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Finalists Announced for the 2018 MAKE IT GOLDEN Contest!

It’s time to announce the top ten finalists for the 2018 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. PACIFIC TIME October 4 to stay in contention for the final round. In other words, you’ll have 27 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!!! The entries were so varied and fantastic and fun to read, and it was SO tough to narrow it down to just ten. Each Ruby judge had to rank her top ten choices in order, and the resulting scores were very, very, very close, demanding some intense data crunching to make the fine mathematical distinctions required.

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

And now….can we have a drum roll, please?

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

At my desk down the hall, I’d watched a lot of women come and go from Cooper Fallon’s office, but this one was the worst. And she wasn’t going quietly.

When she shrieked something that ended with “asshole,” I hid my grin and pulled up the staffing agency’s contact information.

 

*************

 

Paula Huffman

Nine thousand fans stomp and clap and scream, brandishing lighter apps and a few genuine, retro flames in a crazy tribute I will never deserve. The arena is black and gold, a dizzy cavern of drunken fireflies.

A spotlight shoots down from the scaffolding and dies beneath my feet.

 

*************

 

Charissa Weaks

The first time a lost soul spoke to me, I was ten years old. It was late October, and my seventh day of digging graves in the churchyard. Behind me stood our mule and cart, illuminated by lanterns Father hung from the side rails so we could see to work.

 

*************

 

Janet Walden-West

It wasn’t every day Kiernan was asked to risk her license to a malpractice suit.

“No.” With one finger, she pushed the folder away.

“Yes.” The bane of her existence shoved the folder back. A picture slid out. Dark, compelling eyes and off-center dimple dangerously distracting even in a photo.

 

*************

 

Melinda Collins

 

Fact: One in ten beings on this earth is a creature. Some daemons, others witches, a few vampires, shapeshifters…and the occasional lycan. I’m the second on that shortlist of paranormal on earth. But magic wasn’t helping me at the moment.

 

*************

 

Kat Turner

 

Before Evie knew of her clairsentience, mortuary science seemed like the perfect career choice. She’d gravitated to the profession for the quiet and lack of drama, only to find out that dead people never shut up.

Irony was one evil clown.

She locked the front door of the funeral home

 

*************

 

Daphne Chase

 

If Oliver Townsend carved notches into his bedpost after each of his romantic conquests, he would be sleeping on a pile of toothpicks by now. A pile of toothpicks which recently came crashing down around his head and poked him in the ass before catching on fire.

 

*************

 

Lisa Heartman

 

To most women, high heels and handguns didn’t complement couture, but for Kate Howard, personal security expert, they went together like hummus and pita. In T-minus-thirty minutes, she could mark the senator’s re-election campaign fundraiser a success. No seedy characters. No suspicious packages. No assassination attempts.

 

*************

 

Bethany Truex

 

It should be harder to lose one’s reputation. London society cats, gossiping behind chicken skin fans and eviscerating the next generation over tea cakes, lived for the triumph that came from being the first to share the latest tale of misfortune. Assuming of course, the misfortune belonged to someone else.

 

*************

 

Bethany Truex

 

Lord Carlyle usually found Almack’s utterly terrifying. The fear stemmed from a natural response to the sensation of being hunted. Tonight, he wasn’t the prey.

His sister swept by in the arms of a young man, who, if his hand crept lower than Emma’s waist, would be dead by morning.

 

 

*************

 

 

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!!

 

21 responses to “Finalists Announced for the 2018 MAKE IT GOLDEN Contest!”

  1. Daphne Chase says:

    ENTRY

    If Oliver Townsend carved notches into his bedpost after each of his romantic conquests, he would be sleeping on a pile of toothpicks by now. A pile of toothpicks which recently came crashing down around his head and poked him in the ass before catching on fire.
    Yes, he’d done the right thing. That knowledge alone should’ve offered some satisfaction, but, two months later, the last thing Oliver felt was satisfied. Apparently, his father was wrong. There were some lines he wasn’t willing to cross in pursuit of pussy.
    “Think whatever you want, but I’m not having sex with you,” he muttered, shoving the last of his socks into a suitcase with more force than was strictly necessary. “Jesus, Oliver. Fucking idiot.”
    The trill of his cell phone announced a call. Without checking the screen, Oliver swiped and answered, “Pronto.”
    “Oliver, cuore mio, you’ve been avoiding me.”
    Crap.
    “No, Chiara, I’m not.” Oliver tucked the phone under his chin and zipped the bag. “I’m moving to New York.”
    “Sì, but I must be with you before you leave me forever.” The heavily-accented voice of his ex-friend-with-benefits held promises of the physical release Oliver craved. “I’m alone. And, needy.”
    The only problem? She was the wrong woman.
    “No, you’re horny. Call Marco. He’ll happily ravish you at a moment’s notice,” Oliver said with a sigh. He’d ended their arrangement months ago, but she still reached out, likely frustrated her siren’s song no longer held any pull over him or his dick.

    2+
  2. Bethany Truex says:

    ENTRY

    It should be harder to lose one’s reputation. London society cats, gossiping behind chicken skin fans and eviscerating the next generation over tea cakes, lived for the triumph that came from being the first to share the latest tale of misfortune. Assuming of course, the misfortune belonged to someone else. Between hapless debutantes and the Prince Regent, each year offered a buffet of scandal for those who fed on other’s woe.
    Most young ladies did not deserve the condemnation society so eagerly doled out. Granted, not all debutantes were angels. Some were unkind or as witless as a sack of hair. A casual comment overheard by the wrong eavesdropper could result in the end of their good name. The sheer dumb luck of taking an unchaperoned turn around a garden at the same time a known rake entered the area, and the woman in question might as well have surrendered her maidenhead with a ribbon bow and thank you note by the time the whispers did their worst. In a moment, the crushing weight of a ruined reputation would replace a lifetime of good behavior.
    Too familiar with the condition of her tarnished reputation, Lottie knew her fall, while seven years past, would live on indefinitely thanks to the society pages. The ton lapped up every drop of scandal, rolling it over their tongues like the finest brandy. The highlights of her presumed fall from grace papered shop windows and decorated doorsteps with damning ink sketches in the gossip rags.

    2+
  3. BETHANY TRUEX says:

    ENTRY
    Lord Carlyle usually found Almack’s utterly terrifying. The fear stemmed from a natural response to the sensation of being hunted. Tonight, he wasn’t the prey.
    His sister swept by in the arms of a young man, who, if his hand crept lower than Emma’s waist, would be dead by morning. Scotland Yard might never find the body.
    It would be a shame to spoil Calvin’s perfect cravat with blood. But if young Lord Cleavage-Ogler didn’t rein in those wandering fingers, he’d consider the linen collateral damage.
    Calvin’s gloved fingers tightened into fists at his side. He’d thought he had weeks before Emma waltzed in these hallowed halls. Fifteen minutes before, he’d watched in silent dismay as one of the Almack’s patronesses gave her blessing.
    “A fellow St. Albans girl? And so lovely too! Waltz, enjoy, and please pass along my regards to Sister Mary Christine. It’s been an age, and I owe her a letter.”
    Damn.
    Cal turned to Adam. “Puppy, I’ll pay one hundred pounds if you’ll marry my sister. On the condition that you never touch a hair on her head.”
    “No thank you. Emma’s a beauty. I’ll give you that. But my pockets aren’t so dusty that I need to sell myself, just to relieve you of your brotherly duty.” Adam nursed his glass of lemonade, then grimaced, as he had with every swallow.
    “I object to your strong moral fiber. Here. Brandy helps the lemonade go down easier.” Cal slipped the small flask into Adam’s hand.

    1+
  4. ENTRY
    To most women, high heels and handguns didn’t complement couture, but for Kate Howard, personal security expert, they went together like hummus and pita. In T-minus-thirty minutes, she could mark the senator’s re-election campaign fundraiser a success. No seedy characters. No suspicious packages. No assassination attempts.

    She and the senator weaved through a few tables and past the hotel ballroom dance floor. Keeping clients within constant arm’s distance was an exhausting game. Too close, and your picture ended up in the paper. Too far, and your client ended up in the morgue.

    Of all the private security events Kate had worked, this one took the booby prize. Literally. She checked to make sure her breasts were still securely smashed into the sequined evening gown the senator insisted she wear. The perfect red to match his tie for the evening, but a bit too small. That would be the last time she’d accept a gift from a client.

    Kate shifted her clutch under her arm. The weight of Ziggy, her Sig Sauer P938 handgun, was a comforting addition to her dare-it-all attire. Some girls didn’t leave home without their lip gloss. Kate didn’t leave home without Ziggy.

    The senator stopped to shake hands with the 134th benefactor of the evening, giving Kate a moment to scan the stage, bar, and buffet tables for unusual activity. The kind of trouble she was there to prevent. She caught a glimpse of the senator’s young son, Robbie, and his nanny. Hadn’t they already left?

    1+
  5. ENTRY

    At my desk down the hall, I’d watched a lot of women come and go from Cooper Fallon’s office, but this one was the worst. And she wasn’t going quietly.

    When she shrieked something that ended with “asshole,” I hid my grin and pulled up the staffing agency’s contact information.

    It wasn’t my job to replace the temps who, as Cooper would say, weren’t a good fit for the company. I supposed that should’ve fallen to his assistant, but since the assistant position was what needed to be filled, we were in a catch-22. Cooper himself, Chief Operating Officer of Jones-Fallon Analytics, couldn’t be expected to do it, so he asked me to deal with it. Even though I didn’t work for him. Sometimes I wished I did, but then I’d have been that cliché from so many romantic comedies: an assistant in love with her boss. Instead, I was just in love with my boss’s best friend.

    As I composed the email to the agency–I had to be vague enough about why we were firing this one so they’d send us another just as terrible–a voice behind me asked, “Are they okay in there?”

    I spun in my chair toward the speaker, banging my knee against the leg of my desk. It was one of the programmers, Tyler Young.

    “Where’d you come from?” I snapped, rubbing my knee.

    1+
  6. Congrats, ladies. Choosing the finalist was hard. Selecting a winner is going to be harder!

    2+
  7. Congratulations to all our finalists and good luck in the next round!!!

    To all our other entrants – y’all were amazing! Don’t be discouraged! The level of entries this year was insanely high and some of my favorites aren’t on the list above, but I hope to see ALL of you represented on Golden Heart Call Day this year. YOU’VE GOT THIS!!!

    6+
  8. Paula Huffman says:

    Nine thousand fans stomp and clap and wave their arms, brandishing lighter apps and a few genuine, retro flames in a crazy tribute I will never deserve. The arena is black and gold, a dizzy cavern of drunken fireflies.
    A spotlight shoots down from the scaffolding and dies beneath my feet.

    “Thank you, North Carolina.” My words echo through the half-light as the audience erupts. Their energy builds, louder, louder, louder, until it’s a shouting match between them and the voice inside my head. “You’re a god.” You suck. “We love you.” You suck.

    I’m right. I suck.

    I’m probably one of the best trained actors on the planet, playing the part of an ordinary-kid-turned-rock-star in a twisted, rags to riches reality show. But those people out there? They have no idea it’s all a script. They believe in me. And the worst thing is, I let them.

    No, the worst thing is, I love it. At least a part of me does.

    Behind me, JJ teases a snatch of melody out of his green Gibson Les Paul and the audience goes crazy again. I slap on my game face and sweep a bow in his direction, catching his smile and throwing it back while the rest of the band takes the stage. Then he nods. We’re ready. One final tune.

    “This song is called ‘Last Man’,” I say into the mic, and they scream.

    There was a girl I lost before I wrote these lyrics. Blonde hair. California tan.

    2+
  9. Paula Huffman says:

    I wanted to thank you again for this wonderful opportunity! All of the entries were amazing, and I’m honored to be here!RUBIES ROCK!

    3+
  10. Laurie Kellogg says:

    Congratulations to all the finalists! There were so many great entries. It was a tough decision choosing the top ten!

    2+
  11. ENTRY

    The first time a lost soul spoke to me, I was ten years old. It was late October and my seventh day of digging graves in the churchyard. Behind me stood our mule and cart, illuminated by lanterns Father hung from the side rails so we might see to work. That morning, eight bodies had been heaped inside, covered by a dirty canvas. Only two remained, a mother and child. An elegant arm stuck out here, a tiny foot there—evidence of a truth no one in Norwich wished to accept: The plague had breached the city walls. No one was safe.

    Sweat rolled down my spine, though the autumn day had been cold and gray as late winter. Week-old blisters on my hands stung and bled, and the stench of bodies saturated the air.

    I peered at the shadowy ground, the way the light flickered in the deepening night. It reminded me of our hearth. Oh, how I wanted to hurry home and hug my mother.

    As though I’d spoken my thoughts, Father regarded me. “We finish first.”

    He dropped his shovel and retrieved one of the dead while I looked to the sky, thankful for the falling cover of night.

    But something shifted in the churchyard, drawing my sight across the mist rolling over the graves. A man’s figure took shape near the trees, beneath the leafless boughs. He crept toward me, each step laden with uncertainty, until he paused just inside the faint reach of lantern light.

    2+
  12. ENTRY

    Fact: One in ten beings on this earth is a creature. Some daemons, others witches, a few vampires, shapeshifters and the occasional lycan. I was the second on that shortlist of paranormal on earth.

    I sat in my office and hoped the lighting of another cigarette would help discover something in the Marx files I might’ve missed. For years The Met called the man a criminal mastermind, an elusive kingpin of sorts. As far as most-wanted criminals went, Marx was cozying up to Jack the Ripper.
    Who or what Marx was hadn’t been fully pinpointed after two decades and three detective superintendents. As of today, all we knew was he was demon. But what kind and how old, we’d never been able to fully ascertain.

    He hid in the shadows, instructing his thousands of minions to do his bidding while he sat and collected the profit from their selling of drugs, people, sex and advanced weaponry. For all we knew, he could’ve been doing such from a lavish office a stone’s throw from New Scotland Yard.

    What we did know was that not only had Marx learned that London’s Metropolitan Police force was onto him, but he enjoyed toying with every detective who got too close to finding out who he was and what he wanted.

    The last detective on his case—my mother—was living proof of how his games destroyed lives. Instead of being the cat, she ended up his mouse. The result left her wheelchair-bound and retired.

    0
  13. Kat Turner says:

    ENTRY

    Before Evie knew of her clairsentience, mortuary science seemed like the perfect career choice. She’d gravitated to the profession for the quiet and lack of drama, only to find out that dead people never shut up. Irony was one evil clown.

    She locked the front door of the funeral home and extended her umbrella, stepping into the night after a draining day consoling panicky deceased. Fat raindrops drummed a litany of heartbeats. Reflections of red and green streetlights turned puddles into glimmering pools.

    A breeze batted her curls in her face and made her shiver, but the air’s aroma of turning leaves lifted her mood.

    One backwards glance at the bronze plaque above the doorbell snuck a smile onto her lips. Eve Conley-Adyemi, Funeral Home Director. She was a damn good mortician and adept shepherd to the souls of the departed.

    Tucked in the back pocket of her pants, Travis Williams’s spirit warmed her butt cheek. Time to hurry home and process him before he faded away. Or worse.

    Evie hustled through Old Louisville, rubber boots splashing against sidewalk. Vintage, gas lamp porch lights lit her path. From her neighbor’s stoop, the yellow glow of jack ‘o lantern mouths and eyes warded off sinister spirits.

    She tipped a nod at a grinning pumpkin. Malevolent forces were not to be trifled with. A chill shot up her back. She pushed aside memories of her past blunder. Malicious powers had stolen too much from her already, thank you very much.

    3+
  14. Janet Walden-West says:

    Test

    0
  15. Janet Walden-West says:

    ENTRY:

    It wasn’t every day Kiernan was asked to risk her license to a malpractice suit.

    “No.” With one finger, she pushed the folder away.

    “Yes.” The bane of her existence shoved the folder back. A picture slid out. Dark, compelling eyes and off-center dimple dangerously distracting even in a photo.

    Accepting a patient without their consent was bad enough. Secretly taking on one who looked like the love child of Dwayne Johnson and a Victoria’s Secret Angel was…not going to happen.

    “This isn’t…Arthur, you were very clear that we were discussing your godson. This is not a child.”

    Her grandparents’ oldest friend shrugged, bushy brows shooting up as he tried for innocent. “What? You don’t work with children, so why would I come to you if Carlos was a kid? That’s crazy.”

    No crazier than their conversation, or the old man’s request.

    Kiernan pinched the bridge of her nose, fighting frustration. At Arthur’s aggrieved huff, she gave up the last vestige of professional etiquette and reached for the cup of cold chai at her elbow. “Fine. Your godson is most definitely an adult. Yet you’re the one here.”

    “He’s agoraphobic,” Arthur repeated.

    “And the procedure for housebound patients is filling out my questionnaire and forwarding records from the previous therapist, then a Skype call. All of which requires the patient’s,” she stressed the word, “informed involvement. The relationship between therapist and patient cannot be, as you referred to it, a ‘stealth assignment.’ A patient can’t not know he’s being treated.”

    2+
  16. Elisa Beatty says:

    Wonderful entries!!! All finalists have entered their expanded entries, and it’s on to the final round!!!

    Thanks everybody for letting us read more!

    4+
  17. Paula Huffman says:

    Wow! These are impressive… and a bit intimidating. Thanks again to all the wonderful Rubies for making this happen.

    1+
  18. Thank you again, ladies for giving so generously of your time every year.
    And I’m glad I’m not judging. I want all these books on my shelf.

    1+
  19. Congrats, everyone! 🙂

    1+
  20. Elisa Beatty says:

    Amazing entries!!! Choosing winners is going to be HARD!!!!

    0

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