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Bringing Dark History Into the Light

Steve Zimcosky Author Interview

Hanging Cloud follows a PI that tries to find a missing man and ends up uncovering a multigenerational conspiracy that leads to threats on his own life. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

In the past I had read about the government’s attempt at assimilating Native Americans into a lot of the urban areas in the United States. When I did the research I found out what their real intent was and felt that it needed to be shared, so I created a way to use it as part of the plot in the story. Many people have no idea that this even took place back in the 1950s. As it states in the book the whole intent was to get the Native Americans off their reservations so they could sell the land and also the hope of having them intermarry so they could just eliminate all Native Americans. It’s a part of our history that is kind of kept in the dark.

Tom Sipowicz is a great detective that captures the interest of readers. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

I wanted someone who had grown up with adversity in school but had a wonderful family life. He found his calling by being a Military Policeman and later a Cleveland Police Officer and then a detective. His martial arts training keeps him in shape and the character building that comes along with that training is invaluable to him both as a police detective and a private investigator. He’s the type of person that would give you the shirt off his back but not someone you would want to cross.

How did you decide on using the Native American Community as a focus for your novel?

A while back I had read an article about a man who grew up in a very loving family, had a great education and career. He later found out that he was adopted and that he was a Native American. For some reason, the article had popped into my head when I was looking to start another book and I thought that would be a great plot for a story.

What kind of research did you have to do to make sure you were accurately portraying the Native American culture?

My research involved checking out various websites and double-checking everything that I found to make sure it was as accurate as possible. A few years back I had met some Native Americans through another person and learned quite a bit from them as well. That helped me in writing the book and trying to keep it as close to reality as possible. The Native American Community has a lot to offer if people would just listen to them when they speak about their lives and what goes on in their communities. Their way of looking at the world makes sense.

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When the father of a local sports legend disappears the Polish Dragon P. I. and his partner Suzie are hired to find him. What they discover is the father’s true identity on his birth certificate and they also uncover a heinous crime that was perpetrated against the Native American Community.

Simone LaFray and the Red Wolves of London

Simone LaFray and the Red Wolves of London, by S. P. O’Farrell, is the second book of the Simone LaFray Mysteries. Simone is a twelve-year-old spy for the French Ministry. After finding fame at the Chocolatiers’ Ball, Simone tries to fade into the shadows. But while she is attending school, a mission comes up. She goes undercover in London to find a missing junior spy, the OmniKey and gets entangled with the notorious Red Wolves. Among doing schoolwork, she questions her loyalty and helps her father open a second patisserie shop in London. Add in that the most popular boy in school has noticed her, and Simone has a lot to contend with.

As the second book in the series, the story stands independently. O’Farrell excellently wove enough information from the first book into this one to help readers understand the world and the backstory. Like other children’s series, this one has links to previous books and hints at new books, but each book is its own complete story that can be enjoyed.

I like that Simone is the awkward neurodivergent girl who is suddenly thrust into being famous. In order to find out the information she needs to find the missing spy, she has to socialize with people she normally would not. While uncomfortable she finds a way to get through the situations, showing courage and growth along the way. Twelve is a challenging age to find yourself and deal with middle school. She goes through the normal ups and downs of any twelve-year-old, including homesickness. Being a spy makes this even more challenging as she has more secrets to keep than normal kids her age.

Simone LaFray and the Red Wolves of London is a middle-grade mystery that is well-written and entertaining. Staying true to a twelve-year-old’s life while adding in the mystery of the missing junior spy will make this an entertaining book and a favorite for children.

Pages: 248 | ISBN : 1953021360

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Hanging Cloud (Polish Dragon P. I.)

When a sports celebrity hires Tom Sipowicz, of Polish Dragon P.I., to find his missing father, the protagonist of author Steve Zimcosky’s Hanging Cloud commences an investigation that will see him working to uncover a wide-ranging conspiracy against the Native American population of Cleveland. As the American government, the Catholic church, and a local medical practice are all revealed to be colluding together, Sipowicz finds himself embroiled in a cruel scheme that stretches back to the mid-nineteen hundreds and ripples through generations to the modern-day. Facing threats from old friends, Sipowicz learns about American history, and about his own family.

Hanging Cloud by Steve Zimcosky can be described as short, sweet, and simple. This mystery novel is written for middle-grade readers and up. From very early on in the story, the reader can quickly work out what has happened, the greater question that Tom Sipowicz must solve is how it has happened. In this respect, Zimcosky does an excellent job providing the necessary information required to solve the intriguing mystery, while withholding the vital links to put the pieces of the puzzle together into a whole that can be understood. Just like Tom Sipowicz, the reader quickly becomes aware that someone is lying, and they join Sipowicz on his investigation to discover exactly what, or who is amiss.

The mystery is straightforward and the author does not make it too challenging to follow the clues, which makes this crime fiction story perfect for young adults that are just getting into the mystery genre. The pacing is done well and keeps the storyline moving without too much extra information, allowing the reader to focus on facts and not get overwhelmed.

Hanging Cloud is a creative mystery novel that combines elements of historical fiction and Native American culture into the plot. This well-written novel writes about the Native American community with respect for their culture and beliefs, using facts to enhance the story. Middle-grade and young adult fans will enjoy this light-hearted mystery that takes readers on a stimulating journey to reveal the truth.

Pages: 202 | ASIN : B09MC5CH2P

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Peeps in Bloom

Isaac is in a new school, making new friends, and carrying an old secret. As he is trying to settle into his role as the boy trying to get noticed on the first day, he makes a couple of discoveries. First, there could actually be a witch living in his new neighborhood, second, he just might have made friends with the school activist. Meg, intent on saving the school’s courtyard, has enlisted the help of her friends, including Issac, and is determined to preserve her favorite part of their school environment. Isaac, willing to help but fighting his own battle, must figure out what is going on with himself before he can help anyone else.

Peeps in Bloom, by J.D. Suhre, is the story of two friends both facing their own very different obstacles but simultaneously solving their own little mystery. Suhre has included several parallel plot lines to capture young readers’ attention and keep them guessing throughout the book. Told in chapters that alternate between the first-person points of view of the two main characters, Suhre’s story offers two unique perspectives of the same plot.

Isaac’s problem is a tricky one. While it is difficult as a parent to watch him face his own health issue virtually alone, I am sure this is a dilemma experienced by many children daily, especially at this upper elementary/middle school age. In fact, his apprehension in telling anyone about his strange episodes reminds me of the story of Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes. There is a great lesson to be learned from both stories, and Suhre touches on a hard reality with Isaac’s storyline.

I was pleasantly surprised at the turn the story takes when it comes to rumors of the witch in the neighborhood. There are so many ways a plot like this one can take; it was refreshing to see the way Suhre incorporated Mrs. Peekers into Meg and Isaac’s stories. As an adult reader, if I had an aha moment, young readers are sure to experience a thrill when they realize the truth.

Peeps in Bloom is a short creative novel geared for upper elementary and tweens. It carries within its pages some difficult lessons and wonderful examples of what strength, determination, and courage can do. Young readers will benefit from taking this journey with Issac and Meg.

Pages: 126 | ASIN : B09R1ZDN46

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Be Patient!

Tuula Pere Author Interview

Circus Cannelloni Invades Britain follows the Cannelloni circus family as they take a much-needed vacation. What was the inspiration for your story?

After I had written the first Circus Cannelloni book, I felt that I had created an extraordinary world with its unique characters. I had spent so much time with that bunch of people that they had become my friends.

This circus crowd was so much alive to me that I almost believed it would continue living on in some imaginary world, even if I no longer wrote about them. So, I couldn’t just leave these circus people, as I wanted to be involved in their lives in the future, too. Besides, the circus is fun to travel with, wherever they go.

I simply couldn’t resist the temptation to place the events of the next book in unusual settings for circus people. So, I built an environment where special situations would make them use their abilities in surprising ways. I also created conflicts with traditions and these more free-spirited persons.

Traveling to the United Kingdom with my circus was already on my mind when I wrote the first Cannelloni book. I hinted at that as I described the friendship between the Cannellonis and a famous tennis master in connection with the charity performance. In this new book, I had a good reason to take the circus crowd to meet this tennis legend at his home. From there, my thoughts set off, and I began to maneuver my troops to face some famous events and traditions in Britain.

It was fun to contrast the atmosphere of the boarding school with the principles and behavior of the Cannelloni couple. There were many other inspiring confrontations; the clowns’ way to play tennis in Wimbledon, a circus rider’s wild race in Ascot, the circus director’s speech at a high-level academic seminar about his leadership practices.

In general, I find it inspiring to look at things from different perspectives. When we are traveling with Circus Cannelloni, there is an excellent opportunity for that!

Your characters all have unique names. How do you select the names of your characters?

Inventing names for the characters is a lot of fun. It is an opportunity to reveal something about the persons’ background, personality, or hidden features. It can also suggest something you can expect to happen later. The name may be practical, sophisticated, humorous, either compatible or inconsistent with the person. It can already tell you something about what’s coming. Maybe I’ll give you some examples.

The names of the Cannelloni family reflect their Italian origin – and point at the lovely Italian cuisine that nourishes both body and soul. The strongman’s name, Budo von Bismarck, carries some strength from “Iron Chancellor” from history, although Budo’s strength is much kinder and more cooperative. Snake woman, Cleopatra has a charm like her predecessor in Egypt. The boarding school headmistress Patricia Highhopes represents her school’s high goals for education. Some financial terms have influenced the name of the bank president Benjamin Everbond; and the snobbish professor Anthony Hemp-Nettles – well, he needs a snobbish name!

In Finland, we say that people cannot be judged by names unless they make themselves infamous. In my Circus Cannelloni books, the characters’ names are meant to be friendly little reminders about diversity and inclusion, too.

Will you be writing any more books about Circus Cannelloni?

I think it’s most probable. In any case, the Circus Canneloni lives its own life in the depths of my imagination, as if it were real. At some point, I will undoubtedly have an irresistible desire to jump on the road again with them.

Two exciting adventures are already tempting me as a writer. I can reveal that one might take place in the world of mass media and movies, and the other one in politics. And I can assure you that in both worlds, the circus crowd makes most unexpected things take place.

Besides, I have a big dream related to the Circus Cannelloni books. Right from the beginning, I’ve seen the stories just like movies in my mind. I’m probably crazy and trying to reach the skies, but I think these adventures would fit perfectly into films or animations. They would make awesome and kid-loved cartoons either as a movie or a series.

Like Madame Rosita, too, I want to think that nothing is impossible if you do your best and you can persuade others to join in!

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

This question makes me feel downright nostalgic. I have written a lot and for very different purposes during my life. As a child and young adult, I have written fairy tales, poems, and plays at school and in my free time, too. I also sent my texts to a local magazine. When the other pupils complained about the difficulty of getting started and the dread of a blank paper, I was full of enthusiasm for every new writing task. There were years when I also wrote several pages in my diary every single day.

Then came the time for my law studies and various tasks in the business world, and I had to write a lot of important and impressive texts. There were also years when I wrote my doctor’s thesis in law. All these were, of course, quite different things compared to fairy tales.

I freed myself from previous professional constraints when I dedicated myself to storybooks a dozen years ago. With my imagination, I threw myself back into the same freedom I felt as a child.

At times, I still ponder what I would have accomplished as a children’s writer if I had started earlier in that field. But I’ve realized, however, that all those years of working with other things were necessary. I needed to face all those assignments and take care of various writing tasks to develop as a person and a writer.

Those were the years for preparing to become an author. Without that exercise and accumulated experience, I wouldn’t write in the same way as now. I hope my books reflect something about a lifelong effort as an avid reader, writer, legal scholar, business executive, mother, wife, and grandmother, too.

To my younger self, I would say: Be patient! Take good care of every writing task that comes your way and keep on writing various texts. All this experience is useful when you write stories for the children later!

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook | Website

The Circus Cannelloni’s finances are looking up, for a change. It’s time to go on holiday together. This motley crew embarks on a trip to England, where they are joined by the Cannellonis’ grandchildren.
The circus crew manages to stir up confusion and fun at a famous horse race, a tennis tournament, and a boarding school run by a tight-lipped headmistress. Mr. Cannelloni gets a chance to lecture at a prestigious university while Madame Cannelloni’s determination wins over even the toughest of opponents.
Many things have changed by the time the circus returns home–with a happily engaged couple and a newborn elephant baby.

Leaving My Comfort Zone

A.G. Flitcher Author Interview

Boone and Jacque: The Brothers’ Odyssey follows three teenage friends as they try to find their way back home; along the way, they must search for and find their lost companion while facing unknown dangers. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

I do a month or two of reading, ground work and research for every book I write. For this installment of the series, I researched autism because I wanted to make sure the character, Flint, wasn’t Hollywoodized in terms of the symptoms of Autism. I watched VR simulations of what it’s like to have autism. Mini documentaries and TED talks showing the continuing and evolving study of this neurological disorder. They say there is no definitive answer to where the disorder came from. And no cure. But there is Applied Behavior Analysis. Which is exemplified in extensive research, therapy and even television. I also watched the show Atypical. A Netflix series focusing on a teen character named Sam who has autism. Throughout the series, his symptoms become more focused in terms of where he is on the spectrum.

Outside of research, I incorporated memories from family vacations. These are quite rich in detail, so if anyone would like to hear about them, I am working on a Youtube series called Stories with AG Flitcher. Where I tell stories about my life that inspired scenes and elements of relationships in this ever evolving series. Nevertheless, I will share two things. The different types of environment came from my experiences being at the Mediterranean Sea, Red Sea and the miles and miles of desert in between Cairo (the capital) and whichever destination my family and I arrived at.

One story that I didn’t film that inspired a long walk in the Dolov desert, was the time my family and I were stuck in the middle of a desert for 9 hours. The car had a flat tire and finding a tire repair shop was hard to find. It was 45 degrees Celsius, no shade, dry and the backseats had no seat belts.

Lastly, the characters being casted away from the town, is a mirror symbolic moment of me leaving my comfort zone to find my truth as a writer and human being. Leaving the comfort of routine, familiarity, safety nets and doubt was necessary because it meant I had to find what scares me and face it head on.

What character did you enjoy writing for? Was there one that was more challenging to write for?

I would say I enjoyed writing for Flint the most because I’ve worked with people who have autism, heard stories from friends who work primarily with children with autism, and interviewed parents with children who have autism. Hearing and seeing the community of autism helped me to see what it was like to be wired differently than the neurotypical person.

However, the most challenging character to write for was Boone. Because Jacque is far more wise, and therefore his journey is different in terms of growth. Shammy is Boone’s guiding light to growing up. I didn’t want Boone to be exactly like me or grow up like me. My readers, who know me personally, say he is similar to me. So in book 3 and 4, I have him grow to be someone far more courageous yet lost than I am. In addition, he doesn’t develop the same personality as me when he becomes my age.

When you first sat down to write this story, did you know where you were going, or did the twists come as you were writing?

I’m unconventional when it comes to developing plot points. I come up with a rough storyline and then start writing. In fact, for book 4, I stopped writing a rough storyline because I didn’t know whether or not there was going to be a book 5. Which there will be.

For this book though, book 2, I did structure it a little more but not the plot twist. These books take me typically 6 to 8 months to write while I work a full time day job as a maintenance worker at a zoo. So while I’m working, I daydream about plot twists. Therefore giving me the same surprise as the reader. When I revise I’ll add details and tweak plot twists to my liking, but not knowing what they are ahead of time keeps it fresh.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I’m working on book 4 of the series, Cytrus Moonlight. It will be out late 2022. I also wrote what I call “writing doodles” on the keynotes app on my phone for book 5. In which it will take place on a fantasy island that has creatures and trees representing the main characters regrets and fears. The only way they can escape is if they confront them and see fear as an important emotion that helps us do better in life. The tentative title for book 5 is Grotto Island.

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Boone, Jacque and Shammy have been casted away to a wasteland under King Reeve’s control. In which they must find Flint on their journey back home. Even though the repercussions could be disastrous and heartbreaking. What is much worse, and far more unpredictable, is the kind of home they could be coming to.

It Is About Enjoying Life

Tuula Pere Author Interview

Mr. Cannelloni’s Circus follows the members of a declining circus as they enact a plan to save it and prosper. What was the inspiration for your story?

Years ago, I originally made a career in big companies in various senior executive roles – nothing to do with children’s literature but heavy industry instead. My duties also included managing large numbers of people. That experience is connected to my circus books, as strange as that may sound!

It was interesting to follow how companies operate in different industries with different products and clients. Still, my main observation was the significant impact of the “human factor” everywhere and at all levels of business activities. It is the people who make the company successful or not. Companies are often like small towns or villages – depending on the scale of the activities.

The community action – success or failure – always comes to individuals; how things work out, how problems are solved, how capacity and skills can be utilized. It has always been my motto that behind every role, there is a human being with individual motives and abilities, hopes and fears.

In my other capacity as a legal scholar and former corporate lawyer, I recently have written a long article about the effects of these human factors even in large contractual arrangements of big projects. And indeed, they were in my mind when I wrote Mr. Cannelloni’s Circus and, later, the second book in the series Circus Cannelloni Invades Britain.

The personalities, in particular, involve my own life experience, including my childhood in a small village in the countryside where everyone knew each other. Some of my features have been included. I am an eager cook and baker and share the results with my family and friends in the same way as circus chef Andrei. It’s my pleasure to gather people at a long table for good discussions and show my love in that way. This part of my life is also reflected in the circus books, as the friendly Andrei is always ready to feed the circus personnel in any circumstances and listen to the joys and sorrows of other people.

Madame Rosita is an interesting character that will surprise readers. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

Madame Rosita was somewhat of a surprise to me, too. Before starting a book, I always have a preliminary idea of ​​my characters and their role in the story. But sometimes, the actors become very real and take over. They want to be something, do something as if they had a will of their own. I like that a lot because then I know my charters have turned into actual individuals! This metamorphosis happened for Mrs. Rosita, the wife of the circus director. The actual Rosita stepped out as a determined leader of the troops in a demanding situation.

It was also important for me to bring out Rosita’s background piece by piece, explaining what she had become to the reader. The woman’s humble background, previous roles in the circus, and her great longing for beauty help to see in her more than just the lazy director’s wife enjoying luxury. Beneath her vain surface, there is also a warm heart and a lot of determination.

I always find it interesting what kind of skills people can have – both visible and hidden. In many cases, abilities are asleep unless there is demand or opportunity to use them. Sometimes the obstacle is the environment that belittles or discourages the individual. Sometimes the persons lack motivation or don’t believe in their abilities.

I enjoyed writing about how Madame Rosita realized the dramatic situation and her role in saving the circus. She also understood that chaos needed a leader like her. She had all the keys required to motivate the others, too.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

The circus provides an excellent background for writing about issues related to the relationship between the individual and the community. It’s a net of different nationalities, personalities, and skills. In my book, there are people of very different backgrounds, strengths, and weaknesses. Every person – and animal – needs to support each other to perform well together.

Collaboration is essential in human life because none of us will survive alone, even if we would like to think so. There are periods and situations in life when our strength is scarce, and the help of others is needed. The roles of helper and helped person can change in the circus of life, and surprises are inevitable. The more flexible and empathetic we are, the better the cooperation!

And cooperation is not just about fulfilling responsibilities – it is about enjoying life! Combining different people with various skills together can be a lot of fun at its best. Finland has a long tradition of unofficial teamwork among relatives and friends –even in whole villages working together in the country. The community has worked together on the field, built a road or fence, or painted the cottage. After the task is done, there might be time for good food and some celebration together. That’s what the people in my circus do.

To make life human for everybody, the individuals must understand and tolerate each other. We need to be aware of both our differences and our similarities. This creates a working balance when it’s combined with respect for each other.

It’s also good to avoid too hasty conclusions about other people without knowing them. Surprises can be found beneath the surface if you take the time to explore.

When you first sat down to write this story, did you know where you were going, or did the twists come as you were writing?

I had a lot of fun writing a book about Cannellon’s circus. It felt like I was involved in their incredible adventure and traveled with the circus people – even finally crossed the Alps. What a journey it was!

It was almost weird to reach the point when the characters I created started to decide for themselves what to do and where to go. I knew the true events roughly, but many surprises came up. The adventure also took me with it. Just like I was there to watch events. I turned my gaze to different places and saw what was happening around me, like in real life. Sometimes the characters objected to my plans and unexpectedly wanted to do something independently. I listened to them, and we had an unforgettable journey together!

Some of the twists and turns of the story surprised me, too—likewise some of the people. Madame Rosita, in particular, revealed abilities and determination that I did not know at first. She manifested to me how she wanted the story to develop in some special turns. She grew into an actual power figure in the circus.

It was fun to notice that as the story progressed, new beginnings opened, some kind of side stories and ideas that I later took into account in the events of my next Cannelloni story. The circus characters became so dear and familiar to me that I have already published another book – Circus Cannelloni Invades Britain – about them.

The following books are already developing in my head – I can hardly wait to begin writing again.

The circus music is already echoing in my ears.

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Mr. Cannelloni’s circus has been operating for generations—ever since his great-grandfather started it one hundred years ago. But with ticket sales dropping and the circus equipment falling into disrepair, the future of Cannelloni’s Circus looks bleak, especially when a strict special inspector arrives to look things over.
Luckily Mr. Cannelloni’s wife, Rosita—once a daring tightrope walker—has some new bold stunts in mind. With the help of a snake woman, a strongman, daredevil horsemen, and other circus performers, Rosita launches “Operation Hannibal.” Will her risky rescue plan be enough to save Mr. Cannelloni’s Circus?

Boone and Jacque: The Brothers’ Odyssey

In The Brothers’ Odyssey, written by A.G. Flitcher, Boone and Jacque have been sent to another realm with their friend Shammy. Boone, Jacque, and Shammy know they must not stay still for too long in any place as danger follows them. The children search for Flint, who was separated from them earlier. Not knowing what treacherous paths are ahead, they go out into the darkness. Surviving an ocean, trees, sokas, and King Reeve, the trio manages to make their way back to Saddleton, or what is now known as New Saddalia.

The Brothers’ Odyssey is a phenomenal novel. This second installment in the series is even more exciting and thrilling than the first novel. This second book answered many questions that readers were left with at the first novel’s end. This epic fantasy novel is creative and has many unexpected twists and turns. It will keep readers guessing even more than the first novel. Flitchers great imagination takes readers into a world that is original and full of surprises. The action-packed story flows smoothly with little time for readers to catch their breath before another surprise or twist is revealed.

The wasteland realm A. G. Flitcher created where Boone, Jacque, and Shammy were transported will really come alive in readers’ minds. The detail written into the story made it very easy to make the words turn into images. For example, there is a scene where the ocean is turned into oil that is incredibly vivid.

In the last novel, readers were looking for Boone to explore his feelings more in-depth, especially those for Shammy. He was able to do that in this book. Shammy was also able to figure out her feelings for Boone as well. Jacque really seemed to be wise beyond his years in this book. He explored his own emotions and dealt with them while finding out about his family. This book tied up all the loose ends from the previous book. It will also leave readers wanting more.

The Brothers’ Odyssey is a riveting epic fantasy novel filled with adventure and action. Middle school, teenagers, and young adult readers will enjoy this fantasy adventure with some mystery mixed in.

Pages: 263 | ASIN : B08KRMFVRJ

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