Two Halloween treats…

Just in time for Halloween, my funny/sweet ghost story “The Spirit of Pinetop Inn” is now up at Podcastle, as part of a ghost-themed episode with stories from two other authors:

You can listen to or download the podcast there, and of course they’re also on iTunes.

I was hoping to have something new to share here for Halloween, but since RainFurrest I’ve been busy with work, life, the FWG, and trying to get Wishing Season prepped to launch a print edition before Black Friday. So instead, here’s something many of my non-furry readers probably haven’t encountered yet: my short story “Hellhound,” which first appeared in the Rabbit Valley anthology Trick or Treat.

Rating this PG for mature themes but no explicit content.



by Renee Carter Hall


The cage was small, but being confined was nothing new for him.

The dog in pen #4 at the Braddock County Animal Shelter couldn’t remember why or under what circumstances he’d been caged before, only that the sense of restriction, of obedient waiting, was intensely familiar. With it came the sense—the certainty—that sooner or later, someone would come for him, and things would be all right.

He ached all over. There was food and water in metal bowls, but he didn’t want it. Mostly he slept, head on paws, dreaming of things he forgot the moment he woke.

The people here were not the same kind of people he was used to seeing, that was certain. These people were pale and fat, and their faces were open and trusting. If he hadn’t been able to imagine them twisted in agony, eyes dark with pain and suspicion, ribs casting shadows on sunken bellies, he would not have thought that these were people at all.

He knew that he, too, had changed somehow. His body felt softer, weaker than it had before. Somewhere—he was certain of it—he had been muscle and sinew and fangs, not the silly, tongue-lolling creature he seemed to be now.

He didn’t understand why this change had happened. But this was not where he belonged.

“Hey, Troy,” the voice came. “See if the one in four’s eaten anything.”

A moment later, footsteps scuffed on the concrete as the man came to his cage. Calling him a man was being too generous, though. He had a man’s height but a boy’s face, especially in the eyes.

He looked weak.

“Hasn’t touched it,” Troy reported back, sounding bored. That was wrong, too. There should have been fear in his voice, or at least despair—not this casual indifference.

 My master would snap you in two, he thought suddenly, and the thought confused him even more.


Yes, he had one, but it felt so long ago and even more distant than the scattered fragments of his dreams. Even so, longing rose in him. He wanted to claw at the bars, at the floor, at the air, bite and scrape and dig, to get out, to get back to him.

 Master, he thought dully, staring at nothing, why won’t you come?


*   *   *


“I’m looking for something big,” Laura said as the teenager led her down the shelter’s row of cages. It sounded like a stupid thing to say, like one of those people who turned pets into status symbols or accessories, as if she might also choose its color to complement her living room.

But as silly as it sounded, it was what she wanted. Right now she needed all the confidence she could get, and as cute as the little terriers and toys were, she wanted something at the end of the leash with more of a solid don’t-mess-with-me attitude.

 And maybe then, she thought, I can learn more of that myself. She was tired of seeing fear in the mirror, tired of catching that scared-rabbit look in her eyes.

Still, she reminded herself, she’d had good reason to look that way. The fear in her life had a body and a name, a name she’d carried as part of her own until the papers finally came through two weeks ago. She’d told herself she wouldn’t live in fear, not anymore, but it still hung about her, clinging. She’d always wanted a dog, but he’d never liked animals—and really, that should have been her first clue—but now, as new and terrifying and wonderful as it was, she was doing something she wanted at last.

She hated places like this. It was clean enough, but nothing could hide the musty smell of concrete wet with disinfectant, or the scent of too many dogs in one large, tunnel-like room. And although she decided it was melodramatic to think that the place smelled, as well, of hopelessness and a kind of mute despair, she couldn’t deny that it felt true.

She passed a grey-muzzled golden retriever that made her heart ache; an animal that age would probably never make it out. The next cage held a gangly puppy with a good bit of border collie in its lineage, followed by a red hound whose deep, tolling bark thrummed in her chest. She paused before that last one—it looked solid but not overly threatening—then decided to survey all the cages before she looked at any of them more closely.

She saw him in the last cage.

He had been lying with his chin on his paws, staring at nothing, and when she passed, his eyes flicked to hers. Only an instant, but enough.

Such unusual eyes…

It wasn’t their size or color—he had the same soulful brown eyes as any other dog in the shelter—but a quality she couldn’t quite define. Intelligence, but more emotional. Longing, but not melancholy. He was waiting. Maybe he was waiting for her.

“Could I see this one?” she asked.

The teenager winced. “Um… Well, you can, but that one’s been here three days and won’t eat. We were gonna take him over to the vet this afternoon. We’ve got a lab mix you might like…”

Before, she would have politely gone to look at the lab. This time, she stopped, as her therapist had taught her, and asked herself what she truly wanted to do. “I’d really like to see this one.”

He looked at the dog, then back at her, shrugged slightly, and unlocked the cage.

The dog looked like he’d been put together by someone with only a vague patchwork idea of what a dog should be. He was tall and lean and almost gangly, big but not thick. His scruffy coat was mostly black with splatters of white, and the fur stuck up in odd places. One ear pricked up; the other flopped down. His long tail was feathered, though the rest of his coat was medium length at best. He left the cage cautiously, not edging out or cringing—he wasn’t afraid of her—but as if he were checking her out, testing her presence as much as she was testing his.

He sniffed her hand and let her pet him. She scratched behind his ears, and his tail swept in a slow arc, then faster, and his mouth came open in a dog’s smile. The air relaxed between them, and Laura smiled back.

“This one.”

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Huntress giveaways – two chances to win!

If you haven’t gotten your copy of Huntress yet, I’m doing two giveaways of signed paperbacks!

The first giveaway is being done through Goodreads, so you’ll need to be signed up for a free account there to enter:

It’s open until Sunday, October 25.

The second giveaway will be held on Friday, October 30. All you have to do to enter that one is be subscribed to my mailing list. All subscribers as of 6 PM Eastern time Friday, October 30 will be automatically entered, and a winner will be selected at random.

If you’re not already signed up for my mailing list, you can sign up here:

(Fine print: The Goodreads giveaway is open to residents of the US and Canada. The mailing list giveaway is open to everybody. If whoever wins the mailing list giveaway doesn’t want the prize for whatever reason, I’ll choose a new winner at random. For the Goodreads giveaway, you’re not required to write a review of the book if you win, but they do strongly encourage it. For the mailing list giveaway… well, reviews are always appreciated, but again, no obligation.)

Good luck!

Huntress news and Rainfurrest schedule

First off, Huntress is now available for pre-order in all formats — ebook and print! The ebook will be released on September 20, and the print version is scheduled for release at Rainfurrest, with online orders to ship October 16. You can find all the ordering links and more here at my website. (Remember, the ebook’s pre-order price of $2.99 will go up after it’s officially released, so pre-order now for the best price!)

Second — Rainfurrest is now just 9 days away! I’ll be attending as the Writer Guest of Honor this year, which is awesome but means a pretty full schedule. If you’re headed to the convention, read on to see where I’ll be.

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Huntress now available for pre-order!

Huntress smallMy upcoming ebook Huntress is now available for pre-order in epub format!

If that title sounds a bit familiar, yes, the ebook includes my novella “Huntress” that was originally published in the anthology Five Fortunes — but it also includes three new short stories set in the same world. (I’ll be sending out a preview of one of those new stories to my mailing list later this week.)

You can now pre-order Huntress on iBooks, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo.  Release date is September 15, but if you pre-order, you’ll be getting the special $2.99 pre-order price. (After release, the ebook’s price will be at least $3.99.)

If you need Kindle format, don’t worry, you won’t miss out — pre-orders at Amazon are planned for early September, and the best way to keep up to date on that is to join my mailing list. I’ll be sending out an email there as soon as the book’s available on Amazon. (My mailing list is always the best way to keep up with all my new stuff, exclusive fiction, giveaways, appearances, and whatever else I come up with to share — plus, it’s free!)


All her life, the young lioness Leya has dreamed of becoming one of the karanja, the proud huntresses of her people. But there’s more to being karanja than just learning to throw a spear. Life among their tents means giving up family, safety — even love. How much is Leya willing to sacrifice for a place in the sisterhood? Does she truly have the heart of a huntress?

Author Renee Carter Hall takes readers into the veld for this coming-of-age anthropomorphic fantasy for teens and adults. This ebook includes the novella “Huntress” (nominated in the 2014 Ursa Major Awards and Coyotl Awards), as well as three brand-new short stories set in the same world.

And if you’d like a sample, you can read the opening of the original novella at my website:


Christmas in July sale!

WishingSince Christmas is far too magical to celebrate just once a year, I’m having a Christmas in July sale with my ebook Wishing Season: Holiday Tales of Whimsy and Wonder.

For the month of July only, you can get Wishing Season at Smashwords for just 99 cents (75% off the original price) using the coupon code ZW63S. This is the only time I’ll be putting Wishing Season on a special sale, so if you missed getting a copy back in December, now’s the time. :)

Wishing Season is a collection of 7 holiday-themed short stories:

“The Gingerbread Reindeer” – When Santa finds himself one reindeer short for the Christmas run, the frost-elf Boreas enchants a replacement. But there’s more than elf-magic being worked, and when an ancient foe threatens them all, the gingerbread reindeer finds he’s made of more than just flour and sugar.

“Special Delivery” – It’s Christmas Eve, and Phillip Cottington–a.k.a. the Easter Bunny–is already planning for spring. But when a letter intended for Santa gets delivered to him instead, Phillip has to make sure it gets through in time.

“Holly’s Jolly Christmas” – All the young reindeer Holly dreams of is to be part of Santa’s team, but no one will give her the chance–until a child’s letter starts her on a path that will take her places she never imagined.

“An Older World” – Jakob the toymaker lives in a world of grief, until a special toy gives him a chance at a new life.

“The First Winter” – A mother bear tells her cubs the story of how First Bear defeated Death. (New to this collection, and I really love how it turned out.)

“Nativity” – An orphaned girl finds an unusual place to belong.

“Santa’s Summer Vacation” – By order of Mrs. Claus, Santa and his head elf Fussbudget travel to the magical island of Serendipity to relax on the beach. But Maelstrom, evil King of the Eighth Sea, has other plans for Santa. (Exclusive to this collection!)

Get your copy for 75% off using the coupon code ZW63S here:

Just click the “Buy” button and enter the coupon code to get the special price. After purchase, you can download the book in any format you like — Smashwords offers all major electronic formats, including mobi (Kindle), epub, and PDF. And if you like what you read (or, hey, even if you don’t), I’d really appreciate it if you’d leave a quick review on Smashwords, Amazon, or Goodreads and tell potential readers what you thought of the book.

(And one last thing — I’ve just started up a mailing list, so if you want to be the first to hear about sales like these, new releases, and other news, plus get exclusive bonus fiction, sales, giveaways, and whatever else I think up to send out, you can sign up here.)


Guest post: “The Writer’s Notebook” by Renee Carter Hall

Renee Carter Hall:

And my second guest post for the FWG…

Originally posted on Furry Writers' Guild:

The Writer’s Notebook

by Renee Carter Hall

Writers today have more tools than ever to choose from. We can tap out notes on a phone or type our stories on a laptop or tablet. With all the spellchecking, grammar checking, sync, and instant backups at our fingertips, why would anyone still bother to write by hand? What can a pen and notebook give us that a word processor can’t?

  • A slower process. In today’s on-demand culture, that might not sound like a benefit. But when it comes to writing, faster isn’t always better, and writing by hand can force you to slow down and weigh your thoughts as you put them on paper.
  • Fewer distractions. When you write by hand, there are no emails, games, or social media to demand your attention. You can also write in a coffee shop without scoping out the available power outlets — and while…

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Guest post: “Behind Red Stone Walls” by Renee Carter Hall

Renee Carter Hall:

Reblogging two guest posts of mine from the Furry Writers’ Guild blog — this first one being an appreciation of Brian Jacques’ influence on my work/writing life.

Originally posted on Furry Writers' Guild:

Behind Red Stone Walls

by Renee Carter Hall

Many readers’ experiences with Brian Jacques’ Redwall books began in childhood. I was in my senior year of high school when I first discovered the books, but as with all of my reading, age never mattered, whether it was my age or the intended audience of the books.

martin coverAt that time, since I didn’t have a good bookstore close to home, I picked up a lot of my casual reading from the book and magazine sections of local grocery stores. One day I found Martin the Warrior on those racks alongside thrillers and romances, and from the first glance at the cover, I was hooked.

It was a while before I realized the book was technically children’s fiction. This paperback edition was mass-market size, not the larger format I was used to for middle-grade fiction, and the bookstore where I bought the…

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