Tripio The Novel

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

 I want my historical fiction novel, Tripio, to sell. And sell. And sell some more. If you have a book on Amazon, then I assume that is a goal of yours as well. To that end, I recently attended a class on just that subject. The class was called, “How to sell more books on Amazon”. Tripio was published last spring on Amazon and I had not yet formulated a coherent strategy to sell Tripio on Amazon. It was time to get to work.

   I had heard from other sources that getting reviews was the most important and powerful thing you could do to help sell your book. I have one 4 star review to date. The class reinforced that I needed more. I have since made it a priority to relentlessly badger my dear family and friends who have read Tripio to write a review. I have done this with folks who I only see occasionally as well. Most, but not all, remain friends. 

     Earlier this week, I received an email from one of the person’s mentioned above. The first paragraph told me that the email sender had indeed placed a review of Tripio on Amazon and Goodreads! Eureka! Pay dirt. I briefly considered texting work with my two weeks notice. I did not.  I quickly checked Tripio’s Amazon page to see the actual review. I forgot that it takes a few days for anything to happen on Amazon.

     Fine. I settled down to read the attached email. In it, I found the true value, the reason, the validation for having written Tripio. It was worth way, way more than a mere review.

   I am having a tough time with this post. I say that because I am only just now beginning to understand why Tripio came to be. I’m not trying to be noble, but those reasons had nothing to do with getting reviews or making money. Here in the email attached to the review, was captured why I wrote Tripio in the first place. To be transparent, I have known the person who sent the email their entire life. So the person had a proximity to Tripio that 99.9% of readers won’t have. The person understood Tripio to the last comma. Reading the attached email brought tears to my eyes. Every second I worked on Tripio was worth it. I had been validated. Tripio had helped someone. It may have inspired a friend of the email sender to begin writing. After reading the email, I thought I was done with Tripio. It has served its purpose. What could getting more reviews and selling more copies do for me now? Goodbye.

    I can’t stop though. I have no choice. I can’t stop the journey of Tripio anymore than I can snap my fingers and stop my heart from beating. If Tripio is the novel I hope it is then I have to see it through. I hope readers can “feel” what the insider felt upon reading Tripio. Only time will tell. Time will tell if I am a good enough writer to enable any and ever reader to take from Tripio what the email’s author and I know to be in there.

  I’ll pretty sure be able to tell when they leave their reviews on Amazon.

                          “May I help who’s next?”

  When my sons were much younger they loved dinosaurs, specifically the animated series of movies starring a group of singing dinosaurs called Land before Time. Now they are young men out on their own with jobs, adult responsibility and are making their way in this land.

I found singing dinosaurs irresistible too. I watched the movies with them those twenty years ago on prehistoric format known as VHS.  At that point in my life I had just left a career at Starbucks behind. Why? Tripio was written partly to explore that. For today’s post I am focusing on the time when most of the country was still living in an era I have long referred to as “The Land before Starbucks”.  

   I have recently discovered Reddit. There is a dinosaur joke in there somewhere. I have been looking over their r/Starbucks page to see what the barista of today is doing, as opposed to the barista of Jay’s day in Tripio. The first thing I noticed is that today’s barista is as good with their camera as they are with the steaming wand.

   Many of those baristas are close to the same age as my sons. So, as I looked over the photo posts I wondered if and what they know of The Land Before Starbucks. What was this place? Does it occur to them that such a place existed?

   In Tripio, Jay’s prehistoric landscape shared much with the snapchatted one in which the modern barista roams. Tripio is three plots and narratives alongside and intertwined with each other. The Starbucks growth narrative is told from a barista’s perspective. Jay starts out as a barista and even when promoted up the chain to store manager, Jay is a barista at heart. After being promoted Jay still takes pride in his performance on the espresso bar at his current store on Diversey in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood. He realizes that he must display mastery of the espresso  bar for the customers and store functionality, but mostly to”earn the respect of everyone he works with.”

  Removing the camera phone from the picture, I see more similarities than differences to Jay’s barista days and those reflected on the Reddit posts. It was tough in the trenches for Jay in early 90’s in Chicago and it is tough in the Starbucks trenches today. There is no hiding in a cubicle, breaks are hard to come by when it’s busy and you are always on stage and always being judged by the incredibly fickle and self centered human race. In short, Jay may have been working in the Starbucks Jurassic Era and the Reddit Baristas are in the modern day, but the job of barista is not easy.  And it never was.

    I hope that when this generation of baristas find its way to reading Tripio they will pull a couple twenty second shots for Jay and his fellow dinosaurs. Because, those dinosaurs helped create the Land of Starbucks and thanks to them, today’s barista can now post  proof of its existence on Reddit.

                                      “May I help who’s next”

Art & Fear: Observations On the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking
The only pure communication is between you and your work.

Recently, I have been resisting working on “Back outta the World. Oh sure, I can tell myself that work has been busy. True. I have been paying more attention to the blog. Also true. This afternoon I spent a good deal of time letting as many people as possible know that I have just appeared on a podcast.

All the above are true. Yet if I truly wanted to find the time and energy to keep revising “Back outta the World” I could have.

I have made good progress to date and may have found an editor to take on the manuscript after I have finished this revision. As some of you may know, the novel and the current revisions were written almost 25 years apart. That dynamic provides a unique vantage point to take stock of who I was and what I felt and thought about life a quarter century ago . Sometimes I look foolish to my older self. A good sign, I think. In other passages I see myself and mutter, “That’s me, alright.”

In “A Commotion in your heart-notes on writing and life“, Barb Shoup says that ‘The first tool in any revision toolkit is putting the manuscript away for a while.” Maybe I went a little overboard in waiting over two decades between revisions.

Whatever the case, I am enjoying the hell out of communicating with my younger self. The passage from him that has forced me to resist going on isn’t a bad one. But one that has made me stop and think. And to feel a little anxious about what Jay, who is obviously me from BotW, will tell me about myself next.

In BotW, Jay is several weeks into his road trip and is becoming accustomed to not knowing what day it is, and not setting the alarm clock. He is about to head out of Chicago on the next part of his pilgrimage westward with his companions when he stops on a busy corner to observe the commuters boarding one of the many buses that are stopping there at rush hour. For that moment, Jay wants to give up the road trip for the boredom and security of the daily grind, which those bus commuters are bound to. It seems safe. It presents a good place to be. He pictures himself momentarily living that routine specific to his own life. But, isn’t he on this trip to avoid just such a fate? Jay only comes out of these thoughts because he has hope of meeting a beautiful female wanna be rock star down the road in Louisville.

When I read that passage it struck me, these 25 years later, that I am happy to be like the commuters on the bus on that corner in Chicago. I like the 5 day routine. I like shutting down the work day and the work week and doing things on the weekends just like most everyone else.

In fact, that stability and routine has enabled me to create a consistent, predictable and productive time to work on Tripio, and now BotW. When I was living out what was the source material for those novels however, I fancied myself a mad Beatnik or a wondering Henry Miller type. I’m not though. I thrive on the dull life Jay is running from in BotW. I need that so that I actually can get back into those manuscripts and make something better out of them.

The question that has me stuck for now is, “How did Jay know? More unsettling is the prospect that later in the manuscript he’ll tell me things I don’t really want to know about myself.

‘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 12:51a.m. 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 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 got a speeding ticket earlier this afternoon. It seemed like I was going with the traffic but got singled out. That put me in a “why does the world hate me?” mind frame. I have also just received a “No” from Bill Kurtis on a request for a blurb for Tripio. On top of all of that, I am a lifelong, die-hard Ohio State Buckeye football fan and Urban Meyer announced his retirement a few days ago. Why does the world hate me, indeed?

              I was still considering this on my couch after dinner, when I glanced over to see my downstairs computer. It was not at all far from where I had parked my backside. With just little effort, I could check my Tripio gmail inbox. Maybe some good news awaits me there? Or, wait! What if there is no news? Or worse, bad news? I was in the thralls of “intermittent reinforcement”, at least as I understand the concept. If I knew one way or the other, I would not be tempted at all. I had just recently discovered the term in the Alan Jacobs’ “Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction”.  I congratulated myself on my new name for not being currently able to do anything constructive. That afterglow didn’t last long however. No longer able to contain myself,  I had to check the Tripio gmail. It was five steps and a click away.

    You read before you the words of a changed man. I did in fact receive news. News I consider to be great, in fact. In my email was a response to the first blurb request I had sent for Tripio. It was from Kevin Knox. The response I read in my email was a the first real review of Tripio. This was from someone who was the Head of Coffee Quality with Starbucks during the time Tripio was set. Mr. Knox appears in the book as the “coffee God.” He had just finished Tripio and found it “a vivid and authentic journey through the heady early days of Starbucks expansion.

    Wow. Damn. It is hard  to say just how great I feel. I simply say this: Even if the world still hates me, it’s alright because Kevin Knox liked Tripio.


      “May I help who’s next?”

          As I promised in my first post, this is not a quick path to writing a bestseller. Before I go on, I cannot help but tell everyone that I just received a commitment for a blurb for Tripio from retired Starbucks President, Howard Behar.

      As an author who has written a novel of historical fiction in which Starbucks is a third of the plot, this is very exciting news. I am planning to publish Tripio on Amazon KDP on April 11th, 2019 by the way. But that is getting ahead of myself.

“Every thought is a force sent out” -James Allen

   It would have not been possible for me to have written Tripio if I have not first come to understand, at least to some degree, how the mind works. The words that appear on any page at any time anywhere do not just pop out of the blue. They are a product. They are a result. In fact, many times they are a collaboration of our three minds.

   The above image was useful for me in the year I spent at the School of Metaphysics (SOM), unlocking my thoughts and enabling my mind to be moved to a place where it could, and eventually, would create Tripio. From there, I have used, and for the purposes of this blog will continue to use, the term my “Mind Garden” to encompass all three minds.

My mind garden was still a wreck as I sat down for my first class at the SOM on April 28th, 2016. It was a rocky, weedy plot of ground. It was not ready for planting, growing, seeding. There are many reasons for that: grief, stress, self-pity, lots of drinking. You get the point. Did I mention drinking?  I did not yet understand as the class started that I had the shovel in hand, ready to crack open that plot of rocky, weedy earth and plant the seeds of Tripio.

Has it been a year since that was posted? Tripio has been published and is doing what it should be doing. I have been using my mind garden to work on my next novel entitled “Back outta the World“. I feel like I’ve done so much since I started this blog. I could go into it all. I have in fact. Right here in this blog. Well done, Jerry. I hope the next year is as rewarding.

“May I help who’s next?”

It is Saturday morning and later I will head off to my local Get Fit for a weekend workout. Sure, I go for my cardio workout. My goal, as suggested by my GP, is to get my heart rate up to 150 at least once during my time on the cross trainer. It isn’t easy. But the getting up, the climb, to the accelerated heart rate is what does the most good. Simply running in place for 20 minutes with only a slightly accelerated heart rate apparently has little benefit.”It’s the climb” as Miley Cirus would sing.

While exercising I have my Pandora app selecting some workout appropriate music. Recently, I’ve been favoring Abba. If “Mama Mia” doesn’t get me moving, then it just isn’t my day.

Since Pandora is free it has commercial interruptions. I know I could move on to an upgrade or source my music by some other means, but this task never seems to make it to the top of the pile of things to do. So, I stick with Pandora and the commercials, even if I hate them more and more. How dare they try to steal my thoughts at the time they are doing me the most good? It is almost a physical pain to be moving, sweating and cleansing my body, mind and spirit and have a commercial begin “Hey!”

I used to simply rip out my ear speakers and toss them violently off my head until my phone said the commercial was over. I was then safe from a commercial violating my mind for several more songs or hopefully until the conclusion of my workout. Still, I felt cheated of a minute of my precious and wonderful workout time. A time I use as much as mental cardio as physical. But, I have recently found a solution.

It is not switching apps, accessing a different source for music or ditching the phone altogether. No. I decided to use the interruptions to make my mind healthier, just as interval training makes my cardiovascular system stronger by making it climb and stop and restart.

Now I use the commercial interruptions as my interval training for my mind. You see, typically I have found that when the body is moving the mind, especially the subconscious mind, it says “Hell yea. I’m free to do things”. So I listen to my mind while working out and it usually brings me pure, fearless thoughts for my books, the blog and my life as a whole. I later use these healthy thoughts to affect my life in positive ways. I have seen it work. To have an unwanted voice try to reach into my head during this time is unacceptable to me.

So, this morning when I’m on the cross trainer and a thought stealing commercial comes on, I will smile. I will simply remove the ear speakers calmly and begin my mental interval training. I will start “the climb”, which to reiterate, the part that does the most good. It strengthens my mind against unwanted distractions, interruptions and commercials. It make them easier to ignore, which of course is the last thing the folks behind the commercials want out of me. So, to them I say, bring them on. Make my mind clearer and stronger.

Oh and Thanks, Miley.

“May I help whose next?”

And the question is this. The following is the question: Do you know what a Tripio is? Have you heard or seen it used anywhere in any context? I know that is actually two questions but there may be two parts to any given answer so…

The reason I am seeking help from you all is that I have recently taken a class at the IWC called “How to sell more books on Amazon”. As a self-published author (I prefer to be described as direct published-but that’s not in question here) I had to attempt to come up with a real, sustainable strategy to sell Tripio on Amazon. Fair enough.

Snag is, according to the wisdom I learned at the class, a novel’s title should be easily searchable on Amazon, Google, etc. And the word “Tripio” is not.

What to do about it? I have already created a post that defines a tripio and will post it again, and again, again if I have to. I have made a video showing me creating a tripio on an espresso bar, in real time. Is that enough? Have any of you all seen or read the above? Another question, I know.

I just don’t feel in my heart that I can change the title. It defines the book in so many ways. There are three story line running alongside each other through the entire book. Three shots make a tripio. Three story lines make Tripio. I just don’t know if I can do it, just for the sake of searchablity. That is why I am asking for help.

So, back to the original question, you know what a tripio is?

May I help who’s next?

It’s all there. Don’t worry. It’s there and they will find it. Don’t try to write, just write. Don’t translate, answer. Don’t try to get to sleep, just fall asleep. All these thoughts are in my mind as I am revising the latest passages from Back outta the World (BotW), my second novel and follow up to my wildly successful debut novel, Tripio.


Let me try to tie them together in a way that will help one create or continue on their own novel, story, poem, sculpture etc.

The passages I mention above take place at the fictional “Sundome” in northern Wisconsin. Cohorts on the roadtrip Jay, Rick and T find themselves spending a night at an unfinished theme hotel in exchange for a favor for the night watchman. Here they sleep on chaise lounges poolside. The pool is halfway full with test water for the filters. A beach ball has found it’s way into the pool. Jay thinks one of the construction workers brought it as a joke and tossed it in the water.

For a moment, Jay is captivated by the beach ball’s slow and easy movements on the water. The ball goes where the slight breezes and pool’s current takes it. It is round, as all balls are. As the world is. Later in BotW, Jay recalls being hit in the nose with a dodge ball as kid while playing in his front yard. His nose is busted and Jay remembers bleeding all over his white T-shirt. That ball was round like the world.

I know that happens later in the book because I wrote it. And rewrote it. But both passages are there and always have been. Without intending it, I have set up a comparison of the two world’s Jay is facing in BotW. One world is benign and carefree, like the beach ball. The other will came at you and cause you pain, like the dodge ball. This only occurred to me a few day ago as I reworked this section. I did not do this intentionally. I just saw it this morning, some 25 years after I had first written those passages.

Will that occur to the future readers of BotW? Does it makes sense now to you? I have no way of knowing. But I hope the takeaway will be to not make this writing thing any harder than it has to be. Because it is there. The trick is letting it come out. Do that by calming the mind, being at ease with yourself and with what you are writing about.

May I help who’s next?”

Please refer to earlier posts on “The Mind Garden” for more on this subject.

Recently, I was at a coffee house on a rainy Sunday afternoon with a good friend. We were catching up on life and it’s challenges. This was a local coffee house with art on the walls and old couches situated against those walls. After an hour or so of coffee and camaraderie, my friend and I got up leave and as we headed out the door she encountered a man she knew. After a quick intro, my friend, who has already read Tripio, said “You should have Jerry on your podcast.”

And that was it. He asked me to be a guest in a couple weeks. This was after I ran to my car to retrieve a copy of Tripio. As any good direct published author would do, I always travel with a copy of my book, just in case. This time it paid off.

I have tried numerous times over the past year to be guest on a podcast but to no avail. A podcast spot had taken a lower priority on the journey of Tripio. Is was still an aspiration, yet one that had yielded nothing positive so it was hard to keep trying. And now, without trying, I was to be on a podcast. “Damn. What the f*** do I do now?’

One thing I did do was read a post entitled ,”77 Pieces of Advice for Podcast Guests from Hosts” by Dan Moyle. That helped. Yet as the day neared, I questioned Tripio, my coffee acumen, my ability to match verb and subject to form a coherent sentence.

On the fateful day, I was told that I was the third guest, sitting behind two regular contributors. Everyone was friendly but I still felt like the odd man out. This only enhanced and further agitated the swarm of butterflies in my stomach. Once the first guest had completed her segment, I did something the old me would have never done: something.

I am shy and introverted. A fairly typical writer type. All good. But in order to get the world to notice Tripio, I have had to do things that I was new to and uncomfortable with. Lots of them. Maybe that is the real value in all this? Then,out of the blue, I recalled a favorite wisdom. This one from Elanor Roosevelt, “You must do the things in live you think you cannot do.” I feel that putting Tripio out for the world to read has caused some personal growth in myself. Faith? Belief? Maybe. Whatever it is, it got me off my chair. I walked over to the guest and her friend and made conversation. She was human. I began to feel more at ease. In a few moments, guest two was finishing and it was my turn. Now, after hearing myself speak for few moments and not be laughed at, I was ready.

I felt like I did well for my few minutes and will put the results up on the blog when I receive the edited Podcast. For now, I have four (not 77) tips from my experience that helped me. For fun, I’ve paired the steps with those needed to make a great cup of coffee. 

1) Use the best coffee beans you can find = prepare, prepare and prepare more. Listen to a couple podcasts in advance. Review your book for new things to talk about. A lot may have happened in this world since it was published. It is helpful for the book to be topical and appear fresh. Don’t rely on old or dated beans.

2)Grind the beans for the coffee brewer= If you are using a French Press pot, grind the beans coarse. For a cone shaped filter, a finer grind is needed. Do not force your message or book if it isn’t’ the right fit. Don’t use the time given you to do an infomercial for the book. I able to work in Tripio several times during the podcast even though our actual topic was coffee culture as a whole.

3)Use hot, just-off boiling, water to extract maximum flavor when brewing=Let the host guide you. He or she will be able to fill in or pull back when needed. And don’t forget, the podcast may be further cleaned up before posting. 

4)Enjoy the cup= Now that the coffee is done, share it with your host and listeners. Relax and tell stories. Tell fun and quirky stories about your book, how it came to be. As a writer. it is expected that you will have stories. I had done my research and was able to recall the story of Kaldi and his goats, who are given credit for “discovering” coffee, after the host unintentionally prompted me on topic.

There you are. I hope it helped. If not, try to brew another pot tomorrow morning…

                   ”  May I help who’ next”