Proceeds for the South Okanagan Women in Need Society are still being calculated from a local author’s book launch held on Nov. 23 at the Penticton Art Gallery, which featured live performances from local artists, music, nibbles and a live reading.
Mahrnaz Massoudi hosted her launch for She's Still Here: Healing Short Stories for Women, with the intent of giving back to SOWINS while having a great time.
“It was so empowering!” said author Mehrnez Massoudi of the event. “Mia (Harris)’s and Carl (Meadows)’s performances were raw and vulnerable, speaking straight to our hearts - people were in tears. After the show someone who has been to many Broadway Shows told (me) she thought Mia’s performance rivaled anything she had seen. And the glamorous Carl Meadows appeared as an angel and his reading and performance was nothing short of magic — he dressed up as an angel.”
Massoudi spent the evening signing copies of her book, which she says was inspired from over a decade’s worth of experience as an emotional healing coach.
“Over that time I've come to realize that sharing our deepest stories is a powerful step on our path to healing,” said Massoudi. “I know that's not a new idea, but using "fictional" stories in a self-help book, where the characters take the readers through their respective realities until they find places where love and acceptance can flourish, and grief is given space to unfurl, is a new idea.”
The book features nine short stories that Massoudi describes as “an evocative portrayal of the human experience and its resilience in the face of suffering, betrayal, regret, and loss. It is also a beautifully rendered expression of love in all of its forms, but especially the love we should give ourselves."
One hundred percent of proceeds raised that evening were donated to SOWINS, an organization Massoudi chose to support because it “just made good sense.”
“It’s 2023 and violence against women is still here!” she said. “If she (the victim) doesn’t have the financial resources, how can she get counselling to recover from the harm her abuser has caused her? If she can’t stay with her parents, friends because the abuser knows where they live, where can she stay so she is safe? SOWINS offers counselling, shelter and beyond to our most vulnerable people in our community.”
Massoudi said she has “always been a storyteller,” and prior to having to flee her home country of Iran, she studied English Literature.
“As a refugee in Canada I packed my passion (for) literature and studied science that would offer more financial stability in my new home,” she explained. “At the age of 55, I decided to write my memoir in hope of inspiring my readers. I wrote about my struggle with my body image - I endured 3rd degree burns on my chest when I was four years old, and I shared my loving memories of growing up in Iran and my experience here in Canada.”
It was then Massoudi was “completely hooked on writing.”
“So I wrote this self-help book of women's healing stories. And I'm just finishing my first novel, which is speculative fiction about a women-led revolution."