12 minute read

Grant Leishman

Celebrate the Little Things

Regular readers of this magazine will know that in my last article I focused on life in the pandemic and more specifically in lockdown. I want to somewhat continue that theme in this piece. Most of all, what I want to impart to readers is the absolute necessity at this time of embracing the here and now – the reality — and celebrating the little things in your life.

I remember reading recently that a thunderstorm is neither good nor bad, it’s just a thunderstorm. Similarly, a relationship or a job is neither good nor bad, it’s just a relationship or a job. It is how we react, how we feel about everything that happens around us that makes it good or bad – for US. What I want to focus on today is the idea that if we celebrate the little things in life, our attitude changes to some of the bigger things.

You may remember I was describing how my wife Thess had rediscovered her joy of gardening over the time of this lockdown. Now, for me, dirt is dirt –I don’t want to touch it, I don’t want to mess with it and I certainly don’t have any desire to scrabble around in it planting various types of flowering or vegetable plants. It simply doesn’t ring my bells and whistles – it doesn’t make my heart sing, so to speak. However, this is definitely a case of “Vive La Différence” when it comes to Thess. Nothing, it seems makes her happier than pottering (literally) around her beloved tiny piece of ground which is liberally scattered with pots of every variety, shape, colour and form. She is incredibly inventive when it comes to discovering new receptacles for her beloved seedlings. No longer do we throw “cuppa noodle” cups out. “They’ll make perfect pots for my little plants,” she says. Cut off plastic bottles, old drink dispensers, troughs, half coconut shells have all been pressed into service to hold her evergrowing plant varieties. It makes me immensely happy to see her out there, the sun on her back, talking softly to her babies (when she thinks I’m not looking, of course). God forbid if you happen to be a predator – she is out there at all hours, torch in hand, looking for those pesky slugs and snails that might munch on her precious leaves. Which brings me right back to the point of this article – GRATITUDE. Yes, we are going through a real test of our mettle right now; 2020 did not turn out in any way like we might have hoped or planned for. I would lay odds that anyone in a job interview in 2015 who was asked; “where do you see yourself in five-year’s-time,” would definitely have got the answer wrong.

Despite my abhorrence of gardening as a hobby, I am big enough to allow myself to revel in Thess’ successes no matter how small they are at this time. Recently she told me one of her plants was

like eating (not a fan of eggplant myself). I’m not sure if she has planted any cheeseburger bushes or better still a pizza tree but if she has, I’ll be first in line to sample the harvest.

I know it’s a hard time, and sometimes it seems like this pandemic will never end, but if you focus on the little things, laugh together and enjoy your day you will keep yourself sane and those around you will be infected by your enthusiasm and not the virus. To everyone struggling out there, I send you a massive virtual hug and the hope that you can find something to grin about today, something to chuckle about and all things being equal, something to laugh out loud about. I am alive, I am with some of the people I love and I am so grateful for my life. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

flowering and we would start to see the fruits of her labours shortly. I didn’t exactly scoff at the time although I may have whispered under my breath, “I’ll believe it when I see it.” Well, now I have seen it and it’s truly magnificent. Her eggplant is growing rapidly. I was stunned to discover that you can actually see the growth and change on a daily basis. It’s still way too small to consider harvesting (as you can see in the photo) but it is growing and it is growing rapidly. Thess is so proud of that one little fruit – the first of many and I am so proud of her for the way she has taken to this gardening with passion and love. I look

Grant Leishman is a fifty-nine-year-old full-time author and editor, domiciled in the beautiful island of The Philippines. After careers in finance and journalism, Grant fi-

nally found his true bliss in life, writing. He is happily married to Thess and they have two daughters, Rose and Angeline. Discover more about Grant on the Mom's Favorite Reads website


Val Tobin

End the year off with a great book. Val Tobin is here today to tell you about her series, The Valiant Chronicles. The stories are chock full of paranormal experiences.

About the Series Title: The Valiant Chronicles Location: North America Country Setting: Canada Genre: Sci-fi Thriller/Supernatural Thriller Audience: Adult Time period: 2016+ Tell us a little about The Valiant Chronicles . The Valiant Chronicles is the complete set of existing Valiant Chronicles stories. It includes The Experiencers (book one), A Ring of Truth (book two), and Earthbound (prequel). Earthbound: A spirit refuses to cross over and becomes earthbound when she discovers the shocking conspiracy behind her death.

The Experiencers: A black-ops assassin atones for his brutal past by helping an alien abductee escape capture.

A Ring of Truth: A rogue assassin returns from the brink of death to rescue captive alien ab-

ductees and triggers Armageddon. What is your passion about this country? Why did you choose it for you setting?

Canada is vast and stunning and contains pockets of still-unexplored territory. The weather and the setting always become entities of their own in stories set in Canada. The weather here can be erratic and unpredictable, which adds uncertainty to stories. It can either help or hinder characters, and I’ve ventured into places that are as brutal as a Canadian winter.

Is this the country you were born in? If not, have you ever lived there?

I was born and raised in Ontario, Canada, and have visited or lived in most of the places mentioned. The exception is the Northwest Territories. My hero ends up there in book two in a place called The Valley of the Headless Men (Nahanni Valley).

Tell us about an experience you’ve had while in this country.

All my stories are set somewhere in Canada. Injuryis the exception, but the main character visits Ontario during the course of the story because she was born in Toronto. Ontario locations used are primarily in and around Newmarket, Ontario, where I currently live. In the Valiant Chronicles, I also take characters through Aurora, Port Perry, Bancroft, and Algonquin Park.

We visited Algonquin Park so I could research the setting for my story. I’ve had to fudge a few details, such as adding in a shallow cave, which Algonquin doesn’t have but the story required. For the most part, it’s as described though. Algonquin is gorgeous at any time of year and worth visiting. While we were in the visitors’ station, I signed the guestbook with my characters’ names. I did the same with the guestbook at the Prince of Wales hotel in Niagara-on-the-Lake when I went there to research for my novel Poison Pen .

What will readers discover about this country when they read your book?

They’ll learn in A Ring of Truthabout Nahanni, which is also called The Valley of the Headless Men. The place is real, and the history behind it is fascinating and creepy.

Basically, miners’ headless bodies were found over the years, and their murders were never solved. As well, rumours have it that a tribe of indigenous people disappeared from the valley. This seemed the perfect setting for a novel with UFOs and supernatural happenings.

They’ll learn a lot about Ontario as well, mostly about the various small towns I explore in the story. I don’t use real names for certain businesses, but I’ve based some of them on places that exist. The King’s Castle in the story is based on one of my favourite restaurants in Port Perry. It’s a haunted restaurant, but I didn’t use the real name because I changed features to suit my story. As well, there’s no hospital in Aurora, but I put one there for my stories because I wanted a fictional hospital.

What other books have you written?

Injury: A young actress at the height of her career has her personal life turned upside down when a horrifying family secret makes frontpage news. Set in California, USA, it also visits Ontario, Canada. Gillian’s Island: A socially anxious divorcée confronts her greatest fears when she’s forced to sell her island home and falls for the dashing new owner. Set on a fictional island resort near the town of Temagami, Ontario, Canada. Walk-In: A young psychic woman fights an attraction to a handsome but skeptical novelist while she battles a centuries-old evil determined to make her his next conquest. Set in Ontario, Canada.

Poison Pen: Three wannabe authors suffering from various mental disorders find themselves on a killer’s radar when they interfere in the investigation of a colleague’s murder. Set in Niagara-on-the-Lake and Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. The Hunted: A monster hunter revisits her terrifying past while helping a reporter uncover the origins of Storm Lake’s creatures. Set in Ontario, Canada. Storm Lake is fictional, based on the lake where my family has a cottage. The town of Ridley is also fictional, but other real towns/cities feature in the story. (Storm Lakeis a prequel.)

You Again: Complications arise when a bookkeeper is assigned her former lover as a client, and his company’s previous financial controller is found dead. Set in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, it also travels to Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. This is my current WIP and will be published in 2020.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about your books?

All my books are full-length novels (Storm Lake, the prequel to The Hunted, is a short story). I enjoy fast-paced stories with relatable characters, so that’s what I strive to write. Most of my stories contain layers that may not be apparent on the first reading. Often, you’ll notice different things on a subsequent read that you missed the first time.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself?

I have a master’s degree in parapsychology and a diploma in computer information systems. I worked in the software industry for ten years. Before writing fiction, I wrote non-fiction articles and am working on a non-fiction book based on my master’s thesis. The book is called Changed for Life: The After-Effects of Near-Death Experience.

What People Are Saying about Val’s Books …

The Experiencers: “… Val Tobin has a writing style that is complex and well researched, yet effortless to read. The pace increases as the plot develops, building tension through dialogue and clear imagery. This is a book that kept me intrigued right to the last page. It answers just enough questions while leaving the reader something to think about …” — Sylva Fae, Blogger and Author

A Ring of Truth: “… A girl feels safe not realizing that her savior is her abductor. A wife is certain her husband is having an affair but the truth is much worse. Sex is a weapon, a tool and a healing. Revenge leads to revelation and death is not the end.

“Having to trust feelings over knowledge and memory to the point of not knowing who you even are and then being forced to act. This is engrossing reading …” – Amazon review

Earthbound: “A lot of vibrations, after life philosophies, love of family, and a lost soul, all wrapped around a murder mystery. One aspect I really enjoyed in the story is the tongue in cheak [sic] humor hidden nicely behind the seriousness of the crime. A unique and enjoyable read that is more than your normal ghost story – depth – a great read for believers in the paranormal.” – Amazon review

Awards Earthbound: ranked #23 on ReadFreely‘s Top 50 Best Indie Books 2017 Award list. Injury: winner of Connections eMagazine’s 2017 Reader’s Choice awards for Romance (Gold) and Overall (Silver).

Poison Pen: #12 on ReadFreely’s list of the 50 Best Indie Books of 2018.

Social Media

Website | Newsletter | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | Goodreads | BookBub | LinkedIn | YouTube | Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) | Other: Anchor (podcasts)

Where to Buy: Amazon | Other Retailers (through Books2Read) | Smashwords |

Ronesa Aveela is “the creative power of two.” Two authors that is. The main force behind the work, the creative genius, was born in Bulgaria and moved to the US in the 1990s. She grew up with stories of wild Samodivi, Kikimora, the dragons Zmey and Lamia, Baba Yaga, and much more. Her writing partner was born and raised in the New England area. She has a background in writing and editing, as well as having a love of all things from different cultures. She’s learned so much about Bulgarian culture, folklore, and rituals, and writes to share that knowledge with others. https://moms-favorite-reads.com/moms-authors/ronesa-aveela/