REVIEW - Killing England: The Brutal Struggle for American Independence (Bill O'Reilly/Martin Dugard)

Killing England - Bill O'Reilly 'Killing' SeriesIt's been some time since I did a book review, so I've chosen a title I read some months ago, but is still fresh enough in my head to speak of. I admit that I wasn't waiting for Killing England to release - I wasn't even familiar with the 'killing' series before I noticed an advertisement for the book in, of all places, Walmart, but I have a standing interest in the American War of Independence, and this title thus caught my attention.

The first thing that I personally had to take into account whilst enjoying this book is that it is not comparable to Jeff Shaara's The Glorious Cause. I wouldn't call the two books apples and oranges - perhaps a better comparison would be Georgia peaches with peaches from...anywhere else. One is a factual peach, while the other, to many of us, is the stylized image of a peach. The Glorious Cause is most certainly steeped in reality and is based heavily around actual historical data, but at its core, it is still a work of fiction, particularly in the behavior of the major characters throughout, some of whom tend to be reduced to their most base common denominator.

Killing England, by contrast, is a true documentary, and though it also follows the actions, behavior, and thoughts of certain key players of the time, it does so from a detached and clearly biographical perspective. These facts are still presented in enough of a storylike fashion to maintain interest even in those with a passing desire for the topic. This is fortunate, given I am most likely not the only person who better recalls facts learned in an enjoyable way.

I was not reading a physical copy, and thus didn't notice the page count until I came to the end of the main story. I was intrigued to find that (at least formatted on my device) there were still nearly a hundred pages to read. These consisted entirely of posthumous 'where are they now' bits, chronicling the lives of the key players from the end of the war until their deaths. I do enjoy a factual account that assumes portrayed persons had lives outside of the event being accounted for, and thus I found it worthwhile to read all the way to the end - nearly all of this was information I was not previously privy to.

The title is not without its tribulations. For one, you can tell this was written by a person who knows that shocking news gets attention, for there is a certain seemingly unnecessary focus on topics such as what exactly happens to your body when you are hanged, and various other depictions of gore that all culminate in the understanding that yes, war is horrible (we get that, on with the information please). This focus seems to be there mostly to keep reader interest, as though the book were afraid you might put it down for being too dry - I suppose I might have expected this given the overly theatrical title. The passage of time also comes off as convoluted and makes the book a bit harder to follow at times - one moment we're in 1881, and suddenly we're back in 1775 to touch on some information that might have been better served presenting when we were still talking about events taking place in 1775.

I found that I could overlook these relatively minor issues and still enjoy this documentary for what it is, especially from the perspective of persons of the time I otherwise knew rather little about (King George III, for example). I learned a great many things, and for that I felt it was time well spent. It's the type of book that will appeal more to folks who already have an interest in the topic, but for those who don't, perhaps aspects of the presentation that I could have done without will help to draw in new reader interest.

OrdOnline is now RainHandBooks!

What is Rainhand?Hello, readers!

Those of you who have kept up with my writing since the release of my first novel some years ago may have been wondering what I've been up to since then. Or you might just be wondering why no longer links to this site. Well, there have been some sweeping changes over time, and one of them has been a switch to a new domain, This change was made because my writing is no longer only about the Traveler of Ord series. I exist in different forms on many platforms, but as this site is about the printed literary works that I attribute to myself sans pen-names, I felt it was time to diversify the domain. I have updated my books on Amazon, as well as all the places I could think of that still have listed as an author resource for me. If you find one I missed, please let me know! And if you're wondering what on Earth 'RainHand' even means, click the image above for an explanation!

Meanwhile, I never really went anywhere, and you can still find me at the resources listed under the aptly named 'Where To Find Me' dropdown list in the navigation bar above. Suffice to say I wear a number of literary hats. I have different communities for different types of writing I do, and even some revolving around adapting stories into comic format, or recording audiobooks. (What an interesting task a one-person audio show is!) I'm even looking forward to a potential speaking engagement this summer at a popular fan convention. If all works out, I'll be engaging in that dreaded task among tasks, public speaking, as a co-panelist and I go provide tips, advice, and a general pep-talk for how you can stay on task and meet your writing goals!

At any rate, keep in touch, and so will I!

The Ferryman has Come!

Paying the Ferryman - Charon Coin PressTomorrow, October 20th, marks the release of Paying the Ferryman - The latest anthology of chilling tales about life after death!

I'm pleased to announce that Charon Coin Press has chosen to feature my work as part of the anthology--

Eden in Spring is a putrefying, 4600-word tale about a man who finds out a shocking truth about the next life, and learns the hard way that the clock never stops ticking - even after death. It is being featured alongside nineteen other works by talented authors, befitting the theme of a dark outlook on the afterlife.

I'm very excited for the opportunity to work with some talented individuals on such a delightfully frightening project, and would like to thank the staff at Charon Coin Press for their patronage.

The banks of the Styx and Acheron are wet with bile, and the boatman draws near. Get it here!

Claiming the Goldenwealth - Congratulations!

Congratulations to Lindsay R. and Rebecca L, the first and second prize winners in the Pure Jonel Traveler of Ord giveaway! Rebecca won a copy of The Goldenwealth Light (TGL), while Linsday won both TGL and Everywhere the Road Ends (ERE)!

Enjoy your books and thanks for participating!

Excerpt and Giveaway - Everywhere the Road Ends

Check out the excerpt from ERE here!

Win the World of Ord!

Citizens of the Goldenwealth,

Interested in joining young Theodore Ellsworth's adventures in the World of Ord? Enter to win a free copy, sponsored by Pure Jonel! First prize wins both The Goldenwealth Light AND Everywhere the Road Ends!

Check out a excerpt from ERE and enter to win here, but act fast! Entries close January 29th!

Excerpt and Giveaway - Everywhere the Road Ends

The Ferryman is Nigh - Keep the Last Obol for Yourself

Paying the Ferryman - Charon Coin PressI'm pleased to announce that Charon Coin Press has chosen to feature my work as part of their upcoming horror anthology Paying the Ferryman!

Eden in Spring is a putrefying, 4600-word tale about a man who finds out a shocking truth about the next life, and learns the hard way that the clock never stops ticking - even after death. It will be featured alongside a dozen other works by talented authors, befitting the theme of a dark outlook on the afterlife.

I'm very excited for the opportunity to be working with some talented individuals on such a delightfully frightening project, and would like to thank the staff at Charon Coin Press for their patronage. Check back here or on Charon Coin's main site for updates as they become available in upcoming months.

The banks of the Styx and Acheron are wet with bile, and the boatman draws near. Flee here for more information!

(The image above is from a cover reveal post for the anthology. It was created by artist Natasha Alterici, and beautifully captures the theme of the book in a chilling moment of white-knuckled suspense!)

Thief in the Night - Surviving the Rapture of Writing

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You've just completed your manuscript. Your novel. Your opus. Your glorious addition to the world of literature. Now you want to share it with the world, but a nascent thought tickles your mind.

What if somebody steals my work?

You just put your blood, sweat, and tears into your baby, and soon it will be in the hands of reviewers, agents, editors, et cetera. What's to keep some dirty criminal from snatching up your prize, beating you to the copyright office, and claiming the rights to your work before you do?

Broaching the subject on writing forums is likely to get you a 50/50 response, with half the users patting your head and calling you a cute little newbie to the world of writing, while the other half warn you to hide your manuscript under your aluminum foil hat for several months until somebody at the copyright office gets around to sending you that shining piece of paper that proves your work is yours. Still others will make suggestions like mailing a copy of your manuscript to yourself before you share it with the world and leaving it sealed, with the idea that the postmark from the United States Postal Service will hold up in court should you have to sue anybody over intellectual property rights. Another suggestion I've heard is asking potential reviewers, or those who might have reason to come in contact with your pre-published work, to sign a non-disclosure agreement.

Well, I'll tell you one thing. If you approached me as a potential agent/reviewer/reader or even publisher for your work, and you asked me to sign a legally binding anything simply for the privilege of basking in your glory, then you're going straight to the wastebasket in favor of the hundreds of folks a week who are sending me manuscripts to review and not asking me to get involved in a legal quagmire.

Thankfully, the concept of copyright isn't all about a race to see who can get the first little piece of paper to back up their ©, and it's not nearly as troublesome a subject as one might think. Copyrights cost a little money and a lot of time, but they don't have to. The Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works is good reading material for those who want to know. The gist is that your work is automatically protected by copyright the moment you write it, and this copyright is recognized in all of the nations that participate in the Berne Convention. The United states has been a participating member in Berne since 1989. Spiffy, no? You can read more about Berne at While you're there, be sure to check out §104 and §104(a) of Title 17 of the United States Code.

If you're still worried, take the following points into consideration:

  • Just as a reputable publisher and/or agent is never going to charge you for their services, they're also not going to take your submitted manuscript down to the copyright office, slap a certificate on it, and spirit it away while you wait around with bated breath wondering if they're interested in representing you. That's not the point of their business. Agents and traditional publishing houses deal with gazillions of manuscript submissions a year. They make no money by stealing your work, and they don't have the time to risk dropping their slush pile in favor of chasing after fame and fortune by pretending to be somebody else.
  • Consider that as authors, we think of our works as our beloved, polished children (myself included). Just like a chef in the Chopped Kitchen who can't believe somebody wasn't amazed by the sweet zing of honey they added to their soy sauce, we authors sometimes have a hard time accepting the idea that while we may have written a great story, we haven't actually redefined literature in our society. Unless you have a considerable track record as a published author, a potential plagiarist has little, if, anything, to gain from stealing your work. If you already are a notable author, a plagiarist still has little to gain, since it now boils down to a question of your word versus theirs.
  • Before you invest the time and money into a copyright certificate for your novel, are you absolutely certain that your manuscript will undergo no significant changes before it goes to print? Minor editorial changes are one thing, but if you're planning to change anything significant, you enter into a grey area called 'substantial and creative' changes. Ever wonder how Walmart can get away with marketing 'store brands' of patented products, with identical ingredient lists, same shape/color packaging, and so forth? Patents may be somewhat different that copyrights, but the core concept is the same - your non-editorial changes just ended up constituting a new derivative work. If you really wanted that piece of paper so badly, you may just find yourself back at square one.
  • Did I mention that Berne is automatic, and should take care of all those sticky little 'substantial and creative' changes nicely? Being free and not taking months to accomplish are some pretty nice bonuses too.

If after reading all of the above you're still convinced your perfect manuscript (that will never need to be significantly edited in any way) is best kept in a locked box under your bed until the certificate of copyright arrives, well...that's your prerogative. Just bear in mind that there's an easier and cheaper way, and all it involves is slapping 'Copyright [dates] by [author/owner]' on your first page (or words to that effect). I jazz it up a little and use the following:

  • The Goldenwealth Light (The Traveler of Ord, Book I)
    Copyright © 2012 Scott McCloskey

    All rights reserved. This book is protected under the copyright laws of the United States of America. Any reproduction or unauthorized use of the material herein is prohibited without the express written permission of the author.

Oh, and don't forget...

  • All situations and events presented in this book are works of fiction. All characters portrayed are creations of the author's imagination - any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Feel free to employ some useful derivative with your own name and book title. I won't even come after you for infringement of the copyright on my...copyright statement.

Or something.