Category Archives: The Shadow Tracer

Get signed, personalized books for the 2017 holidays

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phantom_instinct  Shadow    

The holidays are coming up, and of course you’re contemplating giving books as gifts to everyone you know and love. Right?

If you’d like to get copies of my novels, you can now arrange for me to scribble in them, no matter how far away you live or whether you catch me in person when I have a pen in my hand. Thanks to my fantastic local bookstore, Book People in Austin, you can order signed, personalized copies of my novels. The store ships across the USA and internationally.

Book People doesn’t have a hard deadline for holiday shipping, but the sooner you order, the better.

UPDATE! Book People says:

To ensure orders make it somewhere in time for Christmas, we ask that they be placed before (not on) December 19th at the absolute latest. Making an order that late would require UPS shipping, our more expensive option, so customers looking to ship through USPS should place orders before the 12th to be sure they make it on time. UPS shipping typically takes 3 to 5 business days and USPS typically takes 5 to 10 business days.

If you’d like to order copies of my books and have me sign them, call (512) 472-5050 or CLICK HERE.

And once you order my books, you can keep on going and order books by other authors as well. Book People has a whole store full of them. What are you waiting for?

Editing: knowing what to cut, what to keep, and when to say, “You’re under arrest.”

Over the weekend I read a post on the website Helping Writers Become Authors. Because that’s what writers do on the weekend. We write, and read, and obsessively study the craft of writing. We also spend hours on social media, and watch football, and nap. But mostly we write and read and obsessively work to improve our craft.

Fine. We also catch up on Denzel Washington movies and episodes of Bar Rescue.

Back to my point. The post I read was Most Common Writing Mistakes, Pt. 37: Unnecessary Filler.

How can you spot unnecessary filler when it shows up in your story? The first symptom is always that it’s boring. If there’s no life in the scene — if it’s high point is just two characters exchanging monotone dialogue about a subject readers either already understand or simply don’t care about — that’s a good sign it’s a bad scene.

Another sign of filler is a scene that’s full of social conventions or routine conversations that readers either participate in themselves in their daily lives or are super-familiar with from television and other books. Personal introductions and daily routines are frequent culprits, but so are court-room rhetoric, the Miranda rights, most political speeches, ordering at restaurants, and chatting with grocery clerks.

I nodded and laughed when I read the part about Miranda warnings. As a suspense novelist, I write plenty of scenes where people tangle with the justice system. As a lawyer, I know something about criminal procedure. As an author who has experience editing my work to get rid of the boring bits — lines and paragraphs and endless meandering pages of it — I have learned to show what’s necessary, and trust readers to infer the rest. Books are not transcriptions of every single moment in the characters’ lives. The author’s job is to select what to portray, and leave the rest on the cutting room floor.

And while writing The Shadow Tracer, I locked horns with a copyeditor who thought I had forgotten to include necessary information.

(Mild spoilers ahead.)

In the novel, a turning point comes when heroine Sarah Keller is arrested by the FBI. The scene is in Sarah’s point of view, and I designed it so that she doesn’t know who is closing in on her — just that armed figures have risen up in the dusk to swarm her truck. Trying to protect her little girl, Sarah floors it. Then she spots all the cop cars. Outgunned, she stops. A man in a suit appears at her window, pistol raised, and says, “FBI. Don’t move.”

End scene. We next see Sarah handcuffed in the back of an FBI car, being transported to the police station.

I submitted the novel to my editor, who assigned it for copyediting. When I got the manuscript back, the copyeditor had written: “AUTHOR: Does this imply that [Sarah] was arrested? Later on we say she’d been arrested, but we never show that happening. OK as written?”

The copyeditor also questioned later scenes at the police station, asking whether Sarah was actually under arrest — because I had not explicitly included that moment on the page. I thought about it. Had I left the situation too nebulous? To keep readers from being confused, did I need to explain things more thoroughly — for example, by having the FBI agent read Sarah her rights?

I decided: No. All that would have been filler, and would have diminished the impact of the scene.

I replied: “Okay as written. Harker and SWAT went out to arrest her, captured her at gunpoint, and now have her handcuffed in the back of a federal law enforcement agency’s car. In a scene below, Sarah confirms that Harker has arrested her. I don’t think I need to show him actually saying that she’s under arrest.”

My editor agreed. To this day I appreciate that validation.

So, writers: sweep out the filler. Don’t explain just for the sake of explanation, or to up your word count. Trust your readers to fill in the blanks.

Unless, of course, you are actually put in handcuffs by the FBI. In that case, make damn sure they tell you why you’re being arrested, and that they read you your rights.

Tropcielka Cieni: The Shadow Tracer Polish edition


Yesterday the postal carrier knocked on my door, handed me a box, and said, “Books. Yours?”

It never gets old. Ever.

I got to show him this one: the Polish edition of The Shadow Tracer. The title translates as “Shadow Tracker.”

The shoutline, run through Google’s meat grinder of a translator, comes out as, “Peekaboo to death and life.” I imagine a Polish speaker would rephrase that to match the shoutline on the British edition: “Hide and seek. Live or die.”

New Mexico: Shadow Tracer country

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This was my morning view earlier this week: New Mexico from 38,000 feet. For a sense of scale, the white expanse is White Sands National Monument and the White Sands Missile Range. It’s twenty miles wide. And the snowcapped speck to the right is a 12,000 foot mountain.

Not only did I spend many summers in this part of the country as a kid (sand-boarding the dunes at White Sands is spectacular fun), but I set a big chunk of The Shadow Tracer there. No spoilers, but Sarah Keller has much less love than I do for this stretch of scorching desert.

Apple Store tonight. Plus Crime Time & Crime Squad!


Tonight in London I will be speaking at the Apple Store Regent Street. 7 p.m. The event is free. If you’re in the area come on down and hear me, Tim Weaver, and Laura Wilson talk about crime. In our books. Barry Forshaw leads the discussion.

Meet the Authors: MG Gardiner, Tim Weaver and Laura Wilson
Tuesday, 10th December 7 p.m.
Apple Store Regent Street
235 Regent Street
London, W1B 2EL
020 7153 9000

Other book/crime related things:

Want tips on how to disappear? I have an article in Crime Time. The Shadow Tracer: Going Underground.

And at there’s a review of The Shadow Tracer and an interview with me. The review says: “The Shadow Tracer’ is Formula One racing in book form.”

Which is pretty darn fine with me.

Shadow Tracer reviews: Financial Times, Book Oxygen, Buzz

Now that The Shadow Tracer is out in Britain, a few more reviews have come in:

shadow tracer uk

“Her best book yet… As ever with Gardiner, we are ineluctably drawn into the plight of the heroine, and the orchestration of tension is exceptional.” Barry Forshaw, Financial Times.

“Gardiner writes tough like one of the boys, and Shadow Tracer is a real, stay-up-all-night thriller that should be the success that it deserves. Ten out of Ten.” Mark Timlin, Buzz Magazine.

The Shadow Tracer is an excellent thriller, which shows that high tension and a fast-paced narrative are not the preserve of fighting men and their guns… Sarah is so appealing that even when the dark parts of her past are illuminated, she keeps you reading. I hope we will see more of her… Like all the best thrillers [Gardiner’s] are fun as well as shocking – and moving.” N.J. Cooper, Book Oxygen.

All of which are mighty nice. Now ‘scuse me while I put on some Kool and the Gang and celebrate.

On sale now in the UK: The Shadow Tracer

shadow tracer uk

Today The Shadow Tracer is published in Britain. So go out and get yourself a copy. Or ten. Don’t let me stop you.

And yes, in Britain I am now publishing as M.G. Gardiner. Because the Brits love crime writer names that involve initials. It makes me feel all thrillery.

Why are you still reading this post? Go get the book.