Thursday, August 3, 2017

Announcing Tex Thompson's Tornado Alley Tour!

Listen, y'all. I can get down with left-coast libertines. I love the weather - the food - the public transit - the weather - the creative scene - and the weather's not bad either.

But it's time to get back to my roots. My people. My time zone. And that's why we're hitting the road and doing it: a two-week beat-the-heat red-state road-trip - with a different writers' event around every corner, and a good time to be had by all!

Will I see you there?


Click the titles below for time and venue specifics
unless otherwise noted, all events are free or pass-the-hat!

hosted by the Cisco Writers Club


It's a truth every interviewee knows: there's nothing more tragic than missing out on your dream job because the interviewer can't see past the stain on your collar. In this class, we'll tackle the grammar and style mistakes that even experienced writers make, and highlight winning strategies for scrubbing them out of your manuscript. Don't give your reader even one easy reason to toss your work aside: come learn how to put the "pro" in your prose!




Sat, 8/19 - Amarillo, TX - Word Alchemy Lab (Micro-Level)
hosted by the Texas High Plains Writers


If your book were a movie, it would be an instant classic. A stellar premise. Unforgettable characters. Mind-blowing plot turns. But somehow the words on the page aren't fully conveying the tension of the tight parts, or the loveliness of the pretty parts, or the shocking-ness of the shocking parts. Never fear!  In this class, we'll study the art of adapting your writing style to suit any purpose, refining each page and paragraph, and fine-tuning every line until it sings.


Sun, 8/20 - Lubbock, TX - The Plate Tectonics Theory of Dialogue

When it comes to dialogue, a good scene is a 'geologically active' one. Like pieces of the Earth's crust, characters clash, fold, and buckle as they interact (and yes, sometimes even bump and grind!) In this high-energy, interactive workshop, we'll analyze the features of real human speech, and how to amplify and manipulate them to suit your purpose. Whether your current scene is as subtle as a tremor or as explosive as an earthquake, we'll craft dialogue guaranteed to keep your plot moving, your pages turning, and your readers on their toes.


Mon, 8/21 - Kansas City, KS - The Seven Deadly First-Page Sins
 hosted by Lynette M. Burrows


There's no one right way to begin your story – but there are plenty of wrong ones. In this class, we'll take you on a cautionary tour through the pits of page-one hell, complete with agent pet peeves, reader turn-offs, and "thanks but no thanks" editorial dealbreakers. Don't let your manuscript suffer in form-rejection torment: let us guide you through the slush-pile inferno and lead your story toward the light!





Weds, 8/23 - Lincoln, NE - Quasi-Fictional: An Evening with Patricia Scott and Tex Thompson
hosted by Francie and Fitch independent bookstore

Shakespeare's Coriolanus becomes a high school baseball drama. American colonialism is reimagined in a world of cowboys, fishmen, and "culture magic". And authors Patricia Scott and Tex Thompson invite you to join in for a rousing roundtable conversation, in which we ask: how much fact makes for first-rate fiction - and when does fiction actually change the facts?





Thurs, 8/24 - Tulsa, OK - Dialect to Die For
hosted by Nevermore Edits

When it comes to dialect, we often hear that 'less is more'. So how do you render a good Scottish brogue, or Southern drawl – and for that matter, how can you give a non-English-speaking character a voice that's distinct but still readable?  In this class, we'll examine how to represent accents and speakers of other languages in a way that captures their voices without reducing them to verbal tics, gimmicks, or stereotypes.




Sat, 8/26 - Oklahoma City, OK - Worlds Apart: Worldbuilding From the Inside Out



It’s a hard truth every writer knows: a good story needs a great setting, and many a diligent storyteller has gotten lost in the details. But doesn’t have to be that way! Whether you’re adapting the past, delving into distant regions of the present day, or conjuring other worlds altogether, some principles of good story-grounding are universal – and you can start applying them right away. Come learn the secrets of crafting immersive, dynamic settings – real or imaginary! – that your fans will want to explore for years to come.


Sun, 8/27 - Ardmore, OK - The Plate Tectonics Theory of Dialogue
hosted by Arbuckle Creative Writers

When it comes to dialogue, a good scene is a 'geologically active' one. Like pieces of the Earth's crust, characters clash, fold, and buckle as they interact (and yes, sometimes even bump and grind!) In this high-energy, interactive workshop, we'll analyze the features of real human speech, and how to amplify and manipulate them to suit your purpose. Whether your current scene is as subtle as a tremor or as explosive as an earthquake, we'll craft dialogue guaranteed to keep your plot moving, your pages turning, and your readers on their toes.


Sat, 9/2 - Roanoke, TX - The Plate Tectonics Theory of Dialogue 
hosted by the Roanoke Public Library

When it comes to dialogue, a good scene is a 'geologically active' one. Like pieces of the Earth's crust, characters clash, fold, and buckle as they interact (and yes, sometimes even bump and grind!) In this high-energy, interactive workshop, we'll analyze the features of real human speech, and how to amplify and manipulate them to suit your purpose. Whether your current scene is as subtle as a tremor or as explosive as an earthquake, we'll craft dialogue guaranteed to keep your plot moving, your pages turning, and your readers on their toes.

Want to see one of these in your home town? Email me at tex at thetexfiles.com - have Powerpoint, will travel!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Sharing the Work

Y'all. Realness. It is 9:15AM on January 1st, and I am used UP. I've had about twelve hours of sleep in the past three days, I'm still all raw and leaky from going serotonin supersaiyan yesterday, and there is a toxic, pit-of-my-stomach sickening amount of work waiting for me. I seriously do not know how it is all going to get done.

But if you are like me, and if today feels less like a fresh start than a really messy middle - take heart, y'all. Have courage, and some protein. Today is traditionally about resolving to do things better and differently, to make positive changes – but maybe it would also be healthy to make it a day of forgiving yourself and letting go of some old ambitions that don't fit right now.
Maybe you are not the person who will sit down and make that perfect Pinterest-worthy scrapbook of family memories. Wouldn't it feel good to put that project back in the water and let it float on downstream - give someone else a chance to find it and pick it up? Would it be enough to keep on taking the pictures, without feeling obliged to curate and arrange them?

Maybe you are not currently in a place to start a fantastic new eating plan and take up a gym habit, even though you really want to capture the traditional New Year's momentum to start getting down to a healthy weight. Would it be okay to return that vision to the ocean of possibilities and be ready to receive it again when it washes back up on shore? Is there a smaller, more sustainable way you can start doing a daily kindness for your body in the meantime?

Donald Maass said a really excellent thing at the Writer Unboxed conference I attended in November. It was the morning after the election, and a lot of us were feeling terribly raw and anxious. He said, "We have work to do – all of us. And we will do that work."

I've thought about that a lot in the past two months. And to me the operative word is "we". Sometimes it feels like we are stuffing our shirts with these work-stones, these task-eggs, until we're so overfull that two fall out for every one we bend over to pick up. We are the first and often only person we delegate to. We see a thing that needs to be done and automatically stoop to undertake it, without necessarily asking whether we are really the best person for the job. We take so much on ourselves, because we either don't trust or can't bring ourselves to impose upon the people around us. We hoard the eggs until they rot, not trusting our fellow-humans to keep from trampling them otherwise.

And I think we would be a whole lot happier if we got better at choosing and sorting our eggs. Some to keep and incubate ourselves - some to give away or trade with a neighbor - some to put back down on the ground and walk away from, trusting their place in the order of creation.

So before I load my nest with one more "I really seriously have to", I hereby resolve to ask:
1. Is this really, objectively a thing that needs to be done? Who will be hurt if it isn't done?
2. Am I the best person to do it? Who is better-equipped to tackle this?
3. Do I need to do it right now? What is the consequence if I put this away and re-examine it next week, next month, next year?

I would really like to get better at answering those questions - because if I weren't so busy trying to keep my own eggs from dropping or spoiling, I would have more time to help other people hatch theirs. That would free them up to help me and others too. We might expend just as much effort as we did before - but we could do it so much more joyfully. We could enjoy each other's company during the work we do together, and relish the special tasks we dive into alone.

The man is right, y'all. We have WORK to do. But more importantly, WE have work to do.

So if you've got as dauntingly long a row to hoe as we do, please make it your resolution to speak up: a mule and a plow can do wonderful things together – but first you have to get them the same side of the fence.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

A Dream Realized

Ah, friendly friends. Today is a strange kind of book-birthday. Amazon is apparently out of stock, and there's no resolution for that while both the publisher and the distributor are closed for the holidays. (My author-copies are similarly AWOL, or I would offer up something from that supply.) There is no fanfare on the blogosphere, because holidays, but also because I have been behind on writing guest blogs. At this rate, we may or may not have copies for the party on Saturday - it is in the gods' hands now.

But you know what? It is still a really, really good book-birthday. Dreams of the Eaten is still a damn fine book, given life and shape by damn fine people. My Twitter feed is blowing up with love from all quarters. Saturday is going to be a baller time, no matter what. And more than that... like, today marks the day when the end of the story is officially made real. You can download the e-book right now and put it in your face (and I would love it if you did!) And that can't be undone. It is safe. It exists. Even if the physical copies all get burned up in a warehouse fire. Even if the book tanks and goes out of print. Finally, after 17 years, the whole entire story is written and made available to the world, and if I get hit by a bus today, there will still be a piece of me out there living its own little life - complete and unkillable - and I will have paid my Earthly rent.

I am so proud of this book, y'all - this series, this story-world. And while I reserve the right to collapse back into fits of author-angst the next time I get a shitty depressing royalty statement, please feel free to remind me that I wrote every word of this post and meant it. And that I would never have had such wonderful problems without first having such wonderful people.

Thanks for seeing me through, y'all. It wouldn't mean a thing without you.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

ANNOUNCING: The Great Pre-Apocalyptic New Year's Eve Launch Party, Book Bazaar, and Fruitcake Amnesty of 2016!

Y'all. It is only seven days - one magical, fleeting week - until Dreams of the Eaten takes flight into the world. And it is no good having a book launch without a book launch party!

ANNOUNCING the Great Pre-Apocalyptic New Year's Eve Launch Party, Book Bazaar, and Fruitcake Amnesty of 2016! Local author and notorious ruckus-raiser TEX THOMPSON is celebrating the launch of DREAMS OF THE EATEN, the final book in her epic fantasy Western series. Join us for a release party like no other!  SEE a smorgasbord of local authors showcasing their work. BRING your finished books and unwanted holiday treats for the swap table. (Win a prize for the "best" fruitcake!) ENJOY refreshments, giveaways, and a booktacular good time!  SATURDAY, DECEMBER 31st from 11AM to 1PM at the Irving Public Library, South Branch (601 Schulze Drive in Irving). RSVP and find out more at www.TheTexFiles.com
Click to embiggen!

It's going to be a barnstormer of a time, y'all. We got a book-swap table, where you can swap out your old books and pick up some new ones. We got a goodie gulag, where you can bring your leftover holiday treats (and snack on other people's) before you start that Jan 1 diet. (And yes, I'm giving a special prize for the most egregious fruitcake. Give me your worst. I ain't scared.) Most excitingly, we have suckered sweet-talked no less than FIFTEEN local authors into coming out to showcase their freshest, finest work. If you don't leave this party with a full belly and an even fuller bookbag, I will eat my hat.

SO. We're throwing down at the South Irving Public Library. The party starts at 11AM on Saturday, December 31st. Bring your unwanted books, leftover sweets, and all your favorite friends - and be sure to RSVP on Facebook or the official events page  so we can fete and feed you in fine style. Be there or be missed!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Stealing Fire: An Ask, and an Offer

EDIT: The DFW Writers Workshop is currently reviewing funding for its programs. The Writers Bloc will continue uninterrupted, but this Patreon drive is on hold for now. (I'm leaving the post up, because I'm proud of it.)


Friday, November 25, 2016

Thanksgiven

Y'know, back when my grandparents were living, we made the four-hour drive to Houston to visit them for all the big holidays. I have vivid memories of Game Boys and apple-juice boxes in the backseat, and waving to the big statue of Sam Houston as we passed, and a dog or two that always woke up and whined whenever we got off the freeway.

But I also remember Mom and Dad explaining that there were some things we talked about at home that we weren't going to talk about in Houston, because it would upset Nana and Pawpaw. I'm sure my sister and I messed that up a few times, but overall it was the most natural thing, the understanding we had through our whole lives: our parents were liberal, and our grandparents were conservative, and that meant that there were some things we wouldn't agree on. It never kept us from playing gin rummy or making flapjacks or watching Nana cry when we played Leontyne Price's "O Holy Night" on Christmas Eve. (EVERY time, y'all. Every time.)

It was only later, as a teenager, that I realized that what our family did was not universal - that lots of families couldn't enjoy each other's company at all - and only MUCH later, as an adult, that I realized that there were legitimate reasons for that - that some people just can not control their emotions or behavior, and are not safe to be around. So I will never question or criticize anyone who chooses not to visit their family.

But y'all - this year, of all years, I am more grateful than ever that our parents went the extra mile to make sure we did not miss out on having grandparents. I am so, so glad that they made sure we spoke thoughtfulness as a first language. And for all you guys who are doing that same work this weekend - choosing your words carefully, focusing on the things you CAN do and discuss together, taking care to make the time enjoyable for everyone at the table - you have my deepest appreciation. We need you now, maybe more than ever before. And the values you're living right now will last longer and reach farther than you know.

Monday, November 7, 2016

The Edge

This is a crosspost of the newsletter that I write for my friend Kristen.

You know, it’s funny what travelling does to you. You understand intellectually that there are billions of people in the world and no two exactly alike – and yet it’s not until you actually walk in to the Super 8 motel on the south side of Toledo and actually meet the young man behind the counter that he stops being a hypothetical person and becomes Justin W., your bespectacled, soft-bodied, keycard-programming fellow human. He’s still a stranger, but now you have to save him if there’s a fire.

Kristen and I thought about what we would like to say in this newsletter. It’s the last one before the US election, which absolutely everyone is sick of. So we would like to have a different kind of discourse here.


You know that we have strong feelings about the failures of the workers’ compensation system here in Texas. That large businesses and insurance companies have used the Texas legislature to sew up the system so tightly that it’s almost impossible for wounded workers to access fair treatment and compensation. You can probably guess that that pits us firmly against our state’s status quo.

Unfortunately, we have to vote on candidates, not individual issues – and this is far from the only issue on the table.

So let’s step back and picture the table itself for a minute.

It’s big and round, glass-bottomed, and there are a bunch of little people on it. All of them can look down through the glass and see how awful it would be to fall off, what a long drop there is between them and the floor – but some of them are closer to the edge than others. Some are so close that one jostle, one bump, will push them right over.

That’s not so bad, most of the time. There’s enough room for all of them, and for the most part they can be neighborly. But sometimes the table gets bumped by a huge unseen thing far below, and that scares everyone. They push and shove to get closer to the center of the table, where it’s safe – and the people in the center start pushing back.

The bump was bad, but the fighting that follows it is tremendously worse. Everyone is so focused on who does or doesn’t deserve to be in the center that they stop looking outward. They don’t notice the people who are getting pushed off the edge in the chaos, maliciously or by accident. People fall off, and they aren’t missed. Nobody ever saw them slip. (This is something Kristen frequently remarks on. “Before my injury, I had no idea that this could happen to people. I had no idea that the system had gotten so bad.”)

And what’s really unfortunate is that most of it is preventable. Bumps will always happen. Some tablefolk will always be closer to the center than others. But if they stopped pushing and started pulling – if every one of them took hold of just one person who was dangerously close to the edge – it would be so much harder for anyone to fall... and downright impossible for it to happen unnoticed.

So that is our wish for you, our fellow denizens of Floorland. We are bigger than the Tabletopians. We can make better choices. And even though our media urges our attention relentlessly toward the center – to the politicians, athletes, celebrities, and headline-writers who live and die according to our attention span – it is our moral imperative to look back to the edge. Look to the edge, where we have always found the best in ourselves. Look to the edge, where everything truly exceptional about our country was born. Vote with one hand, and give the other to someone who’s standing at the brink of the abyss, and you will never wonder whether you made the right choice – because you will have chosen more than yourself.

-Tex

P.S. If you're wondering who this Kristen person is, start here.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Infiltrating Yankeedom: The Great November Con-a-Thon

It's getting real, y'all. As I type this, I'm on a flight to Ohio, kicking off the first leg of this year's grand tour. Can we do three and a half weeks with nothing but a yellow backpack, a red hat, and a blue jean jacket? There's only one way to find out.

Not a celebrity author rock-star. Just a black-belt carry-on badass.


So here's what's on the itinerary - please let me know if I'm hitting close enough to your neck of the woods for a hang-out hoedown!

World Fantasy Con - Columbus, OH - Oct 27-30
attending

Winter Wheat - Bowling Green, OH - Nov 3-5
presenting "The Seven Deadly First-Page Sins"

(I'll mosey up through Cleveland at this point. Have rental car, will carouse.)

Writer Unboxed Unconference - Salem, MA - Nov 7-11
attending

WindyCon - Chicago, IL - Nov 11-13
writers workshop instructor; panelist

Wake Up and Write Writers Retreat Workshop - Haverford, PA - Nov. 14-19
instructor

After that, there'll be a couple more days of Phillyandering before I fly home on the 21st.


And seriously, y'all. Do hit me up if you want to do something. I like playing these away games, but they are notoriously short on familiar faces - and yours would be more than welcome.

Okay? Okay. And for those of you on the home-front: please be good to my dude and my cat while I'm gone. They take good care of each other, but there's more to life than shotgunning beer, kibble, and Cops.



Another night on the road - another sold-out show...

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Fighting the Fugue

Dear diary,

Yesterday was my last day to be 33. Today I am 34.

So far they don't look very different. Yesterday I moderated an author panel at the library, dashed off a critique, and started writing a presentation for next week. Today I’ll do my dialogue workshop, meet with an editing client, go over next weekend's event details with my colleague-buddy, and have lunch with my mom. Really looking forward to lunch with my mom.

That’s pretty much how it’s been for months now, and it’ll be the same for at least a couple months more. Events, email, travel, editing, teaching, email, conventions, housework, projects, even more email. I enjoy most of those things, most of the time (except for the email). But lately I can’t even tell whether I’m having fun or not. It all just “is”.

No pleasure, no rapture, no exquisite sin greater... than an empty inbox.

I thought of a metaphor for this, by the way. Carving out a creative career is like running a marathon with a bag over your head. You hear people cheering and hollering, and you know you must be going some kind of distance – but there is no dang telling whether you’re gaining ground on anyone, much less how far you still have to go. You just run your best, and try not to think too much about the rest.

The rest is creeping up on me, though. For one thing, I have been a less-than-fantastic wife and friend this year – missing messages and visits like I never did before. Everybody has been kind and understanding, but it’s not fair of me to keep flaking out. And for another thing, those thirty-odd pounds I managed to kick off last year have all come back. More pounds means more snoring. More snoring means more nights on the couch – not the end of the world, but it wears on you. I’m not too sure how to fix that. I do all right when I’m cooking for myself at home, but I’ve been out of town 82 days this year, with another 39 still to go. Hard to hold on to a healthy routine when you don’t have a routine.


Life in morse code: traveling-dots and appointment-dashes.
But I am going to try. I DO like doing these conventions and events, even with all the extra time and expense they incur. Being out in the world with people makes sense in a way that e-anything doesn’t, at least to me. And if I want to get to keep traveling and doing, I need to not turn into a couchbound pizza-yeti. (I am noticing this more as I do more events: we geek-people seem to have more health/lifestyle problems than the general population, and I do not like where the ghost of Christmas future is leading me.)

So that is the goal, at least for the remainder of 2016. Career-wise, there’s nothing I can do but to keep running the race. Writing-wise, I’ll showcase the upcoming book and start banging out the next one. But health-wise, and friend-wise, and partner-wise, this what I’m doing has to become sustainable. Crashing and burning is not an option when you’re sprinting full-tilt with a bag over your head.

Especially not when this dude is waiting for you back home.
So that’s what I’m going to work on: getting sustainable by the end of the year. But since it’s my birthday, I will also treat myself to just a little pride: 33 came and went, and I used up every bit of it.

Now get over here, 34 – you look positively delicious.