Treasure Hunt Blog Tour: Banana Muffins & Mayhem, by Janel Gradowski


This week I am starting my blog post with a banner image and posting a day early, because I am taking part in the treasure-hunt-type blog tour organized by my friend Janel Gradowski in honor of her 5th mystery novel being published from her culinary competition mystery book series. Go congratulate her! You’ll find in her blog post the schedule of the blog tour as well for the rest of the stops, and the Rafflecopter widget to enter her giveaway.

Read the guest post, then see the book description and the treasure hunt clue for the secret word below!


Facing Your Fears

Being a fiction writer is a wonderful career, but it isn’t all about making up characters and giving them life dilemmas to deal with. A writer does far more than have conversations with the people who only exist in her mind. One of the most important things that any writer can do is face her fear.

Fear comes in many forms for authors: fear of rejection, fear of criticism, and fear of blank pages are just a few of them. The thing is, these fears – in whatever form they manifest, can have a detrimental effect on careers. How you can ever be published if you are too afraid of rejection to submit your manuscript to a publisher?

So I make it a point to face my fears and go past them. Sometimes that means running at them head on, and other times it means carefully stepping around. A recent encounter with another writer taught me a valuable lesson in fear. If you don’t let it stop you, great things can happen.

I am a big fan of Elizabeth Gilbert, who wrote the blockbuster hit “Eat, Pray, Love”. Her most recent book is called, “Big Magic”. It’s far different than her tale of traveling to exotic countries. While “Eat, Pray, Love” was her journey to finding a life that is perfect for her, “Big Magic” is a guide for helping others find and hold onto their creativity. There’s even some very good advice on fear (you have to work with it, not against it).

During the winter I discovered that Liz was coming to Michigan as part of her “Big Magic” book tour. I immediately made up my mind that I would go see her. The venue was a two hour drive away, very near Detroit where the nearest freeway exit resembles a plate of spaghetti because of all of the entrance and exit ramps. A scary driving experience since I live in the countryside between two towns that have collectively three stoplights total. But I bought a ticket for myself the day they went up for sale.

First I convinced my husband, who knows the metro Detroit area well because of his work, to drive me to the church where the event was being held, if I didn’t go with a friend. Then I posted on Facebook and talked with friends, trying to find someone who would go with me because I was apprehensive about going alone. (By apprehensive I mean I was afraid. The big, old, nasty fear monster thrashing around.) Nothing worked out, and so I had to face the fact that I would be going to a three hour workshop surrounded by literally thousands of strangers. A bit of a nightmare for a person who leans toward being shy and introverted.

But I never once thought of not going. It wasn’t the price of the ticket. It was the fact that I was going to get to be in the same room with one of my literary heroes, to hear her speak about creativity – the lifeblood of my writing career. The night before the event, suddenly all of the knots of fear loosened and I knew everything would be okay. It occurred to me that maybe I was meant to go alone.

The next day, after creeping through the traffic jam caused by so many people going to the workshop, my husband dropped me off. I checked in then walked into the auditorium. For some reason, the woman who entered right in front of me asked me to sit with her, even though her friend was coming. We struck up a conversation, then ended up talking a lot more throughout the workshop. Because, guess what? One of the first things Elizabeth Gilbert did was request that people who had come with friends move so that they were sitting next to a stranger to do the creativity exercises with.

I made a new friend that day. She even hugged me at the end and thanked me for sharing my stories of my life as a writer with her. I also wrote a letter to my fear, which was another part of the workshop. It was such a moving experience to be in an auditorium full of people who were facing their fears because they wanted to live a life full of creativity. I’m very glad I didn’t let my fear of going alone stop me from attending.


Book Description

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000031_00001]Culinary competitor Amy Ridley is as excited as anyone in Kellerton, Michigan to have DIY Home Improvement star, Phoebe Plymouth, come to town for the first annual Cabin Fever Cure event. However the TV personality’s sour attitude quickly curdles people’s opinion of her. When she’s found dead, at the business owned by Amy’s husband, Alex, the heat is on to catch the killer before his professional reputation is ruined!

When Amy seeks help in preparing for a vegan baking recipe contest, she also finds assistance from an unlikely team of sleuths who want to help her catch the murderer. But things go from bad to worse when Alex and his business suddenly suffer a series of less-than-random attacks. Are the murder and attacks related? Amy vows to figure it out before her and her husband’s lives are ruined… or ended permanently!

Purchase the e-book from AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboSmashwords, or the print book.


The Treasure Hunt clue for Life’s a Stage is: !

Collect all of the letters to spell out the Treasure Hunt word then use it to gain extra entries in the Grand Prize giveaway. You can find all of the blog tour stops and enter the giveaway at


janelMore 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 find her via her Website, sign up for her Newsletter, or follow her on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, and Goodreads.


11 Responses to “Treasure Hunt Blog Tour: Banana Muffins & Mayhem, by Janel Gradowski”

  1. I’m delighted to be visiting Life’s A Stage! Thank you for being a part of my blog tour!!

    • Thank you so much for coming over!

      I really liked your guest post, and since you sent this to me a while back, you gave me the nudge to keep my fear in check; to not think twice about going to a concert this month and just buy the ticket and worry about getting there afterwards ;) It was SO worth it!

      • Yay! Those sort of jumps can be scary, but also thrilling once you decide to step off the “edge”. Cheers to being brave!

  2. Thank you for your article on facing one’s fears… I understand that often the ‘unknown’ in meeting someone, going to a new place, or doing something by oneself can be too much to overcome. That’s when BFFs — husbands — are my lifesavers.
    Thanks for joining in on the fun giveaway.

    • It was fun having Janel over, and the topic was the best she could’ve chosen!
      You are very right, it is in these situations that BFFs and boyfriends/husbands are our lifesavers :)

  3. ! thanks !


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