Category Archives: nowhere bookshop

I’m not good at being an entrepreneur, I think.

Mural by Jennifer Khoshbin and Nanako Pastol

So, this month Nowhere Bookshop will finally be open for business (if we can get everything together) and everyone has asked if we’re having a grand opening but honestly, that sounds terrifying so last month I told Victor and Elizabeth that instead of a GRAND OPENING LAUNCH PARTY we should just have a series of mediocre openings (like, one a month for a year) so that people don’t feel bad if they miss it because then they can just come to the one next month and it won’t be super crowded and busy that way and then Victor and Elizabeth looked at me and sighed because I guess you’re supposed to have lots of customers to stay in business, but then this coronavirus stuff happened and suddenly they’re like, “You fucking planned this” and I’m totally not organized to plan a pandemic but also it is a tiny bit nice that the advice to “avoid giant crowds and stay home reading” is something I’ve been excelling at my whole fucking life.

Wow that was a long sentence.

ANYWAY, I think what we’re going to do is open sometime this month but not have a giant party and that way you don’t have to feel like you have to come for one specific three hour party where everyone is crowded and our team freaks out because they’re all new, and instead you can just drop in whenever you want to come and enjoy the quiet loveliness of an introvert’s delight.  And if you want to come to one of the many mediocre openings we plan to have in the future you can and we’ll have fun things going on that day.  Like giveaways or contests or live baby alligators or something.  And for those of you who can’t travel or come to visit anytime soon we plan to have an online grand opening where we have a live-streamed party with basically just me and a bartender and maybe I’ll read some of my upcoming book or we’ll just get drunk together and gossip about our favorite reads and dress up the taxidermy and then fall asleep in the stacks and you can just order Nowhere merch and books on our website.  Wouldn’t that be fun?  Yes.  Yes, it totally would.

Also, a giant thank you to everyone who has joined the Fantastic Strangeling Book Club or supported us in other ways because honestly this has been a very expensive endeavor and opening an independent bookshop during the middle of a pandemic is pretty much a recipe for bankruptcy but with your support we’re able to keep going even through the craziness.  Your support holds up the business and our employees and authors and basically a whole microcosm of awesomeness and I can not tell you how grateful I am.  Thank you.

I’ll post more soon but I just wanted to keep you posted and also I wanted to say that I’m usually a big hugger but until the coronabullshit is gone I’m not going to hug but I will still TOTALLY take selfies with you so if you see me you should totally still stop me to ask.  It may sound overly cautious but I’m immunocompromised so I have to be really protective.  The combination of anxiety disorder and immune system crap makes for shitty bedfellows but chances are that we’re going to be okay.  But go wash your hands just in case, okay?  And get enough sleep.  And drink liquids.  And keep an eye open for our series of mediocre openings and our online grand opening where literally no one will be at the store but me.  I am the worst business owner ever.

Hello Strangelings!

Hello strangelings!

If you’re a member of our fantastically strange bookclub then you may already have this month’s book, American Sherlock, in your hot little hands and I’m even seeing that some of you have already devoured it in a single night because you couldn’t put it down, and I could not relate more.

If you’re on Facebook you can discuss the book at the Fantastic Strangelings Book Club page or if you hate Facebook you can discuss it here.  Or you can just read it and lurk, or keep it to read when you need an escape.  THERE ARE NO RULES.

Kate Winkler Dawson, the author, was kind enough to answer a bunch of questions for us.  There aren’t any massive spoilers but if you prefer to go in blind maybe skip this part until you finish the book, and page down to see our March book pick!

*****
Jenny: I was shocked that considering all I’ve read about true crime and forensics I’d never heard about the subject of your book, Oscar Heinrich. How did you discover him?
Kate: I love old true crime stories, like super old–pre-1960s. A few years ago I bought an encyclopedia of American crime that was printed in the 1970s and I started searching for a case that could serve as the spine for my next book.
There were loads of mobsters in the 1920s (more than I thought) and I was losing hope. Around page 100 there was a story about a botched train robbery in 1923. The writer mentioned a forensic scientist named Oscar Heinrich, “America’s Sherlock Holmes.” The story described how he solved the case using latent clues that he found on a pair of overalls and it was really incredible. So my interest in Heinrich really started with that book. And I refuse to tell anyone the title because I’m convinced that I’ll discover all of my future books there.
Jenny: What was the most exciting discovery you made in your research?
Kate: Oh, definitely how his father died. I promised my editor that I won’t spoil anything, which is a tall order. I’ll just say that I had always been confused about why he was so obsessed and controlling with money. A few weeks before I was due to turn in the book, I did a random search on newspapers.com and found out about his father’s death and everything became clear. I know that sounds ambiguous, but it was a watershed moment for me.
Jenny: You told me something cool about the cover. Can you share it with everyone else?
Kate: Yes! Chapter Five is called “The Case of the Star’s Fingerprints.” It’s about silent film star Fatty Arbuckle’s manslaughter trial, which was the trial of the century in the 1920s. Heinrich visited Fatty in jail and took his fingerprints and handprints for evidence. It seemed appropriate (and a little creepy) to put Fatty’s handprint on the cover!
Jenny: They say that if you stare long enough into the abyss, the abyss stares back. Does that ever happen when you immerse yourself in these dark stories?
Kate: Yes, I definitely have moments that are odd. Like I was driving alone through Central California last October. It was just me on the road with rolling hills and NOTHING ELSE. I thought, “man, what a great place to leave a body. You wouldn’t even have to go very far off of the highway.” So…that’s probably not normal.
Jenny: I love how you were able to make the scenes so real and fascinating. How do you decide how much creative license to take?
Kate: It’s funny because I’ve had a few people approach me at events and say, “so this is MOSTLY true, right?” Um, no. All of it is true, otherwise we can’t call it nonfiction. Every word in my books is true and sourced. But there are certainly ways to amp up the drama using good research. I LOVE photographs and Heinrich was an avid photographer. He was such a control freak that he rarely allowed anyone else to document his crime scenes so I had access to hundreds of crime scene photos. Photos can really tell you so much.
Jenny: I love how you present the facts objectively…but just between you, me and 2,000 bookclub members….what do you think really happened to Allene Lamson?
Kate: Honestly…I think she slipped and fell and died. David Lamson really didn’t present before, during, or after as a killer.
I can hear your book-clubbers saying: “Seriously?? You know that psychopaths are fantastic manipulators and actors.”
But think about the order of events: would he really kill her, then go outside and do yard work while talking to neighbors? And then invite a real estate agent inside as he finds the body? She had only been dead an hour. It doesn’t make sense.
More importantly if you look at the forensics, there is literally no void in the blood pattern in that tiny bathroom. She spilled half of the blood in her body and it went everywhere. There would have been a void, even if David had thrown her onto the sink. He would have blocked the spatter.
None of it tracks as a murder, to me. But I want to know what everyone else thinks!!
Jenny: What are you working on next?
Kate: The third book is top secret BUT…think Hannibal Lecter meets 19th century Mindhunters. I love, love, love forensic psychiatry and digging into how a criminal’s mind works. I’m also coming out with a historical true crime podcast later this year called “Tenfold More Wicked.” Each season is a six episode, deep-dive into a crime that made history and what we can learn from it now.
Jenny: And my last question…HOW IS THIS NOT A MOVIE YET?
Kate: Right??? I ask my agent that all the time! We’re working on it…I promise. Or a TV series.
*******
So I know you’re just now getting February’s book but do you want a sneak peek at March’s book club pick?
Of course you do.

It’s We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry.

When Elizabeth gave it to me and was like, “You’ll love this” I kind of doubted her because there’s sports in it and I don’t like or understand sports but she assured me it was amazing and she was totally right.

Here’s a quick summary:

ABOUT WE RIDE UPON STICKS:
Acclaimed novelist Quan Barry delivers a tour de female force in this delightful novel. Set in the coastal town of Danvers, Massachusetts, where the accusations began that led to the 1692 witch trials, We Ride Upon Sticks follows the 1989 Danvers High School Falcons field hockey team, who will do anything to make it to the state finals—even if it means tapping into some devilishly dark powers. In chapters dense with 1980s iconography—from Heathers to “big hair”—Barry expertly weaves together the individual and collective progress of this enchanted team as they storm their way through an unforgettable season.

Helmed by good-girl captain Abby Putnam (a descendant of the infamous Salem accuser Ann Putnam) and her co-captain Jen Fiorenza (whose bleached blond “Claw” sees and knows all), the Falcons prove to be wily, original, and bold, flaunting society’s stale notions of femininity in order to find their glorious true selves through the crucible of team sport and, more importantly, friendship.

This was one of those books where as soon as it was over I literally missed the characters, and I desperately wished I could go back to high school me and give it to myself to read. Also, the author is a poet and you can totally tell because her prose is painfully good.

Thanks again for everyone supporting this strange and wonderful bookclub.  It’s helping so much to pay for the construction (which might actually be done in a few weeks   – ALL FINGERS AND TOES CROSSED).

Also, in case you’re just now hearing about this…OMG, YES YOU CAN TOTALLY JOIN THE BOOKCLUB.  Click here for all the glorious details.   And if you can’t afford to join at the moment you can always be an honorary member and pick up the book at the library or your local indie bookshop.  Discussion is open to everyone.

Happy reading!

Introducing the first book pick for the Fantastic Strangelings Book Club!

Hello and welcome to the first month of the Fantastic Strangelings Book Club!

If you’ve already become a member of the book club you got an email yesterday telling you what our first book pick is.  Yay!  (If you didn’t get that email check your spam filter and if it’s not in there email us at orders@nowherebookshop.com so we can make sure you’re in the system.  This post will cover most everything in the first letter.)

If you’re reading this and going “THERE’S A BOOK CLUB?  HOW DID I MISS THIS?” then yes, there is and you should click here if you want in.

So first off, THANK YOU.  I honestly was crossing my fingers that there would be at least 50 people in this strange little book club.  At present?  There are over 1,100 of us.  WTF, y’all.  That is amazing for a lot of different reasons but here are just a few:  This enables Nowhere Bookshop to stay in business even during these months where the building is being gutted and costing a fortune.   And secondly, an author selling 1,000+ books unexpectedly can make such an incredible impact.  It helps in ways you can’t possibly imagine and it helps grow the industry so that more people are able to tell their stories.  It encourages publishers to take chances on authors and that means more stories for all of us.  Everyone wins.

The only downside is that because I so drastically underestimated how many of you wanted in to this amazing club it means we need to switch over to a different payment system because the one we were using would require us to print out each one by hand and then our hands would fall off.  So, if you’re a member you’ll be getting an email from us via Zoho Subscriptions (sometime between now and Wednesday) with your subscription info that you just need to enter your payment info into.  Sorry about the growing pains here.  Using Zoho will simplify billing for us going forward and will make it easier for you to manage your subscription without having to contact us first.  (PS.  You’ll be billed on the 10thof each month in case you’re wondering.)  If for some reason you haven’t received the Zoho email by Thursday reach out to us at orders@nowherebookshop.com and we’ll help you.

So now for the exciting announcement.  The first book will be going out to you later this month and it’s so good.  It’s called Follow Me to Ground by Sue Rainsford.

(Synopsis:  Follow Me to Ground is a haunted, surreal debut novel about an otherworldly woman and her father who are touched by the power to heal illness and live on the edge of a village where they help sick locals – or “cures”- by cracking open their damaged bodies or temporarily buying them in the reviving, dangerous Ground nearby. Slim but authoritative, Follow Me to Ground lingers long after its final page, pulling the reader into a dream between fairy tale and nightmare, desire and delusion, folktale and warning.)

I’m not sure if it’s horror, sci-fi, fantasy realism, folklore, or all four but it’s really haunting and weird and strange and beautiful and as soon as I read it I immediately gave it to my mom to read so I could discuss it with someone and I can’t wait until you read it because someone needs to talk it through with me.

The book isn’t released in America until the very end of the month but we reached out to the author and publisher and they were so thrilled to have so many of you wanting to read it that they agreed to send us copies early. Also, as a bad-ass surprise thank you the author is personally signing 1200 bookplates for the first 1,200 members so if you get in early enough you’ll see that in your package along with your pin and book.

WHOOP!

There is a facebook page for the Fantastic Strangelings Book Club but if you don’t do facebook and still want to discuss the book you can totally do that here.  Each month when the book ships I’ll announce it on the blog the comments on that post will stay open on that post for discussion. Also, if you just want to read the book and not discuss anything you are not alone so no worries if your favorite part of the book club is just reading and then avoiding all contact.

A few of you were concerned about what the costs were going to be each month since all books have different cover prices and that can be hard to budget for so we’ve decided to just charge a $25 flat fee for each book (plus tax if you’re in Texas, and shipping) each month.  Most hardbacks are $23-$27 a month so we’ll eat the extra if it’s more and if we end up with a less expensive book that month we’ll add something extra (like Nowhere postcards or magnets or stickers) to make sure you always get your money’s worth.  (Shipping is $5-8 if you’re in America but outside America it’s $20, which is sort of insane and makes me want to open a tiny outlet in Canada in the future.)

The books and nameplates should come in the next week or two (the author is in Ireland signing her little fingers to the bone right now) and as soon as they get here we’ll start packing them and whisking your lovely packages off to you.

Happy reading, you magnificent lovers of books!

PS.  I just devoured the book for February and it is SO GOOD, y’all.  It’s non-fiction true crime history and so fascinating.  And I haven’t read the book I think I’m picking for April yet but what I’ve seen is hilarious and you are going to love it.  I don’t want to give out any titles until we’re sure we can get enough books to fill all the orders but I’m so excited.

PPS.  Are you overwhelmed by this long post?  No worries.  Here’s the TLDR: If you’ve already signed up for membership you should have an email telling you that you’re gonna be getting an email which will tell you how to sign up for the subscription service in the next few days.  If you didn’t get that first email from us within a day of signing up just let us know at orders@nowherebookshop.com.  If you don’t get the second letter from us via Zoho subscription by Thursday just email us and we’ll make sure you’re taken care of.  If you haven’t signed up yet but want in then just go here to sign up and you will get the welcome letter from us (basically everything in this post) within a day or so (we’re doing this all manually so please be patient) and then the zoho email later to complete your stuff.  If you want to sign up now but can’t afford it at the moment you can be an honorary member and read along with a library copy.  The Facebook page is open to everyone.

PPPS.  For real, thank you.  I super crazy love you.

 

 

 

 

Book-Loving Strangelings Unite!

Have you ever wanted to join a group of well-read, like-minded weirdos who have your back and aren’t afraid to stab a bitch in the thigh with a fork if things get out of hand?

Have you yearned to join a book club because you love reading but you have misgivings because it would require you to leave your house and put on pants and talk to people in real life?

Have you ever read a book and thought, this is the best thing I’ve ever read but I’m not sure anyone else in the world will get it and then later you find someone whose favorite book is also about murderous dwarves or true stories from morticians or hilarious essays or some other thing you thought made you a total weirdo but actually made you just the right kind of weirdo?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then your presence is formally requested at the Fantastic Strangeling Book Club.

badge for the club. includes image of bloggess, hamlet von schnitzel and books

WTF is a Strangeling?

A strangeling is a word I made up to describe those people who are strange and unusual in the best possible way.  They often feel like outsiders or misfits until one day they find their strange tribe of others and then realize that they are not alone.  Additionally, your spellcheck will try to change it “strangling” and that actually makes things very interesting when you email your dick boss that you can’t stay late because you have work to do for your strangling club.  EVERYONE WINS.

What is the Fantastic Strangeling Book Club?

It’s a monthly book selected by me delivered right to your front door.

What does it cost and what do I get?

There’s a $10 enrollment fee to get set up.  Then you’re charged the list price of the book (plus tax if applicable) and shipping every month when the book ships out. All books will be brand new that month – some hardcovers and some trade paperback originals.  You can cancel at any time.

What else do I get?

Each new enrollment gets a bad-ass Nowhere Bookshop enamel pin in their first shipment. We’ll also include little gifts randomly throughout the year.

When will the book club actually meet?

HAHAHAHAHA.  Oh, you’re serious. This is a book club made by introverts for introverts so you never have to actually leave your house unless you totally want to.  We have a special facebook group where we can discuss the book and make friends and feel social even when we’re hermity and maybe sometimes we’ll even be joined by the author.  If you live in San Antonio I’m guessing there will be meet-up by members all the time so if you want to come out and have a drink when the store opens that will totally be amazing.

But what if I’ve already bought this month’s book? 

These will all be new releases so hopefully that won’t ever happen but if for some reason you have a weird conflict (like the author looks like the girl who stole your Lisa Frank notebook in 7thgrade) then you can email us before we ship and we’ll try to send you something else or you can skip that month and pick back up next month.

I already have too many books.

I’m sorry.  I understand these words separately but not in that order.

I can’t afford a membership and now I’m sad.

I totally get it.  If you can’t afford to be an official member of the club you can still be an honorary member.  I’ll be announcing the book of the month online so you can join our discussions there.

Can I buy a membership as a gift for someone else?

Yes you can!  And just like your own membership you can cancel at any time so if you want to just give a membership for 3 months or a year or whatever you can do that without fear of being locked in.

So what do I do now?

Click here to join the crew now.  Or if you have questions, just email us at orders@nowherebookshop.com.

Did we just become best friends?

Yup.

Books!

Nowhere Bookshop is currently in transformation mode…

(The ancient tile is still safe under that rubble, btw.)

Currently we’re doing planning for design and layout apparently now I have to start thinking about actual books. Who knew?

The shop is big but not big enough for every type of book we’d like so I wanted your thoughts on genres. Personally when I go into a bookstore I go to memoirs, nonfiction, sci-fi, horror, art, short stories, YA, graphic novels and the children’s section. That means that my view of bookstores is a bit limited so I wanted to see what parts are your favorites so I can make sure I didn’t miss anything or underestimate a section.

Help a future bookseller out?

Also, a lot of you have asked how you can help support and get involved with Nowhere and I think I have an idea for something really fun but I still need to work on it so stay tuned.

PS. If it won’t let you choose more than one genre you can click “return to poll” and add another vote for another section.

Lovely free gifts from Nowhere!

Five bits of news from Nowhere!

ONE

This week the contractors started working on Nowhere Bookshop.

It’s more expensive and will take longer to finish than I imagined but we’ll find a way to make it work and I’m getting slightly more excited than terrified and that feels like a good change.

TWO

Not long ago I said that I really wanted postcards for Nowhere Bookshop and then I immediately got overwhelmed and never thought about it again until Victor surprised me with this:

Want one? Of course you do. And if you spend $30 (pre-shipping/tax) at Nowhere we’ll slip one in your package for free!

THREE

And (from now until Monday) if you spend $50 (pre shipping/tax) you get a Nowhere sticker and if you spend $100 (pre shipping/tax) you get a nowhere enamel pin. Click here for details.

FOUR

We were going to try to stock a hoodie but they were all either super expensive or not size inclusive so instead we’re offering a limited raglan shirt with the dreamy Nowhere label:

FIVE

Yes, there will be a 2020 Bloggess Calendar!  Still working on it though.  But for now, head over to Nowhere.  I’ll see you there.

Completely and utterly overwhelmed. In a good way. Mostly.

So.

Remember yesterday when the Nowhere Bookshop website went live?  And Elizabeth (our superhero manager) and Victor and I were surrounded with hundreds of shirts and mugs and books that I was certain we’d still be surrounded with a week from now?  Well, turns out I’d underestimated the excitement and support because we got thousands of orders the first day.

um.  what.

This is a real-time look into the various emotions of yesterday…

Me when I saw how many fantastic people wanted to support this strange new Indie Bookstore that hadn’t even opened yet:

Me when I realized we’d almost made enough to pay for the wheelchair ramp we’re adding inside the store:

Me when I realized that we didn’t have nearly enough merch ready to ship:

Me when I told Victor that I need to make a giant rush order to the local screen printer to fulfill everything that was still coming in:

Victor when PayPal froze my business account because there was way too much activity on it and they assumed I must be doing something illegal:

Elizabeth when orders kept coming in faster than she could possibly keep up with them:

Elizabeth when she found out that our screen-printer was running low on the shirts we needed:

Elizabeth and I when we begged the screen-printer for help and he found a giant stash of what we needed in Illinois:

So, long story short, yesterday was incredibly successful/terrifying.  The first several hundred of you who submitted orders will get yours this week (please share them online if you like them!) but if you ordered something we’re low on it may take a few weeks for you to get it.  I’m sorry!   I know we already say that on the website as a disclaimer but I still feel bad that we didn’t have enough already printed.  As far as problems go it’s a very good problem to have and I’m so very lucky that you guys are understanding and awesome even through our growing pains.

A little behind-the-scenes look:

Currently Elizabeth’s guest room is a staging/packing area:

And my house is filled with boxes and boxes of books that are all being signed and personalized:

Thank you again for your support and your patience and for the wonderful community you’ve made and continue to grow.

Check out the website if you haven’t already.  And thank you again!

Welcome to Nowhere!

Big news…the Nowhere Bookshop website is open to the public!

And that means that you can now buy t-shirts, mugs, totes and signed or personalized books.  Will I write “knock knock motherfucker!” or “Thank you for hiding that body for me, friend” or other requested ridiculousness?  Of course I will.  

Over the last several days a number of you volunteered to test the website (thank you!) so I think all the bugs are worked out.  I sent emails to each of the people to invite them to try it and I closed the email telling them that the sizes were accurate and that I found that a size large fit me really well but that I’d probably do the 2X because I really love loose shirts.  Except that I accidentally sent it out with a typo to the first focus group, which means I told a dozen people in a professional email how much “I really love loose shits”.

Awesome.

This video seems only slightly more professional:

 

All the proceeds go to getting a new floor and accessible bathrooms and a wheelchair ramp and a bar and a million other things we need.

Thank you for helping make this dream come true for all of us.

Now click here and get your stuff before we sell out.  Free bookplates will be added to packages until we run out.  Go!

Y’all are too damn talented but I’m not complaining.

So some time next week (fingers crossed!) the Nowhere Bookshop will be live!  And that means you can help support the store by buying shirts and mugs and my signed books and totes and other lovely things.  And as a thank you for all your help I’m going to be dropping self-adhesive bookplates into the packages as long as my printer keeps working.

My friend Deni Kendig, artist and recovering taxidermist, created the bookplates and they are AMAZING.  For real, ya’ll.  Take a look:

The shop is coming along slowly but turns out that permits and assorted bullshit take longer than expected, but it almost looks like a real shop if you don’t look inside at what is most certainly the most “before” looking before-and-after picture ever.  Please send prayers and reliable contractors.

BIG NEWS

Very exciting news on the Nowhere Bookshop front…

We have a general manager!

And she’s amazing.

Her name is Elizabeth Jordan and she’s been the CEO of BookPeople in Austin (one of my favorite bookstores of all time) for years but she wanted to be closer to her family in San Antonio and we’re in San Antonio so this works out perfectly.  Especially because I am so overwhelmed and she is so amazing and I am melting with relief that she’s going Nowhere.

Elizabeth with her adorable kids

Also, I am constantly sending her texts of my ideas, like how we should have live chickens in the store (but with diapers, obvs) and she sends me back texts saying that she is not changing chicken diapers and reminding me of health codes and Victor is very happy that finally there is another grown-up involved who can talk me down off the ledge and also knows how to sell books and host amazing events.

I’m pretty sure this will be us very soon:

Except slightly less violent and also possibly drunk and maybe with chickens.  (But probably not chickens unless I can bribe the health inspector which Elizabeth says I totally can’t do.)

Welcome to Nowhere, Elizabeth.