Yes, Annie does look a little waxy in this photo, as does Fidel. I am sure you know why :-)
Anyway, the top photo illustrates one of my photo philosophies: Take the darn flash off the camera! Here I am using a flash bracket and a coil cord. With that set up, I can place the flash above the lens for both vertical and horizontal pictures, so that the shadow from the flash falls behind the subject, and not next to it. (Of course, it's best to avoid a shadow all together, which you can do by balancing the light from the flash to the available light.)
The bottom left picture was taken with the flash in the camera's hot shoe. Oh no!
The bottom right picture was taken with my off-camera flash set-up, which includes a flash diffuser to soften the light. Now that's more like it.
A bracket/coil cord set-up is great for on-the-go, one-person shooting. If you have an assistant to hold a flash, or if you can mount a flash/flashes on a stand/stands, a wireless controller offers much more flexibility.
Explore the Light,
P.S. Wax museums are actually good places to practice taking indoor pictures. Fun, too. I guess you know you've made it as a photographer when you get waxed. These photos were taken about eight years ago at Madam Tussauds in NYC. More recent additions include Barrack Obama and Sponge Bob.