Category Archives: UNSUB

Get signed, personalized books for the 2017 holidays

1121 UNSUB
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: from idea to printed page

ITBNproofing

My next novel, Into the Black Nowhere, will be published in early 2018. It’s almost ready to go. I spent this week proofreading the “first pass” of the typeset pages.

Editing, like everything else in writing, is a process. It’s a back-and-forth: between me and my ideas; with my agent and editor; with the copyeditor and proofreader; and, finally, with my own judgment that the novel in its entirety — the story, structure, characters, suspense, pacing, voice, and wording of every sentence — is the best I can make it.

Each step in the process comes with its own challenges. And each version of the story I write gets comments. For this novel — the sequel to UNSUB — here’s how the notes and editorial suggestions I’ve received have evolved.

Outline:

  • This novel is a cat-and-mouse thriller in which Caitlin Hendrix pursues a charming, devious killer across the western US. Why do you insert a convoluted subplot about one victim’s greedy grandparents attempting to steal an inheritance?
  • The mid-novel murder is dramatic, splashy, and completely predictable. What if you flipped the situation on its head?

(Me: If I do that… hey! A whole fresh, unexpected plot line appears.)

First draft:

  • The pace in the first half is, to put it kindly, leisurely. Okay, it’s slow. Remember the reviews you got for UNSUB, which praised its tautness and drive? Yeah, do that again.
  • The ending needs more brains, less brawn. For instance: Why is Caitlin clinging to the roof rack of a careening SUV? Get her off of there. Now.

Second draft:

  • So many cops! So many FBI agents! New ones seem to pop up every few pages. They roam the novel in groups, holding constant conversations. Send some of them home.
  • Why does one character describe a life-and-death struggle after the fact, through dialogue? You’re missing a chance to show a badass fight. WRITE THE SCENE.

Final draft:

  • SO MUCH WEATHER.

Copyedited manuscript:

  • Does this scene take place on Wednesday? (Me: Yes. Obviously.)
  • Are you positive this scene takes place on Wednesday? (Me: Completely.)
  • Then why is it still Tuesday? (Me: GAH.)

First pass pages:

  • Me: Delete “fast.” Insert “quick.”
  • Me: Delete “printout.” Insert “documents.”
  • Me: Delete “asshole.” Insert: “jackass.”

As I said, it’s a process.

And, if you want to see how I put all these suggestions into practice, you can preorder the novel.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound

Coming up in November: Texas Book Festival

TexasBookFest2017
I’m delighted that I’ll be appearing at the 2017 Texas Book Festival. It’s a huge, exciting event — often, 40,000 people attend — and I’m honored to be invited. It’s also a whole lot of fun. If you have a chance to get to Austin the weekend of November 4-5, check it out.

My schedule:

Texas Book Festival
Austin, Texas
“The Long Arm of Crime”
Saturday, 
November 4, 2017
Time:
 10:00-10:45 a.m.
Session Location:
 Texas State Capitol Extension 2.030
Signing Location: Main Signing Tent

News about the UNSUB TV deal

UNSUB Pilot News

Here’s an update on plans to develop UNSUB into a CBS television series. From Deadline Hollywood:

EXCLUSIVE: CBS has bought Edgar-winning author Meg Gardiner’s novel UNSUB. The project was picked up by CBS Television Studios earlier this year, ahead of auction. The book was published in June by Dutton. The network has ordered a pilot script to be written by Liz Friedman, who will be executive producer and show runner, and who co-created ABC’s Conviction and co-wrote the pilot to Orange Is The New Black. Latter got her an Emmy nomination. Friedman was also an executive producer on Marvel’s Jessica Jones, and writer and senior producer for almost the entire run of both House and Elementary.

The project will be developed by Carl Beverly and Sarah Timberman, who’ll serve as executive producers through their studio-based Timberman-Beverly Productions banner, and Shane Salerno through The Story Factory.

To say I’m excited is an understatement.

Sneak peek: Into the Black Nowhere

IntoTheBlackNowhere

Who wants a sneak peek at my next novel?

Into the Black Nowhere — the sequel to UNSUB — will be published on January 30, 2018. I can’t wait. Here’s a teaser:

On Saturday nights, women in Texas are disappearing. One vanishes from a movie theater. Another is ripped from her car at a stoplight. Another vanishes from her home while checking on her baby. Rookie FBI agent Caitlin Hendrix, newly assigned to the FBI’s elite Behavioral Analysis Unit, fears that a serial killer is roaming the dark roads outside Austin.

Caitlin and the FBI’s serial crime unit discover the first victim’s body in the woods. She’s laid out in a bloodstained, white baby-doll nightgown. A second victim in a white nightie lies deeper in the forest’s darkness. Both bodies are surrounded by Polaroid photos, stuck in the earth like headstones. Each photo pictures a woman in a white negligee, wrists slashed, suicide-style — posed like Snow White awaiting her prince’s kiss.

To track the UNSUB, Caitlin must get inside his mind. How is he selecting these women? Working with a legendary FBI profiler, Caitlin searches for a homology–that elusive point where character and action come together. She profiles a confident, meticulous killer who convinces his victims to lower their guard until he can overpower and take them in plain sight. He then reduces them to objects in a twisted fantasy–dolls for him to possess, control, and ultimately destroy. Caitlin’s profile leads the FBI to focus on one man: a charismatic, successful professional who easily gains people’s trust. But with only circumstantial evidence linking him to the murders, the police allow him to escape. As Saturday night approaches, Caitlin and the FBI enter a desperate game of cat and mouse, racing to capture the cunning predator before he claims more victims.

I’ll be talking more about the book as we get closer to publication. But for the moment, you can pre-order.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound

Writing outlines: Do what works for you

I was recently asked a question about outlining a novel:

“I’m now working on an extensive outline in hopes that doing so will better help me see a novel through to the end. It sounds like doing so made all the difference for you. I am wondering if you could respond and further explain your outlining and writing process and maybe even include some images from the Unsub outline. Do you plot down to the chapter and scene level or is it more of the acts of the story and major plot points? Do you sketch these out on a pad or are you strictly working on Word files? I’d love to see what that actually looks like when done by a pro.”

Here’s the gist of how I responded:

When it comes to outlining stories: Do whatever works. Over the years I’ve found it most helpful to write an outline that’s like a story summary—it will include the beginning, major turning points, and ending. That’s what works for me. The more I can come to understand the characters before I dive into a first draft, and ramp up their motivations and conflicts, the better grasp on the story I’ll have—and the more ideas for how to develop the plot to a slam-bang ending.

I don’t format the outline with Roman numerals or anything that stringent—I write it up as if I’m telling the gist of the story to a friend. I’ll include a quick precis of major scenes, and emphasize the twists and turns in the plot, with particular emphasis on the protagonist and antagonist.

That’s just me. Whatever helps pull ideas from the air (or the unconscious)!

Crafting a novel is a discipline that simply takes time and practice. We all careen along the trail, hoping there will be a brass band at the finish line.

__________

I promised the querier that I would expand on these thoughts in a blog post. So: 

Over time, I’ve come to outline my novels in greater detail and at greater length. For example, for The Shadow Tracer, I wrote a two-page outline. Here’s a screen shot.

Shadow Tracer excerptI hadn’t read that outline for several years. When I did, I was struck to see that it’s mostly summary and backstory.

Actually, I was taken aback. I mean, the outline continues: “Sarah has a desperate secret. Zoe was placed in her care by her dying sister, Beth, who sacrificed her own life to protect her. Beth had unwittingly been put in danger by Zoe’s dad. He was a good-hearted young man who’d fled a nightmarish upbringing.” And it goes on like that for several more paragraphs. It’s almost all setup. The outline doesn’t even reveal the ending.

Since then, I’ve come to understand that getting the central conflict on the page, and explaining it in terms of the push-and-pull between the hero and antagonist, are incredibly helpful. What matters is to tell the story in the outline with as much drive and verve as possible. So now when I outline, I write the summary the way I write the book: I dive straight in. The action comes first; any explanation or backstory comes later. What counts is to dig into the heart of the characters’ emotional lives and excavate what’s at stake in the story.

So I’ve moved toward writing what are essentially story treatments for the novel. These are longer documents that include some mini-scenes and bring the story more immediately to life.

Here’s the opening of the UNSUB outline.

UNSUB excerpt

The UNSUB outline runs to almost twenty pages. Writing it took me months. And months, and more months. But when I finished it, I knew who the characters were. I knew what they meant to each other. And what they would do to each other. The UNSUB outline put all the elements of the plot on the page, with every major twist and turn, from beginning to end. And, importantly, it did so while delving into the emotional connections between the characters, and highlighting every major conflict, surprise, and revelation in the story.

Because of that, it took much less time to write the first draft of the book than to write the outline. And that first draft didn’t meander or require extensive cutting. When it came to plot and character development, I’d done the heavy lifting already.

Your mileage may vary. You may decide not to outline a single word of a story or novel. But if you get nothing else from this blog post, take this away: Even after writing thirteen novels, I’m still learning how to do it better.

UNSUB book tour wrap-up

UNSUB Chauffeur

The UNSUB book tour spanned several weeks, seven thousand miles, and was accomplished via car, plane, subway, phone, and foot. It included radio interviews, book signings, talks, podcasts, and seminars. And a 100-mile drive through a crazy thunderstorm to Houston. It even featured a driver who greeted me at the Oakland airport, wearing the appropriate chauffeur’s hat and sign. Of course, it helped that she was my daughter.

In all, it was productive, invigorating, and uplifting.

SiriusXMI got to talk to readers across the United States, and do events with wonderful writers including Jeff Abbott and Spencer Quinn. I got to meet one of my literary idols, Don Winslow, who has been incredibly supportive of my work. Don shared an evening with me at Barnes & Noble in Dallas, and the event was as fun and inspiring as I could have hoped for.

I got to visit the Sirius XM studios in New York City, where I recorded a segment for Entertainment Weekly’s radio show, Off The Books, with its host, Tina Jordan. I got to speak on a panel at Thrillerfest with writers I worship, including the great Walter Mosley. What a privilege.

Thanks to the Husband for going on a road trip with me across Texas and Oklahoma. And thanks to everyone who came to my events: my bridesmaids, friends from England, dedicated mystery readers, fellow writers, former federal agents, cousins, and the Husband’s college roommate… even though he attempted to confess to being the Zodiac killer. (Fat chance, Pete — Ted Cruz is higher on my suspect list than you are.)

NMM@TBSThanks especially to the booksellers — from Austin, Houston, Phoenix, Orinda, San Francisco, Dallas, Oklahoma City, Manhattan, and Brooklyn — who welcomed me and opened their doors to help launch UNSUB.

Thanks once more to the readers of Oklahoma, who have again made both UNSUB and China Lake Top Ten bestsellers this week. This native daughter of Oklahoma is elated.

Thanks to the Daughter and Son-in-Law for driving me around the Bay Area and being my People for a day. Thanks to the Sons for hanging with their mom in New York City, and for taking me to the Every Time I Die / Taking Back Sunday concert at Webster Hall. To quote my son after the concert: “Nobody can believe you actually came. Literally not one person I know can believe you came to this concert.” Mom for the win!

So, to conclude my UNSUB summer tour, have some celebratory music and stage confetti. Here’s Taking Back Sunday opening their show with “Tidal Wave.”