Breaking Sky by Cori McCarthy – Guest Post

Breaking SKyBreaking Sky by Cori McCarthy

In this high-flying, adrenaline-fueled thriller, America’s best hope is the elite teen fighter pilots of the United Star Academy.

Chase Harcourt, call sign “Nyx,” is one of only two pilots chosen to fly the experimental “Streaker” jets at the junior Air Force Academy in the year 2048. She’s tough and impulsive with lightning-fast reactions, but few know the pain and loneliness of her past or the dark secret about her father. All anyone cares about is that Chase aces the upcoming Streaker trials, proving the prototype jet can knock the enemy out of the sky.

But as the world tilts toward war, Chase cracks open a military secret. There’s a third Streaker jet, whose young hotshot pilot, Tristan, can match her on the ground and in the clouds. Chase doesn’t play well with others, but to save her country she may just have to put her life in the hands of the competition.


Praise for Breaking Sky

“The author’s storytelling is incredibly cinematic, equally adept at capturing extended flight sequences and Chase’s interpersonal struggles. Emotions run high toward the novel’s end, and the author isn’t afraid to play a bit rough, making this feel less like a novel capitalizing on current trends and more like a great story being told in a very cool way. Smart, exciting, confident—and quite possibly the next Big Thing.” —Kirkus Reviews

“McCarthy deploys breath-stopping depictions of high-stakes piloting with enviable ease, and the in-your-face personal confrontations are nearly as taut.” —Publishers Weekly

“Breaking Sky ticks all the boxes: Love, war, friendship, action and danger – I was left wanting more, more, more!” —Jessica Shirvington, author of One Past Midnight

“A non-stop thrill ride… will keep you reading at the speed of sound. Breaking Sky is one of the most exciting reads of the year.” —Thomas E. Sniegoski, New York Times bestselling author of The Fallen series


CoriAbout the Author

CORI MCCARTHY studied poetry and screenwriting before falling in love with writing for teens at Vermont College of Fine Arts. From a military family, Cori was born on Guam and lived a little bit of everywhere before she landed in Michigan.

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GUEST POST – Are you a plotter or a pantser?


I am neither a plotter nor a pantser but a strange hybrid! You could call me a plottser or a pantter (Or maybe not J). I find that writing requires a lot of organization and a lot of freedom to break from tradition. You have to make careful plans, and then you have to be willing to completely go in a new direction if the story calls for it. Here’s a rundown of how I get from Rough Draft to Copy Edits, with a bonus side commentary on my journey in writing Breaking Sky.


Draft 1—I fall all over the page. (Picture Princess Buttercup somersaulting downhill after Westley in The Princess Bride.) I write the most important part of the story, and let everything else *kind of* make its way into the pages.


For Breaking Sky, the most important element was Chase’s internal journey. In the beginning, she’s very walled-off, almost cruelly so to those who want to help her. Her carelessness is both her worst quality and her Achilles’ heel, and that part of the story stayed true through all revisions. The rest of that first draft? A hot mess. I called it my “falling down the stairs draft” because the scene-to-scene transitions were non-existent and the story literally cart wheeled. I only let one cherished beta reader take a look at that draft, and she came back smiling, saying, “Yeah! Rewrite it from scratch, but yeah!”


Draft 2—Much planning! I use a dry erase board and multiple colors to try and graph out the climactic points in the story. I scribble and change my mind and change the title at least three times.


During this stage, Breaking Sky was called Redline, Nyx, and Water in the Sky. At one point, the streaker jets held three cadets instead of two, and Chase used a very sci-fi sounding “brain to jet software interface” to fly.


Draft 3—Taking notes from my agent stage! This process can go more than one round (and usually does). It requires re-plotting and the most big girl pants I’ve got!


After my agent read my second draft of Breaking Sky, she suggested that I get rid of the aforementioned sci-fi techno link, and that I hone in on the politics and history of the worldbuilding. She also requested a new title, and the work-in-progress became Touching Speed.


Draft 45 (or so it feels!)—The story is polished for submissions to editors and gets its final title.


This is when Breaking Sky became Breaking Sky. This stage is a lot of line level shinning. It required neither plotting nor pansting but a whole heckuvalotta nail biting and reading aloud.


Draft 100-120—These drafts are revised with notes from my editor. The story usually heads back to the drawing board/plot graph during this stage because it is the best way to tighten the chapter-to-chapter turnaround.


The last half of Breaking Sky went back to the plot graph/drawing board only three weeks to the deadline for copy edits. This was a particular stressful time—crunch time, if you will. I had to dream up some brand new scenes, and tighten all the existing threads. When it finally came together, I was astonished!


Copy Edits—Time to celebrate! The story has survived its evolution and will now begin its greatest adventure of all: trying to find readers!


That’s where you come in! I hope you enjoy Breaking Sky and all the plotting and pansting that went into it! Cheers!