***Warning! Some of these pictures are disturbing!***

Or at least they are to me because they are the result of my 98 year-old house trying to fall down around me while I was still living in it. It all started around 2012 when a major ice storm came through town. My 50 foot oak tree that used to stand in my front yard fell on my house, striking the chimney and causing more than $35,000 worth of damage.

What no one knew at the time was that the insides of my chimney were about to come outside! A build up of decades of greasy soot had been loosened by that falling tree and about a year after my house was repaired, that unstable chimney imploded. Fifty years of greasy soot roared through my house like a mushroom cloud, settling on every inch of the house and destroying just about everything in it’s path.

What has that unfortunate incident have to do with the pandemic you ask?


The insurance company refused to pay any more on the claim so I lived the next eight years in a home desperately needing repair with no money to do it.

A LOT of bad happened in my life last year. A small fire in the kitchen. The kitchen sink shearing in half and flooding the room before I could stop it. The initial public reaction to the virus threatening to rock my 20 year martial arts career. My fledgling publishing company nearly drowning in the backlash of school visits and other writer events being canceled. Ten of them to be exact that were cancelled almost overnight before I could even catch my breath. The pandemic closed down many contractors and it took almost a year to find one willing to work on my house. At a price I could afford.

But some good came out of last year. A stimulus check to start repairs. A pension plan I could cash out without penalty to be able to finish the work.

At last there was light at the end of that greasy, sooty tunnel that my house would one day look like new again.

What I hadn’t planned on is it taking the contractor six month of hard work to bring my dream of having my own beach themed house to life.

I lived like a refugee for months, dragging buckets of water from an outside faucet into the house because the interior pipes had begun to leak and the water inside the house had to be shut off.

This year has started out pretty rough as well. My old car with it’s 241,000 miles finally had a fatal breakdown and I had to get another car. A family member suddenly died. My writing had dried up like the Sahara Desert and I worried I wouldn’t be able to find the creative will to write again.

But this past month has showered many blessings on my life…on my home…and my writing. Come back on Wednesday to take a peek at my new “beachy” sanctuary and learn about all the good that has come out of living this pandemic life. You will be amazed!!


Hybrid published author, Donna L Martin, has been writing since she was eight years old. She is a 4th Degree Black Belt in TaeKwonDo by day and a ‘ninja’ writer of flash fiction, children’s picture books, chapter books, young adult novels and inspirational essays by night. Donna offers occasional BOOK NOOK REVIEWS of great children’s books and offers WRITERLY WISDOM to new and established writers. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and Children’s Book Insider. Donna loves dark chocolate, going to the beach and adding to her growing book collection.

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LinkedIn: Donna L Martin/Story Catcher Publishing

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c/o Story Catcher Publishing

P O Box 27788

Knoxville, Tn 37927