Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Dabbling Mum: Interview With Alyice Edrich

Today I have as my guest, Alyice Edrich. Alyice is a freelance writer, editor, and aspiring artist. She is also the founder of the award-winning magazine, The Dabbling Mum®. Alyice describes herself as the mother of two beautiful children, a devoted wife, a hardworking businesswoman, and a child of God.

RM: Alyice, let’s start with your name. Help us out here. How do you pronounce it, and what’s the story behind it?

AE: My name is pronounced a-lease. My grandma’s name is Alexandra but she often went by Alyce and pronounced it Alice. My mom threw in a “y” and altered the pronunciation.

RM: I don’t recall how I stumbled upon The Dabbling Mum®, but I’m glad I did. If there’s anything that exemplifies the word “eclectic,” DM is it. Tell us a bit about how it got started.

AE: Originally it started out as a way for me to show off some of my work and sell a single e-book. One day a gentleman emailed me stating that he’d love to see me showcase other writers on my site. I had wanted to start a print magazine, but didn’t find the cost feasible so I thought, “Hey why not? An online magazine would be far more cost-effective and a lot less work.”

RM: DM has an excellent Writer’s Corner. I always read the writing column by Doc Hensley, and I’ve donated a couple of articles that you’ve been gracious enough to run. But you have lots of other things, as well. Are there ways my readers can contribute to DM and see their words in print?

AE: Doc Hensley has been a great asset to the publication, as have the other columnists and writers I’ve had the pleasure of working with over the years. One thing I try to tell people is to look for areas that need to be strengthened and write for those areas.

Currently, we’re in dire need of articles for our home business center. It seems that the freelance writers I encounter through my publication prefer to share their expertise on the subjects of writing and parenting far more than they like exercising or stretching their creative talents in the area of home based businesses. I often get a lot of generic articles for the business center that I turn down, but rarely get hard core, in-depth articles on the actual workings of a business. I’d love to see more articles on how to get started in a niche business. I really want to grow in that regard.

RM: You also have another site, Good Mourning Lord, for persons who are grieving. It has some excellent articles as well as a list of recommended books. How did you come to start that one?

AE: I lost a child. The loss was so devastating that I wanted to die. It took a long time for me to overcome the death of my child, and there are still days that I struggle with grief, depression, and longing to hold my child again. When my mother-in-law asked to read my journal entries, she cried. She said she finally understood what I was going through and that I should share my journal entries in the form of a book—to help others like me. I set out to write that book and even pitched it to a few places. It was in the final stages of going to print when the publisher went out of business. At that time, I had developed the website to showcase the book and wanted it to be more than a sales site. I wanted to reach out and touch the lives of others. When the publisher went out of business, I pulled the book. By then I decided the book wasn’t needed as much as a place for people to find comfort. So many people search the Internet for comfort that I wanted an outlet that they could trust.

Just recently, I pulled the book reviews I had and opted to request excerpts from authors instead. I believe that excerpts will give readers a better glimpse into the actual books, thus allowing them to make informed decisions about the books they purchase. After all, my reviews were subjective, based on my own experience, and might not match the needs of a particular reader.

RM: I notice that you’re beginning to emphasize your freelance writing work more. Your background is pretty impressive along those lines. How did you get into writing in the first place?

AE: I’ve always been a writer. I know you hear that cliché a lot but it’s true. My mom said that I could never write a letter without it looking like a book. Ironically, none of my teachers ever told me to pursue writing as a career. Maybe if they had, I wouldn’t have wasted 3 ½ years of my life taking business administration courses because I didn’t know what to do with myself after high school.

In 1999, a friend introduced me to the idea of working as a mobile notary. The information was so scarce that once I finally got the inner working of this career worked out, I took all the information I had and formed a book. I began selling it online. From there, writing just became second nature. I realized that I could write and people would pay for this talent.

I began writing for small paying publications online and in print. I had a lot of fun and found that with each assignment I learned something new and grew as a writer. When I began publishing The Dabbling Mum®, however, my writing more or less took a backseat to the publication. There is a lot of work involved in promoting a publication, putting together issues, marketing e-books, and hiring writers—so much work that I didn’t always have the creative energy to pursue glossy magazines or work on more books.

This year I realized that I missed being creative more than I’d miss putting the magazine together so I decided to cut back on the hours I put into the magazine. The extra hours will be used to complete edits on an e-book I’ve been putting off for over a year, writing for some art magazines (hopefully), working on a few art projects, and hopefully, writing another e-book.

RM: Any final words for my readers?

AE: Don’t be afraid of change. Take personal inventory from time-to-time and do what’s best for you and your family first and foremost.

Two years ago I realized I was getting burnt out with the magazine and wanted to slow things down a bit, but I was too afraid to make the necessary changes because I didn’t want to look like a failure. My publication was a success. Not only was I making a living from my writing and the sales of my e-books, but I was able to pay writers for their submissions and pay for the publication’s business expenses through advertising dollars. I was receiving 40,000 unique visitors a month and I had a total of 9,000 e-zine subscribers.

But it wasn’t enough anymore. I felt drained. I felt like something was missing from my life and I wanted to do more with my writing again. I also wanted to tap into the creative side of my brain and get off the computer more—I wanted to sell art, design wall art, and to be around people more. Writing from home could be so isolating and lonely, and I was ready to get outside more.

Yet, I couldn’t make the necessary changes. I was too afraid of what others would think instead of doing what I felt was best for me. And I didn’t want to lose the momentum I had built with the publication.

What I discovered, however, was that the more drained I felt, the less passion I had for the publication and unless I did something about it, I would lose everything I had worked so hard to build. I wasn’t ready to sell, though it had crossed my mind, but I was ready to cut back.

So little by little I started stepping back from the publication until eventually I was able to say, “Ten hours a week is enough to keep this publication afloat and allow me time to pursue other ventures. Whether or not this publication receives x amount of visitors or has x amount of subscribers doesn’t make it a success. What makes it a success is the fact that it is filled with quality articles from very talented writers who want to make a difference in the lives of others—not just their bottom lines.”

Thanks, Alyice, for stopping by. I hope my readers will check out your various web sites and maybe even crank up their computers to write something for submission to The Dabbling Mum.

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