Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanks to Baristas and the Coffee Drinkers They Serve

Richard Keller joins us at the Blood-Red Pencil today.

Photo by GoToVan, via Flickr
Not so long ago, in a coffee shop not too far away …

They wouldn’t stop talking. Talking and drinking coffee. Talking, drinking coffee, and eating. They complained about their college classes, their roommates, the people they were dating at that particular hour. And they were loud — to the point I couldn’t concentrate my writing. I think it was my science fiction novel Paradise Not Quite Lost or my erotic/mystery/horror/comedy novel based on Kafka’s The Trial. Sadly, due to the incessant conversation at the other table, and a lack of ropes and gags at my own, I packed up and left.

Fast forward a few days, or weeks, or months later, and I’m back at the same coffee shop with another group of loud, young, angst-filled college students sitting in front of me, talking, and eating, and … you get the idea. I’m about to leave, or at least scream at them to be quiet, when one of them says something which clicks in my brain. It doesn’t mean much to that person. To me, it’s a story idea. So I type up a little something and continue on my other project.

A subsequent trip to my favorite coffee shop results in an additional story idea derived from another conversation. Soon, I no longer have the urge to ask other patrons to shut up. Quite the opposite – I want them to speak clearer in order to cull more story ideas. There comes a point where I have enough ideas for a book. And that’s when Coffee Cup Tales is born.

I think that’s all I’ll get, yet the story ideas continue to amass. And not just from my favorite coffee shop. Other locations I visit have their fair share of folks, angst-driven and other, who say or do something which results in a creative ping, subsequent creation of a story title, and a few sentences of plot. I now have enough stories to produce Coffee Cup Tales 2: Extra Foam and release it on New Year’s Day – a time when people crowd the coffee shops to drown their hangovers with intravenous caffeine.

Coffee Cup Tales is becoming Chicken Soup for the Soul … well, in my head. There’s always a story or two created by people who don’t realize a writer sits in the same room as they do. Is it snooping? Absolutely! But it’s creative snooping, which is okay, at least according to my attorneys.

And this is why, as we enter the period of giving appreciation by eating a dead bird, I thank the baristas who work tirelessly to caffeinate a public ready to spill their guts in raised voices. Without their assistance, Coffee Cup Tales wouldn’t have been born, exist now, or last into an unknown future. Okay, there’s one known thing – it’ll be full of coffee and stories.

Richard Keller is the founder of Wooden Pants Publishing and Assistant Director of Northern Colorado Writers. Coffee Cup Tales 2: Extra Foamis scheduled for release on January 1, 2015. In the meantime, pick up his eBook Santa is a Stalker! And other modern holiday stories on November 28 and THE Book About Squatin December. Follow Rich at and The Writing Bug.


  1. Love this, Richard! You give new meaning to "creative writing." Actually, people watching (and, by extension, "people listening") can be a surprising source of inspiration. This also is a great fit for a lemons-to-lemonade scenario. Thank you for reminding us to always have our story radar on. :-)

  2. Welcome to the BRP, Richard, and thanks for the fun story. I love it when story ideas pop up out of the most unexpected places, and good for you for taking advantage of that inspiration in the coffee shop.

  3. That is hilarious! I am always amazed at the conversations I overhear in public. But I know when I get together with my crit group in a Panera or a restaurant, we are loud and the stories we tell would curl a few toes and fill a few volumes. If they are listening to our critiques, they must think we are mad, bad, and slightly dangerous.

  4. If it is fodder for writing that you seek, join me at the local Braz hamburger joint ... the seemingly incomprehensible blather is, to a writer's ears, a veritable motherlode of rich dialogue ... I mean I hear stuff that I couldn't make up in my most muse-touched moments of creativity. It's almost like cheating.

  5. Congratulations on your book! We never know where our ideas will come from--great post!

  6. Thanks for stopping by, Rich. I can't say I'm particularly good at writing in public, but I do love my java!

  7. Lucky you, Richard. All I see in coffee shops are people with their noses in their phones or iPads. But, like Diana, I'm sure people tun in to my writers' group when we get together for lunch. Oh, my. I'm surprised someone never called the cops to report an upcoming murder.

  8. Polly, you just have to go to a shop near a high school or college. Trust me, those folks do more jawing then Internet surfing.

  9. And on the other side ... be careful to check for cops in that coffee shop before you start brainstorming ideas for ways to kill someone.

  10. Hi Rich!

    Everyone, I enjoyed the first Coffee Cup Tales so much I'm really looking forward to Extra Foam. Rich is creative, funny, and also a very nice person.


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