Question and Answer with J.J. Azar (#2)

Hello, lovely ladies and classy gents!

This is J.J. Azar serving you a hearty bowl of Q and A! Thanks once again for your questions and support. Here is the chowder which came of your efforts! Enjoy! (HD viewing is highly recommended).

As always, stay classy!

~J.J. Azar

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200 Followers + Q/A Announcement!

Lovely ladies! Classy gents! Something RIDICULOUS has happened!

200 people across the globe tripped and hit their heads upon their keyboards, resulting in 200 subscribes to this blog. If you have sustained this injury and are receiving this post in your inbox or WordPress reader, I wish you a speedy recovery. Put some ice on it.

To all who have subscribed to this blog, thank you. Thank you for supporting me through everything. Thank you for your kind words, your advice, your comments. Thank you for sharing your love for writing and creativity with me. I don’t take a single one of you 200 for granted. I didn’t expect to reach this point, but it’s a cool place to be, and I cherish it immensely.

When I hit 100 followers, I did something special to commemorate it. Many of you may remember that I held a Q and A session in which I answered a bunch of your questions about me, my blog, my writing, and other nonsense in video form! I had a blast making the video, and, if the comments on that post are anything to go by, most everybody enjoyed watching it! I’d love to do another!

So, if you have any questions for me regarding myself, my blog, my writing, my likes, my dislikes, my thoughts, my attractive personality, etc., please leave them in the comments below. Serious or not, it doesn’t matter! I’ll answer em all! On camera! I may even don a suit!

My top 5 favorite posts since my last 100 follows are as follows. If you happened to miss any of them, I’d recommend checking them out, because I think they suck the least out of all of my posts!

Violence and Gore in Writing: Is There a Limit? – This post prompted me to look to literature in an effort to answer the grand question posed. The post generated a wealth of discussion in the comments section, which is why I consider the post to be such a success.

A Missed Deadline, a Hard Look – This was a difficult post to write, as I wrote it in light of the fact that I failed to reach my self-imposed deadline for the first draft of my novel in the works. In the post, I propose a game plan to help tackle the draft.

Writers, Trust Your Readers – This is a good ol’ writing post. I dig discussing writing and storytelling (that’s what my blog’s about!), so this one was a blast. +10 for Lost gifs.

Writing the Five Senses: Sight – I enjoyed writing all of the five senses posts, but this one stands out to me because I wrote it with such confidence. I really felt that I touched upon significant points.

Novel Excerpt #2, Campfires at Midnight – I’m proud of this short passage from my novel in the works. It seems to have been well-received thus far, which is cool to see!

Once again, thank you for being a part of this exciting journey.

Here’s to the next 100!

As always, stay classy.

~J.J. Azar

When Writing Matters: Writing a Eulogy

I write fiction. I write about cowboys and Indians, sheriffs and highwaymen. I write about a fantastical version of the Wild West with rickety historical accuracy and plenty of anachronisms. That’s what I write. I love my manuscript, it means a whole lot to me, but it’s fiction. Does fiction matter? We’ll ponder that point later.

In these last days, my cousin Jordan and I were tasked with writing something that undoubtedly carries meaning. We were tasked with writing and delivering a eulogy for my grandfather, who passed away this week.

Writing a eulogy is a daunting task for anybody, but knowing the kind of man my grandfather was made the burden all the more heavy. George Issa Azar was a man who could say more than most men by saying nothing at all. When he did speak, his words were wise and witty. His faithful, family-oriented mindset has left a lasting impact upon his 5 children and his 14 grandchildren. The values he instilled upon his kids, including my father, have shaped who I am and what I cherish.

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George with my mother, my father, and my aunt.

George was a great man who was well-respected by all who knew him. He was the patriarch of a large, close family. How could anybody’s words do him justice? Jordan and I had a grand task, one which we both took very seriously. Before anything, we focused on George. What kind of man was he? What was he like? Who was he? We listed his dominant qualities so we could refer back to them and reference them in the eulogy.

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(from left to right) George’s daughter, George, George’s wife, George’s daughter, and George’s son (my dad).

Once we had the foundation for the eulogy, we determined its structure. We would begin by thanking the family, going through the formalities characteristic of an introduction. Then we would remember the man and his story. We would talk about how he came to the United States with 5 kids and 500 dollars in his pocket, and how he was already working on the second day. We would connect his story to his hardworking nature and his love for his family.

Then we would share a couple of personal anecdotes, referencing his quick wit and glowing personality. All of this would culminate in the message which Jordan and I, among our other cousins, wanted to emphasize: his integral role in the creation and sustaining of the family. We wanted to emphasize his legacy.

George was a father to 5 kids, but he was, above all, a father to his family. He and his wife fostered a strong, loving family. Jordan and I put our heads together for a couple of hours, tackling the eulogy line by line. It would never be perfect, but it would have to be the best we could make it.

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George with young me and my grandmother.

Then came the funeral. We delivered the speech. Addressing the grieving family and friends who were in attendance was not easy, but I am proud of Jordan for sharing the burden with me. It was an emotional eulogy, but we got through it.

I suppose the point of this post is to highlight something I discovered while writing this speech with Jordan: whether you’re writing something as important as a eulogy or fanciful as fiction, love carries its own meaning. Write with love so that the reader might glean something from the experience. Empty words have no place in this life.

Rest in peace, Sedo.

~J.J. Azar

P.S. To all followers new and old, I’m back. Posts coming at you every Tuesday and Friday on a weekly basis, just as before the break. (Note, this post is being posted in lieu of this Friday’s post). Thank you for dropping by! I hope you stay tuned.

J.J. Azar is Back with a Vengeance

LOVELY ladies, CLASSY gents, HELLO!

As some have noticed, I’ve been gone for a while.

“Why did you leave us, J.J?”

Fear not, disembodied voice! I will tell you. There have been some new developments in the unusual and often moist thing that is my life. For starters, I’ve begun a new semester of college. My new class schedule paired with my newfound workout plan have launched me into an exploratory phase where I’ve been figuring out how I can best fall back into the writing process (I’ve been going to the gym, as I said I would in my Missed Deadline post. So sore, so worth it).

To lighten my workload, I spent the weekend getting ahead in a couple of classes with the sole purpose of freeing up writing time. I return to the novel-in-the-works tonight! Additionally, I’m back in the working world! I’m enjoying the time I’m spending helping out the family business and earning some $$. I’m also seeing a lovely lady who is classy enough to satisfy even the highest of standards we hold over here. All-in-all, all is well! I’ve just taken a week to prepare myself for writing, is all. I’ve made a fair effort to keep up with my WordPress Reader, but if you think I’ve missed a post of yours that you think I’d enjoy, please do share a link in the comments!

With that, I will be making a change to the blog. In the interest of focusing on my novel-in-the-works, I will be posting a minimum of once a week as opposed to twice. I may accumulate views and followers more slowly by posting once a week, but a) I’m here to interact with y’all, not track statistics! b) the novel takes priority until I complete its first draft, as I’m sure you understand. As promised, I will provide you with my new first-draft deadline by the end of the month.

What’s nice about this is I can put more effort into each post and spend more time reading your posts. Some posts to look out for in the coming weeks include:

  • On Trusting the Reader
  • Writers, What’s Your Style?
  • Writing the Five Senses
  • You Want to Write? Write!
  • One Lovely Blog Award Reception

Thank you for your continued support. I don’t intend to take another leave of absence this long (12 days!) without informing you first.

As always, stay classy.

~J.J. Azar

Question and Answer with J.J. Azar (#1)

Boy, do I love referring to myself in the third person! (Honestly, it’s a struggle titling these blasted posts. This is the best I could come up with).

Anyways, you asked, I answered! In celebration of reaching 100 Followers(!), I gathered a bunch of your questions and answered them in video form. Thank God I didn’t answer them via text. The transcribed wiseassery would come across as far too pretentious without a goofy face attached to the words.

I did my best to keep the video as short as I could (5 quick minutes), well aware that you and I typically hop onto WordPress to read, not to watch videos. I had a blast making this though! If you have any thoughts about the video (or would like to compliment the fine candles behind me), drop a thought in the comments! I hope you enjoy. (No, really. I dressed up in a suit and everything. I went all out on this. LOVE IT, I TELL YOU!)

As always, stay classy.

~J.J. Azar

100 Followers! + Q/A Announcement!

HELLO, lovely ladies and classy gents! I woke up this morning to find a fat 100 plastered on the side of the blog. This can only mean one thing: 100 people accidentally subscribed to me. To those who tripped and fell onto their keyboards with enough ferocity to complete such a complex action, thank you!

In seriousness, I am deeply grateful for your follow, and it’s not for the number’s sake. Sure, it’s nice seeing my follower count climb (and make no mistake, 100 is a good-looking, classy number), but from the start, this endeavor of mine has been about supplementing my writing journey with interaction. I’m in this thing for the WordPress bell at the top-right of the interface. Since joining WordPress, I’ve found a whole bunch of impressive blogs full of substantial content. I’ve conversed with bloggers with diverse backgrounds, from diverse places, and with diverse interests. I’ve even exchanged some thoughts with readers who don’t blog. That’s cool too! I look forward to carrying on the dialogue. To all who have liked, commented, or otherwise exchanged a word with me, THANK YOU for making my blogging experience all the more satisfying.

Before I get to my Q/A announcement, I’d like to highlight what I consider to be my Top 5 favorite posts thus far in case you missed them. In no particular order and paired with complementary descriptions, here they are:

5 Books and the Lessons They Taught Me About Writing (like a refreshing Coca-Cola)

For Writers: 5 Reasons Why Consuming While Creating is Dangerous (like a bowl of nails without milk *shoutout to Spongebob*)

Mom, Thanks for Teaching Me How to Read (like hot chocolate)

November Writing Progress Update (like hot tea because tea is made with hot water)

A Brief Excerpt From My Novel-in-the-Works (like iced tea. Something refreshing)

SO!

Q/A. Question and answer. I’m having one. I know, I know, EVERYONE does Q/As. But I’m gonna make sure I put on a good one. Rumor has it that I may answer your questions in video form, but rumor is fleeting, so who really knows?…

Here’s the part where I pass the microphone to you. *passes microphone* Ask me some questions! Everything is fair game. About me, about the blog, about poultry…I’M OPEN TO ANYTHING! The less conventional the better! Of course, you can be vanilla if you’d like. That’s cool too. Whether it’s silly or not, if there’s anything you’d like to know, I’d be happy to tackle your questions. Drop them in the comments below and I will compile them to be answered in a post in the near future. I’m looking forward to seeing what whimsical questions you well-dressed people will cook up.

Ladies and gents, thank you once again. You truly are a classy bunch. Don’t ever forget it.

~J.J. Azar

Mom, Thanks for Teaching Me How to Read

When I was a wee lad, I enjoyed writing stories as much as I enjoyed letting Elmer’s glue dry on my hands just so I could pick it off. In other words, I enjoyed writing stories quite a bit. Perhaps it was my mother who spurred my interest in writing. After all, it was she who taught me how to read and write. That’s right, folks: I never went to preschool, which probably explains why I am illiterate in colors.

The primary colors? Psh, I could name the 50 states and probably the provinces of Canada by sheer guess before I could ever provide you the names of the three primary colors. Did you know that scientists and artists have different primary colors?! How can I possibly keep up with that nonsense?!

Is it navy, or is it blue? You might as well ask me the difference between a hawk and an eagle.

What color do you get when you mix yellow and green? I don’t even know if that’ll make another color!

*end tragic rant*

Yes, it was very likely my mother’s diligent instruction which oriented for writing. She opted to keep me out of preschool because she wanted to spend time with me and teach me one-on-one. My mother singlehandedly taught me how to read by using Disney’s Golden Books and Disney’s infamous-in-my-household Elegant Book of Manners. My dad probably read to me once or twice but my mom deserves the credit. Sorry, Dad, this post isn’t about you. I can credit you for teaching me how to swim, though!

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Thanks to my dad, I was comfortable in the pool before I turned 2 years old! Apparently I was a wickedly talented child *read as John Travolta.*

Starting with letters and escalating to sentences, my mother conditioned me to be a reading machine. I mean she literally conditioned me. Every day after Blue’s Clues, we would read and write. If that isn’t conditioning, I don’t know what is.

I am glad my mother took it upon herself to instill upon me the imperative skill of literacy, but the thought of her taking on that mighty task terrifies me when I reflect upon it. In fact, I often stir in the night and wake up in cold sweats, wondering…What if she messed up? What if she accidentally shuffled a couple of letter-flashcards when she drilled me on the alphabet? What if she didn’t properly correct my misprinted ‘k’s? Gosh, if that were the case, I’d be writing like an oaf!

But at this point, unless my mom paid off all of my teachers from 1st grade on in the interest of allowing my writing mistakes to go unmarked, I think I have a solid grasp of the English language. My grammars is very good, thankfully.

The point is this: I am grateful for my mother. Even though English isn’t her first language, she still managed to teach me how to read and write. Simply put, that’s badass (she hates when I use the word so here I am, using the word).

Thanks, Mom. You’re the best preschool teacher I ever had (but I still don’t understand colors).

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To those reading, I’d like to know: for what do you owe thanks to your mother? Share the love in a comment.

As always, stay classy.

~J.J. Azar

J.J. Azar: Who I Am and What I Write

 

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Hello, lovely ladies and classy gents! Welcome to my blog!

My name is J.J. Azar, and I’m writing a book. If you’d like to learn more about me and what I’m working on, look no further. You’re in the right place. Please take this mug of warm milk, sit back, and enjoy.

When I emerged into the world a fat child, my dear dad and loving mother named me “Johnathan Johnny Azar.” Why Johnathan? Probably because they wanted to overcompensate for my potential dim-wittedness by attaching a sophisticated name to my cheeky face. Why Johnny? Because that’s my father’s name, and that’s how we take our middle names in Middle Eastern culture (Shortly after my birth, my parents purchased a home with a three-car garage expressly so they could keep our camel sheltered from the cold). Why Azar? Because that’s my dad’s dad’s dad’s last name, and I presume that it was my dad’s dad’s dad’s dad’s last name too.

But nobody, not even my parents, know me as “JOHNATHAN…JOHNNY…AZAR.” Most just call me Johnathan. Some of my friends call me John even after I make it clear that “I prefer Johnathan” (Honestly, I might as well stop trying and throw myself into the Fires of Mordor!)

A handful of acquaintances prefer to call me “Azar!” The guy who fills my gas down the street from my house calls me “Boss” (and he cleans my windshield for free, too!)

Some call me “Juck,” a name whose origin has been heatedly debated amongst aunts and cousins who have strong feelings and apparently superhuman memories regarding who actually spawned the title during the antiquity of my youth. I used the moniker when I commandeered a review blog and slayed zombies on the Xbox, but it has since evolved into a sort of semi-rare delicacy, much like caviar and chivalry. Only an elite few call me that today, and God bless them!

How, then, did “J.J. Azar” come about? What fanciful, resonant origin story can I attribute to that slick-sounding name? Here’s what happened:

I was sitting at the dessert table shoveling cake into my mouth when my uncle Elvis, who was sitting beside me, paid me a glance. His eyes caught mine. At that moment, I knew I’d been caught devouring Tiramisu like a fiend. I had to act fast. I thanked God I wasn’t eating a banana, then said, “I’m writing a book.”

“Really?” he asked with a shrug of the mouth. “Are you going to have a penname?”

“Nope,” I resolutely responded. I hadn’t even entertained assuming a penname. Why would I?

“Like J.J. Azar,” he suggested, not quite as a question, not quite as a statement. He kind of just said it.

And there it was. Without even putting me to sleep Inception-style, my uncle Elvis planted a seed in my mind that grew into a tall, strong, handsome, slightly-pale tree. And here I am! So what am I doing here? Better yet, what are you doing here?

Well folks, just like that 5-year-old kid you babysit, just like your nostalgic grandma Fran, just like your uncle Rico and your parole officer Dave, I want to become a published author. I want to become a published author so I can share my writing with you lovely ladies and classy gents!

As I type this, I am halfway through completing the first draft of a western-adventure novel. I intend to type “The End” on the piece’s first draft by January 1st, 2017, kind of like a reverse New Years’ Resolution! And the clock is ticking!

“What do you write?” you ask.

Well, I write swashbuckling with words.

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I am a firm believer in the power of words. I have learned that words have the potential to cut sharper than swords when woven in particular ways. As I see it, that’s what writing is all about: evoking a reaction through the presentation of language. And so, when people ask me what I write, the best answer I could possibly provide is, “Swashbuckling with words.” Whether the swashbuckling within the novel manifests through high-stakes negotiation between enemies, sharp banter between friends, internal conflict, a hard day’s journey, or literal sword-fighting, the vessel through which each and every breath of a written story is conveyed is languageWords.

For a synopsis of my novel-in-progress and some more about me, be sure to check out the About Me page above!

As I brave the Road of Authorship, stumbling over every rock on the way, I invite you to walk alongside me so you can point and laugh and cheer as I fall on my ass and get back up again.

By subscribing via WordPress or email, you can keep up with my posts, which will include updates on my writing progress, original stories, excerpts from my work(s)-in-progress, musings about writing, and other things. (like me on Facebook, too!)

I hope you decide to stick around, as there is plenty more to come. Expect a post once a week on Friday or Saturday. And please feel free to leave a comment! Even a simply hello will suffice!

As always, keep it real. People-like people are often the best kind.

~J.J. Azar