Ask Azra: Evening the Odds for Procreation; Destroying the Perfect Man

Dear Azra,

I have a problem. I think my boyfriend is about to propose to me. Don’t get me wrong, he’s the sweetest guy. I don’t ever want to hurt him because he’s just so good to me. But I think that’s why the thought of marrying him fills me with dread. He’s too good and I’m just unhappy. I wasn’t expecting to build a life with him. He was supposed to be a fun fling before I went off and officially started my life. This pressure for commitment is just too much. I have to break up with him before he actually proposes. How can I do that without hurting him too badly?

Thanks for the help,

Regretting This Relationship


Dear Regret,

What you are describing is something many of your kind have experienced. While you are primarily concerned with how you need to deal with this problem of having such a good mate, you must remember that this discontent and what you do with it will help save your very civilization.

You see, guys like that, the ones that are too good to women and who provide healthy and loving relationships are horrible. They completely ruin it for all the rest of the guys out there. This has a trickle-down effect where an increasing amount of women refuse to settle for the available guys and start searching for that “perfect guy.” This has a direct negative impact on procreation levels which will, eventually, make the human race endangered.

It’s up to you and women like you to help us guys even the odds and to make sure the human race survives.

First, you need to come to terms that you will not extricate yourself from this scenario without hurting the guy that is so good to you. No, if you are going to fulfill your destiny as the savior of mankind, you have to utterly destroy him. Rip out his heart and spit on it and all of the emotional support he gives you. Take all of the romantic gestures and build a bonfire of them and dance around it as he looks on with tears in his eyes. Eviscerate whatever connection there is between you, and make him suffer. It is the only way to make him one of the other guys. You must eradicate his ability to love. You must kill his emotion.

It is the only way to save the human race.

 Fight the Good Fight,


***Disclaimer***Azra is not someone to take advice from. He’s not even human- he’s an exiled angel that gets his kicks dispensing horrible advice to people. Do not take his advice seriously. It is meant to be satirical and not to be taken literally.

Ask Azra: How To Handle An Inheritance

Dear Azra,

My wife’s great uncle just passed. We were contacted by his lawyers and they told us that he left his entire estate to my wife. While I don’t know exactly how much we are getting or what all the estate entails, I do know that it includes a mansion up in the hills. Any advice on how to adjust to my new life of luxury?


Rollin in Dough

Dear Rollin.

Obviously there is only one thing you can do when faced with such an abrupt shift in personal wealth. You are now a billionaire and you should quickly establish you eccentricity so you can fit in with the other billionaires. Quit your job. Like, immediately. You don’t need it and the limitations it places on you. Sell the home you are currently living in. Or, better yet, give it away! After all, you now have this rumored mansion in the hills to call home now. Plus it’s important to be benevolent to the little people who don’t have as much as you. Finally, and this is a BIG one, make your new social status known to EVERYONE. Take out ad space on the television, buy a billboard, blast it out on social media. Let them all bask in the glory of your new inheritance and wrestle with their jealousy.

Happy Windfalling,


***Disclaimer***Azra is not someone to take advice from. He’s not even human- he’s an exiled angel that gets his kicks dispensing horrible advice to people. Do not take his advice seriously. It is meant to be satirical and not to be taken literally.


Writers Helping Writers: Books Are Judged by Their Cover

Growing up, I was always told never to judge a book by its cover, meaning not to judge people by how they look. While that’s a great trait to have and a wonderful practice to do as you go through life, it is sadly not how the world really works, at least not here in contemporary America. How someone or something appears generates a judgement from us humans.

Example, an elderly lady (let’s call her Gloria), in a cardigan and modest flowered dress sits at a bus stop. She has carefully curled gray hair underneath a silk kerchief and spectacles perched on the bridge of her nose. She has a large carpet bag next to her. A typical initial reaction; someone’s grandma with her knitting is waiting for public transportation, right? Gloria is probably on her way to visit her friends at the nursing home.

Wrong. Gloria never had children and in that giant carpet bag she’s toting is her glock and extra rounds because she’s on her way to the indoor shooting range to practice her aim. Underneath her silk handkerchief are small headphones blasting her favorite Slayer album.

How you decide to act on the initial assessment of a person or thing is between you and whatever higher power you believe in, but that immediate assumption based on appearance will always happen.

It’s the same for books. That’s why if you really want to sell your book, you have to not only take great care in what the content is, but also how it looks. That means putting a lot of thought into the cover. The front cover will be the thing that catches your reader’s eye. It has to give an idea of what your story is about in a single glance, which means there are some questions you need to ask yourself when you are getting ready to design your cover.

1.       What do other books in my genre have on their covers? Take a stroll down to your neighborhood library and check out the other books in your genre. Notice the similarities. Notice what is not on those covers. A lot of book genres will have similar looking covers to earmark what kind of story they are telling. Example: Shirtless men on the covers of romance novels. You don’t have to follow the path they are laying out, but it is a good idea to understand the boundaries of your genres cover art so that your sci-fi action adventure is not misinterpreted as a romance murder mystery.

2.       What would grab your attention in a book cover? As you are walking down the aisle of your library, when you see a particularly striking cover, stop and analyze why this one is grabbing your attention. What do you like about it? What don’t you like about it? What was that initial “Oh!” moment. Consider how you can depict that sort of concept with your own story in mind.  **Important** do not simply copy another person’s book cover concept. Make it your own. Incorporate your own tastes into it and make it relevant to your story.

3.       Consider who or how you will go about generating your cover. There are several options before you; you can make it yourself, you can get a pre-made one from the internet, you can pay an artist to commission one for you. They all have their ups and downs. Ultimately, you need to do what best fits your story and your budget. If you are collaborating with someone, it’s important to listen to the artist’s input on your cover. They have an amazing eye for design and remember, this cover art is their work too.

4.       Pay attention to the things that are on every book of all genres. I am talking about the title, the author tag, the bar code, the back cover blurb (more about this later), and how the spine is arranged. These elements need to be included in your print cover as well.

5.       Consider the size of your print book. Will it be a large tome or a small trade paperback size? This will also impact how much space you have for your graphics/ art.

These decisions and the research involved are daunting. However, it is vital if you want your book to be presentable. I promise that if you take your time with it and thoroughly think it through, your cover will be amazing.



Ask Azra: The Alien/Angel Connection

Dear Azra,

You’re supposed to be an angel right? Well, aren’t angels technically aliens since they aren’t from earth? If angels aren’t aliens, then what is the difference between them?


Conspiracy Theorist in Waiting

Dear Conspiracy,

What in all of creation are you smoking? Where did this question even come from? Can I just tell you how ridiculous this is? However, because you wrote in, I have no choice but to answer, but be forewarned, I have VERY strong opinions that I am about to unleash. Anyone who is easily offended (looking at you keyboard warriors), please go check out another more interesting corner of this site.

Ok, now that they are gone. I will address your insolent and absurd questions one at a time.

1.      I’m not just supposed to be an angel, I actually am one. Yep! I’m a Grigori, also known as a Watcher. Don’t know what choir that is? That’s why the gods created Google.

2.      No, angels most certainly are NOT aliens. Just because we aren’t from earth doesn’t automatically mean we are relegated to the status of little slimy green men or space insects with domination complexes. How dare you even draw the comparison!

3.      There is a massive difference between aliens and angels. The primary example being that angels are sophisticated celestial beings who are older than humans by a long shot. We have been on earth a millennia longer than you lot. We help humans when we can and protect them from our evil brothers and sisters, the fallen angels.

By contrast, aliens are sophisticated celestial beings with a penchant for technology and space exploration. They are convinced that their ways are the only ways and will eradicate the human species in the blink of an eye. You won’t catch us angels trying to take over other planets! We can’t even confidently work the internet, so piloting a spacecraft is just out of the question.

I hope this has answered your dumb question on the major differences between angels and aliens. There is no connection. We are not the same.

Keep Your Alien Theories to Yourself


***Disclaimer***Azra is not someone to take advice from. He’s not even human- he’s an exiled angel that gets his kicks dispensing horrible advice to people. Do not take his advice seriously. It is meant to be satirical and not to be taken literally.

Ask Azra: Doomsday Dilemma

Dear Azra, I sincerely believe that we are living in the end of times. Be it from sociopolitical fallout, nuclear winter, or even natural disaster, the end of the world is just around the corner. My family, however, doesn’t believe me. My friends just laugh at me when I bring up the subject of being prepared. I need to make sure they are safe no matter what happens. I’ve started to stock pile some of the essential things we will need during the end of civilization, but I’m afraid to tell my wife and my kids about because they might send me back to the institution. How can I get them prepared when they refuse to even acknowledge the end is coming?

All the Best,

Preparer of the Preparations


            Dear Preparer,

I admire your tenacity and determination to make sure your family is taken care of during the end of times. What you are doing is very smart and eventually your family will thank you. But for now, it’s important to make sure your preparations are 100% complete before it’s too late. Then, once you are ready for them, you will need to lure your family there, either by hiring kidnappers, kidnapping them yourself or just drugging them and dragging them to your fully furnished bunker. When they come to, you can convince them that you are not, indeed, crazy. It’s the world that is crazy.

May the odds be in your favor!


***Disclaimer***Azra is not someone to take advice from. He’s not even human- he’s an exiled angel that gets his kicks dispensing horrible advice to people. Do not take his advice seriously. It is meant to be satirical and not to be taken literally.

Writers Helping Writers: Beta Readers

So you’ve written and edited your novel within an inch of its life. It’s been transformed from an unsightly rough draft to something that you are really proud of. Let me be the first to say fantastic job! You’ve come a lot farther than most writers out there.

But there’s still some work to do.

If you are intending on publishing your work, then you will need to go through yet another round of people reading your story. These are your Beta Readers.

Beta Readers are people that you trust to give you honest feedback on the story you’ve written. The feedback doesn’t need to be full on edits, but they should be able to tell you what parts made them happy or what parts didn’t make sense. What they liked, what they didn’t like, etc. That being said, there are a few vital traits your beta readers need.

1.       Honest. They have to be comfortable enough with you to give you an honest opinion of your work. It defeats the whole purpose if they simply tell you “it’s good.” The whole point of feedback from Beta Readers is much the same as editors; their comments and opinions are meant to improve the work.

2.       Reliable. Your Beta Readers need to be reliable enough to get you the story back along with their comments in a relatively good timeframe. Sure life happens, but it won’t do you any good to give someone a copy of your story and then never hear back from them or if they don’t bother to read it.

3.       Trustworthy. You are entrusting your Beta Reader with something you’ve worked months on. You have to be confident they will respect the integrity of your work.

There’s no set number of Beta Readers required for your work. I try to get at least one or two for my projects, but that’s really your choice.

May your Beta Readers be enchanted by your tale!



Nanowrimo 2018- Time For A New Project!

It’s high time for a new project for me. Nanorwrimo starts on November 1st and it’s the perfect opportunity to start drafting a new story. For those not in the know, November is National Novel Writing Month (Nanowrimo). It’s where writers all over the world commit to writing a minimum of 1,667 words a day for every day in the month of November. The goal is to get a 50k word rough draft of a novel completed within 30 days.

I’ve been participating in Nano for years now. My family and friends already know the drill. My husband is good enough to make sure I am fed and usually gives me all the space and time I need. My family tolerates my laptop or notebook at Thanksgiving. My work is bewildered by my sudden distraction, but they usually manage until I am mentally back in December.

The big question now becomes... what am I going to write about? Well? I’m not going to lie... I’ve been developing this tale for months. It’s a natural progression after working on my Grandpa’s story because the subject matter has a lot to do with my own Norse heritage. What is this new story? I am dabbling into the world of Norse mythology. Specifically what happens when someone defies their predetermined fate and how, in the world of the Norse gods, that can send everything into chaos.

I’m really excited to launch myself back into fiction, but I’ve learned that the more authenticity I can breathe into my story, the better it will be. The more anchors I can attach into the real world, or in this instance, the actual myths of the Norse people, then the more realistic and more gripping I can make this tale. Plus there is a lot to say for being as close to the original sources as possible. I don’t want to just start making things up and taking liberties where it doesn’t make sense.

The research into all of this has been incredibly enlightening. I’ve delved deep into websites. I’ve read through my several copies of Norse myth interpretations. I’ve watched countless documentaries on Viking archaeological sites and historical events. And, most importantly, I’ve discovered Dr. Jackson Crawford, a professor who teaches at the University of Colorado in Boulder. This magical man not only has translated several of the most important primary sources from Old Norse, but he also makes incredible videos on YouTube explaining the finer details of the culture and literature of the time. I’ve learned SO MUCH from this man and it’s opened up incredible plot points that I would never have gotten to if he hadn’t explained the details. For instance, the details of the seider (more or less a séance) and the volva (seeress). More specifically how the songs that were sang could have been entreaties to the Norns to reveal the fate of the ones in attendance.

The impact of that revelation on my plot was huge. When I heard that particular video, I’d been stuck for quite a while on what should happen or where my character would go. It’s always the little details that generate the question necessary for plot progression. Listening to Dr. Jackson’s videos (usually on my commute to the day job) gave so much depth and guidance that it launched my plot forward and is making it even possible to make this germ of an idea into a fully-fledged story line that would be fit for Nano this year.

To summarize, I am so excited for Nano this year. All of the research I’ve been doing this summer is about to be put to work.

If you are interested in Nano, check it out! For Dr. Jackson’s wonderful videos, check him out on YouTube by searching for Jackson Crawford.

Happy Nanowrimo!!



Fair to Middling- Behind the Scenes

Hey everyone! Kira here. As promised, I’m giving you the inside scoop on my latest book, Fair to Middling which is coming out later this week (Friday, 10/26). If you’d like to pre-order your copy, you can do so by clicking this link:

This book was originally planned by myself and Grandpa with more than a little nudging from Grandma. The idea was to get all of his wonderful, vivid stories recorded and to give him something to focus on other than Grandma’s failing health.

I’d always known Grandpa had been in WWII, but he’d never really spoken about it too much when I was growing up. When we started recording his tales, I wasn’t sure how much he’d actually say.

Turns out a lot.

We spoke every day for five years. At first, I called about the project, but then to just check in on him after Grandma passed. He began all of our conversations with “oh, I’m fair to middling” and ended the with “I love you very much. Thank you for calling.” We shared jokes and we shared sorrow. We had adventures, some of which I’ve recorded in the book.

Grandpa died three years ago this November. 

I wasn’t prepared for the actual writing of this book. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, this type of story is not what I usually write. I wasn’t sure where or how to start and, with Grandpa’s passing, I was terrified I started too late, that I missed some vital piece of information that would cause the whole project to go up in flames.

This was, by far, the most difficult piece of writing I’ve done to date simply in terms of how sheerly personal the subject matter is and how emotional the topic is for me. (I still can’t read part 10 without bursting into tears). However, that’s not to say it wasn’t blessed. So many times I was halted in the process by missing whole swathes of information. Within a matter of hours, I’d discover a misfiled video of Grandpa that answered all of my questions. I’d find pages of notes out of nowhere only to realize that it was the exact bits I needed to get unstuck. I like to think Grandpa was there guiding me through the many drafts of the story, making sure I got it right.

Grandpa was an amazing story teller, one that I wish I could be like. This book is my attempt to honor the man he was and pay tribute to his time with us.

This project was a promise. It was a post mortem connection to a man that influenced my entire life on so many levels. Now that the promise has been kept and his stories will be available for everyone, I can picture the twinkle in his eyes and him giving me that lopsided grin. Ever so faintly, I can hear him say, “I love you very much. Thank you for calling.”

Ask Azra: Handling a Haunted House

Dear Azra,

My parents moved us into a haunted house. No joke.  We moved in over the summer and very strange things have been happening. There are weird noises during the night and stuff moves on its own.  I’ve seen some crazy things, things I can’t explain. Jimmy, my older brother, says that a lot of people died in the house before we moved in. It was the home of a serial killer who chopped up his victim’s bodies and ate parts of them. He says the serial killer killed himself in my bedroom to avoid getting caught by the cops. How can I protect myself against the ghost of a serial killer? Or, how can I convince my parents to get us all out of there?


Haunted and Hating It.

Dear Haunted,

There is only one way to fix your problem. You have to actually catch the ghost in question and you have to use your brother Jimmy to do it. Obviously, Jimmy has some inside knowledge on your specter. You need to get all of the information you can out of him.  Next, when you’ve discovered the ghosts weaknesses or what it wants, set traps for it. What kind of traps would catch a ghost, you may ask? Simple. You need several cameras placed all around the house, like they did in Paranormal Activity. When you are ready to confront the ghost — and you will need to — make sure you are as insulting as you possibly can be. Ghosts are notoriously emotional creatures. They are super easy to get a rise out of if you can taunt them correctly.

When you have sufficiently gotten them to react to your insults (meaning they’ve manifested physically), you need to catch them. I would suggest a net or some sort of electro-magnetic field. Then the ghost will be entirely at your mercy!

Voila! No more horrible haunting experiences, and with the added bonus of having either blackmail material or proof of life after death to take to the press!

Don’t let the (dead) man get you down!


***Disclaimer***Azra is not someone to take advice from. He’s not even human- he’s an exiled angel that gets his kicks dispensing horrible advice to people. Do not take his advice seriously. It is meant to be satirical and not to be taken literally.


Where has Kira been?

It’s been awhile since I contributed to this blogsphere. In my defense, my life has been a veritable whirlwind of activity.

What’s been going on, you may wonder? Well? I’ve just finished a very personal project that’s taken almost a decade from conception to completion. Many of you have probably seen my posts about Fair to Middling- a book I began working on along with my grandpa. As of the writing of this blog, I’m waiting for the first print run to be delivered. I’ll talk about this specific project in a later blog as it’s vastly different than what I usually like to create.

Some of you may be familiar with Azra’s parenting blogs. Well, based on the relative success of those, he effectively Patrick Swayze’d me into getting an illustrated parenting guide into production.  (Yes he kept me up during all hours of the night. No, it wasn’t just the song Henry the 8th. It was so much worse...) I’m working very closely with a new talented artist and anticipate this comic-like publication to come in the next year or so. Stay tuned for more details!

I’ve also begun a new, unrelated project that is sending me down so many research rabbit holes. I absolutely love this part of creating a new story, but it has eaten up a crazy amount of time. I’ll go more into this in a separate blog post.

Then there’s been the madness of my day job and the constant struggle of maintaining some semblance of sanity. It’s not leaving a lot of time for blog updates.

But all this is about to change! Fall has arrived and I don’t know about you, but when things start to cool off in the desert, there’s a definite sense of renewal. It’s October- our favorite time of year and I’m even more energized to make sure my blogs are up to date and to get all of these projects that are floating around out there into production and ready for you.

There’s so much we have planned in the upcoming months. I can’t wait to share it all with you.

Also, Azra can’t wait to get back to dispensing his fabulous (read- horrible) advice.

Thanks for bearing with me!



Ask Azra: Just Fired from my Job

Hi Azra. I just lost my job due to company downsizing. I’ve got a family to support. What should I do?


Jobless in Seattle.

Well Jobless, there is only one thing you can do. Get your job back. When companies downsize, it’s their way of weeding out the insincere. If you want a job with them, then you have to prove it. How, you may ask? It’s quite simple really. Ever been dumped by someone? Remember how you did everything and anything to get them to take you back? Yeah, it’s the same with big companies. You’ve gotta shmooze them. Wine and dine them. Stalk them. Make them sorry they let you go. Dig up all the dirt you can on them and blackmail upper management into getting your job back, with a raise to boot.

Remember, the company is just asking you to prove that you want to work for them. It’s no different than any other romantic relationship. You’ve gotta work at it. If it doesn’t work out, well then, you didn’t really want it, did you?

Wishing you gainful employment,


***Disclaimer***Azra is not someone to take advice from. He’s not even human- he’s an exiled angel that gets his kicks dispensing horrible advice to people. Do not take his advice seriously. It is meant to be satirical and not to be taken literally.


Ask Azra: Coming Out of the Closet

Dear Azra. My parents are super strict and really religious. I’ve struggled with coming to terms with my sexuality for years because of how I was raised. Well, it’s finally gotten to the point that I can’t hide it any more. I have to tell them that I am gay. How should I break the news to them?


Closet Case

I hate to tell you, Closet Case, but you are going to absolutely devastate your parents. The last thing any parent wants to hear is that they have failed as a parent. To recap, parenting is ensuring that your offspring contribute to the perpetuation of the human species. If you are gay, then you aren’t procreating, which means that they have failed as parents. Remember, your sexuality isn’t about you, it’s about your parents.

In order to come clean about their failure, you will have to make it pretty spectacular. Here are some ideas for coming out of the closet that won’t completely devastate your parents.

1.       Contrive to have them walking in on you while you are having sex with your partner. This will ensure significant mortification for everyone involved and, while it will get across the point that you are gay, it will also have the added benefit of never being spoken about again out of sheer embarrassment.

2.       Turn it into a celebration. Hire a parade of Drag Queens to show up at their church on Sunday and dance to YMCA by the Village People. Bonus points if you can get the local chapter of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, because, well themes are important. They will help out you to not only your parents, but their whole church community too.

3.       Take them to your favorite strip joint and have them watch in abject horror as you get on stage and strut your stuff!


The long and short of it is this. Yes, your parents failed in raising you, but you still have a life to live. You deserve to be happy and no one who lived their life in the closet was ever happy. Just remember that when your parents bemoan who and how you are it is really their fault, not yours. So here’s one last piece of advice. Take everything from your childhood that was an indication of your emerging sexuality and put it in a power point presentation. Go through it all with them and point out what they had obviously missed. Remind them that it is their fault. But also tell them you are glad they failed because you are happy with who you are.

Never settle for a closet bound life,


***Disclaimer***Azra is not someone to take advice from. He’s not even human- he’s an exiled angel that gets his kicks dispensing horrible advice to people. Do not take his advice seriously. It is meant to be satirical and not to be taken literally.

Writers Helping Writers: How many edits does it take to make a novel?

It’s been some time since you’ve hidden your glorious first draft from yourself. You have created enough distance from it to be objective and ready to fix what needs to be fixed. It’s time to edit!

Now, your instinct will be to jump right in and start changing stuff. Don’t. Give yourself time to read through the story without making any changes. The reason for this is that when you start changing things, it will send a ripple effect throughout the novel. It is best to understand where all the changes will take place and how it will affect the rest of the story. Keep a separate document for your editing notes during this initial editing read through. Note down page numbers and what you need to address. It can be as big as complete plot change or as little as a spelling fix. This means as you read, you are creating a list of things to address in your edit. It will help guide your edits and make sure all of those ripples are accounted for.

When you are done with the initial read through, save your first draft into a separate document. This will be the first edit document. I personally like to keep versions of my stories by edits so I can see the progression. This is in case I change my mind about deleting that plot point. I can go back to the original and salvage what’s already been written and edit it into the newer edited version. Believe me, it happens more than you think. Plus it’s fun to see how far you come along the editing process. You can see how the manuscript transforms.

When I am ready to start actually changing things, I tend to go chapter by chapter and address the big things first. This means the plot changes, character reactions, prose clean up, etc. One of the absolute biggest things is the concept of “show, don’t tell”. More or less this means not telling the reader what’s going on, but showing the reader through descriptions, character actions/reactions and body language. A good way to look at it is that you are painting a picture with your words. Your words are being translated into images in each reader’s mind, so why not get as descriptive as possible? Instead of writing “Chloe was upset”, show what that means. “Chloe’s fingertips were white with the pressure of pressing into her hips. Her eyes narrowed into suspicious slits as she cut off his stammering excuses with an angry exhalation.” See the difference?

            So how many edits need to happen to make a coherent novel? A whole bunch. Not only do you have to go through it (I recommend at least three times), you then hand it over to one or two trusted people. These people need to be ones you trust and have a very strong friendship with because if they are worth their salt as editors, they will rip your beloved manuscript apart. You take your time to heal from their edits and realize that what they are saying is intended to make your work even better than it was before. You edit again with their feedback, rinse and repeat. How many times? Well, it depends. You will know when it is ready for the final clean up edits.

            Next, you give the story to a few beta readers. More on them in a later blog post though.   The last stage of editing is giving it to a professional editor for either content or line/copy edits. It is up to you and your budget for how much in-depth editing you want the professional to do. Because I have two very trusted friends who can find a content error like a shark can find blood, I usually have my (absolutely fabulous) editor, Beth, do copy edits- meaning grammar, spelling, etc.

            The whole process can take months or even a whole year depending on how busy your editors are. Have patience. Remember, this is when your draft becomes a novel. It is being polished and perfected. Consider this the labor of bringing a fully ready manuscript into the world and no one ever said giving birth was easy. In the end, you will have a beautiful new novel to present to the world.

Happy Editing!


Ask Azra: Tattoo or Not to Tattoo?

Dear Azra. A friend of mine wants to get into tattooing people for a living. He asked if I would be willing to let him practice his art on me. I’ve never gotten a tattoo before. What do you think? Should I do it?


Ink Curious

Dearest Curious. What an incredible opportunity you’ve been given! Do you know that people spend decades searching for a reasonable tattoo artist? You’ve got one who is just getting started and that means your skin will be worth millions when he becomes famous! You just have to make sure you outlive him (because statistically speaking, artists only become famous after they’ve died).

I think you should definitely let him practice on you. This is a once in a lifetime chance. However, since it is your first tattoo, you should know some basic things about the process.

·         Tattoos hurt. A lot. Prepare yourself with pain killers or that numbing stuff from the dentist.

·         It is best to let your artist decide on the art and the placement of the piece. They are, after all, the experts. That being said, the more visible the ink, the better. See about getting some on your face.

·         Don’t wash it. Washing a fresh tattoo will allow the ink to run out. Just stay dirty.

Happy Inking!


***Disclaimer***Azra is not someone to take advice from. He’s not even human- he’s an exiled angel that gets his kicks dispensing horrible advice to people. Do not take his advice seriously. It is meant to be satirical and not to be taken literally.

Ask Azra: How To Be The Other Woman

Hi Azra! I’ve been seeing someone for about four months now. I feel like things are getting pretty serious between us. The only problem is that he’s married. He says their relationship has been over for years, but he’s not willing to get a divorce. He makes me so happy, happier than I’ve ever been. I can’t imagine myself without him. I need to know how to get him to leave his wife. We were meant to be together and she is just in the way.



Dear Lovelorn. I really hate to tell you this, but if he’s not leaving his wife after four months of seeing you on the side, then you’ve REALLY got to step up your game. Girl, he should have left her after the first date with you! Never fear. I will point out a couple of common mistakes you and several other women have made when they decided to seriously date a married man and how to correct them.

·         Not understanding your enemy. If you decide to hook up with a married person, odds are that you are going to make a mortal enemy out of their current spouse or significant other. The likelihood of this increases the longer the affair goes on. You need to give yourself an edge by thoroughly investigating the enemy. The name of the game is getting enough dirt to completely bury them. Stalk them on social media. Infiltrate their circle of friends. Make them actually like you before they find out you’re in the process of stealing their spouse. When they do finally discover what’s going on, you’ll have a significant advantage in the war ahead of you.

·         As you get to know your enemy, it’s equally imperative to clean up your own history. As soon as the news breaks that you’re in the picture, you will be the target of all sorts of investigative googling. Don’t give them anything that can be used against you. Make your own internet record as spotless as you can. You need to outshine them in every way possible.

·         Make sure your intentions are clear to the person you are seeing. You intend to be in their life indefinitely and you won’t take no for an answer. Furthermore, you intend to take this inconvenient truth to anyone who will listen- including their friends and family. Do not, I repeat, do not keep this affair a secret! Shout it from the rooftops! Make sure you gather significant evidence of the relationship and post it on every social media outlet there is. This will make sure your chosen partner can’t say that you’ve been making up or that you are delusional. After all, the foundation of a true relationship is honesty. Also, this will be incredibly helpful for blackmail purposes should the relationship sour.

·         Give deadlines for certain milestones in said relationship. Get that engagement ring at the five month anniversary! Insist on moving in after the third date! It’s not like they don’t know what being in a relationship is like.

There are many more pitfalls, but for now these tips should get you on the right track. Good luck, Lovelorn!

I want an invite to the wedding!


***Disclaimer***Azra is not someone to take advice from. He’s not even human- he’s an exiled angel that gets his kicks dispensing horrible advice to people. Do not take his advice seriously. It is meant to be satirical and not to be taken literally.

Ask Azra: Getting out of a Blind Date

Dear Azra. My friends are setting me up on a blind date that I don’t want to go on. I’m okay being single and I’ve told them that, but none of them are listening to me. They haven’t even given me the guy’s name so I can’t do a social media search to see what kind of crazy I’m getting into. All they tell me is that he’s nice and that he will meet me at the restaurant at seven pm Friday night. How can I get out of this?

Happily Single.

Well, Single, have you stopped to think why are your friends putting you through this? Why are they setting you up with random strangers? Could it be that you are not, in fact, good at being single? Perhaps you are such a mess when you are alone that setting you up with someone, no matter how random, is their last shot before one of them just ends up adopting you out of pity.

But I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt.

Since you don’t want your friends to keep trying to set you up, you’ve only got one chance to make this convincing. You have to make it blatantly clear, beyond all shadow if a doubt that you cannot be trusted in a relationship.  Not only do you have to scare away the blind date, but you also have to traumatize your friends enough so they don’t ever try something like this again. Go big or go home.

Since you are already single, you probably know how to scare off potential suitors on your own. Just in case, here are some tips on making sure you always identify with Beyonce’s song, “All the Single Ladies”.

·         Make a solid first impression by embracing your inner cat lady. Except don’t use cats, they are too mainstream. Use wild raccoons instead. Do your best to look like a trash panda- go excess smoky eye and over sized patchwork sweaters to make you look homeless. Bring your own feral raccoon to the restaurant. Say he is your service animal. Demand to inspect the dumpster of the restaurant before being seated. This way you can ferret through the discarded plates to see what is on the menu. Act like a raccoon. Be a raccoon.

·         Research him as much as you can... with him right in front of you. This is the perfect way to ask all of those nosy questions right to his face. Find his social media profiles. Ask what he meant by that vague post five years ago. Question his relationship with every other woman he is friends with. Demand to know why he doesn’t tag his mother in every other post. Pull his Credit Score and go over it with a fine tooth comb. Does he have any priors? Question him about his employment record. After all, this is supposed to be a “get to know you” date, right? Pull out all the stops. You never know if you will uncover the fact that he is a serial killer or a petty thief.

If, for some weird reason, the guy is still interested in pursuing a relationship with you, you only have one more option left.


That’s right. Vomit all over the table, the food, and the sorry bastard. Then run for your life.

Here’s to your Dream Date!


***Disclaimer***Azra is not someone to take advice from. He’s not even human- he’s an exiled angel that gets his kicks dispensing horrible advice to people. Do not take his advice seriously. It is meant to be satirical and not to be taken literally.

How To Stop Online Dystopian Politics From Killing America

Politics was never the center of my life. I’m not an avid news consumer. In fact, the only reason I’ve picked up the political awareness is that I am working on a story where one of the characters is supposed to save the world. For research purposes, I lifted my head and started paying attention to what was happening in my country.

That’s when I fell down the rabbit hole.

I now completely understand the old adage “never discuss politics or religion”.

Being a reasonably intelligent person, this sudden descent into the cut-throat arena of American politics has been... well, the best way to put it is that it’s an experience I will never forget. This is probably because our entire culture has been saturated in extreme politics. There’s simply no escaping it because it is everywhere; social media, biased news reports, protests, work places, schools, the list goes on and on. There is no middle ground in this arena; there is only right or wrong and you are on one side or the other. This extremism is ripping this country apart.

The question is are we, as a society, already too far down the afore mentioned rabbit hole? Have we come too far down this twisted path of fake news, corrupt government, and pretenses of social justice? I’d be lying if my rage at the sheer lack of common human decency we display didn’t make me wish for some sort of apocalypse. Yeah. It’s pretty messed up when it seems that the only way to fix how broken we’ve become is to nuke it all and start over.

However, despite these nihilistic thoughts, I believe there’s still a kernel of hope for us. There is a way for us to back away from this brink.

You see, what is missing from all of the online screaming and frantic keyboard warriors is the calm voice of someone who strives to understand all sides of an issue. Someone who is not extreme. Someone who understands that nothing is black and white in this world of ours. The very things that make us human- our emotions, our intelligence, our rationality, and our compassion all have a place in our dialogues. The divisiveness we are all experiencing is the direct result of no longer having the ability to balance these things. A lack of moderation. We need to put aside all of this partisan bullshit and work together towards common goals. We are sorely deficient in rational, yet empathetic voices of the average, non-politically charged American.

I am not that person yet, but I am trying to be.

What’s more, I believe that you have it in you to be one too. In fact, if we, as Americans, are going to survive this explosion of extremism, our country desperately needs everyone to be rational adults about things.  We all need to change. We all need to be better.

Here’s how we can start.

1.       Listen to each other respectfully and with the intent to understand. We are so caught up in the echo chambers of our own points of view that it’s easy to alienate and vilify those that don’t think like us. Stop it. Make a point to understand different opinions. Ask questions to understand. Empathize. If you don’t agree, then say politely that you disagree. That is okay. I promise, disagreeing with someone, when done in a mature fashion, does not end a relationship. Have mature, adult conversations.

2.       Understand that most things on the internet and social media (especially memes and “info” graphics) are not true. Did you know anyone can put anything on the internet? As a result, it’s full of inaccuracies, opinions, and it’s a breeding ground for fake news and rumors. A good practice is to treat anything you read on social media as entertainment. Do not take it seriously. Social media is a place for fun and connecting with people. It is not a platform for social justice or divisiveness.

3.       If, for some reason, you fall for that incredibly poignant political post (and believe me, I’ve been there), please oh please research it. Look the topic up in different sources. Verify all the information in it is correct. Recognize whether it is an opinion or if it is a fact. Now, this process can be very problematic. Like I said before, we are inundated with incredible amounts of biased information. Fact-checking is no longer a simple process. A good rule of thumb is to find at least 3 independent sources to corroborate the information. The more sources the better, but shoot for at least 3. Be sure to understand the sources- ask yourself is the source reputable? Does it show any bias?

4.       When you feel the need to share or repost something of a controversial nature, stop. Think twice and consider the following criteria:

                   a.       Is it fact or opinion?

                   b.       Is it intentionally hurtful? (Examples: “stupid snowflakes”, “Nazi alt-right” “Lazy millennials”, etc.). Typically, if there’s name calling, it’s a bad idea. We are better than that, so let’s act like it.

                   c.       Will posting this start or propel forward a meaningful conversation?

5.       It’s alright to say you don’t know something and it’s not going to be the end of the world if you change your mind. These points were brought up at a recent Frank Turner show I went to. They stuck with me because it’s absolutely true. We are intelligent beings, but there is no way we can know everything about every topic. It’s human to admit that you don’t know something, but it takes real integrity to start asking questions and learning about what you don’t understand. If we don’t allow ourselves to learn, to change, to adapt with all of this new information, we will never grow beyond this point.

If everyone in America can embrace and consistently practice these 5 things, I truly believe we can turn our society around. We can stop dystopian politics in their tracks. We can stop the fake news cycles by not participating in them any longer. We can create the kind of America that we’ve always wanted, the one we’ve dreamed about.

We just have to do this together.

United We Stand,


Writers Helping Writers: You finished your first draft! Now what?

You did it! You actually finished your first draft! Congratulations! Welcome to the 3% of writers who actually DO finish that first draft! It was a long road to get here. There was the beginning where everything seemed to go well. Then you hit the middle where you got a bit bored. You had to push yourself through obvious plot holes you didn’t realize you had until you were upon them. Then there were the several plot twists that you weren’t planning for. The days where you didn’t even want to look at the story, days where you couldn’t even get to the story, characters not wanting to do what their told and yet not giving you anything else to go on. Finally, the end where you finally said “screw it, I’ll edit this into something decent later”. I understand. I have been there myself.

So, now that you have a first draft, you are ready to begin editing, right?


Here’s what you are going to do. Put the manuscript away. Hide it in a file on your laptop, bury the notebook in the bill drawer, and forget about it. Seriously. You need to put some distance between you and that work in progress STAT.

The reason for this is that you are still too close to the project. Editing a novel, especially your own, is a completely different mindset than writing. If you begin editing as soon as you are done writing, it will defeat the purpose, which is to break through all of those plot holes, clean up that shoddy prose, and flesh out that one scene you just didn’t want to right that one time. If you don’t allow yourself time and space from your magnificent work of art, you aren’t going to be able to see where you need to touch it up.

So, forget about your story for a while. Go do something else. Catch up on real life for a bit. Start a new story. Read some books. Just give yourself a month or two away from your work in progress. I promise, it is the best thing for it.

Trust me, it's better this way.


Indie Book Review: Hartman House by A.L. Wright

The Hartman House was one of the titles I obtained from the Tucson Festival of Books.  I was very intrigued by the premise, which is essentially the story of a young witch seeking sanctuary from the increasingly violent witch, werewolf, and vampire hunters in a modern safe house. While there, the main character, Rodelle, meets a disturbingly familiar vampire named Dreven.

When I began reading, it took me a minute to get used to the formatting the author chose; the text is double spaced, which I am not accustomed to. However, it didn’t take me long to adjust.

The story is about what you would expect with the holy trinity of urban fantasy monsters: Sexy, broody vampires, hot headed werewolves, and indecisive witches.

What I was instantly taken with was the concept of the safe house for magical beings. The idea is fantastic and one that the author is expanding on in other books. Rightfully so!

This particular book, though, felt a bit bland. Not bad, but not stand out good either. It is a good middle-ground typical paranormal love story rife with the usual clichés. It feels like a first novel, which is perfectly fine, but it left me feeling that the surface of this amazing world was barely scratched.

What I wanted more of was the group dynamic in the house. I wanted to understand more of the people already inhabiting the place, how they maintained it, what they did when they weren’t on rescue missions, etc. The most we get in that aspect is that the witches are essentially the maid and catering services. There’s still major opportunities for compelling character development for the side characters we do meet in the other books, but I was definitely missing it here.

Overall, the Hartman House is a good introductory read into general paranormal romance. You should check it out, if you are so inclined, at:



Ask Azra: Battling Boredom- How to Make Your Life More Interesting

Dear Azra. I am bored. Not in an “oh, I need to pick up a hobby” or “call up some friends” kind of way. I am seriously, completely, and utterly bored of my life. There’s nothing to look forward to. Every day is the same old routine: I get up, I go to work, I come home, I watch some TV, then I go to sleep only to wake up the next morning and do it all over again. How can I get some excitement in my life? How can I truly start to live?


Bored to Tears

Dear Bored

It’s obvious what you have to do. Yes, that’s right. The exact opposite of what you have been doing. If you want to stop being bored, then stop doing the stuff that’s making you boring. Quit your job. Abandon your home. Hit the road. Take up shark taming as your hobby. Become a double agent. Get yourself lost in the Amazon. Ditch everyone you know and find different friends. Start living your life as though you were someone else because if you’re bored then you are boring.

Be anyone but you!