When Australian sensation, Delta Goodrem, returns to the spotlight to release her new era of music, she doesn’t hold back. This new era started in the midst of an unforgettable time in history: COVID-19. Like many other musicians, Delta began a weekly “Bunkerdown Session”, performing all of her past songs and favorite requests. Several weeks later, she announced the journey to her new album’s release by putting out her first single, Keep Climbing. This song blew me away, as I think it is one of her most honest and powerful songs to date. As deep as its lyrics are, it is also an inspirational ballad to not give up.

Then, before the new single was able to sink in, Delta release another single, Paralyzed. This song, with a 60’s and 70’s vibe, quickly became a favorite of mine. At first, I thought the lyrics went back in time to discuss her battle with cancer…but it turned out to be about a recent health scare that Delta endured in private.

In 2018, following the surgical removal of a salivary gland, Delta discovered that her tongue was paralyzed, resulting in her loss of speech. She entered speech rehabilitation for a year to regain use of her tongue and sound. This prevented her from releasing any new music after the release of her 5th studio album, Wings of the Wild, a compilation album, I Honestly Love You, as well as singles such as Think About You.

“As a songwriter, I write songs from my own experiences. I tell stories about the path I have been on, wondering if anyone else has been on a similar journey. The first step in writing this new record was a personal transformation that I didn’t know I needed in my life! Even though, as I am sharing today, it was a challenging one – I learned so much and I‚Äôm so grateful to be here healthy, happy and singing away ūüôā

I share this with you as an artist sharing where the poetry in this song comes from, and as a human who deeply feels and understands that everyone has their own story and their own challenges they are overcoming each day. You never know what someone is going through and this is an extremely hard time for people. So I send this story to you with the message of hope and love. Getting through the tough times is hard, but ‚Äúwith a little time and a little hope, with a little light you never know. For a little space, for a lot of love, close your eyes and think of a better time, big dreams; open your mind for you to find a little strength inside. Stop and rewind‚ÄĚ.”

To support the release of Paralyzed, Delta released Back in 84, another strong piano ballad with a vintage theme to reflect on her struggles, both past and present. It quickly became another one of my favorites, and I hope she plans on putting this song along the others slated for the new album.

Delta’s untitled 6th album is scheduled to be released in early 2021, followed by her Bridge Over Troubled Dreams Tour in Australia and New Zealand in April and May.

I am sooo looking forward to Delta’s new album. Each one is better than the one before, and if the three singles mentioned above are any indication, I’m sure this album is going to be Delta’s best yet.

Click here to buy Delta Goodrem’s music on iTunes

Tyler Cook, M.A.Ed

When I started my graduate program at Appalachian State University, I told myself, “You’re never going to finish this thing…two years is gonna take forever.” Depending on the day you asked me, I may have confirmed this was the case. But in the end, two years have come and gone in a heartbeat. Last week, I officially earned my graduate degree, a Master’s in Higher Education: Community College and University Leadership. My excitement about this is inexpressible.

The past two years has been incredible. I have met some wonderful classmates and instructors, I have learned important lessons about education in the college setting, and I have developed an even stronger work ethic than I could have even imagined. The things I have learned through this program will carry me on to new and exciting adventures.

That said, I spent a lot of the past two years yearning for the writing and publishing experience. I swore that I would not entertain any projects during that time of my life, and for the most part, I kept true to my promise. During the COVID-19 pandemic, however, and being in isolation for weeks at a time, I gained a new surge of creativity and passion for my art. While still trying to restrain myself, I managed to produce multiple story outlines that I will be able to work on for the foreseeable future. I am so excited about the direction I’m heading in, and I can’t wait to start on these stories that have spoken so profoundly to me.

As many of you know, I don’t do things easy. I would even go as far as to say that I don’t take a breather. This was definitely true at the conclusion of my graduate program. On August 3, I turned in my final project, and then August 4, I started on my first publishing project. You would have thought that I wanted to spend a little bit of time savoring the accomplishment I had made and not feeling obligated to work on anything. But that’s on me. After the passing of my great-aunt, Eva McCall, I promised myself and her memory, that I would return to my roots and publish the incomplete manuscript, Homebred, a southern mystery/romance. So, the first chance I could, I picked it up and started going through it, taking the first steps into making her vision a physical reality. What a perfect return to the publishing/writing world; I’ve come full circle.

While this new journey may be my most challenging yet; finishing a story that someone else started and ensuring that it fits with what the author originally intended for their characters will be no easy job. But just like I did eight years ago, taking on the daunting task of publishing my first book with Eva, Murder on Haint Branch, I’m ready to take on the task and bring one of her final works into the hands of her beloved readers.

On top of completing Eva’s legacy, I have many ideas that I am so excited to start working on. These stories, if they come to fruition, will hopefully extend my writing skills and creativity to new horizons. No idea is alike, and I believe will appeal to readers of all groups. All I need now is the time to sit down and put together the new pieces of my own legacy.

Thanks for reading this post. Writing it gets me excited for the things that are to come, and I can’t wait to share what comes out of it.

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These past few weeks have been difficult on all of us. Millions are staying at home, hundreds of thousands of people are sick, and thousands have died. We’re all having to hunker down, and avoid spending time with those we love and care about as we hope it will stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus. There doesn’t seem to be an end in sight, and we’re all trying to find ways to take care of each other, while also trying to avoid going crazy in our own homes.

I have followed federal and state orders as best as I can, but I can’t help but think that I could do more to help those that can’t help themselves. I wanted to go out and volunteer at a food bank, or administer supplies at a medical facility. But as we all know, doing something like that is risky and not advised. So, I kept wondering what I could do that allows me to stay out of everyone’s way, but also allows me to make a difference in this crisis.

The thought came to me in the shower, which is where most of my best creative ideas come to life. I asked myself, “What if I were to donate the money I earned through the sale of my books to a cause that responds to the corona virus in a multitude of ways?” Without giving it much more thought, I knew that is what I wanted to do, and I needed to act fast so the money could be used as quickly as possible.

After doing some research, I decided to direct all my raised proceeds to the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, a nonprofit that provides funding for disasters across the globe. Right now, they have a fund specifically directed towards the corona virus pandemic. According to their website, they will “focus on supporting nonprofit organizations working directly to respond to the pandemic among the most vulnerable populations in order to help build their capacity for response. These will include social service organizations focused on supporting hourly wage earners, workers in the gig economy, immigrant/New American populations, older adults, people with disabilities and other communities vulnerable to the physical health, mental health and economic impacts of the pandemic.”

I couldn’t have chosen a better cause to direct my support to. Just in case there needs to be some clarification, until the COVID-19 pandemic has been defeated, I plan to donate 100% of the proceeds I receive from the sale of my books toward this organization. For upwards of $10, you can enjoy a multitude of stories, as well as donate to a worthy cause.

At the top of this post, I have included links to all online retailers that you can purchase my books from. Of course, if you have a local retailer that will supply you a copy of my books, support them (I receive a portion of that sale as well). Also, at the top, I have included a section where I will regularly update the amount of money raised by my campaign. Let it be a reminder of how much more you can help help by being a part of that number.

Finally, let me conclude by asking you for your support in spreading the word about my campaign to make a difference around the globe. This venture cannot be done by me alone, and I hope you will consider purchasing my books, gifting them to someone you love, or sharing this post on all your social media accounts. Like with fighting COVID-19, we all have to stand together if we want our efforts to be worthwhile.

Thank you for your time, and let’s make a lasting impact for our friends, family and loved ones!

If I remember correctly, I registered to vote when I applied to obtain my driver’s learning permit at the DMV.¬† While it was a very simple thing to do, it was a very important decision for me to make.¬† While it would be years before I could enact my right to vote, I knew that it was a civic duty of the American people to speak their mind about what they believe in, and to have those beliefs represented by an elected official.

Which party I wanted to be registered with was a no-brainer.¬† Although I came from a family with deep ties to the Republican party, I aligned more with the Democratic party.¬† I believed that positive race relations, basic human rights (health-care, retirement benefits), immigration policy, LGBTQ+ issues, women’s health and equality for all were the issues that affected all of us.¬† When the time came for me to enact my voting right, I was proud to vote for the likes of President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Jane Hipps (NC Senate Candidate).

When the 2016 Presidential election concluded, and Donald Trump was elected as the 45th president, I saw radical shifts occur within both parties.  As the Republican party accepted racist, anarchist and corruptible practices, the Democratic party pushed for equally radical agendas, which pretty much was in direct opposition to the President.  However, neither party has been able to get anything done, and has caused degradation of our democratic system.

For reasons that I’ll explain later, I have submitted my request to withdraw my member from the Democratic party, and to move forward as an independent, unaffiliated voter.

Don’t get me wrong, I still believe in everything that I mentioned earlier, and I truly believe the Democratic Party instills those believes within their platform, but the party’s lack of gumption to remove a president that threatens to tear apart the way America exists today is just as immoral as the actions the President does every day.

There’s so many examples to give why I think President Trump should be impeached, but when the Special Counsel’s report on the 2016 election came out, and word that he personally was involved in the payments to silence a adult entertainer, I felt that the democrats had all they needed to kick him to the curb.¬† And the recent statements about House Representatives Ayanna Pressley (Mass.), Rashida Tlaib (Mich.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.) and Ilhan Omar (Minn.), in my opinion, would have propelled the issue of impeachment even further.¬† But every day something new happens at President Trump’s hands, the democratic leaders remain still in their actions.

Many people dislike the Democratic party because they continue to bring up Trumps indiscretions,  but I now dislike them because they refuse to do what is necessary for the preservation of this country, whether their actions are symbolic or not.  Just like the Republicans, they are drunk off power, and they are fearful of losing it, including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

Once upon a time, and the founding of this great country, there were no such things as political parties.  Yes, liberal and conservative beliefs were always there, but no platforms existed, and those who served as our elected officials did so out of duty, not as a career.  George Washington is a perfect example of this.  He is our only President, to this day, who never affiliated with a political party, even though history has made his ideals very clear since then.  He warned us about modern politics, and how it could tear us apart:

However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.

Let me now warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party. The common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it. It serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms; kindles the animosity of one part against another. In governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to be encouraged.

Where does this nation goes from here, I don’t know.¬† If things don’t get better soon, both parties will be so polar opposites, I fear that any sort of democratic government will fail to function.¬† We’ll either be forced to run amok in complete chaos and anarchy, or to be squashed by the foot of socialism.¬† If our elected officials from both parties hope for this not to happen, they need to do what is required and allowed by our constitution: IMPEACH DONALD TRUMP.

It is amazing how easily we fall for misleading and even false information these days, including myself.  It has been several days since Jussie Smollett was arrested for allegedly staging a homophobic and racist attack and since then, enough information has come out for me to want to respond.

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Shortly after hearing of the “attack” of Smollett, I took to social media and talked about how horrific the attack was.¬† I talked about how racist and homophobic attacks seems to be getting worse since President Trump’s Make America Great Again (MAGA) slogan took to the national stage, and how something needed to change to reduce this alarming rise in violence.¬† I stand by my statements, but I do regret allowing my reaction dictate how I spoke about the issue.¬† Based off the reactions a lot of other people had at that same time, I would say there’s lots of rethinking at this point.

I have so many things to say about this, but the words doesn’t seem to want to come out.¬† All I can think of is that Smollett used his platform as an advocate for gay and black rights, to further his own agenda.¬† He represents two groups who are truly beaten, ridiculed and killed every day for who they are, and because of his actions, those who identify like him will be taken less seriously when they come forward with allegations of criminal actions.

Since the revelations came out about what really did happen, several people have reached out to me, wondering why it was so easy to show my support for Smollett, and how hard it was to condemn him.  I had every intention on addressing how wrong it was what he did.  However, because of the previous mistake I make, rushing to judgement and reacting off of that, I decided to wait, see where the evidence took the story, and then respond.  I do not, however, plan on removing the post, because I believe it is important for America to remember the mistake we made in trusting this man, and start a discussion about why it is important to report only REAL crimes.

Do you have something you want to add to the discussion?  Make sure you post your thoughts in the comments below, or in the original Instagram post.

 

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Eva Mae McCall 1937-2017

Last weekend, I couldn’t help but cry uncontrollably in the shower, my heart and soul pouring out of me and falling down to my feet and exiting through the drain.¬† The past 365 days have went by so fast, I wasn’t prepared for the emotional wave that had sneaked up on me.¬† A year ago today, my great-aunt, Eva McCall, left this world, taken by much more powerful forces.¬† She had accepted that she would die one day, long before she took her last breath.¬† She was ready for the next chapter in her life, prepared to meet her passed family and friends once again, including her beloved, George.

People I’ve known and cared for have died before, but not one created the void in my heart the way loosing Eva did for me.¬† If you’ve read my numerous posts, letters and Youtube videos, you know why she meant so much to me.¬† She wasn’t just an aunt, she was a mentor, fellow author and friend.¬† She, as a person, as well as the many talents she possessed, took my life in directions I don’t think either of us anticipated.¬† She continues to do that for me, even in death.

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SCC Foundation Director, Brett Woods, me, and SCC President, Dr. Don Tomas, signing to make The Eva McCall Memorial Scholarship an endowment.

So many things have happened in the year since Eva went to be with the Lord.¬† For one, a scholarship was endowed in her honor, which I thank each and every one of you for your support (if you haven’t donated yet, and still wish to do so, you can visit this link [make sure to address it to The Eva McCall Memorial Scholarship]).¬† For me, I’ve continued to talk to Eva, through my dreams, and yes, I have no doubt it was really her.¬† With the inspiration she left within me, I finished and published my latest book, Disciple, which was co-dedicated in her memory.¬† And finally, the writer’s group she helped found in Franklin was perfectly renamed in her honor, called Eva’s Heart.

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Eva’s African Violet, which I call “Miss Eva”.

Not a day goes by when I don’t think about Eva multiple times.¬† When I wake up in the morning, right before reality sets back in, I think, “I need to call miss Eva today.”¬† I constantly admire the purple African violet that once belonged to her, and was so generously given to me.¬† And I am constantly reminded of her with the wonderful stories family and friends have told me about her.¬† My memories and experiences with her were just a part of who she was as a person, and it’s been a joyous experience to piece together other’s memories and stories of Eva with mine, making her an even better and amazing person.

Over the past year, I have been comforted by several songs that remind me of Eva.¬† I’ve already told you the story that connects my numerous experiences with Eva to the burlesque entertainer, Gypsy Rose Lee.¬† But other songs have touched my heart, healing it with Eva’s love.¬† A Year Ago Today by Delta Goodrem, one of my all-time favorite musicians, is one of those songs.¬† I’ve provided excerpts of the song for you to read.¬† To listen to the full song, click here.

Another year older
A little bit stronger
A little bit wiser than
A year ago today

Looking over my shoulder
I was so much younger then
Oh I can’t believe what happened
A year ago today

And I just can’t forget about it
It wouldn’t mean a thing
You went away
A year ago today

Another year gone by
Oh the tears have run dry
Life seemed so unkind
A year ago today

And I just can’t understand it
I don’t think I ever will
You went away
A year ago today

You’ve gotta pick yourself up,
Take another look
And dust yourself off cause life’s too good,
I’ll say it to myself and I’ll say it again
Love will never end

And though we’re so far apart
You’re forever in my heart

Another year older
A little bit stronger
On this anniversary
You’re watching over me

You went away
A year ago today

You went away
A year ago today

Today, as we mourn the day Eva, one of the nicest, wisest and most talented people we ever knew, passed away, let us share the stories we have that are treasured in our hearts.  This day will be a difficult one for us, as will this day next year, and the year after that, and the year after that.  But we will always have our memories of her, and those memories will comfort us and allow us to not only remember her, but celebrate her life again and again.

1069340_609282062439055_1510969130_nA little over nine months ago, shortly after the death of my dearly-departed great-aunt, Eva McCall, a feeling came over me, telling me I needed to do something to keep Eva’s name alive, her legacy surviving long after she she departed this earth.¬† Was it Eva telling me to do this?¬† Maybe, maybe not.¬† I think it was, though, and I took it to heart.¬† I had promised her, prior to her death, I would keep her name and writing alive as long as humanly possible, and I planned on keeping my promise.¬† That something developed into a plan to raise money that would be endowed in Eva’s memory, so students at Southwestern Community College, with the intention of pursuing writing as a career or hobby, could be funded in their education.¬† A $15,000 endowment seemed like a daunting task, but I was up for the challenge.¬† The McCall family was so supportive, and the adventure took off before I realized it.

I am pleased to finally announce that The Eva McCall Scholarship is FULLY funded!¬† Thank you all so much for your support, either by sending well wishes, donations or by buying Eva’s or my books.¬† This wasn’t my effort; it was the effort of Eva’s family, friends and fellow community members throughout the country, and we should all be proud of what we have accomplished.¬† Eva would be so happy.

In case you haven’t seen my social media posts, I am also pleased to announce that the scholarship has already funded a recipient.¬† The student is from Franklin, and one day, she hopes to publish a book of her poetry.¬† I don’t think the SCC Foundation could have picked a better candidate, and I look forward to seeing her thrive with the money we raised for her.

If you made a donation, either via me, the GoFundMe page, or the SCC Foundation, and I have record of it, you will be receiving a personal thank you for your contribution.  In the meantime, I would like to make a couple of personal shout outs:

  • To the McCall family, who believed in this adventure from the beginning, and supported me in ways that I never expected.¬† The last nine months have been hard for all of us, and too this day, I wake up and for a split second, believe she’s still her and I’ll be able to call her later in the evening.¬† I feel that in losing Eva, I’ve grown closer to all of you, and for that, I am thankful.
  • To my grandmother, Susie Stanley, for stepping up and being the co-fundraiser I needed.¬† When I couldn’t hit the streets, she was, reaching out to people near and far to get this worthy cause completed.
  • As always to my family: Ken, Melissa, Mekenzie and Miranda, for supporting me in yet another venture I’ve pursued.¬† Thanks for letting me use all the resources at your disposal (aka spamming their Facebook accounts) to get the word out.¬† And I must also thank each of them for their own financial contributions to the scholarship.
  • Thank you to the Macon County Public Library and the SCC Jackson Bookstore, managed by Follett, for allowing me to have book signings at your venues, where part or all proceeds went to the endowment.

As I conclude this project and move onto another (obtaining my Master’s degree), I sit here and reflect on how much Eva impacted my life, and continues to do so to this day.¬† This scholarship is just a small tribute to her, and I hope to do more to honor her wonderful life.¬† There’s a manuscript by her yet to be published, and I promised her I would complete her unfinished sequel to Murder on Haint Branch, Beyond the Grave. My relationship with her hasn’t ended, it’s just changed.

She will always be a part of her life, and now, she’ll be able to live on through so many young people.¬† Again, I think you so much for your support!

 

Hi everyone, thank you so much for all the kind messages you’ve sent me yesterday as we embark on the release of Disciple and The Aluria Adventures (3-Book Collection).

It’s very exciting for me because not only do I get to see you all take Disciple home and start reading it but, this was also an opportunity to raise more money for The Eva McCall Memorial Scholarship.

I’m happy to announce that we raised over $250 towards the scholarship yesterday and I expect many more donations to occur in the coming days and weeks

Of course, you can purchase my books on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iBooks and your local bookstore.

Enjoy some clips and videos from yesterday. ¬†Next week, I’ll be posting a video on the book signing at the SCC Jackson bookstore. ¬†Feel free to subscribe through the video above. ¬†Start following all my tweets and Facebook posts and I can’t wait to hear what you have to say about Disciple. ¬†Enjoy!

Hi everyone, thank you so much for watching my latest installment in the Journey to Disciple video series, as well as the final final video in the series because before we know it, we will be at the release date for Disciple.

Something that I wanted to talk about before the release is the book dedications for both Disciple and The Aluria Adventures. ¬†Whenever I work on a project, there are a couple things that are very important to me before I start the writing process. ¬†One of them is determining what the title is and the other one is determining who I want to dedicate the book to. ¬†Both of those things help me become motivated and inspired with my writing project. ¬†And of course, those things change throughout the writing process, but they’re definitely something that I have to start in order to proceed

With my writing with my first book, The One, I dedicated it to Eva McCall.  With Aluria, I dedicated the book to my pet, Booger, who passed away several years ago.  Then with Vigilante, I dedicated the book to my father, Ken Cook.

And with Disciple, I actually dedicated the book to two wonderful women in my life, the first one being my mother, Melissa Cook, who is a constant inspiration to me and my rock who I can always go to when I’m in need of advice or help. ¬†Initially, I was just going ¬†to dedicate the book to her, but as many of you know some things happened during the writing process of Disciple which caused me to add an additional dedication to the book.

The second dedication is in memory of my great-aunt, Eva McCall, because she was not able to see the end of Disciple and actually didn’t know the specifics of what it would entail, but she was critical in the editing and publishing of Aluria and Vigilante and I felt the void of her presence when she wasn’t here with me, getting Disciple ready to read and I thought there was no better person than to dedicate the book to, and I knew my mother wouldn’t mind sharing the spotlight a little bit so the book is dedicated to both of these wonderful women.

Initially, when I was going to release The Aluria Adventures (3 Book Collection), I had no intention of doing a new dedication.  I had planned on just combining the three dedications for the three individual books and include them respectively in their section of the three-book collection.

But then a thought occurred to me. ¬†When you have a special collection such as this three- book collection, you should also dedicate it to someone special in your life. ¬†There were multiple people I had in mind that I wanted to dedicate this book to, but ultimately, there was only one person that I wanted to dedicate it to and that is to my little “baby girl,” Kinsley Hodgin. ¬†She is someone that unexpectedly came into my life close to three years ago and she has just been a constant inspiration and joy in my life.

I get to see her at least once a week, and it is the highlight of my week and day and she is just so smart and so playful and so kind and polite. ¬†She is someone that I know will make a difference in this world and I hope that this dedication to her will make her feel just a little bit more special and show her when she gets older how much of an impact she makes on people’s lives.

So those are the dedications to my upcoming books, Disciple and The Aluria Adventures. ¬†I can’t wait for my mother, and one day, Kinsley, to read these books and understand why they were the people I chose to dedicate these books to.

Thank you so much for watching this latest edition and final installment to Journey to Disciple. ¬†The release of Disciple is quickly upon us, so I am so excited to see what you think. ¬†I’ll be posting future videos from the book signings that I attend. ¬†I can’t wait to see you there!

Devin Roslin, also known as Fast, was originally intended to be a character in Disciple and The Aluria Adventures, but only as a what I call a “minor major” character. ¬†There were only certain parts that I had him play a role in this story but other than that, I was going to put him on the back burner so that his story would start growing in future books

But as I started writing his story, it started to grow and it started to intertwine with the main theme that I wanted to get across in Disciple. ¬†I’m not going to get into how Fasi plays a key role in this story, but one thing I do want to mention is the name Fasi. ¬†It actually has a unique story.

I’ve told many people in person and in press releases that I do get a lot of inspiration from where I work at Southwestern Community College and as you’re maybe familiar with, I work in the ¬†Financial Aid Office and with the system that we use we go to a different part of that software by a mneumonic and the main mnemonic that I use is F A S I, or we refer to it as Fast.

When I first started this job in the Financial Aid Office three years ago, they first told me that mnemonic and I said “that’s a really cool acronym and it’s actually a very cool name that no one has thought of, much like Aluria,” and I knew that I wanted to use that name somewhere in this series but I didn’t know exactly how I wanted to go about it, but it just works so well with this character and this whole world that I’ve created just for him.

One day after The Aluria Adventure comes to a close, I would like to do a spin-off on just Fast because I believe that he is a character that people are going to love and are going to want to continue learning about once Jason and Aluria’s story is over.

Like all the other character profiles that I’ve done on my characters, I want to do one about Fast. ¬†The actor that I would see playing Fasi is the actor that appeared on Desperate Housewives and in True Blood, Mehcad Brooks. ¬†I think he has the physique that I’m looking for in this story as well as the wide range of acting skills that I’m looking for in this character so hopefully, one day, if The Aluria Adventures gets turned into a movie adaptation, I would love to see him playing this role.