Tripio The Novel

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

       There it sits a few feet away. In book form. A book. My book. What to do with it? The box actually arrived three days ago. I knew what was in the box and opened it with a kitchen knife. My first thought was that Tripio is bigger and thicker than I thought, than I expected. It didn’t “feel” like 333 pages when I was writing it. Wait, wait! On second thought,  I did plan every word, comma and space. Because I wanted the final printed, for sale edition to end up being 333 pages. Threes. Tripio. Three storylines. What I genius I am!

    Of course the above is nonsense. Except maybe the part about me being a genius. Actually, if I were that smart, I would have done something brilliant with my five proof copies of Tripio. Yet, after I took one out of the box and looked it over with a smile, I let them sit in that box, on the table across from where I now sit for a couple days.

   Those couple days later it is occuring to me that I think I was afraid I wouldn’t’ like Tripio anymore. Tripio arriving as a real book was like your best friend from high school or college dropping by after not seeing you in twenty years. Would you still like him or her ? Would he or she like you? I wanted to retrieve the journals I kept while writing Tripio and find the entries that I wrote in which I was excited about the creation of Tripio. I wanted to find the passage I wrote when I knew Tripio was great and I was doing all I could to write a unique and wonderful book. I did not. I simply went about my work week. I let some friends a family know that the proof copies were in my possession and that was about it.

   I think that it felt odd to have Tripio back in the house because I had been practicing giving it away. I have made it an intention during my morning yoga to release attachments and expectations to and for Tripio. It is no longer mine. It does not feel comfortable to have it to myself again in my house. Like the old friend whose jokes no longer makes you laugh. What do you then do? After a couple days the answer came.

     I decided to take my old friend Tripio out in public where we could relax together and get reacquainted. This was yesterday, the third day after getting the proof copies. And my off day. I packed Tripio in my bag  and we headed off to Coat Check coffee

It made sense. It was a way of coming full circle. Remember that Tripio was actually born over 25 years ago in Chicago’s coffee houses and early Starbucks locations.

     So, in the spacious and calm environs of Coat Check, my dear old companion and I got reacquainted. The coffee of the day was an Ethiopian, always a favorite varietal of mine. This felt right. As the barista called out the occasional drink order in the background I read the over the first chapter and felt relieved that I still liked my dear old friend. Relieved and needing to relieve myself, I got up to use the facilities. Upon returning to my table, I saw my thicker than expected copy awaiting me, looking content and relaxed on that table next to my mug of coffee, as if it had know this would happen.

     Tripio was at home again we are still friends.

                                          “May I help who’s next?”


     Today I reached a milestone on the journey of Tripio. I met the artist who did the cover art. His field of specialty is fashion and design but circumstance created the interest and opportunity for him to take on creating the cover art for a book. It was all meant to be. I had never written a book before and he had never created a design for a book cover before. I can only hope the book is a good as the cover.

  I will give you three guesses as to where the artist and I met for me to pay and for us to sign the copyright transfer. Need help? There was one exactly halfway between his house and mine. Still need help? Tripio takes places primarily one of these places….

                 From Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository

       Well, you’ll get it eventually. For now I look at the cover and see the story behind it. I see the work that went into it. I see the very first cover draft I came up with. I see long the before that, to the writing of the book itself. And I see the requesting of the blurbs and the photo shoot for the back cover headshot. I see my original journals that begat Tripio. I see learning how to use Dropbox for the editing. I see myself with printed pages on my porch this past summer Sunday evenings, looking over what I had written that weekend. I see four am start times. I see that this list is getting tedious for you, so I will stop.

   My point is this anyhow. I see a lot of good times. I see good times in my Mind Garden. I see good productive days and weeks getting both me and Tripio to this point. And that is what I feel best about when I look at the cover…even though you can’t see it.

                                                “May I help who’s next?”


    My coffee is weak this morning. I have already had my double espresso and as the clock passes 6 a..m. I am clear headed and ready for a long day. Later this afternoon I will be headed to my “Building your own Blog” class at the Indiana Writers Center. As I produced this content, this blog is mostly a concept.                                                                    

   I put down my weak-ass drip coffee (I think I need a new brewer since I just discovered a small puddle of water next to my brewer a minute ago) and began to collect relevant notes for my “Blog” class. I noticed that I have 3 folders entitled “Chicago Days”. One is black, one is green and one is beige. Curiosity got the better of me and I began to look though the beige one which is oldest and most beat up one.

    I hadn’t looked these pages over since spring of 2017. So, I had a go. After just a couple minutes I came across the page that became the opening of Tripio. It is not the prologue, which is younger by nearly 27 years. This is the opening passage of Tripio, where Jay is “sitting at my writing desk, shirtless on a muggy day in Chicago.”

             File:Summer Morning in Chicago (30791823248).jpg|Summer Morning in Chicago 30791823248

   Re-writing and editing changed this passage to some degree. In reading the passage twenty eight years later, I am struck by many thoughts. Perhaps the least disputable one of them all is that when I sat down at my typewriter in my second floor apartment in Lakeview that day, I didn’t do it with the intention of starting a novel.

   That fact that it happened, for me, is what is as interesting as the actual constructive writing of the novel itself. I see the words on the page. The page is aged and stained and a large piece on the middle right hand side is chipped off. The words on this page have stayed the same. I have changed them. That is the only way it makes sense to me. How else could this passage become the beginning of a novel called Tripio?

   More recently Tripio has changed. As soon as it came from my editor as the “final assembly”, I began thinking about publishing it. It is the thing to do, right?  Like I said earlier that was not on the mind of that angry young man at his typewriter in Lakeview nearly three decades ago. His words have stayed the same, but he has changed. Hasn’t he?

   I would prefer to conclude that I have uncovered the better Jay. The Jay who was there all along and needed to be uncovered. I know a second thing for sure, that the writing of Tripio has been an essential and vital part of that journey. Which is, for me, the real value of Tripio, published or not.

                                                   “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 the book 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 with Jay nearing the end of writing the 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 for its duration. Jay is confronted more by the fact that he is afraid he doesn’t even know what the 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 it as my writing or the novel. Then, as I began to feel confident and came to see potential in the marketing of Tripio, I made it a point to name and embed BotW into Tripio. In fact, I had too. 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 out. 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?”


    A troubling thing has been happening on this journey to publish Tripio. I have been getting asked quite a bit the question: “What is a tripio?”

    This was first brought to my attention at a class on memoir writing at the Indiana Writers Center. No one in the class with me knew what a tripio was. It hadn’t even occurred to me that a lot of people may not know what the title of my book was supposed to be or mean or even imply or suggest. I knew what a tripio was since the fall of 1990 when I started at Starbucks. Actually, I had worked at a couple independent, hippy coffee houses even before that, so the word was part of my personal vocabulary so long I assumed everyone knew what one was. Also creating my false sense of security was the fact that there are thousands upon thousands of Starbucks on this earth. Surely, everyone who’s visited a Starbucks has had a tripio…right?

    I’ll break the silence and continue. In Tripio the book, Jay describes his tripio, the drink, as “my crutch, my momentum and my solace”. I’m sure that helped. If it didn’t I will define a tripio as three shots of espresso which is usually consumed immediately after it is brewed into pre-warmed cup. It is then often consumed with sugar or whatever one wants to add. In Tripio, the book, Jay always drinks his tripios over lots of ice in a plastic cup. Jay needs the caffeine from the three shots and the ice keeps the drink alive and refreshing as he goes about his work day.

                          [File:Iced americano.jpg|thumb|Iced americano

      Of course, I did not choose to title the book Tripio based solely on the fact that the main character drank lots of triple espressos over ice. There are three plot lines that intertwine and collaborate as Tripio goes along. Jay has three life options facing him as he goes about his increasingly complicated days. After reading Tripio, you will be asked to decide if the option he chose was the correct one for him.  

    To read Tripio you will first have to buy it. Before you do that, you will examine the cover and see that subtitle includes a partial definition of the word tripio. Which brings me back around to the class I mentioned above. I was helped a great deal in choosing that subtitle by the instructor of that class. Thankfully,he was one other person in the room that day who knew what one was. And now, I hope, you do as well.

                                                    “May I help who’s next?”

                   I will do my best to tell you all why I chose april 11th as the release date for Tripio. I have hesitated up until now because that date is integral to the plotline that has the most built in drama in Tripio, especially for the readers of the book who don’t already know me. There must a few of you out there, right?

          U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 1st Class Martin E. Maddock.

   In the book, April 11th is the due date given to Kati and Jay for the birth of their baby. The reason so much drama is attached to the date is that Kati has a “birth defect” that will produce a high risk pregnancy. A pregnancy in which it will be highly unlikely for the baby to go full term. What will happen on the way to April 11th?  I hope you all buy and read Tripio to discover the answer. That is all I can say for now.

  Well, not all. The above seems an obvious explanation as to why I chose April 11th as the date to publish Tripio. But I seemed to want to make that decision harder on myself than necessary.  Last fall when I had decided to self publish Tripio I needed a release date. At that time, I was lamenting the fact that I had not started Tripio about a year earlier. That way, I would have been able to time the release date of Tripio with the 25th anniversary of the Starbucks IPO. It made some sense to me because in Tripio Jay participates in said historic IPO,   I had my clothes picked out for tomorrow. I even had my khaki pants cleaned for the big day. Pants cost more but were worth it. I was not sure what to expect, but tomorrow would be a different day, to say the least. I read my stock market book at my coffee house under the tracks and now get that as of tomorrow, Cosmodemonic will be a publicly traded company”.

   I was a year too late for that opportunity but I was hoping to attach Tripio to some other historic event in Starbucks history in order to get some kind of publicity. I looked over the Starbucks timeline on its website but nothing seemed to fit. Nothing fit because Tripio is not the story of Starbucks. It is Jay and Kati’s story. The story of Starbucks has been and is still being told by others.

    So, to the dozen or so readers who will read Tripio and don’t know me personally, that is why I chose April 11th as the release date of Tripio. And even those who know me will find that Tripio isn’t a suspense thriller. It isn’t really the outcomes of the three plot lines that create the essence of the book. It is what Jay does with the outcomes of the plotlines that give Tripio its unique selling point. After all, who wants another book about Starbucks? Who want another celebrity author to ‘follow”?  You see, for me, the lasting appeal in Tripio starts before April 11th, when Jay will begin to to see and understand that…..

        Ooops…I better not go on anymore.


                                              Blog 17- The want ad

    Was it Thomas Wolfe who said you can’t go home again? I think so. Not sure why he said it. For me it was easy, I jumped in my car and drove two hours east to Dayton, Ohio. I wasn’t trying to prove him wrong or anything. I was trying to find the original want ad Starbucks had placed in the Dayton Daily News. The want-ad I had responded to which set off a series of event that culminated in me getting a job with Starbucks in Chicago in the fall of 1990.

  Around this time last year I was committed to the editing of the “novelized” version of Tripio. I can step back and evaluate Tripio, as it has now become, in three forms: The memoir version, the novelized version, and the edited, converted to past-tense version. I will cover editing more fully in future posts but will only say for now that I feel very fortunate to have worked with the editor I did. This wise man suggested a more impactful, catchy “hook” for the opening of Tripio. I could see his reasoning right away. Tripio opens deliberately and slowly as Jay is at his writing desk in his apartment, “shirtless and smelling a bit ripe” Besides writing all he bothered to do was take out the trash. Riveting stuff, eh? I did see my editor’s reasoning but my first reaction was “Where is the patience, people?”

                                         Dorothea Lange [Public domain]

     But in and among those thoughts I knew what I wanted. I wanted to find that original ad. At first I combed the couple journals I had kept from 1990 but could not find it. I remembered that the ad included the phrase “must love coffee” so I tried the internet. No luck.  I took a trip to the main library in downtown Indy for help. Their archives for the Dayton Daily News did not go back far enough. I did find an old ad for Starbucks as it opened in the Los Angeles market. Close, but that wasn’t want I wanted. What I, at this point, had to have.

  In Indy, I was given contact info for the archivist at the Dayton Daily who suggested I try to search the microfilm in person. I have family who live in Dayton and I could arrange that easily and visit them as part of the bargain. Off I drove.

   The visit with my family went well, the search for the want ad did not. I again proved Wolfe wrong and went from old home to current home, this time heading west two hours.

  During that drive with my brain and five senses occupied, my mind took control and it occurred to me that in the summer of 1990 I was thinking of moving from Dayton to Chicago. The ad would be in the Tribune! Almost as soon as I got home (coffee on the trip back required a trip to my bathroom first), I jumped on the computer, subscribed to a month of the Tribune archives and within two minutes had found the original ad. After switching bait several times, I had hooked my hook.

                                        May I help who’s next?


        It is school day morning and my teenage son just asked if he could stay home  today because he couldn’t get to sleep last night. He was asleep at dinner time and I tried to wake him up. I had made a good dinner, creating something we would both like. I mention my son because he is a motivation in the more practical aspects of the attempt  to direct-publish Tripio.

      Simply put, I would like to make a little money from it. I need some income to continue to feed him, even if he sleeps through dinner.

    Having said that, I did not initially create Tripio as a revenue stream, even if that is what it may become. In order to achieve said revenue I have had to do many things that I had not envisioned when I decided to direct, self or independently publish Tripio. One of those thing was marketing the book. Marketing is a word which can be defined, I suppose, almost anyway you want it to be. I define it partly as the process of acquiring positive blurbs to be placed on the front and back covers of Tripio.

  That process has gone surprisingly well so far. Based on that, I am beginning to ponder a price point for the sale of Tripio. One which is now higher than originally planned.

   It is worth repeating that I do have hopes for monetary gain from the publishing and selling of Tripio. As a qualifier it must be said  that my goals are modest here, and may be adjusted based on my son’s sleep habits.

                                            “May I help who’s next?”


       It is just past seven a.m. eastern time. I intended for this next blog to be follow up to the previous post, “Writer’s block?”. I wanted to backtrack and retrace my path to Tripio by emphasizing that I could not have produced Tripio without giving up booze. I will follow up, I promise. But today I can only state that there is nothing better than waking up on a Monday morning with a clear head!  

    The first thing I did this morning, using my clear head, was to check my phone. There was a message that had arrived at 12:51. There was a photo attached. To get to the photo I had to think, enter my code and click. Way too much to do without caffeine. Luckily, the phone was on the way to the coffee makers.  Yes, plural. I have a traditional drip maker and an espresso machine. I made it back to my phone, crema topped double espresso in hand, and was able to access the photo.


   That is me as a Barnes and Noble manager. That would be at the time of the epilogue in Tripio. It was sent to me by my second oldest son, who also appears in the epilogue of Tripio, as himself. It is a good photo of me for a change. It ignited many strands of thought in my wonderfully clear and appreciative mind. I just wasn’t sure which strand of thought would take hold long enough to sit down and write about it. So, I did the dishes. to buy some time.

    As I did the dishes I found today’s topic: My hope for readers of Tripio.

    I hope that somewhere in Tripio that the reader can find a small piece of what I felt when I saw that old photo of me first thing this morning. Because the story of Tripio is truly the story of my life from my mid-20s on. I looked at the photo and saw so, so much. There was birth and death. I want the reader to take that from Tripio. There was jobs and family and money and sex. I want the reader to take that from Tripio. There is fear of what might happen and decisions about life that will affect you forever. It sounds selfish to start those sentences with “I want” but I have been asked that I a lot: What do I want from Tripio? But what my answers mean is that I hope that what a little of what I left can be picked up, out of Tripio, and put into your own life. And when you are done reading  Tripio, I hope you can say something like , “You know, things didn’t work out like I planned. But I do have a really good life.”

                                        “May I help who’s next?”


    I did not experience “Writer’s block” during the writing of Tripio. I fixed that potential problem before I started writing it. If you are saying to yourself, “Oh no, he is going to say writer’s block has nothing to do with writing” Congratulations! You have been paying attention.

              M0tty [CC BY-SA 3.0 (, from Wikimedia Commons

  One solution lies in simply finding your authentic, creative self and unblocking the limitless mental energy we all possess. My own process was called growing my “Mind Garden”. (see post #1). That original creative voice can be utilized in many ways, not just in the creative arts. One good example for me is how I helped raise four children not having a clue what the hell I was doing. I was able to find examples and inspiration from countless sources and that allowed me to grow into the job, as it were. I helped raise them on the fly, by the seat of my pants, creating “dad” day by day until it became second nature.

     I used that example of finding my unique voice because my creative parenting was not intentional or conscious. It goes to the point of writing in this way: I had no choice but to let “dad” come out of me. I felt like I had no attachments to how my parenting should look. It was with this same clean slate that I started Tripio. I had no plan for it. I did not have a genre selected. Or a projected word count. I did note in my SotM (Sketchbook of the Mind) around the time I started Tripio that is was a novella “for now”. That was it.

   Tripio started as just a type of creative energy. I was done raising young kids so that remaining energy had to go somewhere. Like my clueless entry into parenting, I started Tripio not seeing an end in sight. I believe that allowed me to keep my ego’s hands off Tripio and let the “novella for now” become Tripio.



                                                “May I help who’s next?”