A letter to my daughter

You were born at exactly 4:00 a.m. Not one minute before, not one minute after. I looked up with the nurses, our eyes on the clock above the bathroom door, watched the minute hand click into place above the 12, the hour hand already resting on the 4. The time leading up to that moment was some of the most trying I’ve ever been through. There’s not much a Dad can do during childbirth except be there. Fetch ice chips. Turn the fan on. Turn the fan off. Put a cold towel on a forehead. Hold a hand. Say the word ‘breathe’ more times in an hour than we have likely said for the entirety of our lives to that point. That time, the minutes and hours before you, was an immeasurably frustrating experience for a man who — as I’m sure you’ll discover one day — doesn’t do well with that sort of a thing.

I was there, though. If I ever give myself credit for anything, it will be that I put my all into being there on the day you were born.

I have never been more proud of someone than I was of your Mom in the build up to you. Sweet, imperfect you. Lumpy head. Long, gangly fingers you didn’t (still don’t) know what to do with. Lungs that were only turning over for the very first time. Understand that you only existed in hypotheticals until that moment. Schrödinger’s child, there and not there at the same time.

And then, you arrived. You became you. You were.

The first time I held you in my arms, I whispered dreams to you, softly for ears not yet accustomed to the volume of hope. I still have them, all those dreams, tucked haphazardly next to the wishes I also hold for you. In case you ever need them.

It had snowed while your Mom pushed you into being. We didn’t know, not until your Grandpa told us via text. Only then did we look out the window and realize that the world had resumed running, as it always does, tick tick tick like that clock above the bathroom door.

But you had stopped time when you were born. You have that sort of magic in you.

This world, like you, is imperfect, as are the people on it. We disagree on things, some of those things bigger than others. We try. We try again. You will meet good people, and you will meet bad people, but mostly you will just meet people.

I have thought a lot about this letter. Long, long before you. I believed, through arrogance or ignorance, I could come up with words to present to you, to guide and protect you, on the day you were born. That would be my gold, my frankincense and mir. Words into sentences, sentences into paragraphs, paragraphs into a shield immense and impenetrable and inimitable.

I never found those words.

We armed you, your Mom and I, with a name. It means “noble, kind.” We didn’t know that when we picked it out. It was a quirk of fate. It fit though, in much the same way keys fit their locks and daughters their fathers’ arms. May it always serve you well.

I don’t think you will ever understand this letter. I don’t think anyone else possibly can. Relate, maybe. But they are not me and they will never be the me I am to you. I was there when the minute hand clicked into place above the 12, hour hand already resting on the 4, with the snow still falling in a world outside a window that ceased existing in that moment because I was too busy being there, in the way only Dads can be.

And that’s the trick of this letter, you see. I was there, on the day you were born. But I never stopped being there.

I am here. For you. And I always will be.

The last time we left our intrepid hero…

So… Anything new happen since I’ve been away? *Cue laugh track*

I’ll be honest — I always expected my updates to be sporadic, and in that sense, I’m happy to see I’ve been true to form. Living up to my own underwhelming expectations! Truly, the gift that keeps on giving.

Snark aside, a lot has happened in the world in the past few months, and I’ll also be honest in saying that some of it has weighed heavily on yours truly. It’s been tough to sit down and write about myself when there’s so many other things happening way bigger than my quaint, little life. Raindrop in the ocean has never felt a more appropriate comparison.

Look, I’m not here to legislate for anyone’s political views, but for me, it was, uh, interesting to have my worldview more or less completely shattered. Some of that was this unique capacity for naivety I seem to have that I think very few children are capable of, let alone a thirty-something. That said, I retain a singular hope that despite how chaotic things have been, maybe this will end up being a good thing in the long run…

…Or maybe I’ve still got some of this naivety clinging on that I can’t seem to shake off. I’m telling you, it’s like a ketchup stain, man. Shit just doesn’t come out.

In other news, I became a Dad a month ago. Like, literally, one month ago. Jesus, I can’t believe it’s already been a month. But yes, she is precious and wonderful and in spite of an absolutely agonizing labor (which I didn’t even have to actually physically go through, so imagine how my wife feels about it), I couldn’t be more overjoyed to have joined the new parents club. I want to sit down and write something about it, but the time doesn’t feel right. Not yet, anyway.

Book stuff! That’s why some of you are here, I presume. You others must be the masochists here for the sheer pain of reading this nonsense (to wit, you’re very welcome). And so, big book news… Well, there is none. Let this be a lesson about getting your hopes up. I’m hard at work on something a little different than The Ferryman Institute but still related, and I hope that one day it will see the light of day. But that is, quite literally, a story for another time.

Finally, I feel like I’ve more or less adjusted to the concept of having an actual book in the world. I’ve gotten pretty good at it, on the whole, I think. I don’t sob uncontrollably every time I go to my Goodreads page anymore, for example. Does it still sting when someone tags the book on Goodreads with “not-going-to-finish-because-it-suck” [sic] or when a reviewer on Amazon says “I’d give the book zero stars but amazon has a minimum of one”? I mean, I went out of my way to quote those here, so clearly it does. But at this point, I’ve learned to live with it. Que sera, sera. It’s forced me to examine my writing style, which I’ve tried to tighten up, and it’s also made me look at how I treat characters in a different light. So maybe there’ll be some good out of this yet.

See? I found the silver lining. It’s cold and smells vaguely musty and I sort of wish I hadn’t gone looking for it so actively, but hey, I did it.

So that’s it for this adventure of “what’s going on in the life of Colin”. Tune in next time, where I reveal the secret of life*.

* It’s “Be sure to drink your Ovaltine”.

And Breathe

Deep breath. Annnnd… Exhale.

Huh? No, no, that was for me, though you’re more than welcome to as well. In through the nose, out through the mouth, etc etc.

So, where are we? Well, here’s where I think I am:

The book is out. It made it. It’s out there, in the world. You can buy it, with real money, and the store offering the book will actually give you a copy in return. It’s amazing. The wonders of civilization.

Part of me feels like there’s a detailed reflection that needs to happen vis-a-vis me and this blog at some point, but I’m not sure now is the time. I feel like everything has been a whirlwind that I’m still coming to terms with. It’s like little fragments that stick out it my mind. However, I guess some of this depends on your definition of “detailed reflection”.

A little over 3 weeks ago, my wife and I found the first copy out in the wild at Browseabout Books in Rehoboth Beach, DE. I signed the two copies they had in pink marker. So, if anyone out there has a signed copy of THE FERRYMAN INSTITUTE in pink marker, congratulations — you own one of the two original signed copies of the book.

A couple days later, the book came out for real. The response from personal friends and family was unbelievable. My one sincere hope for the book is that it makes them proud. That’s it.

As if getting a B&N Book of the Month nod wasn’t enough, Amazon announced THE FERRYMAN INSTITUTE as one of their top SF/F picks of the month.

I had my first, honest-to-God book-signing at New York Comic Con, of all places. New York fucking Comic Con. People actually came. Sure, the book was free (never underestimate the power of “free”), but strangers still showed up, which was great. I don’t remember what I wrote, or if I was charming or fun as people walked up. I tried to be. I have very little practice at this sort of thing. I’m generally behind a computer screen, whether it be writing words or computer code. There’s probably a very good reason for that.

Two days later, people actually came — of their own free will, mind you — to listen to me and four other authors (who were all fantastic) talk about our books on a panel. At New York fucking Comic Con. Now, I don’t know what the others expected, but I was thinking maybe 50 people would show up. As if to make this dream that much more surreal, we capped our panel. Somehow, we were talking to a completely full room.

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Also somehow, I didn’t 1.) faint 2.) vomit on the speaker next to me 3.) do both at the same time. How’d I do? I don’t know. I don’t remember anything I said. Except I said “whiskey” at some point. That’s it. That’s all I’ve got.

On Monday, I did my first Reddit AMA. As a regular Redditor, that’s always been a fun daydream of mine. It was every bit as fun as I expected. I received some wonderful questions, and I hope my answers were even close to their caliber. I don’t remember anything I said.

Today, I just finished taping my first (and probably last) radio interview. It was the best radio interview I’ve ever given. It was the worst radio interview I’ve ever given. It’s the only radio interview I’ve ever given. Remember: stuck behind a computer screen all day. Good reason for that. In hindsight, there are things I wished I’d touched on or framed better, but I’m trying not to be too hard on myself. Or, that’s how I feel, anyway. Unfortunately, I don’t remem—

Right.

Where does that leave me? I don’t know. I’m not sure any of this is real. I mean, what the actual fuck is this? Can someone call up the spirit of Freddie Mercury and ask him if this is real life or just fantasy? It all feels surreal, and there’s a part of me that is desperately trying to soak it in, to focus on the positives (not always a strong suit of mine) and try, try, try to hold onto some of this because it’s all so wonderful and I’m afraid I’ll never be here again. I try very hard to be a humble person, so talking about me me me is annoying and frustrating in some ways. I feel very braggadocios of late (thank you, Donald Trump) and I don’t like it. Part of me hates it. But fuck me, I have a friggin’ Speaker’s badge from New York Comic Con and I don’t know what to do about it. I’d never even been to NYCC until earlier this month (verdict: I was definitely missing out).

I’m really not a fan of how talking about the book makes me feel — it feels selfish sometimes. But on the other had, I want this book to succeed on some level so I can try to do this all again. I want to meet more of you, to thank you, to write your name on the cover page with a dorky message. I want to share the things that are kicking around in my head — I want you to enjoy them, to smile at them, to think about them, to make you sad or angry or happy. I want you to feel things through them. I want to be part of sharing that infinite joy you can only find in the pages of a book that you adore, that gets you, that sticks in you.

I don’t know what that makes me. Human, if nothing else, I guess (that’s probably a relief to my family, who for a while was concerned I was a vampire).

And that’s, like all humans, eventually you have to breathe. So…

Deep breath.

And…

Breathe.

Thanks for being a part of the journey, world. Let’s do this again some time.

THE FERRYMAN INSTITUTE is coming to NY Comic Con

I am becoming more and more convinced that the summer didn’t actually happen, and everything I thought that happened was one long fever dream. That, or time has been sucked through a tear in the space-time continuum. Either way, goodbye, summer. My lack of interest in anything pumpkin related means I will miss you terribly.

It’s September now, which means THE FERRYMAN INSTITUTE‘s release date can now be measured in weeks instead of months. There’s been some nice things said about it: Publisher’s Weekly did a very nice review, as did Shelf Awareness. Booklist gave it a starred review. Barnes & Noble added it to its list of Best Fantasy books to read in September. Goodreads has been a bit of a mixed bag, with some people seeming to have thoroughly enjoy it, while others would — to borrow a phrase from the book itself — like to see me chained to the bottom of an active volcano (see here). On the whole, I’m thrilled people are even paying attention to it, to be honest. That said, it’s nice that sentiments seem to be mostly positive. Silver linings and all that.

In other news, I’ll be at New York Comic Con this year. Despite having lived across the river from it for almost all of my life, I’ve never been, so it’s strange my first time there will be in a professional capacity. All the same, I’m very excited. Carly will undoubtedly have to give me the talk — you know the one: the “no, Dear, there is no room in the house for a life-size replica of 90’s era Gambit from the X-Men” talk. She will win that discussion, mostly because I rather enjoy her being my wife and not, say, my ex-wife.

So, my current schedule for Comic Con:

Friday, 10/7 4:30-5:00pm, I’ll be at the Simon & Schuster booth (Booth 2128) doing a giveaway book signing. So if you want to read THE FERRYMAN INSTITUTE but also enjoy things like being able to buy food, that’s you best chance to snag a copy on the free. Or swing by just to hang out with your boy. You know, whatever works.

Sunday, 10/9 I’ll be a part of the Myths, Fairy Tales and Legends: Reimagining Classic Stories Panel from 1:15-2:15pm in room 1A18 with a book signing to follow from 2:30-3:30pm. I will be by far the most unheard of, worst dressed panelist there, but c’est la vie. It should be a lot of fun, and the other authors in the panel have some really great stuff as well, so if you’ve got a Sunday ticket, come check it out. I’ve been told panels fill up quickly, so if you’re interested, arrive a bit early.

If you plan on dropping by either of those, shoot me a note: cgigl.author [-at-] [-gmail-] .com or tweet at me @cgigl. I’ll also probably be wandering the floor on Friday (possibly with an extra copy or two), so say hi!

Where’s Jay Sherman when you need him?

the-critic-season-1-_alt_I am that annoying person who would prefer that everyone like him. You all know somebody like that, and if somehow you don’t, well, now you’ve got me. Hello! Nice to meet you! Please acknowledge and like me!

Now, if you happen to be one of those people as well, and you have a strong desire to fuck with your own head, I highly recommend writing a book.

To borrow a phrase the founding fathers once said, “We hold this shit to be the truth” (or something like that): not everyone is going to like THE FERRYMAN INSTITUTE. Fact. I sincerely hope a majority of readers do — if not, that would sort of be the opposite of what I was going for — but at this point, it’s no longer in my hands. The book is written. Que sera, sera. I’ve accepted that not everyone is going to like my writing style, or my dialogue, or my characters, or my poor excuse for plot. And I’m cool with that. We good, homie, no hard feelings, thanks for the opportunity. But I’m new to this — I’m still figuring out where the cafeteria is and everything, so to speak. So it’s the reviews that I think misrepresent the book, or me, for that matter, that are hard to swallow.

Return to the top of this post. Read. Rinse. Repeat.

I’m not sure there’s an officially-branded, author-approved method for dealing with that. Things like vodka, or self-inflicted blunt force trauma. I’ve found writing workshop experience a valuable tool to have here in the tool belt, as workshops force you to learn to constructively take feedback without lashing out at the world, agree or not. Or mine did, anyway. Maybe the WWE are hosting some interesting ones nowadays. There is always that temptation, however — one I suspect is an ingrained human reaction — to want to defend your work. It’s like a gag reflex, and, to stretch the metaphor a bit, I suppose in this analogy writing is a bit like sword-swallowing: if you want to be able to do the latter, you have to learn to suppress the former.

I think I’m intelligent enough (HA! Sorry, I crack myself up sometimes) to know that this too, will pass as they say. In the immortal words of Public Enemy, “Don’t let a win get to your head or a loss to your heart.” Learn what you can from the feedback, grow, and move on. At least, that’s the strategy I’m trying to adopt. If you find me on Instagram with a picture of my head through a wall, well, we’ll know how that worked out. Still, as Carly reminded me the other day, it’s important not to lose sight of how far it’s come. And that, on days like today, is the absolute truth.

Plus, this happened, so, you know. Bigger picture.

Curious about the THE FERRYMAN INSTITUTE? You can check it out here. Or, if you feel like riding the roller coaster with me, check out its Goodreads page and play along at home. There are wonderful prizes (legal disclaimer: there are no wonderful prizes. Colin is a liar).

Brushing Aside Tumbleweeds + Book Thoughts

So remember that time I started a blog and then was all like Knowing me, I probably won’t post very frequently ha ha ha and then almost four months went by without me posting again? I’d like to say I did that on purpose, but, uh… Yeah…

In my defense, a.) things have been a little busy on the home front and b.) no one is reading this as of yet, anyway, so I don’t feel as if I’ve put very many people off (that’s for down the road, obviously). Also, talking about me is not something I generally enjoy, so working up the required energy to overcome the slightly higher inertia for this sort of thing takes a bit more time. Well, it takes time, period — that rare and precious commodity that I think was the resource they were after in the movie Avatar — but you can see where I’m going with this.

In personal news, I recently turned 30, which wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. However, I also always assumed that’s when they whisked you away to the nursing home kicking and screaming, so for any soon to be thirty-ites, your mileage may vary on that. In addition to a truly wonderful surprise party courtesy of my wife, I received a pretty special belated present:

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Yes, that’s my book. It is currently slated for release on September 27th, 2016 (that’s a Tuesday, for those keeping track). It has characters, and dialogue, and occasionally, really, really lousy jokes. There might be a plot in there — I’m not sure, to be perfectly honest. Oh, and there are words! Lots of them. Some even arranged in ways that make sense (usually not, though).

I, personally, have never held a book with my name on the cover (well, aside from the one I did in 4th grade called “Will You Help Me With My Homework?”, when I had to use those tiny sticker letters for the cover that were impossible to pull off the sheet without some kind of neurosurgical training… *shudder*) and, honestly, it’s a strange feeling. I’m also a strange person, so that might be an easy explanation — Occam’s razor and all that. My agent Hannah asked me about a year ago, after we’d just sold it, if the reality of being an author had started to set in yet, and to be honest, it hadn’t. I think there’s a certain shock element to it — the “I can’t believe this is actually happening” effect, commonly abbreviated in medical speak as WTF — but it still felt like a distant, surreal thing. Fast forward to now, and once I flipped the pages for the first time — pages that had, to that point, been almost exclusively digital — things suddenly started to feel exponentially more real. People are actually going to read this (maybe more people than just my parents and wife) and that is simultaneously exhilarating and unbelievably terrifying.

Complete strangers are going to judge this book, as they should because life is subjective. I can already tell you that my writing style (a generous term for it, I think. I prefer “word vomiting”) isn’t for everyone. And that’s cool. I can live with that. Out of the gate, I think being able to disassociate book criticism from personal criticism is going to be tough for me because — and many people have already touched on this — sharing any creative work invariably means that you’re sharing a part of you. But that very idea that people I’ve never met before, who I probably never will, are going to form opinions about it, be they good or bad…

Exhilarating and unbelievably terrifying.

For me, if you asked me right now what I hoped for from this endeavor, I’d say a book that readers enjoy. I don’t need to set the literary world on fire (though I’ve got my book of matches ready, just in case). I’m just hoping to tell a good story, maybe earn a laugh or two along the way, and hopefully get the chance to do it again in the future. I’m not being falsely modest when I say that sometimes I wonder how I even got here. But whatever happens, I’m proud to call this book my own. I think, at the end of the day, that’s all I could have asked for.

Anyway, I’ll talk more about the book in the weeks and months ahead, I’m sure, as there’s still some time until its release. If you’d like to pre-order it, you can find some handy links to some common booksellers on the book’s S&S page. If you prefer to support your local bookstore, the IndieBound link here can hook you up to your local shop (like the ever-awesome Word) or if you’d like to skip that and go right to the online corporate book goliath (are we still calling them that?), you can pre-order it on Amazon here.

Finally, two quick notes: first, a huge thank you to Tottenham Hotspurs, for bringing some joy to an otherwise dour Arsenal season, and second, Uncharted 4 is really, really good. If you want to study a masterclass in dialogue in any medium, look no further.

That about wraps that up. See you again in… Oh, four or five months.

Blog.print(“Hello World”)

So, this is my blog. Me being Colin, you being the Google web crawler bot, most likely. There are many blogs like it, I’m sure. I can promise you my posts will be sporadic, rambling, and generally incomprehensible, which I think covers all my bases as far as “necessary components of an author’s blog” go. Also, because it needs to be said: No, Mom, this isn’t where you go to search for things — you want Google.

To be honest, I don’t really have any concrete plans for this place. I started this mostly because I wrote a book, and sometimes I’d like to talk about it with people who aren’t my wonderful wife, Carly (MWWC for short) or my Dad, both of whom will probably hang themselves the first chance they get if they have to hear about “the book” anymore. I don’t intend to post exclusively about that, though, mostly because I’ll hang myself if that’s all I talk about.

If you can tell by my Twitter account, following Arsenal FC occupies a fair amount of my time. To any of you misguided souls who have the misfortune of supporting any other soccer/football club, you have both my condolences and assurances that I do not gloat about the Arsenal — I fear the karmic wrath of the football Gods in the same way I fear  a President Donald Trump. I also grew up playing video games, and since I have yet to actually grow up, I still do, so I imagine that topic will crop up on occasion.

Whatever happens, hopefully this will be the first post of many to come. I doubt it, because, ya know, ME, but still. Positive thoughts.