Happy Birthday, Musa Publishing!

Almost a year ago, I was blessed to begin a professional relationship with my publisher, Musa Publishing. Musa is celebrating their one-year anniversary this month, with a Blog Hop. I feel honored to have Musa publish four of my novels—Road Apples (December 2011), The Curious Number (March 2012), Death By Bitter Waters (June 2012) and most recently, Big Lies In Small Town (September 28th, 2012). I look forward to Musa’s publication of my fifth novel, Small Town, Add Vice, in March of 2013.

To mark this celebration, Musa Publishing is giving away a GRAND PRIZE Kindle Fire (for US and Canada mailing addresses only). There will be two Swag Bags (US and Canada only). For everyone, which means INTERNATIONALLY, Musa is giving away a $50.00 Musa gift card. Please check the link for Blog Hop rules: http://musapublishingbloghops.blogspot.com/2012/09/musa-turns-1-and-we-are-celebrating.html

The blog tour starts on October 1st, 2012 at midnight EST, and ends on October 7th, 2012, at midnight PST. Winners will be drawn and posted October 9th.

I’m offering prizes from my blog as well, for those who visit and post a comment on my blog. A random drawing will take place on October 9th, 2012, so leave a comment and your contact info, and enter to win one of the following items:

First Prize—The full four-book collection of my current Musa novels, in the e-book format of your choice.

Second Prize—One signed Limited Edition Promotional Print Version of Road Apples or The Curious Number. 

Third Prize—Select a single title from my Musa e-books in your preferred format.

While you mull these prizes over, I’ll give you a little backstory on the books I write, and why I’m compelled to write them.

* * * *

 For most of the year, I live in Santa Clara, California, with my husband, and close to our extended family, including our grown children and young grandchildren. Approximately eight times per year, we drive up to Susanville, which is located in Lassen County, in northeastern California.

There’s a disparity between my official home, and my seasonal getaway, especially in the voting records. If you take the most recent presidential election (2008), you’ll find that in Santa Clara County, 69.5% voted Democrat, while only 28.6% voted for the Republican ticket. Lassen County is a rough opposite—31.5% Democrat, and 65.8% Republican. With those vague statistics, you can easily conclude that the political atmosphere and social concerns between these two California counties differ like night and day.

As an example—in 2008, 71.3% of Lassen County voters supported Proposition 8, which amended the California Constitution to ban same-sex marriages. I don’t have the stats on Santa Clara County in regard to Prop 8, but I do know that after its unfortunate passage, Santa Clara County joined San Francisco and Los Angeles counties in a lawsuit, becoming the first governmental entities in the world to sue in support of same-sex marriage, essentially to overturn Prop 8 as discriminatory against homosexuals.

Although we’re a Catholic family, Prop 8 struck us as deeply exclusionary. Why should heterosexuals have all the fun—or, all the anguish—when it comes to marriage equality? The unilateral and heavy financial support that the Catholic Knights of Columbus gave to the Mormon Church in order to pass Prop 8 in California, galled us, and is the reason why my husband immediately withdrew his membership with the K of C.

Guilt is a required Catholic emotion, and often the butt of jokes. To keep this guilt in check, we regularly attend a more woman- and gay-friendly Catholic parish in Silicon Valley. When we’re in Susanville, we go to mass at Sacred Heart.

Sacred Heart stands plainly on the corner of Nevada and Union Streets in Susanville. It’s an unassuming building, with concrete steps and an orderly exterior, a visual austerity that complements the high volume of conservatives in this ranching community, and former mill town (which at present is supported by employment with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation). The diagonal parking slots along Nevada Street are generous in width, painted with burly three-quarter-ton diesel pickup trucks in mind.

As Catholic churches go, Sacred Heart is far from ornate, a plain white stucco building, with a simple design. Once inside, the church has small town charm. The sanctuary exudes warmth, from dark wooden pews, to beautiful stained glass windows through which light is caught and enriched.

You can literally attend every mass in the United States—barring those that still follow Vatican I, or offer Latin High Mass—and the form is the same everywhere you go. After all, “catholic” means “universal.” The litany of definitions includes eclectic, broad-based, all-inclusive and liberal.

That word, “liberal,” is really the most intriguing of definitions. Alternate usages are: tolerant, unprejudiced, enlightened and progressive, ideals the Catholic Church upholds, but isn’t always keen on practicing. Strangely, if you search for antonyms to liberal, they include bigoted, narrow-minded and conservative.

“Conservative” is defined further as right wing, reactionary, Republican, and my all-time favorite, the informal “redneck.”

Some folks might be proud to define themselves as conservative, though I find it baffling that one would want to broadcast how small-minded and intolerant they are. Further, since the dictionary on my laptop has bound the word conservative tightly to the term, redneck, I must inform the reader that rednecks are, “working-class white people, especially a political reactionary from a rural area.”

I don’t want to give the reader the notion that Susanville is inhabited by rednecks. In fact, most of the people we’ve met have been gracious and welcoming, kind and hospitable. Walking around town with my husband in our obvious interracial marriage, we have yet to be disparaged for our multicultural configuration. However, I wouldn’t advise my son to hold hands with his boyfriend as they walk down Main Street. They tried that once in Livermore, California, and were called “fucking fags” by a very tall redneck walking his wife and two young daughters. Livermore is a town known as a bedroom community of the San Francisco Bay Area, and thus, is usually more tolerant and upscale than, say, Alturas, Bieber…or Susanville.

We love Lassen County, because we can do things that would garner us a citation in Santa Clara County. In the winter, we burn wood on our wood stove. During the summer, we spend hours riding our dirt bikes in the backcountry. There’s nothing like driving down the street from your rural home, and hitting potentially a thousand miles of unpaved and unchecked dirt biking freedom, populated by pronghorn, coyote, bear and eagles. Rarely do we ever glimpse a redneck.

The only blot on our experience would be the woman we met at Sacred Heart, who invited us to join the music liturgy. This was after the June 20th, 2006 edition of the local Susanville weekly newspaper, Lassen County Times that published a very crazy—at least by Silicon Valley standards—theocratic essay on why God is punishing gays. Entitled, “Signs of the Times, Judgment of America,” its content was quite sufficient to forever brand the Times as a wacky, far-right publication without any journalistic integrity whatsoever.

When our newfound musical benefactor at Sacred Heart began to paraphrase the Times article’s writer as though he was St. Paul, we knew the most sensible thing we could do was simply stay away from this church. We wisely departed, and, as I stated in a previous blog, spent those may Sundays fishing for Eagle Lake trout. God created fishing, so we intended to honor God’s creation.

Most recently, my husband and I attended Sacred Heart—it had been six years—with no trace of the woman. Whew! That was a close call.

I love Lassen County, so I write about Susanville from the perspective of a Catholic liberal (according to the Dictionary, that’s supposed to be redundant). I poke fun at everyone, but I also place many of my characters in serious jeopardy. The Southern Poverty Law Center lists Susanville as a flashpoint of the Ku Klux Klan (no doubt, due to prison gangs in this region that offers the CDCR as the principal employer). A lot of what I write examines religious extremism, gun control, and race relations, pitting liberals against conservatives, and sometimes joining them at the hip.

I am at my best when I’m being provocative with the written word.

My latest novel with Musa Publishing, Big Lies In Small Town, explores these themes, along with female empowerment. One of my favorite recurring characters, Kate McLain Sumner, has emotional and spiritual firepower, and isn’t afraid to kick ass at the proper time.  I hope you’ll find your way to the Musa Publishing site, and buy a copy of Big Lies In Small Town. Just like my tendency to drift back uphill to Susanville, you won’t regret it!

Buy Link: http://musapublishing.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=2&products_id=393

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About karenkennedysamoranos

I am an author based in Northern California, and co-manage a small music education business specializing in jazz performance for students ages 5 through 18.
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20 Responses to Happy Birthday, Musa Publishing!

  1. laurie g says:

    hi karen

    i haven’t read any of your stuff as yet but after doing this blog hop and reading your blog i will be picking up one of your books…just as soon as i find work

    parisfan_ca@yahoo.com

  2. sepiastories says:

    Reformed Catholic turned Episcopalian turned agnostic here. For me, it was the disconnect in my mother between her weekly pilgrimages to church and the hateful nonsense she spewed the rest of the week. I grew up in Texas, and I still love much about my home state, but Canada is far more my speed when it comes to caring about your fellow man. It’s not perfect, but it’s home now.

  3. Fantastic blog. Definitely makes me interested in your work, and glad to say hello as part of ‘Musa’. Things are perfect in the UK although generally they tend to be a lot better, which isn’t to say we don’t have a long way to go with regards to all kinds of equality. Lovely read an incite into another country and way of life.

  4. Wow! I started reading your blog and couldn’t put it down. I used to be Catholic and am now an agnostic. I love your values and open-mindedness which prompts me to head over to Musa and buy Big Lies. You’re a woman with a big heart and I admire you. Being that I live in the San Francisco Bay area, specifically Alameda, I’ve always been happiest surrounded by multiple cultures and values and religions.

  5. Your town sounds lovely.

  6. Linda Benson says:

    Hi Karen – Please sign me up to win any of your books. I grew up in Northern California, so the descriptions of your books definitely appeal to me! linda (at) lindabenson.net

  7. Catherine says:

    Sometimes I miss the Latin mass…LOL. When asked, I tell people that I’m a long ago fallen away Catholic. My hubby and I also worship in nature–going to the beach on Sunday mornings. We don’t fish–we just walk and marvel.
    catherinelee100 at gmail dot com

  8. Hannah O. says:

    Definitely some books to look at buying.
    duckysblue at gmail .com

  9. ceagles20 says:

    Well I was raised Catholic but I can’t say for sure what I am now. But God hears me no matter what. 😉

    Chris
    ceagles48218@yahoo.com

  10. JeanMP says:

    Really enjoyed reading your blog, look forward to reading your works.
    skpetal at hotmail dot com

  11. Congrats on your success with Musa! Can’t wait to see what you do in Year Two! And your honesty about somewhat difficult topics is refreshing.

  12. jansurban says:

    Wow – you’re giving away some pretty great prizes right along with Musa! Congratulations on your writing success and thank you for the opportunity to gain another entry in the contest 😀

  13. Carole says:

    It’s hard living a ‘double life’ I am republican when it comes to the military and gun control, but downright democrat when it comes to gay marriage and abortion. Trying to fit in when your political views are all over the place is downright frustrating. My eccentric butt just won’t fit in a ‘box’. LOL. It’s refreshing to see how someone else handles the situation 🙂

    winkipinki1134 (at) hotmail (dot) com

  14. yganoe says:

    I love finding new authors and I look forward to reading your books.
    Yvette
    yratpatrol@aol.com

  15. Donna Smith says:

    I haven’t read your books yet, but I definitely respect where you’re coming from on a personal level and can relate to some of what you said. Not all of it because, wow. Living in a small town as a catholic in an interracial relationship and with a gay son, you certainly have a lot to write about. I have two bi-racial children and two white children and live in a small town and so I understand on some level the bigotry you face day to day. I’m glad you’ve used your writing talent as an outlet to express your viewpoints. I look forward to enjoying your books. Thanks for participating in this awesome blog hop

    Donna @ The Happy Booker
    ahappybooker at gmail dot com

  16. Dawna Newman says:

    I definitely agree with you, why can’t we be who we want to be with or marry regardless of which sex it is.

    vampiremistress2010(at)gmail(dot)com

  17. Cassandra Hicks says:

    I do agree with you that people should be free to decide but some people will never change. I also enjoyed your post 🙂
    Thanks for the awesome giveaway!
    cassandrahicks1989@yahoo.com

  18. Cia Nordwell says:

    I loved the personal information you shared. So much of who we are, and what we love, ends up in our stories. It is always interesting to hear the how, where, what and why’s that drive an author’s writing. I’d love to win any of your prizes for the contest.

    Cia Nordwell
    email: anordwell@live.com

  19. latishajean says:

    Thank you for the great giveaway always looking forward to finding new authors and books!
    What a fun blog hop thanks for taking part!
    Latisha D
    tishajean@ charter.net

  20. Shadow says:

    Hi!! Happy Anniversary! Very awesome! Thanks for letting us celebrate with you! And thank you for the fun hop and giveaway!! Many blessings to you!
    shadowluvs2read(at)gmail(dot)com

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