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2017 MAKE IT GOLDEN Finalists Announced!!

It’s time to announce the top ten finalists for the 2017 MAKE IT GOLDEN CONTEST!!

Finalists: be sure to post your EXPANDED entries in the comments below (a maximum total of 250 words, starting with the exact opening lines you showed us already, plus what immediately follows) by 12:01 a.m. October 3 to stay in contention for the final round. In other words, you’ll have 24 hours from the time this post appears.

Please put the word ENTRY in all caps at the top again (and, no, that doesn’t count as one of your 250 words). Remember, if you go over 250 words, you’re disqualified, so COUNT CAREFULLY!!

We want to thank EVERYONE who submitted entries!!! It was so much fun to read them, and, as usual, you made us work really hard to narrow down the top ten. Each Ruby judge had to rank her top ten choices in order, and the resulting scores were very, very, very close. Every entry had its enthusiastic supporters, and serious data crunching was necessary to narrow the field down to just ten.

Entrants, you should ALL be really proud of the response to your work!!!

And now….can we have a drum roll, please? (Actually, first can we all imagine Idris Elba and Channing Tatum in tuxedos opening an envelope on stage?)

Ready? Got that image in your mind?

Okay!! 

The  Top-Ten First Round Finalists will appear (in the order they originally appeared in the comments on entry day) when you click on the arrow button below.

Here they are:

 ******************

MICHELLE McCRAW:

The one good thing about working in an office full of men is that you can cry all you want in the ladies’ room, and no one else will know. At least, that’s what Alicia told herself as she barricaded herself into the far stall, the one with the stiletto-sized

______________

JEANINE ENGLERT:

Old Man Codger’s frozen toe rolled across the floor.

“Lord above. Mind the corner, sister,” Lucy muttered. She blew an errant curl from her face as they swung the man’s stiff body onto the scarred wooden table in front of the hearth. The body landed with a thud.

________________

SUSAN CHAPEK:

Some say the woodcutter’s daughter met the wolf by chance, on the way to her grandmother’s house. Not so. The truth is that the woodcutter had long suspected that his mother-in-law was really a Bisclavret.

A werewolf.

To test the old woman, he sent his little girl. . . .

___________________

JANET WALDEN-WEST:

Already late, I grabbed the hem of my shirt, jerked the fabric over my head, flipped the snap on my jeans, and shimmied.

The warped floorboard outside my room creaked a warning. I jerked the falling jeans back up, then spun to face one of my two roommates-slash-landlords-slash-nosy bastards.

_________________

JAN JACKSON:

When blood dries, it’s not bright red and runny, it’s dark black, congealed, sticky, and itchy. Lucita wanted a shower so badly she could almost cry, except she couldn’t. Tears would not come. She could only scrub at her hands, wipe them on her clothes, and feel her stomach protest.

__________________

PATRICIA DANE:

Eva Lumarczak considered herself a catalyst, the first link in a simple chain of events. She looked at her latest client and knew, even before physical contact, a fair amount of work would be required to connect all the links. She’d bet her mother’s gold tooth on it.

________________

CINDY REGNIER:

“Tommy, wait!” Carly Blair let out a screech as she bounded off the depot platform after her brother. Her shout was swallowed up by the shriek of the train whistle. She missed the last step and plunged face first into the dust of the small town train station.

 ________________

SUSANNAH:

The omnipresent London rain splashed off Marisol Vasquez’s felt cap and into her eyes, causing her to drop the lock picks. They disappeared beneath the decomposing leaves piled against the ancient door. Damn it! She would not be stuck on this waterlogged island the British called home. She would not.
 
__________________

CATHERINE LAWRENCE:

As was her habit, Lady Maria Strathmore was late.

Late for London’s Season, since her parents insisted on spending Eastertide in Lancashire.

Late tonight for Lady Hartley’s ball, though that was no serious impropriety, for the most fashionable guests always were.

And now late for her assignation with Lord Everett.

__________________

LISA LEONI:

Whisky-flavored condoms? Marie laughed as she reached in her purse to snag a few coins for the vending machine. It was her first day in Glasgow and she had already found the perfect souvenir. Flavored prophylactics in festive packaging almost made up for the dismal state of the pub bathroom.

_________________

Congratulations to all the finalists!! We’re really looking forward to getting to read a bit more of your entries!! And then, no doubt, you’ll have given us another really difficult choice to make.

We’ll see you back here October 10 to announce the winners!!

39 responses to “2017 MAKE IT GOLDEN Finalists Announced!!”

  1. Elisa Beatty says:

    Congrats to the finalists!! I’m so excited to read the next part of each story!

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  2. It was so hard to choose ten favorites. Thank you to all who enter and congrats to our ten finalists. I can’t wait to read more.

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  3. jbrayweber says:

    All the entries were fabulous! It was so hard to pick only ten! Congrats to the finalists. I’m looking forward to the next round.

    ~Jenn!

    0

  4. Vivi Andrews says:

    Congratulations to the finalists! The competition was stiff this year.

    Some of my absolute favorites didn’t land on this finalist list, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see them all finaling in the Golden Heart this year! Good luck, everyone!

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  5. All of the entries were so fabulous it was really hard to rank them. I’m glad to see a good many of my favorites are finalists. Can’t wait to see more!

    0

  6. Jan Jackson says:

    ENTRY:
    When blood dries, it’s not bright red and runny, it’s dark black, congealed, sticky, and itchy. Lucita wanted a shower so badly she could almost cry, except she couldn’t. Tears would not come. She could only scrub at her hands, wipe them on her clothes, and feel her stomach protest.
    The stuff was everywhere. On her Dolce & Gabbana dress, her Louis Vuitton shoes, and most offensively, her brand new, gift from her dad, Coach handbag. No doubt it was in her hair as well. She hadn’t been allowed to look in a mirror since…
    No, she wasn’t going to think about that. How long were they going to keep her here anyway? She’d told the two pushy detectives everything she knew, which wasn’t much, and now she wanted to go home. And shower, for many, many hours. Maybe soak in a tub, have a drink, do anything but think about what had happened earlier in the evening.
    Lucita shifted in the hard, plastic seat, glared at the bright light over her head and thought about giving the finger to the camera in the corner. Someone was watching her and she was tired of waiting.
    Abruptly, the door opened and one of the detectives plopped a can of soda and a bag of chips on the stark white table in front of her.
    “Sorry, it’s all we’ve got in the vending machine. We’re waiting for your transport.”

    0

  7. What a great bunch of entries this year! One of my faves didn’t make final, which is a great reminder about how subjective contests are. Can’t wait to see the stories continue!

    0

  8. Hope Ramsay says:

    It was sooooo hard to choose this year. Really. A lot of my faves didn’t make the cut, either. Which tells you how subjective this really is. Any congratulations to the finalists.

    0

  9. Liz talley says:

    Love them and can’t wait to read more!

    0

  10. Thank you, Rubies for running this contest!

    I’ve posted my entry twice but I don’t see it in the comments. Is it supposed to show?

    0

  11. Lisa Leoni says:

    ENTRY

    Whisky-flavored condoms? Marie laughed as she reached in her purse to snag a few coins for the vending machine. It was her first day in Glasgow and she had already found the perfect souvenir. Flavored prophylactics in festive packaging almost made up for the dismal state of the pub bathroom.

    Admiring the red and orange tartan cardboard packets as she exited the ladies’ room, she head-butted something hard. She took a step back, looked up, and nearly combusted as a fast-moving burn spread across her cheeks. “Excuse me. I’m sorry, I—”

    A curly-haired hunk stared down at her with a playful glint in his eyes.

    Her first thought? She wanted to jump up and wrap her arms and legs around him.

    Second? Don’t. That’s inappropriate behavior.

    Third? Wuss.

    She watched his eyes lower to the ridiculous handful of condom packets pressed into his stomach.

    “Hoping to pull?” he said with a toe-curling brogue. The undiluted power of it should be criminalized.

    She scanned the hallway for a fainting couch. “Pull?” Marie ran through her vocabulary of UKisms gleaned from binging British television to translate. “No, these are souvenirs.” A laugh bubbled up and escaped like something far too close to a squeak. “Back home, the condom machines don’t have anything quite like this.” She flipped the package over between her fingers.

    He grinned down at her. “The flavored ones are only in machines. I prefer the plain ones.”

    “You’ve tasted them?”

    3+

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  12. Lisa Leoni says:

    These entries are amazing! I’m honored to be among them. Thank you 🙂

    0

  13. ENTRY:

    The one good thing about working in an office full of men is that you can cry all you want in the ladies’ room, and no one else will know. At least, that’s what Alicia told herself as she barricaded herself into the far stall, the one with the stiletto-sized dent in the bottom of the door. The echo of the lock subsided, and silence pressed on her eardrums.

    She wasn’t going to cry—she wouldn’t allow it—but she needed to pull herself together before the meeting.

    Rumor had it that today was Alicia’s last. She normally didn’t give much credence to rumors; after all, they crawled through every poorly performing company like bedbugs at a cheap motel. But when she got the meeting invitation from Human Resources with the cryptic title, “Mandatory: New Direction,” and saw that she and several of the software developers were invited, her stomach lurched. When Amit and Gautam had asked her about it, she’d smiled and said she was sure that it was nothing, probably just a different time reporting system or some new testing process. But secretly, she’d worried. Now, fifteen minutes before the meeting, anxiety constricted her throat.

    Alicia took a deep, shuddering breath and let it out in a whoosh. She was still too shaky to go back out there. What would a guy do? Her dad was gone, she didn’t date, and she kept her coworkers at arm’s length. What would Noah do? That was easy: punch something.

    2+

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  14. ENTRY:

    Eva Lumarczak considered herself a catalyst, the first link in a simple chain of events. She looked at her latest client and knew, even before physical contact, a fair amount of work would be required to connect all the links. She’d bet her mother’s gold tooth on it.

    With a little sigh, Eva mentally rolled up her sleeves and moved through the salon to her styling chair where the woman, Sandy Thibedeau, huddled like a fragile brown wren. Without a doubt, she could alter the woman’s outward appearance, but wariness in those dark eyes made her wonder if true change was possible. She hoped the next few hours on her feet would be worth it.

    No. She revised the thought: the next few hours would be worth every minute, because Sandy would get exactly what she needed. She’d bet her mother’s gold tooth on that, too.
    Eva took her position behind the chair and met her client’s gaze through the mirror. She slowed her breathing. Her senses opened and heat flowed into her palms, the telling sign she was ready.

    “Sandy, I’m going to touch your hair, get to know it a bit, while we chat,” she kept her voice soft, her expression friendly. As she gently touched the fine-as-flax strands, energy bloomed and sensations threaded through her fingers. Exhaustion, apprehension, relief. Fear.

    “How can I help you, Sandy?”

    One shoulder lifted and dropped. “I don’t know.”

    4+

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  15. Greta says:

    Congratulations, everyone! Terrific reading here.

    0

  16. Jeanine Englert says:

    ENTRY:

    Old Man Codger’s frozen toe rolled across the floor.

    “Lord above. Mind the corner, sister, Lucy muttered. She blew an errant curl from her face as they swung the man’s stiff body onto the scarred wooden table in front of the hearth. The body landed with a thud.

    Blast. Lucy scanned the floor. Nothing. Where had it gone? She lifted her skirts.

    “There you are,” she grumbled. The rogue digit rested between the scuffed heels of her old brown boots. Using the edge of one of her faded blue blouse sleeves, she leaned down and clutched the rather putrid large hairy toe and placed it back on the old man’s chest. Now she’d have to sew on a toe, too. A frozen toe.

    Perfect.

    Priscilla covered her mouth with the back of her hand and yielded a dry wretch. Plugging her nose, she rolled her eyes. “There has to be another way.”

    2+

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  17. Cindy Regnier says:

    ENTRY

    “Tommy, wait!” Carly Blair let out a screech as she bounded off the depot platform after her brother. Her shout was swallowed up by the shriek of the train whistle. She missed the last step and plunged face first into the dust of the small town train station. The horses and cart rumbled past as a hand jerked her upright.
    “Tommy,” she gasped struggling to free herself from the grip on her wrist.
    “The boy is safe, miss. Are you hurt?” The voice was deep, slightly rasping and, quite possibly, on the verge of laughter.
    Carly whirled around and released the breath she didn’t know she’d been holding. The man gripped Tommy in one hand and her in the other while her gaze traveled up, up, up. Blinking twice, she stared into a pair of pale blue eyes nearly hidden by shocks of chestnut hair beneath a wide-brimmed straw hat.
    “I – I’m fine,” she managed sucking in her breath as her knees threatened to buckle. Satchel handles gouged into her free hand. “Thank you.”
    The man had saved Tommy from being trampled in the streets of this Kansas town, but why was he still gripping her wrist? Twisting from his hold, Carly tugged her brother close. She had to find their trunks and then look for Mr. Stratford. Fear crawled up her throat. Oh what had she done?

    3+

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  18. Susannah says:

    Thank you so much, Rubies, for this opportunity! I’m gobsmacked to be a finalist. There were so many amazing entries! I’m honored to be in this talented company.

    ENTRY:

    The omnipresent London rain splashed off Marisol Vasquez’s felt cap and into her eyes, causing her to drop the lock picks. They disappeared beneath the decomposing leaves piled against the ancient door. Damn it! She would not be stuck on this waterlogged island the British called home. She would not.

    Her vision in low light rivaled the hungriest cat’s, but the absence of moonlight meant relying on touch. She took a deep breath and retrieved the tools from the slimy mound. The lock yielded quickly, but the door wouldn’t budge. Centuries’ worth of dead ivy stems and stale-smelling mud kept it shut as if sealed by some supernatural force.

    She rolled her eyes. But of course. If this were easy, Foxton wouldn’t have needed her. And she couldn’t have bargained her skills for her freedom. She sighed, calculating the time she would lose, and started to pull away dead branches with fingers already red and numb thanks to the cold. Wiping them on the rough fabric of the men’s trousers she wore brought little relief.

    The wind shifted, bringing with it the sounds of distant music and laughter. The ball had commenced. She worked faster.

    Foxton’s information about the forgotten passage behind this door better be correct. If, after all this, she was forced to break in the usual way to retrieve the stolen Ponce de León vials from the Duke of Hargreaves’s study, the fires of Cromwell’s Puritan hell would be merciful compared to the punishment she’d mete out.

    4+

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  19. ENTRY:

    Already late, I grabbed the hem of my shirt, jerked the fabric over my head, flipped the snap on my jeans, and shimmied.

    The warped floorboard outside my room creaked a warning. I jerked the falling jeans back up, then spun to face one of my two roommates-slash-landlords-slash-nosy bastards. “Out.”

    “Don’t mind me.” Grayson only made a go-ahead motion, face angelic-innocent. He nudged the door wider and leaned against the frame, prepared to hold the wall up indefinitely.

    Fine.

    I’d seen his scars, he’d seen mine, and neither of us was overly impressed, so it all kind of worked out. I opened the armoire, since the house dated from a time when closets didn’t exist.

    I had a bridal shower to get to, and needed an outfit that murmured “respectable graduate student” as opposed to screaming “part-time mercenary for hire.”

    Grayson strolled in and made himself at home, flopping on the handcrafted bed and my faded Dutch Doll quilt, muscled arms flexed behind his head, showing off.

    He was hot enough to scorch a hole in my antique quilt, but still. “Out.”

    “This is my house,” he drawled in his mix of aristocratic Old South and modern smart-ass.

    “Half yours. Your brother’s name is also on the deed.”

    “Today, I’m choosing to take my half right here.”

    I grabbed a pair of powder-pink stilettos. “Shouldn’t you be out trolling married women? Pretty sure that was the church deacon’s wife I saw you batting your lashes at last week.”

    1+

  20. ENTRY:

    Already late, I grabbed the hem of my shirt, jerked the fabric over my head, flipped the snap on my jeans, and shimmied.

    The warped floorboard outside my room creaked a warning. I jerked the falling jeans back up, then spun to face one of my two roommates-slash-landlords-slash-nosy bastards. “Out.”

    “Don’t mind me.” Grayson only made a go-ahead motion, face angelic-innocent. He nudged the door wider and leaned against the frame, prepared to hold the wall up indefinitely.

    Fine.

    I’d seen his scars, he’d seen mine, and neither of us was overly impressed, so it all kind of worked out. I opened the armoire, since the house dated from a time when closets didn’t exist.

    I had a bridal shower to get to, and needed an outfit that murmured “respectable graduate student” as opposed to screaming “part-time mercenary for hire.”

    Grayson strolled in and made himself at home, flopping on the handcrafted bed and my faded Dutch Doll quilt, muscled arms flexed behind his head, showing off.

    He was hot enough to scorch a hole in my antique quilt, but still. “Out.”

    “This is my house,” he drawled in his mix of aristocratic Old South and modern smart-ass.

    “Half yours. Your brother’s name is also on the deed.”

    “Today, I’m choosing to take my half right here.”

    I grabbed a pair of powder-pink stilettos. “Shouldn’t you be out trolling married women? Pretty sure that was the church deacon’s wife I saw you batting your lashes at last week.”

    1+

  21. Darynda Jones says:

    WOW!!! These are fantastic! Super congrats to our finalists!!!

    0

  22. Cate Moyr says:

    Thanks to the generous Rubies & congrats to all the finalists!

    0

  23. ENTRY:

    As was her habit, Lady Maria Strathmore was late.

    Late for London’s Season, since her parents insisted on spending Eastertide in Lancashire.

    Late tonight for Lady Hartley’s ball, though that was no serious impropriety, for the most fashionable guests always were.

    And now late for her assignation with Lord Everett. His father’s library was equally well-suited as a refuge from the assembly’s crush of suitors and a rendezvous for confidantes or lovers.

    Properly speaking, Lord Everett was neither of these. Yet.

    The hall clock chimed. Half-past ten. A long quadrille meant another quarter-hour before she’d be missed. Her gown swished as she shut the door against the sounds of the ball. The bright, blazing hearth made her squint. Flames danced like tipsy debutantes.

    Had she had so awfully much to drink? Across the room, the back of a sphinx-legged couch sprouted not one but two well-coiffed heads. The blond one would be Lord Everett’s.

    Dark Hair leaned close as if in conversation, his whispers indistinct. At his side, gemmed fingers set off by elegant cuffs held a brandy glass aloft.

    She hadn’t expected any other companions. A flush swept down her arms as she turned and fumbled for the doorknob.

    “Maria!”

    Her heart cinched at the familiar, unexpected voice. The golden-haired man stood, still in the shadows.

    “Freddy?” Her younger brother wasn’t due from Gosport for another fortnight. But she wasn’t so gothic as to believe in ghosts.

    He crossed into the light, where his regimentals gave proof of him.

    0

    • Catherine Lawrence says:

      * back of a couch

      0

        • Elisa Beatty says:

          Just to clarify for everyone: we were having bizarre spam filter issues, and some entries weren’t able to post. I was catching them and posting as quickly as I could, but some were delayed for hours, and poor Catherine finally resorted to re-typing her whole entry instead of cutting and pasting. The cut and paste version was already in the spam filter WITHOUT the autocorrect errors, so I corrected them in the official entry. They weren’t Catherine’s fault at all. Ugh, spam filters!!!

          0

  24. Catherine Lawrence says:

    * gemmed fingers

    with apologies for mistaken auto-corrects!

    0

  25. Jan Jackson says:

    Thanks to the Rubies for this opportunity, and congratulations to all the finalists! Thrilled to be one of them. =)

    3+

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  26. Elisa Beatty says:

    Thanks, finalists!!

    It’s so exciting to see more of these stories, and see all the fabulous ways you built on those awesome opening lines!!

    Wow, final judging is going to be every bit as hard as the first round judging was!!!

    See you next week with the results!!

    0

  27. Cynthia Huscroft says:

    Congratulations to all the finalists!!

    1+

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