Interview with Alinka Rutkowska, Author of Maya & Filippo Make Friends in Auckland

Alinka Rutkowska

Alinka Rutkowska is a “Reader’s Favorite” Five Star Picture Book Author. She writes the “Maya & Filippo” Book Series for Children – travel books for kids with a positive attitude. She takes inspiration from her own travels while cruising with her husband and daughter around the world. She is positive, appreciative and happy 95% of the time and during the miserable 5% she thinks to herself quickly: “things always work out for me” and they do.

Alinka’s doesn’t really have a “to do” list but she does have a “fun things to do” list. It usually consists of writing, reading, reading her writing, writing in her diary, blogging, reading other blogs, commenting, breathing deeply, meditating, feeling the warmth of the sun on her skin, closing her eyes, breathing some more and thinking what a wonderful world she lives in.

Sometimes she takes a few minutes to pause and instead of doing something from her “fun things to do” list she just daydreams a little. She thinks of all the great things that she wants for her to happen and imagines how wonderful it will feel to be interviewed about them in the future. She’s already preparing the answers to those interview questions in her mind. She especially loves the part, in which she says that she achieved all these things because she spent a considerable amount of time visualizing them first.

Alinka loves to ski while listening to music at the same time, she enjoys an occasional glass (or bottle) of Barolo with dark chocolate, she loves cuddling with her husband and daughter. Alinka really likes tea, especially that last sip which is usually the tastiest.

Alinka blogs daily at www.mayafilippo.com for parents, travelers and authors. She loves to connect with like-minded individuals on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/mayafilippo), Twitter (https://twitter.com/AlinkaRutkowska) and Linked-In (http://www.linkedin.com/in/alinkarutkowska).
Alinka’s books are available through her Amazon Author’s page at http://amzn.to/1eQNlcZ

When did you begin writing?

In primary school. As a school girl I used to carry a notebook and I would fill it with poems of my own production, whenever I felt inspired. I think I might still have it somewhere:) I was also founder and editor of the school newspaper. I loved writing and publishing since I remember. I wrote my first published work in 2010 and it was an incredible success! I still haven’t quite figured out how that happened but I sold thousands of copies in the first months after launch. That was the moment that I decided I had to quit my corporate job and think what I really wanted to do in life. After a few years of searching what my life’s purpose truly is, the Maya & Filippo picture book series were created. It’s now a brand and I am very excited about it.

Do you write during the day, at night or whenever you can sneak a few moments?

I’m a mom and a writer. In that order. This means that I can write when my daughter is asleep. I always make sure that I’m undisturbed, centered, relaxed and that I have a clear mind. I usually spend several days (or weeks!) letting the idea for the book marinate in my head and when the right moment presents itself, I pour it all on paper (or screen!). A picture book is only about 1000 words long and it takes me about an hour to write it. It’s a very intense hour – I usually type like crazy with only brief pauses to read what I wrote. That’s how the first draft is born.

What is this book about?Maya & Filippo Make Friends in Auckland

Maya & Filippo Make Friends in Auckland is the first of the Maya & Filippo series and it’s about two children discovering the world on a cruise ship. They explore both the sights and the world inside their minds. They dock in Auckland (New Zealand) and have a rough morning, they then go to see the city and notice a very strange thing – the more positive they are, the better their day becomes. They soon take advantage of this new law and make sure that some amazing things happen before the sun sets.

What inspired you to write it?

Back in 2011 I stepped out of my comfort zone, quit my corporate job and took off for the other side of the world – New Zealand. I was all by myself and I soon noticed that the better my attitude was, the better my experiences. I took advantage of this knowledge. I went on a cruise expecting the best and it did turn out to be the best decision of my life. I met my now husband on board and now we cruise together around the world. This gives me plenty inspiration for new Maya & Filippo adventures.

Was the road to publication smooth sailing or a bumpy ride?

I had already published several books in the past so this was smooth sailing. The challenge was to find a reliable team. It took me a while to find passionate people to work with. It’s important to me that they care for these books, for the characters and the philosophy they convey. Luckily, after a few months of searching everything is in place now.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

Maya & Filippo Make Friends in Auckland is available on Amazon (http://amzn.to/IszTxo) and in any major book store. I’m also very active in promoting this book to libraries, book stores and tourist centers in Auckland and I will soon be able to announce that you can get it there. There’s one more thing and this one is huge – it might still be confidential and I’m not sure if I can tell, but one of the big cruise lines will be carrying my titles in their on board boutiques. That for me is a dream come true!

Do you have a video trailer to promote your book? If yes, where can readers find it?

Yes, I think that video trailers are a great addition to an author’s marketing campaign. Here’s my video for Maya & Filippo Make Friends in Auckland http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zWUZbn8vb7A

What is the best investment you have made in promoting your book?

The best investment was a review copy I gave as a gift to a Vice President of one of the biggest cruise companies. She wrote back to me saying that she LOVED the book and wanted to sell copies on board. Sometimes a small gift goes a long way! The truth is that I give out plenty of review copies – to anyone who would write a review in exchange. I send my books out to people who have a large following and can make an impact on sales. I also like giving my books to friends who have children. I give, give, give! And then every now and then – I get back big time.

What is up next for you?

Writing, publishing and promoting. I love what I do and I want to do more of it. I will be writing more Maya & Filippo episodes.

The first batch to be published will be books from my travels in New Zealand:

Maya & Filippo Play Chef at Sea
Maya & Filippo Look for Happiness in Tauranga
Maya & Filippo See Impossible Things in the Garden City
Maya & Filippo Learn about Careers in Dunedin
and Alaska:
Maya & Filippo Talk Business in Seattle
Maya & Filippo Look for Whales in Ketchikan
Maya & Filippo Visit a Glacier
Maya & Filippo See Things Differently in Skagway

I’ve already written these and the artwork for the covers is also complete, so they will all have been published by mid 2015.

I am now going to Hawaii and I will definitely not come back empty-handed. I think I will also include a few European ports in my future books. We are talking about 2015-2016 here.

Each book requires copy-editing, illustrations, coloring and graphic design. I have a team of people with whom I work closely to get each book ready for publication. After that I spend my free hours spreading the word out. I want this series to get to people who will appreciate it and that’s a full time job!

Maya & Filippo banner 7

Katrina and Winter: Partners in Courage by Nancy Stewart

Read the inspiring story of a young girl who finds a special friend and goes on to become a role model for others.

Katrina and Winter: Partners in Courage by Nancy Stewart is the authorized biography of Katrina Simpkins. Born with a birth defect, Katrina walks with the assistance of a prosthetic leg. But she yearns to be a normal girl. On a family trip to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium in Clearwater, Florida, Katrina discovers Winter, a dolphin who was fitted with a prosthetic tail after being caught in a crab trap. Katrina’s relationship with Winter soon evolves into a way to help others with special needs.

Nancy Stewart and I have worked together to promote the first two books in her Bella and Britt picture book series. Here, the award-winning author turns her attention to non-fiction, sharing the inspirational story of Katrina Simpkins. You can read a post here that shares how she came to be the writer for this authorized biography.

This is such a wonderful story, which is complemented by stunning photographs. The reader watches as Katrina evolves from a shy child to confident young lady who has inspired many. I especially enjoyed the close relationship between Katrina and her sister, Sara. It’s touching to see how much her sister believes in her.

I had only heard a bit about Winter’s story before this book. It definitely made me want to learn more.

Kids of all ages will enjoy this moving story.

Rating:  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Available in hardcover, softcover, and PDF.

  • Hardcover:24 pages
  • Publisher:Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc (April 25, 2012)
  • ISBN-10:1616332425
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616332426
  • SRP: $19.95
  • Paperback:24 pages
  • Publisher:Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc (April 25, 2012)
  • Language:English
  • ISBN-10:1616332433
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616332433
  • SRP: $11.95

I received a PDF copy of this book from the author. She paid me to promote this book with a virtual book tour through Pump Up Your Book. That fee did not include a review. I received no monetary compensation of any kind to share my honest opinions.

Special Guest Suthep Srikureja, Author of The Traveler

Today’s special guest is Suthep Srikureja, author of the children’s spiritual book, The Traveler.

The Traveler is about Dreams and Wishes…it’s about Expressions and Wonder and about Hope and Trust.

It is a Story of the Stars and it seeks to inspire awe in our everyday existence and optimism about the future.

“How Do You Spell ‘Write’ Anyway?” by Suthep Srikureja

Thank you for having me here today.

Do you think writing is hard? What should you write about? Do you want to be a Writer one day?

How do you spell “Write” anyway?

Let me tell you how I spell it…”W R I I T E’…. Now before you say that my spelling sucks, let me tell you what I mean, and let’s start with:

W : Write

The best way to be a writer is to simply Write. Sit down, pull out a sheet of paper and pen, or turn on your computers and simply…start. I often hear people saying things like “Oh, I would like to write one day but I am so busy. I can never find the time…” or “I used to be pretty good at this. I’m sure I can do it.” or ” I would like to write but I think I would totally suck” …and so on. Yes, these arguments may make sense but it really does not matter. Good or bad, talented or not, if you want to do it, you have to DO it.

So take action. There is no substitute.

R: Relax

All right kids, take a deep breath in. Now breathe out. Again. And again. How do you feel?

The thing is if you are tense or stressed out about anything you do, whether it is your school work, or sports or even your social life, your performance will suffer. Or you will suffer. OR both. And that doesn’t make sense. It’s the same with writing. Don’t go crazy and don’t be scared. If you relax into the process of writing, you will be more effective. And you will enjoy yourself too.

I: Ideas

What to write about? Where do ideas come from? The answer is from Everywhere. From your mind, from other people, from books, from movies, your pets, from nature. There are stories all around us. Try to be observant, try to notice things. The way someone walks, the way the cat hides and pounces, the way your friend’s shoe laces keep getting undone, the way the moon and the sun play hide and seek with one another…Keep doing this and pretty soon you discover that you now have way too many ideas. What do you do? How do you manage them? The best way is to write them down. They don’t have to mean anything and they don’t have to lead anywhere. You may never use these ideas. But you have to catch them. For if you don’t they will pop like bubbles and they will be lost forever. I have a little note book that I carry with me everywhere and I call it my bubble catcher. I write everything down. If nothing else, I take it out and read it when I’m bored. It’s a real fun thing to do.

I: Inspiration

Some days I find myself looking for inspiration. So what I do is I open my note book, my bubble catcher, and I look through it. I read it slowly and suddenly one of the bubbles starts to try to catch my attention. Some are nice and polite and they say ‘please’ and some are a little aggressive and they catch hold of me. Either way, I start with one or more of these ideas and then see where they lead me.

T : Trust

Some writers know exactly the type of story they are going to write. Everyone has their style, everyone has their method. I can only tell you my way. For me everything I write is an adventure. It might be a funny sort of a journey or it might be a magical mystery tour or it may be a discovery trip. It could be a short story or it could be a long book. While I do know what end result I am looking for, I don’t force it too much. I know that my stories want to be written as much as I want to write them, and so I often let them be the driver. In that sense we are like partners and we create the stories together. That takes a lot of Trust. Trust in myself and Trust in my story.

E: Expression

You must express yourself sincerely. If you try to copy someone else, or you try to write about some topic simply because it is the fashionable thing to do, you might not be able to do as a good a job. But if you express your story in your own way, you develop something that writers call “Voice” which the reader will be able to “Hear”. It may be a little hard at the beginning to find what style you’re most comfortable with but it comes with time. So write and express what’s in your heart and you cannot go wrong.

And that’s how I WRIITE.

How about you?

Thank you.

Suthep Srikureja lives in Bangkok with his wife and three children. An entrepreneur and a writer, he can often be found immersed in various bodies of water. The Traveler is his first book.


You can find out about Suthep and his book at http://www.mettavisions.com/

Faith and Fiction in Children’s Literature by Dixie Phillips (Guest post & Giveaway)

Today’s guest blogger is Dixie Phillips. She is on a virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book Promotion to discuss one of her newest releases, One Noble JourneyMake sure you read to the end of this post to find out how you can win a copy of One Noble Journey.

My husband and I have been in fulltime ministry for nearly thirty years. We have discovered even on the best days – life can be difficult. Parents are weary of hearing bad news and long to escape the pressures from the daily grind. They fear for their children’s future and crave an infusion of hope. An inspirational book has the power to transform the mundane into paradise and become an important building block in their child’s faith.

In 1988, our church started a Christian school. As we began training the students, we understood in order for them to experience optimal spiritual health they needed appetizing “soul food.” Force feedings were never beneficial. We realized rigid rules without a healthy relationship would breed rebellion in a child. They needed to laugh often and be loved unconditionally. Blending faith and fiction in children’s literature is another way we can pass our beliefs along to our children. The characters of a story can be chiseled on the heart and conscience of a child; shaping their small souls and causing them to embrace timeless truths from God’s Word.

Every day children are bombarded with conflicting messages and destructive images. Parents cannot afford to be silent, but must be proactive and provide positive character-building literature, which will nourish the child’s spirit and help replenish relationships, encourage significant conversation, and foster a vibrant faith in the heart of the child.   

I believe the seeds of influence from my children’s books – Angel Eyes, Stubby’s Destiny, One Noble Journey, Baby Jesus is Missing, and the children’s books I write in the future, will live longer than I do, produce a harvest of wisdom and help ignite a blazing faith in the hearts of children, which will change a generation and time my eyes may never see. 

Dixie Phillips began writing seasonal plays for children in 1987. These delightful programs have been published by Abingdon Press, Standard Publishing, Eldridge Publishing, Evangelizing Today’s Child and Gospel Publishing House. One of Dixie’s children’s books, Stubby’s Destiny, was awarded the 2008 Best Children’s Animal Story by Books and Authors. Guardian Angel Publishing has released Angel Eyes, One Noble Journey and Baby Jesus is Missing. Cinderfella and the Furry Godmother and Stilts the Stork will be released in 2010.

Dixie also has a passion for writing God’s truths for adults. She has contributed to an award-winning devotional book and has ghostwritten books on marriage, health, poetry and personal testimonies. She is currently a topical curriculum writer for Randall House. Dixie is a pastor’s wife of more than 30 years. She and her husband, Paul, have four grown children and have served the Gospel Lighthouse Church in Floyd, Iowa, for 28 years.

You can learn more about Dixie’s books and the Phillips’ ministry by visiting www.floydslighthouse.com.

To see where Dixie stops next on her virtual book tour, visit http://virtualbooktours.wordpress.com/ every weekday in December between now and December 16th.

ENTER TO WIN A COPY OF ONE NOBLE JOURNEY BY DIXIE PHILLIPS!!!

HOW TO ENTER:

1) Comment here with your working email address so that we can contact you if you win.

2) Get one additional entry for blogging about this contest. Leave a comment here telling us where you blogged about it.

3) Get two additional entries for tweeting about this contest. Don’t forget to let us know here that you tweeted!

This giveaway will run from today until 11:59 p.m. (Eastern) on December 31st. A winner will be announced in early January.

This contest is open to residents of the United States and Canada only.


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It’s Not about Me by Michelle Sutton

Note: This is the first book I have reviewed here that is aimed toward an older teen audience. As such, the content of this book is of a more mature level than what has been previously discussed at this blog.

Annie has a charmed life: she’s beautiful, graduated from high school with honors, has been accepted at the college of her choice, is surrounded by family and friends who love and support her, and has a handsome steady boyfriend. 

But one night, her perfect life is shattered and everything changes so quickly she’s not sure which way to turn.  Caught between her boyfriend and his brother, both of whom claim to love her, Annie is torn as to who she should choose to be with while trying to heal from the event that altered her once easy life.

Will she choose Tony or Dan? And will she finally truly come to know the One whose love will never fail, even in her darkest hour?

What a powerful and moving debut from young adult author Michelle Sutton.  Dealing with such topics as false Christians, pornography, peer pressure, alcohol abuse, and pressure to engage in sexual activities, It’s Not about Me meets teen readers right where they are, tackling issues that they come up against on a regular basis.

This first book in Sutton’s  A Second Glances Series, gets readers thinking, “What would I do in this situation?”  This book’s strength definitely resides in its well-developed, strong, often complex characters whose personal battles and desire to do God’s will is as challenging as understanding the world around them.  And while admittedly faith plays a significant role in this book, I wouldn’t say that the reader would need to be a Christian in order to enjoy reading It’s Not about Me.  Most of the issues the characters are dealing with affect all teens, regardless of belief system.

The second book of this series, It’s Not about Him is also available.  I look forward to reading that one soon.

With It’s Not about Me, Sutton delivers an edgy and entertaining story that young adults will devour with zest.

Rating:  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Publisher: Sheaf House Publishers 
  • ISBN-10: 0979748518
  • ISBN-13: 978-0979748516
  • SRP:  $12.99



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