February 19, 1969



I was caged.

Then, I was driven.

Driven to Cherokee.

A hazy memory of riding caged in the back of a police car.

Two shadows in the front seat, the county sheriff and a female escort.

Patsy Cline’s “Crazy” buzzing from a tinny transistor radio.

Outside, the Iowa landscape bleak.

Cloudy and cold.

Condensation and frost riming the windows.

Piles of dirty snow dotting the countryside.

I, cargo.

Destination: Cherokee’s other place, the outline on the hill.

Shifting, crossing my legs…

Please, can we stop?

Hot and steamy inside.

Shivering, my teeth rattling.

Please…I have to go!

Hear something, George?

Naw, nothin’ important.


Cargo has no voice.

Madness has no voice.

Listen, crazy girl…

Two voices: We have come to take you away, ha, ha…

“I’m crazy, crazy…”

Fragments, crazy-quilt impressions, acid flashbacks…

I, crazy?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Open Letter to Literary Agents or Publishers

I was driven to Cherokee, caged in a police car.

Destination: The Cherokee Mental Health Institute in Cherokee, Iowa.

I had never been charged with a crime -- just with youthful indiscretion and recklessness. The Woodbury County court system labeled me, an 18-year-old girl, as mentally ill, a "fit subject for custody and treatment in the Mental Health Institute" (from my court records).

Memoir Madness: Driven to Involuntary Commitment opens with a short prologue:

Caged (posted above, before this post).

The narrative then shifts to Santa Monica and Hollywood, California, Christmas Eve, 1968.

Sex, drugs, and hard rock. Rebellion. Hippies. Flower Power. Vietnam. Make Love, not War. Turn On, Tune In, and Drop Out. The Establishment. The Generation Gap. Naked John Lennon and Yoko Ono. The White Album. Student protests. Hair. The Doors. Women's Liberation. Richard Nixon. 2001: A Space Odyssey. LSD. Purple Haze.

Blue Moons.

As I grooved on, my frightened grandparents, who raised me, plotted to lure me home to Sioux City, Iowa, to help me "get my head on straight."

Memoir Madness's primary narrative thread covers the months between Christmas Eve 1968 through May 9, 1969: my psychedelic days in Hollywood, return to Sioux City, involuntary incarceration in Cherokee, and, finally, escape to Pennsylvania. The narrative also includes some flashbacks to Fall 1968 and from my childhood. In addition, there is a secondary 2004 thread contemplating my return to Cherokee -- this time voluntarily and as a visitor.

The manuscript is 420 pages (about 86,000 words). My target audience: baby boomers -- those who walked my path and those who wish they had (well, perhaps a little). Also, the book is likely to draw a younger audience; the first person primary narrative thread recreates the youthful voice of 18-year-old Jennifer L. Semple, who could appeal to an 18 to 35-year-old reader.

My publications include The Re-feeding Program, excerpt from "The Big Diet" (short story), The Non-Dieting Weblog (2006); Copyright: Ethics Versus Education in Macedonia (article, page 12), American Writer: Journal of the National Writers Union (2005); Persona Grata (essay), Writer’s Digest Online (2005); Are You EVER Going to be Thin? (and other stories) (2004, Kindle Version 2012).

On the left panel, links to a book summary, blurb, synopsis, notes on narrative thread, and research note can be found.

Please be aware: now that I have already published this book, I'm in no hurry to find an agent or publisher -- I could live (happily) the rest of my days without the New York Publishing Machine behind my work.

Sorry if this sounds a bit cavalier -- after all, shouldn't I be sucking up to you?

Quite frankly, I have arrived at a point in my life where chasing the BIG PUBLISHING DREAM is not all that important anymore.

But if you're really interested, I would be willing to send to you, AAR agents and/or traditional editors, a copy of the book and/or print copy of the full or partial manuscript.

Vanity agents and publishers need not apply -- been there, done that.

For more information, e-mail me at Jennifer [at] BanMyBook.com.


Jennifer Semple Siegel

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