Welcoming Spring from Ireland to Turkey

Folks East and West have been celebrating in the streets this past week. I happened to be in both Ireland and Turkey for St. Patrick’s Day and Nurooz, the traditional New Year for many Middle Eastern countries, celebrating the coming of spring. The equivalent ancient celebration in Ireland is called Imbolc and it takes place on February first. The day has been Christianized and called St. Brigid’s Day. Many believe the name Brigid is that of a pagan goddess. Posted here are links showing images and a film about these both of these holidays. St Patrick’s Day photos from RTE News Nurooz photos from Hurriyet News And a video on the Zoroastrians of Iran: A St Patrick’s Day bike ride Stone ruins in Ireland These photographs were taken last week on the island of Inis Mor, off the West coast of Ireland. It is the setting of one of my novels in progress. Happy St. Patricks Day and Happy...

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In Germany? Join me for a talk on Iran at TU Dortmund on March 21 at 4pm

I’ve been invited by Professor Walter Greunzweig of UT Dortmund in Germany to speak to American Studies studies students about my experiences in Iran and publishing novels and nonfiction set in the Middle East. The title of my Guest Lecture today is “Love and Pomegranates: An American Author’s Creative Interaction With Iran.”  UT Dortmund and the University of Iowa participate in an exchange program with each other, making it easier for students to spend a semester abroad. I had a chance to snap some photos before the lecture:  ...

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Valentine’s Day Book Give Away!

February and March are the months that embrace Valentine’s Day and Nurooz, the New Year, which is celebrated by many cultures, particularly in the Middle East. It is a season for celebrating both the abundance and bounty in our lives born out of love and the natural world that sustains us. To celebrate these days, I will be giving away copies of my romantic novel set in early 20th century Iran, Anahita’s Woven Riddle, as well as a copy of Love and Pomegranates: Artists and Wayfarers on Iran over at GoodReads.  Love and Pomegranates is a collection of essays, interviews and poetry by people who have found friendships, mentors and muses in Iran. Please revisit this site loveandpomegranates.com this season to listen to Persian music and poetry and read excerpts from the anthology. Happy Valentines Day to you! Goodreads Book Giveaway Love and Pomegranates by Meghan Nuttall Sayres Giveaway ends February 14, 2014. See the giveaway details at Goodreads. Enter to win...

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International Womens Musuem Breaks Stereotypes

I recently came across the online International Museum of Women. Samina Ali is curator of a current exhibition called Muslima. In her own words she explains her motivation for this show. “In a world that’s grown accustomed to denying the rich diversity of Muslim women’s thoughts and contributions, of erasing their complex differences and reducing them into an easy stereotype of an oppressed group, into lesser human beings, this exhibition title highlights the singular form of Muslima in order to celebrate the unique passions and accomplishments of each and every Muslim woman who contributes.” Read more of her statement at: http://muslima.imow.org/about/curators-statement#sthash.8egf1ReF.dpuf I’d like to highlight Bosnian artist Elvira Bojadzic, co-founder of Islamic Arts Magazine, who has contributed to Muslima. She discusses how Islamic art and culture is recovering after the 90’s war in Bosnia, which she explains was genocide. She sees her work with calligraphy as a marriage of the contemporary with the traditional. Having recently returned from a trip to Bosnia, where I visited the memorial (pictured) for the men and women who were executed en mass near the town of Serebrenica. I believe in the therapeutic value of the arts and am heartened to hear that they are flourishing again in that beautiful country. There are many, many artists featured on the International Womens Museum. I hope you take a few minutes to visit their site.  ...

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Writing, Reading and Arousal

          My agent Marleen Seegers at 2Seas Agency recently tweeted this fun article about a neurological study involving writers and readers. Do authors and readers share similar emotions when composing and reading a novel? “This fall, a study out of the New School for Social Research showed that readers of literary fiction scored higher on tests of empathy than readers of commercial fiction, a finding greeted with satisfied told-you-sos from many readers and writers alike.” Read the whole article at The New York Times        ...

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Author Matt de la Pena to Teach in Spokane

Inland NW SCBWI in partnership with Gonzaga University’s Visiting Writers Series is offering a fiction writing workshop November 16th in Spokane, WA. Please visit this link for registration and more details: Matt de la Peña grew up a non-reader in southern California. The son of a Mexican father and white mother, he was the first member of his family to attend college. He went to the University of the Pacific on a full basketball scholarship thinking his future was in the NBA – until he played a guy named Steve Nash. He earned his BA and followed it with an MFA in creative writing from San Diego State University. Today, he is the author of four critically-acclaimed young adult novels with a fifth coming November 2013. Matt lives in Brooklyn, NY. In 2012, the New York Times followed Matt on a school visit to Tucson High School in Arizona after his books were removed from shelves for “promoting racial resentment.” Read the story here:...

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TED talk by William Ury

My friend Shahrokh Nikfar, contributor to Love and Pomegranates and host of The Persian Hour Radio, KYRS Spokane, just aired a clip from this excellent TED talk by William Ury that shows us how to move from hostility to hospitality by walking shoulder to shoulder with people of other lands… I hope you take time to enjoy...

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Love and Pomegranates Abound at San Jose State

Last Thursday evening several contributors to the anthology Love and Pomegranates: Artists and Wayfarers on Iran gathered at San Jose State for a reading organized by Persis Karim, a professor of English literature and composition. I’d like to thank everyone who attended as well the Dr. Martin Luther King Library and Spartan Bookstore for hosting and providing books for this event.   I look forward to more readings or programs on Iran through out the year. Please check the calendar for the next event, which will be held at the University of Washington and the UW Bookstore after the holidays.   If you are in Spokane this week, join me at the Magic Lantern theater to watch For Spokane With Love, co-filmed and directed by Shahrokh Nikfar, a contributor to Love and Pomegranates, about his recent peace delegation to Iran. In his words, “It’s the story of a great group of people from Spokane and Iran who created magic and love by opening their hearts and minds.” Showtime 7pm.   Pictured, left to right: Farnaz Fatime, Persis Karim, Jasmin Darznik, Meghan Sayres, Azin Arefi and Brian Appleton....

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Seattle’s Iranian Festival Rocks

Last weekend I was invited to talk at Seattle’s Iranian Festival, an event-filled day at Seattle Center. Hundreds of people attended, the place was packed all day with stage performances changing every 20 minutes or so with dancers, musicians, singers, comedians, cooks, authors and others. Among the attendees were avid readers who poured over the selection of Iranian and Persian related literature all day long at the Elliott Bay Books booth. Two women from the Seattle area Tanya Fekri and Neilufar Naini joined me for a discussion about my new anthology Love and Pomegranates: Artists and Wayfarers in Iran. Both read from the pieces they contributed to the collection. “Weaving Through the Generations,” by Neilufar Naini is about finding strength and guidance from her grandmother’s carpet. In “Come and See Iran,” Tanya Fekfi interviewed Iranian tour guide Amir Haeri Mehrizi and talked about the importance of cultural exchange and dispelling preconceived notions about the other. Check out more about Love and Pomegranates over at: loveandpomegranates.com where new essays, poetry and interviews will be offered each month. Tanya Fekri (left) and Neilufar Naini at Seattle’s Iranian Festival, June 29, 2013...

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YA Review: Rogue

I just finished reading a book entitled Rogue by a fellow writer Lyn Miller-Lachmann. Lyn writes for PEN American blog and other media. In this book she is writing about a character Kiara who has Asperger’s syndrome. The portrayal is tender and authentic and somewhat drawn from her own experiences of “not fitting in” when she was in school. The plot is face paced, the dialogue direct and sometimes graphic, when called for. Lyn artistically incorporates a comic book theme in the story that is sure to entertain young readers as well as Kiara’s and her hard won friends’ penchant for BMX and mountain biking. As a previous therapist who worked with kids and adults with Aspbergers and autism, I believe Lyn’s middle grade novel rings true. Please tell me some of the obstacles you faced while writing this story about a person with Asperger’s syndrome. In particular, did you feel a weighted responsibility to depict a character who people with Asperger’s might consider realistic? My biggest obstacle in writing this story was coming to terms with the person I was as a child and a teenager. Novels for young people have to feature likable main characters, and very few people liked me then for reasons I never quite understood at the time. My Asperger’s diagnosis answered a lot of those questions about why I had so much trouble making and keeping friends. On the one hand, I wanted to write a novel about someone like myself, so that young people going through the same things today will know they are not alone. I wanted to give these young people who struggle with their differences some sort of understanding and hope—the hope lying in the fact that they have unique and important perspectives and talents that can make them valued, contributing members of society. Still, I worried that in depicting my character honestly, I would also have to present her less sympathetic qualities and risk outsiders labeling her, and by implication all persons with Asperger’s, as weird or antisocial. But an honest depiction allows for the character to grow, and Kiara learns in the course of the novel that in order to have a friend, she must be a friend. (This is a lesson...

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“The Fragrance of Naan,” by Shahrokh Nikfar

Last weekend I celebrated the publication of my anthology Love and Pomegranates: Artists and Wayfarers on Iran, published by Nortia Press. It is a collection of essays, poetry, interviews and blog posts written by ordinary people who have found friendships, mentors and muses in Iran. The collection aims to challenge many of the negative stereotypes about Iran and its people currently perpetuated in the Western media.   I invite you to read an excerpt of the first story in this collection, “The Frangrance of Naan,” by Shahrokh Nikfar on loveandpomegranates.com website. Shahrokh is a U.S. citizen who was born and raised in Tehran and who returned to his homeland in 2000 for the first time in twenty-one years. I’ve included an image of him in this post reading from his piece at a recent gathering of intrepid readers and travelers from Spokane, Washington.   Shahrokh hosts a weekly radio program The Persian Hour, KYRS Radio, Spokane, WA. I will soon upload a recent discussion between Shahrokh and myself about the story of how this anthology came to be, its 67 or so contributors, and their work on loveandpomegrantes.com and my personal website meghannuttallsayres.com.   Feel free to join our conversation celebrating Iranian culture at...

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Persian Night at Bethesda Library

Please join me at the Besthesda Library (Arlington Road branch) April 9th at 7 pm for a talk about my books and travels in Iran, along with some of the contributors to my forthcoming anthology Love and Pomegranates: Artists and Wayfarers on Iran. Visual Artist Rashin Kheiriyeh will show a few of her recent paintings. Love and Pomegranates (Nortia Press, 2013), is a collection of essays, poetry and interviews that are testimonials from ordinary people who have found friendships, mentors and muses in Iran. I will also read from my new novel Night Letter (Nortia Press, 2012), a story set in early 20th century Iran that is a companion novel to Anahita’s Woven Riddle (Abrams, 2006 and Nortia Press, 2012). Anahita is an American Library Association Top Ten Best Books YA as well as a Book Sense/Indie Choice Book of the American Independent Booksellers Association. It has been translated into several European and Middle Eastern languages. Please join us for an evening of literature, visual and textile arts, and Persian desserts....

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The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

This February I was asked by novelist Lyn Miller-Lachman, author the award-winning Gringolandia and the forthcoming novel Rogue, to write a post for the new PEN American blog , which was later featured on The Huffington Post Lyn also tagged me to be one of the next Next Big Thing Blog Hop authors. This traveling blog started in Australia. Each author answers ten questions about his or her work in progress and “tags” from one to five others to be The Next Big Thing. Many thanks to Lyn for inviting me to participate in both. What is the working title of your book? Night Letter. In Persian it is Shabnameh. Where did the idea come from for the book? Night Letter is a companion novel to Anahita’s Woven Riddle (Abrams, 2006, Nortia Press re-issue, 2013). While traveling in Uzbekistan to the ancient cities of Samarkand and Bukhara that were once part of Persia, scenes started coming to mind for Night Letter. I am also fascinated by the history of the region in the early 20th century when Iran was forming its first parliament. In that era night letters, which consisted of annonymous political expressions, poetry, and satire (written by men and women),  circulated in tea houses and public squares. These captured my interest as well as the story of the women and girls of Quchan, who were sold into slavery to raise money for taxes in Khorasson Province. The incident turned out to be a groundbreaking case in which the newly formed Iranian government stood up for women’s rights. What genre does your book fall under? Historical fiction What actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? Iranian actors and actresses. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? Night Letter is a tale of slavery, Sufi mysticism and a damsel-in-distress determined to save herself. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? Night Letter was released February 2013 by a small independent publisher of global affairs and fiction, Nortia Press. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? Six months and it was revised many times over four years. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?...

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Mediawashed Middle East

This week my blog post Mediawashed Middle East went live on PEN America’s blog. It begins: For six years I have been speaking about the Middle East in schools, libraries, and community centers in the U.S. I discuss my novels set in Iran, and my experience at Iran’s first International Children’s Book Festival. I also show photos of the Iranian school children, teens, and college students I’ve met—young women who asked me about their career paths… Read more at: at: http://www.pen.org/blog/mediawashed-middle-east Thanks much to Lyn Miller-Lachman for the opportunity to write for PEN....

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Human Trafficking Awareness Day 2013

Yesterday was Human Trafficking Awareness Day 2013. Angella Nazarian, a writer who has contributed to my forthcoming anthology Love and Pomegranates: Artists and Wayfarers on Iran, wrote a piece about this for the Huffington Post, “An Intimate Conversation with CNN Hero Somaly Mamavailable.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/angella-nazarian/somaly-mam_b_2441674.html?utm_hp_ref=impact More information on this topic is available through a study conducted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/human-trafficking/global-report-on-trafficking-in-persons.html. Human trafficking of children and adults haunts me. I have written a young adult novel Night Letter that will be released in February, which set in early 2Oth century Persia. The story touches upon human trafficking and how the newly formed Majlis (parliament) of Iran stood up for women’s rights. Other related young adult novels include Sold, by Patricia McCormik, and, Trafficked, by Kim...

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Yazd Weaver Ramazan Rezai

Ramazan’s four hundred year old walnut wood loom Meghan with Ramazan Rezai, a master weaver from Yazd, Iran, whose talent extends also to reciting the poetry of Hafez and Omar Khayyam. Ramazan repairing one of several thousand silk warp threads on his loom. Ramazan’s ikat-like silk and cotton cloth. Meghan Nuttall Sayres with Ramazan Rezai and the world’s most superb, easy-going and professional translator and guide, Amir Haeri...

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