Night of Pan – Check out this awesome YA novel!

I have been sitting on a secret for a few weeks now and I’ve been itching to share it with you.  Well, guess what.  Today’s the day to share not only the gorgeous cover for Gail Strickland’s, NIGHT OF PAN, but also a wicked, kick-butt excerpt from the novel.

What do you guys think about the cover, huh?  Isn’t it gorgeous?!?!


Night of Pan
by Gail Strickland

Genre: young-adult, historical-fantasy

Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press

Date of Release­­: November 7, 2014

Series: Book One of The Oracle of Delphi Trilogy

Cover Artist: Ricky Gunawan


The slaughter of the Spartan Three Hundred at Thermopylae, Greece 480 BCE—when King Leonidas tried to stop the Persian army with only his elite guard—is well known. But just what did King Xerxes do after he defeated the Greeks?

Fifteen-year-old Thaleia is haunted by visions: roofs dripping blood, Athens burning. She tries to convince her best friend and all the villagers that she’s not crazy. The gods do speak to her.

And the gods have plans for this girl.

When Xerxes’ army of a million Persians marches straight to the mountain village Delphi to claim the Temple of Apollo’s treasures and sacred power, Thaleia’s gift may be her people’s last line of defense.

Her destiny may be to save Greece…

…but is one girl strong enough to stop an entire army?

Are you enticed yet?  Are you ready to read an excerpt?  Here you go.   Enjoy.


Five low, melting notes call. Soft and warm like candle wax. I glance at Sophia. Barely able to breathe, I squeeze her hand. We step together into a meadow bathed in sunshine. The storm is behind us as if the soggy pines form a barrier. We follow the music’s sweetness into the heart of the glade that is suddenly silent.

No melody.

No wind.

What is this place? Fear spikes up my back.

The wind picks up again, blows hot and violent, tangles my hair across my eyes and mouth. The flute music fades, and still I strain to find it mingled with the storm-winds—amber and rust like a painter’s brushstroke across barren clay that paints a memory at my mind’s edge. Just out of reach.

I’ve seen these colored winds before. But when? Where?

I reach out as if I can caress the beautiful colors, but they sink back into the poppies and grasses. The storm comes and goes. Black, menacing clouds race overhead followed by brilliant blue skies. My scalp tingles. I wrap my arm around Sophia’s shoulder and pull her close beside me. A god is playing with us. I know it. And there’s another thing I know—my fate will unfold in this meadow.

Another low note sighs from the needles of a massive pine at the far end of the clearing. A sudden wind whips the grasses like the sea—shiny, leaden and shiny again. Tree tops bend low, dancing a frantic circle dance around us.

Out of the corner of my eye, I catch a movement, a stirring in the old pine’s shadow. The tree trunk is thick, gnarled, its few high branches twisted.

“What’s that? Did you see something? Thaleia, come on!” Sophia screams and grabs my elbow, pulling me back from the tree.

There’s a smell of wet stone and something else—herbs and wild garlic, rain-soaked wool—the smell is overwhelming. Panic seizes me. Courses up my spine like a jolt of lightning.

Sophia takes two steps backwards away from me. Low, rumbling notes shiver the needles. I reach out to call her to me, but she backs another step away then bolts from the clearing.

“Sophia wait,” I whisper. And though I desperately want to turn and run away with Sophia, one low flute note filled with desire holds me.

The music changes to piercing, high shrills.

I turn back to face the pine. Take a slow step closer and stare at the shadowed rocks beside the tree, until my eyes water with the strain.

One cautious step after another, I walk to within an arm’s length of the old monarch. Its roots wrap around a smooth, limestone boulder like a squid clinging to the seafloor.

The shadow thickens to movement… slow, almost imperceptible.

Is that an arm? Sunlight plays across taut muscles. The arm lifts reed pipes then disappears behind the tree trunk.

I try to peer into the black shadows. My ears roar with the heightened sounds: weeds rub against one another; a lizard slips between dead leaves; two branches beat against the trunk of the pine, a drumbeat to the wandering melody of the flute.

The music compels me to take a step closer. And another.

About the Author

Head-ShotWhile studying the Classics in college, Gail Strickland translated much of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, as well as some of Herodotus’ prophecies. Living on the Greek islands after college, she discovered her love of myth, the wine-dark sea and retsina. The Baltimore Review and Writer’s Digest have recognized Gail’s fiction. She published stories and poems in Travelers’ Tales’ anthologies and the San Francisco Writer’s anthology. Her poetry and photography were published in a collection called Clutter. Her debut novel, Night of Pan, first book of a young adult trilogy about the Oracle of Delphi, will be published by Curiosity Quills Press November, 2014. Born in Brooklyn, New York, Gail grew up in Northern California. She raised her children; was a musical director for CAT children’s theater; taught music in schools; mentored young poets and novelists and introduced thousands of youngsters to piano and Greek mythology. Gail is passionate about bringing the richness of Homer’s language and culture to today’s youth.

Find NIGHT OF PAN online:

Goodreads | Amazon US | Amazon UK


YA Genre 101: Historical Fiction

I was talking to someone at work recently about historical fiction and she wanted to know if that meant the story was about an event that happened in history.  I tried to explain it was a yes and no answer.

Historical fiction is a novel set among actual historical events or one that is written to display a certain period of time.  The story itself doesn’t have to be specifically about that one particular event, let’s say, what made the Titanic sink, but more about the people affected by its sinking.

The setting is the most important part of historical fiction since the story takes place surrounding an actual event in history.  The information about the time period and place must be accurate, authentic, or both. Tons of research is involved so the author has a working knowledge of how people lived, what ate and wore, what sort of homes they lived in, etc.

Characters may be real or fictional or a combination of both.  No matter what, they must remain true to the time frame.

The plot must document historical events.  Even though your story is fictional, it needs to make sense and it must have a solution to a problem in the end.  If the plot is fictional, then it must remain true to the historical time and place.   In other words, you could write about a fictional couple who fall in love in 1830’s London.  While the couple is fictional, the surroundings need to be authentic down to the hair pins the women wore.

The dialogue must be authentic to the time period.  Reading books and articles from the time you’re writing about will assist in making sure your character’s speech is perfected.

Descriptions in historical fiction tend to be very vivid.  The author must convey a sense of time so readers who are unfamiliar with the historical events can experience as if they were in the midst of it.

Some of my favorite YA historical novels include:




Wildflowers Blog Tour – Guest Post by author Sally Stephenson

I have a very special guest today, author Sally Stephenson.

I met Sally while participating in the TRINITY blog tour for Clare Davidson.  After speaking with Sally, I happily agreed to let her take over my blog today as part of her WILDFLOWERS blog tour.  So take it away, Sally. Info about her book appears after  her post.

I had graduated from university in 2011 and was beginning to contemplate applying to do a MFA in Creative Writing in America. Part of the application pack required a 30 page sample of writing and at the time I didn’t have anything I could submit. I thought about a war novel and began to write. Originally it was a same-sex relationship and I couldn’t get it to work. I then attended the Pride Parade in Leeds on August 5th 2011 and heard a speech being given by the mayor who spoke about homosexuals being persecuted during WWII and I had never heard that side of history before. I did more research on it and suddenly had my story. originally however, I had made Edith and Helena women who were in their thirties and it didn’t work. Inspired then by Boy in the Striped Pyjamas I made the characters younger but it seemed like too much of a copy so I aged them again to seventeen and it seemed to work. I wanted to write a LGBT book because it felt like I could make the characters real, I knew how to write gay characters a lot better than straight characters and I believed in their relationship a lot more than the straight relationship that I was trying to create. I wrote it because of this aspect, because I wanted to write about relationships that don’t get written about a lot or ones that don’t really appear in mainstream fiction and I thought the idea was unique enough to perhaps be a success. I ended publishing the book a year to the day of getting the idea, I ended up not applying to do a MFA and I did have a couple of agents express interest but self publishing seems to be working at the moment.

With my main characters I molded some of them on my own attributes – both girls are bookish, Edith is a little awkward and shy. She dotes on her father as I did with mine and she always wants the best outcome in a situation. Helena is stronger, she possesses the strength I wish I had and people say they’ve seen (I’m not sure I believe them!) but she’s a little gutsier. She also goes with the motions and doesn’t really think ahead – another little trait of mine! With their mothers I wanted to use female figures that I aspire to or who I find to be role models. I admire older women who are strong and believe in what they’re doing, I also admire women who are soft-natured towards their children and make great mums and so that’s what I wanted to put into my mother characters – this is seen particularly in Frau Heulmannd.

Some fun facts about me:

  • I’ve lived in five countries (UK, Australia, America, Thailand and New Zealand)
  • I know how to say hello in over ten languages
  • I can make a group of 50 Thai kids perform a singing contest using very few commands in English
  • I hated high school and would try not to go whenever possible – instead of becoming a juvenile delinquent I would read obsessively and write obsessively. I remember writing instead of studying for my GCSE’s! (Not something I’m recommending btw!)
  • In one of my GCSE exams I wrote as an answer that pigeons didn’t have ears. To this day I haven’t been proven wrong!

From Goodreads:  During the Second World War, 100,000 Germans were killed due to their sexuality. As the death toll begins at the start of the War, Edith and Helena must not only come to terms with their sexuality but decide whether to fight Hitler’s new regime or live a lie in order to survive.

You can find Sally hanging out at the following social media sites:

Twitter: @WriterSally
Thanks for stopping by, Sally!  It was a joy to have you on my blog.