Are You Setting Reasonable Goals?

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InsecureWritersSupportGroup

So, today is Insecure Writers Support Group Day, and it could not have come at a better time. But before I start unleashing my fears and insecurities upon you lovely folks, let’s take a moment for those who aren’t familiar with IWSG.

Purpose of IWSG: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Our awesome co-hosts this month are Nancy Gideon, Bob R Milne, Doreen McGettigan, Chrys Fey, Bish Denham, and Pat Garcia! If you can, stop by their blogs and say hello:)

So, I am severely behind on my WIP. Like, so much so I won’t even tell you when I was planning to release the book because at this point, that deadline is laughable. I was supposed to have a beta reader draft ready in June and let’s just say that at the rate I’m able to write, they might get the book on Christmas, 2025.

I’ve been finding it nearly impossible to work on this book and I beat myself up about it quite a bit, but something has dawned on me: perhaps this book is right where it needs to be and I’m the one setting unreasonable deadlines.

I thought I would be able to:

Write at least three books this year.
Maintain another blog (ha!)
Have this current WIP ready for a fall release (double ha!)
Among several other, unrealistic goals

Here’s what I’ve learned, especially since becoming a parent:

I have a better chance at winning the lottery than I do at getting up and being able to write when I want to
Deadlines are beginning to laugh at me
I have to stop being so doggone hard on myself because sometimes the day brings things that you don’t expect, and life won’t end when you’re thrown off schedule. You just have to roll with the punches.

I’m a lot happier since I’ve decided to just roll with things and let life happen. I’ll work on this book when time allows (and work on my million and one side ventures), but in the meanwhile, I’m vowing to stop being so hard on myself and just enjoy life.

What about others?  How do you cope when you don’t meet deadlines? Do you overestimate yourself? I’d love to hear your thoughts!


How do you Approach Blurb Writing?

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Happy Monday, Everybody! I hope that everyone had a nice, relaxing weekend, unlike yours truly, who recently discovered that:

  1. After years of having no trouble with the sun, I now have trouble with the sun. Hence, le sun rash.
  2. I’m allergic to sun screen.

As you can imagine, it’s been an interesting few days. To keep things from getting complicated, I’m just telling people that I’m allergic to the sun and staying in for the next week or so. I don’t mind. I can get caught up on Orange is The New Black and finish a little something called that doggone novel of mine.

And speaking of the doggone novel, I’ve been messing around with my book blurb. I thought, “This story is pretty straight forward. I shouldn’t have any problems boiling it down to its essence and summarizing the plot in just a few paragraphs.”

I would have done better if I’d have just slapped myself. I mean, don’t get me wrong, the blurb is on its way, but it still reeks of first draftness. One thing that’s helping me is something I learned while sitting in on a pitching session at a writers conference: give them the meat first. Prior to this, I always thought of blurbs like I did my story: save the climax for later. But listening to agents give feedback on several pitches, they all had the same thing to say: “You know, my ears perked up when you got to the part about ________________. Why didn’t you start there???”

I thought, “Start with the hooky stuff? Really?” So I’m keeping that in mind as I draft my blurb. I know the basics:

1. Give the reader a sense of beginning, middle, and end, all without giving the story away.
2. Don’t be too elusive. I obviously don’t want to give away any spoilers, but there are certain details that won’t ruin the story that will make a reader go, “Oooh! That sounds intriguing!”
3. Don’t introduce too many characters because I don’t have that much time and readers might get confused.
4. Don’t cram in everything I know about the novel, including the backstory that didn’t even make the cut.
5. Leave on a note that hints at something juicy; some conflict, some danger–all without giving away all the goods.

But, like any writer, my problem is this: I find it difficult to be objective when it comes to my own stuff–which is one of the reasons I never edit my own novels. Or cut my own hair.  I will say this: writing blurbs is waaay easier for me than writing a logline, which I’ll never try again unless world peace depends on it. Boil down the essence of my novel in just one sentence??? Cue the beads of sweat on my forehead.

So keep your fingers crossed for me! I might even have something to share with you guys in the next couple of weeks:)

What about others? How do you feel about writing blurbs? Love it? Hate it? Easy peasy? I’d love to hear your thoughts!


What are you Writing?

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So, I’m just about done with my WIP. Well, almost, but not really. My live-in nanny (a.k.a. “Quanie’s mama”) has been out of town for the last three weeks so I just managed to finish up the second draft a few days ago. And baby, that was by a wing and a prayer, let me tell you, because it seems that my daughter believes she’s a pterodactyl chicken, and does a spot on impression every chance she gets (like she’s doing right now). It’s adorable, but not conducive to the quiet time I need to finish my book.

But I digress.

Anyhoo, Mama flies back today, and I’m hoping that in the next week or two, I can finish up this draft, which will hopefully be beta reader ready. If not, it’s sleeves up, draft four, head banging against desk—you know how it goes.

Despite the fact that this book isn’t beta reader ready, in the back of my mind I keep thinking about my next three books. I know I need to write a comedy for the people who enjoyed my first book, and I know I need to write another paranormal novel for the people who enjoyed my second book.

But guess what? A story that’s been in my head since 2010 just became crystal clear to me—out of the blue—on Friday. Now, ya’ll, where the heck has Ivy, that novel’s antagonist, been all this time???? And how’s she just gonna pop up all willy nilly when I have all these other books to write, and demand to be written next? Now ain’t that some nerve? These characters, boy, I tell you!

I have my romantic comedy outlined (and the first few pages written) and this character is cracking me up already. Truthfully, I’ve been chomping at the bit to write another funny novel. In fact, my WIP was starting to “turn funny” and I had to step away from it for a while and write a few pages of the rom com to give my funny monster some bread, if you know what I mean.

Anyhoo, you guys, that’s where I am: finishing up my current WIP (about a child abduction), about to write my rom com, and about to outline Ivy’s story, that ol cow. I hope to have the other two books written before the end of the year.

What about you? What are you writing? I can’t wait to hear all about it!

 


Do You Have a Blog Business Plan?

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I was flipping through my little pink notebook (every serious writer should have a little pink notebook:) when I found my list of blog post ideas that I’d abandoned. I also saw a note in the margins: finish blog business plan.

Sigh. You guys, I have a confession to make: I have not been the best at “planning” my blog lately. I pretty much just blog about whatever comes to mind. I view my blog as my safe place where I can connect with other writers and get free therapy. But I know that I can be doing a better job of at least being somewhat strategic, so here’s what I cooked up.

Now, I took this from the $100 Startup One-Page Business Plan but switched it up for a blog and added some other questions. I’m just going to go through and answer the questions.

What will you blog about?

All things writerly: craft, publishing, marketing.

What is the goal of your blog?

To connect with others.  

Who is your target audience?

Other writers.

*side note: I’ve seen the “should you target readers or writers” debate when it comes to writers’ blogs and here’s my two cents: target readers if you’re going to post regular snippets of your work. Otherwise, readers may not care about your process or how you plan to market your work. They’ll only care about when that next book is coming and might even view your blog as taking away from your writing time.

Here’s another two cents: Writers are also readers (duh, right?) and I think that connecting with other writers is the way to go because they are the people who are going to be your betas, help you promote your work, and be your sounding board for a variety of issues that non-writing readers just may not give a hoot about. *

Why should people want to read your blog?

Because I’m awesome. Because I will either write about things that other writers will find useful or of interest. Useful: things about marketing and SEO. Of interest: different aspects of the writing process that I might be struggling through that they may be able to have a solution for (because my writer friends are awesome).

How will people learn about your blog?

I will spam them. I will visit other, similar blogs and comment and promote my posts on Twitter, She Writes, Google+, and Facebook. 

How will your blog help people?

It will provide useful information. It will also show writers who may not have a supportive network at home that they are not alone.

How can you encourage referrals?

By bribing with food. Being nice to people. Also, when I see a blogger with a specific problem, offer up a helpful solution just because, not expecting anything in return.

How will you measure success? For instance, finish this sentence “My blog will be successful when _____________.”

Okay, so, for my blog, I measure success through the connections that I build. Not every visitor is going to be a lifelong visitor, and that’s okay. I don’t focus on numbers but I think that making genuine connections is the key for me.

Obstacles/Challenges/Specific Questions

  • Specific concern or question #1

Time. I have a young daughter and I am pursuing a writing career and building a business.

Proposed solution to concern #1

Time management/adhering to a schedule, planning out my blog posts in advance and being consistent with the day that I post.

So that’s it! Anything anyone would like to add? Do you have a blog business plan? And if you’re feeling especially daring, fill out your plan in the comments.

I’d love to hear your thoughts!


Is Fear Holding You Back?

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Happy Monday, All! Today you’re getting a double dose because I’m also hosting Chrys Fey for her blog tour. Click here to check out Chrys’ latest release and make sure you show her some comment love! :)

***

I’ve always wanted to own my own business. I never knew precisely what type of business I could run, but the idea of being my own boss—and being able to work from home—intrigued me. I tossed the idea around, but didn’t really put any concrete effort into it. Besides, I’d just moved to a new city and was trying to meet new people and keep my head above water—and my husband and I were expecting our first baby.

I’d think about all that business mess later.

Fast forward a year or so, there was a major change at my job. I worked at a university and my main role was administering exams and advising. Not what I’d gone to school for (creative writing) but it paid the bills. Plus, I loved my coworkers and everyone else in the building. Going to work was fun and not at all stressful.

Then February came. The Higher Ups made some changes. My role shifted from advising and testing to calling prospective students all day—like a telemarketer—and something happened that hadn’t happened to me in a very long time: I dreaded going to work. “Oh, no,” I’d say on Monday mornings. “Not the list of prospective students again! If I have to call the same doggone people that I called last week, I’m going to scream. Besides, if I talked to them last week, why do I need to call and bother them again? Seems to me like if they wanted to talk—they’d call me back, right?”

This was obviously not the job for me.

And then, the wheels began to turn. What talents do I possess that I could turn into a career? The answer came quickly: every time people find out I’m an English major, there’s something they need me to read over or write: job cover letter, resume, mother’s day tribute, you name it. Truthfully, I’d been content editing  and being a writing coach before I even knew they were actual jobs. What if I could do those things but, like, for a living? I resisted the idea because, even though I always said I wanted to be my own boss, the thought of actually doing it made me…well, scared. There was a certain level of comfort that came along with punching a clock. I didn’t have to map anything out. Go to work and bam: there’s the Monday list full of students that I just contacted on Friday. Easy Peazy. No sweat involved.

I knew I’d probably be looking for other jobs, and it dawned on me that I needed a new social media profile picture since I’d had the same picture since 1987 (and that picture of me crouched in front of my cousin’s Buik, throwing up the peace sign? No Bueno). A good friend of mine agreed to take the picture and do my makeup. When she showed up at my house at six  a.m. ready to roll, she had suitcases full of makeup. Like, enough to do every single member of Atlanta and Jersey housewives (and then have some left over to do the ones in Miami). And then when I saw how terrific the photos came out, I asked her,  “Why on earth aren’t you doing this as a job?”

“Oh, you know,” she said, “You see, what had happened was…”

And then I said, like I knew what I was talking about, “Girl, let me help you start your business.”

But guess what? I did it! I guided her through setting up her website, getting her business license, wrote a business and marketing plan for her, and it hit me: how could I do something for her that I wasn’t even willing to do for myself??? With her, there was no fear of failure. And I believed 100% that she would be successful—even though she didn’t quite believe it herself. So why couldn’t I believe in myself?

So I decided to stop letting fear hold me back, took the plunge, and started my own business. It’s called Your Vision (in Ink) and it’s aimed at helping people write, publish, and promote their books. Am I nervous? Quite frankly, yes. But that doesn’t mean I should let that nervousness stop me from pursuing my vision.

So whatever it is you want to do in life, do it. Want to write that book? Write it. And better yet, publish it. Want to start that catering business? Start it. Life is too short to be sitting around in your golden years talking about “What if?” I don’t know about ya’ll, but no matter what happens, I at least want to say that I tried (even when I was afraid to).

What about others? Has fear of failure held you back? If you could do anything without fear of failure, what would it be?

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

 


Guest Post – Chrys Fey – Witch of Death Blog Tour

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Happy Monday, all! Today I’m super excited because I get to host fellow author and blogger, Chrys Fey. Chrys’ latest short story, Witch of Death, is now available and today’s she is talking to us about…you guessed it: her favorite witches! Check it out:)

* * *

I love witches. I’ve never made that a secret. I’ve shared a post on my blog to help writers who want to write about fictional and real-life witches. And for this blog tour, which is for one of my short stories Witch of Death, I’ve had a lot of fun discussing them. Well, now it’s time to share my favorite witches of all time!

My Top Ten Favorite Witches:

  1. Phoebe Halliwell (Charmed)
  2. Piper Halliwell (Charmed)
  3. Paige Matthews (Charmed)
  4. Hermione Granger (Harry Potter)
  5. Winifred Sanderson (Hocus Pocus)
  6. Sarah Sanderson (Hocus Pocus)
  7. Sally Owens (Practical Magic)
  8. Bonnie Bennet (Vampire Diaries)
  9. The Wicked Witch/Zelena (Once Upon a Time)
  10. Cassie Nightingale (The Good Witch)

QUESTION: Do you have a favorite witch?

Blurb:

Detective Reid Sanders doesn’t believe in the supernatural, but when he’s faced with a crime scene that defies the laws of nature, he has no other choice but to start believing. And solving a magical murder involves working with a witch.

Liberty Sawyer embodies the look of your classic evil witch, so, it’s no surprise when she uncovers the murderer is a witch that she becomes Reid’s number one suspect. If she can’t convince him otherwise, more people could lose their lives to dark magic, including her.

Book Links:

Amazon US / Amazon UK / The Wild Rose Press / NOOK / KOBO

Excerpt:

Liberty Sawyer glided swiftly through the horde of police officers, reporters, and on- lookers. Black hair fell from a rigid part in the middle of her scalp to her hips. Her eyes were a soul-stabbing blue and her lips were blood-red. She towered over the other officers on the scene, and wore all black, which set off the pallor of her skin.

Showing her badge to the officer, she slipped under the crime scene tape. A few paces away, she spotted Detective Corbin talking to his new partner, a man she knew by name but hadn’t had the privilege of meeting yet.

“I cannot believe you called her,” the new man was saying when she came up behind them. “We don’t need a damn psychic!”

“Actually, I’m a witch.” She smiled when Reid jolted and turned to face her. “I’m

Detective Liberty Sawyer.” She stuck out her hand.

“Detective Reid Sanders,” he grunted back and took her hand.

The feel of his palm against hers sent tingles of lust from the tips of her fingers to her shoulder blade, and she knew he felt it too by the way he jerked his hand back. She winked at him playfully, hoping it would unnerve him even more.

Also Available:

GHOST OF DEATH

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Blurb:

Jolie Montgomery, a twenty-one-year-old woman, wakes up in an alley next to her corpse. She has no memories of her murder or the night she died. She didn’t even see the killer’s face before he or she took her life. Wanting justice, Jolie seeks answers in the only way a ghost can…by stalking the lead detective on the case.

Avrianna Heavenborn is determined to find the person responsible for a young woman’s death. She gets closer to the killer’s identity with every clue she uncovers, and Jolie is with her every step of the way.

But if they don’t solve her murder soon, Jolie will be an earth-bound spirit forever.

Book Links:

Amazon US / Amazon UK / The Wild Rose Press / NOOK / KOBO

BIO:

chrysfeyAUTHORPIC

Chrys Fey is the author of Hurricane Crimes and 30 Seconds. She is currently working on the sequel to Hurricane Crimes that’ll serve as book two in the Disaster Crimes series.

When Fey was six years old, she realized her dream of being a writer by watching her mother pursue publication. At the age of twelve, she started writing her first novel, which flourished into a series she later rewrote at seventeen. Fey lives in Florida where she is waiting for the next hurricane to come her way.

You can connect with her on Facebook and her blog, Write with Fey. She loves to get to know her readers!

Author Links:

Facebook / Blog / Website / Goodreads

 

 

 

 

 

 


Do Your Books Align with your Author Brand?

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InsecureWritersSupportGroup

 

Hello, All!  It’s the first Wednesday of the month and you know what that means: another installment of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to unleash our fears and insecurities onto the world without poking out anybody’s eyes.

Purpose of IWSG: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

The cohosts for June are…M. Pax, Tracy Jo,Patricia Lynne, Rachna Chhabria, Feather Stone, and Randi LeeMake sure you stop by their blogs and say hello:)

But now, on to the nitty-gritty of today’s topic: author brands. But first, I have a confession to make: I’m fresh off of a three day bachelorette party that was held in Myrtle Beach. We stayed at the Island Vista (if you’re ever in Myrtle Beach, you should definitely stay there. It’s really nice). It was my first true bachelorette party that nearly turned into The Hangover (but without Mike Tyson or that tiger, and no, I didn’t yank out my tooth) and that I’m sure will provide lots of fodder for future novels. My “bachelorette” party involved a cake, words of wisdom from good friends, and a contest to see who could make the best wedding dress out of toilet paper. But this past weekend? Lord hammercy. I’m still recovering.

But I digress.

Anyhoo, I don’t tell you all of this to gloat about the fact that I woke up every morning, walked out to the balcony, and saw the ocean (although, I’m sure you can detest a slight hint of “nan-nanny-boo-boo). I reveal all of this to say that this was a much needed break because I’ve been working hard on my novel (among other things), and now that I’m back and refreshed, I’ve been giving some serious thought about this author branding thing.

I’m almost done with my WIP (woo-hoo!) and I’ve been thinking about my next project. I have another novel outlined but the more I think about it, the more I realize that, even though it could potentially be a good story, I don’t want to write good stories. I want to write great ones. Now, when I say “great,” I don’t necessarily mean life-changing. I just mean a terrific story that’s uniquely mine and screams out, “Quanie Miller all day, yo.” A story that, when people read it, they can’t imagine anybody else but me writing it. So I’ve nixed that particular story (apologies to Kat, the protagonist of that tale) and set my sights on another one that I think I could put that Quanie swag on. Yes, folks, it’s official: I have swag on fleek (shout out to Beth Ellyn Summer, who I know will appreciate that:)

I used to worry about whether or not I should be writing humor or paranormal, but as you good folks have said to me a million times, genre doesn’t really matter: voice does.

So that’s where I am right now. Trying to figure out exactly what I want my brand to be and nixing stories that don’t align with that. There’s no way for me to know if I’m making the right choice (or if Kat’s story would have been exemplary) but I have to follow my gut, and my gut says that if I’m going to successfully build my author brand, I have to write stories that are uniquely mine, and that means not writing the trends, following my heart, and digging deep to create stories and characters that are memorable.

What about others? Do you give much thought to this when you’re writing? Do you think I’m overthinking things? I’d love to hear your thoughts!


Which Keywords Bring the most Traffic to Your Blog? (and other updates)

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Hi Everyone! Happy Monday and happy Memorial Day. I know I’ve been MIA lately, so my apologies. No, Comcast didn’t kidnap me for calling them stupid (shout out to the awesome Liz Blocker:) I also didn’t get so worn out from moving that I curled up on our new sectional (which broke, by the way) and stayed there until just now. I’ve just been really really really distracted by a million other things that I’ll tell you all about later. I would, though, like to take a moment to thank everyone who checked in on me during my recent blogging sabbatical. You’re too kind, folks. Too kind.

So, what have I been up to? For starters, watching totally awesome, unlike stupid Comcast AT&T Uverse programming. Two words, folks: Doc McStuffins. My daughter is obsessed with this show. She’s only 8 months old but in our house, if you say the words “Doc McStuffins,” she will appear (because if my daughter hears those words and doesn’t see the Doc on the television, she’ll holler).

I’ve also gotten CONSIDERABLE work done on my WIP. And when I say considerable, it’s almost in good enough shape to show a completely non-judgemental beta reader who doesn’t mind some plot holes, some grammatical errors, some instances where I called the main character the wrong name, or the blocks of text that I underlined because I know they’re crappy but I didn’t want to lose momentum so I didn’t stop to wax poetic–or to figure out if a particular word was used in the right context (or if it was even a word at all). I should have it done in early June. I also did a photo shoot which resulted in a new social media profile picture for me since, according to my husband, “I’d been having that same picture since 2002.” *Scowls* I’ve also managed to start reading again, and I’m happy about that because my TBR pile was starting to look like the leaning tower of Pisa.

I’ve also been brainstorming  a list of possible blog topic–despite the fact that I’m often very intuitive about what I blog about, so a list probably won’t do me any good, but that brings me to this question: what is the number one thing that people search for that leads them to your blog? While kicking around ideas, I’ve been looking at the different keywords that drive traffic here. The number one searched item? “How to write a letter to book reviewers.” People also search for “Quanie Cash” who is a rapper, and “why does erotica sell so much?” or “why do women read erotica” which lands them on a post where I lament the fact that I’m unable to write in that genre. What about others? Are you able to see which keywords lead people to your blog? What are they? And what have all of you been up to lately?

I’d love to hear your thoughts! Have a great Memorial Day and be safe:)

 


Goodbye Stupid Comcast (and Other Tidbits)

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Happy Monday, All! I hope everyone had a nice, relaxing weekend, unlike myself, who spent the last couple of days shopping for a mattress and a sectional. Until recently, I had no idea that mattress salesmen were just as fast-talking and (seemingly) shady as used car salesmen. I guess it’s hard out there on those mattress streets and you’ve gotta say whatever you have to to make a dollar.

But that’s not the good part: it looks like after months of rehabbing our house, our move in date is here! Woo-hoo! And hopefully, we’ll get things squared away with Comcast, the root of all evil and gray hair. Sidebar: this weekend, Comcast gave us two separate appointments for transfer of service: one on Saturday between 3 and 5 (and then mysteriously didn’t show up) and then one on Sunday between 8 and 8 (and then mysteriously, didn’t show up). We finally were able to get someone on the phone and discovered that:

1,. We’d been scheduled for a “customer self-install,” which means that we were expected to take the cable boxes from the old house to the new house. Well, guess what? We don’t have any cable jacks at the new house. So what were we supposed to do? Build them? You’d think “do you have cable jacks at the new location?” might be included in the list of questions they ask you, but whatever.

2. I spoke with someone on the phone to see if they could send someone out since this seemed like their mistake to me, and was told, “Well, we can’t really call dispatch but we can put in a ticket, but we can’t guarantee that someone will call you today.” Um, why can’t you call dispatch??? Wait, let me guess: they don’t have any phone jacks at their location. Insert expletive.

But don’t let the sour grapes fool you: I’m super excited about this move, but as you can imagine, we’ve been super busy this past weekend and will be in the coming week as well. I know my visits have been slow in the last few days and will be again in the coming week, so I apologize  in advance. But I will get caught up with all of you soon. Can’t wait to see what all of you are up to, and to all my A-Zers: rock on:)

What about others? Any experience with fast talking salesmen? Any cable company horror stories? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

*Update: The Comcast technician showed up on Wednesday, April 15 but couldn’t do the install because he “didn’t have the proper tools to install the cable jacks*

Dear Comcast: If I want to get an ulcer, I’ll just drive blindfolded through L.A. traffic. 

Sincercely, 

A former customer. 

 

 


A – Z Challenge – I is for Ibeyi

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My theme for the A – Z Blogging Challenge is music and today’s post is brought to you by the letter:

 

I

 

A few weeks ago I was over at author L. Penelope’s blog and discovered the group Ibeyi for the first time. They’re twins. They sing. And they can hold their breaths for a really really really long time.

The video for “River” is simple: one camera, one set of twins, and mysterious hands and arms (one tatooed) holding both their heads under water. The video is odd but captivating and the song gives me all sorts of story ideas.

If Edgar Allan Poe had twin daughters who sang, they’d probably be Ibeyi.

Here’s the video for “River.”

 

Have you heard of Ibeyi? Do you ever get story ideas from music?