Friday, November 2, 2012

A Novel Approach

My First Novel
I have recently published my first novel, "Rescued." I started writing this book ten years ago when an idea came to me after reading a book by Mary Higgins Clark. The book evolved over two years and in 2004, an agent from Georgia said he'd be happy to take me as a client. He sent out the manuscript and after a year when he couldn't lure a publisher, discouraged, I put the book aside. In early 2005, I rewrote the book again, this time approaching publishers directly. I followed the format for the Harlequin Intrigue" series, but received rejection letters as it didn't meet Harlequin's rigid standards.  It's true what they say about those rejections.

In August, 2006 I became a grandmother and my world changed dramatically, the book went on the back burner again, but it was a loose end that I wanted to finish. I had a great story, so when a friend suggested I try self-publishing, I rewrote the book for the fifth time last November, and got the

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Post Surgery

Well, I had my wrist surgery on Monday, October 17th. It wasn't quite as painful as I had feared it would be. I had been dreading the surgery, based on what Dr. Burke had told me. He said it would be necessary to cut the ulna, the bone that connects the wrist at the outer side of the hand, and then install a metal plate to hold the cut bone in place while it heals. Then he would have to stitch the torn ligament, and attach it to the wrist with screws.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

My Vacation From Hell

After eleven years of being separated from a close friend whom I had worked with, we reconnected on Facebook in October, 2008. After two and a half years of communicating through Skype, e-mail and the occasional phone call, we'd become close as ever and when she'd told me she wanted to sell her house in Texas and had planned on moving back to Arizona, she'd invited me to visit her after she was settled. She hadn't planned on her home in Texas taking almost a year to sell, but eventually, they sold the house and had finally settled in Lake Havasu City, Arizona in December, 2010. I decided to give hr a few months to get settled into her home, get through the holidays and plan to take a trip out there in mid-February, 2011. We'd planned this trip for several months and were both excited at the prospect of seeing each other again. To protect the identity of this person, I won't use her real name, so I'll refer to her instead as "Melanie."

We'd planned this trip for three months; what to do, places we'd go. Melanie had told me she had a lot of fun stuff in store for us and couldn't wait for me to arrive! I also couldn't wait to get there as I had anticipated it would be the vacation of a lifetime, since I'd never been out west and was looking forward to exploring the vast area with my friend. So when the day finally came and it was time for me to leave for the airport, I was excited to finally fly out to see my good friend. Little did I know what lie in store for me, beginning with the trip from the airport. That should have been a clue as what was to come.

The plane had left Detroit Metro airport at 8:25 p.m. on February 13th, (bad omen) and landed at the McCarren International Airport in Las Vegas, the closest major airport to Lake Havasu City, Arizona. I'd been on a plane before, but never alone and flying solo was more than a bit unnerving, but people do it all the time, so I squashed my instinctive nervousness and tried to relax and enjoy the trip. Little did I know it was soon to become the vacation I'd never forget, but not because it was the dream vacation I'd envisioned for months. I had no idea what was to come, or what a huge mistake and lack of judgment I'd made (but I'll get to that later.) Unforeseen events prevailed and my dream vacation soon turned into a nightmare that would have long-lasting effects in ways I couldn't even begin to imagine.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A Stitch In Time

I love to sew. Sewing is not only my favorite hobby, it's my passion. In the past few days I've made three jumpers for my granddaughter and finished two aprons that I had started back in spring. (The one pictured is a small apron with huge pockets.) The next step is to get them listed on etsy.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Wind of Change

It's been so long since I've written in my blog I don't know where to start. I've titled this post Wind of Change largely because so much has happened since my last post in April, so many changes, that indeed it seemed an appropriate title. I also happen to love the song "Wind of Change" by the Scorpions. You may listen to this song by following this link and watching the video:

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Learning With Lynda

In January, 2009 I was conducting a strategic job search. Even after getting my resume on, Michigan Talent Bank and Careerbuilder, I wasn't receiving a lot of attention. But I remembered many years ago there was a company called MacTemps, which is now called Acquent.

Several years ago, I was contacted by Mariam McCarthy from Acquent about a position I had applied for. It had been a while since I've spoken to her but I decided to contact her again in my quest for a productive job search. Although she wasn't able to connect me to any jobs at that time, she did provide me with a powerful resource.

Mariam recommended I hadn't heard of, and asked her to tell me about it. She said it was a website where you can choose from a large library of tutorial videos to watch an unlimited amount of times at your own rate, for only $25 a month. I checked it out and soon signed up for membership and have not regretted it. allows you to choose whichever course you are interested in, watch only the videos you want to watch (or watch them all) and stop/start at any time. If you watch an entire course, you receive a certificate that you can download and print or e-mail to a prospective employer. offered a variety of courses; Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, Flash, Microsoft Word, Excel, Corel Draw, AutoCad, Joomla, HTML, CSS, Digital Photograpy, ASP, PHP, Database, Content Management systems, even blogging! As of this writing, they have 40,000 videos and are adding more every week. That's over 3425 hours of continuous training!

Although a large percentage of the courses are related to both graphic and web design, there are courses offered in photography and business, such as Microsoft Word for those who need to brush up on their skills. If you are an experienced designer, you can upgrade your skills while continuing your education.

Last night I watched the video on how Lynda Weinman got started and was fascinated by it.She and her husband Bruce, share many of the same philosophies as me, so I felt a sort of kindred spirit, a parallel universe, as I love art, design and photography as well as learning new things. I have learned a lot and have been able to apply what I've learned immediately in my websites. I love that I can study as much or as little as I want, anytime I want.

I highly recommend to anyone who is passionate about learning without leaving the house!

Rene Bellis

p.s. Since completing several courses from, I have been getting more phone calls from prospective employers. Coincidence? Maybe. Good fortune? Definitely!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Mid-Winter Blues

Every year at this time of year, with the tease of a sunny day I dream of spring. Friday and Saturday were beautiful, sunny days here in St. Clair Shores, Michigan. Friday's temperature reached 40 degrees. It was just a great day to be outdoors and let the sun shine on your face. But it's only temporary as another snow system is moving in tomorrow. Winter is far from over but the promise of spring makes it easier to ride of the rest of the cold stuff.

Beating the winter blues is much easier when you have hobbies. They are a great distraction from the bad weather, not to mention an outlet for creativity. Although lately, I haven't been in much of a mood for my hobbies. Could just be I'm in a rut.

It's hard for me to believe that this is the third week in February already. It seems like last week we were toasting in the New Year. Before we know it, it'll be St. Patrick's day, Easter and YES! Memorial weekend, which marks our annual first camping trip of the season to our favorite campground, Petoskey KOA. Nothing beats the winter blues better than dreaming of our favorite camping spot.

For me, January, February and March are the toughest months of the year. I suffer from "S.A.D." (Seasonal Affective Disorder) and need the sunlight to feel good. Even on a cold day, the sun will perk me up. But I really look forward to the sunny spring sunshine. I love the fresh, clean spring air and the birds chirping in the bud-filled trees. It sounds corny, but it's true. Spring is the season of rebirth and with it, anything is possible.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Craft Shows Fun & Profit

We did two craft shows in two weeks. Our mosaics were very well received. We have a decent amount of stock considering we only just started making mosaics a couple of months ago. In addition to our etsy store,, we decided to try a couple of craft shows. Our first one was at Chippewa Valley High School on Saturday, November 14th, then this past weekend we participated in the De La Salle Holiday show. Both were very well-organized events. Since we are new to the craft show venue, we're still learning which products not only get the most attention, but which ones actually sold. No sense in making more products that people never even took a second glance at.

We have decided to pursue the mosaics and sell out the stock of our birdhouses, offering them at a huge discount. At the craft shows we are offering a "buy one, get one half off," or "buy two, get one free!" People love sales, especially around the holidays, so by offering these discounts, we expect we'll move our stock quickly. Of course, we'll keep up our etsy store as well: and sell them until they're gone.

While one can certainly make money at a craft show, if you factor in the hours, the average crafter doesn't make a lot of money. Only a person who has hobbies and does crafts understands this. You simply can't factor in the time you spend and charge an hourly rate or you'd price yourself right out of the market. The biggest common denominator that all crafters share is this: We love what we do. And if we can make a few dollars doing what we love, all the better.

Crafters range from the part-time once a year show participant to the full time artist/crafter. There are different aspects of crafting for fun or crafting for a business. The main difference is if you're doing it for a business, you must treat it as such; keep good records, seek the best prices for supplies, stocking your inventory, invest in tables, tents, displays, etc. It's also important to pace yourself with how much you spend on supplies and materials. If you've ever stepped foot into an artist supply store, Joann's, Michael's, Ben Franklin, or the like, you understand what I'm talking about.

Here are a few pointers to consider if you'd like to try your hand at a craft show:
  • Attend the craft shows you'd like to be a part of and take a look at what kinds of vendors there are, then pay attention to what people gravitate toward.
  • If one particular booth is always full, chances are either the prices are low, the products are unusual (something that's not common for a show), they have A LOT of stuff (as people are naturally drawn to displays that seem to overflow with stock) or something else catches their eye.
  • Once you determine which shows interest you, send in your application and get going! Make lists of what you need to make, purchase and bring, long before the day of the show arrives. Be prepared as you never know what you wish you'd have brought, but don't go crazy either.
  • Make sure you know where to park and if someone will help you unload. Having some sort of wheeled cart is a good idea if you have heavy items. Don't lose the paperwork you are given when you register as it contains valuable information. (Many craft shows offer free donuts and coffee to their vendors!)
The day of the show has finally arrived. You're set up and ready for business. The doors are open and people are slowly drifting in to check out the show. While sipping that hot coffee and quickly munching on that free donut, you smile at your potential customers, tell them of your specials and patiently wait for your first sale. They walk by your display with barely a glance, while your neighbor has already made five sales. Don't lose heart! Lots of people "cruise" through an entire craft show, making a mental note of the vendor they will purchase from, then come back to buy later in the show.

If you are selling a larger item, offer to carry it to their car. Folks generally don't like to load themselves down while shopping. Packaging is also important. Make sure you have plenty of strong, yet attractive bags for your items (properly sized) with a business card in each one. You want to encourage repeat sales as well as maintain a professional appearance.

Suddenly, one person seems extremely interested in an item and asks a lot of questions. You explain the process, their eyes light up, they ask more questions and before you know it, they grab it, hand you the money. Congratulations! You've just made your first sale! You feel validated, victorious and a bit shocked that someone paid money for something you've created!

The craft show environment is unpredictable. You may do exceedingly well at one, and not so great at the next one. Don't take it personally or feel rejected if people walk by and don't stop to take a closer look. Not everyone likes every craft and not everyone makes a purchase. Some just like to browse, but if you have a chance to engage them in conversation and hand them a card, you never know. They may call you and buy that special item after all.

In conclusion, craft shows aren't for everyone. They are a lot of work, they take a great deal of time, demand an attention to detail, but they are can also be a lot of fun. You learn a lot at each show, meet great new people, and if you make more than you've spent, consider yourself a success because not only have you loved making your art or craft, you've sold it to someone who wanted it enough to pay for it.