Sunday, February 24, 2013

I've been sick...with Oscar madness (plus, my predictions)

Edited 2/25/13 to include the actual winners. Headers in orange are my correctly guessed (one way or the other) picks!

Yes, yes, I know. I have an entire manuscript that needs serious revisions, another that is a few chapters shy of being finished, critiques I owe to friends, workshop assignments to complete, and...I don't even know what else. And (whispers shamefully) I've done hardly any of it for a couple of weeks. This is the point where you should yell, "For the love of Cheetos, Angie! What have you been doing?!? What is WRONG with you?!?"

Oscar madness. Plain and simple. Stupid Oscar madness.

My best friend and I always say we're going to watch every single movie that has been nominated, and every year, we watch maybe four or five, tops. Last year we made it halfway through the handy-dandy Oscar nominees list available on the official Oscars website. This year, we made a vow. We were gonna get serious about it. We were going to do our darnedest to watch Every. Single. One. Some how, some way, in between the pesky day job, sleep, eating, and editing and writing...I challenged myself to do it! And kudos to my best friend, who came down with a vision problem in December and watched these with impaired eyesight.

So did we succeed? of course not.

I'm now thoroughly convinced you can only watch all of the nominees if you are a member of the Academy. I am not a member of the Academy, and I don't think anyone who is actually a member watches every nominated project. I mean, we're talking hours and hours in front of a TV or movie screen. At some point, your eyes start to twitch and your mind wanders and questions, "Why am I doing this again? Oh yeah. Cause I'm going for my merit badge in weird. That's why." Plus, you know, I really love movies.

Out of the 53 films nominated, my friend and I have seen 41. That means we haven't seen 12 of the nominees. (I think. I'm horrible at math, so that could be off by a few numbers, but still). Gah! So close. If only we had another week!

However, I thought I'd put down my predictions here in case, by some miracle, I actually know what I'm talking about. In which case, it will be preserved for posterity's sake. And because I'm also procrastinating on the above list of to-do items...

Best Picture:
Who I think will win: Lincoln
Who I think SHOULD win: Silver Linings Playbook
(Both were great movies, but SLP truly was better, in my opinion)

Best Actress:
Who I think will win: Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
Who I think SHOULD win: Emmanuelle Riva, Amour
(I'm a big JLaw fan, but Ms. Riva was amazing in this incredibly depressing foreign film. AMAZING.)
WINNER: Jennifer Lawrence

Best Actor:
Who I think will win: Daniel Day Lewis, Lincoln
Who I think SHOULD win: Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook
(No offense to Mr. Lewis, who was great, but I was never a Bradley Cooper fan until SLP. I actually did not like Bradley Cooper until SLP. He showed a range I've never seen from him before, so I think he honestly deserves it. Also, why wasn't John Hawkes nominated for The Sessions? Biggest oversight in all the categories, if you ask me).
WINNER: Daniel Day Lewis

Best Supporting Actress:
Who I think will win: Anne Hathaway, Les Mesirables
Who I think SHOULD win: Anne Hathaway, Les Mesirables
(Enough said)
WINNER: Anne Hathaway

Best Supporting Actor:
Who I think will win: Robert DeNiro, Silver Linings Playbook
Who I think SHOULD win: Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained
(This is a tough category, cause I like them all, but Mr. Waltz truly stole the screen in Django)
WINNER: Christoph Waltz

Best Director:
Who I think will win: Steven Spielburg, Lincoln
Who I think SHOULD win: David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook
(In case you can't tell, I really liked SLP)
WINNER: Ang Lee, Life of Pi

Best Original Screenplay:
Who I think will win: Zero Dark Thirty
Who I think SHOULD win: Zero Dark Thirty
WINNER: Quentin Tarantino, Django Unchained

Best Adapted Screenplay:
Who I think will win: David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook
Who I think SHOULD win: David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook

Best Animated Feature:
Who I think will win: Brave
Who I think SHOULD win: Wreck-It-Ralph 
(I loved Wreck-It-Ralph more than I should probably admit :)

Best Foreign Film:
Who I think will win: Amour
Who I think SHOULD win: Amour - but only because I haven't seen the other nominees!
Winner: Amour

Best Cinematography:
Who I think will win: Lincoln
Who I think SHOULD win: Lincoln or Skyfall
Winner: Life of Pi

Best Costume Design:
Who I think will win: Les Miserables
Who I think SHOULD win: Lincoln
Winner: Anna Karenina

Best Production Design:
Who I think will win: Lincoln
Who I think SHOULD win: Anna Karenina
WINNER: Lincoln

Best Documentary Feature:
Who I think will win: 5 Broken Cameras
Who I think SHOULD win: The Invisible War
(Seriously, you should watch The Invisible War on Netflix. Wow. Just wow.)
WINNER: Searching for Sugar Man

Best Documentary Short:
Who I think will win: Open Heart
Who I think SHOULD win: Mondays at Racine or King's Point or Open Heart
(Oh my crackers, this was a tough category. All great entries)
WINNER: Inocente

Best Film Editing:
Who I think will win: Argo
Who I think SHOULD win: Zero Dark Thirty

Best Makeup:
Who I think will win: The Hobbit
Who I think SHOULD win: Les Miserables
(In fairness, I didn't see Hitchcock or The Hobbit. I'm totally guessing on this one)
WINNER: Les Miserables

Best Original Score:
Who I think will win: Life of Pi
Who I think SHOULD win: Life of Pi
WINNER: Life of Pi

Best Original Song:
Who I think will win: Les Miserables
Who I think SHOULD win: Les Miserables
WINNER: Skyfall

Best Animated Short:
Who I think will win: Paperman
Who I think SHOULD win: Paperman or Adam and Dog
WINNER: Paperman

Best Live-Action Short:
Who I think will win: Assad
Who I think SHOULD win: Curfew or Henry or Death of a Shadow
(Oh my crackers, this was another tough category. Mostly great entries)
WINNER: Curfew

Best Sound Editing:
Who I think will win: Life of Pi
Who I think SHOULD win: Life of Pi
WINNER: Zero Dark Thirty and Skyfall

Best Sound Mixing:
Who I think will win: Life of Pi
Who I think SHOULD win: Skyfall
WINNER: Les Miserables

Best Visual Effects:
Who I think will win: Life of Pi
Who I think SHOULD win: The Avengers
WINNER: Life of Pi

That said, my favorite films nominated this year were Silver Linings Playbook, Argo, Lincoln, and Wreck-It-Ralph, oh, and The Avengers, of course. But honestly, I can count on three fingers the number of nominees I saw and absolutely did not like. The rest were...pretty darn good!

See you on the red carpet in my living room!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Fun Friday Q&A: Shawna Thomas revisits!

I'm really happy to host one of my favorite new (well, sort of new) authors today...again. Okay, truth. Shawna's debut book completely won me over last year, so she's been here before. I'm also sure I stalk follow her more on social media than she'd probably like, especially when you consider how crazy busy her schedule is. I seriously doubt she has time for stalker-types. Even so and since she has a new book out—the first in a new series!—I invited her to revisit my blog and catch up. And since I have already read this book, I can tell you that you're in for another treat.

Book one of the Triune Stones
After her grandfather's death, Sara inherits an ancient pendant and a near-impossible quest—master the mysterious pendant's source of magic. Driven to do so, she must find the other two stones of power, long considered lost, while preventing an unknown enemy from finding her first.
Unprepared and alone, she travels to where the keepers of the stones, the Siobani, were last seen. Along the way she meets Tobar, leader of the nomadic Heleini tribe. As Sara wrestles with feelings for this intriguing man, she is also invigorated with her grandfather's passion to find the ancient Siobani race.
After a rival tribe kidnaps Tobar's son and heir, Sara must harness the stone's healing magic to unite the tribes and save the boy. But as the dark power stalking her gains ground, will she continue on her quest to reach the Siobani or risk everything to save the warring tribes from eliminating each other?
Shawna Thomas
ANGELA: Welcome to my blog again, Shawna! It’s been almost a year since you were last here. Your book ALTERED DESTINY, which I loved loved loved won the RT Reviewers Choice Award for 2011 and you signed a three-book contract with Carina Press. You also had a baby! Congratulations! Sounds like you’ve had a busy year! How do you juggle it all and manage to keep writing? Seriously, I feel like an underachiever compared to you.

SHAWNA: Ah, thank you and thank you so much for having me on your blog, Angela! Sometimes I get discouraged because I’m not as prolific as I’d like to be. So no need to feel like an underachiever! I fall in to that same pit from time to time. I couldn’t juggle any of it without help. For instance, right now my husband has taken over baby duty so I can talk to you. I can hear him singing to her in the living room. There are times the laundry piles up and my room is a cluttered mess, but I’m learning to prioritize. Oh, Carina exercised their option on the fourth book in the Triune Series so there will be four!

ANGELA: Four books! That's fantastic! Tell us about JOURNEY OF AWAKENING and the Triune Stones series. Where did the idea for the story come from?

SHAWNA: The idea for this book originated as a dream. I dreamed about a woman named Ilythra and a prince. I’ve looked up the name and I’m pretty sure it’s original to my imagination. Ilythra wouldn’t leave me alone. She haunted me; the feeling of the dream haunted me—the world she lived in. Images and snatches of conversation followed me around. Finally I started writing everything long hand on the back of a piece of paper. (I still have it somewhere.) I suppose, looking back, it was my journey of awakening to the fact I was, and am, a writer. Yes, I’m a little bit corny, too. ; )

ANGELA: Aren't we all? ;) Tell us about your heroine in this one, Sara. Is she as awesome as Selia from ALTERED DESTINY was? 

SHAWNA: I’m glad you think Selia is awesome. I’m kinda fond of her, too. Sara is a different kind of awesome. Selia was bad ass from day one. Sara is much more reserved, a little na├»ve, and has a lot to learn. However, she shares Selia’s I-can-do-it-so-get-out-of-the-way attitude. Sara has had a burden on her shoulders since the day she was born. She lived, breathed and studied to accomplish a task given to her by her grandfather. Eventually she has to decide if the task is something her grandfather wanted for her, or something she wants for herself.

ANGELA: I know book 1 is just being released, but any teases about what book 2 in the series is about? When can we expect that one? 

SHAWNA: Book 2, Journey of Dominion, will release in May of 2013. If book one is the awakening of a legend, book 2 is the fall of a legend. LOL Enough said. Book 3 will be out in August.

ANGELA: What are you working on next, and when can we read it? 

SHAWNA: I am currently working on book four in the Triune Stone series. I believe it will be out early 2014, but I don’t have a date yet.

ANGELA: Let’s get to know Shawna the person with these questions. I know you love to cook (and especially bake), so what’s your favorite comfort food? 

SHAWNA: Believe it or not, it’s hash: cubed fried potatoes and crumbled ground beef mixed together. I eat it with ketchup and wrap it in a tortilla. It’s fast and easy and takes me back to my childhood. Second to that would be roast beef and mashed potatoes. I may love to experiment with fancy dishes but it’s the simple ones that comfort me.

ANGELA: Which five people (real, fictional, historical) would you invite to dinner and why? 

SHAWNA: Stephen King—although I can’t read his books because they give me nightmares, I admire him immensely; Nathan from Altered Destiny—I’d really like to get to know this character better so I can tell his story; Nora Roberts—I think she’d be as witty as she is talented; Carlos Guzman—It might sound sentimental, but I honestly couldn’t think of this dinner without my other half; Crystal Posey—because she’d kill me if I didn’t invite her to any dinner in which Nora Roberts was in attendance and it might just take that to get the woman to fly to California. She’s afraid of earthquakes.

ANGELA: What’s the last book you read? 

SHAWNA: Steele’s Edge by Ilona Andrews. Love everything by Ilona Andrews. The couple making up Ilona Andrews was on the short list for a dinner invitation above.

ANGELA: Celebrity crush? 

SHAWNA: I pondered this aloud and my husband says it’s Johnny Depp. Who am I to argue with him. ; )

ANGELA: I would like to thank Shawna for visiting with me today! She's such a nice gal, she's giving away prizes! She's giving this beautiful blue pendant away to someone who comments on one of her blog posts (including this one) from Feb. 4 to March 4. You can also comment at her blog and the Carina Press blog.

You can learn more about Shawna Thomas online at

Friday, February 8, 2013

Still here. Wait. Why is there a cat on my head?

It's nice to think some of you check this blog regularly and have been wondering if my absence meant I was abducted by aliens, but sadly, no. No aliens. Unless we're talking Alien-type aliens here, and then it's GLADLY, no. See, I was imagining E.T. to begin with, and—


This proves a point though. Lately, my mind has been more scattered than the plot of Battleship. I've been pulled in so many different directions, it's a miracle I've gotten anything accomplished. Work. Family drama. Friendship obligations. You know, life stuff. And my cat, who thwarts my every effort to get any serious writing done. Seriously, y'all, she's a pest. Last night she laid on my head while I was on the laptop writing, and when that didn't work, she decided to just plant herself on my chest instead. See that half-a-face underneath her fat butt? Yeah, that's me. I mentioned it was bedtime, right? Don't judge.

But, I'm back now and determined to be productive, pesky cats and all. I've been furiously revising a manuscript with the hopes of sending it out into the world of publishing again. I've signed up to take Angela James' famous BEFORE YOU HIT SEND workshop to polish it before I do so. Wish me luck.

Point is, I'm still here. Still writing. There's probably still a cat on my head, too. No aliens though.

I'm thinking that's a good thing.


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