Shari MacDonald Strong

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Mr. Deity: The Next Christopher Guest?

Never before have I wanted so badly to see a movie that wasn't available for viewing.

I am a HUGE fan of Mr. Deity. (Episode 9 is new.) Now, I find that Mr. D's crew is also behind this short film, which isn't available through Netflix, or anywhere else, that I can tell. Watch the trailer and share in my sorrow.

The good news is, these folks are planning to make the original short film, which was called KILLING THE DREAM, into a full-length feature film, entitled 15 MINUTES LATER. So, it should be available for viewing, if not soon, at least eventually.

Whew! Thank Mr. Deity.

P.S. There's also a Mr. Deity fan blog site for the extra faithful.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

It's Official! THE MATERNAL IS POLITICAL Anthology, Call for Submissions

JUNE 1 UPDATE: I'm still accepting submissions, for a limited time. Contact me if you're interested in submitting, and we'll talk about a timeline.

Some months ago, I posted an initial call for submissions, for a literary anthology I am in the process of compiling. I'm now thrilled to announce that my agent, Linda Loewenthal (David Black Agency), has struck a deal with the fine folks at Seal Press. The book is scheduled to release in Spring 2008, and I'll continue to accept submissions for the next couple of months. Here's the official, updated call for submissions (soon to be posted also on Seal Press's website):


In the 1960s, “the personal is political” became a defining phrase for the women’s movement. Challenging the idea that a person’s circumstances were her (or his) own to transcend, “the personal is political” highlighted the need for people to address social injustices through the political process and not just as individual, unrelated problems. This insight sprang from the recognition that feelings of exclusion and exploitation are experienced not in a vacuum but within the context of a larger group, and that sources of oppression are both systemic and political and thus must be challenged and changed from within the political realm.

Although exclusion and exploitation remain a very real part of women’s experience today, enthusiasm regarding political involvement as an agent of change in our culture has waned. However, third wave feminism and an emerging mother’s movement offer fresh hope and promise for the future. How are mothers affecting the current political landscape? What are the political and social issues that matter most to moms today? How does the world of politics change when women with children become involved? What are the threads that connect motherhood and politics—and, most importantly, what crucial work is happening now at the place where the two meet?

Exploring the vital connection between motherhood and social change, The Maternal Is Political features moving stories by women who are striving to make the world a better place for children and families: both their own and other women’s, domestically and globally. A volume of literary essays written by and for mothers -- one of the largest and potentially most influential voting blocks in the nation -- The Maternal Is Political will help women with children to visualize and claim our collective political clout: motivating us to discover, appreciate, and use with greater effectiveness our tremendously powerful (and too often underutilized) political votes and voices. How do your politics affect the way you parent? How has motherhood affected or changed your politics? Possible topics include (but are not limited to) the following:

• Mothers working for change in the education system in the U.S. (addressing quality of education, segregation between inner-city schools and affluent, white suburban schools)
• A mother teaching her child(ren) about how to love the earth and live in ecologically responsible ways
• First-hand stories of motherhood and politics from the Civil Rights movement or the 1960s/70s women’s movement
• Getting out of poverty with kids in tow (what does this woman have to say to the government?)
• Two mothers raising their children together; how are they teaching their children about nationalized homophobia and how their lives will be affected because of it?
• A woman of color’s perspective on raising a child while fighting racism (e.g., a story from New Orleans and the connection between racism and how her children’s lives were changed by Katrina)
• How motherhood changed one woman’s political affiliation or level of involvement
• Involving children in a political campaign
• A mother’s response to her child being sent to Iraq or Afghanistan/becoming active in the anti-war movement
• How one mother helped to trigger or bring about social change in her community
• A mother’s run for political office
• Growing up as the child of a politically involved mother, and how that shapes one’s mothering
• Spearheading a mothers’ political movement
• Resisting pressure to vote as dictated by one’s culture or community
• Events leading to solidarity with mothers in war-torn countries
• Mothers’ catalysts for switching political parties
• A mother helping her son to avoid or prepare for the draft (or a mother planning for a potential future draft)
• A mom voting for the first time (or for the first time in decades)
• Traveling to Cindy Sheehan’s “Camp Casey” or to a national peace march (possibly with one’s child)
• Volunteering in a political campaign for the first time
• Dealing with a child’s choice to differentiate from (i.e., vote differently than) her/his parents politically; facing the fear and anxiety (both the child’s and the mother’s) that come with a child’s political awakening
• How a woman’s family has been affected (positively or adversely) by political role models (Hillary Clinton, Barbara Boxer, Nancy Pelosi, Laura Bush, etc.)
• A mother’s fight to see specific mother- or family-related legislation passed
• The effect of “the politics of motherhood” on one’s family life
• Challenging the politics of abortion under circumstances that pose significant personal risk
• Choosing for political reasons to move one’s family to another country (or to return to one’s homeland for the same reasons)
• Historical experiences of the intersection between motherhood and war (WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Gulf War, etc.)
• Global experiences with cultures that are more politically/governmentally honoring to mothers
• Mothers raising their children in a counter-cultural fashion, due to political convictions
• Stories that illustrate ways in which motherhood itself is a form of activism
• Any event that illustrates the collective political power of mothers

Please note that the editor is seeking literary essays with a beginning, middle, and end (stories), as opposed to essays that read like op-ed pieces. Preference will be given to submissions that show, rather than tell, letting the story unfold; to those stories that subtly elicit a response from the reader, rather than preaching; to pieces that include action, dialogue, and description (also the elements of great fiction).

EDITOR: Shari MacDonald Strong edits the creative nonfiction department at Literary Mama, writes the "Zen and the Art of Child Maintenance" column about motherhood and spirituality for Literary Mama, and authors the "Girl Meets Family" column for Mamazine. Her essay, "On Wanting a Girl," appeared in It’s a Girl: Women Writers on Raising Daughters, edited by Andrea J. Buchanan (Seal Press). Shari is the mother of twin boys born via gestational surrogacy and a daughter adopted from Russia. She blogs at

PUBLISHER: Seal Press, an imprint of Avalon Publishing Group and Perseus Books. Slated for spring 2008.

DEADLINE: June 1, 2007

LENGTH: 2,000-5,000 words

FORMAT: Essays must be typed, double-spaced, and paginated. Please include your address, phone number, email address, and a short bio on the last page. Previously published essays will be considered, though original material will be given highest priority. Essays will not be returned.

SUBMITTING: Electronic submissions only, please. Send essay electronically as a Word document (with .doc extension) to Shari MacDonald Strong at maternal.political[at], replacing [at] with @. Please include your last name in the title of the document (e.g., Strong.doc).

PAYMENT: $100 plus two books

REPLY: Please allow until October 1 for a response. If you haven’t received a response by then, please assume your essay has not been selected. Unfortunately, it is not possible to reply to every submission personally.

"I Know That He Is Jiving, Whatever Men May Say..."

In honor of Easter, I'm re-posting my favorite entry from last year (because its content will never cease to amuse me):

Last week, our kindergartener Eugenia made this masterpiece in her Sunday school class at the Quaker meeting we’ve been attending. It is a cross that is decorated with foam Easter lilies and has (like all great artwork) a hole in the middle for hanging over a doorknob. This luminous work of genius (pronounced by my husband to be our most cherished family heirloom) would say ‘He Lives’ but for a brilliantly placed, backwards ‘L’: settling, once and for all, the age-old question about Jesus: “Does he, or doesn't he?”

Saturday, March 24, 2007

A Weekend with the Strongs

A Saturday afternoon conversation.

Seven-year-old Eugenia (cracking pistachios): What fun thing are we going to do today?

Me (typing on the computer): You're looking at it.

Eugenia (disgusted): You mean, being bored, with nothing to do?

Me: Welcome to life.

Eugenia (sarcastically): What fun!

Craig (to Eugenia): Wow! Great attitude, sweetie!

* * *

Craig and I arrive at the movie theater before the box office opens on Friday night and have to spend six minutes in line together.

Craig (after the box office finally opens): That was the longest six minutes of my life!

Me: I'm sorry.

Craig: ...

Me: Isn't it interesting, the things you can get away with saying after you're married that you really can't say when you're dating?

Monday, March 19, 2007

Heartbreak in Siberia

My heart is with the people of Novokuzketsk today, following this coal mine explosion that has taken at least 74 lives. Novokuznetsk is the city Craig and I flew in and out of when we adopted our daughter from a nearby city. Life is extremely hard in this region, and this blow must be nearly unbearable. My thoughts are very much with the families and friends of the miners today, and I'll be holding them in the light.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

New Zen: Thoughts on a Daughter Who Doesn't Always Obey

In this month's new column at Lit Ma: Control Freak Mother Meets Strong Willed Daughter.

Zen and the Art of Child Maintenance My seven-year-old knows exactly what she wants in life, and when she wants something she's nearly unstoppable. As a parent, this makes me proud. It also exhausts me. It's my job to keep her safe. I'm the water to her fire. I get tired of being water. By Shari MacDonald Strong.