Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Had To.

When Mer and I arrived in Brockport, we drove down Main Street and she shouted for me to pull over and take a picture by the Strand. I've told her numerous times about the middle school ritual of going to see a movie with my friends and then running out to the phone to call my mom to pick me up so I wasn't the last one there.

Isn't it weird to remember life before cell phones? How did people ever get in touch with one another? I forget. When we were kids and went to the mall with my parents, we ALWAYS lost each other. It wasn't a trip to the mall for us without hearing a store-wide page over the intercom that said, "Martin family, please meet your father at the information kiosk."

Anyway, a pic of the Strand.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Brockport, Je T'aime. Part Deux.

More pics from the Open-Eyed Sneeze event at Esther's. Thanks again everyone!

Brockport, Je T'aime.

The third leg of the Open-Eyed Sneeze Tour brought me back to my hometown, Brockport, NY. Thanks to the generosity of Esther's Farm Market, I was able to have the book event in the most appropriate Brockport venue imaginable.

I worked at Esther's throughout high school when my family's farm ran the market and I spent countless hours serving up ice cream, laughing with friends, selling pumpkins and apples in the fall, corn and strawberries in the summertime, Christmas trees in the winter, you name it. The job was a blast and I have so many smile lines because of the memories I made there. I loved that I was able to reconnect with so many wonderful people from my past in the market that sits on my family's farm. It felt exactly how coming home should feel.

I'm also so incredibly lucky to come from a town where people always nod and smile genuinely when you share an idea. Do you know how freeing it is to have that kind of support? People route for each other in Brockport. It's freaking amazing and completely humbling.

OK, love letter over. But a huge thank you to the following people:
-Carolyn and Esther's Farm Market
-My mom and Mrs. Koutras for decorating the Market like something from a French Country magazine geared toward boutique literary events involving old farm equipment and cookies. It's a niche magazine. Limited circulation.
-The amazing people who came to support the book and say hello. I loved seeing all of you!
-Brockport Schools. So proud of my public school education.
-The town in general for being such a friendly place to grow up. Nice people are underrated but 10 times out of ten will make your day.

Mrs. Koutras and my mom spent the morning putting the finishing touches on the market and made me wait outside for the reveal. Here's video of the pre-event reveal.

More pics to come! Thanks again B-town!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Thanks, Mrs. Radack!

I attribute my love of telling stories to three defining factors in my early life.

1) My Aunt Sophie's kitchen table.
When we were kids and would visit my family in Long Island, I used to love to wake up in the morning and find everyone sitting around my Aunt Sophie's kitchen table eating Entenmann's, drinking coffee, and laughing. I would squeeze my little fat kid self around the table, kissing everyone good morning, looking for find a good seat for coffee cake (obvi) and the best people-watching view. My mom's side of the family is very good at telling and listening to stories and the exchanges that took place in that kitchen really made me appreciate things like timing, facial expressions, the importance of not laughing at your own joke until other people have started to laugh-- basically, I learned how to tell a story out loud by listening to what worked around that table.

It should be noted that my mom's side of the family is quite loud and the huge bursts of laughter that followed some stories fascinated me. I wanted to know what caused that laughter, why some things people said just cracked everyone up so much. So I spent my time shoving my face with chocolate covered donuts watching everyone as a story was told. I learned a lot about a lot about repetition, a lot about the importance of the unexpected, and a lot about repetition. One of the biggest accomplishments that I can point to in my life is when I first told a story around that table that made everyone laugh until they cried. I felt like I had figured something out.

2) Bunk Beds.
Nessa and I shared bunk beds when we were little and before we went to sleep every night she'd ask me to tell her a story. I'd ask her to give me character names and a word, any word, and I'd make up a little story. I never knew when she fell asleep because she was on top bunk and I think that lack of pressure, just being able to talk and talk helped me think about what I liked to talk about. The things that I like to talk about are pretty much the same things that I like to write about.

3) My fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Radack.
Mrs. Radack was the first person outside of my family to see something in my writing. She used to read the stories I wrote as soon as I finished them and I'm convinced that her incredibly positive feedback and encouragement gave me the confidence I needed at that age. Encourage a kid, people! You have know idea what it might do for them! (Cue music and star graphic: The more you know...)
Anyway, I received this email from Mrs. Radack and I had to share. Note: Perhaps my Ontario video report is a video blog for the future.
Dear Jessica
I am very disappointed that I can't attend your book signing. I am going to Philadelphia to visit my daughter and we have tickets to see the phillies play. I would like five copies of your book please. One for me and four others: Emily, Jane, and two more.
I wish you all the best. I certainly enjoyed the writing of your ten year old self...the description of the fishing show pops into my mind. The video report of Ontario was also very memorable.
I hope to make your next book signing.
Mary Radack

Thursday, June 16, 2011


Returning to Brockport and the farm for a book event next Saturday, June 25th. If you read this and live in the area, I'd love to see you. It's going to be a lot of fun! Or not. But won't not knowing drive you crazy?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Wait Mr. Postman!

If I were to give a guided tour of the journey of my book and its attempts to be published, I'd have pit stops at post offices around the country. The United States Postal Service and my book have a long history.

It all started in a little post office in the Haight in San Francisco, where I waited with seven thick envelopes full of query letters and sample chapters to be sent out to the first round of literary agents. I remember everything about that day. Waiting in the long line, fanning all the envelopes out so people around me could see the addresses in New York and key words like, "Agency" and "Books" and "Media Group." I desperately wanted someone to ask me what I was sending because I was so excited about it. No one did. But I remember sending texts to my most important people as soon as I left the post office. "Sent them out!"

This was back in early 2007. After numerous returns to that post office in the Haight, I made my way to the post office in Astoria, Queens where I continued to search for representation for my manuscript. Those visits were somewhat less charming. The most horrible man in the world worked the window there and never cared what I was doing. I hated the Queens post office and wasted a lot of time and a lot of money sending things out there.

The tiny tiny little post office in Clarkson, NY was always good to me, and the postal employee smiled as I came in once a week with a new batch of samples to be sent out. "I'm trying to publish a book" I sheepishly offered one day. He just smiled and nodded.
What was I expecting?

When I moved to Boston, I sent almost everything out by email. It was cheaper, faster, and preferred by almost everyone in the publishing industry. The JP post office is important to me because that's where I sent off my agent/author agreement when I finally found representation. We all know how that turned out...

Anyway, today I went to the post office to send out a few new orders. People have been buying my book online and I just about pee my pants every time this happens. When the postal worker asked me if the envelope contained anything perishable, poisonous, flammable, blah blah blah, I answered no.
"Is it a book?" he asked.
"You got it. Good guess." I replied.

Looking around, not even thinking of it, it struck me that I was sending out the actual book that had lived so many different stages of its life in post offices. Getting excited and not thinking of my volume I shouted, "It's my book!" Checking myself and returning to an indoor voice I said, "I wrote the book in there."

Nodding and smiling the way I've seen a thousand times before in post offices he said, "Good for you, hon."

It made my entire freaking day.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Schmear and Schmooze.

On Tuesday Zaftigs Delicatessen hosted the Boston launch for my book. I also happen to work at said Delicatessen. This entire event was the brainchild of my boss Harvey, and I owe him a huge thank you for all his efforts! Also, A huge thank you to Bob and Holly for their incredible generosity of the space, the amazing food, and all the wine.

Note to self: Free wine and book signings do not mix well. The most cringe-worthy note signed to none other than my girlfriend's mother, "Thank you from the bottom of my bottom."


It was a wonderful evening with coworkers, my favorite regulars, amazing Boston buddies, family, and friends of friends. A sincere thank you to everyone who came!

Just rolling all my books in a suitcase to a deli. nbd.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Better Late Than Never.

In case you missed it, here are my remarks at the event in New York. Having to listen to myself speak is painful but I decided to post this anyway because it's sort of the culmination of everything this blog was about for the last five years-- getting my book out there. Thanks again to everyone who came to the launch in NYC and thank you to all of you who have read the book!

Note: The microphone system at the venue was a little weird and if I held the mic more than a centimeter away from my face, music turned on. That might help explain why the sound is horrible.

Note 2: We should all be so lucky as to have one person in the audience who is always willing to laugh the loudest.

Hope to see Boston people tonight! I'm thinking I won't do a reading but instead, an extended rant about babies in restaurants. "There's a baby on the floor. Whose baby is this?"

Sunday, June 05, 2011

I Heart Farmers and My Hometown.

I'm trying to plan a hometown event for the book and my mother suggested that I ask to use Esther's. It's probably one of the better ideas she has ever had.

For those of you who haven't had the pleasure, Esther's is a dream. Trivia Note: Esther is my great-grandma. It used to be my family's farm market and ice cream shop until a dairy farmer friend of my father's took it over. It's pretty much the best thing about Brockport in the summer. Warm nights, good laughs, ridiculously delicious cones, and the calm of farm fields all around you. What's not to love?

I have to say, my dad has some of the nicest friends around. When he and my mom talked to Carolyn (the owner) about the possibility of having a Brockport event at the store, she didn't even hesitate. "You tell her to call me."

So because I like to think I've learned a thing or two from Sabrina, I had a list of questions written out and ideas to discuss with Carolyn when I called today. Here's how the conversation went:

C: Hello?
Me: Hi Carolyn! This is Jessica Martin, Steve's daughter.
C: Oh, hi Jessica! [Loud noises]
Me: Have I called you at a bad time?
C: Well, it's a nice day out. Ice cream and nice days, you know.
Me: Right, well I'll call you tomorrow. Is that OK?
C: No, it's fine. You want to do the book signing here, right? Anything you want to do. Whenever you want to do it.
Me: Wow, thank you! In terms of setting a time?
C: We open at noon and close at dusk.
Me: Right. Perfect. I'll be in touch.
C: OK, Bye!

I looked down to my paper and stared at the only note I had taken-- "Noon-Dusk."

This is my kind of event planning.
Stay tuned for more info!

Friday, June 03, 2011

Boston Leg of The Tour!

Hey, if you live in the Boston area will you please come to this?! OK, thanks.