lies all the ingredients
Like a caterpillar,
she takes in
what is meant for harm
and it hardens,
into something beautiful.
Change becomes the breeding ground
where whom she was meant to be
can finally come forth.
Excerpt from Sifting Through Mud
Untangling myself from the covers, I roll over to look at the clock on my nightstand. Who the hell is banging on my door at six-forty in the morning? It better not be Wesley. I told him my thighs were no longer open for business, and that he should focus on fixing his marriage instead of running around like a sex-crazed bachelor.
I let my head fall back onto the pillow, hoping whoever it is goes away. Except the ringing and banging doesn’t stop. I jump out of bed, grab my robe, and scamper down the stairs.
“Why didn’t you tell me you were seeing Nathan?” Nyla storms into my house like a wild fire on crack when I open the door. “How is that something you don’t tell me?” she demands, throwing her handbag fiercely onto the foyer table.
Panic strikes me hard in the chest. Who told her? How does she know?
“What do you mean?” I play dumb, buying myself some time.
“You know what I mean.” Now thrusting her car keys on the table, except they bounce off and hit the floor. She pivots around to face me, her hands hard on her hips.
I freeze up. My whole body goes into lock down as if all my muscles and organs have run for the hills, leaving me stumped and stupid.
Nyla’s eyes bulge with rage. “My husband was a patient of yours and you don’t tell me that? How can you not tell me that? I had no idea he was seeing a shrink.”
What? Huh? My brain is tripping over itself trying to understand what’s happening. I try to move but my body is still frozen. What is she talking about? I thought she was referring to the reckless affair, the mating with her husband. But that’s not it at all because I’m sure she would’ve slapped me or punched me or taken out a gun and shot me by now. Something’s off base here and my brain is being very slow in its tabulation.
“How can we be friends this long and you don’t mention a thing like that?” she hisses. “What kind of a friend are you?”
Finally it hits me. This isn’t about the affair with her currently dead husband. I’m safe. I dodged the bullet yet again.
Well, sort of.
Demetria 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. Visit Demetria at http://www.demetriafostergray.com
Author Interview Q&A
For the Novel Sifting Through Mud
- What did you do before becoming a writer? How has your career path led to or shaped your writing career?
I’ve been a writer for quite some time that I barely recall what I did before. I’ve spent over twenty years as a marketing and technical writer in the corporate world. However, underneath all my corporate layers, fiction writing was always drumming to come out, wanting desperately to take the lead. So I let it out.
- Why did you write Sifting Through Mud?
I wanted to see under what circumstances a woman and her husband’s mistress could become best friends. I like stories about women and the adversity they go through to overcome challenges and beat the odds against them. Plus, I love strong female friendships and the ties that bind them, shape them, and give them courage to grow.
- What can women learn from Nyla?
They can learn resiliency, understanding, and the art of unconditional love. Nyla had to learn each of these as she navigated her friendship with Vivian.
- What are three things that a couple needs to make a marriage work?
Ha ha! If I knew the answer to that, I’d bottle it, sell it, and put an end to all the divorces. I’d be rich.
- Why did you become a writer?
Because that’s the only thing that fits me like a glove. I feel at peace and at home when I write.
- Bravo’s reality TV brand, The Real Housewives, is very popular today. If Nyla were a character on one of these shows, how would she interact with the other wives? What would the wives say or think about her situation?
Nyla would think all The Real Housewives were coo-coo-crazy. She probably wouldn’t interact well with them, and they probably wouldn’t appreciate Nyla’s snooty opinion of them. In the novel, Nyla’s friend Lettie operates like she could be a cast member on The Real Housewives. Nyla and Lettie’s relationship depicts a great example of how Nyla would interact if she were on The Real Housewives.
- What tips would you give other aspiring writers on how to complete and submit a novel, and survive the publication process?
In this business, you have to have a thick skin and faith in yourself. Completing a novel and surviving the publication process takes extreme faith, endurance and a thick skin. If you don’t have any of these, you may want to rethink your writing journey. My one tip would be this: Make sure you want it bad enough to endure all the pitfalls and obstacles. Otherwise, it’s just a waste of your time.
- What impact do you want to leave on the literary world?
I would like to inspire, uplift, and entertain all those who come in contact with my literary work.
- Describe your writing process or rituals.
I really don’t have a process. I just sit down and write. I’ve tried to put processes in place many times, but I typically get bored with the routine of it and end up ditching it after a few weeks.
10. What are you most passionate about in your life?
I love obtaining inner wisdom and strength and sharing that knowledge with others. Tapping into our spirituality empowers us to operate at remarkable levels. It gives us divine focus, freedom, and courage to be and do what we were called to be and do.
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.
What People Are Saying about Sifting Through Mud (Book Testimonials)
Demetria Foster Gray delivers a heart-stopping, emotional punch with her debut novel, Sifting Through Mud. The boundaries of friendship are reinvented in this sexy, thought provoking tale of two women on a tightly woven journey of self discovery. Sifting Through Mud is rich with characters you’ll laugh with, cry with, and pull for in the end. —Lynn Chandler Willis, award-winning author of The Rising, and Wink of an Eye
In her debut novel, Demetria Foster Gray delivers a stunning tale of friendship, love, and sacrifice. Full of twists and turns, Sifting Through Mud leaves you breathless as friends, Nyla and Vivian, push the limits of their convictions, friendship, and love. These women are strong, smart, and beautiful with whom you instantly connect. Feeling the emotional struggle of each character, your heart aches for them, their decisions, and ultimately your own as you find yourself choosing between them. Sifting Through Mud is simply stunning. —Cindy Cipriano, author of The Circle
Bonus Excerpt from Sifting Through the Mud
Nathan is in the family room watching sports on TV. My handbag and car keys are on the foyer table next to the flower arrangement I sent myself yesterday for our twentieth wedding anniversary. I grab my keys, my handbag, and open the front door. I pause in the doorway to look back over my shoulder, at the life I lived here. Then silently, almost invisibly, I walk out the door.
I have no idea where I’m going. All I feel is the overwhelming burden of where I’ve been. The toll and heaviness of an undesired life. For now, a hotel will have to do. One where no one can find me, and has big, fluffy pillows to hold my tears and muffle my screams. Tomorrow, when Nathan’s at work, I’ll go back for a few personal things. All I have now are the clothes on my back—clothes which are hanging wearily from my marriage-torn body.
The truth of the matter is, I’m a murderer. I’ve killed the one person who could’ve saved me—myself. I’ve traveled down this lifeless road for far too long, and now I’m stuck in blandness. I miss the flavor of life. The pleasure and joy of actually feeling feelings, instead of faking feelings. Faking joy, faking happiness. I’m living life without the spice of life and it’s taking its toll on me.
But thank God the dead has now risen, and it’s time for me to take back my life. To absolve my death. Which is precisely what I did over dinner this evening while Nathan was eating in front of the TV, and I was dining alone at the kitchen table. I asked myself two questions: (1) How much longer can I play a role that’s no longer suited for me?, and (2) How much longer can I hold my breath when all I want to do is breathe? The answers to those questions are what caused me to rise from the table, grab my handbag, and walk out the door.
The thing is, I don’t know how to love my husband anymore. Or if I ever loved him at all. It seems I did. I must have. But I just don’t know anymore. It’s exhausting spinning your wheels in a marriage that doesn’t seem to move. Not forward, not backwards, just stalled. Stagnant. A lot of bitterness accompanies stagnation. A lot of anger. A lot of slicing each other apart, and chewing each other up. It’s treacherous. It’s sad. It’s time to move on.
After driving for a half hour to the next town, I find a nice hotel with clean, spacious rooms, a deep Jacuzzi tub, fresh linens, and a complimentary hot breakfast in the morning. Nathan will be calling me when it becomes the middle of the night and I haven’t returned home. He’ll wonder where I am with a slight bit of concern. Or perhaps he’ll sleep like a log through the night and never give my absence a second thought. Either way, I’ve turned off my cell phone. His concern or lack of concern is no longer an issue for me.
See what happens next in Demetria Foster Gray’s Sifting Through Mud.