Janel Gradowski is a wife and mother who lives among the farm fields in Freeland, Michigan. She has been a stay-at-home mom for the last 12 years, but has an Associate in Desktop Publishing from Delta College. She decided she wanted to be a writer in the fifth grade after her story about a talking car received glowing reviews from her classmates and an A grade from her teacher.
After the birth of her second child she began making jewelry. Soon after she began designing beadwork and had her first pattern published in an international beadwork magazine in 2004. Since then she has had over a dozen patterns published in magazines and online. In 2010 she switched her writing focus back to her first love, fiction. She enjoys writing micro, flash and short stories. She can often be found writing with her Golden Retriever, Cooper, napping nearby. You can find pictures of Cooper and observations on life as a writer at her blog: http://janelsjumble.blogspot.com/.
If you haven't had the opportunity, do read Janel's winning entry, A Relationship with Food, then join us for our interview with her.
Interview by Jill Earl
WOW: Hi Janel! Welcome to the Muffin and congratulations on your win! How did you develop the idea for A Relationship with Food?
Janel: I am thrilled to be a runner-up! It’s an honor to be recognized with so many other fantastic writers. A Relationship with Food came about because of a combination of two things. I love culinary fiction. I actually have a bookshelf, which happens to be overflowing, dedicated to culinary fiction books. I decided to try my hand at writing a food-centered story. At the same time I had also read a story where lists played an integral part in the plot. I loved the list idea and challenged myself to incorporate grocery lists into a story.
WOW: As a die-hard foodie, I loved reading your piece and enjoyed how the grocery lists showed the course of the character’s relationship. A clever way to create a story, and you definitely rose to the challenge! Can you tell us what your daily writing routine looks like?
Janel: During the school year, I write while my kids are in school. I’m working at setting up a writing space in the basement that I can retreat to this summer. I find that I write best in the late morning and early afternoon, after my morning coffee has kicked in. The weekends are family time, so I usually take the time off from my writing.
WOW: It’s so important to have a dedicated place to write, so here’s hoping you’ll get that writing space finished. Looks like you’ve got a good work-life balance going, too. And I’m there with you on the coffee jump-start---love that miracle liquid! Moving on to writing influences, what tools, books, authors or styles inspire you?
Janel: I am a writing book junkie. My favorite chair to write in sits next to a bookshelf full of writing books. On Writing by Stephen King, Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott and Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg are classics and you can’t go wrong following the advice in these books. A few of my other favorites are The Power to Write by Caroline Joy Adams, A Writer’s Book of Days by Judy Reeves and Thinking Write by Kelly L. Stone.
WOW: Those are some great selections from your writing book collection, thanks for sharing. Let’s talk a bit about your writing history, starting with your return to fiction writing in 2010.
Janel: When I was in the fifth grade I wrote a story about a talking car. My classmates liked the story so much they asked the teacher to read it twice. I was hooked, but life got in the way and I never seriously pursued my writing. In 2002 I found a new hobby that I enjoyed, beading. I quickly started designing my own beadwork patterns and soon set my sights on publishing those patterns in beading magazines. My first pattern was published in 2004. I turned 40 last year and had a sort of writing mid-life crisis. While I have enjoyed the creative and technical challenges of writing beadwork patterns I decided to return to my first writing love, fiction. Writing in short forms - short, flash and micro fiction, is now my passion.
WOW: From writing beadwork patterns to writing fiction---that’s quite an interesting path towards publication. And your passion for short fiction definitely shone through your winning entry, good work! Now you’re a member of She Writes, an online community. For readers who might not be familiar, can you tell us about your experience with them?
Janel: She Writes is a community for women who write. I have found some wonderful writers who I now consider friends because of She Writes. There are many active groups within the community where you can connect to everyone from flash fiction writers to mothers who write and even book bloggers. I recently participated in a blog hop organized by one of the groups and I was delighted to meet so many new people as we all visited and commented on each other’s blogs.
WOW: You’ve inspired me to check them out myself, Janel. Can you tell us what projects you’re working on?
Janel: I would love to have a short story collection published. I have several ideas for themed collections that I want to explore. I will most likely go with a small press or e-publisher. I have even been researching self-publishing e-books, but I haven’t decided to go that route yet.
WOW: Sounds wonderful, good luck with everything! Wrapping things up, what’s some of the best writing-related advice you’ve received and what advice would you like to leave our readers with?
Janel: You have to write if you want to be a writer. I think if you spend time with your writing, really try to hone your craft, you will succeed. Good writing will find an audience. Write the best stories that you can, then find the courage to submit your work. You will never be published if you don’t submit anything. Be courageous and don’t take rejections personally. Rejections happen to EVERY writer. Mourn a bit, if you want, and then move on. Tenacity and resilience are good qualities to adopt if you truly want to succeed as a writer. Most of all, enjoy writing. If writing makes you happy, it will show in the quality of your work and success will follow.
WOW: Such wise words, Janel, thanks for encouragement we all can use! Many thanks for chatting with us today and best wishes with your writing!