Sunday, September 7, 2008

New Memoir Excerpt site...


I haven't posted here in a while and for two good reasons:

I decided to revamp my excerpt blog. In fact, I basically restarted from scratch.

Will this bring the literary agents running to my memoir and showering me with 6 or 7 figure advances?

Probably not, but it is my hope to create the best possible showcase of my work. The new site features more excerpts, some "out takes" (text in the original but ultimately pulled), news clips, more art work, and YouTube features related to my story and the late 1960's.

I have changed most of the links here and on the old excerpt sites to direct to my memoir site.

Not much action on the agent front. Rather than bore you, I decided to concentrate on some of my other sites. No point in whining!
So for more information, go directly to



Sunday, May 4, 2008

Quillery Press: What Happens When the Fat Lady Sings (publishing a novel online)

I have just set up an online press called Quillery. I am in the process of publishing What Happens When the Fat Lady Sings, my own novel about what happens when my chunky protagonist attends her family reunion.

And YOU are invited to Samnatha's family reunion!

So if Quillery is an online press, what is a nice editor like me doing publishing my own work? Doesn't that fly in the face of conventional wisdom?

I'll tell you why I am posting my novel on this site:

------1. Charity begins at home. Besides, if I don't believe in my own work, who will? I do believe in Samantha, my sexy fat lady, and she will get her day in cyberspace.

------2. Apparently no one else is going to publish my novel, and why should years of work languish in a drawer?

------3. Conventional wisdom is vastly overrated. Who says self-publishing isn't a real publication?

------4. Most small presses are simply variations of self-publishing anyway; If I start a small press and publish your work, you start a small press and publish my work. That's the way it works--a dirty little secret in the writing biz. A "publishing co-op" is simply a euphemism for subsidy publishing, all dressed up to look good for the colleges and universities who are looking to hire published MFA'ers. I simply refuse to play that game. I'm self-publishing my novel online,

So There!

------5. Some distracted editor or agent might stumble upon it and actually like it. I could also win the Powerball Lottery (No, I haven't done that either).

A Short History of The Fat Lady

I wrote What Happens When the Fat Lady Sings as my creative thesis project for my M.F.A. program at Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont.

Shiny new M.F.A. in hand, I, 43 years old, graduated in February 1994. At that time, the internet was still rudimentary and mostly a fearful place, filled with strange computer codes and even stranger geeks. It wasn't a place I ever expected to inhabit. Obviously, I was wrong, but I'll come back to this later.

A copy of my thesis novel resides in the Eliot D. Pratt Library Thesis Room, gracing the same room as David Mamet's undergraduate thesis, which, I must admit, I have perused.

I knew my novel was rough around the edges, so I set out to revise it. From 1994-2001, I revised it several times. In between revisions, it was rejected several times by various agents and publishers--a familiar story for most writers.

A few agents liked it but didn't feel they could take it on because it wasn't a mass market kind of book. Besides, it was "too long." And I was an unknown writer.

In 2001, What Happens When the Fat Lady Sings came very close to being published by a small press. But in the end, the editor felt that the novel was too long and unwieldy, and we couldn't agree on where to cut and other terms. So we parted ways.

In 2003, I decided to lift some of the chapters from the manuscript and develop a thematic short story collection. I carved out a 249-page collection, which retained some of the flavor of the original, but lost much of the tour de force. Thus, it was a muted version of the original with lots of gaps. But to make up for for that, I worked on creating individual stories that could stand alone. I believe I was mostly successful.

I sent it out the collection, facing yet again a round of rejections. My favorite one: "I can't sell this."

I'm not sure what she meant: in her mind, did the book simply stink or was a fat middle-aged woman not likely to appeal to a mass audience?

Well, it doesn't matter; she wasn't about to represent my work.

I seethed for about a year (well, not continuously), but in 2004, I decided to self-publish the collection. After doing a thorough search of self-publishing companies, I chose Infinity Publishing, mostly because the company didn't retain my copyright, and that was (and still is) important to me.

Are You EVER Going to be Thin? (and other stories) was released in July 2004 and is still available on Amazon.

The book has sold in the low three figures; I'm just a poor marketer of my own work; I'd rather write and work on the computer than go out to hustle book sales. It's my fatal flaw, I'm afraid.

The summer I published my book, I also discovered blogging; my first blog Ask eFatLady still exists, but I haven't posted much there lately.

Last year, I branched out into domaining (learning enough tech stuff to set up blogs with real domain names and add neat features, like Feedburner and StatCounter, but not enough to earn a living), and now I am in the process of developing into a forum, which exists solely because some poetry sites would rather censor unpopular viewpoints rather than engage in constructive debates.

I'm not a poet, per se, but I like reading it. However, I'm finding that I'm not liking much modern poetry, which seems pretentious, boring, and self-aggrandizing. Anyway, that's another story.

But I started to think about the writing field in general; I have concluded that, overall, the literary gatekeepers, more interested in profit, haven't been doing all that well discovering great literature. Three recent great books come to mind: Angela's Ashes, The Kite Runner, and A Thousand Splendid Suns--a pretty pathetic record.

A few weeks ago, an idea popped into my head: why not simply post my novel? Create another blog, slap some ads on it, and I'm good to go. Publish a chapter or two a week and forget about offending some unknown gatekeeper. Instead, become a queen of my own domain.

I'm not going to go out on a limb and say that my work is great--it's not. I just want a break, but if I wait around for someone else to give my work a chance, I'll grow very old, and What Happens When the Fat Lady Sings will remain in the drawer for my heirs to toss away after I die.

At least here in cyberspace, perhaps someone will find my novel and read all or parts of it; a small audience is better than no audience. My work will be out there.

One thing I have learned as a domainer:

Fresh content, even ordinary content, is king--in this case, queen?

And What Happens When the Fat Lady Sings IS 750 pages of unused content--a domainer's heaven.

So, for better or worse, each week I'll be posting (from the 2001 version) a chapter (or two) per week--until all 175 chapters have been posted, the cyber version of a serial.

I will not be revising (except to run the posts through a quick spell check), so it may be be a wild ride, indeed. Since 2001, my style has changed somewhat.

Will I eventually be publishing the longer works of other writers?

Maybe, maybe not.

This little press may end up being a one-trick pony.

However, I will soon be setting up an e-zine called Quill Distillery. In that 'zine, I will be publishing the best work (fiction, poetry, non-fiction, and drama) I can find. Publication will probably be irregular because when I don't find quality work, either by friend or foe, I won't publish. Period.

Check back here for new chapters of my novel.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Just Pluggin' Along...

Today, as I was cleaning out my work area, I found the above November 24, 1993, Pluggers cartoon.

So true! Note the typewriter (though I was already using computer technology for my writing: a computer, a state-of-the-art Toshiba "laptop," 20 MEG hard drive, loaded with WordPerfect 5.0).

Writers tend to be pack rats, and I'm the worst kind, but this cartoon is a scrap that I'm glad I saved. Back in 1993, I didn't have a scanner, and the internet was pretty much the milieu of computer fanatics and people who wrote strange computer codes.

I probably intended to tack this cartoon onto a cork board, but obviously never got around to it.

My first printer, which cost $400.00, was a NEC dot matrix which required spooled (fan-fold) paper and a degree in engineering to figure out how to thread it. In fact, I still have it. You think the Smithsonian might like to have it? For its time, it was a great machine; the print was clear and the ribbon lasted forever. A lot of old manuscripts printed from that NEC are still around.

Yesterday, I bought an HP Color LaserJet 2600n for under $150.00--a breeze to set up. It's a big duffer, but well worth the space; it is connected (through a router) to three computers (why do two people need three computers, anyway?).

Yesterday I received an encouraging personalized rejection from a huge literary agency--such is life.

All I need is one agent who's passionate about my memoir.

So I'll just continue to plug along, playing with new geegaws...


Thursday, March 6, 2008

Off-Topic: Supporting Hillary Rodham Clinton

As a Pennsylvania resident, I have decided to support Hillary Clinton.

I am NOT adamantly against Barack Obama, and if he is ultimately selected as the Democratic candidate, I will support him fully and enthusiastically. I like him, but I just feel it's Hillary's time.

To back up my support, I have set up a Hillary Clinton website:

I hope to recruit 100 blog team members (explained on the site). I am not asking for money, nor will there be any advertising on this site. This is purely a grassroots effort. If you are interested, feel free to visit this site. It's still pretty much under construction, but I plan to work on it this weekend (along with updating the war dead for February on my It's JUST War! site).

If you're supporting Obama as the Democratic candidate, that's okay. I respect your right to support whoever you wish. But if you're on the fence, check out the site, and come back often.


I am a registered Independent and have been for years.

I have decided to re-register as a Democrat; for me this is a momentous decision because I have prided myself on my lack of party affiliation, my free-wheeling political independence.

However, Pennsylvania may very well decide the Presidential Democratic primary, and, ultimately, the presidency. I would be very upset with myself if Hillary lost a delegate by one vote, so I'm doing something about it now.

If you live in Pennsylvania (or any other closed-election state that hasn't yet held its primary or caucus), please think about the difference you could make by changing your party affiliation.

I have downloaded the proper forms and printed them out; I will be filling them out TODAY.



Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Introducing Body Memoir Politic: Looking (A Play)

Body Memoir Politic:


A Play in Ten Scenes


Jennifer Semple Siegel

© 2008


One pill makes you larger

And one pill makes you small

And the ones that Mother gives you

Don’t do anything at all.

Go ask Alice

When she’s 10 feet tall.

–Grace Slick, “White Rabbit”

Go to the website.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Jennifur: An Internet Baby

"Creating Baby Names, One Domain at a Time."


Question: What's the difference between a $xx,xxx domain and a $x domain?

Answer: one letter "e" morphed into "u."

Domaining is a crazy business that I still stumble around in, but one thing I have learned: one letter in a domain name can make a huge difference in its monetary value.

It's no secret among my friends: I would love to own, but unless I come into a large windfall and a willing seller, that will never happen. Moreover, the .dot-tv people are holding ransom for $500.00 a year. I would be willing to pay a one-time fee of $500.00, but I can't see paying that much yearly for what is basically a vanity domain.

Thanks to my parents, I'm fortunate in that I have a great first name that I love. Unfortunately, during the early 1970s, millions of parents also named their daughters "Jennifer," resulting in an annoying glut of rugrat Jennifers who eventually grew up and are now in their mid to late 30's and making their mark in the world.

And then there's Jennifer Lopez, Aniston, Garner, Love-Hewitt, etc., so the Jennifer domains, in all Top Level Domains (.com, .net, .org, etc.), are highly prized and priced.

So, as they say, "Get over it."

Back in August, I stumbled upon this article; some domain-savvy parents are selecting names based solely on domain availability. Being somewhat new at the domain game, I thought it was an amazing concept, for when I was growing up, parents wanted to name their children after parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, etc. and/or a name that they liked.

But in an odd sort of way, wanting to give one's unborn child a solid web presence is a form of legacy and an act of love--we all want the best for our children, and the gift of a personalized domain is especially important these days and will probably be extremely important in the next 20-30 years and beyond.

Basically, if you don't have a web presence, you don't exist.

One hundred years from now, domain names may be passed down from one generation to the next, so might be willed from father to son or grandfather to grandson. More young women with personalized domains might decide to hang onto their birth names after they marry, and, perhaps, even pass their birth names (and domains) to their daughters and granddaughters.

It's definitely a brave new world.

So what's all this got to do with with this blog? Not a whole lot, except this: For the past few weeks, I have been kicking around the idea of writing an internet story or novella about a child who has been named "Jennifur" because this first-name dot-com domain was available.

I have already written Chapter 1; if you wish, you can see for yourself at

So now you know the full answer to the question posed at the beginning of this post: = $xx,xxx = $x

But perhaps my minor creative endeavors will help to build some traffic for

In any case, it will be a fun and interesting experiment in domain-building and writing rough-draft creative work directly on the web.