Tag Archives: Tin House

Shelf Talker Shelf Talker Shelf Talker…

What the heck is a Shelf Talker you ask?

It’s one of those pieces of cardstock paper you see on a bookstore’s shelf that tells you when an employee really loves a book and wants to draw attention to it. I think the best bookstores are the ones full of passionate readers always willing to share their literary discoveries while also cultivating a sense of community. You can learn a lot about a bookstore’s collective personality by scanning what they choose to give shelf talkers to. I have been to a couple of bookstores where there are NO shelf talkers at all and it always jars me a little, like the store is saying: “You’re on your own here. We are not excited about anything and we have no opinions.”

Oof. What a downer.

Bookstores: Show us your shelf talkers!!

Last year, at work, we introduced a whole line of new shelf talker designs to freshen up the look of the store. That’s cool and everything, but (like a bibliophile hoarder) I am a little sad about throwing away some of my old stand-bys. I love making shelf talkers for my small press section. I think it has really helped a lot of readers discover new talent through the past fourteen years I’ve been in charge of it.

So before I tossed them in the recycling, I took photos of some of my favorites and decided I’d post them here (about 140 more are not pictured). That way, they live FOREVER! Enjoy this journey–and read these books!

(click on the pic to make it bigger)


For Cowboy Maloney’s Electric City (Dark Sky Press)


The first shelf talker I wrote for Gary Lutz, when 3rd Bed republished Stories In the Worst Way.

The first shelf talker I wrote for Gary Lutz, when 3rd Bed republished Stories In the Worst Way.

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Another book that we've sold a ton of at Powell's.

Another book that we’ve sold a ton of at Powell’s.


Zachary Lipez, Stacey Wakefield, and Nick Zinner did a great reading for this book at Powell’s back in 2010.

I was so excited to introduce Chelsea Martin's magic to the world.

I was so excited to introduce Chelsea Martin’s magic to the world.

I think this was for Greg's first book, I Have Touched You.

I think this was for Greg’s first book, I Have Touched You.


For CA Conrad

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I love Spork Books!

I love Spork Books!

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Proof of my early love of all things Iredell.

Proof of my early love of all things Iredell.


My favorite literary journal.


We've sold so many copies of Ghost Machine. One of my all-time faves.

We’ve sold so many copies of Ghost Machine. One of my all-time faves.

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Still pretty obscure, SJB was one of my first writing influences.

Still pretty obscure, SJB was one of my first writing influences.

I still think this is kind of a minimalist classic.

I still think this is kind of a minimalist classic. By Paul Fattarusso.


Like how I burned the edges?

Like how I burned the edges?

The first shelf talker for Chloe's classic.

The first shelf talker for Chloe’s classic.

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This and This and This Is Between Us

Psssst. My new book snuck* into stores a few days ago and peoples be talking about it! Here are some of the fun places to read up about it…

*A cool interview with Los Angeles arts blog, Yay! LA. This was a phone interview and I spoke with Daniel for about an hour while doing while walking around the SE Hawthorne neighborhoods of Portland. I felt self-conscious whenever people walked by and I was saying something like, “I want all 234 pages to feel like they’re stuck to your skin.”


*A really thoughtful review on Bustle. I like how the reviewer focuses on the aspect of loneliness and imperfection in the book.

*HTMLGIANT’s 25 Points takes on TIBU, written by the fantastic Nicolle Elizabeth, who says the book is “upsetting” once and “comforting” twice. So I think “comforting” wins!!

My mom and me at Powell's this past week.

My mom and me at Powell’s this past week.

*I talked about sex writing and sexy words with the sexy PDXX Collective. (“I used to have a friend who had sex with a lot of her friends because she said it made her feel less guarded with them, closer and intimate. In a weird hippie-ish free love kind of way, I can see where she’s coming from. Sex is an ice-breaker in real life and in books.”)

*A really cool review of the book that breaks it down by each of the five year sections. The reviewer says “You will feel grateful for the brutal honesty and lovely secrets that you were allowed to know.”

*The Portland Mercury ran some excerpts (with a very nice intro) of the book. The illustrations are super cool and kind of hot (they move!!).

My name is on the cover, with naked butts!!

My name is on the cover, with naked butts!!

One of the other exciting things for me is seeing people taking photos with the book covers. Every day there seems to be a new one on Facebook or Instagram. I love seeing those lips on other people!

And I sure hope to see everyone next Friday for the Portland reading of the book, at Powell’s at 7:30pm (after-party at Bunk Bar on SE Water Avenue!).

Dena Rash Guzman and the TIBU lips

Dena Rash Guzman and the TIBU lips

Holly from Tin House and the TIBU lips, out in nature!

Holly from Tin House and the TIBU lips, out in nature!

*when I say “snuck” I mean that the official release date is 11/12/13, a very numerically pleasing date. I’m probably still going to celebrate that day, maybe with a trip to Fire On the Mountain for some drinks and a barbecue chicken sandwich.

The Sweltry Recap of NY/BEA

I’m back from hot and sweaty New York! This past weekend I was there to attend Book Expo of America and to meet various booksellers and talk up my upcoming novel, This Is Between Us.
I had a great time. Here are some pics…

My New York City welcome.

My New York City welcome.

I realized that the subways in NY are much longer and apparently deadlier than the ones in Portland.

I realized that the subways in NY are much longer and apparently deadlier than the ones in Portland.

I saw a lot of friends at BEA. One of the first people I saw was Johnny Temple of Akashic. While we were chatting, a woman walked up and said to me, “Hey! I copy edited your book.” I was really glad to meet Anne Horowitz, because she dominated that manuscript.
Soon after that, I ran into various folks like David & Arielle (The Book Doctors), a bunch of Powell’s peeps, Michael Miller of Bookforum, Meg, Rob, and the Tin House gang, and then Rhonda Hughes of Hawthorne.

Rhonda and Poe!

Rhonda Hughes and Poe Ballantine, sharing their peanut M&Ms with me!

I also saw the always sweet McSweeney’s booth.

Isaac and Sam from McSweeney's with Michelle Tea (who was finishing up her book signing for Mermaid in Chelsea Creek).

Isaac and Sam from McSweeney’s with Michelle Tea (who was finishing up her book signing for Mermaid in Chelsea Creek). Check out that Ikea floor!

I did a book signing at the Tin House booth on Saturday. By that time, they only had about 30 books left, so they went quick.

Hiding behind my sign. Photo by Beth Lisick.

Hiding behind my sign. Photo by Beth Lisick.

These cool little notes were given away too. I can’t believe Tin House had about 500 of these suckers (with an excerpt and ordering info) folded up for me. They must really love me.

I still have a few of these left if you want one. :)

I still have a few of these left if you want one. 🙂


Susie is trying to get my attention while I fixate on the decadent dessert. Pic by Beth.

After my signing, I met up with Beth Lisick and we hunted down Susie Bright at The Out NYC Hotel. Even though she wasn’t actually staying there, it seemed as if she knew the whole staff already and treated us to drinks, food, and treats. What did we talk about? Mostly parenting… and Mad Men. Hahaha

Besides the conference, I walked around Time Square and Central Park with my new pal Ariel Maccarone, went to see Gary Lutz, John Haskell, and others at Unnameable Books in Brooklyn, spent a whole afternoon at Mellow Pages Library, took a cab with Joseph Riippi, met superhunk Sean H. Doyle, met Penina Roth of the Franklin Park Reading Series, hung out at Soda Bar and had some of their pierogies, ate some Ample Hills “ooey gooey” ice cream, walked around Tompkins Square Park, and did my own reading with some friends for Polly Bresnick’s reading series, Writers Reading to Writers.

Lots of painters making art at Tompkins Square Park on Sunday morning.

Lots of painters making art at Tompkins Square Park on Sunday morning.

I also got some amazing French toast at Angelina Cafe with my friend Marc, who I stayed with on the lower east side. While he was at work one morning, I downloaded some of his awesome music collection (The Drums, some classic old Go-Betweens, Yo La Tengo). Apparently, the Pop Fest NYC was also happening this weekend, so we were both getting back to his place late and he’d tell me about all the cool bands he was seeing. I wish I could have seen The Bats! Thanks for the couch, Marc!

And thanks to everyone else. I’ll probably be returning this winter when the book is out (on 11/12/13).

Horizontal News

Some sweet action coming up on the horizon…

I’ll be going to New York at the end of the month to attend Book Expo of America, which is the big convention the publishing industry has every year. I’ve gone a few times before in the past, mostly as part of my Powell’s job as an events coordinator. But this time I’m going to hang out with people at the Tin House booth (I’ll be signing review copies of my novel for booksellers on Saturday afternoon, June 1st at 2:00). I’ll also be doing a reading that night with Joseph Riippi, Dawn Raffel, and others at Polly Bresnick’s reading series at Unnameable Books. Please come say hello.


Polly Bresnick!

Next month, I’ll have a story in Poets & Writers Magazine. I interviewed a bunch of writers and got their secrets on how to give a good reading. It was a fun story and I’m excited to get into this magazine that I’ve been reading for years.

And in October (a month before the novel!), I’ll be included in the Best American Essays 2013 anthology, edited by Cheryl Strayed. I’m extremely honored to be in this series. You could say I’m on top of the world right now.




Moving Into The Tin House

After two years of hard work, dizzy confusion, doubt, sadness, and eventual triumph, I recently finished work on a novel titled This Is Between Us. That was the first (and hardest) part.

The second part is selling the darn thing. And I’m happy to announce that it is now SOLD! At some point in late 2013 or early 2014, the book will be published by the magnificent Tin House Books.

I’m extremely thrilled to be working with the awesome staff there, some of whom I have known for a while–their main office is here in Portland and I’ve had the pleasure to blurb two of their books from this past year (The Listeners by Leni Zumas and Glaciers by Alexis M. Smith).

This last week, I had a lunch meeting with one of their newest editors, Masie Cochran, and I feel like she will be a great editor to work with on this book. I said yes to their offer on Wednesday.

For those who haven’t read excerpts of the book, or heard me talk about (or read from it), I’ll give you the general description:

Spanning five years of one relationship’s ups and downs—the insecurities and passions, the sadness and joy, the hopes and disappointments, This Is Between Us is an intimate collection of personal moments between a man and a woman, both divorced, both with a child, and both trying to create a good life together in Portland, Oregon.

Full of sweet moments, emotional time bombs, blunt sexuality, and laugh-out-loud scenes, Kevin Sampsell navigates this novel’s couple (“you” and “I”) through their first kisses and secret dates to breakups, reunions, and everywhere in between.

Thanks to everyone who has helped me with this book, either as a friend or reader. I can hardly wait to polish it up into a beautiful Tin House paperback and smell the fresh scent of its paper and ink.



Weekday! And Weekend!

Hi Friends!

I have two little fictions in the new issue of WEEKDAY, the cool journal printed right in front of your eyes at the Publication Studios in Portland, Oregon. This issue (their third) even has a cool embossed border and title printed on it. Editor Patricia No told me they were going for something extra fancy with this one.

WEEKDAY #3, with fancy orange embossing!

This issue also includes Travis Jeppesen, Robin Cameron, another Kevin (Champoux–which is a cooler last name than mine), and an interview with Jonathan Lethem. My pieces are called “Eight Legs” and “Seed.” There’s an interesting thing on their website where you can read and make notes on the stories. Give it a try. Go ahead. I won’t look.

Other stuff…

Well, I finished my novel and now I’m officially shopping it. As you might know, it’s called This Is Between Us (read parts of it here and here), and I’m really excited about it, even if I’m still trying to figure out exactly how to describe it or if it’s even “commercial” or “a novel.” I’ll keep you updated. If someone buys it, you’ll be the first to know. Wish me luck (or send me a message if you want more info about it/are an editor at a big publishing house with deep pockets).

In fact I’ll be reading some parts of it at Wordstock this weekend. I’m reading with Chloe Caldwell, who is not only an awesome writer but also a brand new Portlander and one of my best friends. We’ve got a good plan for our reading and I can tell you that we’re not going to hold back on the sizzle!

If you can’t catch our reading, you’ll probably see me walking around on Saturday (probably going to check out Lidia Yuknavitch and Jon Raymond at 2:00) and then I’m also working in the Powell’s area on Sunday before my reading. It shouldn’t be hard to mark me off of your Tin House bingo card. Hahaha.

Thanks for reading everyone. Talk to you soon!

Oh–and mark your calendars for October 26th. I’ll be hosting Booty Call #8, this time with Sarah Mirk, at The Blue Monk. It’s going to be great (with Paula Bomer, Michael Heald, and Nancy Rommelmann reading dirty stories).

Miss Mirk

Until next time,