CONFESSIONS OF A PANDEMIC LIFE: The New Home

Just in case you didn’t get a chance to check out part one, The Old House, in my post about life during the pandemic, you can click on this link to see how I had to live in my home last year.

In late November 2020, work FINALLY began! Huge truckloads of materials were delivered to my house…although I did have to fight with one company who was determined to ship a box truck of material to my P O BOX!!

I found out last week that after being on a waiting list for FIVE YEARS, I was finally approved for a city grant for a partial weatherization of my house. This new heat pump was installed as well as much needed insulation which hopefully lowers my HUGE monthly electric bill. Fingers crossed…lol.

My contractor sealed up my chimneys both outside and inside so I never have to worry about another soot implosion. I have touches of coastal living EVERYWHERE! Can you see some of the ocean reminders in my living room? One of my students had a special beach-themed tumbler made with my name on it and it fits perfectly with my “beach” house.

In another corner of my living room is this special driftwood looking piece I found while treasuring hunting at one of my local thrift stores. I bought quite a few things over the months while my house was being repaired and now I get to place them in their forever spots! The tray of shells is one of my many DIY projects around the house.

In another corner of the living room is one of my desks. I love the wall decals, and if you look real close, you will see one of my mermaid figurines watching over me while I work. I also have a rolling desk that I am actually using as I type this blog post. I can roll it into any room of the house if I’m working on a project and want to take it with me.

Remember that bathroom from Monday’s post? My bathroom is extremely small, so the contractor had a wonderful idea to pull the regular door and install a sliding barn door. Not only does it modernize the room’s look, visually the room appears HUGE.

I LOVE my new shower! I almost can’t remember what that hideous old bathroom looked like!

I found this lovely shower curtain to help continue the beach theme in the bathroom.

Gone are the leaky sink and toilet. I found that beautiful mirror for $10 through a local online marketplace.

I’m keeping everything minimalistic and simple. I found the seahorse through Wish.com and that cute little plant is another DIY project of mine.

Moving into my study/writing room, one wall will be for author visit supplied, the craft of writing books and supplies, and other items I need to tuck away for later. Did you catch my pirate parrot friend sitting up high? He just might end up in one of the planned HISTORY’S MYSTERIES titles I’m working on for the future.

On one wall in the study is this cool credenza I found with an old world map design on it. Another touch of beach decor and it ties right into the rest of the room.

On the other wall, that cabinet holds extra copies of my books as well as the marketing props I use for my author events. I still have some organizing to do but after a year of living like a nomad, just looking at these pictures warms my heart.

Right next to it is my roll top desk. When I bought my house 23 years ago, I told myself if NOTHING else gets bought, I will have my rolltop desk I’ve dreamed of having all my adult life. Now, it sits in front of a window facing my back yard in a freshly painted room. Oh, the stories I hope to write at that desk!

This chimney also imploded, but not nearly as badly as the one in my living room. Now it’s sealed off ad my SEAL family chills out under another DIY project I did for this room. Literally every single shell was strategically placed on that mantle and I even put actual SAND under them. The fabric angel I found at a thrift store and it inspired me to write a poem about it.

Here’s the sea inspired poem that hangs next to that fabric angel.

Next, take a look at my kitchen sink. Remember that old, rusted metal one from Monday’s post? Now I have a new sink/counter top combo that I love as well as beautiful curtains and a shell rug to carry my beach theme throughout the house.

I know it’s silly to be giddy about a counter top but THIS counter top does two things for me. It tucks my new hot water heater out of sight behind a false front under that counter and it provides extra food prep space I’ve NEVER had before in this house! Silly I know, but I also love my hanging hooks under that corner cabinet for my cooking utensils.

I found a distressed book case at a local furniture store and converted it into a baker’s rack for storing pots, pans, and small appliances.

Those grey curtains blend in with the wall color and hide the built in pantry behind it. The new bathroom tower that I found on Walmart.com offers a little more organizational storage in the kitchen.

The last room in my house is my bedroom. My sanctuary. One of the first things I bought for the bedroom was this cool sea turtle clock from Wish.com.

Here’s another one of my DIY projects. I found this unusual shaped, blown glass bowl on a piece of driftwood in a local home decor store and instantly imagined myself at the beach. What do you think?

If you look closely, you will see my beach terrarium on my chest of drawers, my arrangement of seashells and my sea turtle I found hidden away at a local second hand furniture store.

I can not express how happy my spirit feels when I see my redecorated bedroom. My new bedcover and pillows carry the beach theme and gone is the bland dirty, beige walls with drab, boring wall art. I found that headboard for $20 at another local thrift store and it helps brighten up the room.

Across from my bed is my lovely reading nook. Isn’t that egg-shaped chair so cute? I was so excited to find that tapestry and it REALLY sets the tone of the room. That toy chest is holding extra blankets and that wire plant tower is now a modern book case. And in case you didn’t notice, that adorable wire lighthouse is another thrift store treasure.

Here’s my new baby. My old Kia had 241,000 miles on it and had served me well for seven years. This is my new-to-me car…a Nissan Versa.

Another view of my new car.

One last look at my new baby…

There were a few good things that came out of 2020 where my writing was concerned. One was book three of my HISTORY’S MYSTERIES historical fiction chapter book series came out. Hunting Gris-gris takes place during World War II and tells the story of the mysterious bayou monster I grew up with down on the bayou in southern Louisiana.

Book one, Ship of Dreams, and book two, The Chocolate Train Wreck, also did great last year!

Both of those books won five star ratings from the READERS’ FAVORITE organization! It makes a writer happy to have their hard work recognized and it encourages me to keep sharing my stories with the world!

My house is about 90% back in place and hopefully by next month I will be able to get back in my writing study and focus on book four, President Lincoln’s Balloons!

So tell me, dear readers, what do you think of my repaired, remodeled, new-to-me home now?

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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.

Want to connect?

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Email: www.donasdays@gmail.com

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LinkedIn: Donna L Martin/Story Catcher Publishing

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Mail: Donna L Martin

c/o Story Catcher Publishing

P O Box 27788

Knoxville, Tn 37927

TALES FROM THE BAYOU

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There’s a difference between my childhood in the swamps of Louisiana and living now in the shadow of the Great Smokey Mountains. Here, when I’m lucky, I get to see Mother Nature dance in shades of yellow, orange, and red to celebrate the coming of Fall. Back then, the seasons went from muggy, hot summer, to a little less muggy, rainy Fall. No change in colors. No celebration of lovely autumn foliage. Just a quiet shift in air around you and the marking off of days on the calendar to let you know Halloween was fast approaching.

Mid October would have my mother going in search of the best pumpkin to make the scariest Jack-o-Lantern in our neighborhood. Then would come the choosing of our costumes. When I was little, it was hand me down clothes until the year mother could afford to buy those cheap, plastic ones. I still remember how hot and sweaty it was behind my cat mask but I felt so modern in it instead of another year of going as an old lady.

Then came time in the kitchen, helping my mother make her annual Halloween popcorn balls rolled in syrup. She would make me grease up my fingers with butter before hand molding freshly popped popcorn with karo syrup into balls that would be handed out to trick or treaters. We couldn’t afford store bought candy to hand out so we made do with what we had around the house.

Finally it was time for Mother’s Halloween cake. Oh, how I lived in anticipation of that cake. For a house that seldom stocked store bought goodies, Mother’s cake was the ultimate in decadence to a young girl. Yellow cake with chocolate icing, it held every kind of mallow cream bat, cat, half moon, pumpkin, wheat stalk, and witch a sheet cake could hold! If I was lucky. I would win a corner piece and could drown in the sugary delight my mother’s annual Halloween cake could bring! 

No wonder I’m eyeing the calendar with childish delight and find myself counting down the days to my favorite holiday of the year…

 

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                                  HM-SHIP-OF-DREAMS (cover)HM The Chocolate Train Wreck front cover

The HISTORY’S MYSTERIES historical fiction chapter book series is finally here! Now available on Amazon, local bookstores, nd other online retailers. The Chocolate Train Wreck can also be found at the Titanic Museums in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee and Branson, Missouri.

 

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donna - Copy

 

Best selling, award-winning 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 children’s picture books, chapter books, young adult novels and inspirational essays by night. Donna is a BOOK NOOK REVIEWS host providing the latest book reviews on all genres of children’s books, and the host of WRITERLY WISDOM, a resource series for writers. Donna is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and Children’s Book Insider. She is a lover of dark chocolate, going to the beach and adding to her growing book collection. 

 

 

 

 

 

HERE A CONTEST, THERE A CONTEST, EVERYWHERE IS A CONTEST!

 

Misty

 

I have always enjoyed entering contests. I might have gotten that love from my mother, who I remember entering several contests throughout my growing years. She gathered S & H green stamps…letting me lick them before pressing them into the books she kept in the kitchen drawer. I loved looking through the catalogs, dreaming of all the cool things she could buy with just a little more licking and a little more stamping. Occasionally there would be a contest where she could win extra S & H green stamps and my mother would carefully fill out her entry form before sending it in.

I entered my first contest when I was eleven years old. My hometown library was sponsoring a 4th of July writing contest on patriotism. I ended up winning first place in my age bracket, and won a copy of Misty of Chincoteague. I STILL have that book after all these years…a reminder I was a writer back then and still driven by the written word decades later.

I want share my love of contests by sponsoring not one, not two, but THREE contests during the months of October and November.

 

CONTEST ONE:

 

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AMAZON REVIEWERS’ CONTEST…

If you purchased or received the PDF copy of HISTORY’S MYSTERIES: Ship of Dreams, and left an Amazon review, your name has been entered in the Amazon Reviewers’ Contest where five lucky winners will each win a Titanic commemorative coin. Deadline is noon on Monday, October 14th in order to have your name entered into the contest. Winners will be selected Monday night.

 

CONTEST TWO:

 

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SHIP OF DREAMS CONTEST…

This contest is part of a month long book birthday celebration of my newest release, HISTORY’S MYSTERIES: Ship of Dreams. Book One takes place in Southampton during 1912…one month before the world famous ship, Titanic, would arrive in Southampton before leaving on her maiden voyage to America. There are three ways to enter this contest:

  1. Follow this blog between Tuesday, October 15th and Saturday, November 2nd.
  2.  Share this blog post on your social media sites and tag me so I can add your name to the contest.
  3.  Leave an Amazon review on Ship of Dreams by clicking on this link…https://www.amazon.com/HISTORYS-MYSTERIES-Dreams-Donna-Martin-ebook/dp/B07WD1B7X8/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=ship+of+dreams+history%27s+mysteries&qid=1571022945&s=books&sr=1-1

Contest deadline is Saturday, November 2nd. Nine winners will be announced on Monday, November 4th.

 

CONTEST THREE:

 

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STAR CATCHER YOUNG WRITERS’ CONTEST…

This publishing contest runs from Monday, October 7th through Friday, November 15th and is for young writers ages 10 through 18 years old. There are five catagories…fantasy, humor, horror, mystery, and miscellaneous and each entry must be between 750-1000 words long. There will be 25 winners with 25 prizes AND all winning entries will be published in an anthology by Story Catcher Publishing. Contest Rules can be found by clicking on this link…  https://storycatcherpublishing.com/contest-rules/

There you have it. Three contests from someone who has been entering contests since the days of my childhood. If you know of anyone who loves contests as much as I do, please help me get the word out about these fun and rewarding contests!

 

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HM-SHIP-OF-DREAMS (cover)

 

Amelia Earmouse travels back through time to uncover little known secrets. You may THINK you know your history, but wait until you see what Amelia uncovers in this latest volume of HISTORY’S MYSTERIES!

In Book One, Ship of Dreams, ten-year-old Margaret can hardly wait to see the largest ship ever built visit Southampton! Life is already hard for her family in the spring of 1912, but the coal workers’ strike could turn a bad situation into a deadly one. Margaret hopes to see the great Titanic leave on its maiden voyage, but will the strike prevent it from happening?

Now available in ebook, paperback, and hardback in all major bookstores and online retailers.

 

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In Book Two, nine-year-old Abigail thinks nothing exciting ever happens in Hamilton. But things change one stormy night when an airborne train and twenty tons of chocolate shower down on the sleepy village. Even local police and the FBI are puzzled over who caused the train to derail. Abigail and Billy team up to find out who’s behind the CHOCOLATE TRAIN WRECK, but will all they find is more questions?

There’s a mystery hovering over Hamilton–and it smells like CHOCOLATE!

 

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donna - Copy

 

Best selling, award-winning 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 children’s picture books, chapter books, young adult novels and inspirational essays by night. Donna is a BOOK NOOK REVIEWS host providing the latest book reviews on all genres of children’s books, and the host of WRITERLY WISDOM, a resource series for writers. Donna is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and Children’s Book Insider. She is a lover of dark chocolate, going to the beach and adding to her growing book collection. Donna’s latest chapter book series is called HISTORY’S MYSTERIES. Book One, Ship of Dreams, is available in eBook and print form from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, and other online retailers. Also, coming to the Titanic Museums in Branson, Missouri, and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Book Two, A Chocolate Train Wreck, will be released in November.