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Slideshare is this Blogger’s Best Friend »

I was raised on many tried and true “old sayings.” One of them was: Self praise stinks. So I guess this post will stink! In the vein that I’d like to help other bloggers who want to one day make a living from their writing, however, I want to share a happy moment with you.

In case you’re not familiar with me and my writing, I write a Monday to Friday blog called Marcellus Drilling News. It’s all about shale gas drilling in the Marcellus and Utica Shale region of the U.S.—roughly stretching from mid-New York State to Pennsylvania, West Virginia and eastern Ohio. I work hard each weekday to find and share news about this important topic.

Part of finding and sharing is also sharing resources that I come across—like research and maps. The way I share downloadable information is by using a great online service called Slideshare. Think uploading PowerPoints and Word documents and PDF documents to an online sharing service—that’s Slideshare. It lets me embed the items I share right in my posts. Easy peasy.

The cool thing about Slideshare is that readers often find my blog site because they found interesting material on Slideshare first—and the material on Slideshare is linked back to my blog site. So I use Slideshare to help drive traffic, and prospective subscribers, to my website.

Slideshare is always evolving and looking for ways to make good material loaded into their service noticed. Currently they have several sections on their home page to highlight content that’s popular and being “talked about” in various places. Those places include the big three: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

The purpose of this missive? Today I had two of the items I posted to my Slideshare account (early this morning) get promoted to the home page of Slideshare—at the same time! One of them is in ‘Hot on Facebook’, the other in ‘Hot on LinkedIn’. Here’s a screen shot to prove it:

Slideshare homepage August 29, 2012

Click the image to see a larger version.

The item “Recommended Practices for…” under Hot on Facebook is an item I shared earlier today. The item “NY Counties Likely to See…” under Hot on LinkedIn is the other. This second item is a map with an extended explanation of where drilling is likely (and not likely) to happen in New York State once draft drilling rules are released—something created by my partner in crime, Ed Camp of ShaleNavigator, and myself.

Aside from tooting my own horn (another old saying), the purpose of this post is to aim bloggers at Slideshare. Set up and account and use it. Done right, it will bring new traffic to your site.

Carnival Sent a Cruise Ship into Hurricane Irene – And I was on it »

Hurricane Irene at 10:10 am Saturday, Aug 27My wife Judy and I have been married 25 years this August (2011). Our Silver Anniversary! While planning how we might celebrate, we both decided a cruise would be the thing to do. We’ve never been on one, although we have a number of family and friends who have. They rave about it. So we took the plunge and scheduled a cruise with Carnival. Nothing overly glamorous—leave from New York City and cruise to the Canadian Maritimes. Make a stop at St. John, New Brunswick, and a second stop at Halifax, Nova Scotia. With a day or so spent getting there and another day back, the entire trip would take five days in total. We would get to see some of Canada, gorge ourselves on delicious food and watch live shows and listen to live music along the way. Perfect! Or so I thought.

As the date of departure drew close—August 27—Hurricane Irene also drew close. The media certainly overhyped the hurricane as the “storm of our lifetime” for the northeastern coast of the U.S. I compulsively checked the Carnival site throughout the week before the appointed day. Nothing listed—no delays, no cancellations—nothing about our cruise until two days prior when it became clear the itinerary would change. We’ll stop at Halifax first, then St. John, because Hurricane Irene would come very close to, if not hit, St. John. “No problem,” I thought. “Carnival must have meteorologists on staff who will know how this is going to play out.” Denial is a very strong emotion.

The day before we set sail, on Friday, August 26, we received a notice from Carnival that we should arrive early at the cruise terminal in New York—they moved up the departure time from 5 pm to 3 pm. So it was clear the cruise would actually take place. I wasn’t too worried, but I kept thinking, “That storm is 500 miles across, and the swirling bands are already reaching up to New Jersey and perhaps even off the coast of New York.” But denial is a strong emotion. No way were we going to forfeit the money we paid and not turn up! If Carnival canceled, we could get a refund. Otherwise, we would be out the money if we didn’t go. In retrospect, I would have gladly given up that money.

Saturday arrived and we left for New York, a three and a half hour journey from our home in the Binghamton, NY area. I won’t bore you with details of arriving and embarking—it’s a lot like boarding a large jetliner with long lines and security checkpoints. Once we were on the ship and in our room, we were so excited! The room, on deck 8, was large and well appointed. We had our very own balcony, something I paid quite a bit extra for.

We snapped pictures from the balcony of our room, looking right up some of the streets of midtown Manhattan as we waited to leave. As I snapped those pictures and gazed at Manhattan, I couldn’t help but notice the gray clouds hovering across the city, obscuring some of top floors of the tallest buildings. A light rain had started to fall. But denial is a strong emotion. What I was looking at, and frankly could not accept, was the beginning effects of Irene—right there in New York before we had even left port.

The ship finally departed around 3:20 pm and we cruised gently down the Hudson River, past spectacular views of buildings. I love New York and seeing it from the river is one of the best ways to see it. We floated past the Statue of Liberty. And then we were called to our posts for a mandatory safety lecture—so we would know how to use our life preservers and which life raft to hop aboard should it become necessary.

Read the rest

Being Present in a World of Distraction »

No Blackberry On a recent trip to New York City I was (yet again) struck by how millions of people crammed onto a small island can be so efficient at isolating themselves from millions of their fellow humans who are literally inches away from them. I’ve also noticed the same thing in London, and to some degree in smaller cities, like my native Binghamton. Walk down the sidewalk through Times Square, or get a coffee at one of the ubiquitous Starbucks in New York, and you’ll see more people than not with their noses stuck in a Blackberry, iPhone or other communication device—often texting—completely oblivious to those around them.

The purpose of my trip was to review conferencing facilities at two hotels. My company hosts trade show events and I was there to scout out new locations. I needed to see the spaces in person, take measurements, shoot some videos and talk with the person in charge of events so I could communicate just how we want to use the space for which we will pay many (many!) thousands of dollars. I made appointments at each venue several weeks in advance to be sure I could get access to view the entire space at both hotels on the same trip.

I turned up 30 minutes early for my first appointment, but it took me 15 minutes of false starts to find the banqueting and conference office (not a good sign). My contact graciously met with me immediately, even though I was early. From the moment we started to talk, I noticed she had a Blackberry sitting on the table and it was buzzing and lighting up—constantly. As we started to tour the facilities she seemed to be in a hurry. I wanted to take some quick videos of the rooms with my Flip camera but she was rushing me around (with the Blackberry in hand) saying, “Don’t worry, I’ll send you pictures for each of the rooms.” Well excuse me, I’ve just traveled four hours by bus, having made an appointment more than two weeks in advance, specifically to take my time and look at this place! Much to her dismay, I would not be rushed.

Of particular interest for me was to see how we might fit the desired number of exhibitor booths into the allotted space. She said that she would use a special program to diagram it out for me “later” and email it. As my tour continued she actually responded to text messages on the Blackberry, even while we walked and as she talked with me! This behavior, of constantly checking her Blackberry, and telling me, “Yes, I’ll send that later by email” was to me, rude.

At the conclusion of my tour, as we sat in the hotel lobby with me asking a final round of questions, it dawned on me that we had not reviewed the room where lunch would be served—no doubt overlooked because of the speed of the tour. So I asked her to show me. I don’t think she liked it, but she pasted on a smile and we went to look. And then, with a handshake and a wave she was off, looking yet again at her Blackberry.

Contrast that with my second and final stop of the day at a different hotel. When I arrived, the front desk check-in area was crowded beyond belief and I was certain it would take me 20 minutes just to speak with someone. So I went wandering to see if I could locate the conference and banqueting office myself. I came across a hotel worker who was playing with a young child who had cornered her. The parents came along and apologized but the young lady said “no worries” with a genuine smile, and then she turned her attention to me. I told her who I was looking for and she said, “Let me go call her for you right now, she’ll need to come meet you in the lobby.” And she did just that. Less than five minutes later I was on my way with the conference manager at the second hotel.

The conference manager showed me various meeting rooms, taking time to wait for me as I used my Flip video camera, answering all of my questions. She was unhurried and focused her full attention on me. For a question I had about the exhibit space, we needed to talk to the person in charge of catering and setup, and she got him there—in person—within two minutes. I told him how many booths I would need and the general layout I had in mind for the exhibit space. He disappeared and 15 minutes later came back with a printout of a floor plan for just what I wanted! The people at this second hotel were courteous, helpful, treated me like the high-paying customer I am :-) , and oh yes, not a Blackberry or cell phone in sight from either of them during the entire tour and discussions, all of which lasted almost an hour.

The personnel from the second hotel were “there”—meaning they were present, with me, talking with me and focusing on me and filtering out “the world” as they did so. And I appreciate that.

If you’re in business, or meeting with a friend, or whatever you do in life, this is an encouragement to be “present” with other people. Ditch the habit of constantly checking the Blackberry. Unless you’re a doctor or someone who holds life and death responsibilities, turn off the Blackberry when you’re with someone else and give them your undivided attention. Do that, and you’ll set yourself apart—and above—most other people.

Friday the 13th – Remembering Laurie Bartram »

Laurie Bartram On Friday the 13th I always pause to reflect on someone I once knew. Her name was Laurie Bartram. If you’re of a certain age you may remember the original "Friday the 13th" movie released in 1980. Laurie was "Brenda" – one of the camp counselors in the movie. Before becoming a movie star, Laurie played Karen Campbell on "Another World" (soap opera) in 1978-1979.

Laurie decided to give up her acting career and instead attend Liberty University, which is where I met her. We were both on the same singing team (called SMITE back then).

On occasion she would help me with my homework when we were on the road traveling almost every weekend to sing in different churches. Our team of a dozen singers criss-crossed the south in a big Silver Eagle bus. I’ll never forget, Laurie once helped me with an English assignment – she helped me understand what Hemingway’s "Hills like white elephants" short story was talking about.

After college Laurie got married, became a homeschooling mom, and sadly she passed away at age 49 (in 2007) from cancer. She was one of the nicest and humblest people you would ever meet, and it was a privilege to have known her for a brief time in the 80s.

Nicholas Negroponte Predicts E-Books Will “Kill” Physical Books within Five Years »

Nicholas Negoponte Nicholas Negroponte, founder and Chairman Emeritus of Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab and also the founder of the One Laptop per Child Association made a rather bold prediction at the Techonomy conference in in Lake Tahoe, CA last week. His prediction? Printed books are “dead” within five years. Here’s a summary of his comments from CrunchGear’s Devin Coldewey:

Negroponte thinks that the e-book will kill the physical book within five years. Maybe kill isn’t the right word—printed books aren’t being eradicated. But clearly he thinks that five years from now the battle will be decided. I’d consider e-books selling more than print books (not just hardbacks), with e-book sales going up and physical book sales going down as “victory conditions.” And when I put it like that, it starts sounding a lot more reasonable.*

My own previous prediction made at the Montrose Christian Writers Conference: By 2012 e-books will be 25 percent of sales in the trade publishing market. Will e-book sales be 50 percent or more by 2015? It may very well happen—I’d say even likely to happen. So on that score, Negroponte is correct. But I don’t see print books going away any time soon—not even within 20 years. One thing is for sure: E-books are coming on strong, and are an extremely important new market for authors. Especially new and “unknown” authors.

*CrunchGear (Aug 7) – It’s Futurists Versus Consumers As The Death Of The Book Is Prophesied

Jazzed About Helping Authors Create Their First Blogs »

blog One of the highlights of this year’s Montrose Christian Writers Conference (MCWC) for me was the opportunity to work one-on-one with a number of talented authors and writers to help them establish a blog for the first time. One such author is Marsha Hubler, bestselling author of The Keystone Stables Series of books for young people. Marsha writes about kids and horses—and what young person doesn’t love horses! Marsha is now blogging at:

Another writer I worked with is Marilyn Naseth. Every couple of years Marilyn travels all the way from Minnesota to Montrose, PA to attend the MCWC. And now Marilyn is blogging: Check out her blog! I especially like her recent post titled, “Golf and Writing.”

Another MCWC conferee was Liz Holbert. I did not help Liz set up her blog, she was already a blogger. I love Liz’s writing style, especially her humor. Liz is blogging at: You have to read her post titled, “Everyone’s Got a Bathroom or Two.” Laugh out loud funny. And the language she uses to describe her experience…well, I’ll let you read it for yourself. You’ll see why I’m a fan.

So many talented writers at the MCWC! It was a true pleasure meeting and working with each of you. I look forward to reading your blogs, your articles and your books. May God bless you as you keep writing…and blogging.

Interview: Cathy Mayfield (Writer) »

The final video interview I did at the Montrose Christian Writers Conference (MCWC) was on the last morning, Friday. Writer Cathy Mayfield lives a couple of hours from Montrose and has been attending the MCWC since 1997. She talks about why she keeps returning each year and offers her advice for new writers. Thanks for taking time to speak with me on camera Cathy!