Thursday, August 10, 2017

What Makes Bloggers Tick? Aloha to Sue Brown-Moore, "DaVinciKittie", and Grave Tells

As previously posted, an author at RWA asked me, "What makes bloggers tick?"  I responded on Tuesday at this link ... and I invited other bloggers to offer their thoughts. Today, please join me in welcoming fellow blogger (and freelance editor) Sue Brown-Moore. From her bio,

Sue “DaVinciKittie” Brown-Moore is a freelance Developmental Editor passionate about helping authors bring out the best in their stories. Sue is a fiction editor experienced in the genres of romance, urban fantasy, epic dark fantasy, and crime thrillers and has tamed manuscripts ranging in length from 7.5k to 180k words. Schedule a sample edit with Sue here!

Sue is also a veteran romance blogger and the primary review voice for Sue and GraveTells have won several blogging awards since 2010, and she has been a Featured Blogger for Coastal Magic Convention. She is the co-coordinator for the San Francisco Area RWA chapter’s Heart To Heart competition and has judged the Prism, Passionate Plume, and On the Far Side contests.

When Kim asked the question, “What makes bloggers tick?” My first thought was that this answer is as varied and complex as the question itself. And something I’ve thought about a lot recently, when I started writing a series of Book Blogger 101 courses for a special event I hosted [link]. So, at the risk of subjecting you to wall-o-text eye bleeds, I’m breaking this rather high-level musing into three critical questions:

1. Why are bloggers MOTIVATED to do what they do (whatever that is)… and

2. How they choose WHAT to do in their little slice of the blogosphere… and

3. Why they KEEP DOING IT even when it becomes a part- or full-time job that doesn’t really pay.

Why I blog

Authors are our rock stars, and we basically just want to head bang at the concert that is romantic fiction. My reason for starting a blog is that...but is also a little more personal. I grew up in rural Texas in the 1980s and '90s, where diversity and tolerance were a joke, judgements were passed like Sunday peach cobbler—oh so sweet and frightfully potent—and perception ruled everything. Hell, anal sex between consenting—married!—heterosexual adults was illegal (and still may be). Women were slut shamed for enjoying their own bodies, and young men were practically sainted for winning in a Friday night game that to this day condones sexism and violence. So you could say I was a little repressed. And as an adult, I have discovered that I am neither conservative nor vanilla. And I am not willing to sit down, keep my mouth shut, and look pretty for the boys.

So romance was always my escape, and I remember swooning over tales of swashbuckling pirates and lordly rakes before it was probably socially acceptable to even be seen with those books. So I hid in my room and devoured them. My mom totally enabled me—she’s as rabid a romance fan as I am. Then Twilight came along, and I discovered paranormal romance. Suddenly, I was obsessed with vampires and werewolves and faeries, oh my! I mean, seriously, I would blow through these books, maybe three or four in a week, and be so amped up and excited about them that I was just bursting with it. And yet, I had no friends who read paranormal. Or, really, romance at all. And my husband wasn’t exactly the right audience for those talks. You know the ones I mean, ladies.

Blogging was just gaining notoriety in 2010, and there were a few bloggers in the romance sphere who were making waves, so I latched on to that promise land of sisterhood and community and hope, and I never looked back.

What I blog about

I have been blessed to work with some truly amazing authors over the years, and if I’ve learned anything about writers, it’s that they’re called to do what they do. They don’t create the story—it uses them as a mouthpiece, and words just come out. That’s how it is for me as a blogger. When I read a book, I highlight quotes and make notes, and sweet or snarky comments pass through my head. When I don’t write those thoughts down, they take over and I literally can’t think about anything else. And if I abandon those notes I’ve written my thoughts on? I feel listless and distracted. The job isn’t done, and I need to see it through. I love recommending books to readers. Tell me what you like, and I’ll tell you what you would like! So part of what I do on GraveTells is recommend books by genre, series, heat, and kink. It’s a challenge that never ends.

So deciding what to blog about was never a question, even if my focus and style have shifted over the years. I review books because that’s what comes out of me. Reading is an integral part of my life, and sharing my love of those books with others is a therapeutic release. If you think about it, reviewing—the creation of true book reviews—is essentially hyper-focused journalism. It’s examining a concept—the story—and picking it apart to highlight the things that make it work…or not. And the more time I spent writing reviews, the better writer I became. Eventually, I embraced a truer journalistic style and began creating original content (like my article on why to become a blogger [link]). I’m now starting to focus on blogger education—how to blog responsibly, the ins and outs of the role, the technical details that I had to figure out on my own.

Finding your niche as a blogger can start out as this big, overwhelming cloud over your life—Oh god, what do I post about? Who will even read it or care? And what if they’re mean to me?

Eventually, you just figure it out and you do your thing.

Why I’ll probably blog until I die

“They”—those vaunted, over-quoted, unnamed knowers-of-everything—say to find something you love to do so much, you’d do it for free. Then find a way to make it into a career. Well, I’ll tell you that I haven’t figured out how to get paid to be a full-time blogger yet, but blogging did lead me to editing, and that is my full-time job now. I provide freelance content (story critique) editing services for indie authors and publishers. It’s taken me a long time to get here, and foregoing a Silicon Valley corporate salary to commit to an unpredictable freelance editing role was a huge leap of faith, but I’m happier than I’ve ever been. I still blog faithfully, nearly seven years after I posted my very first Tumblr blog article for GraveTells [link], and I still get the same rush and relief from shepherding my words out into the universe. Even if no one ever reads them. Even if no one ever comments or responds.

But you know what? People do notice. They do care. There is value in what we do. Bloggers are essentially the next iteration of the librarian—ours is just a voyeuristic, disengaged society that prefers observation over action. Libraries still play a critical role in communities, but now we have so many other avenues for finding books. And who better to recommend those books than the readers who fangirl over them?

Blogging gives me a consistent focus through which to channel my emotions and take baby steps toward my greater dreams. Everything I want is on the other side of fear and hard work, and I’ll be damned if I let anything stand in my way of happiness. And blogging truly makes me happy, even if I never figure out how to make a living out of it.

If you’re still with me, thanks for listening, and apologies for the eye bleeds. *hands you a tissue*

❤️ Sue

Image result for sos aloha heart in sand

Mahalo, Sue, for sharing your story! I am giving away a swag pack from RWA17 to four randomly selected commenters from my posts published in the month of August. To enter the giveaway,

1. Let's chat about Sue's hometown of San Francisco - have you visited the City by the Bay?  I have not but would like to see the sea lions, walk over the Golden Gate bridge, and dine in China Town.

2. Comments are open through Thursday, August 31, 10 pm in Baltimore.

3. I'll post the winner on Friday, September 1.


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

Image result for sos aloha lucky lei
This post was Lucky approved ...


  1. The first part of my Peace Corps training was at San Fransisco State. I spent THE summer of 1967 in San Fransisco, the "Summer of Love," sex and drugs capital. It was interesting. About 20 years later, we were living in Sacramento and made many day trips to San Fransisco. I would like to go back again with just my husband for an adult visit - no children or elderly relatives along (of course we are now the elderly ones).

  2. I would like to visit one day. See the famous bridge.

  3. Thanks for having me, Kim!! *hug* And you know, I still haven't walked or biked across the Golden Gate. I drive it fairly regularly though, and it never gets old. Those sea lions are loud and smelly, but super cute. Can't say I've dined in China town (I would need a guide!) but there are some really great food spots in the city. I love it here! Texas ain't got nuthin' on San Francisco, not even Austin. ;-)

    <3 Sue

  4. I have been to San Francisco. We saw the sea lions at Pier 39, ate in Chinatown, drove across the Golden Gate Bridge and drove down Lombard Street. It's definitely one of my favorite cities.

  5. I haven't been but would love to go someday. My friend moved there over 20 years ago and is still trying to get me to visit.
    Carol L
    Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

  6. I would love to visit California. I've only got as far west as AZ in the continental U.S.

  7. I have been to San Francisco once: have been to the Wharf, ate sourdough bread, and rode a cable car.


  8. I visited San Francisco once may years ago - I'd love to go back again!

  9. I have been there once. It was neat to see those places!

  10. I have not been. Would love to see Fisherman's Wharf.