Five Things Felons Need to Know

Welcome back Reader!

Today, I’ve got a short list of five things that felons should know after their conviction.

This isn’t a hate post either, I am the Friendly Felon after all – so you’re in store for some nifty information that is really going to give you hope and help you get back on track.

That’s what I’m all about here – finding those little rays of hope for a better life and growing that into a goal you can reach. Just thought I’d mention that for the newcomers – because they might not have known what they were getting themselves into here. (Partly why Enigma is part of my chosen moniker)

Anyway, without further ado, I present my newest list:

Felons Should Know:

1. We can get the majority of our civil rights back – and some states even allow restoration of rights immediately after you finish your last day locked up or once you get released from whatever level supervision you might be on. This includes voting, earning a public office seat in a governmental body, and more. Some rights will take more time than others, and every state is different in their limits, but ultimately – the rights are available again once you’ve kept yourself out of trouble for a while. Not a bad bargain really.

2. We can gain legal certificates that help us get jobs. First, there is a federal bonding program that is available for all felons in every state across the entire nation. There are also some states that offer a ‘Certificate of Good Conduct’, or a ‘Certificate of Relief from Disability’. Both of these help with getting a job, and one can even help you get a professional license. You’ll have to earn these with a lot of research and a lot of action – but it is completely possible!

3. We can do anything we put our minds to! If you’re a felon that wants to go to college, there’s not much that can stop you. Sex convictions aside, most felons – including drug-related convictions (might have to wait for financial aid to be allowed again, but otherwise chances of acceptance aren’t terrible)- can attend college without hassle. I’ve been accepted numerous times into various colleges for interior design, art, beauty school, and psychology. I might have only stuck with one of these choices, but all of them were willing to work with me regardless of my background. The payment of the tuition is the biggest hassle here, but most convictions can apply within just a few years of completion of your sentence.

4. We need to be honest about our backgrounds with employers. When you hide it, you’re just wasting time (yours and the employers to be honest). There might be restrictions in various states as to how far back the background search can go – but in many cases, a simple background search performed online will bring up every single conviction under your name. It is a much better idea to be honest, and spend more time learning how to prove you’re a good employee to potential employers. (Character references, volunteer experiences, letters from probation, parole, etc, anything and everything that gives ‘proof’ of a good worker).

5. We are worth the effort it takes to overcome our obstacles. Just because we made a mistake doesn’t mean that our lives have to be over or that we’re doomed to a life inside an institution or on the ‘wrong side’ of the street. Of course, if you want to continue the life that brought you to this point – that’s up to you. Personally, I recommend picking the important pieces of yourself up and building a better life – it’s the most difficult thing to do – but that just means it will be that much more meaningful when you accomplish your goals.

So, that concludes my list for the day – I hope you like it and if you want more information about how to overcome your conviction related obstacles – please purchase a copy of my Guide to Life After a Felony – available in print on Microcosm and on just about every eBook retailer out there – click here for the Kindle edition.

If you want some personalized research done for your situation – I offer that on Fiverr – click on the Hire Aza link at the top of the page – I’m here for you to help you meet your goals and dreams. It’s what I do – seriously, it’s all I think about. Keep going strong everyone! Rise above!

Love and Peace,
Aza (@aza_enigma Twitter)

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Why I LOVE Microcosm Publishing!

Hey Readers!

I wanted to talk about the print publishing company I chose (and who thankfully accepted my pitch!) and why I have come to adore them.

First off, the name caught my attention – many authors might not go for something that has the word ‘micro’ in it – as it gives the impression of smallness. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth with these guys.

The definition of microcosm is basically a community that encapsulates huge ideas in a small way. This relates to how small a book might seem in your hand, but the ideas that are contained within that little book are SO much larger.

And I gotta say – I love that. It’s a great reference to the whole idea of publishing books and sharing the ideas and information that we hold dear to our personal interests.

Second, have you seen the stuff they carry? If not – you seriously need to check them out. Not only do they carry my first ever finished book (Guide to Life After a Felony), but they offer a TON of awesome books. Just check out this screenshot of their homepage:

00 a Microcosm screen snip

And this is just a teeny tiny sample!

In addition to this, as I generally self-publish online through the typical indie routes, I had to ask – would they let me keep my stuff out there? To my genuine surprise – they were willing to work with me and let me continue to have my own version out there – and from what I had read in some of the writer forums – this doesn’t seem to happen often – but I’m extremely grateful for it either way. (Feel free to share if your experience with a publisher was different, I’d love to hear it!)

My final reason to adore this company is that in all honesty – this was the ONLY publisher I applied (pitched?) my manuscript to – and somehow I impressed them enough to earn a chance to publish with them. I personally think their site just spoke to me once I found them in my research phase, and not a single other company seemed to hold similar values or perspectives. As a felon, I’m basically part of the sub-cultures that aren’t often appreciated or given a chance to speak – and Microcosm provides a beautiful avenue on which to share your ideas with those that are on a similar wave-length. Of course, they might not be for everyone – perspectives are widely varied so I get it if you’re not diggin’ it.

(Additional note: No, I wasn’t paid for this in any way by them – I honestly just want to give them this shout-out because they’ve been so amazing to work with! Everything I am posting here is my own authentic opinion and I probably should say that my views shouldn’t be taken as a direct reflection of their views – just to be on the safe side ya know?)

So, can you see why I think these guys are so wonderful yet? If not, go ahead and take a look for yourself – I’m pretty sure you’ll be just as impressed as I was. Microcosm Publishing might be just what you need in your life!

That’s all I got for today guys, hope you like it and find something nifty and useful from it!

Love and peace,
Aza

Five Things You Should Know About Felons

Hey guys, thank you for stopping by! I’m so grateful for all the supports, shares, follows, and likes in my various social media platforms.

Today, I’ve compiled a few things that felons need you (yes, YOU) to know.

Let’s take a look at what the felon community wants to share with everyone!

  1. Criminal Records are more common than you might think – weareallcriminals.org shares that ‘one in four people have a criminal record’. While this includes misdemeanors (which carry far less stigma – even if many convicted felons were only sentenced to probation or time in a county jail – which is the same punishment for many misdemeanors!), it really draws your attention to the fact that criminal records are actually quite common. That would be because…
  2. We all make mistakes – now, while only one in four has a criminal record – it can be safely assumed that at least three in four (if not four in four) have committed a crime of some level (misdemeanors included here again), they just weren’t caught or convicted. Again, weareallcriminals.org comes into play and shares stories of people who realized that they could have had their entire livelihood taken from them – had they been caught and joined the ranks of ‘convicts’.
  3.  Felons CAN change for the better – even if they’ve earned more than a few convictions. One participant in my poll describes how she’s earning a degree to work in social welfare after SIX convictions. It might take some of us longer to get out of the rut, but when we do – many of us want to contribute to the greater good. We aren’t hardwired to stay ‘bad’ like so much of society wants to think – we just have to find what will truly motivate us to make a positive change in our lives. That motivation varies for each of us – as well as the situations that lead us to our convictions.
  4. Background checks ONLY show the negatives – even when we’ve made positive changes. So, when you’re an employer that’s looking at an interviewee who has just opened up about their record – consider asking about the GOOD things that they’ve done. Rather than immediately assuming that felons are nothing but bad news – try to see the things that they are trying to change in their life. Because honestly, the income that we are seeking with you is going to be part of keeping a stable life that won’t push us back into old patterns of behavior. Many felons hang in the balance – trying to get back on track in a society that doesn’t want to let them have the chance – no matter how much we have changed for the better.
  5. Felons have a lot of GOOD to contribute – As a felon, I know that every time I find a new job – I have to work five times harder than my co-workers (and the felon community is very familiar with that sentiment) just to prove that I’m worth keeping as an employee. Employers are wasting talent when they deny felons work – especially when that work has NOTHING to do with the background. For instance, my theft record might prevent me from working in retail (thankfully I have literally zero interest in retail stores), but I’m qualified and capable in the field of psychology and coaching.

Overall, felons just want a chance to find a stable life. Our packaging might be a little bit damaged – but we have a lot to offer when given a chance. So, before you judge us based on your assumptions – take a moment and take a chance – there’s plenty of protection for employers (certificates of employability, certificates of good conduct, certificates of relief from disability [this one is a bit confusing in the title but still a great thing]). As far as society goes – who hasn’t made a mistake? We’re all flawed but we’re still beautiful people.

That’s all for today folks! Thank you for stopping by and feel free to click around and explore the various posts and links I share on the blog page. If you love what you see, please share it, especially if you know someone that needs the information I’m sharing with you!

Love and peace,
Aza

 

 

I’m on Patreon! Support and Share!

Hey guys!

So, things have been incredibly insane the last couple weeks for me.

I had finally found 2 jobs I loved (on top of the freelancing I offer) and I was excited to finally be exactly where I wanted financially. They were part-time gigs but decently paying jobs that I really liked. They didn’t require me to be around people constantly – which was great – I’m awkward as can be in person. It really was perfect.

Until my new-ish car decided to show exactly how much of a Jynx (apparently it wanted to live up to the name I gave it) it was. And the lemon law only covers 500 miles in my area – where I had already driven over 10,000 miles (I was a busy, busy bee – I’m losing my mind now honestly because I don’t have enough Gigs to keep me occupied)

Anyway, both of my payroll jobs were based on driving my vehicle. Thanks to Jynx breaking down so badly I couldn’t afford to fix it, I’m now not only out of a job – but out of all options for work locally.

While I have been building my freelancing business – I was not prepared to become a full-time freelancer so suddenly.

In light of this, I was directed to check out Patreon by a few of the fellow authors I’ve talked with. So, I decided to take a chance to really push my freelancing and my goals to reach out to struggling felons in my area.

(Sidenote: this is part of the flexibility that I talk about with work and mindset – I’m freaking out and really anxious – but I’m applying that energy to do things that might help me in the long run with what I’ve really wanted to do with my time and contributions – even if it wasn’t my original plan to be here already)

So, I checked Patreon out and I love the platform. It helps me define clear goals that you guys can help me reach – and I only ask for $5 a month on it. Of course, if you want to donate more – you are free to do so. I hate asking for help, but if I’m going to be successful in helping those who need it – I can’t do it alone.

Find my Patreon page HERE and if you can’t support – please share it – you’ll still be an awesome part of my goals!

Thank you for checking me out, don’t miss out on my other great posts where I share information for felons who want to learn how to overcome their past.

Misinformation Round 1

Misinformation Round 2

Helpful Hints for Convicts

Twitter Interview #1 – Jess T.

I’ve finally been using my Twitter account instead of ignoring it and I made an awesome new friend on it this week. It feels pretty awesome to know that there are people in the same situation that want to help others who are still struggling with their recovery in life. She’s decided to share a little of her story about her conviction and her progress with her recovery from those darker days.

Are you ready to read her interview? I know it touched my heart and reminded me of how amazing each and every one of us is. Here we go:

Aza -When were you convicted and what were you convicted for?

Jess – Let’s see. The last time I was arrested was July 2007 for possession of methamphetamine. I was already on first offender felony probation, so I ended up staying in the county jail for a little over 5 months.

Aza – What helped you push through the obstacles that your convictions put in place?

Jess- I found out about two weeks in that I was pregnant. It was one of the scariest 5 months of my life. I called my mom to bail me out like I always did… only, this time she called my existing probation office to make sure they put a probation violation hold on me so that I couldn’t get out. Of course, at the time she had no idea how long I would be stuck in there; she just wanted me to get clean. For so long, she didn’t even know if I was still alive; so, knowing I was somewhere safe was a relief. As far as pushing through the obstacles that stem from my convictions, of course, my faith and my family were a huge driving source. I honestly believe that God saved me. That putting my life in His hands is the only reason I still have one. And, I couldn’t have made it through the drug court program and rehab program and the stress of being a single mom and recovering addict without my parents. But, also, there was no choice but to push through. I remember being paraded through doctors offices (because a pregnant inmate still has rights to prenatal care) in cuffs and leg shackles, people pulling their kids closer to them as if I was going to attack, and thinking, “I’m not this person. I never hurt anyone other than myself.” The shame was unbearable. I remember standing in front of the judge for the last time, facing 10 years in prison, and feeling completely hopeless. And, I remember the world around me stopping as I heard her say she saw something in me that she can’t explain, and that she was going to give me another chance on the condition that she never sees me in her courtroom again. And, at that moment, I knew I had no choice. I wanted to be better, for myself and for my baby. I was going to prove to everyone that I was better than what they saw.

Aza – What advice would you give to other struggling felons and recovering addicts across the globe?

Jess – For advice, I would say this: You are not your mistakes. BUT don’t disown your past. Own every single part of who you are. One thing that always bothers me is when people say, “well, that’s your past. That’s not who you are.” Wrong. My past is every bit a part of who I am. And, I wear it with pride. I have been through the pits of hell and I have come out, no matter how battered or bruised, on the other side. I encourage you to not let anyone make you feel ashamed of your past. You’re a survivora fighter… and the world has so much in store for you!


Thank you, Jess, for sharing your story of struggle and how you pushed through the obstacles that life throws at us.

 

Looking Back – The Last 365 Days

Hey Readers!

I was looking back at some of the old posts on here and realized that it’s nearly my one year anniversary of publishing my first book!

It wasn’t but a few months before that I had created this blog in the first place, and was finally inspired to write about the helpful points of my own experience in overcoming my bad background.

Thus was born, the Friendly Felon’s Guide To Life After a Felony and all the subsequently birthed ‘side-quests’ that this endeavor opened up for me.

It’s really crazy to think about how quickly everything began taking off in some way, and somehow also how slow some things feel like they’re going.

After self-publishing using Smashwords and Amazon, I also reached out to an aligned publishing company (Microcosm – has generally awesome content, go check them out, even if you don’t want or need my book) and was approved and put into print. It was amazing to get that rush of accomplishment!

This positive feedback encouraged me to continue writing and has allowed me to grow in so many ways that I didn’t expect. I’ve had the pleasure of helping a few felons across the nation and the genuine reactions I’ve seen as they realized they weren’t out of options has been the absolute best part of everything. As time passed, I also began getting more messages from fellow felons across the nation – thanking me for showing them that they really could move forward with their lives.

I’ve pushed my expectations of myself for learning – especially when it comes to the marketing and seo stuff – and have made progress in ways I never thought possible thanks to my background (it’s a difficult mindset to shake honestly – more about that another day). It’s really amazing what you can do with even a touch of determination and research guys (Nope, I’ll never say it enough, -not sorry).

In addition, I jumped more fully into the freelance writing gig and have been experiencing slow but steady success in gaining clients and a great reputation as a writer – and this blog is even part of my portfolio (of course, if you saw my last post – you should know that already). It’s all come together so wonderfully, and it is incredibly rewarding even though it’s been a long, slow business working toward this level of fulfillment in life after my felony conviction.

It’s been a crazy 365 days guys, and it just goes to show you how things can turn for the better when you find a focus and work toward it without relent. Don’t be scared to learn new things or try new industries – you never know what might actually click better with your skills and personality until you try it out. I certainly never thought I’d actually be the slightest bit successful with my writing or my life in general for the longest time – but I proved myself wrong – and that’s one of the most important lessons I could have learned.

So long for now, stay strong and keep moving forward!

Love and Peace,
Aza

 

Making Progress and Portfolios

Hey guys!

Per usual, I’ve been a busy bee – writing assignments are stacking up nicely, and I’ve finally gotten around to making the one thing that every professional needs.

A portfolio

That neat little collection of the work you’ve done in whatever industry you tend to prefer. As I lean toward the writing side of things, even with all my other skills – I used a journalism based portfolio website to create my own collection.

You can check it out here: Aza’s Portfolio

Then, feel free to make your own to begin building up your own collection of results to prove to potential employers how awesome you are at your work. It’s a huge help for anyone, but we felons need all the positive evidence we can muster up to gain employers trust after our convictions.

Pointers

  • Focus on your skills
  • Don’t be too serious
  • Get familiar with converting files from one type to another
  • Do plenty of research for samples, examples, and how-to’s to help you get on track

Don’t forget to check out these other awesome posts I’ve made:

Misinformation

Work From Home

Improve Your Resume

Thanks for stopping by, and stay strong!

Love and Peace,
Aza

Improving Your Resume (Felon Tips)

Hey Readers!

I’ve been working on a new Gig lately, and while I can’t get into a lot of detail – I can say I’ve been learning a lot about the hiring process from the hiring manager’s perspective. It’s also reminded me of some of the resume struggles I had to overcome to up my game with interviews as a felon and that nasty, aggravating little note on my background.

So, in true fashion as the Friendly Felon, I want to share some of those tips that I’ve been learning (and some I’ve practiced myself) to help my fellow felons build their resumes and their careers just a little bit more easily (even if it takes more work).

  1. Keep track of your jobs
  2. Note supervisors and managers names
  3. Customize your resume for different employers
  4. Focus on your experiences and accomplishments
  5. Get great references through positive networking

First up, you absolutely have to keep a track record of all your work. Include side gigs that might be under the table (they count as experience if you’ve done them well – and keep track of the contact information for those people after asking if you can keep them as a reference).

Be sure to take note of your supervisor’s and your manager’s names – and try to leave a good impression with them even if the job ended on bad terms. With a bad background already in tow, you need to focus on making great impressions with every interaction with people. Especially the people in higher positions (in work or life in general) – they can be great keys to improved networking and better opportunities.

While it’s a hell of a lot easier to create one resume (a pain in the ass as it is, right – so many details!!!) and then print thirty or so copies…. it’s actually way better to customize resumes to each company – or at least each industry or type of work. For instance, when I apply to payroll jobs like waitressing, bartending, or automotive work – I showcase the experiences I have in only those industries. I also change my personal statement (or personal mission – something stating or explaining my goals with the career I’m applying for at that time). For example, when I applied to test for a psychology aid at a local facility, I stated that I was interested in furthering my knowledge and professional experience in the psychology field (this was when I though clinical psych might be my thing, but I decided to refocus on coaching and helping felons). But when I applied to the automotive stores for basic technician positions, I focused on the fact that I’m also interested in furthering my automotive knowledge and safely servicing vehicles for valued customers. So, while it might be necessary to adapt because of our bad records (as seen above – there really is a method to my madness, I promise) – it’s actually going to reward you in the long run.

Also, focus on your actual experiences and accomplishments. Don’t list out your skills on your resume as a super boring, general list of things you are capable of. Describe any sort of improvement you made using your skills and experiences. For instance, at my first auto technician job – I managed to increase sales (when the ‘only-men-can-work-on-cars-crowd’ might have been pissy with me – I really do know my maintenance). So basically, when I apply to auto-based jobs – I make sure to note how I improved sales at my other auto-based jobs (and every other auto-based accomplishment I’ve made at each job). It makes me a proven good candidate for that job and they’re more likely to overlook my felony.

Finally, just to reinforce the idea because it really is important –  personal referrals and networking are the best bet to get great jobs – and I’m so sickeningly serious (mostly because I hate networking with a passion, I am a hermit damnit and I like it that way) it’s ridiculous. Network, network, network. Make sure you’re leaving good impressions with people. Not only does this benefit every felon out there by leaving a better taste in society’s mouth when we interact with it (for the love of everything good, don’t live up to the negative expectations – no matter how much they test you [I’ve literally seen felon humiliating employment posts on some job websites – it took every fiber of my sometimes still shaky moral structure to not lash out at them with an angry response, simply because it would be exactly what they would expect of me]), it benefits you directly by creating pathways into the life you really want. Be the change you want to see in your life – it’s the only way to create those positive pathways. Even if you have to fake it a bit until you make it.

Keep up the great work guys!

Peace and love
-Aza

Freelance Writing Quirky Topics

Hey Readers!

Since I’ve been so busy recently with my freelance writing, I thought it might be fun to share a (continually growing) list of the various topics that I’ve been hired for. Things might get a little bit weird… but that’s okay.

Quirks are cool around here.

Aza’s Writing List

-Coca-cola fact list

-Digital Agencies

-Automotive History

-Mythical Erotica 1 (Elf and Werewolf -per request)

-Working Mom Life

-Earthday

-Uganda History and Current Struggles

-Serving 101 (Waitress Guide)

-“How-To’s” on pretty much every sex toy out there

-“How-To’s” on basic kinky behavior

-“How-To’s” on advanced kinky behavior

-Housewife Life

-Winston Churchill’s Life and Career

-Finding Success as a Working Mom

-Hiring Better Employees

-Product Descriptions

 

And this will be updated as I continue to add new topics and skills! Won’t it be fun to see where this goes?

Thanks for stopping by! Check out my book if you don’t mind – just search the Guide to Life After a Felony at your favorite eBook retailer, or get it in print through the link at the top of the page!

Love and Peace,

Aza

The Writer’s Life – I’d Rather Be Writing

Hey Readers! It’s been a while since I’ve posted (again). Yeah, I’m basically online all the time, but it’s been a busy time of year for me.

As I sit here on my bed-top ‘office’ (Yeah, I work from my bed – don’t look at me like that), with my laptop comfortably perched across my thighs, I realize that I’ve been writing basically non-stop since 8am this morning… chugging Rockstar energy drinks (even though I’m still using my Thrive supplement – I just really love the taste of ‘crack in a can’ as I fondly call it in the stores– I’m only a little addicted I swear…). Anyway, it’s past lunch already and I’m rockin’ it out.

So far, there’s been about 800 words for an adult dating site, 1,000 words for a green business highlighting the upcoming Earth Day (grab your seedlings now or get involved any way you can – April 22nd gets here fast and every tree and helping hand contributes!), and I still have another 800 for an international article that needs to be completed today. Hopefully, before I run out of Rockstar because there are always errands that need to be run in the afternoon and I’ll fall asleep on my computer if I try to push the work to a late night thing. For me, blank screens are only [somewhat] inspiring through the early hours of the day – at night (particularly after supper) they become inspiration for me to grab my pillow…. (See, learn your body’s schedule and work with it).

Of course, this can also change as the day continues. As a freelancer using online platforms (that are available worldwide 24/7), I tend to get writing gigs on a sort of random basis which can change my schedule up without advance notice (thankfully I’m good at adapting – see this post for more on that). Occasionally I can find a Gig that lasts a couple weeks, and then I’ve filled whatever quota for goodness knows how long and I’m left wondering when the heck I’m gonna see another payment. Sometimes it’s also the reverse and I end up with more work than expected – which is pretty awesome because then I can rest easier knowing bills are paid – even if I might be a bit frazzled to complete it all and keep everything straight. (Nothing like sending the wrong file link to a client – especially when I am balancing ‘adult sex toy’ content and ‘work at home mom’ content… imagine that crazy situation… I shudder thinking about it personally)

The freelance writer’s income is one that isn’t for the faint of heart – I can tell you that now. Some months you can make 300 in 3 weeks or even in one day, other months you might be lucky to pull an hour’s worth of income – especially with all the demand for cheaper writers…( Strangely enough, I actually see requests for articles of over 3,000 words with a budget of only $5… it’s a real thing guys – and that needs to STOP if you want the cold hard truth).

For budding writers – you can go ahead and start out with those really low priced gigs because it helps you build your resume of work – but remember to adjust your prices as you improve your skills! Don’t let your clients walk all over you! Build up, and move up as you go along.

Well, that’s all for now guys! Catch ya later!

Love and Peace
Aza