Wmtc has had a huge turnover in readership since its inception and early days. Most of you are probably not familiar with the magazine that I am part of, Kids On Wheels. (Past posts here, here, here... here... probably elsewhere...)
Kids On Wheels started as a book, a giant spiral-bound resource guide for kids who use wheelchairs and their parents. It was the first book of its kind, patterned after a famous (in the disability community, that is) book called Spinal Net, which was written for adults with spinal cord injuries. ("Anatomy Is Not Destiny" - don't you love that?) Many years ago, I edited the sports and recreation chapter of an updated edition of Spinal Net, and when KOW was conceived, I wrote the sports and rec chapter of that book. (KOW is put out by the publishers of New Mobility, a disability lifestyle magazine that I wrote for many years, and still occasionally contribute to.)
If the book was a success, the plan was to spin it off into a magazine. It was, and we did. The first issue came out in September 2005, just after we moved to Canada. The newest issue, just out, completed our first full year of publishing quarterly. (The redheaded sit-skier featured on this issue's cover is Canadian. I try to include some Canadian content in every issue.)
Like the book, KOW magazine is published in two editions, one for kids and one for their parents. (Also like the book, it's the first of its kind.) The kids edition, mostly written by me, is all about kids speaking to kids. To those ends, I speak to kids all over North America who use wheelchairs and lead active, interesting lives, and the parents who encourage and support them and pave their way. The parents edition, which I help edit, is an essential outreach and networking tool for people who can easily feel isolated and overwhelmed.
The writing is the perfect fit for me, as it combines two of my areas of expertise, disability issues and writing for young people. Among other things, it's given me an unusual opportunity: serial fiction.
Long ago, when I first quit full-time work to devote more of my time to writing, my desire and goals were to write young-adult novels. Several years later, I had two YA novels to show for it - both unpublished.
It was a long, sometimes painful learning experience, and although I was glad to have done it, I didn't want to spend the rest of my writing-life collecting rejection letters. An opportunity to take my writing in another direction came up, and I went with it.
I discovered there were many kinds of writing I could find satisfying and rewarding - indeed, some of them more so than fiction. I also discovered that it's way more fun to be a working writer than an unpublished one. Since then, I've written educational videos and workbooks, lots of magazine articles, self-help books for young adults, and various other things.
However, my desire to write young-adult fiction was more dormant than dead. When the opportunity arose to write fiction for KOW, I jumped. Since I was given only a small space to work with for each issue, I decided to make it a serial. And so was born "What Julie Heard," the continuing adventures of one Julie Bewley, a spunky 11-year-old who wears hats and uses a wheelchair.
This has proved enormously challenging. Normally when I write fiction, as the plot and character develop, I would return to earlier scenes and revise them as needed to match the later developments. I would add or delete whole scenes, and tweak details, as needed. But writing in serial form, the earlier episodes are set in stone: they're published and can't be changed. It's quite a challenge.
Episode Four is just out and I just turned in Episode Five. Supposedly the earlier episodes will now be added to the KOW website.