Janel Gradowski is a USA Today and Amazon #1 bestselling author who emailed me earlier this year inquiring about the Path of Consciousness spiritual and writing retreat. Checking out her website, I was impressed by her accomplishments and immediately drawn to all seven of her book covers. They portray a smart, strong and unique woman who is creative in many ways and places, including in the kitchen.
“My book covers always hint at what will happen in the story,” she later told me. “It could be the culinary competition that my main character, Amy, is competing in or events that are happening in her life. Since it’s a cozy mystery series, there’s also a skull and crossbones included somewhere on every cover. I love that my cover artist, Lyndsey Lewellen, always does a good job in conveying Amy’s confidence and creativity.”
Janel and I have several similarities: we care how women are portrayed in our books and on the book covers; we are both prolific writers; coffee is an integral part of her writing process; exploring new places and going on culinary adventures are a few of the passions that fuel our creativity.
Beyond her culinary mystery series, Janel has also had many flash fiction stories, her first writing love, published both online and in print. Her next book will be in the women’s fiction genre. The main character is a solo entrepreneur who has worked so hard to establish herself in the business world that the rest of her life has fallen apart.
“The new story will detail how the main character will go from living only for her work to enjoying her life again,” Janel said. “I think it’s something that a lot of women can relate to, putting ourselves last in order to help everyone else.”
I definitely can relate to that. In my four-part memoir series, Healing Wisdom for a Wounded World: My Life-Changing Journey Through a Shamanic School, I share how hard I worked on myself to establish boundaries, follow my dreams, and allow myself self-care.
After a few months of emails, I met Janel in person at the spiritual and writing retreat. We connected on a deeper level. Within a matter of three weeks, we saw each other several times even though the drive to my side of town is some 90 minutes. One reason is that, outside of writing, we have a love and appreciation for a lot of similar things. In our last gathering, we barely discussed writing and yet we had a great time because, after all, there’s more to life than writing. There’s life!
I’ve often advised emerging writers that, along the writing journey, it’s important that they keep their priorities straight and have a balance rather than obsess over their writing. What’s the use of having a great book if you have a lousy life? These days especially, having a great life can easily translate into a great book.
Janel lives in rural central Michigan surrounded by farm fields and wildlife, a community that has a yearly Corn Festival. Her family consists of her husband, a son, and a daughter. She has a plant named Hitch. She followed her intuition, started her writing career later in life but easily succeeded. She’s into things like energy healing, aromatherapy, malas, mantras, journaling, law of attraction, manifesting, energy crystals and smudging. She loves that her hair is turning gray, says that “Silver hair rocks!” and her favorite quote is by George Eliot: “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.”
Given her personality and involvement in spiritual work, Janel and I evidently also have many similar beliefs. Janel believes that the right thing to do is not always the easiest; the more one uses their intuition, the stronger it becomes; a person is in charge of the vibes that he/she projects into the world; we get what we focus on – thoughts become reality. And my favorite belief of hers – which I learned through my shamanic apprenticeship and which I’ve been teaching for years now – is “When I change the stories I tell myself about my life, I change how I live my life.”