Authors always talk about how music influences their writing, and some authors even create soundtracks that they write to. Four authors, Quinn Loftis, Amanda Havard, Amy Bartol, and Chelsea Fine took it one step further by creating original music to go with their books.


The UtopYA 2013 Convention took place at the end of June in Nashville, TN. For the UtopYA Awards ceremony, Amanda Havard worked alongside three other young adult authors to write a song for each one of their books, including her own. These songs were performed at the Awards Ceremony at UtopYA by Amanda Havard and Erica Erwin.

There was such a response from the attendees, asking if they could get a copy of the songs that the four authors decided they would get them recorded and available for their readers. Now, we have the finished product and they are available for download, as well as videos to go along with them, up on YouTube.

Along with the music videos to check out we also have interviews with the four authors and a really cool giveaway.

Describe your book in 5 words
Quinn Loftis: Romance, action, werewolves, best friends, victory.
Amy A. Bartol: Wicked, damn, sexy, angel, love.
Amanda Havard: Supernatural, dark, demented, adventurous, addictive.
Chelsea Fine: Fountain of Youth. Forbidden love.

What is the hardest line to write- the first or the last?
Quinn Loftis: First.

Amy A. Bartol: For me, the hardest line to write is the first line. It sets the tone of the entire book.  It’s the hook.  You should know if you want to read the story after you read the first sentence, so…no pressure.  I feel like the end always takes care of itself.

Amanda Havard: I’m sure it depends on the book, but I planned the opening sentence of each of the Survivors books in advance, so I guess the last lines are the ones that have taken a bit more effort to select.

Chelsea Fine: The first line! I’m always really nervous and careful about my opening lines.

What about music inspires you to write or what about writing inspires creating music?
Quinn Loftis: Music creates emotions, strong emotions and I’m able to use that emotion and put it into a scene.

Amy A. Bartol: Ernest Hemingway said, “There is nothing to writing, all you do is sit down at the typewriter and bleed.”  If that is true, then to me, music is the razor blade. When I listen to music while I write, I find different worlds between the notes. Each song has a new tale that builds like floodwater. It helps me to abandon the logical part of my mind for a more creative, visceral one.

Amanda Havard: Music is a particularly emotionally-charged form of storytelling, and so it’s a natural pairing to other forms of storytelling. I love that the right song is a soundscape; it’s the soundtrack to the movie scene going in my head when I write, and so it helps me set the tone, get the mood, imagine the faint but important details, and really situate characters in the moment. And when I write music for books, it works in reverse. I’m harnessing the scene and channeling it back into sounds. The whole thing is a cyclical kind of creative magic for me.

Chelsea Fine: When I listen to music, I can “see” my story playing out — kind of like a music video — and it makes my characters and setting come to life in my mind.

Best writing tip you’ve ever received?
Quinn Loftis: Write every scene so that when it ends the reader is thinking I have to know what’s going to happen next, the entire book should be written so that the reader is constantly saying this.

Amy A. Bartol: Be yourself; everyone else is already taken. –Oscar Wilde.  (He didn’t actually tell me that personally, I sort of read into it.)  *wink*

Amanda Havard: Write the story you know you must. (A close second, an ever-important truth: Every debut writer makes the same point three times. Find the one way to say it best, and cut the others.)

Chelsea Fine: Write your heart out and be fearless! Both are hard to do, but incredibly important to my storytelling. I write what I feel, and then I have to trust myself enough to let other people read it — eeek! But it’s SO worth it!

What one young adult novel do you wish you had when you were a teen? Why?
Quinn Loftis: Onyx by Jennifer L Armentrout, because it’s an extremely unique and intriguing idea and a wonderful escape with great characters.

Amy A. Bartol: I wish I had the novel I Am The Messenger by Markus Zusak when I was a teenager. The story is about Ed Kennedy, an underage cabdriver who has a coffee-drinking dog named The Doorman and a secret crush on his best friend Audrey. Ed has a peaceful routine until the day he inadvertently stops a bank robbery. After that day, Ed becomes the messenger.

The book, written in the first person present tense, is funny and heart pounding and sad and euphoric. It reads like you can step into Ed’s shoes, breathe his air, and see what he is seeing. In short, it’s amazing. There is a message at the end of the story that when I read it, struck me as if it had been written just for me. It says: “Maybe everyone can live beyond what they’re capable of…I’m not the messenger at all. I’m the message.”

After reading it, I knew instantly that I had to try to write a book because maybe I was able to live beyond what I always thought I was capable of. If I had read that novel when I was a teenager, maybe I would’ve started writing earlier.

Amanda Havard: Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld. I doubt anyone marketed that as YA as it’s adult literary fiction, but it’s about a high school girl whose experiences were similar to my own at that age, and when her character was being an idiot, I probably could have used reading about it to realize I was being the same kind of idiot. I read it as an adult, and even then it still hit close to home. I wonder if I wouldn’t have figured out more about myself sooner if I’d had such an honest reflection in text. (Sittenfeld is my favorite author, by the way. If you haven’t read her, then you must. Every now and again, we all ought to reach our hands into the waters of literary fiction and see things through a different lens than we typically do.)

Chelsea Fine: Divergent by Veronica Roth. Growing up, I felt like Tris — like I belonged somewhere else, or could be awesome at something else, I just didn’t know what. When I read Divergent, I was like, “Yes, Tris! You don’t need to be Abnagation. You can be anything you want! Go for Dauntless!” I wish I had experienced that kind of bravery when I was a teenager. But I guess it’s never too late to become who you were meant to be… ;)

From Quinn Loftis’ PRINCE OF WOLVES
A Mate, A Match, A Mark
iTunes Download – http://bit.ly/MateMatchMark
From Amy A. Bartol’s The Premonition Series
Darkness In the Light 
iTunes Download – http://bit.ly/DarknessLight
From Chelsea Fine’s Archers of Avalon Series
Electricity
iTunes Download – http://bit.ly/ElectricitySong
 
From Amanda Havard’s The Survivors: BODY & BLOOD
Human 
iTunes Download – http://bit.ly/HumanSong

GIVEAWAY
The giveaway includes 1 soundtrack and 1 signed copy of each book, to coincide with the soundtrack, and 1 ticket to UtopYA 2013 which Includes:
-3-day pass for Conference,
-fan admission to Public Book Signing event,
-general admission to Third Annual utopYA Awards & Afterparty,
-admission to Sunday Write-In.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Newt’s brother was assigned to search for Grindelwald, new ‘Fantastic Beasts’ prop letter reveals

This likely has major implications for future Fantastic Beasts movies.

1:06 pm EST, December 9, 2016

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them included a mention of Newt Scamander’s “war hero” brother Theseus, and now it looks like the reference was something to think twice about.

Earlier this week Warner Brothers’ Los Angeles Studio Tour refreshed their Harry Potter exhibit with new props from Fantastic Beasts, and in one display is a letter from Theseus to Newt. Take a look at the photos thanks to Snitch Seeker:

fantastic-beasts-theseus-scamander

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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them included a mention of Newt Scamander’s “war hero” brother Theseus, and now it looks like the reference was something to think twice about.

Earlier this week Warner Brothers’ Los Angeles Studio Tour refreshed their Harry Potter exhibit with new props from Fantastic Beasts, and in one display is a letter from Theseus to Newt. Take a look at the photos thanks to Snitch Seeker:

fantastic-beasts-theseus-scamander

fantastic-beasts-theseus-newt-grindelwald

The letter reveals that Theseus was tasked with searching for Grindelwald himself — a very interesting development for this film series. Though some words on the letter can’t be seen due to another prop covering them up, the note to Newt appears to suggest that Theseus was honored to be assigned the role. Here’s what it says, again courtesy Snitch Seeker:

Well, little brother,

I don’t know how much you have heard wherever you are about what’s going on in jolly old Europe but this chap Grindelwald has been making a lot of noise since you have been away.

Charismatic blighter, but the Ministry doesn’t like him and nor does the International Confederation.

He has upset a few of the big wheels and he’s gone underground. I have been chosen to go away and ferret him out. _______ at the chance to be picked, actually, because the whole _______ want to be on this case and it’s taken some _______ hard work to reach this status.

_______ wishing you well – wherever you are. _______ whatever beastly quests you are undertaking!

Best regards,

Theseus

The fact that this letter was made for the movie is very interesting. It suggests that Theseus at one point may’ve had a larger role in the movie — or at least, he could’ve been referenced more than once.

Further, this letter could mean that Theseus’ll have an on-screen role in future movies. In fact, Theseus’ role as Grindelwald Hunter could be J.K. Rowling’s ticket to getting Newt deeply involved with the search for Grindelwald.

johnny-depp-grindelwald

Theseus will surely be pleased to hear that his brother helped capture Grindelwald. Theory time: What if Theseus dies in a future Fantastic Beasts movie as the fight against Grindelwald (inevitably) continues? What if this leads Newt to avenge his brother’s death?

What else do we know about the character? Not much, but Snitch Seeker says that during an interview with Colin Farrell the actor revealed Theseus “was a British Auror with whom his character, Percival Graves, corresponded.”

How do you think Theseus will play into future ‘Fantastic Beasts’ movies?

Daily Show host Trevor Noah takes his experiences growing up in South Africa and puts them together in Born a Crime for our entertainment and enlightenment.

‘Born a Crime’ by Trevor Noah

The compelling, inspiring, and comically sublime story of one man’s coming-of-age, set during the twilight of apartheid and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed.

Trevor Noah’s unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents’ indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the earliest years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, steal him away. Finally liberated by the end of South Africa’s tyrannical white rule, Trevor and his mother set forth on a grand adventure, living openly and freely and embracing the opportunities won by a centuries-long struggle.

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Daily Show host Trevor Noah takes his experiences growing up in South Africa and puts them together in Born a Crime for our entertainment and enlightenment.

‘Born a Crime’ by Trevor Noah

The compelling, inspiring, and comically sublime story of one man’s coming-of-age, set during the twilight of apartheid and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed.

Trevor Noah’s unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents’ indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the earliest years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, steal him away. Finally liberated by the end of South Africa’s tyrannical white rule, Trevor and his mother set forth on a grand adventure, living openly and freely and embracing the opportunities won by a centuries-long struggle.

Born a Crime is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. It is also the story of that young man’s relationship with his fearless, rebellious, and fervently religious mother — his teammate, a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse that would ultimately threaten her own life.

The stories collected here are by turns hilarious, dramatic, and deeply affecting. Whether subsisting on caterpillars for dinner during hard times, being thrown from a moving car during an attempted kidnapping, or just trying to survive the life-and-death pitfalls of dating in high school, Trevor illuminates his curious world with an incisive wit and unflinching honesty. His stories weave together to form a moving and searingly funny portrait of a boy making his way through a damaged world in a dangerous time, armed only with a keen sense of humor and a mother’s unconventional, unconditional love.

Born a Crime Trevor Noah

‘Born a Crime’ book review

Trevor Noah is best known for his current hosting gig on The Daily Show where he had huge shoes to fill following Jon Stewart’s departure — shoes that he has, by the way, filled with grace, humor, and a sharp wit.

Noah has been candid about growing up in South Africa under Apartheid and the troubling parallels he sees developing in the United States, especially since Donald Trump’s rise to power, but Born a Crime puts a spotlight on his childhood adventures in a way that his segments on The Daily Show cannot.

Born a Crime is an interesting mix of heartbreak and humor. There is no denying that Noah’s childhood was not easy. He talks extensively about trying to find a place for himself at school and in life. He was too White for the Black kids and too Black for the White kids. As a child, what do you do when you have nowhere to belong?

You adapt.

Unless it wasn’t abundantly clear already, Trevor Noah is an intelligent man. Born a Crime documents the way he viewed the world and used his situation to his advantage while living in South Africa. He learned dozens of languages, either in part or in full, in order to survive the endless dangers of his hometown. He found a way to make money and build himself a tiny empire using only a computer and his wits. He took what was given to him, which was, honestly, next to nothing, and found a way to make his life fulfilling.

Born a Crime Trevor Noah feature

Noah’s mother has a huge impact on the stories presented in this memoir because she had a huge impact on her son. Strong, independent, stubborn, reliable, hardworking, clever, pious, strict, and loving, Trevor makes it explicitly clear that his mother is the reason he turned out the way he did. We should all give thanks to her.

Her story is tragic, as is growing up under Apartheid, but despite their circumstances, both led vibrant lives in which they became partners in an us-against-the-world kind of way. Hearing Noah speak about his mother infuses you with a warmth and respect for a woman you have never met, and yet that feeling is as genuine as they come.

For his part, Noah was a handful as a child and a teenager, though it’s that spunk and comedy that we so look forward to seeing now. He got into trouble — he even broke the law — but he experienced life and all the ups and downs that comes with it. He is a wealth of knowledge because he has gone far and wide to gather that knowledge himself.

Born a Crime will certainly make you laugh far more than it’ll make you cry, but don’t be so bold as to put the tissues away before the final chapter of the book. This memoir is a lesson in humility, love, faith, and perseverance. Hopefully it will affect you as strongly as it has affected me, especially if you are so lucky as to be able to listen to Noah narrate the book himself on Audible.

Add ‘Born a Crime’ to your Goodreads list or purchase it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or IndieBound

The first full Spider-Man: Homecoming trailer aired on Jimmy Kimmel Live! tonight and we once again got a great look at Tom Holland as Peter Parker.

The first Spider-Man Homecoming trailer is here, and it doesn’t disappoint! In what totally feels like a coming-of-age/high school flick (but with a Marvel twist!), Peter Parker decides he wants to grow up and fight like the Avengers. But is he ready? Maybe with a little help (and no hug) from Tony Stark, he will be.

Watch the full-length trailer for ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming

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The first full Spider-Man: Homecoming trailer aired on Jimmy Kimmel Live! tonight and we once again got a great look at Tom Holland as Peter Parker.

The first Spider-Man Homecoming trailer is here, and it doesn’t disappoint! In what totally feels like a coming-of-age/high school flick (but with a Marvel twist!), Peter Parker decides he wants to grow up and fight like the Avengers. But is he ready? Maybe with a little help (and no hug) from Tony Stark, he will be.

Watch the full-length trailer for ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming

The main theme of Homecoming certainly seems to be Peter’s desire to prove that he’s a capable member of the Avengers team. If you remember in Civil War, Tony wouldn’t let him get too deep into the fight, for fear that he wasn’t ready. But Peter doesn’t want to be treated liked a kid.

Except he definitely is a kid, and it’s a nice break from the other Spider-Man movies we’ve seen so far, which depicted an older Peter Parker that never quite fit the high school vibe.

Tom Holland’s Peter is undoubted an awkward teenager, and the younger character lends itself to a lighter, more humorous tone for the movie. Marvel has always been good at balancing action and comedy in their movies, and Homecoming is already promising to be a fun romp.

We get a lot of great looks at other characters in this trailer, too, including a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo from Donald Glover and Zendaya. Michael Keaton will be playing Vulture, and of course we also get Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man.

How cool was it to see Spidey swinging along next to Iron Man like an equal?

As is often the case for Marvel movies, ABC and Jimmy Kimmel debuted the trailer for Homecoming following pretty high expectations from fans. Did it live up to your hype?

‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ hits theaters on July 7, 2017