Saturday, August 8, 2015

Valorena Online Launches Crowdfunding Campaign for the Second Title in the Cocoa Kids Collection©

On Tues., August 4th, Valorena Online launched its second Indiegogo Campaign to kickstart funding and publication of the children's title, Eddie and the Hot Cocoa Hot Rod©. 

The campaign seeks to raise $5,000 to fund publishing costs associated with the project. 

The book, written by Valerie Williams-Sanchez and illustrated by Brooklyn Russell, is the second in the Cocoa Kids Collection book series that puts multicultural and minority kid characters center stage in tales of adventure, learning and fun.

In addition to the goodwill donors will feel for supporting a worthwhile cause, those who give will also get acknowledgment, with gratitude, in all Valorena Online, L.L.C. and Cocoa Kids Collection© marketing, including mention in a Valerie's Vignettes post, the company's blog and newsletter, as well as in all project social media and traditional promotional marketing, including press and media releases. Perks for giving also include:
    The Indiegogo Campaign is live, NOW!
  • The Winner's Circle --  includes your name on the dedication page where a special, thank you message will be part of each and every copy of the new title, Eddie and the Hot Cocoa Hot Rod. This perk also includes a signed copy of Isaiah and the Chocolate Mountain©, The Emotion Commotion© workbook and art pack, and Cocoa Kids Collection stickers/button -- $500.
  • Cocoa Kids Collection Tool Box -- includes signed copies of Isaiah and the Chocolate Mountain© and Eddie and the Hot Cocoa Hot Rod©; the Emotion Commotion workbook and art pack, Hot Cocoa Kids Collection© stickers or pin -- $150.
  • Pole Position Pairing -- includes signed copies of the two books: Isaiah and the Chocolate Mountain©, and Eddie and the Hot Cocoa Hot Rod© -- $80.
  • Signed, Sealed, Delivered -- It's Yours! Included you'll get a signed copy of the new book, Eddie and the Hot Cocoa Hot Rod© -- $40.
  • Eddie's Cocoa Crew Thanx -- will include and acknowledge you as a member of Eddie's Pit crew for your donation  of any value up to $20.
The campaign runs 45 days, culminating September 18, 2015, and is the second crowdfunding effort, sponsored by Valorena Online. 

The first such crowdfunding effort successfully raised just over $1,145, (11% of the goal) which fueled the the publication of the first Cocoa Kids Collection© title, Isaiah and the Chocolate Mountain©.

Targeting readers ages 6-8, the book series looks to provide prosocial narratives, images and imagery which serve to reinforce positive socializing agents that can counter the negative emotional impact to the youngest Americans, adversely affected by the recent flood of negative news stories nationwide in which Black youth are often vilified or victimized in increasing incidents of police violence. 

"In the era of #BlackLivesMatter, it is imperative that minority youth, of all ages, be able to look around and see positive, life-affirming images of themselves in our culture," said the book's author, Valerie Williams-Sanchez. 

Coincidentally, the Indiegogo giving drive runs concurrent to the one year anniversary of the Michael Brown shooting in which an 18-year-old, black youth was fatally shot by Ferguson, Missouri police officer, Darren WilsonThat shooting incident and others similar to it involving black youth including Trayvon Martin and Tamir RIce, have spurred the rise of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, a civil rights awareness campaign which calls for the end of race-based, police violence. 

The Cocoa Kids Collection© of books and "Emotion Commotion: Healthy Communications workshop" all incorporate messaging that is pro-school, pro-family and personal responsibility, and seek to help kids better understand their worlds.  #AllKidsNeedBooks!

Saturday, June 27, 2015


Contact the locations listed for reading times. Additional dates are anticipated. 

July 2015
Saturday, July 11th: Marabou Creative Concepts in Education, Laguna Woods, CA

May 2015
Saturday, May 2nd: A Nu Toy, 16 Main St., Tarrytown, NY

Tuesday, March 5th: Nyack Center Afterschool Program, Nyack, NY

April 2015
Friday, April 17thA Nu Toy, 16 Main St., Tarrytown, NY

Saturday, April 25th: *Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, Pulitzer Hall Library, 116th & Broadway, NY 

Tuesday, April 28th: Nyack Center After-school, Nyack, NY

* Isaiah and the Chocolate Mountain® appears on the 
Columbia University, Alumni Bookshelf

Media Inquires, contact: Valerie Williams-Sanchez at (714)654-6453
Valorena Online, L.L.C., P.O. Box 180, Palisades, N.Y. 10964

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Surviving Through Storytelling, Leaving Learnings, Legacy and Love.

My visits to the care home in which my father spent his final days were never easy.

My father was far from perfect,
but the love and lessons he imparted
 are forever cherished.
Struggling with closing arteries, and the associated complications, he somehow, regardless of how his health had turned, always managed to greet me with a kind word and a loving smile. “Hello Princess,” he’d say with all of the warmth he could muster. To which, I’d respond flatly, “hi, Daddy.” My response was tainted by the overarching incredulity I harbored that he could continue to be so warm and loving in the face of such misery. We both managed to maintain brave faces despite the adversity.

During our visits, I would update him on his granddaughter’s progress in grade school, often bringing her report card for him to examine. Her math and science grades were of particular interest to him, a former aerospace electrical engineer, who would inevitably have some congratulatory or constructive remark to make. Other times, I’d read him bits of the newspaper, and we’d speak of what was new and news worthy. During our best times, he would share his stories.

As his condition deteriorated, our visits became more and more difficult. During one of our later visits, upon preparing to leave, I said, “I still love you, Daddy.”
“Why?” he’d replied, skeptically, punctuating his response by raising his chin. I knew this time it was he who struggled to believe my words. I answered without hesitation, “Because you’re still here.”

They were among the last words we spoke to one another. He died days later, finally succumbing to the increasing challenges of failing health.
Isaiah's birthday goes  terribly wrong.

Today, years after his passing, my words still hold true. Truth was, I hadn’t been speaking of his location when I’d praised him for being around, something I am sure he understood. Rather,  I was speaking of the enveloping love, the values, moments and memories he left with me, things which remain with me even today.

My father was far from perfect, but the love and lessons he did impart are forever cherished.

These are among the things that inform my writing. As much as Isaiah and the Chocolate Mountain® is a fanciful farce, a fictitious tale of a little boy’s disappointment over a dud birthday gift, the story is an expression of love, a graphic illustration of things hoped for and values I hold dear: family, community, love, self-reliance, independence and ultimately, forgiveness.

I once told a colleague who was going through a difficult time, writing is how we writers give order to our world. When things and the world around us get nuts, writing offers a means to control the chaos, a means to create order. In writing, and through imagination, each one of us can create things that are yet to be, never were or will be. Engaging one’s mind in the act of storytelling and creating, working through details, characters and plot twists, these acts command our full attention, fortifying us against external attacks.

Through storytelling, we heal ourselves, dream of worlds and conjure realities that often serve as life rafts that sustain us through stormy times. Through writing, too, we can revisit people, places and times of comfort, wholeness and love.

From Gyo Fujikawa's
 "Oh What A Busy Day"
In reflecting on the completed work, Isaiah and the Chocolate Mountain®, I see this clearly.  My creative impulses, my choice of simple drawing that are content-rich recall the fullness and diversity of imagery in one of my favorite childhood books, Gyo Fujikawa’s Oh What a Busy Day! I spent what seemed like hours pouring over the book’s water-colored pictures of children in all hues depicted with round, expressive, cherub-like faces. And so it is no surprise that I would choose Brooklyn Russell’s illustrations, images which to me echo the Fujikawa’s style.

In Isaiah and the Chocolate Mountain®, I dedicate the story to “my family for always providing rich fodder and loads of love in support of my writing on this project, and in life.” Taking that dedication further, the work raises up the name of my father, Isaiah Williams, my family and the values he spoke to his children to “keep the family together.”

Ultimately, reading the story is meant to create moments of family togetherness, moments I hope will be cherished and remembered.

Storytelling,  writing and reading, is a gift to share with children. The only thing I would like more, would be to see and hear my dad reading my book to his grandchildren: my daughter, Lorena and my nephew, his namesake, Isaiah. In his absence and in the spirit of paying that love forward, I bring to you and your family Isaiah and the Chocolate Mountain® and the coming titles in the three-part, Cocoa Kids Collection, with the hope that they will become books upon which you and your children will look back and remember, with love.  V~

Eddie and the Hot Cocoa Hot Rod© Revs Up to Take Pole Position in The Cocoa Kids Book Collection.

“Cars that are big and cars that are small, minivans, sports cars, I like them all. Cars that race and cars that roar, the louder their engines, I like them more.” Eddie and the Hot Cocoa Hot Rod©, the second book in the "Cocoa Kids Collection," is coming!

Daydreaming about cars and racing gets Eddie into trouble at school in the new book, Eddie and the Hot Cocoa Hot Rod©. Read how Eddie's hard work, perseverance -- and chocolate -- help him make the grade, ushering him in to a very esteemed winners circle!

Presented by Valorena Online, L.L.C., "Eddie and the Hot Cocoa Hot Rod©" is written by Valerie Williams-Sanchez, and illustrated by Brooklyn Russell. The hardcover book is anticipated for winter 2015.

Follow's board Cocoa Kids Collection on Pinterest.