Guest Post: Of Charity and Consequence by Tara Fox Hall

A huge thanks to Amelia Curzon for having me again at her blog.  Initially she had asked me here to talk a little bit about two charity anthologies I recently contributed to. But there was something else I needed to say…Tara Fox Hall Guest Blogging at aecurzon.wordpress.com

A wise man named Edmund Burke said once that all that was needed for evil in the world to triumph was for good people to do nothing, and he’s right. It is f-ing hard to live in the world today and contend with all the hassles that a normal day requires, plus make that extra effort to help someone in need. It’s much easier to make excuses and not help, especially when it’s not a life or death situation. The consequences of non-action don’t always have to be personally dealt with, or the resulting suffering seen firsthand. As time goes on, it usually gets easier to pretend that everything worked out okay without your help.

Before anyone thinks I’m casting stones self-righteously, I admit that I’ve done this. One night last April as I was going down to town with my husband to a friend’s party, he remarked that we had passed a cat hit in the road. I didn’t make him go back because we were already late. Two or three hours later, going home, we both saw that there were now two cats hit in the road only a few feet apart. This time I made him stop, and got out to pull them off….and found to my horror that one of the cat’s was still alive, just paralyzed. I got him off the road, but he still died in my arms. And I will wonder the rest of my life if I had pulled the initial cat’s body out of the road when we first went past if the other cat—who was likely his friend/companion—would have gotten hit at all.

Click here to read the entire heart-wrenching story on my Goodreads Blog

In short, I’ve felt overworked and overloaded and let a situation slide that I should have addressed (or instead addressed it too late, as above). But these are always the moments I look back on with shame, because I know—and I knew then— I should have acted differently. And I don’t want to be that person. I want to be someone who tries her best to help to the best of her ability, and looks back with satisfaction that she did the right thing. Maybe I won’t get it right every time. But I’m sure as hell going to give it my best shot.

Now onto the charity anthologies!

Fear Anthology'sBook Cover from Guest Blog at aecurzon.wordpress.com

Fear: A Modern Anthology of Horror and Terror brings together, for the first time, tales of murder, monsters and madness, by sixty of the world’s best indie horror authors. My short story “Grandma’s House” is in Volume #1. All royalties from sales will go directly to the international charities, Barnardos and Médecins Sans Frontières (a.k.a. Doctors Without Borders). At 99 cents, it’s a steal!
Amazon Link

Excerpt from “Granma’s House”:

Granma’s house was huge, by most standards. It wasn’t a mansion by any means, but there were a full 3 floors, and a large basement, though there was no way in hell I was going down there, not even if the furnace shut off…

Where had that thought come from? I’d never been scared of anything in my life. And why should I be afraid here? No one had been murdered here, or anything…

There was a soft noise from upstairs, so soft I wondered if I’d heard anything. God, what was wrong with me? I was imagining something out to get me. No wonder my doctor had prescribed tomorrow’s procedure.

Angry with myself, I turned on some lights, then settled into my Granma’s chair. What should I read? I’d brought a novel—horror, of course—and some old Flinch comic books, and also some stationery with sailboats on it to catch up on letters. I sifted through the paper, only then realizing that it had been my grandfather’s. His name and this address were on each page across the top

I had the crazy thought that if I wrote my thoughts down and left them in his room upstairs, he would be able to read them. We could communicate that way…

“Stop it,” I told myself angrily, setting down the cards. “You know that’s not true. What has everyone been telling you?”

I got up again, then looked at the clock. It was near nine, definitely time for bed. But as I got my duffel bag and went to grasp the old hallway door, I heard that noise again upstairs, a soft sound.

“Stop being stupid!” I said aloud angrily, then wrenched the door open and went to the base of the stairs.

Plastic still coated the thick carpet. But my grandfather had been a big believer in plastic. We had teased Granma after he died, telling her that we’d expected she would get covered in plastic bags and labeled, then put in a closet, as he’d done to practically everything else they owned.

But she had, didn’t she? a voice inside my head said. She got covered in plastic bag in that kitchen, when she died there.      

I pushed the thought aside, then put my foot on the step. A slight creek answered the pressure, louder as I put my full weight on it.

Should have remembered these stairs, I thought. Every single one creaks.

The noise from upstairs came again. This time I couldn’t tell myself it had been my imagination.

I waited, fear sliding up my spine.

The sound came again, footsteps maybe. Soft creaking, too slow to be anything else.

Someone was up there? Who? Grandpa? I couldn’t see. The staircase was a split level, with the upper part at a right angle to the first, and hidden by a wall, I wouldn’t see what it was until it stood right in front of me..

The sounds approached, until they were at the top of the stairs.

“Grandpa?” I said, my voice creaking more than the stairs, so it came out like a child’s plea.

There was silence, then a creak, deliberate. And close.

Whatever it was, it was coming down the stairs.

I held my ground, fighting the urge to run. This had to be a ghost, and it if was, it surely meant me no harm, Hadn’t I just been asking to communicate? If my grandpa was making the effort, what kind of jerk would I be to run away?

Another creak came, another step descended.

What if it wasn’t a ghost? What if it was someone crazy who’d broken in and was using the empty house for a base? A serial killer or something? Maybe the noises I’d heard had been him killing a victim!

Another creak, another step.

That couldn’t be true. It wasn’t logical, the doors had all been locked, everything had been secure. There was even a layer of dust on the floor I’d disturbed coming in here…

Another creak. Another stair. Whatever it was, it was halfway to the landing.

I just had to be brave…I had to trust that my fear was irrational. It had to be a ghost. And I would be woman enough to stand here and face it.

The sounds stopped. Whatever was there was waiting. But waiting for what?

Wild at Heart Vol II Book Cover on Guest Blog at aecurzon.wordpress.comWild at Heart Young Adult Stories (Vol. II) is a collection of short stories that includes a wonderful variety of contemporary and paranormal tales, and was produced by the Diamond State Romance Authors as a project of love to benefit the residents of the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. All profits from this collection will go directly to the refuge to help with the care and feeding of the rescued animals. This anthology includes my short story, “Heart’s Solace.”

Amazon Link

Excerpt from Heart’s “Solace”:

The next few months were magical. Nazdeha was a perfect companion, following Tasha everywhere. They explored the forest, her on horseback, and he in the trees shadowing her. They spent hours lounging in the sun, Tasha reading to Nazdeha as the great cat lolled with eyes closed, her head pillowed on his flank. He slept in her bed, his bulk curled on one side of the great king size bed, Tasha on the other.

The great cat communicated through nods and shakes of his head. He purred when he was pleased or thankful, and distanced himself from her when he was upset. Encouraged, Tasha made an alphabet from large pieces of paper, and laid them out on the floor, telling him to step on the letters, to spell out words for her. “Tell me who you are,” she said excitedly, pencil and paper in hand.

Instead of the expected grateful purr, Tasha’s efforts instead got her a shake of the head, and the silent treatment for the rest of the night.

Tasha was undaunted by Nazdeha’s refusal to communicate beyond yes and no answers. She remained convinced he was a man under a curse, like in fairy tales  Several times, she pleaded with him to change his form, to show her the man she knew he must be.

But Nazdeha would only look at her, as if he couldn’t understand. Afterwards, he always would retreat away from her and curl into a ball for at least an hour.

Surmising he was trapped in lion form, Tasha stopped mentioning it. Talk of what he had once been only upset him. She had no way to break a curse. That he was here with her was enough for Tasha.

****

Late summer became fall. And with the winter wind came a letter from Tasha’s father, telling her he would not be home again for Christmas, but that she was welcome to meet him in Moscow, if she wanted to make the trip.

Tasha tore up the letter. “He knows I hate the city,” she said. “Besides, I couldn’t take you there, Nazdeha. I’m not leaving you here alone for the holidays.”

The cougar nuzzled her shoulder, his loud purr a vibration she felt through her thick sweater.

“Do you need to go out before bed?” Tasha asked. “It’s close to midnight.”

Nazdeha nodded, then jumped up off the bed, and walked to the bedroom door.

Tasha followed, opening the door so he could leave.

The lion trotted out.

Instead of readying herself for bed, as she usually did, Tasha paused, and then looked out the door, watching the shadow of the lion as it traveled down the long hallway.

Nazdeha had headed for the kitchen, not outside to relieve himself.

Curious, Tasha hurried after the cat, creeping down the long hallway and into the kitchen. A naked man was in front of the refrigerator, his scarred back to her as he ate pickles from a jar. She let out a gasp.

The man heard her and swore, then grabbed a dishtowel to cover himself. “Don’t look at me!”

Tasha turned away, her cheeks burning. “So you can change form.”

“Yes,” came the hesitant reply. “Go upstairs, Tasha. I’ll leave—”

His voice was rough, either naturally or from disuse. It was the sexiest voice she had ever heard in her life. “You’ll do nothing of the kind. Don’t you dare change back, Nazdeha. I think I deserve some answers.”

“It’s Theo, actually,” the man said sadly. “That’s my real name.”

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For info on my recently published series books Lash: Shadow Man and Broken Promise, click on the titles

COMPETITION WINNER: Creating Happiness by Tara Fox Hall

COMPETITION WINNER

Snake cat bed

I am so pleased to report, the winner of the Snake Cat Bed, made by Tara, is Shadow. Tara will be contacting you about your mailing details. Congratulations Shadow!

Guest Post: Creating Happiness by Tara Fox Hall

Snake cat bed

If you would like to win this beautiful ‘snake’ cat bed, please leave a comment for Tara (US only). The winner will be chosen at random next week

A would like to extend a very warm welcome to my guest, Tara Fox Hall. Tara’s love of cats comes over very strongly here as she tells how she came to make cat beds for animal shelters. Tara has been a frequent guest on my blog over the past year, and always manages to surprise with her caring and generosity.

Tara Fox Hall at LetchworthThere are those that say that happiness can’t be bought. Godiva chocolate aside, I believe that is likely right. But it can be brought forth with the gift of creation. Some people have talents for fundraising, or for organizing people to achieve a common goal. Others are innovators and problem solvers, able to find answers to complex issues that plague our society. Still others are caregivers, donating their time and love in a physical sense. And some—like me—are crafters, using our fondness and skill for creation to bring a little more happiness into the world.

Maine Coon on a cat bed

Enjoying the moment!

It started simply: I was taking time off to help my mom—and subsequently poorer than I’d ever been since getting out of college—and it was coming up on Christmas. So I took my grandmother’s sewing machine I’d inherited and taught myself to sew, beginning with tablecloths and placemats and pillows that were easy. After the holidays, I noticed that my couch style dog beds I’d bought years ago were all close to needing replacing, but I didn’t have the money to replace them (think 75-100$ each). So instead, I decided to make new covers. With a lot of trial and error, I made new covers for a fraction of the cost. Better yet, I made a pattern so I could continually make new ones.

With my dogs taken care of, I turned my attention my cats. I’d never really had cat beds per se; the cats that called my home their home just slept wherever they chose. Intrigued, I tried a few different styles and got some real-time cat feedback, finally settling on the most popular design; an oval bed with a detachable center cushion. After seeing how much my cats liked them, I began making them for family and friends. Then it occurred to me that animal shelters might appreciate some donated beds, also.

I have been making cat and dog beds of various designs for shelters now for five years. At first, I made them for SPEAK, Inc, a local shelter that I had been doing volunteer work for since 1992. But I enjoyed making them so much that I

Cat on green floral bed

One very cosy cat on her new bed

contacted other rescues and also offered my beds to them. To date, I have made beds, cage pads and crate pads for the Binghamton Humane Society, Cedarhill Animal Sanctuary, SPEAK, Inc., Animal Care Council, Lifelong Tails, Springfarm CARES, ECMCR (East Coast Maine Coon Rescue) and now OMCR (Only Maine Coon Rescue). Total, I would guess I have made over 300 large beds and 200 cage/crate pads to date.

The beds aren’t hard to make, but they are time-consuming. I have been questioned several times as to why I don’t make them for profit, as they are so popular with cats. The reason is that the material and stuffing costs so much that I’d have to charge a high price, and even then, the margin would be a small one, considering the time they take to make. So instead, I opt to continue donating them. The shelters win, as they get high quality beds that stand

up to many washings. I win, as donating these beds instead of selling them allows me to write off the cost of the materials

while letting me enjoy my sewing hobby. And the cats win, as they have a little more joy in their worlds, especially the

December the cat

Testing for softness!

ones that are very old, or have serious health ailments that are not adoptable. It’s my small way of buying happiness and giving it to others in need.

If you have a talent for something, consider trying to use it to benefit a charity of your choosing. Everyone can always use a little more happiness in his or her world.

I am happy to donate a snake pattern cat bed in honour of Shadow Man, Book 2 of the Lash series, to one lucky commenter.

If you would rather not trust to luck, I am donating a bunch of cat beds to Only Maine Coons Rescue They will be selling them at:

The Meadowlands Expo Center
355 Plaza Drive, Secaucus, NJ 07094
Nov 16th-18th Fri. 4 pm – 8 pm Sat. 10 am – 7 pm Sun. 10 am – 5 pm.   AS well as putting a few online in their Facebook auction which opens 11-7-12

Shadow Man by Tara Fox Hall - Book coverShadow Man – The Blurb                                                                                                                                                                                                        The renegade vampire Eli begins amassing a flock of true believers, threatening America’s vampire hierarchy. Weresnake Lash partners with old enemy Danial and new allies Burl and Spiderboy to track down and annihilate them. Betrayed and left for dead, Lash re-emerges the victor, edging ever upward in the Assassin’s Ranking, and catching the eye of the sultry nightclub singer Cassandra Nile. Drawn into drugs by Cassie, Lash begins to doubt himself, yearning to leave his life of violence, even as enemies close in from every side.

Buy on Amazon Kindle                    Buy in Paperback

Read an excerpt

Weeks passed as we pursued Eli all over the Southwest. We had some close scrapes, but we managed to come out with us still alive, even as we killed more and more vampires.

Then, on May 30th, we got the break we’d been waiting for. We’d been chasing Eli through Nevada for the past two days, trimming his last batch of vampires from him, until now the force was little more than seventy. Some vampires had even broken with him, but according to Devlin’s wishes, we killed them too, even when they surrendered to us on their knees, begging for their lives.

I wish I could say I felt something for them, but I didn’t. I thought of my sister at home, her children missing their father, and I killed them with a song of vengeance in my heart. I killed some of them for Jeanna, too; she’d never wanted any of this, and not gotten even one night in warm water beneath clear sky and stars before meeting her doom.

We finally cornered Eli and his remaining forces in a small town just before daybreak. They had abandoned their trucks outside the town near a wide river. Burl burnt the one bridge leading out of town and disabled their trucks, while I went house to house using my sense of smell to find out where they’d holed up for the day. At just about six p.m., I found them.

Eli and his remaining force were holed up in a burnt-out school. The place was falling down; the bricks over one window had cracked apart to spill like toppled cards onto the weedy lawn below, all of the windows were broken, and a small section of the roof was missing. The fucking place looked condemned, like it might fall down at any moment. It was filled with shadows, and in those shadows, seventy-some vampires were waiting for us, knowing this shitpile would be their grave if they didn’t succeed in killing us. Burl and I looked at each other; neither one of us was eager to go in. We were both sure to get wounded badly, if not killed.

But daylight was waning. And so we went in.

The halls were filled with dust and the charred remains of desks. Burl went first, picking his way through the debris holding a globe that glowed. He’d used it before; it was some kind of magical object he’d picked up over in Asia. I grumbled at him, saying it ruined my night vision, but Burl countered that it ruined the vampires’ night vision too, and that was better than nothing.

We checked the basement first, and killed about ten vampires, mostly in one-on-two skirmishes. But the majority were not there. It wasn’t until we reached the second floor that we were attacked in earnest.

Burl was just rounding the corner when a vampire dropped onto his back silently. And then they were everywhere, snarling, their fangs gleaming. I felt at least three pairs of sharp fangs sink into me, and then I was shooting, blowing them away from me, and before I could breathe twice, I was out of bullets.

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For info on my recently published series books, click on the titles.

Lash: Shadow Man     Broken Promise

Guest Post: Donating Dignity by Tara Fox Hall

It’s hard to miss the current global campaign for the fight against cancer, which makes this blog, by my wonderful guest Tara Fox Hall, all the more important.  Tara tells us how we can help in a way that is simple, and for most of us, easily doable.  Welcome Tara, and thank you for being my guest once again.

In my recently published book, Broken Promise, heroine Sarelle cuts off her hair the morning after her breakup with her lover, the vampire Danial. She mentions earlier in the book that she had planned on doing this, but puts it off, as Danial Tara Fox Hall at Letchworthloves her long hair. But once he severs their relationship, she decides to go through with her decision, in no small part as a symbol of her being on her own again. She then puts the braid in an envelope to send to Locks of Love.

This scene was included in the book deliberately to increase awareness of Locks of Love, and other charities that take donated hair and make wigs that are given to those who have lost their own tresses to medical issues. I personally have donated my hair three times now, and intend to keep doing so, as this is a cause I believe in. It’s not difficult to do, if you have a supply of hair ties, barrettes, or headbands to keep lengthening tresses out of the way while they reach the required length. Probably the most difficult Tara Fox Hall before donating her hair to cancer charities  Tara Fox Hall after having her hair cut for cancer charitiespart of the donation process is the one that takes the least amount of time: adjusting to the loss of 10”-12” of hair. I confess I still reach for mine at the small of my back, then panic slightly when there’s nothing  to touch!

Here are several sites to visit, if you are interested in hair donation. Even if your hair is highlighted or colored, as mine is, there are still places that will take it; it just may be sold for cash to help finance the wigmaking, instead of being used for actual wigs. Bear in mind that almost all places below want at least 10” ponytails, 12” and longer being preferred!

Locks of Love  (no processed hair)

Pantene Beautiful Lengths  click on link, then see Donation Form for rules.

Angel Hair Foundation  (will take ANY hair in good condition)

Wigs 4 Kids  (this place will take grey hair)

Don’t feel comfortable losing so muck lock length all at once? Bald yourself, but have a pet? Like to craft, or have livestock? You can still help by saving hair of any length, pet hair, old nylon stockings with or without runs, waste wool, feathers, and natural fiber donors. and sending them in (if your salon does not) to help with oil spills. Details are here

Blurb: Shocked at Danial’s betrayal, Sarelle returns to her old home to consider her options. Yet even as Sar plans a reconciliation with Danial, Terian arrives, confessing his desire. When Theo witnesses Terian and Sar kiss, he angrily confronts Sar, leading to startling consequences. Will Sar’s heart choose Danial, Terian,…or Theo?

Excerpt from Broken Promise:

Danial smiled sadly, and kissed me. He nodded once. “I said I’d let you go, and I will,” he said, taking a deep breath. “I release you from your oath, Sarelle McGarran.”

I felt the tears start to come. Just like that, he’d dissolved us. He paused, and looked at me one last time. Tears were on his face, too.

“Good-bye, Sar,” he said softly. “Take care of yourself.”

He grabbed the clean clothes from my hands and left, the door closing behind him. I heard him grabbing his jacket, and the front door shutting behind him as he left. The sound had all the finality of a gunshot. My legs buckled, and I sank to the floor. My dogs whined, licking my tears as I began to cry.

I don’t know how long I stayed there, sobbing on the floor. It was long enough to feel like I couldn’t get up.

Finally, some time later, I climbed to my feet. I felt better, but all the crying had left me feeling empty, closed off. I felt only fear now, fear I’d made a mistake in letting him go, fear that I’d never feel again what I felt with him.

As I went into my room, I caught sight of myself in the mirror. I looked awful; damp, red and swollen-faced. But I saw the choker still around my neck, the fox eyes winking at me, and felt a rush of hope.

There was still time. I could go to him now, tonight, and tell him I’d changed my mind, that nothing else mattered but being with him for as long as I could.

But I would be lying then. Because I still had reservations and they weren’t insignificant. Besides, I had only told Danial the truth. And he hadn’t heard it, as he was too afraid of my rejection of him.

I looked at myself in the mirror again, and made a decision. Then I went and got a pair of sharp scissors. I put my hair into a long braid, and tied both ends of it. Then I sawed through the braid. I put it aside to send to Locks of Love, as I’d planned to all those months ago. I undid my bobtail; it was too short to be a ponytail now. It hung to just below my shoulders, curling softly. I cut a few shorter pieces in front for shape, and pushed it back. It had a lot more bounce and curl now. The best thing was it would be much easier to take care of.

Buy Broken Promise on Amazon

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Broken Promise by Tara Fox Hall - Book cover

Promise Me by Tara Fox Hall - Book cover

The Chalet by Tara Fox Hall - Book coverFor info on my recently published book The Chalet, click here:  All other works are listed on Amazon as well!

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