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!

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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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Oct 262016

It’s a new school year for my kids–the time of year where many people, including me, are compelled to make fresh starts. And that is what I am doing. This past year I smacked into a mid-life “awakening” (we won’t call it a crisis – even though it has felt like that sometimes).

Do you know what I mean? That feeling that something with life isn’t quite right, but you’re not exactly sure what the problem is. That you need to change, but you don’t know how or even what to change.

I’ve read books and perused websites, even worked with a life coach. One thing that became very clear while I was doing research is that I’m not the only person who feels this way. A lot of people get the urge to move around the puzzle pieces of their life into a different configuration when they reach the middle of their life. The image above is the centerpiece of a vision board I did with my life coach, and it says a lot about how I feel right now.

I’ve been quiet on my website and social media over the summer as I’ve decided what, exactly, I want to do. Okay, I admit, that the plan is more fluid than exact, but you know what? That’s wonderful! When things are moving…they aren’t stuck. And who wants to feel like their life is stuck in a rut?

For quite a few years I have focused my social media and author platform toward my career as a culinary mystery writer. But there’s a lot more in my life than cooking and writing mysteries. So I’m going to start sharing more of my interests in the hope that maybe someone else will enjoy them too. A lot of things will be changing from the look of this website to the style of my newsletters. (Do you subscribe to my newsletter? I hope you do because the new format will be launching soon, and I can’t wait to share it with you!) I’m writing new books, but at a slower pace since I’m also focusing on my family, and uncovering tools to navigate through this mid-life reinvention.

Some of the things that I plan to share are on the new age-y side, or as I say…woo-woo. If that’s not your thing and you no longer want to follow my blog or get my newsletter, no big deal. Feel free to unsubscribe, because life is too short to spend time reading things that you don’t enjoy. If you stick around I hope you find something useful…or that makes you smile…or that gives you an aha moment. I’m taking the scenic route, instead of the freeway, through this part of my life. I can’t wait to share some of the stops with you!




Oct 112016

meditateyourweightMeditate Your Weight
By Tiffany Cruikshank
Published by Harmony Books

This book brings together two things that I, and probably many other people, would like to accomplish: a meditation practice and weight loss. The book begins with the benefits of meditating. That alone convinced me to try my hand at meditation. Not only does meditating, for as little as five to ten minutes a day, help relieve stress and other psychological issues, it can also physically affect your body by resetting an imbalanced endocrine system, reducing systemic inflation, and many other benefits.

Since weight loss is both mental and physical, this book has a 21-day “retreat” program to reboot your metabolism and attitude toward food. How? Through targeted meditations. Every day there is a new topic to meditate about, such as nourishment or vitality. There is an explanation on why the daily subject is important, followed by directions on how to do the specific meditation. Then you are asked to answer some questions in a journal to further explore the topic. Each day also has a different mantra, such as “I am healthy”, and some tips on building awareness–things to keep in mind on the subject as you go about your day.

The program is set up so that anybody can do it, even people who have never meditated before. Meditation times start out at a very doable three minutes and end after the three weeks at seventeen minutes. Then after the retreat program ends there is advice on how to continue with the meditation and weight loss journey.

I found it to be a wonderful book with a very friendly tone and lots of interesting information. It truly has made me look at meditation and struggles with weight loss differently. In fact, I began a regular meditation practice because of it.

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


 October 11, 2016  Posted by  Review Tags:  2 Responses »
Jun 142016

Banana Muffins & Mayhem Treasure Hunt Blog Tour

Welcome to the Banana Muffins & Mayhem Treasure Hunt Blog Tour!

Banana Muffins & Mayhem was just released, so I’m having a blog tour and grand prize giveaway to celebrate. Stop by the blogs listed below to learn more about my new book…and me. :) Each blog has a letter that helps spell a secret phrase which can earn you bonus points in the Grand Prize Giveaway – A Muffin Baker’s Prize Pack.

You can enter the giveaway any time you want (like right now!) without the secret phrase. After the blog tour is over and you know the phrase, just come back and fill in the Rafflecopter at the end of this post to earn the extra points. Want an easy way to keep track? Click here for a Google Doc to print out and record the letters.

6/14 – My Cozy Book Nook has Letter #3

6/15 – Book Babble has Letter #5

6/16 – Life’s A Stage has Letter #8

6/17 – Read Your Writes Book Reviews has Letter #1

6/18 – Joy’s Book Blog has Letter #4

6/20 – Knyttwytch’s Crafts and Stuff has Letter #7

6/22 – Savvy Verse & Wit has Letter #2

6/24 – Romancing The Books has Letter #6

What could the extra points from the secret phrase help you win?


A Muffin Baker’s Prize Pack containing: a square muffin tin with silicone liners, a cake & pancake pen, measuring spoons, a dry measuring cup set, a liquid measuring cup, a silicone spatula, and a banana nut muffin baking mix.

Contest open to US residents only. I will email the winner when the contest is over on June 30, 2016. Winner has 1 week to respond or a new winner will be chosen. Entries will only be accepted by the Rafflecopter widget below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway











Jun 142016

What time is it??? It’s time to release a new book!

Banana Muffins & Mayhem is the 5th book in my Culinary Competition Mystery Series

On Sale Now for Only $.99 – For A Limited Time

Just click on the links below and get your copy today!

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Amazon     Barnes & Noble     iBooks     Kobo     Smashwords



 June 14, 2016  Posted by  The Culinary Competition Series, Writing Update Tags: , ,  Comments Off on Banana Muffins & Mayhem’s Release Day!
May 032016

My next book, Banana Muffins & Mayhem, will be released on June 14. To celebrate I’ll be doing a blog tour from June 14 to June 30, 2016. I would love to have a lot of blogging friends join me!

It will be a treasure hunt, of sorts. After I close signups, I’ll come up with a phrase connected to the book. Each tour stop will be assigned a letter in the phrase. People will then be able to enter a grand prize drawing, hosted on my website, by visiting all of the blogs and spelling out the phrase on an entry form.

If you have a blog and would like to host a tour stop, please fill out the form below (Can’t see the form? Here’s a direct linkhttp://goo.gl/forms/3kA74FW44P) You can sign up now through May 14. Please note that days are not exclusive and there may be more than one tour stop per day. After the signup period ends, I’ll contact each blog owner and assign the post a letter.

I’m really looking forward to doing this tour. I hope everybody will have fun! If you have any questions you can ask them at the bottom of the form or email me directly at janelg.author (at) gmail (dot) com.