Tripio The Novel

How I found my mind, brewed some coffee and wrote a novel

As promised, I am attempting to keep this blog as current as possible on the progress I’m making on my second novel, the prequel to Tripio, Back outta the World. I am slogging through my fourth, I believe, rewrite. This will be the final time for me to work on it alone. Once this is done, I will find an editor and we will work together.

In short, I love it. There are passages in the novel that I enjoy tremendously. In reviewing, revising and enhancing those passages, I believe that I am making Back outta the World a better experience, a better product if you will, for all future readers.

There is a peasant in every novelist“-Fitzgerald

For example, I must have been temporarily visited by genius when I revised the section where Jay and his friend Kyle visit a casino in the UP. Here, I compare the green velvet covering the poker and pool tables they are visiting that night to the green of the grass of the yards that Jay and Kyle played on as kids. Kyle is Jay’s security blanket. Jay is riddled with doubts about the purpose of the current road trip and the future he sees beyond that. Even if Kyle is not a wonderful person, Jay finds comfort in his presence. Kyle’s presence doesn’t help in this part of the novel though, as the old friends are about to get tossed out of the casino.

As I said, I now really like that bit in the book as revised. The problem is that, as of this morning, there is no way of knowing if I improved that passage in Back outta the World one little bit.

After I finish this post and cup of coffee, I am going to spend an hour or so working on the next part of Back outta the World. I placed the quote above in this post because I believe it applies directly to working on a novel. One has to work the soil everyday, as a peasant would. It doesn’t matter a hell of a lot what I think about what I did yesterday, If I don’t work the earth today, no one one eats tomorrow. A bit dramatic I know, but you get the point.

“May I help who’s next?”

I saw that Terry Gilliam was in the headlines saying things that get one on the front page of Yahoo. I was outraged. I was offended at his lack of sensitivity to people everywhere! How could he say such things? My hands trembled in a state of self-righteous indignation, clutching my phone, ready to send a self-inflating response to protect the defenseless whom Gilliam had assailed. Then I realized that Terry Gilliam is the American member of Monty Python so what he says doesn’t really matter.

File:Graham Chapman A very naughty boy 8 January 1941 to 4 October 1989.jpg

The member of Monty Python who is most relevant to me these days is the deceased parrot-No! Sorry, deceased Python member, the late Graham Chapman.

I was fortunate to see Graham Chapman live on my college campus in the early 80’s. His performance then was simply a Q and A as he sat on folding chair on the stage. The auditorium was full and I was thrilled to see a member of Python in person. I had started watching the original Flying Circus as a pre-teen when the series first aired in the States back in the early 70s.

One bit of Chapman’s show I still recall was of him requesting “abuse” from those of us in the audience. This was a reference to the famous “argument sketch”, which Python fans know verbatim. For a minute or so the audience gladly complied. We called Chapman names and tossed paper wads at him. I remember one woman going on stage and tapping Chapman gently on his shoulder with her first clenched in a parody of physical abuse. Chapman thanked the woman. All in good fun.

I post this recollection, spurred on the American Python being in the news because it strikes me that we may be taking things too seriously these days. Can you imagine if Chapman were still alive and asked for abuse from an audience today? Chapman had already come out as being gay and had a well-deserved reputation as a boozer. Can you imagine? I think everyone would look around to their fellow audiences members and shrug their shoulders or not say a word. They would be terrified of offending not only Chapman but all the other audiences members. “Not me, I’m not insulting this man! Even if he asked for it! How would it look?”

Of course, the very same audience members would have no problem abusing and insulting the living shit out of anyone and everyone via their phone. Taking advantage of distance and the courage it gives one, the offended blast all those who dare even question their sensibilities. In the case of Terry Gilliam’s comments, they are completely missing the point ( hint: he has a movie coming out). To conclude, I ‘m sure that Graham Chapman would find all this finger pointing and name calling via the phone to be “very silly indeed”

I have done it now. I have just signed up for a class at the Indiana Writer’s Center called “How to sell more books on Amazon”. As some of you know, my historical fiction , or “Starbucks”novel, Tripio, was published on Amazon last year on April 13th. I’m sure a lot of you are asking yourselves, why did he wait so long? In order for you to lose sleep no longer, I will attempt to answer that question for you.

One part of the answer may be that I am old enough to know a world when Amazon was just a river. In fact, a good deal of the writing I plan to publish on Amazon was written before Amazon, the company, was known to all. The novel I’m revising now, Back outta the World, has it’s beginnings in the late 1980s and the first draft was written long hand on yellow ledger paper. So there is that.

There is also, I think, an effort on my part to prevent Amazon from dictating how I feel about Tripio, and when published, Back outta the World.

In the case of Tripio, I just talked to two lucky individuals who just finished reading it. In both cases, I was honored and excited to hear from them. Their responses to Tripio can each be put into one word: “Sad” for one and “Good” for the other. I will gladly take both. For I have learned as more and more people read Tripio the responses I get vary greatly. The parts of Tripio I like or am most proud of are usually not mentioned. I am realizing and understanding that everyone reads their own Tripio, and it has little or nothing to do with the one I wrote.

After these brief talks on Tripio, I was excited about the prospects of the book. My enthusiasm for it’s future had returned, having been derailed by the Holidays and a personal down period for me. So, even though I knew better, I checked my sales and author ranks on Amazon. Tripio was at possibly it’s lowest point ever. The arrow was pointing down so steeply that it had to be continued on a computer screen under my laptop. “Damn” I thought. “I suck after all. Tripio sucks.”

Wrong! So wrong! Amazon don’t got nothin’ to do with how I feel about Tripio and even Back outta the World. Both are creating and telling their own stories with me. And that is far more interesting to me at least, than what some sales graph manufactured by a logarithm somewhere has to say.

None the less I am taking the class in a week or so. I do want to sell more books on Amazon. It will make an interesting bit in the story of Tripio. But, in will NEVER be the story of Tripio.

“May I help who’s next?”

    To submit a query, please use the form below. Please fill out all fields. If an agent wishes to read your submission, he or she will contact you in response to your query, usually within 6-8 weeks.

    Which agent would like to submit to?

    There she is. My agent. She and I actually worked together in the early 1990’s so it may not seem entirely fair for me to call on our old relationship to help me get Tripio published. But, when I asked her directly she didn’t say no. Nor did she send a rejection email. I didn’t even have to tell her “Why I chose her to submit to”. No need for a publication history. No need to create a query letter. And since we already knew each other, I didn’t even have to submit a bio.

   I first thought of looking up her old contact information again when I was close to halfway through the “memoir” version of Tripio. I was beginning to realize that the piece I started was going to be a novel. I was noticing that if I had told anyone what I was writing then, I said I was working on a “Starbucks novel.’ I tried not to look ahead but as the writing continued I knew that the “Starbucks Novel” was how I would have to sell the book. No one would care about an unknown writer who had just finished a novel. Boring. But, someone out there, reading my query with a Starbucks in his or her hand, may just be intrigued by Tripio.

   When the time came, I did find her old contact information. I was told by her gatekeeper that she was closed to queries for at least six months. In a rare show of self-belief and conviction I insisted on at least leaving a message. I told the gatekeeper that I would be remembered because when the two of us worked together at Starbucks there were only 450 employees and it felt like everyone knew each other.

   Wouldn’t you know it, she called me back the next day. I didn’t have to wait 6-8 weeks. We hit it off again just like old times. I told her I was a lot older now but felt great. And she replied that she has gotten a little less willing “to show some skin” like she did when I first met her. I asked about the old guard. She said she doesn’t see much of them anymore but she was sure they’d love to read Tripio . It was her idea that I send blurb requests to Howard Behar and Kevin Knox. And she was right, they have both said yes.

    We caught up for a few more minutes but she had to go. A lot of Starbucks are still opening around the world and she couldn’t talk too long. She also said that Howard Schultz was writing his own book and wished me luck on mine. I hung up, regretting that I had not given her my contact information so we could stay in touch. Wait a minute- no I don’t! She had hung up without asking for a percentage.

                               “May I help who’s next?”


                                    “I’m sittin’ in first class and they can all kiss my ass, ‘cuase I’m goin’ back baby, back outta world.”

          Terry Allen & The Panhandle Mystery Band – Back Out Of The World – 1987 album – Amerasia

      In Tripio, Jay is writing his first novel. It is a road book. One of Jay’s literary heroes in Tripio is Jack “That’s not writing, that’s typing” Kerouac. It is in character for Jay to have attempted his first novel based on the two month road trip he had taken as part of his aimless post college graduation life. Tripio starts as Jay is nearing the end of writing that novel. He is not exactly struggling with the ending of it. After all, it is finite. The book will end with end of journal he kept on the road trip. Jay is more concerned by the fact that he is afraid he doesn’t even know what his book is about.

   In real life, that was also true. Today, I describe “Back Outta the World” as a road trip in which the main character’s mind and body are on two different trips and meet at the end. I only came to that conclusion as I reworked Back outta the World(BotW) prior to starting Tripio. I arrived at that conclusion approximately 20 years after I finished physically writing BotW. You will have to buy and read Tripio to find that section describing how I felt upon finishing BotW. I will tell you that it is one of the few parts of Tripio that remains word for word in the novel, as it was recorded in my SotM on that day in my apartment those many years ago.

         If I am promoting and publishing Tripio as a Starbucks novel, reflecting on it daily now as the story of my early adult life, then I am writing about my writing twice over. In other words there could be no Tripio without BotW. Yet, I was hesitant at first to even name it. Early in the writing of Tripio, I referred to BotW as “my writing” or “the novel”. Then, as I began to feel confident and came to see potential in the publishing of Tripio, I made it a point to name and embed BotW into Tripio. In fact, I had to. In order for Tripio to “work” (you be the judge), BotW had to be a powerful, named presence in Jay’s mind. It had to be identified so that it could carry it’s third of the book.

    I believe it worked. Again, you be the judge. Either way, I hope to find a path to publishing BotW at some point after Tripio. That would be the least Tripio could do for BotW since Tripio would not have come to be without it.

                                   “May I help who’s next?”

I do not think I am alone in breathing a sign of relief at the end of the Holiday Season. There was not much evidence of any Holiday merriment and good cheer as I went about those two weeks. My current job takes me to approximately one hundred work places of all sorts every week. The most commonly repeated appraisal of the two weeks consisting of Christmas and New Years Day was that it “felt like four Mondays”.

In my own case, I made a very bad decision a few weeks prior to this Holiday Season. I will exercise my self-editing prerogative and leave it at that. I will only say that the results of that decision were that every day for several weeks in early December were “dark, cold and ugly Mondays” for me.

It is said that all types of writing, whether it is labeled Science Fiction, Fantasy, you name it, is “emotionally autobiographical“. I could not agree more. For me at least, writing has little to do with agonizing over the right word to describe a certain character or complete a description. It isn’t a beautifully constructed sentence or a brilliant metaphor or allegory . Hell, I can’t even tell you the difference between the last two.

For me, writing is about making contact with myself. And if that is done in a way that a reader can recognize emotionally in themselves in some way, then it works for both of us. In revising and renewing the novel I wrote 25 years ago, Back outta the World, I am making contact with myself as a young man. It is illuminating to look under those words I wrote then and see what I see now. One theme I see emerging from the protagonist “Jay” was that he was taking his road trip in an attempt to both see new places and flee others. I see, and now describe, Jay’s road trip as ” his attempt to escape conscription into the American Dream”.

I could try to change Jay from Back outta the World. Re-write his story and thus mine. Sounds like a good sci-fi novel actually. I rewrite my old autobiographical road novel and it changes my current life as I go along….hmmm?

Got sidetracked. No, on second thought, I’ll leave Jay alone. Let him contact me and maybe learn something about myself as he goes on his trip. He made his decisions back then and he has to live with them. Come to think of it, so do I.

“May I help who’s next?”

        It’s nearly 2:30 in the afternoon. I’ve been going hard on my job as a route driver since I pulled my truck out of our facility at seven a.m. I have worked on catching up since then but I’m still way behind. To make it worse I need to stop to get gas which kills any realistic chance I have of getting caught up. A new truck and a half a day of new stops have contributed to me being behind. They have contributed to the feeling that this is  going to last forever, that I’m now too far behind to catch up. This in turn creates the belief that I am too old for this job now. I am creating the impression in my mind that if I don’t get the hang of it, it could cost me my job.

         “Oh yea, gas!”

Photo by Harrison Haines on

          New company card. New pin. The pump wants to know. It tells me that I am using an “Unsupported PIN”  I try to think. The small TV embedded in the pump comes on and shrieks irrelevance at me. I try again. “Please see cashier.”  The small TV embedded in the pump shrieks more irrelevance. This time it about an aging rock bank and how “that song saved our career” Why do I stop a listen?. Please see cashier. Now my big truck is suddenly in the way of the person who just pulled in behind me. It is windy and cold. The embedded TV continues to shriek at me. Very quickly the embedded TV has changed to show a pretty women who now grabs at my mind as I stand, eyes taken by her. Again, why do I look? Listen? I don’t even know what she’s saying! The embedded TV seems to get louder. I can feel eyes on me from the car waiting. The embedded TV doesn’t stop shrieking, grabbing at my thoughts. The pretty woman disappears and there is a second of blessed silence. I reclaim my mind and recover my thoughts. I use my own card for the gas and make a get away. One way to measure the loss created by the embedded TV is that it cost me 20 dollars.

My mind is my dedicated work space – me


    Driving away, I feel pain in my mind.  My mind, my thoughts, my own personal and private mental energy has been assaulted.  I will get the 20 bucks back from work. Even if the thoughts and mental energy created before standing at the pump with the embedded TV were not my best, they were there for a reason. I did not give the embedded, shrieking, Speedway TV my permission to steal them away from me. 

      This experience gives some context to the challenge we face as regular folk, not to mention as writers. A stream of aggressive, targeted distractions (disguised as benefits), is coming at us nearly all day long.  All originated from outside our own mind. Would I have been able to write anything of value with the Speedway TV still echoing, without permission, in my mind hours later? No way. Would you have been able to? Are you sure? 

                                “May I help who’s next?”

      Sure, I have novel on Amazon. Who doesn’t? Yes, I have started on the prequel to said novel and am holding true to my “Glorious 5-Year plan’ to publish novel a year for the next (now) 4 years. A similiar story can be found a million times over with  just a few more clicks. Why stop here? My story is unique, right? Then why the hell are there a million similar stories out there? Why would this blog help you when it is just a retelling of the same story with a change of few book titles? Simply put, because you can’t have one without the other.

     There are a million stories because there truly are a million different stories and about half that many paths taken to get a book written and or published. By my math then, there must be hundreds of thousands of resources to help one start writing, maintain that writing, and perhaps get that writing published. Why? Because there have to be. 

     There is no one size fits all writing process. But, I have found that if you have a ghost of a chance of standing out at all, you must write from you own unique mind, soul and heart. To do that, you the journey starts for me, in the mind. Because, I believe, if you don’t start there, by the time you have picked up the pen or opened the laptop to write, it is already too late. So, how does that apply to me?

    Glad you asked! That is why I have enhanced this blog Tripio the Novel to become more ‘user friendly’, if you will. The blog will offer a path to writing that starts at the beginning of the process: the mind and the thoughts that it can generate. From there one can choose what actions to take. Now, I ain’t got no degree in a related academic field but offer practical observation and experience. I clearly and simply offer how I was able to cultivate my mind to create Tripio, Back outta the World and other works.

     Now I want to look deeper into the whole process as I am experiencing it. In doing so, I hope to share all experiences, whatever label applies, and offer clear, usable, sustainable insight and recommendations for you all to use. It is on you from there.  I am planning to mix in “real time” experience as I go about preparing my second novel, Back outta the World,  for publication. This will be the good, bad, happy and sad of that journey told as openly and honestly as possible. How does that sound?

                                           “May I help who’s next?

New Year’s Day at six in the morning. No, this isn’t one of those posts written to celebrate and commemorate. One that looks ahead, looks back. One that includes a top ten list, although those are said to be quite popular and click catching. I may schedule one of those for May 13th. Why not?

I took a sip of my coffee a second ago. I was hoping that the small amount of caffeine included in said sip would provide the bounce I needed to begin working on my road novel, Back outta the World. Well, it didn’t work.

As you may or may not know, the novel is done. It was completed over two decades ago. I have reworked it twice already. It sits on my laptop a few steps to my right on the table I cleared off over Christmas. I cleared the table off to change the energy around the laptop. I wanted to provide a clear space in order to provide access to Back outta the World. I hoped that it would be easier to review and revise it one last time. Well, it didn’t work.

In fact, I hope you are enjoying this post so far because it is simply the product of my resisting working on Back outta the World. As fellow writers or bloggers it should be a familiar situation. I am resisting doing what I got up this morning to do. I set out this morning to make a big dent in revising and self-editing of BotW. Instead I’ve done the dishes, started the laundry and changed the cat’s litter box.

Maybe this is one of those New Year’s Day posts after all. It’s possible that I rose from bed on a brand new year carrying all the contrived expectations and hopes that the New Year brings, in spite of my best efforts to ignore them. No, I don’t pay attention to that stuff. I am a writer who is called to write by a power greater than…

Hey! Hold on a second. I feel better now. Thanks for joining me for these few moments. By resisting working on BotW and drafting this post, I just cleared my mind. The above paragraph was a cleansing and redirecting of the mind. I am just that quickly ready to see what Rick, Jay and T are up to in Back outta the World. Happy New Year everybody!

May I help who’s next?

   If you are one of the handful of lucky folks who happen to be following this blog, you were most likely able to find a farewell to Tripio written into the last post. You may be relieved to hear that. Like most things in life, it was good and bad. I was easily able to post about Tripio for almost a year. Good, because it confirmed that Tripio was not just a commodity I was trying to sell. The blog confirmed to me that the journey to creating Tripio was and is way more than me just trying to sell a “Starbucks novel”.

       Bad, because in this country everything is a commodity to sell. Where to take Tripio? Straight to the market! Where else can one go and what else can one do? I’m getting ahead of myself. These will be topics for later posts. Getting back to Tripio, the farewell is there. It is daylight savings time today and we fell back an hour overnight. That put me up and awake at around 4 a.m. clock time. It seems quite appropriate to make a transition on daylight savings time, right? Did, I plan this? Of course not.

   I am putting this extra hour of dark to good use though. I am sitting in my dining room chair, arms crossed and listening to “Sunday Baroque” on the radio. And doing what exactly? 

  • You could not step twice into the same river: for other waters are ever flowing onto to you.– Heraclitus
  • You ain’t got not choice but to move on-me

   Not altogether sure. I might be letting the mind process this last post in which I actively and intentionally sell, I mean, address Tripio. It will always be there because it has to be. I do have to move on from it though. As comfortable as it has been to post about Tripio, it has run its course. This time last year I don’t think I even had a blog. I may have been just getting started on it but it doesn’t matter too much. The point is that when I started, I discovered I liked blogging. I found great comfort in learning that “blog” stood for “web log”. That a blog is a log, or journal into which one makes entries. I can do that. I have done that. And all of them concern Tripio in one way or the other. I will continue to post news of Tripio related events on this site of course. But, now I am headed into “Back outta the World”. 

  What that means for you fortunate readers is that we can begin this new journey together. Which is fitting, since Back outta the World (BotW) is a novel about a journey, a road trip in which the mind and body take different paths, only to meet at the end. So, take a seat and come along as I start to revise the prequel to Tripio. I hope what I share going forward will be useful to you. I will more actively emphasize that part going forward. I may have been a little understated in many of the past posts. I felt that by simply relaying the experiences of writing and publishing Tripio that I could help other authors feel a little less alone as they undertake their own journey towards writing and publishing their work. Then again, I am new to all this too. So, let’s see what happens next.  Climb aboard now or some time later…Oh yea, below is the vehicle we will be using. If you see it down the road, just wave and I’ll pull over pick and you up……