Sunday, July 11, 2010

And the Beat Goes On, Tracy Krauss

Canadian born archeologist Mark Graham unearths a remarkable discovery while at a dig in the mountains of Zimbabwe – pterodactyl remains and giant human bones buried together. Speculation leads to the possible existence of a mythical race known as ‘Nephilim’, a pre-flood people alleged to have descended from both gods and men.

But skepticism and sabotage delay Mark and his team as the dig site is compromised, putting their discovery – as well as his very life – in grave danger. Deceived and framed by trusted friends and colleagues, Mark struggles to safeguard his findings and protect his reputation in order to unearth the mystery behind the Nephilim.

“And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually…” Genesis 6:5 KJV

Tom-tom . . . tom-tom . . . Pulsing . . . throbbing . . . the earth reverberated. Dancers leapt to the ancient rhythm, their half naked bodies, glistening with sweat in the firelight, twisted and arched, as the primal beat called to the pulse within. Overhead, the display case of heaven sparkled, the diamonds large and brilliant against their black velvet nest. Accompanying this was a symphony of sound; a full choir of heavenly voices carried on the solar winds through the crystalline canopy of heaven to the sons of earth below.

The heavy scent of giant orchids which bloomed along the outer perimeter of the temple gardens mingled with the spices and perfumes that were thrown into the fire by the temple priestesses. It had all been set in place for his honor; soon to be absolute ruler and son of the gods himself.

High above the ornate alter, around which the dancers poured their carnal worship, a handsome, young, would-be king watched from his seat of honor. His heart beat quickened, for he knew what was coming next. He had once before witnessed the ancient ritual, as a child, when his own father had been crowned king; had become god.

Abruptly, the drum ceased. A hush swept through the crowd of onlookers who circled the stone platform. The dancers and priestesses scattered. From out of the shadows marched twelve beasts. They were human in appearance except for the gigantic wings, leathery like those of a bat, which were folded across their backs and whose tips nearly touched the ground. Each man was tall and well muscled - the finest and bravest in the kingdom. They were the king’s guard, especially chosen and groomed from boyhood; a privilege for only the strongest and bravest. They would accompany the king wherever he went – even to the grave. As descendants of the Nephilim - the race of giants born from the union of the gods and mortal women - they feared nothing; not even death.

The guards lined up on the large platform, facing the king, as the chief among them solemnly ascended the flight of stone steps that led from the platform and alter to the king’s throne. From here he would have a good view of every spectacle. The guard saluted, turned, and gave the signal to the others.

With precision, the guards stepped back to form a corridor. The here to fore silent crowd could not help but murmur. A wave of ‘oohs’ rippled through the masses as six burly slaves led the captive forward, shackled, hobbled, and muzzled. Even then, it was a struggle to get the huge beast prostrate upon the altar of sacrifice. Its beady eyes glistened as its leather wings twitched.

A priest came forward, gilded knife held high over the creature’s heart. A slave released the muzzle that had kept the creature silent and the knife plunged directly into the heart of the animal as a piercing scream echoed through the forest, seeming to rebound from the canopy of the brilliant sky.

Other skilled workers moved quickly into place, and with a few precise cuts, the huge leather wings were removed. Next the head was severed, the brains neatly extracted, leaving only the long pointed beak, majestic red crest, and beady eyes intact.

Blood dripped from the newly hewn crown as it was placed reverently in the hands of the chief guard. With dignified solemnity, he carried the grisly trophy up the long stairway to the king. The priest followed closely on his heels. The prized headpiece was placed on the king’s head, even as blood continued to drip from its depths onto his hair and beard. The priest, who had brought with him a goblet of the animal’s blood rendered from its jugular vein, presented it to the sovereign. He whispered the ancient words of the deity into the king’s bloody ear; an incantation meant only for the gods, not mortal ears. Slowly the new sovereign raised the goblet to his lips. Without wavering he took a swallow from the cup, letting the blood trickle from the corners of his mouth. Lowering the goblet, his handsome face was suddenly spoiled by a malicious grin.

The priest stepped back as four others came bearing the wings, still attached as one piece by the skin of the creatures back. They were strong men, but even they let out a grunt as the heavy cape was settled onto the shoulders of the monarch. He thought for a moment he would not be able to bear the weight of it. Once the wings were properly cleaned and tanned, they would weight much less and he would be expected to wear them for all public ceremonies. But for this night, he must bear the full weight of the mantle, blood and all.

The blood, which the priest had mixed with some special herbs, was giving him new strength, however. And the words...those secret words passed down from the outer world of his ancestors . . . words which no human could hear . . . these also gave him power. He was one of them, now. A god among men. He straightened majestically in his seat, as if the weight on his shoulders was nothing more than an ordinary cloak made of woven material. He smiled his bloody smile again, flashes of white peaking through the glistening red, and raised his hand in salute.

A cheer went up from the crowd. The heart beat of the tom-tom was revived. People rushed forward to clap and dance around the flaming torches that skirted the perimeter of the platform, as the dancers resumed their gyrations around the altar of incense. The tempo became frenzied as dancers and spectators alike became more agitated. Some began screaming and wailing; others tore at their clothing, leaving themselves exposed. Just when it seemed the festivities were about to turn into a full fledged orgy, a trumpeting signal brought the writhing crowd to a standstill.

The guards remained steadily at their posts, circling the outer edge of the platform. The tom-tom took up another beat, this time methodical and solemn, as a priestess, waving a fragrant branch of flowers before her, led a procession from the darkness of the forest into the light of the torches and then up into the centre of the platform. With her were twenty-four maidens, all beautiful in their delicately fluttering garments; all virgins, never even setting sight on a member of the male gender before. They had been raised for this purpose; innocent, yet knowing that their lives held great significance. Now was the time for the fulfillment of that purpose.

The air was heavy with perspiration and heat. The tension and anticipation of the coming spectacle were almost too much for the crowd to bear. The priestess finished her brief words of blessing. One word from the King now was all it would take.

With relish the newly crowned king surveyed the virgins. Beautiful, innocent and ripe, every one. His own lustful desires rose up and he grinned widely. He would also have his pick, but at a later time, in the privacy of his own chambers.

Suddenly, a flashing sheet of light swept across the sky to the east, followed by a deep rumbling much like the mighty cascading noise of a waterfall. The crowd gasped in fear. Perhaps it was a sign of approval from the gods, he thought. He hoped. Somewhere deep within he heard another voice. His father had told him once about a man - a lunatic - who had been building a boat from before his grandfather’s time. He was a self proclaimed prophet and said that the earth was to be destroyed by a flood. It seemed ridiculous then and even more so now. The crazy man had been giving his warning for hundreds of years and nothing had happened yet.

Besides, he was a god himself, now. He was absolute ruler, at least in this part of the world. His own ancestors had left the area where the lunatic lived long ago, partly in search of treasure; partly to get away from his teaching. They had settled far away in a prosperous and fertile land. And here they had been met by the gods.

As if in answer to his thoughts, another amazing spectacle lit the sky. This time it was a giant forked bolt of light, followed by an even louder crash. The people gasped again; someone even screamed. He must take control. With a lion like roar, the king lifted his arm, giving the signal. “The gods, my fathers, are pleased! Let the ceremony continue!”

The guards, who had previously been standing at attention around the perimeter of the platform, suddenly jumped into action. Without any delicacy or ceremony, they charged at the group of maidens, grabbing their chosen prey and proceeding to rape them with violence and brutality right before the gaping crowd of onlookers. The mob cheered on encouragement as the fetid orgy continued before their eyes on the platform. Potential escapees were thrown back into the arena for more, as each man exercised his rights to the full. Before long, many onlookers joined in the debauchery; some willingly, others not. It did not matter. This was one night when anything and everything was acceptable. The king looked on in sadistic pleasure, hungry lust burning within his own loins. But gods had control over their desires. He must remember that. His time would come later.

Another sheet of lightning crashed along the horizon, illuminating the spectacle below. This was followed by a forked bolt, spectacular in its intensity and brilliance. Some of the people started to scatter in fear; others seemed to be spurred on. The king ignored the uncertainty in his own heart. With another roar, he stood with outstretched arms and shouted his approval.

“And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, the end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.” Genesis 6: 12-13 KJV

When archaeologist Mark Graham unearths the remains of a pterodactyl at
a dig site in the mountains of Zimbabwe, his discovery isn’t all that remarkable –
that is, until he sees the remains of gigantic human bones buried beside it.
Suddenly, speculation begins to mount about the true nature of the fossils, with
most opinions pointing to a mythical ancient race of half-god, half-men known as
the Nephilim. However, as he wends his way through the ensuing web of
deception, sabotage, and betrayal, Mark struggles to preserve not only his
momentous discovery – but also his very life..
Cleverly crafted by author Tracy Krauss, And The Beat Goes On is quite
the satisfying read. Ostensibly a mystery/suspense thriller, Krauss’ engaging
narrative is more a subtle commentary on the fundamental tenets of Creationism;
however, rather than coming off as preachy or pedantic, Krauss provides the
reader with solid facts and historical evidence that anyone will find it difficult to
ignore – regardless of your personal belief system. As such, Krauss successfully
engages the imagination while simultaneously provoking higher thought, a feat
difficult for even the most seasoned writers to achieve.
Enlightening and entertaining, And The Beat Goes On is sure to provoke
many a heated discussion throughout the faith community and beyond. An
enjoyable, recommended read.
-- Apex Review

Excellent Book! Very Well Written!

This book was a great read from start to finish. I really enjoyed reading it and had a hard time putting it down. The author really knows how to get and keep her audiences attention. The story centers on an archaeologist and while some books nowadays go WAY too in depth about the process of being an archaeologist (or a CSI or whatever) it can get boring very quickly. Krauss does a great job of giving us ENOUGH info about what Mark is doing but not TOO much that it leaves you skimming to the next page. This book proves that science fiction and religion can meld together and that they are not mutually exclusive. It also shows a real world perspective on things, not the typical rosey coloured fictionland that a lot of books portray. Overall this was an awesome book and I would really recommend it to anyone who likes science fiction. It was a great read!

Reviewer: Lydia QNSNK Hibbing

Why Tracy Wrote this Book:
Essentially, And The Beat Goes On is a commentary on the Creation vs. Evolution debate, while at the same time a redemptive story about one man’s inner struggles with faith. I became interested in the topic for the first time when I became a Christian and was faced with the huge discrepancy between what the Bible had to say about the origins of the universe and what mainstream scientific thought had to say on the subject. This led to much reading and research, which I later put into use when I decided to homeschool my own children. When I decided to write the book, I had already finished another novel called Play It Again – the story of an ex rock and roll junkie and a stuffy accountant whose one night stand has complicated outcomes and eventually leads them both to redemption in Christ. The protagonist’s son, Mark – a studious eleven year old who likes fossils and arrowheads – seemed like the perfect character for the this next novel. (Thus the tie in with the musical reference in the title) I am also a long time Sci-fi/fantasy buff, so I wanted to somehow include some references to the Nephilim – those mysteriously wicked people who lived before the flood.

My hope is that readers will first and foremost enjoy the book as a good story, for that is what fiction is supposed to be. I do not pretend to be an expert on the scientific aspects of Intelligent Design, but I have tried to include enough information to at least whet the appetites of those who are interested, without coming across as pedantic or bore readers with long scientific explanations. Many issues raised are left somewhat open ended, since it is my belief that intelligent people need to make up their own minds about what they believe, not just take someone else’s word for it. Also, I wanted to highlight the grace of God and point to Jesus as the answer to even life’s most difficult questions. The book is a mystery, a suspense story, and also a romance. In the end, I hope readers will be entertained, but also left pondering the bigger questions of the universe.

Author Bio:
Tracy Krauss grew up in small town Saskatchewan and has always enjoyed writing, along with many other creative pursuits. She received her Bachelor of Education Degree from the University of Saskatchewan with majors in Fine Art, and minors in History and English. She has lived in many interesting places in northern Canada with her husband, a pastor with the PAOC, and their four children. She currently teaches English, Art and Drama at the High School level and lives in Tumbler Ridge, BC.
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  1. Excellent job of this blog, Shawan and thanks for the opportunity. I looks great!

  2. Sorry - its late and I spelled your name wrong!

  3. Hi, this looks very nice! Good luck with your writing :-)
    Regina Andrews

  4. Congratulations, Tracy, and best wishes with your work.

  5. No worries Tracy, I spell my name that way all of the time. Lol! I left off an 's' on your last name so we're even. :)

  6. Wonderfully put!!!

    My thoughts and prayers are with you in your endeavors. :)

  7. Hi I'm from Saskatchewan :) Sounds like an interesting read.

    wyndyc at gmail dot com

  8. Shawna,
    I've been reading about the new ebook blog and I've just now realized it is yours. I had thought of something similar, but you beat me to it. LOL Keep up the good work.
    Deborah M.

  9. PS - I tried to sign up as a follower, but it wouldn't let me.
    Deborah M.

  10. Got signed up Shawna. Would you please enter me to win an ebook copy.
    Deborah M.

  11. I most certainly will Deborah. This isn't really my blog. It's for everybody, I'm just managing it. :)