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70,000 words

At nineteen, prodigy Emme Sawyer flew through her undergrad work and was well on her way to becoming a doctor when the money ran out. Drawn in by the promise of a free education, she joins the Navy.  Earning the title of Hospital Corpsman, Emme deploys to Afghanistan.

With the front lines blurred, Emme fights side by side with the Marines.  Ignoring the danger she runs into the fire fight to treat the wounded.  Soon it becomes apparent that sometimes being smart isn’t enough and bullets don’t care if you’re a girl.

Emme begins to struggle with the brutality she sees and shuts down her emotions.  That is until she begins to have feelings for her commanding officer.  Feelings she doesn’t want and isn’t supposed to have for a member of her team.  When her commanding officer reciprocates, Emme learns that you can’t choose when and where love finds you. After Emme is shipped home, her life begins to crumble.  Faced with the nightmares of her deployment and unresolved feelings for her commanding officer, Emme must choose to move forward in a world she no longer feels a part of or figure out how to get back to the men she left behind.


When I signed the dotted line to enlist in the Navy I thought it was an easy way to get money for school.  I hadn’t realized I’d agreed to go straight to hell but that seemed to be exactly where I was.  There’s a lot of speculation on what hell will be like.  If anyone asked me I’d tell them to hop a plane to the Middle East.  
I’d been in Afghanistan for almost a year.  Currently I sat packed into the back of a humvee with a bunch of Army guys.  This situation had given me a new appreciation for windows that rolled down.  The air was stale and charged with a nervous energy as our convoy headed to the compound where a small school was located.

“Good having you on board Doc,” The Lieutenant said over his shoulder.

Before I could answer the interpreter started rattling off a frantic string of gibberish, which I supposed was actually one of the dialects of Afghanistan.


  1. I adore this concept. I have not yet seen any military NA and this topic was actually brought up during #NaLitChat a while back on twitter. This sounds like such an interesting read and I hope this goes far for you.

    You've got my vote!!!

  2. Wow! This is a great query and the first 150 really draw you in with no way out! I'm a big sucker for the love story too--I always rooted for Sam & Jack on Stargate even if it was forbidden (sorry, have Stargate on the brain from the previous query!). I have nothing but praise for this! Great job!

  3. I REALLY love this idea for a story. Wow. It’s got like a Nicolas Spark feel all over it.

    I feel that the character and stakes are very well showed in the query. I understand what this story is about and already feel for Emme. There are a few nitpicky things I would change. You use ‘begin(s)’ often in the third paragraph in the query. We rarely need this word as the sentence is usually SO much more powerful without it. I’d get rid of most of these (this goes for any that show up in your MS as well). This is also the case for the word ‘start’. Don’t tell us something is starting or beginning. Just tell us what’s happening. (Or happened)

    For the first 150 words I see kind of the same pattern. Great story and character building, but boarders on the edge of wordiness. I would shorten this up to:

    When I enlisted in the Navy to raise money for school, I didn’t realize I’d agreed to go to hell. There’s a lot of speculation on what hell will be like. If anyone asked me, I’d tell them to hop a plane to the Middle East. (Great opening paragraph. Take out the words you don’t need)

    I’d been in Afghanistan for almost a year. Currently, I sat packed in a humvee with a bunch of Army guys. This situation gave me a new appreciation for windows that rolled down. The air was stale and charged with a nervous energy as our convoy headed to the compound where a small school was located.

    “Good having you on board Doc,” the Lieutenant said over his shoulder. (notice the small case ‘t’ on ‘the’)

    Before I answered, the interpreter rattled off a frantic string of gibberish, which was actually one of the dialects of Afghanistan.

    Tightening this up gives the words so much more pop, and much greater tension. Make sure it is this tight throughout your whole manuscript.

    Overall, a super interesting premise. I already want to know Emme’s story. It was between you and SORRY’S NOT ENOUGH for my vote. Ultimately I chose the other story because I feel the writing in the first 150 words needs some tightening and this worries me that so will the rest of the story. But this is a FANTASTIC premise. I REALLY love it. Stick with it and this story WILL do well. Good luck!

  4. I'm leaving comments and then returning with my votes.

    Your opening paragraph of the query really drew me in. A super smart girl going into the military to pay for her schooling. It's unusual, but I found your query stronger than your opening 150. My only suggestion for the query would be to cut 'begins' where you use it twice in the last paragraph. Both uses of 'begins' weakens the sentences.

    Emme struggles with the brutality around her and shuts down her emotions.

    After Emme is shipped home, her life crumbles.

    I really like that you get right to the action in your First 150. What didn't thrill me is you start out the First 150 with some telling on her situation. I would go straight to 'Currently, I sat ...' and let the reader figure out the part about Afghanistan being hell from what they read. I'm sure with what happens to Emme it will be an understood fact. I know you're trying to set her voice, but it came across as telling to me.

    I don't normally comment on commas, but you need one before 'Doc'.

    My last crazy nit-pick would be that the last sentence of the sample doesn't sound like an incredibly smart girl who was able to skip grades on her way to becoming a doctor.

  5. Omg, I got the Nicholas Spark visual immediately too.
    I'm expecting this is going to be a gritty and honest tale, one I would love to read.


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