Valerie Whetstone is a teacher, sought after motivational speaker and an expert on mindset. She’s also the author of a brand-new children’s book Oh No, Riley! I had the privilege of sitting down with Valerie to chat about her first picture book.
MIRIAM LAUNDRY: Hi Valerie! Congratulations on your new children’s book. Can you tell us a bit about it?
VALERIE WHETSTONE: Oh No, Riley! is for children aged three to eight years old. However, I think many 10 year olds would enjoy it.
I started writing my book in pieces in 2018. I would literally speak into my cell phone because at the time I was not able to write due to neurological issues … I had to teach myself how to write again by forming each letter of the alphabet. Thank goodness I was a kindergarten teacher and knew how to form each letter.
I would speak stories into my phone in segments as I was laying in bed, until I literally was so exhausted that I couldn’t even hold up my phone. In hopes that one day, I would be able to publish my own book or at least my family could take my phone and publish one of my stories. I would pray each night to be healed so I could achieve my dream and make a difference in this world.
ML: Wow, that is an incredible story. I can’t imagine how it would have felt to have a story idea brewing inside without being able to write it out. Thank goodness for technology! What inspired you to become an author?
VW: Since I was a teenager I have wanted to write a children’s book. I just kept saying to everyone that someday I will write a children’s book. I have such a passion for kids and teaching that I wanted to write a book for kids to learn through a context of love and joy. I also teach my coaching clients that you are not a product of your circumstances, rather you are a product of your decisions. It’s about not letting your fear decide your future, so I wanted to lead by example and take a leap of faith.
ML: That leap brought you to Publishing Mastermind, didn’t it?
VW: Yes. I joined the Publishing Mastermind because I knew if I had the support that I could accomplish my dream of becoming a children’s author. Plus I could not let another year of my life pass by, and not start my book. I literally saw my life pass before me after several near death experiences, and the one thing that kept arising was…“No, I can go yet, I haven’t written my children’s book”. So today my launch day is a very big day for many reasons. I am alive and I am celebrating with my family and friends that I am a children’s author. Thanks be to God!
ML: It’s so lovely to hear how this program has helped you accomplish that dream. You are truly inspiring, Valerie. Did you have any favourite parts of this journey?
VW: My favourite part of the Publishing Mastermind was knowing that I was going to become a published children’s author within a year! The joy that I felt just thinking about it brought a huge smile to my face. I was like can it be true? Yep! I am actually doing it! Happy Dance!
It can be overwhelming to start on such a huge undertaking but by breaking down all the steps, I was able to follow your lead. You have such a calm demeanour which was very refreshing because my colleagues and I were usually stressed, and you were so reassuring that it would all work out. Each month you’d ask us what our goals were and hold us accountable. It was great to have a schedule with deadlines to stay on track and a team of support to help me achieve my goal, and fulfil my dream of becoming a children’s author. I loved being in a supportive, like-minded group to share our talents, to learn and watch us all grow together.
I am so grateful to have the support of the Publishing Mastermind cheering my colleagues and I on every step of the way. Through the Publishing Mastermind, I have made friendships I will treasure forever.
ML: That is so kind of you. I’m glad Publishing Mastermind could provide that for you.
VW: Yes, I am learning many different strategies to market myself that I would've never thought of before or was even confident in doing. Becoming an author has allowed me to use my voice and start letting people know about me and my mission. It felt really strange at first saying, “I am a children’s author”. However, when I was at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, I saw a sign on the wall at a sandwich place that forever impacted my life. It read, “The answer is always NO unless you ask”.
So as I was walking with my walker through the airport with my family, I saw some children’s books on a small shelf in one of those stores where you get water, magazines, etc. I was like, “Oh my gosh, I wonder how I can get my book in this store? How cool would that be?”
“Where are you going, Mom?” my son asked me as I eagerly approached the counter and asked to speak to the manager. My youngest son and husband were standing back looking at each other saying, “Oh my gosh what is she doing?”
I not only got the business card to that store but to all the other airport stores we visited on our trip. I will be having a book signing in the airport. How cool is that? I am grateful God is teaching me how to find opportunities.
ML: Way to go, Valerie! You’re right. It can be hard to put yourself out there, but practice makes perfect. Did you face any other challenges as you wrote this book?
VW: My biggest challenge was having the energy and time to write. My health was not good when I started my book. I was lucky to have one hour a day to even look at a computer screen! I was having daily seizures and my brain felt scrambled.
However, I felt so strong about becoming a children’s author that I found a way to make it work. Each day I would set a timer for 10 minutes and talk into my phone. I just said whatever came to my mind. Somedays, it was just brainstorming ideas. The hardest thing was stopping. I wanted to keep going but I physically couldn’t.
My husband even bought me a sign that says, “Whatever you do today, let it be enough.” I took baby steps each day and kept focussing on my goal. It was hard but I believed in myself. On my bathroom mirror it says, “When you believe in yourself anything is possible!” I am so grateful to have the support of my husband, my two sons, my friends, you and your team to give me the support to keep on going!
ML: We’re happy to help, Valerie and it’s incredible to hear all of the challenges you overcame while writing and publishing Oh No, Riley!. Why is the message in this book important to you?
VW: My intent for Oh No, Riley! was originally to bring smiles and joy to children’s faces but as I continued to develop my story my message became stronger and more clear. I decided to connect the story to my own life of overcoming obstacles and believing that “I can” even when things were hard. I started wondering how I could take all the challenges I have gone through in my own life and turn it into my superpower. I started seeing the benefits of how a positive mindset and powerful daily affirmations can help you overcome challenges in your life.
Therefore, I really wanted to share what I have learned with children, but I wanted to make it fun and lighthearted. I truly believe if we start teaching kids at a young age how to re-pattern their minds from their negative thoughts such as, “I can’t” to more positive empowering thoughts such as “I can” then they will become more confident for their entire lives. It just grew from there.
I went from a simple dream of publishing my first children’s book to now being on a mission to empower over 100,000 kids to believe in themselves and that anything is possible!
ML: That is such a great goal. And remember, you CAN do it! Before we sign off, is there any advice you’d like to share with any aspiring authors out there?
VW: Always remember to show yourself some grace; you are learning and growing. Pace yourself, you’ve got this! If you truly believe and want your book out in the world, it will happen!
If I can do it, so CAN you! Take the time and invest in yourself. Follow your heart and accomplish your dreams.
ML: Thank you, Valerie.
Watch the Full Interview:
Valerie is a teacher, sought-after motivational speaker, Silicon Valley’s Top Life and Wellness Coach, founder of Doorway to Transformation, and an expert on mindset. She is the international best selling co-author of “Short, Sweet and Sacred” and the best selling co-author of “Soul of Success” with Jack Canfield. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.
Valerie’s mission is to promote positive mental health in children. She has partnered with the Unstoppable Foundation to make a larger impact and help change the future.
Valerie is available for school visits, teacher presentations, private coaching and writing workshops. You can email Valerie at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with her on social media.