was one that haunted him more than all the others. It was for this one that he had returned.

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,” he quoted from memory.

The war was not his fault, nor was the draft. He had killed out of duty, not pleasure. But this demon of all demons, this horrific manifestation that he had come back to confront was the direct result of his actions. He had molded it from nothing. He had given it life. Today, he would destroy it.

The Bible glistened from his sweat. Thirty years ago, he did not have this book. Thirty years ago, he had not known God.

“I will fear no evil,” he continued reciting.

Through the godlessness of war, he had found God, or perhaps, God had found him. How he had received such a great gift out of war’s horrors had always amazed him.

Ahead of him, through the haze, he could see the silhouette of the great elm. This was where the demon had been born. This was where it must now die.

“For thou art with me.”

Tears formed as he neared the elm. His heart pounded. His breathing quickened.

“Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.”

At the base of the elm, the dreaded apparition appeared in the form of a man. He had never learned his name. Nameless, he had tortured Samuel for thirty years.

“Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies.”

Samuel looked down at him, a wounded enemy soldier. A piece of shrapnel had gutted him like a fish. He had propped himself against the trunk of the elm with his arms stretched out. His hands were grasping for something just beyond his reach.

Just beyond the man’s reach was Samuel’s Bible. But thirty years ago, it had not been Samuel’s.

“Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over,” Samuel whispered.

Samuel’s body shook as his sobs multiplied. He remembered what had happened next so many years ago. He remembered the moment that his demon came to be.

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,” he was now crying through the words, slurring them as if drunk.

The man coughed up a mist of ghostly blood from his bluish lips. Then he spoke words from the past. “Sir,” he said with barely a whisper. “Let me die with God’s word in my hands.”

Samuel wailed. This was the origin of his haunting. This was when it had all started.


Thirty years ago, he had maliciously denied this man a dying wish. This was when he had stolen the Bible and simply walked away. He left the enemy soldier to die alone, utterly alone.

Now, he looked upon the Bible that had been his for three decades. He looked at it and could see upon it his tears and the blood of a dead soldier.

Samuel knew now that God had worked his treachery for good. That stolen Bible had become his road to salvation.

Still, he had sinned. He needed forgiveness. He needed to make amends.

With eyes closed, he handed the Bible to the soldier.

The soldier received the gift, thanked him, and said, “I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

Samuel opened his eyes. He was alone. All the demons had disappeared. Even the gun smoke and the sounds of war had evaporated. All was as it should be.

The carriage ride home was silent except for his wife’s repetitive inquiry. “Where’s your Bible Samuel? Where’s your Bible?”

Monday, December 23, 2013

An American Christmas Present

Robert Sells reminds us of a Christmas story from long ago.

An American Christmas Present by Robert Sells

Christmas presents come in all shapes and sizes, but the one General George Washington received in seventeen seventy was unique.

The summer before was an embarrassment for the newly appointed commander-in-chief. Within a few short months he lost three major battles, was pushed out of New York City, and retreated across New Jersey. His army was reduced from thirteen thousand men to less than three thousand men. Two major generals and some in the Continental Congress were secretly trying to oust him. 

In cold December, Washington and the tattered remains of his army crossed the wide Delaware River. The British and their Hessian mercenaries declined to follow and for good reasons.  Winter weather was already upon them and the European commanders were concerned about finding suitable quarters for their shivering men in the villages and farms of New Jersey.  Besides, though the Americans had lost all the battles, they fought fiercely and inflicted heavy casualties. Better to let winter reduce their numbers and wait for their surrender in the spring. 

For George Washington, however, surrender would never be an option. He was playing this deadly game to win and only to win.

But Washington could not ignore that the American army was nearly beaten. The British blocked him from returning to New Jersey with fifteen hundred expertly trained Hessian mercenaries in Trenton under the able command of Colonel Rall. To make matters worse, in a few weeks most of his remaining army would complete their enlistment and head home. It was unlikely many colonists would join a losing army in the middle of winter. With only two thousand men, how could he change the momentum of the war? 

Washington decided on a bold action… a counter-attack in the dead of winter.  He wanted to attack, waited to attack, but, in addition to surprise, he needed another ally…  a snow storm to mask his small army. On Christmas day his wish was granted; he got a whopper, the worst blizzard of the decade!

During the heavy snowstorm, Colonel Rall was confident there would be no action from the Jersey guerillas pestering him on one side of the river and certainly none from the Continental Army on the other side of the river. Who, in their right mind, would ever challenge the weather or the swift running Delaware filled with great blocks of boat-crushing ice? So, Rall and his officers let their weary men stay warm in cabin and tent instead of patrolling the roads and paths. 

On the other side of the now raging river, General Washington had already decided to make the treacherous crossing and neither cautious friend nor well-trained enemy would stop him. Christmas night, with the blizzard at its peak, he mustered his troops and a ‘password’ was whispered from man to man: Victory or Death. 

Navigating the ice-choked river was nearly impossible and the American army almost didn’t make it across. They landed three hours late. Washington realized the delay could be costly since it meant the attack would be in glaring light of day and not under the cover of darkness. 

With dawn all too rapidly approaching, the American soldiers tramped through the snow. Those too tired huddled by trees and froze to death. Two hours into a freezing march, another potential disaster confronted the floundering army. One after the other, soldiers checked their weapons. Their powder was damp and their guns would not fire. When the devastating news reached Washington, an unnerved officer asked what they should do. He answered with three words: “Advance and charge.”  Surprise or no surprise, with or without bullets, he would attack. It was to be ‘Victory or Death’. 

Finally the storm relented. During the final approach, the swirling wind calmed down… the rain and snow had stopped. With the village of Trenton a few hundred yards away, the men checked their weapons again. The ammunition had dried and their muskets would now fire. This last gasp of the storm blessed them with still another gift: a heavy fog gave them sufficient cover so they could get close without being seen. Surprise and cover, exactly what the Americans needed to win this critical engagement. 

Washington led his men toward the village, the soldiers running to keep up with the tall man’s long strides. The sleepy town of Trenton woke up to musket fire. The Hessians were surprised, confused, and disordered. Still they fought hard and bravely… and lost. 

With the Trenton victory, the hemorrhaging of the army stopped. Recruits swelled its ranks. A week later, Washington led a much larger army back into New Jersey and won two more battles. In just a few weeks, first and most important leader of our country morphed from rabbit to fox. The British, shocked by the sudden reversal of the campaign, conceded most of New Jersey. From the Continental Congress in Philadelphia to the soldiers huddled around campfires to the lone farmer tending his animals that cold winter, all were sure they had the right man to lead them to victory. 

Six long years later a triumphant general, back from the final battle of Yorktown, rode again through Trenton on a beautiful summer day. It was so different from the terrible Christmas night when wind, snow, and rain tested the resolve of the Americans and then rewarded them just the right ingredients for victory. The blizzard, America’s first Christmas present, secured an essential victory and spotlighted the leader who would eventually defeat the greatest army and navy in the world. 

Merry Christmas to all Americans from Robert Sells, author of Reap the Whirlwind and Return of the White Deer. Check them out on the MSP website.