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!




Mar 042015

I love ebooks, but there’s nothing like getting paperback copies of your brand new book baby!

Yeehaw! #1!!

Oooh…Amazon didn’t put those nifty little banners on the “Also Bought” books when Pies & Peril was released in July.

Editing Doughnuts & Deadly Schemes so I could turn it in to my publisher on February 28.

Feb 032015

Okay…some mistakes are awesome. That ex-boyfriend that seemed awesome in college was still a mistake that should’ve been avoided. But sometimes things that seem like mistakes are really more like your subconscious telling you what you need before you know you need it.

See that package above? You may have seen it before in the picture from my post about going to several ethnic grocery stores. I bought the bag of cream of wheat because I thought I had seen a recipe for flatbread that used it. I was wrong. The recipe used chickpea flour instead. So I bought the wrong ingredient. An inexpensive, the bag cost around $2, mistake. No big deal, but not awesome. Yet.

Last week I ended up catching the cold that was making the rounds in my family. Nothing terrible, but still annoying and uncomfortable. Just what I needed since I was very close to completing the first draft of my next book.  I wanted to finish the first draft by the end of January. Not so easy to keep writing every day when what I really wanted to do was just lay on the couch all day and watch TV. I needed comfort food. Something warm for my stuffy nose. Something soothing for my sore throat. And something filling for my finicky appetite. Guess what was the perfect remedy. Cream of wheat. Yup. The mistake.

Cooked on the stove with a mixture of water and milk for the liquid. Always a sprinkling of nutmeg. Sometimes a splash of vanilla extract. Sweetened with brown sugar and rounded out with a pat of butter. Constantly whisking the porridge as it cooked provided a nice little Zen-like break. The grocery mistake was exactly what I needed to combat the cold so I could keep writing. And the final bit of serendipity…I finished the bag of cream of wheat and the novel on the same day.

Dec 052014

To celebrate the release of Cozy Christmas Capers, some author friends and I are giving away a Kindle Fire HDX this weekend. Just follow this link to the Laffeinated Ink blog to enter. Good luck!


 December 5, 2014  Posted by  Writing Life Tags: ,  2 Responses »
Oct 242014

On Tuesday I turned Chicken Soup & Homicide in to my publisher. All summer there was a lot going on with life in general, beyond my writing life, so getting the book whipped into shape over the last month and a half was intense. I’ve written before about how I end up with food obsessions whenever I work on big writing projects. Beyond the always present coffee, the editing phase of this book brought on a craving for kimchi. Yay for a healthy obsession, for once!

Kimchi is spicy fermented vegetables that is also the national dish of Korea. Traditionally it’s made with cabbage, but it can be made with all kinds of vegetables. It’s one of those dishes that has seemingly endless varieties and every cook that makes it has their own version. I would love to try making it, but the last few months I haven’t had the time to experiment in the kitchen. If you want to try it here are a bunch of recipes from the Beyond Kimchi blog. :)

For the most part, I buy the mild version of the commercially made brand of kimchi at my local grocery store. A rather standard napa cabbage variety. It is garlicky, mildly sour, slightly salty and pleasantly spicy. I like the taste of the fermented cabbage, so I’m not particularly interested in the sinus clearing spicy version. A few weeks ago I found the cucumber kimchi pictured above at a farmer’s market. What a difference! Even though it is red with chili pepper flakes, it isn’t extremely spicy. You can definitely taste the ginger in this variety and the cucumber gives it a rather grassy “green” flavor. I love it.

So kimchi has been the flavor-packed ingredient that I’ve been adding to my quick lunches while I’ve been writing. One ingredient = a cornucopia of flavor. It’s great with ramen noodles or rice. I also like to accompany it with eggs, either poached in ramen broth or fried and slid on top of rice. My favorite dish so far has been rice topped with low-sodium soy sauce, a fried egg and kimchi. I actually do a one-pan version of this in my little 4-cup rice cooker, by cracking an egg on top of the almost cooked rice then letting it cook from the residual heat. Add soy sauce and the kimchi. Stir to break up the egg into bite-sized pieces and enjoy!

Have you tried kimchi? If you have, do you have a favorite variety?

This post is part of Weekend Cooking at Beth Fish Reads



Aug 232014

We’re heading into the last week of summer here at Chez Gradowski. That basically amounts to me almost losing my mind between making sure the kids have everything to start school (there’s always something essential that isn’t thought of until the last minute) and anticipation of some yummy quiet so my writing muses can actually be creative.

I have some fun giveaways planned in September and one will involve the items above. Do you know what they are?


 August 23, 2014  Posted by  General, Writing Life Tags: ,  4 Responses »
Aug 082014

It’s the last month of summer vacation. I’m feeling more than a bit frazzled between what seems to be a never ending lineup of appointments, getting the kids ready for school, several writing deadlines and the general busyness of family life. So I’ve decided to try some fill in the blank-style micro blog posts. Little check ins detailing some of the more interesting parts of my rather ordinary life. So without further ado, here is micro blog post #1.




Reading…The Art of Neil Gaiman by Hayley Campbell (thanks Serena!)
Watching…house finches eating the grape jelly in my oriole feeder
Cooking…Farina for my breakfast
Eating…Lots of salads with roasted mushrooms
Drinking…Faygo Rock & Rye cream cola
Writing…(actually editing) a Culinary Competition holiday short story
Listening…to lots of traffic noise since I now live on a detour route
Loving…the cooler than normal summer temperatures
Hating…my allergies
Considering…recipes to include with the short story
Feeling…lazy…it’s Friday
Planning…to refinish the antique Ship Captain’s Desk my husband bought me when I finished writing Pies & Peril

Jul 152014

Thank you to everybody that has helped make this week fabulous! As of right now, Pies & Peril is still #1 on the Cozy Culinary Mystery bestseller list on Amazon. I am truly amazed and humbled.

This afternoon the UPS man brought me a big box of paperback copies. It’s a happy- happy- joy- joy kind of afternoon. :)

P.S. The Pies & Peril Blog Tour is still going on. Maybe you could win a copy of Pies & Peril.

Jun 232014

My friend, Belle, of Ms. Bookish tagged me to take part of the Creative Blog Tour for artists and writers. So you get a peek at what I’m working on. There are four questions. So…shall we proceed?

What am I working on? I recently finished plotting the second Culinary Competition mystery. I will be doing Camp NaNoWriMo this year. My very first attempt at a NaNoWriMo event. Luckily, I don’t have to write 50,000 words to “win” camp. That’s a good thing since Pies & Peril will be published on July 8th and I’m doing a blog tour during the month of July. I really doubt I would be able to write 50,000 words, even though I have the book completely plotted, with all of the nervous excitement and blog visiting.

How does my work differ from others of its genre? I write my cozy mysteries with a third person point of view through both the eyes of my main character/amateur sleuth, Amy, and her best friend, Carla. Many cozies use first person point of view, but to be honest, I have a difficult time writing it. I use a deep point of view to help give the effect of a more traditional cozy.

Why do I write/create what I do? I feel compelled to. When I was a child I decided I wanted to be a writer. I held onto that dream quite well through my teens, but then it got lost for a while after I got married, got a stressful job and then went on to have two children within 18 months. After they were born I turned to designing beadwork. I had many patterns published in magazines. Those forays into publishing gave me the confidence to turn my writing away from patterns and back to my first love, fiction. I started out with writing and publishing short, flash fiction and have now moved on to full-length novels.

How does your writing/creating process work? I am a planner. While writing flash I may not write any notes beforehand, but I do think about what I am going to write before sitting down at my laptop. When I moved up to writing novellas and novels, I knew I had to plan everything out. The thought of embarking on that large of a writing venture without a map terrified me. So now I use both color-coded actual index cards on a cork board and the virtual index cards (again, color-coded) in the program I write in, Scrivener. I find that knowing the road ahead is much less stressful and I can write much more quickly. I wrote over 10,000 words in one day earlier this year on a short story I had plotted out beforehand.

 June 23, 2014  Posted by  General, Writing Life Tags: ,  8 Responses »
Jun 062014

When Amy Ridley decided to compete in the Kellerton Summer Festival Pie Contest, the last thing she expected was to find the reigning pie queen, Mandy Jo, dead—a raspberry pie smashed on her face! Mandy Jo made fantastic pies, but she accumulated more enemies than baking trophies. But when Amy receives a note threatening her own life, she decides to do some investigating herself.

It seems that half the town has a reason to kill the mean pie queen, and Amy finds herself sifting through a list of suspects that’s longer than her list of recipes. Not to mention playing cupid for her love-shy best friend, fending off a baker intent on finding out her prize-winning culinary secrets, and ducking the deadly attentions of Mandy Jo’s killer. If Amy doesn’t find out who wanted the pie queen dead soon, her own goose may be cooked!

If you follow me on some of my social media accounts, you may have already seen the cover of my new book. When I found out it was available to pre-order on several sites I couldn’t wait to start telling people about it! Now that I’ve stopped hopping around in my awkward version of a Happy Dance, I want to do an “official” cover reveal. It was done by the fabulous Lyndsey Lewellen.

The book will be released on July 8th, so just over a month from now. I’m a writer and I can’t even explain how excited I am! If you would like to read it a little sooner, I am organizing a blog tour that will run throughout July. I am also looking for reviewers to read an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) and post reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, etc. when it is released. Click here or on the banner above for more information, if you’re interested.

What do you think of the cover? Personally, I LOVE it! But I may be a bit biased since it is my book baby.