Manuscript Status: Two week delivery
Mentor Name: Katie Bucklein
Mentee Name: Joanna Hathaway
Title: DARK OF THE WEST
Category: Young Adult
Genre: Low Fantasy
Word Count: 110,000
After a violent murder reignites a generations-old conflict between their countries, reluctant fighter pilot Athan and spitfire princess Aurelia—one seeking peace, the other revenge—meet under the guise of friendship as pawns in a deceptive game of politics and warfare. CODE NAME VERITY meets THE WINNER’S CURSE.
Three thousand feet.
Darkened earth stretches beneath my plane, endless shadows and sleepy towns, and a thin band of light smirks ahead. Dawn, telling me to hurry the hell up. Should have reached the target five minutes ago.
I scan the ground again, more purposeful now.
After an hour of flying blind, nothing but the metallic hum of propellers and engine, this was supposed to be the moment the factory appears below. Or was it railway tracks first?
Better check my flightbook.
“A good pilot routinely checks his map when flying,” Major Torhan likes to say. “A great pilot doesn’t need to, because it’s already in his head.”
Well, it would be in my head if I’d wanted it to be. If I were actually trying here, I’d have memorized the map before take-off, calculated every heading perfectly, and this whole Night Navigation exercise would be over and done with ahead of schedule. But unlike my fellow pilots at the Academy, who march around dreaming of spectacular glory in the squadrons, I’m less than eager about the prospect of becoming a bit of finely-carved kindling. One lucky shot from the other side and all those push-ups will be for nothing. No one ever mentions that part. Not to your face, anyway.
But since I’ve seen the way it looks up close—limbs for kindling, like charred biscuits—I think I’ll forget the damn tracks, or factory, or whatever’s down there, and just enjoy this sky.
Dawn skies are meant to be gloriously on fire.