Janel Gradowski

Jul 272017

Pancakes & Pandemonium

Coming January 2018

Book #6 in the Culinary Competition Mystery Series

Jul 252017

One Pan & DoneOne Pan & Done
By Molly Gilbert
Published by Potter

This cookbook is a continuation of the sheet pan meal concept that Ms. Gilbert wrote about in Sheet Pan Suppers. In One Pan & Done all of the recipes are once again cooked in a single pan, but this time it can be anything from a baking dish to a Dutch oven or even a muffin tin.

The single pan concept is appealing to me and probably many other cooks. Who hasn’t cooked a meal then been faced by a mountain of pots and pans leftover from the preparation? It’s so nice to have a single pan in the oven or on the stovetop.

Basically, it’s all about timing. To get everything perfectly cooked in a single pan it’s often necessary to add ingredients at different times. Really, that’s no different than many recipes, like adding fresh spinach at the end when making soup or topping a casserole with cheese for the last ten minutes of baking time. This cookbook just finely tunes the timing of when things should be added for many of the recipes.

The recipes cover every part of a meal, from appetizers to dessert, breakfast to dinner. Some are simple in that everything cooks at the same time, such as cakes or muffins, while others need the ingredients added in stages. There is a variety of styles of recipes too, from kid-friendly to dishes that would work well at a dinner party. Personally, I really loved the Thai Turkey with Carrot “Noodles”. Thai-flavored ground turkey with strips of carrots instead of noodles. Very tasty, fun, and low carb. Another thing that I really liked is the recipes for DIY doughs, like biscuit and bread, so you can use the convenient store-bought options or make your own. Each chapter begins by categorizing the recipes by what pans they use. Very handy if you happen to not own one of the pans or want to use one in particular.

I really like this book and have been enjoying trying the different recipes and techniques. Definitely a “keeper” on my bookshelf because it is both convenient and full of really tasty recipes. The added bonus is having fewer dishes to wash.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

 July 25, 2017  Posted by  Food, Review Tags:  1 Response »
Jul 172017
He has loved Jeeps for a long time!

He has loved Jeeps for a long time!

An essay I wrote about my son has made it to the final round of a contest to win an air conditioning system for his Jeep. Between being on a swim team and being a lifeguard, he’s often gone for 10-12 hours a day. I sure would like to give him a break with a cool vehicle to drive home.

Could you please, please, pretty please click on the link below? It’ll take you to my essay on the Jeep Air Facebook page. Just like the post and that’s it! The finalist with the most “likes” at the end of the week wins. With your help – maybe it’ll be my son. Thank you in advance!!


 July 17, 2017  Posted by  General, Writing Life 2 Responses »
Jun 202017


You could win this handbag! (1)

Gemma Halliday Publishing is having a fun contest. All you have to do to enter is follow on BookBub any or all of the authors, listed on this Facebook post, before June 29, 2016. Good luck!


 June 20, 2017  Posted by  General Tags:  1 Response »
Jun 142017

Nail Polish

I have decided that I shall wear glitter nail polish on a regular basis. I very rarely paint my nails, but I am going to start. And I will raid my teenage daughter’s massive polish collection and try ALL of the glitter ones.

Why? Because I like sparkle. My blonde hair has added sparkle now from all of the gray threading through it. So why can’t I add some twinkle to my fingers too?

It looks like magical fairy dust adorning my fingers…which type stories on my laptop. Creating people and places out of thin air, as a writer, is a special kind of magic, don’t you think? So isn’t it fitting that I pretend, just for the fun of it, that my fingernails are sprinkled with a bit of extra magic?

Is glitter nail polish appropriate for a woman who is closer to fifty than forty? Possibly not.

Do I care if the beauty industry might think I’m too old for sparkly nails? Absolutely not.

You see, for many years now, I have been receding into drabness. Neutral clothing colors, little makeup, no jewelry = a very bland look. Why? Because I have become plumper than I’d like. Because the gray hair, that I am determined to embrace, sticks up and corkscrews – making me look like a Dr. Seuss character. Because I have convinced myself that I am a shy introvert, when I’m really not. Because for most of my life I have had a deeply embedded limiting belief that calling attention to myself in any way is bad.

Over the last few years I have done a lot of work to discover who I really am, not who I think I should be. The real me doesn’t want to be a chameleon who disappears into the background. If I pretend to be invisible, I never meet new people and never have conversations that capture my attention. And if I don’t experience new things and meet new people, where do you think I’ll draw inspiration for my writing from? A boring, sedate life is counter-productive for me as a writer.

So…I will wear glitter nail polish (on my finger and toe nails), brightly colored clothes, bold jewelry, and lipstick (something else that I have never been fond of until recently). Why? Because I don’t want to become bland and boring. I don’t want my daughter to have that type of mother. Looking back now, I can see that I let the unpleasant things in my life drag me down to into the mundane muck. But not anymore. Glitter nail polish will be a life preserver – my personal touch of whimsy and a reminder that life is magical if I make an effort to find the magic.


Apr 182017

Spring Spa Giveaway

It’s the release day for Sinister Snickerdoodles – my first book with USA Today bestselling co-author Elizabeth Ashby in the Danger Cove series. For a limited time, the ebook is only $.99. I am so excited to be a part of this collaborative series! If you haven’t read any of the Danger Cove books yet, you can check out the series here or on Elizabeth Ashby’s Amazon page. As an author, I had so much fun writing this book. I hope you enjoy it too!

Buy Now

To celebrate the release (And my birthday. A book release is the BEST sort of birthday celebration!) I am having a Spring Spa Day Giveaway. The prize package includes a birthday cake bath bomb, marshmallow fluff bubble bath, a flower pouf, lip gloss, and nail polish. Use the Rafflecopter form below to enter. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

US entries only please. The winner will have 7 days to contact me with shipping information. If the winner does not respond in that time, a new winner will be chosen.



Mar 062017

Sometimes you just need to retreat. As in heading to a wonderful, rejuvenating writer’s retreat! Last weekend I went to Chicago for the Windy City RWA Retreat. I am not a member of the RWA (Romance Writers of America), but I had to go because one of my favorite writers was the featured speaker.

I packed up my bags and journeyed from Michigan to Illinois. There I learned about reclaiming the magic of writing when the words don’t flow easily, and I honed my writing voice, which is as unique as a speaking voice, in a master class. Both workshops were taught by a woman who became one of my favorite authors many years ago when I began reading her women’s fiction books. They’re filled with lush descriptions, fascinating characters, and lots of food. What’s not to love about books like that?

Barbara O’Neal is the writer who I went to see. If you read romances you may know her as Barbara Samuel or Lark O’Neal if you enjoy new adult books. And if you’re a writer, I highly recommend her books The Care and Feeding of The Girls in The Basement and Celebration Book (A Writer’s Guide to Joy). They are some of the brightest gems in my rather massive collection of books about writing.

Whenever I read one of Barbara’s books I am inspired to be a better writer. I was very excited about taking the classes and having the chance to meet her at the retreat. So excited, in fact, that the experience brought out a teen fangirl side of me that hasn’t made an appearance since I got to go backstage to meet my favorite band when I was a teenager. Yes, there was squeeing and selfie taking involved. And yes, my forty-something self is rolling her eyes and asking, “Really??? You had to do that?”.  Despite my awkward geekiness, Barbara was gracious and lovely. The insights on writing and publishing that she shared during the master class still has my mind buzzing. To quote my fangirl self: She was awesome!

Barbara O'Neal and Janel Gradowski

Barbara and me

As you can tell, seeing Barbara was definitely a highlight of the retreat for me, but there’s more. For the first time I was able to meet, in person, several other authors who write for Gemma Halliday Publishing. It was so much fun to chat with my publishing “sisters” and give them a real hug, instead of a virtual one. As a writer, I tend to lead a pretty solitary life. Many of my social interactions are done online. It was a very welcome change to talk with the GHP authors, and many other writers, face-to-face.

Clockwise from top left: Nicole Leiren, Barb Valentin, Wendy Byrne, and me

Clockwise from top left: Nicole Leiren, Barbara Valentin, Wendy Byrne, and me

The past year brought many struggles to my writing life. The theme for this retreat was “Nourishing the Writer’s Soul”. It lived up to the expectations. Thanks to Windy City RWA for hosting the event. It certainly did wonders for my writer’s soul!


Jan 272017

NewWayToDinnerA New Way To Dinner
By Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs
10 Speed Press

Standing in the kitchen at dinner time with a hungry family and no meal plan. A lot of people have experienced that scenario, including me. Many times the best solution turns out to be take-out. Or, if actual cooking is involved, often convenience foods such as rotisserie chicken or frozen pizza are part of the meal. Let’s face it. Putting good, fresh food on the table after working all day is hard. This cookbook offers a solution.

The basic strategy is to cook and prepare the main components of the week’s meals on the weekend, then use them throughout the week in different combinations. The book is divided into menus that go along with the four seasons to take advantage of the best produce for that time of year. Each author wrote two, week-long menus for each season. Each menu starts with a “The Week Ahead” page that details the recipes, what each dinner will feature, what work needs to be done the day of the dinner, and several brown bag lunches that can also be made. Then the reader moves on to a “Game Plan” that details which recipes should be made on the weekend and offers plenty of tips and tricks. The final component before the actual recipes is a grocery list.

Since this book is from the creators of the Food 52 website, the recipes emphasize quality ingredients. No condensed soup casseroles or frozen french fries in sight. The meals aren’t filled with the processed foods that many people may associate with getting a meal on the table quickly. Instead, the process of getting weeknight meals on the table quickly depends on a savvy prep plan. Some of the recipes included are Rosy Chicken, Stuck-Pot Rice, Garlicky Greens, and Lime Ice Cream. While simple, the recipes offer sophisticated flavors from around the world. If you have ever experienced the struggle of making meals on weeknights, this is definitely a cookbook to look into. The recipes and plans are easily modified to customize the meals to fit the tastes of any family.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.


 January 27, 2017  Posted by  Review Tags:  1 Response »
Dec 142016

ss-the-light-maidenFor me, 2016 has been a year of discovery. I’ve taken a close look at my life and dug deep to expose the root system of many long-standing issues. Throughout the way I’ve done a lot of research, finding people whose philosophies about life make sense to me. Obviously everybody has their own views of life and how to best live, but I want to share some of the special people who I am drawn to – my Soulful Sages. Maybe you’ll like them too.

First up is Annika – The Light Maiden. I met Annika in a Facebook group, where her beautiful, blue hair immediately caught my attention. I watched some of her Facebook videos and loved her sweet, calm personality. Then when I saw her Soul Doodles – whimsical blends of inspiring words, art, and nature – I knew I had to connect with her more.

From The Light Maiden website…

I dream about a world where more people follow their passion, their intuition and their heart, walking their soul’s path with confidence, ease and joy, living at their happy place, inside and out. Where we all live consciously, act & react from a place of Love instead of fear and not only KNOW that we are the creator of our own life, but are devoted to make it the best experience possible.

Earlier this week I met up with Annika on Skype for a “Tea Date with Spirit”. The writer in me was very curious about what it would be like, since I had never done anything like that before. It was wonderful, uplifting, and simply amazing. I learned a new technique to shield myself from negativity, got an excellent book recommendation, and found out that I am not following my intuition as much as I thought I was. Honestly, I was startled – in a good way, when she brought up situations that she couldn’t possibly know about as I’ve never mentioned them anywhere on social media. Wow! I was in a good mood the rest of the day after getting advice on how to tackle some long-standing issues in my life.

I am so glad that I discovered Annika. She is passionate about helping women – and does so with a kind heart and a sweet smile. You can connect with her at:

The Light Maiden Website

The Light Maiden Facebook Page

Meet Me At My Happy Place podcast

 December 14, 2016  Posted by  Soulful Sage Tags: ,  Comments Off on Soulful Sage: The Light Maiden
Dec 062016

Cozy Christmas Shorts

Want to read some fun holiday stories and help out Toys for Tots? Cozy Christmas Shorts is a collection of 11 holiday short stories, including Christmas Canapés & Sabotage by me, from Gemma Halliday Publishing. It’s on sale for only $.99 for a limited time. Part of the proceeds will be donated to Toys for Tots. So get your copy today! Take a break to read a good book, because you KNOW you deserve a break at this time of year, and help make it a merry Christmas for some great kids.

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