Interview with the Editors
We wanted to try something different than a standard “Letter from the Editor” to launch Boomalally Bzine. After considerable debate (and a rousing game of Rock, Paper, Scissors - Best 2 out of 3), I won the final say! I decided that we should go with an interview that captures the essence of the publication and showcases the offbeat personalities of our editor, Deb Gaut, and associate editor, Kristen Edens. As the smart, sassy, sophisticated art editor for Bzine, I possess an excellent, slightly off-center, front-row seat for all of the action. Having won the aforementioned game, I also earned the right to formulate the questions—which, much to my delight, made both women fidgety in the moments before the interview. We hope you will enjoy hearing our creation story as well as the banter of three editors on a mission: to encourage and inspire a life well lived at 50 and better.
Eileen: And so, let the games begin! [Feigned evil laughter] Let’s start with the basics. What is Boomalally all about?
Deb: Whoa, softball question. I’ve got this one, Kris. [Laughs] Boomalally is a lifestyle company that celebrates life after 50. Our mission is to help the 50+ crowd live the life they’ve dreamed of--whether working, playing, creating, learning, or giving back to the world.
Eileen: I love that! So where does the name “Boomalally” come from?
Deb: For almost a year, I toyed with hundreds of names for the company—one that truly captures the essence of Celebrating Life after 50. One day, while sitting on the floor of Barnes and Noble, going through yet another dictionary with no luck, I glanced over and saw a book called Wicked Good Words by Mim Harrison. Tired and bored from sitting, I reached for the book and found a chapter containing a list of Southern expressions and their respective definitions. Much to my delight, as a girl who grew up in Alabama, I knew (and still use) many of those regionalisms, including “bless your heart,” “dirt-dog-poor,” “fixing to,” “gully washer,” “Sooner,” and “mash the lights.” During the process of assessing my Southern language proficiency, I came across a word I had never seen or heard before: boomalally, defined as “a soldier marching in step to the music.” As I paged through the rest of the book, I found myself returning over and over to boomalally. The original word was coined by a woman from South Carolina in the 1950s, “who was inspired by the drums of marching band music, which go boom.” The more I kicked around the word, the more I knew we were onto something. The origin and history of the word inspired our own 21st century definition of boomalally: someone who marches to the beat of his or her own drum.
Eileen: What a fun story! Yet another reason to love Barnes & Noble. [Laughs] What prompted you to launch a company that targets the 50+ demographic?
Deb: You may not believe it, but two of the worst bosses in my 40-year career. After 16 months of watching my former supervisors systematically dismantle a program that took me three years to build--and an unexpected trip to the hospital resulting from all the stress--I knew that I needed to get out of the situation and start my Next Chapter. What began as a blog turned into a digital magazine…then an entire company devoted to helping people 50+ follow their dreams.
Eileen: I can so relate. I love the concept of starting a new chapter in life. Kris, how did you learn about Boomalally?
Kristen: In a word, email. [Laughs] Specifically, an email from David Coblitz, a business connection and photographer who had met Deb previously and pitched an article for Bzine. David sent me an email with the headline, “New Digital Magazine Writing Opportunities.” I felt mixed emotions about pursuing the opportunity since previous work with David had involved writing specifically for a photography audience. Since I had been re-branding my own company for the 50+ audience, I was reluctant to stray too far from my new direction. In fact, I ALMOST DELETED that email. However, when you’re an entrepreneur, you learn quickly to explore any and all opportunities. That’s part of the risk of entrepreneurship. When I clicked open the email and discovered the 50+ focus, I knew things were heading in the right direction! I immediately reached out to Deb, inviting her for a brief chat to learn more about writing for Bzine.
Eileen: OK—obvious question: How did the two of you come up with the name Bzine?
Deb: So glad you asked! [Laughs] Rather than publishing a monthly, digital magazine, we decided to roll out content that’s typically featured in a magazine (e.g., articles, columns, reviews, etc.) twice a week—in other words, on a blogger’s schedule. That’s why we named our publication Bzine. We’re actually planning to blog a magazine.
Eileen: You heard it here first, Boomalally readers. A new word for Webster’s Dictionary. [Laughs] Deb, tell us about your background.
Deb: I like to think of myself as a recovering academic, with a Ph.D. in Communication and 30 years of teaching, research, and service at the university level. Not to worry--I’m much better now! [Laughs] Additionally, I have 25 years of communication training and consulting experience in business and industry, and 8 years of service with a U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) agency. How’s the latter for a “second chapter”? [Laughter] What I’m excited about now is pursuing certification as a Professional Career/Transition Coach. Yes, if you’re counting, I’m working on my third chapter.
Eileen: [Laughs] Kristen, how does your background fit with Boomalally’s mission?
Kristen: My education is in exercise physiology and, after life changing events in 2009, I decided to pursue a career in writing. Over the past eight years, I networked, bootstrapped, bartered, wrote, queried, and submitted. During this time, a lot of family changes occurred, leading me to become a caregiver for my partner and a part-time parent for my granddaughter. Most of us in Boomalally’s demographic have experienced similar events. What’s exciting about Boomalally and our audience is that we don’t give up. We’re energized and determined to pursue a life well-lived. There isn’t much that brings us down, and we enjoy marching to the beat of our own drum!
Eileen: So how did the two of you know that you would make a good fit?
Kristen: Our first phone call was upbeat, positive, and energizing. We had so much fun talking that we agreed to meet in person to discuss Boomalally in greater depth. By the end of the initial meeting, Deb said, “I wasn’t planning on hiring an associate editor this soon, but I love your ideas, energy, and experience. Would you like to be my associate editor?" How could I say No? I was super-excited and got a lot of goodies out of the deal: writing for Boomalally, learning to develop a digital magazine, and gaining Deb as a friend.
Deb: I concur…and a shared love chocolate. You should know that Kris makes killer brownies--with amaretto buttercream frosting.
Eileen: [Laughs]. So what niche market does your publication target?
Deb: Men and women 50+ who want to explore the Next Chapter in their lives.
Eileen: What types of content does Bzine plan to publish?
Kristen: Inspiring, informative, and entertaining stories, photo essays, and visual art galleries that challenge readers to fully embrace the second half of life. We’re especially looking for fresh, authentic, engaging, upbeat voices.
Deb: We also want to encourage both experienced and emerging writers, artists, and photographers of all ages to submit.
Eileen: What topics, if any, are unacceptable for the publication?
Kristen: Content that is political, religious, or adult-themed.
Deb: Right! We want Bzine to be inspirational and aspirational—to bring people together rather than divide them.
Eileen: How long does it take to determine if an article, photo essay, or visual art gallery will be accepted?
Kristen: Usually four-to-six weeks after we receive a submission.
Eileen: Last question, ladies: What do you see as the future of Boomalally?
Deb: I see a bright future. We’re living in the age of a 100-year lifespan, and so many people want to stay active in their careers and fully engaged with life for as long as possible. For many of us, that means revisiting who we want to be when we grow up, and knowing when and how to make the transition successfully. That’s where Boomalally comes in. We can assist through career advising and coaching; seminars and workshops; as well as inspiring stories and “how to” articles in Bzine.
Kristen: Deb sums it up nicely. I would only add that literally millions of us have been given an opportunity to explore “what’s next” at 50 and beyond. The question is how we'll adapt and grow? The thrill and excitement lies in how we will spend the next 30+ years. And Boomalally will be there to encourage and inspire every step of the way.