Tara Fox Hall's Blog, page 3

June 26, 2013

Any cat that makes it to ten years old develops some quirks, if they didn’t have them to begin with. Blackie loved to lick the windows, creating huge smears of drool that had to be scrubbed off daily. Another cat (who shall remain nameless) liked to have relations with the pillow that was shaped like a hamburger in the presence of guests. Phantom feels it is his duty to groom all the family dog’s faces, and will hold their heads down with his claws until they either run from him or give up and submit to it. But perhaps the weirdest quirk I’ve experienced is in Jesse Darling, a small nine-pound black and white cat. She’s a screamer.
She screams morning, noon and night for whatever she wants. The more she wants something, the louder and more piercing the scream. My husband describes it as being able to curdle milk, and he’s not exaggerating. What is amazing is that it’s not just her volume, but also her tenacity.
If I’m on the treadmill and Jess wants a lap, she will sit on the edge of the couch two feet away and scream at me every five minutes for forty-five minutes straight. She will repeatedly shatter the dinner conversation at the table asking for a piece of meat, or just a lap. At six in the morning, she will scream outside the bedroom door every fifteen to ten minutes until I get up, whether that takes me another three hours, or a few minutes. Each cry is just as piercing and startling as the last. She never, ever gives up. The screaming doesn’t stop in the morning until the food has been set out, the litter box is clean, the fire is burning nicely (if its winter) or she’s been let outside (if its summer). As I do each chore, she changes position, stridently telling me what needs to be done next.
So how do we handle this? We try to give her what she wants as fast as possible. The cats and the fire are always the first chores done in the morning. If Jess wants a piece of meat, she gets it, no matter if its twenty-dollar steak or hamburger. If she wants a lap and we’re sitting, we give her a boost up, and then try to work very carefully, so as not to upset her, even when that means leaning our body sideways so we can type to the point our back hurts. That’s the standing agreement: we do what she wants, and Jess agrees not to teach our four other cats to scream. It’s worked so far, and we’re not taking any chances.
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Published on June 26, 2013 12:24 • 87 views • Tags: tara-fox-hall, the-screamer

June 1, 2013


Login and join the TRR Sizzling Summer Reads party 2013 June 1-31st! Play games, join the fun and win prizes! Meet your favorite authors and chat with them! See you there!
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Published on June 01, 2013 16:21 • 87 views • Tags: tara-fox-hall, trr-sizzling-summer-reads-party

May 26, 2013

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Published on May 26, 2013 18:24 • 83 views • Tags: promise-me-book-4, taken-for-his-own

April 4, 2013

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Published on April 04, 2013 09:20 • 117 views • Tags: tara-fox-hall, webhunt

March 17, 2013

I've had several readers ask me how to pronounce characters names from my Promise Me Series. So here is a quick reference guide! If any character name (or book or short story) is not mentioned and you want to know how I envisioned the name sounding, just comment with the name and I'll revise this listing to include it!

From Promise Me and Sequels:
Promise Me (Promise Me, #1) by Tara Fox Hall
Danial: Daniel
Sar: like "Car", only with an "S" at the beginning.
Sarelle: Like Car-elle, with an "S" at the beginning

Broken Promise
Aran: Aaron
Cia: Initially "Sha", but over the books has morphed into "See-Ya"
Terian: Tear-e-an (Tear as in a teardrop)

Taken in the Night
Dr. Camelyn: Dr Cam-el-lynn
Devlin: Dev-lynn
Suri: Sur-ee
Theopolis ("Theo"): Thee-op-pol-is

Taken for His Own (Promise Me, #4) by Tara Fox Hall

Surrender To Me

From the Lash Series:
Lash (Lash #1) by Tara Fox Hall

Trystan: Trist-an
Mara: Marr-a
Franco: Frank-o
Kline: Kline
Danial: Daniel
Devlin: Dev-lynn
Lash: Lash
Jared: Jare-ed
Giselle: Jiz-elle
Jasmine: Jazz-minn
Brianna: Bree-anna
Ramirez: Ra-meer-ez
Char: Charr

Shadow Man

From Night Music:

Krys: Chris
Krystin: Chris-tinn
David: David
Devlin: Dev-lynn
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Published on March 17, 2013 10:38 • 106 views • Tags: name-pronunciation, tara-fox-hall

January 24, 2013

My husband and I are a good fit. It’s taken a few years, and a lot of readjustment. I used to think love was romance, sex, and dates. But being married changed all that, no pun intended. Lasting love has rhythm. It’s being in sync with another being so well that you start to know them as well as you know yourself.

When you first come together, you might feel like pieces of a puzzle, because you seem to fit so well. But most of the time the reason you fit so well then is because you are just dating. You only need to fit together for a few hours at a time, so if it’s a tight fit, or a bad fit, it’s not so noticeable. It's a whole different puzzle if you're married. Then the other person never goes away, at least not for very long. You find out real fast if your pieces don't fit well together. Admittedly, there are always a few sharp corners that end up poking the other person. But if you try hard and long enough, you find a life rhythm with your spouse that gives your life an ease of movement that it never had before. You each have talents, faults, and ornery periods. You learn with trial and error what is best to say and do when your partner needs help, and what thoughts to keep to yourself when you are mad. Those hard sharp edges can and do start to wear off with a lot of time and effort. In places where the fit is too loose, you add experiences and shared emotions to fill in the spaces. Before you know it, you're a good fit together.

Being a good fit helps you to take the bumps of the world in stride, without falling into pieces. You don't let go of each other when you fall, and having someone holding on to you tends to soften life’s hard blows. You have something to cling to that is bigger than yourself. Not being alone, but an integral piece of a bigger whole, makes a difference in how you view the world, and the way you adapt to and handle the problems of life.

Still, there may come a time when the rhythm falters, and the good fit a couple has isn't so good anymore. Maybe we're no longer holding as tightly to each other as we should. Maybe one of us is holding too tightly. Maybe some of the edges we've built erode with time, or a sharp edge emerges when we look to connect in a slightly different way. Any or all of these happen to most couples sooner or later. But it doesn't have to lead to breakup . Keep listening, even when you're tired. Keep loving, even when you feel grumpy. And keep trying, because sometimes it’s the smallest bit you give of yourself that makes the difference between being with the one you love, and being alone.
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Published on January 24, 2013 17:48 • 145 views • Tags: rhythm, tara-fox-hall-s-blog

December 31, 2012

It's New Year's Eve again. While that is supposed to mean parties, to me its a night to reflect on the past year, and hopes for the one to come.

This Christmas I found myself reflecting on some of my relatives that have been gone for years. It was no so much sad, as just how much my life has changed since they were a part of it. I dust pictures on the bookcase and wonder what my old friend and used to be neighbor B. would have thought of my books, and some of her stories she used to tell me worked into the subplots of the Promise Me series. I hope she would be pleased. I look at my Grandfather's belt loops on the Christmas tree(why these are an ornament on my tree is another story), and wonder if he'd enjoy my writings, or would have approved of my country life and my professor husband. I think of my dogs Strider and Legolas and wonder if they'd have liked being known as the Promise Me Dogs, or from my online Children's stories...probably not, if it meant they'd have to not growl at strangers.

Waiting for the night to fall, I think about New Year's resolutions. The older I get, the less I think about new horizons and the more I covet time spent with friends and family. The years are passing by, and I don't want to miss them. But I also have books I want to write, and work for charities that I want to do. So my resolution for 2013 is to hope for balance in my life, that I can be healthy, happy, and fulfill my heart's desires while still making time for other things that matter. Happy New Year, Everyone! :)
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Published on December 31, 2012 11:56 • 91 views

December 15, 2012

Yes, so I stole some adjectives from Toddlers and Tiaras...these cookies ARE worthy of top honor! Try some for your holiday gatherings via the recipe below!
I created these for my husband, who said that all the recipes I tried making for him weren't spicy enough. You can halve the recipe below for a normal sized batch, but I always make this size to have enough to give away to friends and family. Enjoy!

*E's Ultimate Grand Supreme Ginger Cookies*
4+1/2 cups flour
4 tsp baking soda
1+1/2 cup melted butter (using a sauce pan on the stove is easiest - do not burn!)
2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup molasses
4 tsp ground ginger
4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground cloves
sugar for rolling cookies in (1/2 cup or so)
few sheets of parchment paper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In small bowl, stir together flour and baking
soda, then put aside. In a large bowl, blend the melted butter with the
brown sugar, then add the eggs and molasses, beating until smooth. Stir in
the flour mixture, and refrigerate for a half hour.
Shape dough into 1" - 1"1/4 balls (size depending on if you are preparing
cookies for a cookie exchange, or just for friends and family). Roll balls
in sugar, coating all surface area. Place 2" apart on sheets of parchment
paper laid on baking sheets. Bake 16-17 min for chewy cookies, and 19-20 min
for a more crunchy cookie. Cool on wire racks.

*Recipe was previously published in Christmas Warmth for the 2011 Holiday season
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Published on December 15, 2012 11:33 • 117 views

December 13, 2012

Previously published as part of the Broken Promise Tour at Minding Spot Blog, here is my recipe for Firestarter. Makes a great gift!

Firewood. The word conjures to most a warm fire, flames leaping, maybe marshmallows or hot dogs cooking. To me it means a lot of hard work.

Heating with firewood is an arduous business, even if you don’t cut the wood yourself. Each morning the cold ashes must be dumped, the fire rebuilt and started. All this is done in the absence of any real heat. In short, it’s enough to turn even the most pleasant person grumpy. Add on to that inclement weather (like shoveling a foot of snow to get to the ash dumping spot), or discovering the kindling is all gone, and wood heating can turn you downright mean. Still, perhaps the most trying part of heating with wood is the stacking.

It’s said that firewood keeps you warm three times: the first when you cut it, the second when you split and stack it, and the third when you actually burn it. This is true. I am more blessed: on average, I stack wood four to five times before it gets burned.

Lest you think I’m an idiot for this repeated stacking, let me elaborate. The wood after being split/cut is stacked in the tractor to carry to the woodshed. There it is stacked again to wait for late fall. After being carried to the house again by tractor, the wood is stacked again in the basement, then carried upstairs to be stacked one final time near the stove.

In all places but the very last, the stacks must be straight, else disaster follow. Woe to she who stacks badly! The stack on the tractor is taller than the loader sides, so balance is important. One wrong move or bump and the load is scattered like a tumbled house of cards. Stacks in the woodshed also must be straight and solid, otherwise they’ll topple, braining oneself or at the least, crushing feet. The hardest is the basement, as the stack there is freestanding, requiring deft use of flat-sided pieces on both ends in a crosshatch pattern to stop the wood from falling.

Enjoy a toasty wood fire this December. Not only is it part of the holidays and festivities, but the dry heat bakes the cold from your bones more thoroughly than any other heat source. Just take my advice: enjoy it at a friend’s home, so they can do the stacking. And to thank your friend for their cozy cheer, consider making them some firestarter. These can be used in fireplaces, woodstoves, and campfires; anywhere you’ll have a nice hot fire.

You will need:
• Candle wax (at least a lb.) I use leftover candles for this purpose that I save up all year, but any kind of wax will do. Yard sales or the Goodwill usually has cheap candles.
• Cupcake wrappers, enough for whichever muffin tin you are using
• Potpourri or small pinecones, preferably both if you want the firestarter to be pretty as well as functional
• Sawdust or woodshavings. Any kind of wood will do, but it must be dry, with the pieces more shavings than dust.
• A saucepan, muffin tin, and a butter knife you won’t mind not using again for food purposes.
• Something to hold your finished product, like “disposable” plastic containers
• Whatever you need to protect counters and other surfaces from wax splatters. This can be a messy process. Goo Gone works well, and I use old towels to protect my counters.

1. Prepare the muffin tins with cupcake wrappers and fill each ¾ full of wood shavings. Insert 1 pinecone and whatever bits of potpourri you want to. Keep in mind that your final product will be burned, so you want the entire thing to burn easily. Don’t include things like metal, plastic, etc.
2. Melt the wax in a pan. Be aware if it’s highly scented that the oils will cause it to smoke.
3. Pour wax into the cupcake wrappers SLOWLY. The sawdust may “boil” or foam up if the wax is very hot. This is normal, just be careful and don’t burn yourself. Fill each partway full, then go back to the first one and repeat. Make sure wax is to level where it anchors all the things you put into the wrapper, but not so deep that it covers all the sawdust with more than a mm of wax on top. Do not get wax on the tin itself, unless you don’t plan on using it again for food.
4. Set the tin to cool for 10-20 minutes. If you move it, be careful not to slop the cooling wax over the edge of the wrapper. If you do, let it cool before trying to clean it up. Wax can easily be scraped out of the tins once it’s cool.
5. Once mostly cool (hard except for the center, which should be semi hard), remove the firestarter from the tin with the butter knife, being careful not to rip the wrapper. Set aside until completely cool, then put in sealed containers. You do not have to seal the firestarter up, but from experience, if you do, the scent of the candles will remain strong, adding a pleasing element to the final product.
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Published on December 13, 2012 21:30 • 110 views • Tags: firestarter-recipe, tara-fox-hall

December 1, 2012


“There’s another one,” my husband muttered. “Two dead cats.”
It had already been a long night, and the last thing I needed was to pull poor roadkill off the wet street. But I told myself there wasn’t an option not to. “Turn around and go back. I’ll get out and pull them off.”
My husband turned back, and stopped. The orange cat was easy to see; his guts were strewn out by his body. I pulled him off first, then headed toward the grey cat I could barely see.
I remember thinking no wonder someone hit him, he blends right in. And then to my horror, I realized he was still alive.
Immediately I rushed to his side. He was struggling to breathe, choking on blood. Headlights were already coming over the hill. I took off my leather jacket, and then picked him up. He struggled hard, but I managed to get him off the road just as an impatient driver went around our car and raced off down the street.
I petted the cat, not sure what to do. He’d been hit in the head severely, and was almost sure to die from internal bleeding. But there was no way I was leaving him alone to die, or possibly crawl back into the road to be hit again. Gingerly picking him up, I got back in the car with him. He struggled, crying out and trying to get on his feet. I comforted him, as my husband drove towards our vet’s office while simultaneously trying to call my mom, who hopefully could locate the vet’s emergency number for us.
I held the cat, talking to him gently, telling him he was a good cat and it was okay to let go. The ride was interminable. Blood was all over my hands. No one answered at my mom’s. The cat continued to choke and fight for breath, to struggle, trying to stand up. He meowed a few times awfully, then would relax back, still gasping. Tears were running down my face as I petted him, and tried to hold his head up with my hand, to help him breathe.
We made it to mom’s. By then the cat’s movements were slowing. My parents came out, but after they saw the cat they agreed he was dying. My husband went inside to try again to contact a vet, just in case.
I continued to pet the cat, told him I was sorry there wasn’t more I could do, and that he was safe. I told him I was sorry that I didn’t have anything to help his pain, or make his passing easier.
The cat struggled weakly a few more times, then tried to huddle close. I hugged him, wincing at the smell of blood and poop. He meowed again, then his back arched, and he cried one more time. And then he took his last breath and relaxed back limply.
I knew him for thirty minutes, give or take, but I’ll think about him the rest of my life. Neither cat had a collar. Yet cat wasn’t a stray; he was well-cared for, someone’s pet, maybe a friend of the orange cat we also pulled off. Maybe he got hit investigating his fallen friend. Maybe he was a housecat, recently escaped. I don’t know, and I guess it doesn’t really matter. I do say this to whomever hit him and didn’t go back to pull him off the road: there is a special place in hell for you. I wish for you to end life as the cat would have; badly injured, your last minutes terrified feeling many cars barely miss you, choking on blood and fighting to breathe before one comes along to finish you. And may there be no one like me to come along to save you from that fate.
Two cars did stop to ask if they could help, restoring my flagging faith in humanity. And I close by sending out this plea to you all: when you see an injured animal lying on the road, and can remove it safely, please, please do that. 99% of the time it will be dead, like countless ones I’ve pulled to the side of the road. But that 1% that isn't is what you do it for. I couldn’t save the cat – he was doomed from the start. But he didn’t have to take his last breath alone or unloved. That does matter.
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Published on December 01, 2012 07:37 • 252 views • Tags: last-breath-by-tara-fox-hall