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


Earth Angel, Earth Angel, Will You Be Mine

I have a fantastic visitor with me today at the Dreamweaver’s Cottage, and she agreed to sit down and do an interview with me.  I am thrilled to introduce you to her.  You may be familiar with her name.  Please welcome Ruth Ellen Parlour.

*gentle, warm applause*

Thanks for joining me, Ruth.  Wow.  It’s been a long time.  The last time we spoke was back in the spring when I hosted my first annual week-long New Author Blog Takeover.  Sadly the spots filled up very fast but I told you if you stopped by in December, I’d see what I could do to help you promote your new book, “Earth Angel”.  Look at it folks.  Isn’t that a stunning cover?

I fell in love with it the moment I saw it.  I want to pick it up and squeeze it to my chest, that’s how much I love the cover.  It’s so earthy and magical and I’m dying to know what each of the symbols mean.

Why don’t you tell us a little about your book.  Where did the idea come from?

Earth Angel is a YA fantasy I’ve been working on for some time. The main theme is Fate Vs Free Will and the story follows two very different heroines who are both struggling against the path the Gods want their lives to take. The ideas developed over time, but the core idea of people summoning fantastical beasts I got from the final fantasy computer games when I was a teenager. I love to write about people and the things they have to go through and how they cope.

You got the idea from a video game?   That’s wonderful and it goes to show you that inspiration can come from anywhere.  I love the concept of the book, too.  Sounds like something I’d love to dig into.

How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing since I could. When I was a kid I used to make Spot the Dog books and write about horses going on adventures. We had a little typewriter which I loved to use and I illustrated the stories too. I still have some of them!

You’re lucky.  So many of us have lost our drawings, writings, etc. from our youth.  I’m sure they are very special to you.

Tell us about your favorite scene from the book.

There’s a few scenes I love and one I can’t edit without crying (soft article that I am.) Without giving away spoilers; there’s a few tender moments where characters open up and share a secret they’ve been holding. I love these moments.

Who is your favorite character?  Least favorite?  Why?

There’s a character in the prison called Dogga who I love (and he seems pretty popular with the readers.) He’s good fun on the outside and despite his flaws he is a good man at heart. I’m not sure about a least favourite, there certainly isn’t one I don’t like although some of them are pretty dubious!

Is this a stand-alone or a series member?

Earth Angel will be the first in a series of stand-alones following the same characters. I’m currently working on a spin off following one of the minor characters.

What is your favorite genre to write?  Read?

I love fantasy but I’m open to venturing out. If a books tickles my fancy I’ll give it a go. I like being recommended books as it gives me the opportunity to read something great I probably wouldn’t have picked up otherwise. At the moment I only write fantasy (in novels) I’ve written a sci-fi short and a WWII short.

What author would you like to meet?

I’ve met Kate Mosse and Jeffery Deaver at signings. I’d love to meet fantasy author Karen Miller because I loved her God Speaker trilogy. I’d love to meet Holly Lisle as her courses have been a great help to me, and her Talyn is my favourite book ever. If Tolkien came back from the dead I’d love to know what he thinks of the LOTR films.

Hee hee.  So would I.  Something tells me though he’s appreciate them for works of art, not so much for sticking to a story line.

Which do you prefer:  paperbacks, hardbacks or e-books?

I’m not so keen on hardbacks because they are less portable and not as comfortable to hold. I love the convenience of ebooks but I just buy books where I can no matter the format as I’m sure all book lovers do. 

What are you currently reading?

I’m reading one of the Game of Thrones books and Treasure Island. I just recently finished Make Believe too.  I’m also reading a children’s history encyclopedia. I thought it would be good to expand my knowledge with a brief overview of history and if there’s any era I’m particularly interested in, I can do some more in depth research.

Are there certain genres of books you will never read?

I’m not interested in Erotica or Vampires/Werewolves (apart from I Am Legend) I’ll only read a Sci-fi if it’s been recommended or it’s by a writer I like. I don’t read pure romance either.

Name your three favorite book covers.

I have the illustrated version of Labyrinth by Kate Mosse. The book is huge and it’s really lovely to just hold and look at. Call me weird but I’m not the only person who does this! I really like graphic covers like The Night Circus (although I haven’t read it). There’s an indie author called Lindsay Buroker whose book covers are awesome.

I’ll have to take a look a these.  I love a great cover design.

Do you prefer dogs or cats?

I love both but I’m particularly fond of dogs. We used to have a cocker spaniel called Sonny. They’re just so fun and nice to have around. I love hearing heroic or cute dog stories over the internet.

Favorite food, ever?

Cake. Particularly of the chocolate variety. Or chips/fries.

Favorite television show?

There’s a few shows I love; Firefly, South Park, Big Bang Theory, New Girl, You’ve Been Framed, Total Wipeout. (Quite a variety there!)

Most anticipated film?

Either the Hunger Games or the Hobbit. Me and my friends are planning an outing when the Hobbit comes out.

Oh, I can’t wait for The Hobbit.  It will be interesting to see how Peter Jackson turns this small book into a trilogy.

Ruth Ellen, it was an absolute pleasure to speak with you again and I’m so glad you took a few extra minutes to talk to my readers.  I know I’m heading over to buy a copy of your book.  It looks fantastic.  As the internet realm is a pretty big one, where can we find you should we wish to talk again?

I love interacting with peoples and you can find me on these formats:

Thank you for having me on your blog Jenny!

Oh, you are so very welcome.  Please come back any time.  You are always welcome at The Dreamweaver’s Cottage.  You can find Earth Angel on and you can watch the book trailer here.


Why I write

Why do I write?  And why young adult fantasy?  Don’t teens have enough to deal with?  Shouldn’t I focus more on offering teens solutions during these tough years rather than fill their heads with non-existent fluff?  Isn’t writing fantasy a bit egotistical?

Believe it or not, these are questions I’ve been asked over the past several years.  I respond this way:

  • I write because I love to write.  It’s as important to me as breathing.  If I go a day without writing, I get jittery.  My brain flips out.  It’s like I didn’t get my ‘fix’ and I’m in major withdrawal. It’s not pretty.
  • I like writing young adult books because kids need a place to escape, just like adults.  I like the audience.  I think they are an awesome bunch of peeps and not so stereotypical as adults make them out to be.
  • I write fantasy because kids, like adults, want to escape reality.  They want to go to a place where they can defeat any and all odds, where they can be the hero.
  • Fantasy is no different than any other genre in the lessons that can be taught and learned.  The lessons are just more intense.  The situations are taken to the extreme, but in the end, the hero ends up believing in himself and what he can accomplish, if he puts his mind to a task. I can’t think of a more practical lesson for a teen.
  • As for writing being an egotistical thing to do…well, yes it is.  It’s also a very giving art form.  We see the world a different way.  We hear dialogue differently.  We are always asking the proverbial question, What if?  Our dreams become more than images in our brains.  They take on a life of their own.  Unlike the general populace, writers have an inexplicable urge to share those dreams, those stories with others.  To do so, we have to share our deepest secrets, our hopes, our fears.  Unflinching courage is required to write.  Even more courage is required to ‘put it out there’ for others to read.  Rejection is very hard on a writer because writing is so close to our souls.  It makes us vulnerable and it takes a long time, sometimes years, to toughen our hide.  Even then, negative reviews still stab at our core.  And yet…we keep on because we have a story that has to be told.

In my case, I like fantasy because it is true escapism.  Of all the stories I clung to as a child, it was the fairytales that stuck with me the most.  The shining knights on white horses that rescued those in distress, the castles…magic.  Fantasy took me away from my problems of the here and now.  It made me invincible.  I could picture myself in gowns, or dressed in a poet shirt and trousers, fleeing on a horse through the woods from some despicable evil, a sword at my side.  There was always a sense of honor, integrity, a belief in doing what was right, not what was easy.  There was always a sense of danger around every corner, along with a knowing that the hero would prevail against all odds.  For me, fantasy provided, and still does, an escape, a release from the tensions of modern life.  The characters often face problems far more serious than our own.  Look at Katniss in the Hunger Games – forced into a game of life and death to save her sister and her family.  Fantasy readers understand that, no matter how big the problem (which are usually much bigger than our own), our hero will prevail.  It teaches us not to ever give up.  After all, if a seventeen year old can kill a dragon with a magic stone, then the seventeen year old reading the book may look at his Geometry test with a bit more confidence.

I found that writing fantasy is more difficult than reading it.  We ask our readers to suspend belief with a completeness that is not required in other genres.  We have to push the boundaries.  We ask our readers to invest themselves not only in a made-up tale, but a made-up world.  I think writing fantasy reminds people of how necessary it is to dream, to never lose your childish imagination.  Think about it.  Why do you think Disney is so popular?

I do write other types of fiction but no other genre fuels my imagination the way fantasy does. I shrug and say, So what.  I’m a hopeless romantic and dreamer in love with tales of King Arthur and Merlin.  If you ask me, the world would be better off with a little more magic.  What do you think?