Spotlight & Excerpt: Jaguar Paloma and the Caketown Bar + Giveaway

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Jaguar Paloma and the Caketown Bar

by Jess Wells

Genre: Magical Realism, Historical Fiction

 

In 1865 in the shanty town of Tartatenango, the Caketown Bar is owned by the extraordinary Jaguar Paloma, matriarch of a village that is home to raucous miscreants, cast-off mothers, muleteers, and forgers. Amid drunken monks, a roaring trade in faked marriages just for fun, and the Romani, all balance on the knife-edge between legality and the illicit. Paloma’s life is honed by this community, as their lives are affected by her mystery and magic.

Co-founder of this extraordinary gathering is Orietta Becerra. Breathtakingly beautiful and ambitious, her distillery builds the success of Caketown. But when she crosses the tracks and marries the town’s mayor, her double life severs her friendship with Paloma and the town starts to pay the highest of prices.

Adding to this land of chaos and feminine power is a forger, a murderer, the darker shade of the female heart, and a Civil War that claims men before their time.

Caketown – men want to destroy it. Women want to play in it. The township itself has to fight on all sides to survive.

Told in evocative magical realism, Jaguar Paloma and the Caketown Bar is a tale of wronged women who stand up to be counted.

Goodreads * Amazon


jaguarpalomacaketownbar - excerpt

After the government had burned it to the ground, it was hard to imagine the Caketown Bar surrounded by a raucous shanty town, home to cast-off mothers and unclaimed children, filled with lively mirth and mayhem together, where every day was a celebration even if not a holiday, where peacocks cawed from the backs of donkeys, and women’s wigs and bunting were playthings for the monkeys in the trees when they stopped playing catch with the dogs. Flowers of unknown origin bloomed in the night and then flew away, and blue mist or green fog rolled in without warning. It was a town where morning was heralded by a rum cask being rolled across a dance floor, and the groggy question of who had arrived in the night; evening announced by the sizzle of lightbulbs in bent sockets and men slapping the dust off their pants with their hard-working hats, women putting a baby to the breast and finally sitting down. Tartatenango, Spanish slang for Caketown, hosted every traveling circus and any Romany family who roamed the southern country of Calexicobia, every soothsayer and shabby hawker of medicinal nonsense, any run-away from the army, convent, or hostile home. No one was turned away for being muddy or misshapen or ragged. Everyone was welcome until proven unworthy and it was just assumed that everyone was on their second chance: at the Caketown Bar, sharing stories of the past was much more intimate than nudity.

In the beginning, seekers from the north trekked through the jungle, veered off a minor mule-train road just after the third hollow acacia tree and followed a wide animal track to find it. Burdened with sadness and loss on top of their possessions, they trudged toward the little town whose name was whispered among the laundresses or spoken low by the cook after a glance over her shoulder. The midwives knew of it, the women of the theater troupes and Romani spoke of it late at night.

Those who used the snaking Magdalena river that was its western boundary had an easier time finding it. The river was calm and narrow at this spot before growing wide and wild as it headed north toward the sea. Boaters set their sights on a beach between two enormous white boulders that were smooth and firm like the breasts of a new mother in the morning.

Its founding was more a protest than a selection. Paloma Marti, who was six foot five, at seventeen far younger than she looked because of her surprising height, saw the hungry glare and familiar danger from the boatmen and two male passengers on the barge she was riding. When the ringleader flashed a knife under the guise of cleaning his nails, she abandoned her small bag and dove off the side of the boat, swimming toward the inviting boulders.


Jess Wells is the author of six novels and five books of short stories, winner of the Bronze Medal in the 2020 Foreword Reviews Indies Award for Adult Fiction/Romance, the recipient of a San Francisco Arts Commission Grant for Literature, a four-time finalist for the national Lambda Literary Award, and a member of the Saints & Sinners Literary Hall of Fame. Her work has appeared in more than three dozen literary journals and anthologies, has been reprinted in England and translated into Italian and Dutch.

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Book Blitz & Excerpt: Enchanted Kisses + Giveaway

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Enchanted Kisses
by Chelsea Bobulski
(Tara Gallina)
Publication date: September 2nd 2021
Genres: Magical Realism, New Adult

What’s a girl to do when death is the worst and best thing that can happen to her?

Lily cares for three things above all else: nature, her father, and her best friend, Caiden.

Caiden isn’t the typical hot guy, but his eyes glow—sometimes literally—with a confidence and charm that make Lily’s heart flutter wildly.

When she kisses him for the first time, he disappears into a swirl of gold and silver that leaves her questioning her sanity.

Three months later, Caiden reappears to explain what happened and who he really is, but Lily is too angry to hear it.

She needs time to figure out her feelings, time she doesn’t have because she’s being hunted by death—Death Sentries who know the truth about her lineage and want her for gifts she doesn’t know she possesses. Those gifts in Death’s hands can shift the balance between life and death on Earth and cause mass destruction.

Now, Lily must protect herself against manipulative Sentries sent to capture her, decide if she can trust Caiden, and resist or give into the explosive attraction between them.

But when she learns the truth about Caiden and his original intent toward her, Lily’s head and heart go to war. Before long, she’s left to question if her life is worth protecting or if her father and the world are safer without her in it.

*For mature young adult readers and all ages above.

Goodreads / Amazon

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EXCERPT:

Caiden yanked a light-blue sundress from a hanger. “I always liked you in this one.” He threw it over his shoulder and then reached for the belt of my robe.

I stepped back, my hands flying up in protest. “What are you doing?”

“Suddenly shy?” His brows lifted. “You think I don’t know what you’ve got on under there? Your Tinkerbell favorites. Which I’ve seen on you. Not to mention, your bikini bares far more skin, and you wear it in public.”

I stepped away from his reaching arms. “Well, everyone dresses like that at the beach. And when I changed in the same room with you in the past, you were always distracted. Watching TV or reading. It’s not like you were interested.” Or had he been, and I was too naïve to notice?

He closed his eyes and crossed his arms over his chest. “Does this work for you?” Before I could respond, he said, “Come now. If I’m to have you back before your father wakes, we need to get moving.”

I couldn’t even comprehend how he could take us to the Realm of Life and have me back home before sunrise. Part of me thought this was a dream and I would wake in the morning to Caiden still being gone.

I glanced at the clock. 10:13 p.m. Here goes nothing. I tossed the robe to the floor, yanked the dress from Caiden’s shoulder, pulled it on, and fluffed my hair while sliding my feet into a pair of sandals.

“Perfect,” Caiden said, surprising me. I glanced at his face.

His eyes were wide and glowing with intense color.

“You looked?” I squealed, his turquoise orbs growing brighter. “And your eyes…”

He smirked. “I always look.”

I folded my arms, about to huff, “You what!” when his entire body shimmered with gold.

“It’s everywhere.” I pointed to his arm and then his face. I considered lifting his blue shirt to see if it covered his stomach, too.

“Does it frighten you?” he asked, in the same nervous tone as earlier.

“Why would I be frightened? I like it.” I couldn’t stop myself from caressing his arm. The texture was smooth but fuzzy, like static energy coated his skin. He twitched and clutched my hands.

“We should go,” he said, his voice suddenly husky.

 

Author Bio:

Tara Gallina is the author of the NA romance The Forever Series, and the YA retelling Fated to Die. She writes and reads romance in a variety of genres but has a soft spot for retellings.

She believes in fairies, true love, and happily ever after. When she’s not writing, she loves to visit gardens, European castles, and Caribbean beaches. She’s passionate about interior design, obsessed with throw pillows, is addicted to vinegar, favors the color pink, and only drinks wine that tastes like melted sugar.

She grew up in a small town by the beach but soon after moved to Orlando, Florida with her patient hubs, two older sons, and two fur-babies. With local theme parks like Disney World and Harry Potter, it’s no wonder her life is filled with fantasy and make believe.

Daily needs: sunshine, laughter, morning coffee, family.
Daily wants: castle, English accent, princess hair, anti-age venom.

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Spotlight: Whispers For Terra + Excerpt

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Whispers for Terra
By Nancy Houser-Bluhm
Genre: Magical Realism

Suffering from job fatigue, Mary, a speech pathologist, finds herself at a crossroads. Feeling a diminished sense of purpose, she finds solace in a nearby woods. It’s in these woods she discovers she is more than she knows. The earth spirits sense her ability to communicate and choose her to deliver a message that will influence our earth’s soil and everything that comes from it.

Seeking to enlighten humanity, an initially reluctant Mary is emboldened by a ninety-seven-year-old patient to embark on a journey of inner healing and outer discovery. Mary soon encounters others who have also been marked to carry the earth’s message. As their collective efforts turn into an expansive movement, the impact of the earth’s message amplifies, and the earth begins to sense something new: relief.

Whispers for Terra is a story of hope, inspiration, and finding one’s path, showing us the impact individual and small group actions can make to heal our earth.

All we have to do is listen.


Excerpt:

I didn’t know my World Was about to be rocked. As I prepared to step into the patient’s room, I only knew how my jaw felt as it tightened when I saw the last-minute speech language evaluation order placed at my station. My body had been settling into a feeling of relief for the end of the day. Barbara, a nurse, knew I would be off in ten minutes, but she also knew the policy stated that new evaluations had to be initiated the day they were ordered. Somewhere in me, I knew this wasn’t her fault, but I also sensed too much pleasure in it for her, and irritation was an easier emotion for me right now.

As I entered the patient’s room, I lifted my head and smiled broadly. As a kid, I was told my smile could light a room. And now, Mr. Talbot would never know I was anything but excited to help him. My soul knew the real story.

I reached for the clipboard and my sleeve slid down. I saw Mr. Talbot look at the mole on my arm, then look questioningly at me. He had no idea the mole had developed over a few short months. I shrugged and gave him a look of “Eh,” but my inner self was mirroring his same questioning look. Although most of my patients qualify as elderly and look the frailer part, Mr. Talbot, with his twinkling blue eyes, allowed me to envision the handsomeness he carried when he was younger.

I was relieved to read he was NPO, meaning nothing by mouth, and only tube feeding for now. He’d be safe from the risk of aspirating for the time being; he needed more strength and the medical staff needed more time to put a plan in place.


Author Bio

Nancy Houser-Bluhm author photoNancy Houser-Bluhm has lived in the foothills west of Denver, Colorado for over 20 years with her husband and miscellaneous pets. She hails from Michigan but always had a longing for the mountains after growing up watching Bonanza. Their current piece of heaven is called the Bluhmerosa. For some years she and her husband, Jon traversed the country moving from Michigan to Oregon, back to Michigan and then to Colorado. Once a rock climber, she now spends time with biking, skiing, camping, enjoying nature and yoga; oh yes and with writing.

Nancy received her first monetary writing award of $3.00 for a poem submitted by her middle school. Coinciding with the late 1960’s it pertained to war. About the same time, she won a statewide essay contest which took her to a presidential inauguration. She realizes she has outted herself and can never again use attending a presidential inauguration in the party game One Truth, Two Lies.

Like the character in her first novel, Nancy’s pursuit of personal growth and awareness, led her down numerous paths. In the 1990s, Journey Seminars was her effort to bring entry level knowledge on such topics as dreamwork, Feng Shui, and homeopathy to her community.

Authentic communication with herself and others has been an ultimate life quest, sometimes to the chagrin of others. A lifelong journaler, Nancy produced her own journal with excerpts from her past journal wisdoms and her husband’s art. She offered classes highlighting the power of the practice through gathered techniques. Nancy has had numerous prompted memoir-based articles in a local mountain newspaper. After working forty years as a Speech-Language, both in the schools and health care, she retired from being a full-time worker bee. It was then she began a blog and ventured into the arena of writing her first novel.

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