Please join me in welcoming Janel Gradowski, author of Chicken Soup & Homicide to the blog today. I’m really enjoying her Culinary Competition Mysteries series which includes Pies & Peril (my review) and Chicken Soup & Homicide which I just reviewed yesterday (my review). It’s a great series and a lot of fun to read – perfect for summer reading when you’re looking for something a bit lighter. Today Janel was nice enough to write up a guest post for us so grab your favorite drink, relax, and enjoy…
I write culinary mysteries. I have been a fan of foodie fiction for many years, but as I writer this genre has a bit of a challenge for me. Not only do I have to write stories that readers like, I also need to develop recipes for some of the dishes mentioned in the book. The challenge comes from the fact that when I am in serious writing mode, concentrating on adding thousands of words every day to a manuscript, cooking is pretty low on my priority list.
Yes, I know very well that chopping vegetables or stirring risotto can be calming, stress relieving tasks. Maybe I should make cooking more of a priority while I’m writing, just because I know it makes me feel better. Still, even though I am writing about food for hours, Amy’s meals or culinary contest entries, meals for myself and my family are much more difficult for me to come up with. I have collected many cookbooks about making meals ahead of time then freezing them so they just need to be thawed and heated, homemade convenience meals. But I haven’t gotten into the habit of freezer cooking yet. (It’s on my “must try” list.) So frenzied meal searches often ensue.
The more engrossed I become in my writing the simpler and easier meals get in my house. Tried and true recipes along with convenience foods dominate my meals plans. Although I can’t say there is much meal planning involved. Often I’ll finish up my writing tasks for the day a few minutes before I have to leave to pick my kids up from school and stop at the grocery store on the way. Those shopping trips are a treasure expedition with me starring as a confused pirate. If I’ve had a rough day with my writing, heat and eat meals could end up in my cart. Even though I know very well that they aren’t very good. They ALL have a mystery meat quality to them. If you too have to take the super easy route for dinner, I suggest a good quality brand of mac and cheese, like Stouffer’s, to avoid possibly unpleasant memories of unidentifiable school cafeteria meals.
In the end, I have to write my books in two parts. Because developing original, creative recipes while I am also creating a mystery novel is almost impossible for me. Once the manuscript is turned into my publisher THEN I start working on recipes that will be included with the book. I’m not sure how other authors work, but this is what I do. It isn’t a perfect strategy, but nobody is perfect so I try to do the best that I can. Do you have any quick and easy meals for when you don’t feel like cooking but still need to get dinner on the table?
There are hundreds of fictional characters living in my mind. I love to let them out to play in my stories. I have written about everything from an insane ghost to a jealous wife with an explosive personality. Over the past few years many of my flash fiction and short stories have been published both online and in print. I have also been designing and publishing beadwork patterns for over 10 years. In 2012 I began publishing ebooks in my 6:1 Series. Each volume has six stories based on one theme. In 2013 I will begin publishing a culinary fiction series based in my home state of Michigan. While I love writing flash fiction, this new series will include novellas, novelettes and longer short stories as well as flash fiction pieces.
My favorite place to write is in my recliner, nestled into the corner of the living room. I can glance over my laptop screen and watch the wildlife perusing the field across the road. Everything from deer to turkeys and pheasants pass by as I wrestle the characters out of my head and onto the page. My almost constant companion and writing buddy is my beloved Golden Retriever, Cooper. He’s a great listener and always reminds to get up a stretch once in awhile, on the way to his treat jar. Besides my fur baby my family consists of two wonderful children and a fantastic husband.
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