Wednesday, November 29, 2017

My Real Life Adventure With Captain Mal

So lets try this again and maybe Blogger won't revert my post to a previous draft again.

Something truly random happened the other day and I wanted to share it somewhere. This seemed like a decent place since some of you will benefit from this randomness. Let's just say, keep an eye on my contests page and social media.

Let me start at the beginning.

Earlier in 2017 I came across a video featuring Nathan Fillion encouraging people to donate to the Sawla Children's Home via Prizeo. In exchange for your donation, you could win various little prizes and would be entered into a drawing for a lunch with Nathan out in LA. I saw he was giving away a signed Castle script at a certain donation level, and as I'm always on the look out for things to donate to Pikes Peak Writer's scholarship program auction, I figured this was win-win-win. The orphans got money. PPW got a script and I had an infinitesimal chance of meeting one of my favorite actors.

I donated enough to get the script and promptly forgot all about the lunch raffle.

Until the email arrived.

Honestly, I almost deleted it. Who doesn't get phishing emails claiming you've won some random thing or another? Not to mention there were no embedded logos or graphics, and the person writing asked for an insane amount of personal information. After doing some due diligence, I determined it was legit and sent in my information. I doubted I'd get more than 15 minutes with Nathan Fillion but figured, what the heck, free trip!

A few months later me and my smoking hot plus one (my wife) were on a plane for L.A.

Here's the view from our hotel room.
The next morning I received a call. Number blocked. When I answered, the dulcet tones of (insert your favorite Nathan Fillion character here) greeted my ears.

"Is this Abraham?"

"It is. Is this Mr. Fillion?"

"Yes. I hope you're ready for ... an adventure. Before we get started thought, I have to ask if you have any dietary restrictions."

"None at all."

"Excellent. We will be dining on a fresh poison oak salad."

"That should go down itchy."

"Yes. We will be by your hotel to pick you up in about thirty minutes. We'll be in a black SUV."

Right on time said SUV pulled into the portico and we met the man himself. He smelled like rainbows and children's laughter and if you listened closely, you could hear a chorus of angels singing from the silken threads of his perfect hair ... Just kidding. Really, he was dressed casually and seemed genuinely pleased to meet both me and my wife.

He introduced us to his manager Michelle and explained, "The theme of today's adventure is 'Destinations'. We're going to talk over our shoulders as if we're very busy and important and have no time to wait.  I figured we would start with the Chateau Marmont, a very famous, very infamous hotel. We'll have a little morning mimosa and maybe a ... surprise or two. Nothing too crazy."

My wife and I looked at each other in something of a daze. This was already so much more than we imagined. As we drove, Nathan asked about our lives and how I found out about the contest. He seemed pleased that I had been hoping for a signed script to give away and had instead won the whole kit-and-kaboodle.

photo by Gary Minnaert

Nathan led the way through the chateau's musty lobby to the garden restaurant. "I love it. It just smells like old Hollywood."

We ordered up tea and coffee and mimosas and talked about Nathan's upcoming show potentially titled the Rookie. Michelle asked what works of Nathan's made us fans. We listed off the big three (for us anyway) Firefly, Castle and Destiny.

Nathan is stroking my face with a napkin because ... humor?
Nathan laughed. "I play Destiny, but I recorded that stuff such a long time ago, I don't remember any of it. So I'll be playing and suddenly I'll hear myself say something and it will make me laugh. I'm really very entertaining."


Just then we were interrupted by someone saying, "Nathan! What are you doing here?"

We turned around and there stood Seamus Dever, grinning and holding a manila envelope. After introductions, he took a seat and said, "I just happened to be carrying these around. I guess you can have them."

Inside was a set of Castle DVDs and a photo of him and his wife, when their characters got married on the show.

"I don't know why you'd want it, but there you go. It's a better picture than our actual wedding photos."

Both he and Nathan set to work signing the DVDs while we discussed Seamus's wife's travel blog, outdated technology and old video games which brought us back around to Destiny when we were interrupted again.

"Oh my gosh, what are you guys doing here?"

This time it was none other than Zachary Levi. He plunked down at the table and dove into the conversation, lamenting that he never got the year one Gjallarhorn. I was in nerd-vana (I know, it's a terrible pun), and had begun to grasp Nathan's reference to "surprise or two."

After a half-hour or so of fun conversation, we headed out, saying farewell to Seamus and Zachary, and making out way over to the Messhall Kitchen, for the next stage of our progressive lunch.

I asked Nathan when Marvel was going to see reason and give him a movie and he said he didn't know but would love any part. "What do you think I should play?"

"Cosmic Spiderman from the Spiderverse saga!"

(I'd like to amend that with: Richard Rider, the last Nova. I seriously can't picture a better actor to fill that role and it totally needs to become a movement @marvel #nathanfillion=richardrider. I would watch the hell out of that. To work, Interwebs!)

At the restaurant we ordered lunch and talked more about the business of Hollywood when once again we heard, "Nathan! What a surprise!" In walked Chris Hardwick and his wife Lydia Hearst followed shortly by none other than Alan Tudyk who started off the conversation with, "Well I got my first prostate exam the other day. That was weird."



We laughed and fell into talking about parents and getting old. I got to pitch my idea for season three of Con Man to Alan. I don't want to give away anything but in addition to writing, directing, acting and producing the show, Alan would gradually replace all the other actors until it was like an Eddie Murphy movie. Alan looked like he wanted to die at the suggestion, but I have high hopes (not really, but it was a fun conversation anyway). We talked about Chris' new prehistoric bear skeleton that's mounted on a wood pedestal made by Nick Offerman's wood-working shop, Alan's broken phone and crazy stories about them meeting "really famous" people.  It all felt surprisingly normal.


We said goodbye to Chris, Lydia and Alan and made our way to our final destination, Aroma Coffee and Tea. As we pulled up Nathan said, "Shoot, Ricky is already here. I hope he hasn't been waiting."

Sure enough, it was Ricky Whittle and his girlfriend. We were warned, "Ricky likes to give amazing hugs." We made our way back to a beautiful table on the patio where we ordered more tea and a parcel of great desserts and started talking about good and bad cons, Star Wars burlesque (you heard me) and fun travel experiences. Carrie Fisher's dog apparently farted the entire flight to London once.

Not long after, we heard the now-familiar, "Nathan, what are you doing here!?" as we were joined by Michael Trucco, JR Bourne and Katee Sackhoff. They were all so nice. Michael and JR in particular were so kind as to ask about my kids, life in Colorado and my book. I wound up giving a copy to JR for his nieces who are working on their own novel (I also gave a copy to Nathan so I'm sure we'll be discussing film rights in no time ;).

I felt super short around these guys.

This whole time, Nathan had been busy arranging tables and chairs, finding waiters, ordering food, requesting refills, making introductions, taking photos and videos so that my wife and I could "just enjoy the moment" and signing a bag of miscellaneous swag for us. (If you're reading this, Nathan, please remember to send the pics and videos along!)

The conversation turned to a funny story about a previous fan lunch Nathan did. Upon pulling up to a stop light along side a tour bus, he opened the window of their SUV and introduced Michael and JR. When JR introduced Nathan no one believed he was actually Nathan Fillion. Katee mentioned that she always hid from those buses.

Nathan said, "I always wave. I feel like it's part of my job."

He's a rare bird.


We talked for over an hour after which Ricky gave me one of his patented "Whittle hugs" that lasted a humorously long time, and "snogged" my wife! Nathan packed us into the SUV with a final "Thank you again for donating to the Sawla House" and sent me and my dazed wife back to our hotel. Our "lunch" had spanned three restaurants and five hours. We'd met ten celebrities, eaten so much wonderful food we felt like never eating again, and had been given a whole bag of fun stuff, including another signed script Nathan wanted me to donate to PPW on his behalf. 

I'm planning on giving most of this away so watch my social media for chances to win!


This is my absolute favorite! It is a magnet Nathan puts on certain offending cars.
I have to take a moment to thank Prizeo, Nathan Fillion and Michelle Chapman for organizing such an amazing treat for my wife and I, when they just as easily could have given us the fifteen minutes I'd expected. It's a rare thing for anyone to go above and beyond, much less someone who has absolutely nothing at all to gain from doing so. Thank you. Thanks too to all the other celebs who gave up part of their Saturday to come and hang out. You made our day!

~SJA

If you enjoy Nathan Fillion's work or my writing, you might enjoy my award-winning novel Terra Soul or some of my fiction blog posts. Here are some favorites:

TIME STREAM
GIRL IN THE GLASS
OCTOPUS GIRL

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

A Buenisimo Day



This work  is inspired by the Kate Rusby song Bonnie House of Airlie. Side note: this is set in the same universe as my current work in progress, Minor Characters. Look for more information about the story soon.


It fell on a buenisimo day--a perfect day--when the corn grew green and yellow in the deep, black furrows the farmers cut into the mesa-top. The sun soared high above the great hacienda and the pueblo surrounding it. Señor John and his wife had gone with the Azul Guard and a gaggle of servants off to meet with the Emperor, leaving Lady Josephina to entertain herself until Sunday next. Mass had been given. Lunch had been served. The air shimmered. The pueblo went still as everyone settled in for a siesta.

Lady Josephina lay upon sweet scented pillows, drowsing, letting the coolness of her dim chamber seep away the heat. Slowly, a strange and continuous crackle and rattle drew her from her slumber. She lay listening, wondering what the sounds could be. It seemed to be getting louder. 

Then she heard the screams.

Josephina leapt out of her vast bed and tore her dressing gown, and rapier from the peg beside the door. The sounds were of guns and swords she realized. She hesitated at the door and instant before yanking it open and racing down the long hall, her bare feet slapping rhythmically against the tile floor. The guards and servants that should have been in the long passage were absent. She reached the great double doors at the end of the hall and, despite the sound of combat on the other side, opened it.

Her world exploded into fire and death.

Airlie was burning. The meager contingent of the Azul Guard, in their proud blue tartan, lay still in pools of their own dark blood. Servants and villagers too lay where they had been cut or shot down. And the pueblo--the fair pueblo of her cousin--burned. Flames and grey kilted Dunkel soldiers gutted the village, both destroying with the same wild abandon. Soldiers swarmed past her into the hacienda, she could hear the crash of splintering wood as the raiders set to work within. She raised her sword but they ignored her, stepping wide of her bright blade.
 
“My lady!” a deep voice roared. Josephina realized it had been shouting at her for some time. She looked and there at the foot of the blood-slick stairs ascending to the hacienda stood the Great Adolfo. He had not changed from when last she'd seen him years ago, a towering brute of a man with a thick black beard, clad in a black chain mail and a green and grey kilt. A broad sash of the same tartan was thrown over one of his shoulders. A coyote tail hung from his bright helm. He leaned casually upon his massive two handed sword and smiled at her as if he was not bathed in sweat and gore nor surrounded by burning and death. Behind him his leering commanders looked up at her with amusement in their dark eyes.

“Come down, lady Josephina. My but you have grown into a splendor of womanhood. Come down and greet your godfather. Give me a kiss.”

“You are not my godfather! And I will never kiss you again!”

“Come down, lady,” the Great Adolpho called again almost gently, but Josephina could hear the edge of warning in his voice. 

"My cousin will come back. Señor John will come back and he will kill you."

"Perhaps. But his hacienda will already be gone, his servants killed, his crops burned and treasures stolen, just as mine were." 

"Señor John did not do that."

"No. But because of him they were, so I will take my revenge as I see fit. What do you think, lady? You think, Señor John shall appreciate my efforts?"

Adolpho gestured to the carnage with his great sword and she could not help but see what had happened. She saw the burned fields, the broken buildings, the dead farmers and servants and swarming the Dunkel soldiers who yipped and howled like coyotes as they looted. Adolpho was right. If Senior John had been at home with his brave Azul Guard things might have been different. But they were gone. The deed was done.

Her heart broke. Her rapier fell, clattering down the steps. Unnoticed tears coursed down her fair face. Her feet carried her down to the courtyard. She stopped before the towering Adolfo, her head hung in despair.
“Take me away,” she whispered. “So I do not have to see this. Please.”

“Ah but, mi chiquita bonita, we are not yet done. My message to Señor John is not quite complete." His huge hand patted her slender shoulder.

She tensed under his touch.

“No, no! Do not fear, my lady, you will be unharmed. I gave very strict orders. I am no monster. I am your godfather," the Great Adolpho said and smiled. "But you will watch as I utterly destroy this place. You will watch until no stone is left standing of Airlie. Then we will leave you in peace. You will carry my message to Senior John, a flor perfecta amidst all this ruin. He will know I could have taken everything from him but I did not, and he will fear me all the more.”

~SJA

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

PEN PALS



Celine had to admit, it was brilliant. In the keep the guardians were limited to communication with just two other people, the guardian who woke you and the other whom you woke. One could not simply leave a note for another guardian. Paper would deteriorate or be misplaced or altered long before the recipient woke. A verbal message would become too distorted. Then the boy called wrote a message across his hand and pressed it against the wall of his glass obelisk before he went to sleep. “Hello, my name is Seventy-six. What’s your name?” The message was perfectly preserved, unalterable and impossible to lose. 

Most everyone tried to respond. But every cycle the message on Seventy-six’s hand remained the same. Other guardians struck up their own conversations, one sentence at a time, every hundred years. 

Eventually, everyone gave up on communicating with Seventy-six. He was forgotten largely, except by Celine who observed the boy’s unchanging message century after century. The thought that perhaps the lean, dark haired boy was waiting for her to respond intrigued her. She’d never written anyone, she didn’t know what to say. Besides, why would he want to know her name? .

Her shift ended. She used her key to wake Kane. As her own chamber prepared itself, she walked the boy through the regular transition period. On the third day she yielded her role as guardian and entered her glass obelisk, this time with a simple message scrawled across her palm.

“I’m Celine”

Then she slept.

It would take just three years for Seventy-six to read her message but it would be another ninety-seven before she would get any response from him. The entire time she would sleep. 

The years glided past in a gray haze of dreams and muffled half-heard sounds. 

Mathias woke her and, in his proper time, went to sleep. Celine avoided the pillar hall at first, irrationally nervous that Seventy-six might not have written her back, that he had not been waiting for her at all. But eventually her duties brought her into the long curving hall. She counted off the pillars as she passed them. Seventy-one. Seventy-two. Seventy-three. Her heart beat faster. Her footsteps slowed.

“I’m glad you wrote. Your name is perfect,” read his hand. 

Celine laughed and clapped in delight. It could have been to anyone but she knew it was for her. 

The rest of the year, she could hardly focus. Every spare moment was filled with carefully planning her next message. She decided to take a cue from Seventy-six and make her message generic enough that it could be for anyone. She knew he would recognize it as being for him. 

After a year she had determined the perfect response.

“Why did you write?”

She slept again and woke again. This time she fairly ran to the pillar hall once Mathias had gone to sleep. There were a dozen responses to her message but Seventy-six’s made time stop for her.

“I had to. I think I love you.”

Celine stared at the message for a long time, her hand pressed over her mouth, a riot of emotion swirling within her. It was absurd. They were separated by ninety-seven years and six inches of unbreakable crystal. They would never speak. Never touch. Never even make eye contact. It was sad, stupid and useless but Celine could not help but smile and blush. 

She reached out her hand and touched it to the glass that separated his hand from hers. Her smile grew. She already knew what her next message would be.

~SJA

Liked this? Be sure to check out part one, GIRL IN THE GLASS and part three, WAKING.