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Monday, June 28, 2010

Something Stinks

Originally posted on The Writers Vineyard

Last month I mentioned how much I enjoy spending time on my deck writing and enjoying the view.

Well there is a downside to all that nature and I discovered it a few weeks ago. I came downstairs one morning to take the dog for a walk and noticed that the new sod I had laid under the deck had been rolled up. From the lingering odor I guessed that a skunk had been our nocturnal visitor. It was probably looking for food and rolling up our sod to eat the grubs underneath seemed like easy pickings - pun intended.

Over the next few nights I tried numerous tactics that I found while searching on the internet. Unlike the time when we lost my son’s hamster, these didn’t work. Every night I tried something new - cayenne pepper, hot chili pepper flakes, and finally moth balls. Needless to say my wife was not impressed by the resultant mess. Our lawn was a mishmash of red, green and white. And the shunk was still enjoying eating at Chez Boultbee.

Finally I went ‘high tech’. I headed to Canadian Tire and picked up ‘The Scarecrow’. No, this is not an actual scarecrow but a motion activated sprinkler. You hook it up to the hose, add a 9-volt battery, set the sensitivity and stand back. Literally. If you don’t stay out of sensor range, you are liable to get soaked, as has happened to me numerous times, including last night.

The end result? Success. Now when I go down in the morning the lawn is wet but intact. Occasionally we’ll still smell that distinct scent so the skunk is still around but as long as it stays off my lawn I’m a happy man.

This little ‘war’ and a busy month slowed down my writing a little but I still made some progress. Here is my last stat.

62000 / 80000

Next month I’ll probably be posting about my new release, a novella called Venus Inferno. It should be released mid-July and I’m expecting edits and cover art any day now.

Until then.


Posted by David Boultbee

posted by David at 12:01 am  

Saturday, June 5, 2010

In the spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to…

Originally posted on The Writers Vineyard


Not quite what Tennyson had in mind when he penned that famous phrase but as I was mentioning to fellow author KS Augustin last weekend, the warmer weather is turning my ‘fancy’ to writing.

I find that I write best when I am not sitting at my desk. The Gender Divide was partially written on plane trips but mostly written at a cottage that we had rented from friends of ours. During the day I’d sit on the deck or the dock and write but my favorite time to write was early in the morning or late at night, when it was quiet and cool. I’d sit in the living room on the sofa, with my feet up on the coffee table, and let my characters take me away into their world.

We haven’t gone to the cottage in a while but last year we took advantage of the Home Renovation Tax Credit and had a deck built off the back of our house. We back onto storm water ponds and despite the traffic from the nearby road, the view is quite soothing. When the traffic dies down the sounds of birds, crickets, and the rubber-band twang of frogs can be heard quite clearly.

When I was let go from my old job last summer, my focus became a) obtaining a new job and b) keeping said new job. As a result my writing got put on the back burner. Being able to spend time on the deck again has inspired me to start writing once more. I have an as-yet-untitled manuscript that I am working on and I recently reached the 70% mark, based on a target of 80,000 words.

In order to keep me on the path of righteousness (or at least on the path towards publication) I found a simple progress Bar that I will be including in future posts. If it proves to be counter-productive then I’ll drop it but in the meantime it will prove to be an interesting experiment.

56000 / 80000

Hopefully my post next month will show the progress that I’ve made. Until then, the deck is beckoning me.

posted by David at 7:01 am  

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Walled Gardens: Apple vs. Amazon

Originally posted on The Writers Vineyard

I’m going to ask for your forgiveness in advance. I know that the iPad was released this weekend and people must be getting sick of the hype and all the articles about it. Even I’m starting to get a little saturated. In a way it reminds me of the Tiger Woods coverage - enough already!

Anyway, those of you who follow my blog and have read some of my previous articles about the Kindle and other eReaders, know that one of the complaints I’ve always had about the Kindle was the fact that their eBook format was proprietary. You had to read it on the Kindle (or using Kindle software) or you were SOL. In fact, my latest blog post was about the Kobo eReader and how Wired magazine referred to it as the “Kindle Killer”. The article was referring to the Kobo eReaders price vs. the iPad, as they both support the open ePub format (which is the format Champagne books sells on their website).

So it was an ironic albeit unpleasant surprise when I came across this article on CNET - Why Apple’s iBooks falls short of Kindle–for now. The article basically states that despite Apple’s much hyped iBooks, Apple falls short of Amazon in terms of being able to allow people to consume their content on the device (iPad, Kindle, etc) of their choice. So far Amazon is winning that battle, as you can read Kindle books on the iPad and iPhone via the Kindle app, as well as on your PC or MAC, not to mention the Kindle itself. At the moment the iBooks app only exists on the iPad so if you purchase a book using iBooks and don’t have access to your iPad then you are SOL.

Of course to be fair this is exactly the position that Amazon was in when it first launched the Kindle and it is only now, just over 2 years later, that the Kindle enjoys such widespread access.

So coming out of the gate, Amazon has the advantage. It will be interesting to see how Apple responds and adapts to this, particularly regarding eBooks in the ePub format purchased outside of iBooks.

At the end of the day, as eBooks become popular, approaches like the one advocated by Kobobooks - a “device-neutral” approach - will make the most sense. The Kindle is part way there but unless they allow other vendors access to their file format, they’ve reached their limits. Whereas the iPad is just getting started.

posted by David at 3:28 pm  

Monday, March 8, 2010


Originally posted on The Writers Vineyard

I just came across this article a few days ago. It highlights the results of a survey done just after the Apple iPad announcement. The article (and the link I found it through) make a big deal about how sales of the Apple iPad are going to impact sales of other eBook readers.

…the survey shows Amazon and its e-Reader competitors are poised to take a big hit early on from the iPad’s entry into their market.

In fact this emphasis is illustrated in the title of the article - “New Survey Shows Huge Wave of Apple iPad Demand Striking Amazon”. As as writer I often shake my head at the preposterous headlines that I come across and this is one of them. The article makes it sounds like the iPad will be a tsunami that will wipe Amazon off the map.

Maybe not. In fact, almost probably not. While the Amazon Kindle does have its flaws - crude design, high pricing, and (perhaps worst of all) a proprietary format, - it also has a lot going for it - Amazon’s Whispernet, the automatic link to Amazon, and long battery life, just to mention a few. As the cost goes down (and it will - see my posting on $150 eReaders) and the Kindle and other eReaders improve, these eReaders will be posed as a competitive alternative to the iPad.

In an ideal world, I can see the Kindle and other eReaders supplementing the iPad, extending the reading experience by allowing readers to read books on more than one device. As fantastic as the iPad is expected to be, there will be times when one doesn’t want to haul around a $500 piece of electronics. A $150 or, even better, a $99 eReader would allow the reader more options and would encourage reading (and hence book sales).

And that brings me to the final point in all of this.

…the iPad launch is likely to strengthen overall e-Reader demand…

The same survey shows that the third highest use of the iPad (37%) will be reading eBooks.

The larger the market grows, the more opportunities there are for everyone - from readers and writers to publishers, bookstores, and eReader companies. And that is definitely a good thing. So bring on the tsunami - personally I can’t wait.

posted by David at 12:19 pm  

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