Tripio The Novel

How I wrote my novel, and how I can help you write yours

     Yesterday when my son came home from work he announced he was moving back out of the house. It was only a matter of time. He had lived away at Purdue for four years and has quite a good job and a nice new car. Still, I was in no hurry to see him go, for a million reasons which I don’t have the time to go into in this post. The only relevant one for today is that he is a vital part of my tech support, self tasked with helping me publish Tripio and develop this blog.


     Tripio is my “Starbucks novel”. I am blogging and posting quite a bit about Starbucks for a million reasons, which I don’t have time to go into in this post. But if Starbucks is the body of Tripio and Jay trying to write his first novel is the mind of Tripio, then starting a family is the heart and soul of Tripio.

    I can’t spoil the end of Tripio. It is far, far better for both of us if you buy a copy and read it for yourself, discovering and unearthing Tripio’s own unique significance for you.  My tech support son appears in the epilogue of Tripio as a much, much younger man. His announced departure has prompted a desire to post about the end of Tripio. Yet I am finding it impossible to do so without revealing the outcome of this heart and soul plot line of Tripio.

     I am conflicted this morning. Which makes sense, because in the book, Jay spends a good deal of time conflicted as well. Conflict is partly what I hope anyone feels when reading Tripio. Because Jay’s internal conflict is what drives Tripio. The energy generated by his internal conflict is the life force of Tripio. There would be no book without it. Jay’s energy in the book is not always good. He is afraid of his future and that fear prompts selfish and terrible thoughts in his mind.                

         As I started this post I heard my son’s alarm  going off upstairs. As I finish, he has left for his job. I will miss him, his car in the driveway and his vegan foods in the fridge, among a million other things which I don’t have time to go into in this post. When you are finished reading Tripio, it is also my hope you will empathize and understand why.

                                     ‘May I help who’s next?”

   I have recently started watching a series called Walking Through History with Tony Robinson:

/episode-guide/https://www. For me, it is the perfect show to relax to after toiling in anonymity on Tripio before going into work, toiling in anonymity while there, and then coming home and parenting in anonymity. For those who don’t remember The Blackadder series

Tony Robinson played Baldrick. Baldrick was daft, unwashed and on the receiving end of lots of comedic physical and verbal abuse. In this newer series he is much better off. He takes three or four day walks in various regions of England to discover and uncover the “history embedded in the landscape”. And he gets paid to do it.

     Speaking of getting paid, this morning after making my coffee I checked Amazon to see that Tripio had been approved for Pre-Sale. I could now conceivably be making money off Tripio!

    Now What?

                                                   Bill Boaden / The ridge-top 

    Well, after emailing my family of origin and texting my own kids, there followed about two hours of pointless activity. I was energized by the news of Tripio being available to buy. Of course, it was only six a.m. so there weren’t a lot of other people up at that hour to call and share my exciting news. I started a blog post. No focus. I started my review of From the Ground up. Awful. I wanted to capitalize on the energy created by this milestone event. I called the FedEX store to see if my Tripio table talkers were ready. Oh yeah, they don’t open until ten. Damn. What to do?

    Whenever I had to clear my mind when working on Tripio, I cleaned the house. So I followed that formula and headed back upstairs to make my bed and straighten my room. There I took out the Tony Robinson Walking Through History disc to put it back in its case. In my hand was  the answer! Do what you always tell your own children to do when they reach a milestone in their lives: Stay put at the top of that ridge, turn around and look over where you’ve been!!

    I had forgotten my own advice and wanted to rush ahead to the next place, the next thing, the next milestone. I had forgotten that I always counsel that the journey is the meaning. I casually advise others to take time to honor yourself for what you’ve done. So I did. I listened to my own words.

     Unlike Tony Robinson, I am not in Derbyshire or Nottingham or anywhere near a ridge or hilltop overlooking the beautiful countryside of England. So, I went to get some cardio and sit in the sauna at my health club. You do what you gotta do.

        From my mental vantage point I was first able to see that I had lots of help on my path. But I did manage to  give myself credit as I sat there taking it all in. I managed to relax and let myself enjoy and honor this moment. I felt, as I sweated in the sauna, that it had been the right decision to stop on this path and rest for a minute or two. I felt quite good by the time I was dry and dressed. Thanks, Tony.

                                                                  “May I help who’s next?”

  Every morning before I go to work, I practice Yoga for about five minutes. I have been doing this for years now. Along with three cups of coffee, this short practice gets me energized for the long day ahead.

      Recently the practice has undergone a momentous evolution and change of intent. Since the day five years ago that I discovered Recovery Yoga, my yoga practice has been preventative in nature and direction. I practiced yoga in order ”not to”. It was a practice that was hopeful yet fundamentally defensive. I practiced Yoga in those mornings, and every other time I practiced, not to be afraid of my future, not to drink, not to feel sorry for myself, not to give up on my life in the days, weeks and months ahead.

   Over the more recent years my practice has become, in conjunction with many other intentions and practices I have discovered and implemented, one of belief and encouragement. I slowly began to align the asanas with my mind and knew that I would have a good day following each practice. Yes, I have been fooled a few times over the years but that is why I call it a “practice’.

   The most recent development to this evolution ties directly to Tripio. I now start every morning” letting go” of my expectations for the book. I think I had to do this around the time Howard Behar signed up to provide a blurb for Tripio. Things seemed to be going so well for Tripio that I began to dream of possible financial success for the book. I began an imaginary list of things I would buy and places I would go with the buckets of money I would make off the sale of Tripio. The possible outcomes could be said to be beyond my wildest dreams, although I can dream pretty wildly. Some of that mental wondering is understandable. I did decide to publish Tripio with the hope it would provide a second revenue stream. When the expectations began to include a parasailing weekend in Malta with Scarlett Johansson, then I needed realign my expectations.

      So every morning I tell those expectations for Tripio to get on their horses and leave town. My morning yoga practice is now one in which I am trying to prevent expectations for my life from being unrealistically good, instead of fear ridden and preventative. I call that progress.  Though I am still keeping a weekend free for Scarlett.

                                      “May I help who’s next?”

 Tripio opens with a prologue, which was the suggestion of my editor. He felt the book needed something to grab the reader right away. My immediate reactionary, immature and arrogant thought was that Tripio is great and that its greatness demands patience! Those thoughts did not travel from my mind to my mouth and I mumbled a more agreeable and conciliatory response to my editor.

    As it happened, just before that conversation I had been looking through my notes and old journals for the want ad I responded to for the job at Starbucks. I did not find it but knew I now wanted to use the original want ad for the prologue. This is covered in fascinating detail in post #17. Today, I want to go a little further back to a time before Jay knew Starbucks existed.

     The prologue finds Jay working at the Oregon Street Coffee house in Dayton, Ohio. That coffee house was situated in the middle of a slowly gentrifying section of downtown Dayton called the Oregon District.  As such, the Oregon Street Coffee house had neighbors that were becoming upscale bars and restaurants, a comic book store with a vast selection of porn mags in the back, and a vacant but soon to be rehabbed stand-alone movie theatre. 

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      If the neighborhood could be described as up and coming, that could not be said for a good deal of Oregon Street’s regulars. Oregon Street opened its doors at nine in the morning and the regulars would take their stools at the bar and spend hours there sipping their coffee, smoking cigarettes, and discussing their plans for the afternoon or evening. Those regulars were indeed sitting at a bar, because the Oregon Street coffee house was a real bar for many years. But in Jay’s time the drink they served there was warm and brown coffee supplied by Dayton’s one and only coffee roaster. The regulars and the history of the place were only a couple factors contributing to the character and unique vibe Jay found while employed at the Oregon Street coffee house.  The coffee was not what Jay liked however. Later in Tripio Jay admits that “the Cosmodemonic does the coffee right’, after he tries a cup of coffee at a coffee house in Chicago that reminds him of Oregon Street’s brew.

     The visits Jay takes to his “coffee house under the tracks” show that Jay is homesick for his artsy coffee house in Dayton. At the same time, he acknowledges that his new employer has better coffee. Tripio is set in 1992 but Jay’s choice in where he finds his coffee fix has been repeated millions and millions of times since then. In the novel, Jay is simply going about his life making day to day decisions. He wasn’t choosing sides in any debate over whether his employer was responsible for the closing of coffee house like Oregon Street. That is the subject for books to come. Jay is about to face life changing circumstances which will make him decide bigger things than where to get his coffee: his employer is growing and is offering opportunities,  he is trying to sell his first novel and his new lover is expecting a baby.

          By the way, if you are ever in Dayton, don’t bother looking for the Oregon Street Coffee House, it closed a long time ago.

NOTE: I wrote this post many months ago. In light of the tragic shooting that occurred yesterday, I hope this post will help show that the Oregon District in my hometown has been in existence for some time and will continue on. It will take effort one day at a time to recover, but it will.

    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 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 think I wrote Tripio in part to close the loop of “what if”?”  Those are my words from an email to Kevin Knox. I was thanking him for reading Tripio and providing the great blurb I used on the back cover.  The “what if?” refers to the proposition embedded in Tripio that Jay could have stayed at Starbucks, having been granted 268 shares of Starbucks Stock Options, and as of 2018 became a millionaire. A millionaire just by steaming milk. Of course, it is not quite that simple, as you will see when you read Tripio.

    There is so much truth in what I expressed to Kevin Knox in that email. I now find it odd that it had not really occurred to me consciously that that question is surely what helped generate the creation of Tripio.  I was tired of carrying “what if?” with me. Tired of replaying the decision to leave Starbucks. Tired of doing it every time I heard about Starbucks, saw a Starbucks location, cup or commercial.

    The days when I was contemplating leaving Starbucks were conflicting and confusing. My significant other and I wanted to raise a family of more than one, but not in a big city like Chicago. This was 1994 and as hard as it is to believe now there were not Starbucks everywhere. I knew that Starbucks was “blowing up”. I did not think, however, that Starbucks would blow up to the extent that they would have 3,600 locations in China as of today (read fast-they are building one there every 15 hours). About the clearest memory I have is of a 3 week long headache I had as I made the decision to leave.

   What if?  I would have a million dollars, all things being equal, and that would automatically make me happy. Isn’t that what everybody wants?  My life would have been so different. I would have a beach house on the ocean, cars, travel experiences and a secure financial future.


   So why didn’t I stay? Well, you will have to read Tripio to find that out. By saying that I am not merely trying to sell the book. I had to put that question to rest, just as I told Kevin Knox. The “what if?” question is better off in the pages of Tripio than relentlessly occupying my thoughts all these years later.

                                             “May I help who’s next?’

                   “Have a little faith baby, have a little faith.”  Oddball-Kelly’s Heroes

     I made it home Friday around five p.m. after a cold, physically tiring work week. As soon as possible, I took a soothing hot shower, in which I envisioned the work week literally being washed down the drain. Dried off, I opened my email. Good news! I have been accepted to appear on a coffee centered podcast out of Hawaii called, My Favorite Coffee Story. That is when they resumed the podcast after a break. This was, however, just what I needed to hear as the long week had worn me out. I took the news as a reward for the work I had done on Tripio all week, most of it before leaving for my job at 6:15 a.m.

    Yet, the podcast success meant more to me than a pat on my own now cleaned and dried back. I had a moment on Tuesday morning before I went to start that 12 hour day when I almost sent the original version of the podcast query. I had written it. I had revised it quickly one time. I had to get to work. But, if I sent this query now, in the dark and cold predawn hour, hope of its eventual success would get me through the long cold day on the job! I would get a “yes” and be one step closer to making Tripio a financial success!!  I will send it now and be on cloud nine all day at work! Good idea, I thought.

   But in that moment, I caught myself. This was how I used to think. This thinking was a carry over from my stress filled job search days. Days when I felt my family was in a state of financial stress. The job I had then was not cutting it. If I had a job, that is. Those days were hard and I don’t want to recall them here. But, I did send off countless resumes and applications in that mind frame of momentary hope. It was, unfortunately, a hope born of fear and anxiety. 

    Jobs were hard to come by during the “Great Recession”. I will never know for sure if those fear induced applications, resumes and cover letters did not work because I sent them off hastily. Looking back, all I am sure of was that I sent lots of them off just to give me a few moments of mental relief. This Tuesday morning there was enough of that emotional debris left in my head to make me want to click “send “on the Coffee Story podcast query.

   Fortunately there was also a newer, stronger recognition from me that morning.  I knew what I was doing. I was going to send a fear based query, just like the good old days when fear ruled my mind. Well, these days fear is my bitch. I did not click send. I went off to work.  I then spent Wednesday and Thursday mornings reviewing and enhancing the Coffee Story query and sent it Thursday evening. Yesterday, I received tangible positive acknowledgement that I had learned something. “Coffee Story” had like the query and said yes. 

   The decision to wait and go to work on Tuesday without the fear based hope that I’d be on a podcast promoting Tripio by lunchtime was a better one than clicking send on a poorly constructed query letter. It reflected a change in me from one of a fear based mentality to one of confidence and belief. Over the last few years, I have learned to take Oddball’s advice and have a little faith, baby.

                                          May I help who’s next?”

 I spent yesterday doing lots of laundry, food preparation and watching sports on TV. In and around these day to day activities I looked through some old journals (Sketchbooks of the Mind) for topics for posts. Luckily for you I found quite an interesting reference to “my Starbucks story”. 

    The excerpt I found was written in January 2016 but I did not yet note the exact date of every entry as I do now. The rest of this SotM shows me that I was applying the wisdoms and practices I had been reading and researching since getting out of rehab a few years earlier. The dream excerpt is from an entry called “Detecting Dream” and follows:

     “On the bookshelves are books and such and also old Starbucks paraphernalia and maps and facts. The woman, a mother, explains that her daughter is a District Manager in Pittsburgh. I tell her, in turn, my Starbucks story

     I was studying dreams and doing some dream interpretation at that time. Dream interpretation can take some time and can be a tedious process. However, I have also found it to be very rewarding and enlightening. After all, one is tapping into your own subconscious mind as it is free from the burdens of physicality (sorry football broadcasters if I use this word correctly). In fact, the following year I compiled an entire separate dream journal and found it to be a rewarding use of my time.

     But in this case, I did not interpret this dream. I did not follow up on searching for any meaning. I simply recorded it and moved on. Oddly enough the very next dream I had was noted and I recorded an interpretation of it.

     I wish this post could motive a reader with something as simple as “Dreams do come true!” or “Follow your dreams!” Well, it does not. The entries that followed regarding writing projects I was contemplating were on projects that did not come to be. They did not mention starting a novel about my days at Starbucks.

     I might have to sleep on that one….

                                                         “May I help who’s next?”

I could not believe what I had just seen. This was not the topic I was going to write about today. At some point, yes, I was going to let you know how my request for a blurb from Starbucks Founder, CEO and my old boss Howard Schultz, went. A yes, no, or maybe. However, I discovered while I was looking for his contact info that he has beaten me to the punch and written his own book ( some of which covers the early days of Starbucks, much like Tripio. It is due out before mine, but Howard’s book “weaves two parallel narratives,” not three like Tripio. So, my book is better as anyone can plainly see. By all means, buy both and compare. In fact, I think it would be unfair to Howard’s book if you don’t buy mine after you buy his. Unfair because my book is the perfect companion to his. It was meant to be, just like my neighbor coming over yesterday to borrow my hammer, remember?

Meant to be? Howard Schultz and Jerry VanSchaik were meant to have their books come out as companion pieces? Of course: “There are no accidents” (Deepak Chopra)

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I can’t give away the end of Tripio. Why give it away here and now? This blog is nothing more than a series of commercials designed to generate interest in selling Tripio to anyone who wants a copy, or two, or 20. Seriously though, this blog, and I do mean this, hopefully helps someone find their own unique voice on their own unique journey to creating their own unique novel. Which is a long winded way of saying “Pay attention to me and what I am saying here and going to say here on this blog and it will help you become a writer, or at least, a better one.” You might be asking yourself, “Who is this guy?” No one you have heard of. But, I know what worked for me and I hope that some of what I cover will help you.

So, it is agreed that I am not giving the end of Tripio away. Of course, there are really three endings to Tripio, since there are three story lines. I wrote all three of them and the story line I call “the Starbucks growth narrative” is intertwined and alongside the other two plotlines of Tripio. The reason I call our books companion pieces is that, from the description of Howard’s book, it looks like his book touches on subjects like employee stock options and healthcare for nearly all employees. These are also the things I write about in Tripio because I experienced both first hand. It is a barista-in-the-trenches look at what Howard covers in his book, as the man giving the orders. So, to have both perspectives will make each book, when read, a deeper and more meaningful experience.  Plus, I need the money more than Howard.

“May I help who’s next?”