Today our featured author for today is Pat G’Orge Walker. Please welcome Mrs. Walker aka Sister Betty to my blog.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
In short, I am a seasoned woman of a certain age who loves the Lord, loves her family, still deeply in love with my late husband, a cancer survivor of nine years who is still trying to figure out what she wants to be when she grows up. Having said that I am also a Bestselling and National award winning Christian Fiction author currently signed to Kensington/Daphina books. I have been with my publishing company almost twenty years. I am also known as the Christian comedienne Sister Betty.
I am also a recording industry veteran. I worked for Epic, Columbia and Def Jam records. I was also a member of the hit making girls group, Arlene Smith and the Chantel’s…. (Maybe, He’s Gone.) to name a few.
What do you do when you are not writing?
Currently I am enjoying my new home in North Carolina. Starting over can be quite a challenge at any age and particularly when you have lost your spouse. When you have arrived at a certain age complete with wisdom hair (silver) and other challenges it can be daunting-unless God has placed you and provided for you. I also love my two lil heffas; I have a Chi-weenie and a Shorkie, three-year-olds, who are spoiled way beyond any dog should be.
Do you have a day job as well?
No. I do not have a day job. However, I am raising an amazing and talented ten-year old granddaughter who is also autistic. So, every day can become a job or a blessing but often simultaneously.
When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?
I have always written. I don’t remember ever not writing whether it was poetry, lyrics and music or stories. I have never seen the world through my eyes when it wasn’t in another realm. I truly believe most writers experience this. As to when I finished my first book; it would be 2001. However, I self-published back in the late 90’s. I had been in the record business for quite some time and when no longer there I started writing short stories. I had no idea what I was doing but I leaned on God and my experience in the recording industry. Instead of releasing an album I did what I knew. I released a “single”. In other words, I released a short story consisting of twenty-two pages between the covers of what looked like a pamphlet with a staple in the middle.
The synopsis for Sister Betty! God’s Callin’ You went as follows:
Gospel Humor. Volume One. Humorous short story taken from the “Ain’t Nobody Else Right but Us-All Others Goin’ To Hell Church” seven book collections. Joe Bill, an Angel-in Training got into heaven through a loophole. He cannot get his wings until he turns around Rev. Knott Enuff Money and his spiritually challenged congregation. Joe Bill must first start with one of the churches most hypocritical members, Sister Betty. The only way Joe Bill can deal with this congregation is to see the humor in their actions and they give him plenty to laugh about. Getting wings won’t be easy. Read how they praise God and then you do the opposite! They think ain’t nobody right but them and the rest of us going to hell!
Long story short… the rest is history. Using my promotional skills from a combination of Columbia/Epic and Def Jam records I attacked the internet with vigor. I gathered a following of folks who just couldn’t get enough of a church named, the Ain’t Nobody Right but Us—-All Others Goin’ to Hell church with its zany cast of church NuTTz led by Reverend Knott Enuff Money and his protagonist, Sister Betty. She was a woman who claimed God called her on the telephone and sent her on a mission to save Saved folks and those who didn’t want to be saved. The rest is history. I was picked up by Kensington Books via then editor Karen Thomas. They purchased my entire short story collection and voila’ God showed out.
How did you choose the genre you write in?
I didn’t choose it. Everything just happened quickly. I’d never heard of Christian Fiction. It wasn’t until Publisher’s Weekly said I’d invented a new genre: Christian Comedy that I’d given it much thought.
Where do you get your ideas?
Initially I got a lot of ideas from church folk. Both my parents were preachers and pastors. My father was Baptist and my mother Pentecostal/COGIC. I survived through comedy 🙂
Do you ever experience writer’s block?
Most definitely. After my husband died in my arms from cancer in 2013 I couldn’t write. It was as though the man I loved and still love to the depths of my soul who’d supported me for years took my laughter with him.
Do you work with an outline, or just write?
I write using both. Primarily it ends up with me just writing. My characters can be quite obstinate and won’t play according to plan.
Is there any author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
I used to read everyone from Anne Rice to Jackie Collins. From Iceberg Slim to Maya Angelou to Zora Neal Hurston. I had an opportunity to meet and speak with Maya Angelou during the intermission of the Wiz on Broadway and she gave great advice. She told me that when I write to just be “honest.” It took me a long time to really understand what she meant. She wanted me to just be me. Don’t try to mimic any one because the reader will not be fooled. As far as any book that influenced me; “Native Son” and “I know Why the Caged Bird Sings” spoke to me.
Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
There were challenges. I didn’t realize that gospel comedy had not been written in satirical form before my Sister Betty series. I had one reject letter and it came from Hearst Book Group. Then editor wrote, “This is so smart and so original and so imaginatively written…” but she didn’t know what to do with it. So, it wasn’t a bad rejection letter. The editor wished me the best. That was when I took matters into my own hands and went to the internet.
However, another challenge popped up because I couldn’t keep up with the demand. Little books with a staple in the middle weren’t supposed to sell in bookstores and ordered by the libraries. The Sister Betty story was on fire. My attorney came to the rescue. He had my book reprinted professionally and made sure it stayed in production. Then the next challenge came when Ingram and Baker wanted to distribute the book. However, I didn’t have the right connections, so author Maxine Thompson introduced me to Dr. Rosie Milligan of Milligan Books. She immediately added me to her Ingram and Baker accounts and kept my books stored in her warehouse. With each challenge relationships were formed, and God provided.
If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you would change?
No. If I have learned anything it is if you feel you are led by God then you must believe that even in the strangest manner He is still in control.
How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?
Since I am with a major publisher those functions are primarily out of my control. However, I am free to market and promote my Sister Betty comedy shows which also support the exposure for my books.
Have you written a book you love that you have not been able to get published?
It was a story about a Russian takeover of our government. Yep… that was in 1991. It was based upon a dream and I was able to pitch it to Michael Schultz (Cooley High) and David Picker, Producer. However, with me being naive and listening to other folks I refused to give them the ending to my story thinking they would steal it…They took me out to dinner only to have me refuse to give them the ending. SMH, I could still kick my own butt. It was called, “the Document” aka “4Ever Don’t Mean Always.” The similarities to today’s political climate confirms that no one would’ve believed my story back then. 🙂
Can you tell us about your upcoming book(s)?
I am working on a story with working title “Divine Appointment.” Readers have asked when is the Reverend Leotis Tom going to settle down and stop playing with women’s hearts… well, we’ll see if Reverend Foine As He Wanna Be does just that.
Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
I rarely make up anything. Trust me… I know these folks and so do my readers.
What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
Anything to do with those crazy and menopausal church mothers, Bea Blister and Mother Pray Onn. I sometimes must back away from my computer. I love those two old scally wags with their self-righteous version of what thus saith the Lord. I also love writing for Deacon Thurgood Piller, ex-con but still on the verge of gunning somebody down using scripture or a handy pistol.
How did you come up with the title?
It usually comes in a dream or the subject matter of the story.
What project are you working on now?
As I mentioned earlier, “Divine Appointment” and “Triple Threat.” Three kinds of heaven…all kinds of hell.
Will you have a new book coming out soon?
It will have to be up to my publisher. They have waited almost four years for me to submit my manuscript. The death of my husband put my world on hold. I thank my editor Selena James for her patience and understanding.
Are there certain characters you would like to go back to, or is there a theme or idea you’d love to work with?
I would love to go back to Sister Betty in the mental state I now exist in. She got married in my last novel. I would like to know how she would deal with her husband dying in her arms. I did try that, but I became too dark and didn’t believe my readers would welcome the way I wrote the story. For now, I put it on the back burner. As for themes… I would like to address the in-your-face hypocrisy that seems prevalent today…but I wanna stay positive for this interview. 🙂 smh.
More about me at Www.pgorgewalker.com