Friday, August 2, 2013

Give it away now

Paradise Squandered, Third Edition
I apologize for the corniness of the title of this post. Please forgive me. I couldn't help myself.

I'm giving away a SIGNED paperback copy of the Third Edition of Paradise Squandered. You know, the controversial, groundbreaking novel that recently ignited a media firestorm:
"Sexual frustration, marijuana smoking, underage drinking, house parties, driving way too fast… This book honestly captures what it's like to be an angry 18 year old searching for what is real and important in life through trial and error."
"Stefansson has written a literary masterpiece, this generation's Catcher in the Rye. He has a unique ability to capture the feelings of angst that many young people experience while transitioning to adulthood."
"Paradise squandered is unlike anything I have EVER read before. I really believed that the vast majority of people, will in fact be able To relate to this novel."
"Yeah, I read it..."
Enter to win, and you might discover just how terrible my signature is.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Paradise Squandered by Alex Stefansson

Paradise Squandered

by Alex Stefansson

Giveaway ends August 31, 2013.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Monday, July 29, 2013

Paradise Squandered, Third Edition

Paradise Squandered: a novel by Alex Stefansson

What do you all think of my new cover?

The third edition of Paradise Squandered has a brand new cover that I'm really proud to have attached to my book. It was designed by a very talented graphic designer and writer named Sarah Richards. She lives in Chicago. And she posts on her blog more frequently than I do.

The actual content of the book hasn't really changed that much. A few parts have been made more clear. And some purple prose has been cut out. Minor grammar and punctuation errors have been fixed, and I finally figured out hot to fix a few awkward bits that I kept re-writing over and over again when I was working on finishing the book originally.

I'm really proud of the new edition. I finally feel like my book is complete.

The new edition of Paradise Squandered is now available in both eBook and paperback formats! You can find it pretty much anywhere online. It's a pretty big deal. There's more information on the recently updated Paradise Squandered page of this blog.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

White Lady vs Jesus

A White Lady is a type of female ghost reportedly seen in rural areas and associated with some local legends of tragedy. White Lady legends are found around the world. Common to many of them is the theme of losing or being betrayed by a husband or fiancé. They are often associated with an individual family line or said to be a harbinger of death similar to a banshee.

In the second chapter of Paradise Squandered, the main character and his best friend encounter a mysterious lady in white while they are smoking a joint rolled from a Bible page and waxing philosophical on a moonlit beach in Kauai. Or maybe they're just talking nonsense--I suppose it's up to interpretation.

Also, for the record, the idea of rolling a joint with paper from a Bible is not something I came up with. I first heard about this when I was in high school and was working at Subway. I had a coworker named Farazz who was a sub-par sandwich artist and very rarely sober at work. His personal hygiene was also well below average, but I suppose that is irrelevant. Farazz did not last long as a sandwich artist, but he did impart his special brand of wisdom unto me before he was fired.

Is it a sin to roll a joint with Bible pages? Probably. This very topic has actually been discussed at Yahoo! Answers. See for yourself.

Anyway, here's an excerpt from the part of Paradise Squandered I'm talking about:
“Death?” I hear David saying, or asking, quietly. 
A wave of panic, or paranoia, hits me, and I turn to look at David.

“Wha—what do you mean?” I whisper. I don't want whoever this woman is to hear me. I don't know why, but something about her terrifies me. My mind reels as David sits there silently, his eyes focused on the creepy woman in white. Summoning courage, I turn back to face her again. 
My eyes are glued to the woman as she passes in front of us. All is silent save for the sounds of the gently churning waves. Even the rustling of foliage in the wind seems to have ceased. All is calm. At least everything around me is calm. My mind is anything but calm. I turn once more towards David, giving him an inquisitive stare, hoping he'll say something to alleviate my terror. 
“Sermon's over,” he finally says, grinning his usual contented grin. He buries what's left of the joint in the sand in front of him. 
I sigh. “What did you say about death?” 
“Huh? Oh. I dunno. I was just thinking about something.” 
“About death?” 
“Sort of,” he chuckles. “The lady in white is supposed to be a death omen,” he says very matter-of-factly. 
I swallow hard. My mind races, all sorts of absurd images flashing before it. 
“Who thinks that?” I ask, feeling ridiculous for feeling so uncomfortable. 
“I dunno. Lots of people, I think. Well, I think lots of people used to think that at least. I remember hearing about it in English class once. The lady in white is supposedly culturally significant to a lot of cultures, I guess.” 
I look back towards the shore, scanning the area where I think the woman should be, but she's not there. A shiver runs down my spine. I look behind me. I look all around, but everything is dark. I turn my confused attention back to David. 
“Who do you think she's coming for?” he asks, nodding towards the condos. 
I look back at the shore to find the woman crossing through the well-defined line of coconut and banana trees, dense foliage, and clusters of flowers that separate the condo's version of a tropical paradise from an actual one. She climbs atop the Mokihana seawall and just stands there, facing the resort, somehow brightly illuminated by the distant outdoor lighting. Her eerie white gown blows gently in the breeze. 
“Hey, man, what are you getting all weird for?” he asks me. 
“What do you mean?” 
“You look like you just saw a ghost.” 
I pause for a moment, thinking about how much to admit. “I sort of feel like I just saw a ghost.” 
David just grins back at me. 
“She's so creepy. Where the hell did she come from?” I ask. 
“I don't know. Somewhere over there,” he says, gesturing with his head towards the other end of the beach. 
I look out at the other end of the beach, but all I see is darkness. 
“Why don't you ask her?” 
Another wave of panic hits me upon hearing these words, and I turn to look in her direction. The direction I think I should look. She's walking towards us again, once more gliding silently over the wet sand. I turn to look at David. He just grins back at me, making me feel even more uncomfortable, making me feel childish, irrational and fearful. 
“Good evening,” David says to the ghost.
On a trip to Kauai when I was 18 years old, I learned of local folklore regarding a White Lady from Ambrose Curry. My friend and I rented surfboards from him. We also asked him questions about things to do on the island, and somehow this topic came up.

I was pretty intrigued by this idea, but, alas, I was unable to find a White Lady myself. This was not due to lack of effort on my part, though; I spent a lot of time wandering around at night on this trip.

I did, however, meet a hitchhiker that looked strikingly like Jesus. That was a small victory of sorts. is a website devoted to, well, things that are weird in Hawaii. I spent a little time there conducting research for the lady in white part in my book. Conducting research is probably overstating wheat I actually did. Really, I just read creepy stories. This one in particular stood out: Pele in the Tunnel of Trees.
As he entered the tree tunnel, he noticed an old lady dressed in white hitchhiking in the middle of the night. He thought it odd, but just kept driving and stepped on the accelerator to get out of the tunnel as fast as possible. He did not recall the events that took place after this; all he remembers is his car had skidded to the side of the road and stalled. When he looked in his rear view mirror the old lady dressed in white was sitting in his back seat. Read the full story

Monday, June 10, 2013

Master Heg Robinson - Telekinesis Demonstration

As this video clearly illustrates, Heg Robinson is a tele-kenetic master.

I am genuinely interested in understanding what is happening in this video. If anyone reading this has any insight into this, please post a comment.

I came across this video while attempting to do research for a writing project I've been working on. I blogged about this the other day: When a Ghost Becomes a Vampire. This video was not the slightest bit helpful in that regard, but I'm not disappointed I happened upon it.

I've always been quite curious about the roots of peoples' actions that the majority of society immediately perceive as crazy. In fact, some of the more bizarre things I've witnessed have inspired me to write. But I feel like I have often been too quick to judge and make fun of these things. I'm trying hard not to act this way anymore. I'm trying to be more constructive and less cynical.

As a writer, I've found myself constantly questioning the value of the words and images I choose to share. I've come to appreciate the courage (or ignorance, or vanity) it takes to put one's own "art" out there for anyone to judge.

I have also, more recently, started to realize and appreciate the difficulty involved in writing a fair review of other people's work. Paradise Squandered, my debut novel, has been out for a while now and has received a fair number or reviews, most of them overwhelmingly positive. But there have been critical reviews of my book as well. The most thoughtful critical review of my book thus far was written by Paul Cosca: REVIEW: Paradise Squandered.

When I began reading this review for the first time, I started to cringe. I worried that Paul's characterization of my protagonist as a "hipster" that he hated and couldn't sympathize with meant that he hated my book as well. As I continued reading, I was relieved to realize that this wasn't the case, and that he actually really liked my book. 

I was impressed by Paul's ability to separate his negative feelings toward my protagonist from his assessment of other aspects of my book.

I recently began writing reviews of other peoples' work. I feel like it is only fair for me to reciprocate in this way. But taking the time to formulate a coherent, honest review is a lot tougher than I expected it to be. So, to everyone who has taken the time to review my work, thank you.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Prancercise: The Art of Physical and Spiritual Excellence

For a long time, I felt like something was missing from my life. Growing up, I did everything society told me to do with my life. I graduated from college, got married, started a family, but I still felt like something was missing from my life.

That is, until I discovered Prancersise.

Since my first prance around the block, I've felt like a new man. Colors are more vivid. Food tastes better. My wife is proud of my new, leaner, more horse-like physique. My son respects me (you should see how he looks at me now). My cat no longer bites me.

Joanna Rohrback invented Prancercise, "a springy, rhythmic way of moving forward, similar to a horse's gait and ideally induced by elation," way back in 1989, but for some reason it didn't catch on. Clearly, Rohrback was ahead of her time.

As Rohrback explains on her website, “This form of movement, along with dietary and spiritual principles can create the most satisfying, holistic and successful fitness program one could hope to experience. I encourage anyone who is ready for a huge change in their lives, from the way they see the world, to the way they see themselves to explore the principles inherent in this program, especially as outlined in my book: Prancercise®: The Art of Physical and Spiritual Excellence.”


This book changed my life, and it could change yours too. Possibly for the better. But don't take my word for it, take a look at some of these incredible reviews:
I was dealing with severe depression and anxiety...and the occasional bout with cameltoe. Prancercise has helped me escape my own personal swamps of sadness.
This book finally let me experience my inner-horse. I was like a child again, prancing through the woods. At one point, I was convinced I had 4 legs. A smile radiated from my face. I punched the sky, knowing that I was free. Call me Prancer, for I walk my path with joy.
In the last year, I've gone from a couch-potato who wore a shirt in the pool to a lean and mean UFC fighter, and recently became the first person to hold championship titles in all eight weight classes simultaneously. Joanna said, "It's better to be punching into space than in your face," and I'm sure my opponents would agree, as my Prancercise Box technique is unstoppable. It was tough getting my now-chiseled frame down to 125 lbs to win the flyweight belt, but that's where the rest of the Prancercise program did its magic. All it took was a strict regimen of "galloping" for 90 minutes per day, plus a balanced diet of hay and water, and the pounds just melted off. And my cardio went through the roof!
Look, I know how it sounds, and I know you're probably thinking that either I am sitting here being facetious or that I am a total nutcase. But I promise you that I am sincere, and that I am at least sane enough to be an independently living adult with a full time job. So, I mean, that's something. I implore you to pick up this book and give Prancercise a chance. It has changed my life. I went from lazy, lethargic, barely having enough energy to squeeze into my size 6T Pinkie Pie pajamas (they need to start making these for adults). Now I am full of energy, life, joie de vivre. I am a new me. A new pony. I do not skulk around, I PRANCE. I prance PROUDLY and with gusto.
At first I was skeptical, but after convincing several of my co-workers to try prancercise, I am a believer. I lead a daily prancercise at work and people come out of their office, prancercise for a while and the go back to work. Afterward we high-five, enjoy an orange mocha frappuccino, and head back to work knowing we let our inner-horse out to pasture.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

When a ghost becomes a vampire

Lately I've been looking for ideas for a short story I’m working on. The story involves a ghost, or some sort of entity, and it will be based at least in part on something I myself experienced 10 or 12 years ago.

So I've been searching for stories related to the paranormal, but I keep ending up distracted by "news" stories.

Last night I stumbled upon an article about a guy in Tasmania who set up a camera in his kitchen hoping to record paranormal activity, but instead he ended up documenting his girlfriend of 11 years having sex with his 16 year old son.

Ghost Hunting Dad Sets Up Video Camera, Films His Girlfriend Having Sex With His Underage Son

What I really want to find is an interesting narrative. I'm most interested in different ways these types of stories are told. I'm interested in style, not content. If you have any short story suggestions for me, I'd love to hear them.

Earlier today I found a link to the first 2 chapters of a book written by a 9th grade girl on Reddit: In 9th grade I wanted to be a writer. Here's an excerpt for those of you too busy or lazy to click the link:
I finished my chores silently, and hurried up to my room. Good, I finished at a nice time. 9:33. Perfectly dark, which leaves my tiny room even darker, more isolated. Just the way I like it. 
I slipped into my black pajamas and bounced onto my bed for the night. Finally. I was so tired, I guess Prince Edmund was the blame for that. Ha. 
I quickly fell into a deep sleep, while tears rolled down my face. Again. Read more.
Check out the cover art:

When a Ghost Becomes a Vampire

The first 2 chapters left me with more questions than answers. What does happen when a ghost becomes a vampire? I really feel like I need to know the answer to this question now.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Steve Holt!

Steve Holt (aka Justin Wade) is so excited about the upcoming season of Arrested Development that he is throwing a party at his LA apartment this Sunday. Annyong will be there. I just read an article about it. See for yourself:

Throwing EPIC 'Arrested Development' Party

I'm pretty excited about Season 4 also, but my plans for this Sunday are far less ambitious (I'll be spending some quality time with my couch). I'm also kinda nervous, though. The first 3 Seasons set the bar pretty high. What if Season 4 sucks? I guess I'll have to take my chances (and maybe have a few beers).

Mitch Hurwitz Explains His Arrested Development Rules: Watch New Episodes in Order, and Not All at Once

So, I guess the original concept for Season 4 was that the episodes were meant to be able to be watched in any order. Sort of like a choose your own adventure book. Except good. And with far less reading required. (Really, who reads in this day and age?)

But I guess Mr. Hurwitz changed his mind after production ended.
Our brains like to make stories out of things and that requires order. I pretty quickly realized everything here is about the order of telling the stories, that there will be shows where you find out a little bit of information and then later shows where you revisit the scene and you find out more information — and that’s not fun in reverse. Read more
He also suggests that binge watching isn't the way to go.
Don’t feel obligated to watch it all at once. It’s a comedy! It’s not like Lord of the Rings. Comedy takes a lot out of you.
Which is the complete opposite of what Gob, I mean Will Arnett, said in a Rolling Stone interview.
I think you just gotta hit play and don't stop until you run out of battery on your viewing device.
I'll probably be following Gob's advice here. (When has that ever turned out well?)

Check out the official Arrested Development Season 4 trailer: