Sunday, May 3, 2015

Meet Tricia Bailey, Author

Tricia Bailey recently published her first novella, Midnight Robber. Find it on Amazon Kindle by clicking here. And keep up with Tricia's latest work by visiting her Amazon author page.

1. What gave you the idea for Midnight Robber?

Love comes like a thief in the night!

2. In your opinion as an author and a reader, what are some elements that make for an enjoyable read when it comes to romance writing?

When I read romance stories or novels, I like the words to speak to me in depth. As a writer, I try to make my reader feel the same as I want to feel as a reader.

3. Why did you decide to self-publish your first book, and how long did the process take you?

I always heard that traditional publishing is a longer route and that it takes a lot of time. So that's how I decided to go ahead and self-publish my book instead. It took me two weeks in total to publish.

4. What are you currently working on?

I am currently trying to work on writing a sequel to Midnight Robber, and I have some other ideas for another book at hand.

5. How do you balance your day job with finding time to work on your writing?

At first, I must say it was hard, but then I realized that my best times to write were late at night about after 11pm-2am when my body and mind were at peace. Then the ideas and writing began to flow.

Thanks, Tricia!

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Meet Todd Miller, Realtor and Creator of the Homing In App

Todd Miller is a Las Vegas real estate broker. In 2009, he and his wife were the #1 team in the nation for real estate sales in the US, according to the Wall Street Journal. He is the creator of an app called Homing In, which gives people expert-sourced values of their homes. To use the app, a homeowner takes a couple pictures of their house and submits the photos with any relevant notes about the property; then, up to five real estate agents can respond with their opinion on the value of the house. Learn more at

1. What gave you the idea to create Homing In?

I came up with the idea to create Homing In after years of doing a few thousand Broker Price Opinions for banks during the foreclosure boom. The banks would use this information to price their homes before listing them. Often, they would ask multiple agents to do them and pick which one did the best job to give the listing to. I decided this tool should also be something that consumers have access to. So I created the Exactimate, which gives any home owner the same power a bank has: getting accurate values quickly from actual professionals.

2. How does the app come up with the "exactimate" for the value of a home--and how many real estate agents are currently sharing their expertise through the app?

Right now there are about 200 agents nationwide signed up. We've completed value requests in Boston, Las Vegas, San Jose, and Durham NC. Up to five agents can respond. The Exactimate is just the mathematically most likely number, so if three agents all come up with $250,000 for a house, that's going to be the Exactimate. Since they don't see each other's values, they are truly doing their work independently without bias.

3. Why aren't the guesstimates on other sites more accurate?

Online valuation tools like the Zillow Zestimate use lots of data, but sometimes that data is misleading. If a person buys a fixer upper, and then puts $50,000 into repairs, they may have added as much as $100,000 in value to a property. Zillow doesn't know that because the computer can't see the inside of the house and get that information from the consumer. It just knows it sold for X. An agent makes a qualitative decision and can accurately value it. The computers can't.

4. Why did you decide to give the app away for free?

I felt this was something people need to have. Consumers should just have more access to information, and agents should be able to share their knowledge quickly and in a meaningful way. The agent may end up listing the house for sale if they do a good job, and the consumer might just find a really good agent in the process.

5. For people who are looking to sell, do you have any favorite tips for increasing the value of their home before putting it on the market?

The best thing people can do it talk to their agent before they sell. Agents tend to know which things add value and which don't. It depends on the house, the features, and the condition of the inside of the house. The key is to only upgrade things that add more value than the cost of the upgrade. With Homing In, they can get those recommendations through the app.

Thanks, Todd!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Introducing the ISA Professional MIRROR Titanium Flat Iron

Many women with naturally curly or wavy hair use a flat iron several times a week--or even every day--to achieve the smooth quality of their hair that they desire. It's one of those tools that you can learn to use at home so that your hair looks like it was just styled at the salon.

Whether you use a flat iron every day or only on special occasions, if you're looking for the best flat iron for under $100, check out the ISA Professional MIRROR Titanium. It's currently on sale at the ISA Professional website for just $90, discounted from $299.

One of the convenient features of this particular flat iron is that it has 4.5" titanium plates that allow for styling more hair at once. The plates are also tapered so that the iron can be used on bangs or anywhere close to the scalp without worrying about getting burned.

It's also easy to use with an LCD display and no-tangle cord. Use the digital temperature control to set the temp anywhere between 265 to 450 Fahrenheit, based on your own preferences with your hair. The ISA Professional MIRROR Titanium comes with a two-year warranty.

You can find this and other hair care products on the ISA Professional website.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Meet S.J. Brown, Author

S.J. Brown is a crime fiction writer in Tasmania where his D.I. Mahoney series is set. A former Humanities teacher and soccer coach, he is working now on the next two volumes in his "whydunnit" series.

Find his books on Amazon: High Beam and Dead Wood.

1. What inspired you to start writing mysteries?

I suppose it was an abiding love of the genre. The old maxim is "to write about what you know." Well, having immersed myself in murder mysteries for decades now, I feel I know them pretty well. My bookshelves are stuffed with the works of UK writers such as Colin Dexter, P.D. James, Ian Rankin, and Peter Robinson. Among the Americans I always return to Michael Connelly, and from "Down Under" it's hard to go past Peter Temple and Michael Robotham. You pick up the characteristics of compelling crime fiction almost by osmosis.

Apart from the sheer entertainment value of murder mysteries, they allow a writer to examine characters under extreme pressure. And there is always the element of seeing how a society really functions in its pursuit of justice.

2. How would you describe your main character, D.I. Mahoney?

Detective Inspector John Mahoney is something of an "outsider." He lived abroad (England) for a substantial part of his career before returning to Australia. So he struggles to re-adjust to the cultural mores of his hometown. Through his eyes, the reader is able to critically view what many unthinkingly take for granted. He is unmarried but seeks personal stability: he feels he has missed the boat in the relationship sense. His is an ongoing struggle to understand his place in the world.

But not in his professional life. Here he is a scrupulous and committed investigator. His moral compass is steady as he seeks not only to solve his cases but to bring a strong level of accountability to bear. Something of a loner in life he is a natural leader when working on a homicide case. It is then that he can keep his insecurity at bay.

3. What's the difference between a "whodunnit" and a "whydunnit"?

Within a traditional "whodunnit," there are a range of suspects and the detective cunningly solves the mystery. My concept of a "whydunnit" is that the case still requires a thoughtful solution, but there is a much greater emphasis on why characters act the way they do. In particular, why are relatively normal people "driven" to commit the ultimate crime? Many writers are good at laying out the pressures faced by investigators, but I am aiming also to explore the reasons my perpetrators enact "bloody murder."

4. Would you tell us a bit about the setting of your books?

The D.I. Mahoney series is set in Tasmania. A smallish state, by antipodean standards, it is located south of mainland Australia. Its violent convict history and island status set it apart from the rest of the nation. Geographically, it is a rugged and inhospitable place but also a locale of staggering beauty. Formerly the butt of derision, it has become an emblem of artistic creativity and tourist potential. In a real sense, it is a microcosm of the macrocosm: it is an ideal size in which to set mysteries that consider modern society.

5. How are you enjoying the transitions from teaching and coaching into fiction writing?

For a few years now, I've been scaling down my teaching commitments to devote my time to writing as well as I can. I certainly don't miss marking essays! I do miss my involvement in coaching sport, but I've committed to being an author and that takes dedication and effort. Regardless of what commercial success I attain, there are few better places to be than at my desk, in the "zone." In the same way that a good novel transports the reader, I have discovered the satisfaction of traveling to that fictional world where the magic happens.

Thanks, S.J.!

Introducing Yellow Bee Vintage on Etsy

Did you know that I have another blog where I post about online selling on eBay, Etsy, and other platforms? I like featuring indie sellers, especially those who are running a business that clearly has a strong sense of creativity and thought behind it.

Check out my recent post to learn more about Yellow Bee Vintage, an Etsy shop which has a really nicely curated collection of 20th century items like glass, pottery, home decor, clothing, and accessories.

If you're looking for just the right items for a vintage-themed wedding, Yellow Bee Vintage will have something to pique your interest. Nicci, the shop owner, has a knack for finding quality items that really show an attention to detail. Remember the pretty handkerchiefs your grandma had? This is the kind of thing you can find in Nicci's shop.

Yellow Bee Vintage is clearly a labor of love from someone who loves to find and share those items that bring up our collective past. I hope you'll check out the shop!