THE G'ORGE-WALKER AFFECT: SWEEPING ACROSS THE NATION©
If you missed featured Author, Pat G'Orge-Walker on the evening of Sunday, February 10, 2008, you didn't miss a thing. That's because she swept the nation off its feet and I was there to witness the whole thing. Now your blessed because I'm going to fill you in. Ain't God good, amen? Amen!
Alright, let's get the pleasantries out of the way. I draped myself in a black kaftan with gold satin trim (hey, it was a 2 for 1 deal, ok...). In addition to another cup of mango rooibus tea from South Africa, I had some butter wafer cookies with almonds (umm-hm). Now, I was also still a little shakey from all that supernatural stuff from the night before and the winds had been gusting all day. Therefore, I had my bible out next to the keyboard...you never know, right?
Anyway, let me tell y'all that Ms. G'Orge-Walker, better known as Sister Betty, is a force not to be reckoned with! It became abundantly clear early on why she is in a class -- top of the class -- all by herself! I know it is cliche-est to say that her reputation supercedes her, but....
Ok, first of all, I have to mention that Sister Betty was feeling a bit under the weather. What immediately impressed me was that despite that, and despite Royal Host Ella asking Sister Betty to answer just one little ole question, Sister Betty spent the entire evening with us. That is what I call commitment and dedication to our African-American community. Sister Betty was far from arrogant and selfishness and I admired that quality in her.
So what makes this Author so unique? Well, for starters, Sister Betty has a powerfully inspiring testimony about how God definitely had a purpose for her life. As her story unfolds, it all makes sense. See, Sister Betty's life was saved when she was three years old. She was trapped inside a burning house, but was rescued by Fireman Marshall. Sister Betty recalled that she still remembers that very night in New York with wires exposed over her head and being tucked inside the fireman's coat before being whisked out into the falling snow. In fact, Sister Betty remarked that she always believed she was older when that traumatic night ocurred because she could indeed remember it so vividly. The fire. The wires. The falling snow. The fireman's coat. The baby changing table in the room.
Now, we believers would be moved by that "miracle" and agree that God destined this woman to do His will. Well, sometimes God emphasizes His point in ways that surpass carnal understanding. So when Sister Betty described how she survived a horrific car accident as an adult, including running from the wreck mangled with glass sticking out of her body fearing that the car was going to explode, you begin to understand why God has her in that class all by herself - to give Him all the Glory...her way! Amen? Amen!
Sister Betty came from a musical family in the entertainment business. She has worked with famous singers such as the Chantels, the Heavenly Two's and world-reknown record companies such as Def Jam and Columbia Records, and the list goes on. After spending many years in the record promotions and marketing industry, Sister Betty found herself out of work. At the urging of a friend, she relied on her past as a preacher's kid (uh-hm) when she began writing. "I skipped therapy and began writing." Sister Betty recounts.
Sister Betty explained to listeners that she was motivated to create the character after sitting through church service and then by the time service was over, "somebody would say or do something stupid" going out the church door. Based on that alone, I think we can expect Sister Betty to be around a long, long time. Amen? Amen!
So are these characters based on any relatives of Sister Betty? You bet. We learn that somewhere down in Williamston, South Carolina, cousin Myra, aka Sister Imahellraiser, really exists. While Cousin Myra is a stunningly beautiful, honey-complexioned woman with green eyes, dear Cousin Myra had a mouth that knew no boundaries. She was known to say what she meant and she meant what she said. Although the real life Regina -- oops, I mean Myra -- is saved now, Sister Imahellraiser ain't found Jesus yet.
Another spot-light character, "Miss Lena," is based on a real woman down South with magical herbal healing powers. Sister Betty describes this particular real-life woman as a short, slight, kindly old woman complete with white handkerchief. "Miss Lena" would be "summoned" when Sister Betty was ill as a child. "Miss Lena would arrive and chew on some herb and then rub you down with it. You would be healed!" However, Sister Betty admits that as with most other people, she was "scared to death" of Miss Lena even though Miss Lena could cure you. Umm-hm!
You can "read" that this woman truly has an interesting life and if you did not know it, there is a biography about Sister Betty. I will let you know the link at the end because I know you are enjoying yourself. As we become and more and more knowledgeable about the characters by Sister Betty, we learn that another book will be released in March. That book, "Somewhat Saved" promises to be just as entertaining as the other books by this talented Author. This upcoming release can be pre-ordered at Amazon.com today so let's rush to support Sister Betty!
There were so many interesting things revealed about this Author during the chat. For instance, Sister Betty is obviously blessed with tremendous staying power. Throughout her career, she states that even though she was often challenged, she held on to her integrity. That certainly contributes to longevity in my opinion and remember I "blogged" earlier that as her story unfolds, you will be able to glean why God meant for her to be alive! Her contribution to the literary community is invaluable. Like sharing briefly her horrific experience with an Agent because she ignored the signs.
ADVICE: Make sure the people you deal with have a physical office and check out their references!
When Sister Betty walked away from the recording industry, she did so with a wealth of knowledge and mature understanding about being successful, living, and committing herself to producing quality material. This allows her to deliver God's message universally. Amen? Amen! She practices what she preaches about uplifting the black community. That includes nurturing strong and positive relationships in an industry where competition can lead to hostility. I especially enjoyed getting to know the person behind the persona.
Here is an Author who took the initiative to reach out and uplift. For example, Sister Betty disclosed that on one occasion she was in the presence of a young black man who kept talking and using the "N--" word. She recalls, "He said 'my n--' this and 'my n--' that to the point that I got up from where I sat and went over to him. I put my arm around his shoulder and said, 'We have a brother running for the highest office in the land and you want to be disrespectful by using the 'n--' word.'" Sister Betty said that immediately the young man began apologizing over and over again. Is that love? Is that (sister)hood? Is that humanity? That is the type of role modeling we need today, everyday. Just an act of kindess and guidance to our youth.
What about some of today's rappers and hip-hop artists? Are they really stupid, gang-bang fools that they portray in videos, etc.? In most cases, absolutely not explains Sister Betty. She shares that she was fortunate to get to know a lot of today's artists on a personal level. Take Flava Flav (NOTE: don't laugh if I don't know how to spell these artists' name--just excuse me...), he is a very smart young man and he smells so good (uh-hm--he can really wear cologne...hey, I'm just blogging, ok?).
According to Sister Betty, he is also very mannerable. As far as Russell Simmons, he is not a 'people person,' but Sister Betty acknowledges that she learned a whole lot from him. Then there is Tupac. Tupac is described by her as having a dual personality. She further explains that Tupac had been very hurt and damaged and so he was quite on the defense.
Sister Betty discusses that what the public needs to understand is that when these artists go on stage, shoot videos, etc., they are performing. When they go into board rooms and negotiate contracts, it is a totally different story as these young men are very intelligent. Of particular note, is that when these performers target an audience, they have to adapt to that audience in order to sell their product. So when artists like Fifty Cent (I know how to spell that one) start out, they are not thinking about when they are ten years older and they are known by the name they chose earlier. (uh-oh, does swaggie sound stupid if I'm 90?...anyway...).
Another interesting point Sister Betty discusses, is that when artists (and Authors) are signed on with a company (publishing house), it is realized that they need food, shelter, transportation. Therefore, they are given an 'advance.' This advance buys them the fancy car or house. However, the 'advance' is really just a 'LOAN' that MUST be paid back.
Thus, an artist or Author has to hustle their butts off to pay it back through sales of their product. Sister Betty emphasizes that this is why many artists have other means of income such as clothing lines, etc. This makes perfectly good sense to me, how about y'all? (Now for you cut-throat artists/authors, you are rushing to get a loan...ummmm-hm).
Now, if you have been keeping up thus far, consider yourself blessed as a reader or as an Author. If you are a reader, then you now know how important it is to support your favorite Authors, artists, etc. If you are an Author, you now know Basics 101 and as Sister Betty later advised, there is enough of the pie for everyone so please, please stop the negative competition tactics (Umm, that sounds like what Simba advised last week. Could it be that two people are brilliant African-Americans?).
Alright, Sister Betty really is in a league of her own. We learned that a genre category had to be created just for her! In addition to being an accomplished Author and performer, she is the recipient of the BWA 2000 Golden Pen Award. I wanted to know from her the significance of the many, many awards being given out today. She explained that while awards do not define her, and she has many understandably so, they lead to publishing contracts, etc. Sister Betty further explained that book clubs also have power with publishing houses and book retailers. This clarification was especially helpful to me as I dream of Swaggie's Image of God Award being a very distinguished Award in the future. Amen? Amen!
Sister Betty was very relaxed about sharing her opinions on matters such as should an African-American section in a book store make a difference? She feels that her words should be shared by everyone and not pigeon-holed to one racial group. She views herself as a creative person, writer, and able to benefit others outside of the African-American race. Therefore, when a book retailer restricts her access to the whole reading public, she is insulted. To drive her point home, Sister Betty compares this racially biased practice to white authors. "There is no White-American Section." Therefore, while there are occasions to support or promote just us, African-American authors should always be mainstreamed. Amen? Amen!
As we are coming to the end of this incredible evening with Mrs. Pat G'Orge-Walker (Sister Betty), we get a glimpse of how this Author feels about what our children are exposed to. In short, Sister Betty compares children to sponges. "We must be careful what we inform them with because they will absorb it. If you give them dirty water, they will absorb dirty water. If you you fuss and cuss in front of children, then expect them to fuss and cuss." Just in case somebody missed her point, remember that she vividly remembered being rescued from a fire at age 3. Amen? Amen! (One more time) Amen? Amen!
On the matter of teen literature, Sister Betty recommends several teen Authors: Jackie Thomas (Divine Series), Stephanie Perry Moore, Rashanda Tate Billingsley, Mashawn Nichols. A few more teen Authors were recommended by Ella: Paula Chase Hyman, Carla Serek, and Isabus Inside. Mrs. Paula Hyman Chase is one of the teen Authors on Swaggie's Exclusive 'Thumbs Up' Reading List as well.
The state of literary promotions are ever changing. The trend these days seems to be promoting with trailers. It is becoming so popular that Ella revealed that EDC will begin offering such promotional trailers beginning February 15, 2008! What the heck are promotional trailers? These are the mini film clips and are very visual. Trailers capture your attention and they can have actors, photo stocks, or music stocks. Both Ella and Sister Betty agree that this is a good promotional tool and if you contact Ella, her team is ready to go!
Sister Betty left some profound words of wisdom, advice, and suggestions for today's Authors. We need to support each other understanding that competition - especially negative - is not, not necessary. There is enough of the literary market for everybody, ok? AND, if something is not your cup of tea, then don't drink it, but do not go around leaving negative messages about an Author or their work on websites! (I drink only mango rooibus tea...uh-hm). Sister Betty encourages Authors to share resources and she reminds us that the spirit in which you participate, creates your success or failure. She suggests returning to the old ways of cross-exposure and bartering. For instance, team up with various authors and create a poster-board collage. When one Author is at an event, they can put up the posterboard to promote other Authors out-of-state. That is a very cost-efficient way of promoting and supporting.
Finally (don't cry, you can read this as many times as you please), there is the tried and true literary night out. This is where a book club or Author can plan with a Ma and Pa restaurant and eat and greet readers. Basically, everything you do should be a catalyst or springboard to something else. Readers can be the best event planners, too. The possibilities are endless! Did I mention that Catholics will enjoy Sister Betty, too?
WARNING: Do not miss work so you can sleep all day and hang out with me and featured Authors at night. Go on to work, and read all about it while you enjoy your dinner! 2008© All Rights Reserved by Swaggie.
To purchase all of the Sister Betty books, please visit: www.sisterbetty.com; to contact Sister Betty, please e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for blogging with me - any comments.----Swaggie
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