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.