Tag Archives: Janel Gradowski

Christmas with Cozy Mystery Characters by Gin Jones

cozyshortsFranki Amato from “Rosolio Red” by Traci Andrighetti
Ciao, y’all. Franki Amato here, coming at you for Christmas from The Crescent City. Because my best friend and boss, Veronica, is giving me time off from my PI job at Private Chicks, I’m staying in NOLA instead of going home to Houston for the holidays. What I’m not planning to do—watch my landlady, Glenda, dance in the senior stripper revue “Let It Show, Let It Show, Let It Show” at Madame Moiselle’s on Bourbon Street. What I am planning to do—cook up a special present for my sugarplum, Bradley (hint: It’s not a fruitcake!). Anyway, my mom’s calling, so I’ve gotta run. I sure hope everything’s okay with the family . . .

Aunt Stella from “Christmas, Spies & Dead Guys” by Jennifer Fischetto
Since I’ve been dead, I can’t enjoy the holidays like I used to. No more extra spiced eggnog or my sister’s awful, mushy asparagus. I guess the last one is a plus. I don’t mind too much though. Now I get my jollies in other ways. Like hiding the silverware right before dinner or putting rocks in my brother-in-law’s stocking. It’s the little things that make this ghost chuckle.

Amy Ridley from “Christmas Canapés & Sabotage” by Janel Gradowski
I’m Amy Ridley. I’ve lived in Michigan my entire life, so I’ve dealt with lots of cold weather. One of my favorite ways to stay warm is with a mug of hot chocolate. One of the simplest ways to make this yummy treat is to warm milk over low heat then stir in chunks of chocolate candy bars, like Hershey or Dove, until melted. You can customize it by adding in things like cinnamon, vanilla extract, a shot of espresso or even a bit of rum. Pour into a mug and enjoy!

Ambrose Tate from “A (Gingerbread) Diorama of Death” by Gin Jones
Call me Tate. I’m a retired lawyer, although my landlord Helen Binney keeps ignoring the “retired” part of it, dragging me into murder investigations. I’ve been thinking about inviting her to Christmas dinner with my extended family. Otherwise, I’ll spend the whole day worrying that she’ll get herself into trouble. On the other hand, I have to consider whether she’ll bring that trouble with her. Most people could safely enjoy a holiday event, but Helen couldn’t even judge a gingerbread house contest recently without almost getting herself killed. Maybe I could hire a bodyguard. Not for her. For my family.

Jamie Winters from “Motion for Mistletoe” by Kelly Rey
My daily life doesn’t change all that much during the holiday season. It’s still glamour all the time: traffic jams, layaway, and to-do lists. Especially to-do lists, memorializing things I’ll never find time to do or money to buy, or even my most heartfelt wishes, like a driver’s license for Maizy or a laundry accident that leaves Curt shirtless. Maybe it’s not my heart involved in that one.

Christmas wishes are the granddaddy of them all, and my wish this year especially is for peace, for you and yours, and for everyone. Happy holidays.

Bronwyn Sinclair from “Sleighed at Castle Rock” by Anne Marie Stoddard
Hey, y’all–Bronwyn Sinclair here with a major case of the humbugs. Amelia is out of town, and I’m helping Kat run a Christmas themed music festival and Battle of the Bands competition at Castle Rock–in July. My elf costume is itchy, the eggnog is curdling, and now someone’s slipped mistletoe in one of the judge’s drinks. It looks like it’s up to me to catch the culprit and send them jingle bell rockin’ all the way to jail before the festival is ruined. What would Ame and Kat do without me?

Barb Jackson from “The Blonde Before Christmas,” by Anna Snow
I’m Barb Jackson. Christmas is my favorite time of the year, the snow, the decorations, giving gifts, murder. . .

Okay, so the murder part isn’t exactly part of Christmas, but when you’re a private investigator, you never know what’s going to pop up of any given day. It just so happens that last Christmas, my best friend Kelly and I discovered the dead body of the local mall Santa. Let me tell you, that was one case I’ll never forget. . .

Tessie King from “Baby It’s Cold Outside” by T. Sue VerSteeg
Holidays are always shared with family. Unless I find myself frozen, quite literally, in my work. A raging ice storm and a packed house of cranky patrons stuck with me at the Royal Palace wasn’t exactly how I’d pictured my first Christmas at the helm. There just weren’t enough apple-tinis to go around. I was at least comforted to know that my BFFs were stuck with me, along with one hot, handsome snowboarder. Plans for a festive party to thaw out the frozen Christmas spirit get shoved to the backburner when someone tries to kill me by locking me outside in the storm. I suddenly found myself hot on the trail, you know, once I was able to move again. Was it wrong that I found a silver lining when the ruckus brought the hunky Fed back to town? Enjoy an apple-tini for us! Or two.


Cozy Christmas Shorts is a holiday short story collection, published by Gemma Halliday Publishing, September 2016.

Eleven holiday themed cozy mystery short stories by New York Times, USA Today, and National Bestselling authors! Short holiday bites perfect for enjoying while waiting in holiday lines or binge-reading over a cup of hot cocoa.

**The authors are donating a portion of proceeds from this collection to Toys for Tots!**

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About the authors
Traci Andrighetti is an enthusiast of luscious Italian liqueurs, risqué Italian recipes, and embarrassing family encounters, all of which informed the writing of her holiday story.

Jennifer Fischetto writes while staring at the multi-colored lights on her tree and envisioning snarky ghosts.

Janel Gradowski has spent almost every Christmas Eve stuffing herself with holiday treats at her family’s Christmas parties. The experiences provided some of the inspiration for her story

Gin Jones loves gingerbread, mysteries and cold weather, all of which inspired her holiday story.

Kelly Rey loves the first snow and the coziness of a long winter evening spent by the faux fireplace with a good book.

Anne Marie Stoddard loves holiday music and drinking cranberry mojitos that aren’t poisoned with mistletoe. Like Bronwyn, she hates itchy elf costumes and curdled egg nog.

Anna Snow is a wife, mom, lipstick junkie, and USA Today Bestselling Author of the Barb Jackson Mysteries.

T. Sue VerSteeg absolutely loves the glisten of fresh snow on Christmas morning. But it needs to be gone by the next day and replaced by sand, sun, and 80 degree temps. A Midwestern girl can dream, right?

All comments are welcomed.

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a digital copy of your choice of any one book published by Gemma Halliday Publishing and written by one of the Cozy Christmas Shorts authors. The giveaway ends December 25, 2016. Good luck everyone!

A Day in the Life with Sophie Florine by Janel Gradowski

Doughnuts and Deadly SchemesIt’s a little after 5 a.m. and the kitchen is already filled with the rich scent of dark chocolate brownies mingling with the yeasty aroma of whole wheat bread. I’m Sophie and I own Riverbend Café in Kellerton, Michigan. I’m a pastry chef and I couldn’t be more thrilled with how well my business is doing. What started out as a small coffee shop a year ago has expanded to a large, full-fledged café with a brand new catering division. All of my employees are wonderful, especially my friend Amy.

Amy is a bit of a star in our small town. She loves to compete in cooking competitions. There is a trophy case in her living room that is a testament to how well she does. When I decided to expand the café’s menu, to go along with the added dining space, Amy was my menu consultant. Then she signed on to be my early morning prep partner.

Every morning I look forward to chatting with her while I make bread dough. Amy is usually in charge of baking brownies and quick breads, like the beer bread we customize with things like cheese, olives or even roasted vegetables. After all of those things are in the ovens the baked doughnuts are next on the daily agenda. They have become the café’s most popular treat, selling out every day. In fact, Amy’s best friend, Carla, has requested those instead of a wedding cake.

Usually our pre-dawn chats are light and cheerful, but the conversations have turned darker lately. There was a murder across the street from the café at the menswear shop my boyfriend owns. Of course he’s upset over losing his business partner, but there are many more downtown businesses having problems. The summer shopping season, which is usually filled with happy customers strolling along the sidewalks in the sunshine, is off to a frightening start. Everybody is stressed out, even the police officer who is investigating the murder. He happens to be the fiancé of Amy’s friend. While Amy is helping plan the wedding, he’s trying to solve the murder before his honeymoon. I’m hoping the added incentive to solve the case quickly will lead him to catch the killer soon. Every morning it gets more difficult for me to pretend everything is okay.


You can read more about Sophie in Doughnuts & Deadly Schemes, the third book in the “Culinary Competition” mystery series, published by Gemma Halliday Publishing. The first two books in the series are Pies & Peril and Chicken Soup & Homicide.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 12 a.m. eastern on July 10 for the chance to win an autographed copy of Doughnuts & Deadly Schemes. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only. Winner will be notified within 48 hours after giveaway closes and you will have three days to respond after being contacted or another winner will be selected. Make sure to check your SPAM folder.

About the Author:
Janel Gradowski lives in a land that looks like a cold weather fashion accessory, the mitten-shaped state of Michigan. She is a wife and mom to two kids and one Golden Retriever. Her journey to becoming an author is littered with odd jobs like renting apartments to college students and programming commercials for an AM radio station. Somewhere along the way she also became a beadwork designer and teacher. She enjoys cooking recipes found in her formidable cookbook and culinary fiction collection. Searching for unique treasures at art fairs, flea markets and thrift stores is also a favorite pastime. Coffee is an essential part of her life. She writes the Culinary Competition Mystery Series, along with The Bartonville Series (women’s fiction) and the 6:1 Series (flash fiction). She has also had many short stories published in both online and print publications. You can stop by her website at: www.janelgradowski.com.

A Day In The Life of Carla Lance by Janel Gradowski

Chicken Soup and HomicideIt’s 5:00 a.m., but it’s dinner time for me. Or at least it is today. I’m Carla. I work in the ER at Kellerton Hospital, and I just got done working the night shift. There’s nothing like driving home in the dark on icy, snow-covered streets after working to patch up people who were in traffic accidents because of the ice rinks that double as roads on some days in Michigan. This winter has been particularly brutal in more ways than one.

I should be winding down, getting ready to go to bed soon. I’m filling in for a sick coworker, so I’ll need to go back to the hospital this afternoon. Like I said, I should be relaxing so I can get some sleep, but instead I’m drinking coffee and wolfing down double chocolate cookies made by my best friend, Amy. Apparently the recipe needs more work before she’ll consider it good enough to enter in any contest. Entering cooking contests is her hobby that leans more toward an obsession, but I can’t fault her for pursuing something she loves.

Amy is crazy in multiple categories. First of all, the cookies are fabulous. Better than many that I’ve had from bakeries. I’m sure they could win some kind of contest just as they are, with no further changes. Secondly, she’s standing up to the obnoxious detective who is trying to pin a murder on me. The man has the personality of a hungry grizzly bear…who’s hungry to put a fellow detective’s girlfriend in prison. Pitts has the classic, bad cop routine perfected, but Amy is fearlessly punching holes in his case against me. He got in a mental sword fight with the wrong person.

Some of her theories on who the real murderer is are rather creative, but there’s a decent chance she will figure out who the killer is. She did it last summer and even managed to play matchmaker at the same time. Now, rather miraculously, I’m still dating Bruce, a detective with the Kellerton Police Department. He would be able to solve the case if he hadn’t taken himself off of it because the victim was one of my former boyfriends. Just my luck that one of my past, dysfunctional relationships is messing with the first serious relationship I’ve had in years.

So I’m sitting here, filling up on sugar and caffeine, so I can stay awake long enough to call at least one of the sleuths that are on my side. Amy or Bruce could have uncovered a new clue while I was working. They’re both early risers, but even if one of them is up it would still be wiser to wait until they’ve had the time to get some coffee before dealing with my sugar-fueled desperation. Maybe I should switch out my coffee for milk, to give myself a better chance to fall asleep. But I know if anybody has any news, good or bad, I probably won’t be able to sleep anyway. Being a murder suspect is wreaking havoc on my already messed up sleep routine. Somebody needs to find the real murderer before I turn into an insomnia-induced zombie.


You can read more about Carla in Chicken Soup & Homicide, the second book in the “Culinary Competition” mystery series, published by Gemma Halliday Publishing. The first book in the series is Pies & Peril.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 12 p.m. eastern on March 27 for the chance to win an autographed copy of Chicken Soup & Homicide or an e-book–winner’s choice. The print giveaway is open to U.S. residents only. The kindle copy is open to everyone. Winner will be notified within 48 hours after giveaway closes and you will have three days to respond after being contacted or another winner will be selected. Make sure to check your SPAM folder.

About the author
Janel Gradowski lives in a land that looks like a cold weather fashion accessory, the mitten-shaped state of JanelGradowskiMichigan. She is a wife and mom to two kids and one Golden Retriever. Her journey to becoming an author is littered with odd jobs like renting apartments to college students and programming commercials for an AM radio station. Somewhere along the way she also became a beadwork designer and teacher. She enjoys cooking recipes found in her formidable cookbook and culinary fiction collection. Searching for unique treasures at art fairs, flea markets and thrift stores is also a favorite pastime. Coffee is an essential part of her life. She writes the Culinary Competition Mystery Series, along with The Bartonville Series (women’s fiction) and the 6:1 Series (flash fiction). She has also had many short stories published in both online and print publications.

Website | Twitter | Facebook

A Day in the Life of Amy Ridley by Janel Gradowski

Pies and PerilHello! My name is Amy Ridley. Welcome to my kitchen. Since it’s only 6:30 a.m., I’m willing to bet you haven’t had any breakfast yet. So, have a seat in the breakfast nook. There are applesauce muffins in the oven, a cream cheese coffee cake is almost cool enough to eat and the second pot of coffee just finished brewing. Welcome to my world of recipe testing and stress baking.

You may have guessed, I’ve been awake for awhile. It’s kind of hard to sleep when you keep receiving threatening notes. I prefer to collect cookbooks instead of death threats. Cookbooks are treasure chests full of tips and techniques that I can use to win a contest. You see, I love entering culinary competitions, from national recipe searches for the best brownies to the Kellerton Summer Festival baking contests. Competing in my town’s contests has always been fun. I’ve won quite a few trophies, but this year’s competition had a nasty surprise. As in a dead body nasty surprise. It was worse than tasting a rhubarb pie where salt had been used, instead of sugar.

The person that was murdered wasn’t exactly likable. The number of people that didn’t like her is longer than the ingredient list for an Oaxacan black mole sauce (about 25 ingredients). I may not be quite as sweet as buttercream icing, but I just can’t figure out why someone would want both of us dead. I take that back. I can figure out how we’re connected, but my ideas keep getting shot down for being too far-fetched. What can I say? My theories are as creative as my recipes…and I’ve made things like jalapeno corn bread with candied pecans. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the notes and I think best when I’m cooking. So here I am watching the sun come up and nibbling on my newest, potentially-contest-winning creations.

My best friend, Carla, will be here soon. She often stops in after working third shift in the emergency room. We have breakfast and chat, but usually about things much more mundane than murder suspects. She’s helping me figure out this mess. A big part of her help involves hanging out with a guy that is so hot I think he’s rated on the Scoville scale, the chart used to determine the heat level of chile peppers. At least I can be happy for her, even if my life is crumbling like an over-baked shortbread cookie.

Thank you for stopping in to chat with me. Here’s a mug of coffee. Let me get you a slice of coffee cake. The muffins will be done in a few minutes, so you can try one of them soon. Once Carla gets here, maybe you could help us brainstorm suspects. I really would like to stop stressing out and get back to normal. Remember how I said I cook when I’m under stress? There is so much food in the house right now I’ve been giving it away to visitors and neighbors. When you’re ready to leave, please remind me to give you a bag of oatmeal cookies and a loaf of date bread.


You can read more about Amy in Pies & Peril, the first book in the new “Culinary Competition” mystery series, published by Gemma Halliday Publishing. Books are available at retail and online booksellers.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 6 p.m. eastern on July 30 for the chance to win a copy of Pies & Peril. (US entries only, please.)

Meet the author
Janel Gradowski lives in a land that looks like a cold weather fashion accessory, the mitten-shaped state of Michigan. She is a wife and mom to two kids and one Golden Retriever. Her journey to becoming an author is littered with odd jobs like renting apartments to college students and programming commercials for an AM radio station. Somewhere along the way she also became a beadwork designer and teacher. She enjoys cooking recipes found in her formidable cookbook and culinary fiction collection. Searching for unique treasures at art fairs, flea markets and thrift stores is also a favorite pastime. Coffee is an essential part of her life. She writes the Culinary Competition Mystery Series, along with The Bartonville Series (women’s fiction) and the 6:1 Series (flash fiction). She has also had many short stories published in both online and print publications.

Website | Twitter | Facebook


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