Welcome to Clubhouse Chat page. For those of you who are not a member of the clubhouse won’t be aware that the location of the Clubhouse is shrouded in mystery. The only way to visit the clubhouse is via membership or invite to the clubhouse tearoom. Every few days, I’ll be sharing a conversation I’ve had with a guest over tea and cakes, or maybe a glass of something stronger, about their work in progress, or latest book release. I’ll be talking to all sort of writers and authors at different levels of their writing careers.
Today I’m chatting to Ray. Good Afternoon to you.
Good afternoon, my dear Paula! It’s a pleasure to chat with you today in the fabulous Clubhouse. I must say, your pictures don’t do you justice—your smile is even more dazzling in person and you are absolutely radiant! Thank you so much for your kind invitation. Whatever you’d like, it’s on me, and I’ll have a Taylor Fladgate’s 10 Year Old Port to help start things off with.
Right Ray Let’s get started. Firstly, when you first begun your writing journey what drew you to your chosen genre?
That’s a great question, because most writers don’t choose to be educational writers, which is what I’ve primarily been the past 20 years! So, what could possibly draw someone towards that? Well, when I was 15 and heard the call to become a writer, it was strong science fiction writing that drew me towards my current genre. Specifically, stories that had a consistent pace, effective dialogue, a few surprises, and always taught me something or had a lesson. If all of those worked together, there was a resulting positive cadence—similar to a great piece of music—and the result was a very pleasing and memorable read. I’ve since tried to have a cadence (and a revealing surprise/lesson) in all of my educational pieces, and it seems to have worked!
What writing elements do you think is your strongest points, and what would you like to do better?
I believe one my strongest points is recording my ideas so I can come back to them later and develop them. Since I teach full-time (50-60 hours a week), finding consistent writing time is always a challenge. But, if I know I’ve got the seed planted, I can come back to later and help it grow, which has resulted in many sales over time.
One of the things I definitely do much better (and keep working at) is that I can write for educational audiences without being academic! My first writing group BROKE me of that bad habit, and I am forever grateful to them. “What do you mean people don’t want to read 60 word sentences? They’re fun to write!” But apparently not fun to read. So they’d put me back on the rack. Eventually, and several scars later, I learned that periods are your friends, and shorter sentences make for better flow and more engagement. That I also began to enjoy more sales as this process happened proved their point, so I now consistently write engaging pieces without the need for a dictionary or a breath of fresh air after a single sentence!
Tell us a little about latest writing project. Is it a new idea, or one you have been mulling over for some time?
Ooh! I love this question! I’ve been working on my second teaching book most of this year, which has been quite a challenge due to everything that’s happened in our world, especially in regards to teaching. What I’ve been mulling about the most is having a different theme for it. My first book was a collection of truly wonderful teaching moments I’ve been blessed to be a part of. In the second book, I want to show another collection of moments, but in the scope of a year in a teacher’s life. So rather than ‘just another collection’, amazing as that would be (wink!), I want to take readers (and beginning teachers) into our world and show them the highs, the lows, and the majesty of the power of relationships in a teacher’s life. I’m half-finished, and theme seems to be working out!
How many unfinished projects do you have on your computer?
Several! With all of those seeds I mentioned, I always have 3-5 upcoming articles ideas I’m developing, and now that I’ve become an author (Yes!) I have 3-5 book ideas in long-term development. So, depending if I have 15 minutes or an hour to write, a project is always being worked on!
Choosing only five of your favourite authors. Can you list them in order 1 begin the top of your list and say how have they influenced your writing?
I hope you don’t mind, but I’m going to break the rules on this and mention just one. Honestly, as we in the Clubhouse all know, there are So Many we could list, and I’m no different. Despite reading and loving works from Dumas to Tolkien and Clarke to Forrester, meeting and talking to my Favourite Author (FA) at a seminal point in my life had made all the difference. I met Diane Carey (one of the best-selling Star Trek authors of all time) just as I was about to become a teacher, and as my own call to write was growing louder. To meet and talk with my FA was a life event right there, but to find out that a) she had been a high school teacher, b) she’d heard the call to write and followed it, and c) she was thankful for my comments about her amazing dialogue, action, and consistent pacing, made THE difference in my writing life. Right there, I KNEW it could be done! Start writing, keep writing, and reach out to those who can help you grow (hello Clubhouse!). Just a few years later, my first article was published, and I was on my way. Thank you, Diane! I am eternally grateful!
When reading your work through do you ever find that your daily mood swings are reflected in your writing?
This is a great question! You know what, Never! Despite several personal losses and professional challenges in the past year, I am consistently able to keep a focus on that positive cadence I mentioned. When it’s time to write, the outside world is far away and my muses are nearby inside my bubble, and away we go! The one exception is when I wrote about losing my younger brother last year. In that piece, my mood is definitely reflected in my writing, and it’s a stronger piece because of it. Now that I think about it, and especially as I began to work on longer book projects, perhaps tapping into that ‘deeper, darker wellspring’ may be something I can use more often. Thank you, Paula! You may have just given me a new direction for improving my future writings!
What did you learn when writing your book (story, play or poem)?
Confidence! That! I! Can! Do! It! And does the view from the mountaintop ever look great! I’m a positive person by nature, but we writers know how many voices we hear that try to hold us back. By self-publishing my first book—writing, rewriting, and relentlessly editing to ensure that every word, period, and page number is in the right place and working—I’ve not only achieved a life dream, but also opened up a wonderful new world of writing for myself. I’m not only working on my next book, but also speaking about being a teacher-writer to other teachers. So, onwards to the next mountaintop I go!
Is there anything about you your readers might be surprised to find out?
Lol! Yes, but because some people have reacted quite negatively to this, I’m going to whisper it to you if you don’t mind. My, that is a lovely perfume you’re wearing? Is that Chanel No. 5? It’s wonderful! Ok, here it is. I’m probably one of the only people on the planet who doesn’t like bacon. There, I said it! Now watch the Clubhouse comments flow in!
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
Highly variable, but focused! Due to the time demands of my career, each day and weekend is different in terms of what has to be completed for that world. So, I’ve mastered the art of being able to take 15 minute to 1 hour open timeframes and DO something with them! Having a digital device is SO useful for that! I’ve written great introductions and crucial paragraphs when waiting at a doctor’s office or riding in a car. It all adds up!
How long on average does it take you to write a book (story, poem, or play)?
For my educational articles, I can write an 800 word piece in a few hours. For my first book, I created it in 7 months while working full-time.
Thank you so much for joining in the clubhouse tearoom, Ray. It’s been lovely chatting to you.
A very enjoyable afternoon, Paula. Has the car arrived to pick me up yet?
Not yet, so I have time to tell everyone about your links.
Link to Ray’s Book Author of The Joy of Teaching!
Ray’s Facebook Page:
Twitter : ray_suchow
If you want to find out more about Clubhouse Member’s Books, don’t forget to check out the Clubhouse Bookshops too.