Tracy has visited here before, and I am happy to welcome her again with an excerpt from her latest novel: Wind over Marshdale. If you enjoy reading Frank Peretti like I do, then I think you will love this story. Read the first chapter below and see for yourself!
Q: Who is Tracy Krauss?
A: Besides an author, I am an artist, drama director, worship leader and teacher. I’m all about the creative process, so everything I do has that bent to it. When I’m ‘making’ something – be it a painting, directing my vision for a play on the stage, playing an instrument, or writing a book – I feel energized. Sometimes I tend to burn myself out because I don’t rest much, but I like to be busy and I love all my creative pursuits, so it’s hard to drop anything.
I currently live in beautiful Tumbler Ridge, British Columbia, Canada, known for its many waterfalls. However, my husband and I have moved around a lot in our nearly thirty years of marriage, and many of the places we’ve lived have been in the far north. Places like Churchill, Manitoba – the ‘polar bear capital of the world’; the Yukon, which is next door to Alaska; and the North West Territories – all north of the 60th parallel. This has given me lots of fodder for my stories.
Q: When did you start writing?
A: I first started writing when my eldest was just a baby. I could hardly wait for her to go down for her nap so that I could pound away at my mother’s old typewriter. That was more than a quarter century ago. Four kids, plus homeschooling for nine years, plus going back to work as a public school teacher full time, and I finally signed my first contract in 2008. (This was after many, many rejections and a lot of hard work revising, querying, and revising some more.) My first book AND THE BEAT GOES ON released in 2009, followed by MY MOTHER THE MAN-EATER in 2010, PLAY IT AGAIN in 2011, and now, WIND OVER MARSHDALE in 2012. I’ve also had five plays published or contracted in that time with various play publishing houses.
Q: What authors have inspired your own writing?
A: Frank Peretti is still my favourite author. To me he is a groundbreaker. He’s tackled subjects that were previously considered taboo within Christian circles in such a compelling and thought provoking way that his writing is almost revered as truth. For instance, THIS PRESENT DARKNESS has almost become a manual on spiritual warfare, even though it’s fiction. I try to include some of this ‘edge’ in my own writing. Francine Rivers is another that comes to mind. She has written about some pretty controversial topics as well, and her characters are always believable; they aren’t perfect in other words. Again, this is what I strive for with my characters.
Q: Tell us about your current novel.
A: WIND OVER MARSHDALE takes place in a small prairie town where, on the surface, everything seems quaint and happy. Underneath there are some serious issues, especially with racism, sexual promiscuity, and the occult. Thomas Lone Wolf is a Cree man on a mission to build a heritage site near the town based on some ancient archaeological evidence. He and his children aren’t prepared for the level of prejudice they begin to face. Rachel Bosworth is the new Kindergarten teacher, fresh from the big city and running away from a hurtful past. Con McKinley is a local farmer, who also happens to be single and good looking. A love triangle of sorts develops, with the two men unwitting participants. As well, eccentric twin sisters bombard the town; one with her legalistic religious views and the other as a practicing witch. The local pastor has little effect trying to keep his parishioners in line since he is involved in some unsavoury business of his own. The lives of these and many other unusual characters weave together into a surprising climax. Beneath it all is a thread linking everyone’s problems to the spirit realm; an ancient curse from the past that must be dealt with once and for all.
Q: What’s next?
A: I have two more finished novels and several works in progress. I’m just in the process of polishing up CZECH OUT, about a hockey player who defects to North America during the cold war, and THREE STRAND CORD, a romantic mystery about three friends. Once they’re ready for submission I’ll be pitching them to my agent. I’m also always pitching plays as well, since I write most of my own material for my drama troupe. Finally, I’m publishing an illustrated children’s book. I just finished all the artwork and it should be ready fairly soon.
Marshdale. Just a small farming community where nothing special happens. A perfect place to start over… or get lost. There is definitely more to this prairie town than meets the eye. Once the meeting place of aboriginal tribes for miles around, some say the land itself was cursed because of the people’s sin. But its history goes farther back than even indigenous oral history can trace and there is still a direct descendant who has been handed the truth, like it or not. Exactly what ties does the land have to the medicine of the ancients? Is it cursed, or is it all superstition?
Wind Over Marshdale is the story of the struggles within a small prairie town when hidden evil and ancient medicine resurface. Caught in the crossfire, new teacher Rachel Bosworth finds herself in love with two men at once. First, there is Thomas Lone Wolf, a Cree man whose blood lines run back to the days of ancient medicine but who has chosen to live as a Christian and faces prejudice from every side as he tries to expose the truth. Then there is Con McKinley, local farmer who has to face some demons of his own. Add to the mix a wayward minister seeking anonymity in the obscurity of the town; eccentric twin sisters – one heavily involved in the occult and the other a fundamentalist zealot; and a host of other ‘characters’ whose lives weave together unexpectedly for the final climax. This suspenseful story is one of human frailty – prejudice, cowardice, jealousy, and greed – magnified by powerful spiritual forces that have remained hidden for centuries, only to be broken in triumph by grace.
Publisher : Astraea press
Tracy Krauss is an author, artist, playwright, director, worship leader, and teacher. Originally from a small prairie town, she received her Bachelor’s Degree at the University of Saskatchewan. She has lived in many places in northern Canada with her husband, a pastor, and their children. They currently live in Tumbler Ridge, BC.
Published works include four romantic suspense novels: AND THE BEAT GOES ON, where archeological evidence for creation comes at a heavy cost; MY MOTHER THE MAN-EATER, the story of a ‘cougar’ who takes on more than she bargained for; PLAY IT AGAIN, about an unlikely match during the 1980s rock n’ roll scene; and WIND OVER MARSHDALE, where strong spiritual forces rock a seemingly peaceful prairie town. She also has several stage plays in print. Visit her website for more details. http://www.tracykrauss.com/
WIND OVER MARSHDALE
By Tracy Krauss
A whispered breath skimmed across the long prairie grass like a
giant invisible hand stroking the fur of a silken feline. The screech of an
eagle echoed through the valley as it dipped and glided above the river. The
rounded slopes of the bank rose above the swiftly flowing water while
small clumps of trees clustered nearby but for the most part the land
stretched uninterrupted toward the horizon.
In the distance, a faint rumbling could be heard. It began to shake
the earth as it drew nearer. A cloud of dust accompanied the approaching
mass. Hooves pounded. Nostrils dilated. Eyes reddened with fear. The
musky stench of sweat mixed with the heat and dust.
The huge beasts moved en masse toward the precipice. Thousands
of shaggy heads bobbed in unison as the herd of bison stampeded forward.
As if in slow motion, they continued on, up and over the sharp bank of the
river into the ravine below. One by one, they hurtled forward, oblivious to
the fate that awaited them, as they toppled headlong to their deaths.
Thomas shot up in bed, panting. The T-shirt he wore clung
to his body with sweat. It was not the first time the dream had
come to wake him.
He took a deep breath, disentangled himself from the sheets,
and rose to get a drink of water. No point going back to bed now.
He wouldn’t sleep anyway. He padded down the narrow hallway,
passing the half closed doorways that sheltered his sleeping
children. Ducking to avoid hitting his head as he entered the tiny
kitchen, he paused for a moment to look at the expanse of
landscape beyond the window. Mostly flat, with a rise of gently
rolling hills in the distance, it was clothed with a carpet of rippling
grass except for the odd patch of dry fallow. Just like in the dream.
The early morning sunrise was just beginning to filter in,
reaching to shed some light in the shadowed corners of the room.
Thomas had managed to rent a house near the outskirts of town.
Correction. It wasn’t exactly a house. The realtor called it a “double
wide.” Okay, it was a trailer, but it was the only property for rent in
Marshdale at the moment. At least, that was what the realtor had
said. It wasn’t the nicest place—rather dingy if truth be told—and it
was farther from school than Thomas would have liked, but it was
still within walking distance. Better than the overcrowded and
dilapidated homes he’d been used to as a child.
But that was another time. Another life.
He was here now, for better or for worse, and the people of
Marshdale would just have to accept it. He was Thomas Lone Wolf,
proud of his Cree ancestry, and determined to do something about
it. As a community liaison, he’d worked with dozens of indigenous
groups all over the western provinces trying to set up business
propositions. This time was different, though. It was personal.
With practiced fingers he undid his nighttime braid and
shook out his hair, which fell well past his shoulders. Even at forty,
there was no sign of graying or hair loss. It was straight, coarse and
black, just like his ancestors’ – he was the perfect picture of a Cree
Now that he was awake, he allowed himself to replay the
dream in his mind – at least the parts that he could remember. Like
most dreams, the initial clarity soon faded after just a few waking
moments. There were buffalo – always buffalo. And they seemed
bent on suicide, careening to their deaths before he could stop them
He was going to start writing it down. The theme was too
familiar; the mixture of fear and power too real. Some people said
you dreamt in black and white. Thomas wasn’t sure about that. He
knew there was blood in his dream – and lots of it. The redness of it
stood out in stark contrast to the muted prairie landscape. And the
stench. That unmistakable metallic scent filled his nostrils to such a
degree that he could almost swear he still smelled it. Almost. But
that was ridiculous and he pushed the memory of the coagulating
stains out of his mind.
With a sigh he turned back to the cupboards and started
readying the coffee. It would soon be time to wake the children and
get ready for work himself. Another grueling day of lobbying for
something that should be rightfully his to begin with. Reality didn’t
stop for dreams.
Rachel Bosworth pulled her car over to the side of the road;
gravel crunching under her tires, and came to a rolling stop. She
put the car in park, pulled the emergency brake into place with a
jerk, and stepped out of the confined, yellow compact. She inhaled
a deep lungful of the late summer air, surveying the picture of
pastoral serenity below.
Marshdale. This was to be her new home. Surrounded by a
patchwork of gold and brown earth, it was an oasis of clustered
houses and well established trees cocooned in a desert of wide
open prairie landscape. Stretched out to the horizon, the summer
sky met with rounded hills.
“Not very big,” Rachel’s friend Sherri noted, joining her on
the outside of the vehicle. “You sure you’re going to manage way
out here all by yourself?”
“I think it’s perfect,” Rachel said with a satisfied smile. “Just
the change I needed.”
“Just the escape, you mean,” Sherri teased.
“Maybe.” Rachel turned to her friend. “Come on, Sherri. I’m
feeling scared enough as it is. This is a big move for me. Besides,
you’re the one who convinced me to move out west in the first
“Yeah, I know. But I meant for you to move to Regina with
Dan and me, not out to some backwoods hole in the wall. They
probably don’t even have cell service, for Pete’s sake!”
“It can’t be as bad as that. The hiring committee said
Marshdale was a totally modern town with all the basic amenities.”
“Yeah? Let’s hope so,” Sherri quipped, shading her eyes
with her hand as she surveyed the town below them.
“Come on, Sherri. You’re my best friend. I need you to be
excited for me. Tell me I made a good decision and that I won’t
regret it,” Rachel begged.
“You’re right, kiddo.” Sherri put on her most encouraging
smile. “It will be nice to see you more often, even if it is a two-hour
Rachel nodded. “What’s a two-hour drive compared to
thousands of miles all the way back to Toronto?”
“Who knows? Maybe you’ll meet some cute farmer and end
up getting married or something.” Sherri shrugged.
“Not interested in men right now, remember? I am here to
become the best kindergarten teacher Marshdale has ever seen.”
“Sorry. That was insensitive of me. I know you’re still
hurting over Rotten Ronny.”
“Who?” Rachel asked, raising a brow.
“That’s the spirit!” Sherri laughed. “Who needs men,
“Better not let Dan hear you talking like that,” Rachel
warned with a chuckle of her own. “Come on. Let’s get going. I can
hardly wait to get my stuff unpacked.”
“I can’t believe you brought so little stuff with you,” Sherri
observed, climbing into the passenger seat.
“I wanted to start fresh.” Rachel put the small standard
vehicle in gear and rolled forward. “Besides, moving a whole lot of
furniture and stuff seemed pointless. I’ve rented this really nice
little basement suite. It’s fully furnished. And that’s what you’re
here for, remember? I need your expert advice on what stuff I need
to buy in the city before school starts next week.”
“Now, shopping is one thing I’m very good at.”
“I know.” Rachel nodded with a grin. “It’s why I brought
“Thanks. I thought it was for the company.”
“Of course. That too.” Rachel laughed. She sobered quickly
and glanced over at her friend. “Thanks, Sherri. For everything.”
“What are you talking about?” Sherri waved a dismissive
hand. “I’d be some friend if I didn’t come to your rescue when
“I mean about Ronald. I don’t know how I would have
coped without you there.”
“I know, kid.” Sherri gave Rachel’s hand a squeeze. “That’s
what friends are for. Besides, I’ll expect pay back someday, you
They were nearing the outskirts of the village. A large
carved sign by the side of the road read, “Welcome to Marshdale.”
“I bet people live more freely here,” Rachel stated. “It’s what
I’m hoping for. The simple life.”
“People have problems wherever they go,” Sherri noted. “It
may look all peaceful right now, but I bet they have their share of
troubles, just like everybody else.”
“Yeah, like what? No cell service?” Rachel asked, the corner
of her mouth turning up.
“Now that would be tragic.”
I know my life isn’t suddenly going to become a bed of
roses,” Rachel admitted. “But it just seems to me that country
living – the slower pace – has to do something to calm people.
Make them less artificial and – you know – less selfish.”
“We can only hope,” Sherri shrugged. “Now come on,
girlfriend. Let’s find that basement suite of yours. If we’re going to
unpack, make a list, and get back to the city before dark, we better
get a move on.”
“Roger that.” Rachel nodded, glancing at the hand-– sketched
map that was on the dash. She made a left hand turn at the first
The interior of the church was cool, quiet and dim. Just the
way Pastor Todd Bryant liked it. He sat on one of the upholstered
chairs in the sanctuary, allowing the viscosity of stillness to envelop
him like a silky smooth liquid.
Sometimes he wished he could stay in here forever, without
having to go out there. The recently refurbished sanctuary was a
peaceful place compared to the world just outside its double oak
doors. When he had come here just a year ago, he knew the
Marshdale Community Church would be a place of refuge; a place
to rest and strengthen his own weary spirit. A place to hide.
Modern and well kept, the Community Church had the
appearance of comfortable affluence – a testament to God’s favor.
The folks who attended were proud of their commitment to the
Lord’s work in Marshdale and God had blessed them with material
prosperity. They required little actual input from the pastor. Just
keep the ship running smoothly, as instructed by the board, and
everything should be just fine.
Perfect. His less than amiable departure from his last church
had left him feeling just a bit shell-shocked. He needed a place to
hide out for a while. As long as he followed the program…
Another soul sat alone, waiting. The room was dark, the
slatted shades drawn over the open window. The only light came
from three candles burning in their resting places on the pentagram
table top. The air was rich with the heady scent of incense
smoldering in the small, intricately designed brass burner. The
woman breathed deeply. Empty the mind. Allow the inner self to
A sudden breeze whipped into the room, announcing its
entrance with a slap of the wooden slats on the window frame. It
caressed the chimes hanging nearby before darting to tease the
three flames into a flickering dance.
She smiled. Yes. There was so much to share, to enrich the
lives in this town. There were many paths to enlightenment, but
ultimately they all ended one way. It was up to her to release this
narrow-minded and stiff-necked people to accept that.