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Interview with Demetria Foster Gray, author of Sifting Through Mud

Sifting Through Mud banner

Front Cover Only - SiftingThroughMud resized smallTitle: Sifting Through Mud

Author: Demetria Foster Gray

Publisher: Amazon Digital Services

Pages: 276

Genre: Contemporary Women’s Fiction

Format: Paperback/Kindle

The death of Nyla’s husband comes as a shock to everyone except Nyla. What’s shocking to Nyla is her inability to grieve his death like a typical loving wife should grieve. But Nyla isn’t a typical loving wife. She’s a woman in desperate need to breathe. The oxygen in her life has long gone, and the astonishing thing she feels from her husband’s death is relief, not grief.

Even more astonishing is the rare and unexpected friendship which develops between Nyla and her dead husband’s mistress. However, Nyla isn’t aware her new best friend is a former mistress. And as their friendship deepens into an unshakable bond, Nyla is forced to face secrets her husband took with him to his grave. This means she has to sift through mud to unravel the truth. A truth that’s better off dead.

Yet through it all, the one thing which makes Nyla violently breathless, is the exact same thing that causes her to finally breathe.


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What made you want to be a writer?

All the stories in my head that were wanting desperately to escape and roam around the world.

How did you come up with the title of the book?

I came up with “Sifting Through Mud” when I was brainstorming possible titles. I was immediately drawn to it because it had a certain vibe and unique ring to it that stood out over the other titles I was considering. Although, initially this title was used for one of my previous manuscripts, I found it better suited for the premise and characters of my debut novel.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

Trying to keep the scenes and subplots flowing well without losing steam while keeping the characters interesting. I’ve had to cut out a lot of scenes that bogged down the story, which is hard for a writer to do because we’re deeply invested in the work we create. Eliminating any part of it is like cutting off an arm or a leg.

Give us three “Good to Know” facts about you. Be creative, you can talk about your first job, something that inspires you, anything fun that might grab the reader’s attention.

  • I think everything tastes better with cheese on it (well, mostly everything).
  • Fresh air and silence are my two best friends. I’m at my most peaceful, authentic self when I can breathe in fresh air and sit in complete silence.
  • I’m a self-proclaimed “introvert unleashed,” which means I’ve stepped out of my introverted comfort zone to experience new heights in my spiritual, personal, and professional life.

Tell us a little bit about the cover art. Who designed it? What made you choose that particular image/artwork?

The cover art for my book was designed by Peter O’Connor at Bespoke Book Covers ( Peter is a true pleasure to work with. He has a very collaborative spirit, knowledgeable about book cover designs, and a very professional attitude. Peter creates a trusting environment in which you feel comfortable working within.

Peter offered the clay pots/planters image as one of the option for my book and I chose it because I wanted to have elements of growth to portray a message of new beginnings, new friendships, and also buried secrets. This coincides with the premise of the book where in Nyla’s life she has to sift through dirt/mud to uproot the truth behind undesirable circumstances in her life in order to replant seeds for new growth.

Head-Shot_sidebar2Demetria Foster Gray is a novelist, freelance writer, and communications consultant. She earned a degree in Marketing Communications and spent the bulk of her career writing for the corporate world. Creating fictional characters and building stories has always been her first love. A native of the Chicago, IL area, Demetria now lives in North Carolina with her husband and two children. Sifting Through Mud is her debut novel.

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Her latest book is the contemporary women’s fiction novel, Sifting Through Mud.

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Demetria is giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card and 1 Free Ebook copy of Sifting Through Mud!


Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • Two winners will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 Amazon Gift Certificate and 1 ecopy of her book.
  • This giveaway begins October 6 and ends on November 1.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on Monday, November 3
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.

Good luck everyone!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

C.H. MacLean: The Story Behind Two Empty Thrones

The Story Behind Two Empty Thrones

By C.H. MacLean

Like most of my others, this story came to me, all at once, like turning a light on in a dance club. All the characters, whirling around, caught in the act. I grabbed as many images as I could, scribbling notes like mad.

I had no idea how much it held. I just started writing. Pretty quickly, I realized the story would never fit in one book. Each book is somewhat independent, but the full scene needs enough room for Haylwen, Cadarn and their friends to move (and their enemies to plot behind their backs). Trying to cram them in less would have made no sense. The whole story, like many similar, just wouldn’t fit in one book.

I didn’t worry too much. I’ve read many a series in three and four. I know a couple of series set up to run thirteen books or longer.

Why five?  I didn’t plan that either. At the very beginning, I would’ve bet on three. From a mystical perspective, three would match the dragon-elemental theme. But, of course, as much as I love dragons, they aren’t the story. Now that the scene is settling on the page, I can see why five really harmonizes with the real themes.

Dragons and old grid mystics are three: fire, earth, and water; head, body and tail, for example. Old views of humans tried to make us match three such as the Sphinx’s youth, adult, and aged; and others I’m sure you can think of.

But humanity is really five. Five limbs, five fingers, five toes, five senses. Our minds work in fives, such as the five stages of change, (grief, for example) and the five stages of sleep. A modern human’s life (infant, child, adolescent, adult, elder) has five stages, too. Moreover, as we grow and understand this new millennium, I see the new grid as five, such as an appreciation of the five elements (fire, earth, water, air, spirit) and other coincidences, such as universal five pointed star and the power of the pentagram I won’t get into. Not last or least, I also feel the story’s connection of five to the symbolism of the circle around the five, inclusive of the east/west and ancient/modern cycle, for example, traditional Chinese medicine and the actualization of feminist equality.

But I’m not trying to make sense of all of that, or suggest that’s the story’s intent. Makes my head spin. I surely didn’t plan on putting any of that in. True, I do hope the stories inspire you to look for the coincidences and connections to bigger things. But those things need to be yours. I’m just trying to tell an exciting story, show you what happened when one girl stood up to her fears and decided to make her own destiny.

A great story is fun, and that’s more than enough for me.

About the Author:

To young C. H. MacLean, books were everything: mind-food, friends, and fun. They gave the shy middle child’s life color and energy. Amazingly, not everyone saw them that way. Seeing a laundry hamper full of books approach her, the librarian scolded C. H. for trying to check them all out. “You’ll never read that many before they expire!” C. H. was surprised, having shown great restraint only by keeping a list of books to check out next time. Thoroughly abashed, C. H. waited three whole days after finishing that lot before going back for more.

With an internal world more vivid than the real one, C. H. was chastised for reading in the library instead of going to class. “Neurotic, needs medical help,” the teacher diagnosed. C. H.’s father, a psychologist, just laughed when he heard. “She’s just upset because those books are more challenging than her class.” C. H. realized making up stories was just as fun as reading, and harder to get caught doing. So for a while, C. H. crafted stories and characters out of wisps and trinkets, with every toy growing an elaborate personality.

But toys were not mature, and stories weren’t respectable for a family of doctors. So C. H. grew up and learned to read serious books and study hard, shelving foolish fantasies for serious work.

Years passed in a black and white blur. Then, unpredictably falling in love all the way to a magical marriage rattled C. H.’s orderly world. A crazy idea slipped in a resulting crack and wouldn’t leave. “Write the book you want to read,” it said. “Write? As in, a fantasy novel? But I’m not creative,” C. H. protested. The idea, and C. H.’s spouse, rolled their eyes.

So one day, C. H. started writing. Just to try it, not that it would go anywhere. Big mistake. Decades of pent-up passion started pouring out, making a mess of an orderly life. It only got worse. Soon, stories popped up everywhere- in dreams, while exercising, or out of spite, in the middle of a work meeting. “But it’s not important work,” C. H. pleaded weakly. “They are not food, or friends, or…” But it was too late. C. H. had re-discovered that, like books, life should be fun too. Now, writing is a compulsion, and a calling.

C. H. lives in a Pacific Northwest forest with five cats, two kids, one spouse, and absolutely no dragons or elves, faeries, or demons… that are willing to be named, at least.

His latest book is the YA fantasy, Two Empty Thrones.

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Interview with Tony Taylor, author of The Darkest Side of Saturn

Title: The Darkest Side of Saturn

Author: Tony Taylor

Publisher: iUniverse

Pages: 492

Genre: Science Fiction

Format: Ebook

Purchase at AMAZON

It’s 1997 at a mountaintop observatory in Southern California where spacecraft navigator Harris Mitchel and astronomer Diana Muse-Jones discover a dangerous asteroid which may hit the earth within two decades. As the asteroid tumbles through space towards an uncertain impact, Harris and Diana fight bitterly over how to announce their discovery. When Harris goes public to a skeptical world—at the cost of his and Diana’s careers—he sends their already turbulent relationship into a blaze of conflicting passions. As his notoriety builds, a fanatical preacher and his unhinged followers stalk him while an obnoxious radio personality provides disruptive help. Harris becomes an unwilling Pied Piper for his own overzealous followers hungry for belief and eager for guidance into an uncertain and tumultuous future. In this science fiction drama the characters battle each other in contests of Damn your world view! against a background of hard science, religion, romance, metaphysical speculation, and the forces of nature versus human passions and dreams. Meanwhile an asteroid hurtles through the solar system and global salvation or disaster hangs in the balance. “A courageous and visionary work … an instant classic.” —BlueInk Reviews

What is your favorite quality about yourself?

Perfectionism. I write, re-write, and re-re-write. I never met a paragraph of mine that I didn’t want to edit. Over and over again. I think perfectionism is essential to quality writing. It helps you write good chapters, and once you’ve got the entire story in place in a reasonable draft, perfectionism helps you put in all the deep interconnecting things, the foreshadowings and so forth, that knit the book together as a whole and give the story a haunting quality. It took me nine drafts to get there with this last book.

In areas other than writing, perfectionism served me well in my occupation as a spacecraft navigator. Space is unforgiving; it doesn’t tolerate mistakes and doesn’t care whether your spacecraft or career survives or not.

What is your least favorite quality about yourself?

Perfectionism. It stalls you on a single chapter, and you can’t move on until you’ve perfected it. That causes you to lose momentum and perspective for finishing the whole story, and you have to work extra hard at the end to wrap everything together again.  It took me nine drafts to get there with this book.

In social relations, perfectionism is not good. I’ve mellowed in my later years.

When did you first know you could be a writer?

I remember the first time I wrote an essay in grammar school that I enjoyed writing, probably around the 4th grade. I put considerable effort into it and used some fancy-schmancy words and embarrassingly cloying phrases. The teacher praised it and I thought, Whadda’ya know, I can write! That was a revelation, because previously I’d hated it. Just the fact that that memory has been in my head so long tells you it must have been important.

Later I had fun in college writing essays with long sentences covering a page or more. It wasn’t until I encountered Hemingway that I learned that short is usually best. For sure!

Who or what influenced your writing over the years?

I started off as a science fiction fan, so authors like Aldous Huxley (Brave New World), Arthur C. Clarke (Childhood’s End), and Robert A. Heinlein (Time Enough for Love) were influential. In college I branched out, particularly enjoying Lord of the Flies, Catch 22, and Crime and Punishment. I like authors and books that  haunt you, that make you think, that walk around in your head for days after you finish reading. That’s what I strive for when I write.

How did you come up with the title of the book?

I was at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in the early 80s watching the first pictures come down from the Voyager spacecraft after it flew by Saturn. The planet had grabbed Voyager with its gravity and flung it upward out of the plane of the solar system, and now we were looking back and down at the night side nested inside the crescent of the day side, and from that higher perspective came a view that had never been seen before. Saturn had always, in all of history, never been more than a two dimensional disk painted onto the celestial sphere from where we saw it on Earth. But now for the first time, from a new perspective higher than the one we had before, the shadow cutting across the rings and that darkness nested into light made the planet real. It had finally become a three dimensional sphere floating in space, and the title popped into my head. The Dark Side of Saturn (Darkest came later). The dark side contrasting against the light made it real.

I didn’t start writing the story until a decade later and by then I’d figured out what that meant: the yin and yang aspect of the world. How opposites taken together from a larger perspective make a whole. Good and evil, science and religion, faith versus understanding, male versus female, each provides context for the other, and out of that you get something more complete than either one by itself. That’s one of the deeper reaches I intended.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

Finishing it. I can’t count the times I nearly gave up in despair. It was terrible. I got the title around 1982, started writing around 1995, then had to put it away because I got busy in the space biz. I picked it up again around 2005, then had to put it away again because my NASA spacecraft were lonely and needed my attention. Finally I decided about two years ago that I had to finish this monster. That’s when the real struggle and despair set in. I was about to throw in the towel when my daughter read the MS and convinced me to press on.

The other difficulty was getting a physically realistic orbit for Babylym, my two mile wide dangerous asteroid. I actually enjoyed that part, however, because it gave me an excuse to not have to write the rest of the book. I think I burned up about a year total on that diversion. Incidentally, I put plenty of clues on the orbit in the book, so I wouldn’t be surprised if some sharp space cadet could figure out the orbital elements. Maybe I’ll offer a prize.

Tony Taylor spent a long career navigating NASA spacecraft—including Voyager, Cassini, Mars Polar Lander, Galileo, and MESSENGER—to every planet in the solar system. He graduated from the United States Air Force Academy and earned an MS in physics from the University of Arizona. Tony and his wife, Jan, live in Sedona, Arizona.

Warriors at the Helm by Juan Carlos Marcos Book Feature

Warriors at the Helm
 Warriors at the Helm

Author: Juan Carlos Marcos

Publisher: Elie Press

Pages: 174

Genre: Business

Format: Hardcopy/Ebook

In Warriors At The Helm: A Leader’s Guide To Success in Business, Juan Carlos Marcos shares his almost four decades of experience regarding people dynamics in the corporate World. Whether you’re just getting started in business, or you are a thirty-year warrior, nothing is as valuable to your growth, and in preparing you for success, as learning through trial and error. However, modern-day corporate America can be very unforgiving or impatient through your learning process. This book represents the next best thing to being there, which is learning from others’ experience. Juan provides the reader with a practical tool that offers valuable insights into the distinctive and real differences between effective leaders (those that people eagerly follow) and those who lack the self-awareness to understand that they may be barriers to progress versus a catalyst. To further add texture to his insights, Juan elicits and shares thoughts from veteran executives who share personal experiences and perspectives derived from years of trench warfare. In Warriors At The Helm you will learn about the traits that make Leaders and Individual Contributors successful in business and how to manage the Dumb Asses and Egomaniacs (AKA Barbarians) that roam the corporate landscape. The book will provide you with the awareness and knowledge of the life “on the inside” that will help you emulate and demonstrate the behaviors that will keep your career on a positive and productive track.

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Juan Carlos Marcos was born in Cuba and immigrated to the United States in 1962. He spent almost four decades in leadership roles in human resources in the corporate world, including experience in multiple industries. Among the companies he worked at included Saint Mary’s Hospital Medical Center, in Madison Wisconsin, Graber Industries Inc., Boston Market and McDonald’s Corporation. Now retired and working as a consultant, he took the time to fulfill his dream of writing his first book. Juan holds a bachelor’s degree in business from Northern Illinois University and a master’s degree in business from the University of Wisconsin. Juan lives in Evergreen, Colorado, with his wife Randi.