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Make It Golden Contest – Finalists Announced!

Holy guacamole—what fabulous first lines!!

The Rubies read them all, and were amazed by the variety and creative awesomeness; we’re dying to know what happens next in all these stories!!!

Thanks to the power of voting, we did manage to narrow the field down from ONE HUNDRED to only ten.  Well, actually eleven, because voting was super-tight, and we had a four-way tie for the last three places.

Even with that extra finalist, it truly pained us to leave so many fabulous entries behind—we’d love to read expanded versions of every single one, and can’t wait to see those sentences opening your published books!

For today, though, only ten (or, okay, actually eleven) can return to the field of battle.

The Top-Ten Top-Eleven First Round Finalists will appear (in RANDOM ORDER) when you click on the double arrow button below.

If you see your first line, that’s your cue to enter your EXPANDED entry in one of the Comments boxes below today’s post. Include your first line again, then the following few sentences until you reach a *maximum* of 250 total words. 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!!

Expanded entries must be entered by MIDNIGHT EDT on September 27 to qualify for the final round.

Thanks to EVERYONE who entered!!!

DRUMROLL PLEASE!!!!! THE TOP TEN FIRST-ROUND FINALISTS ARE:


“Uh, coach, why is there a naked woman in our showers?”
-Carla

Stalked by that most fearsome creature of the Beau Monde, a matchmaking mother, Lord Lindsey didn’t think, he ran, dignity be damned.
–Magda Alexander

Today Fiona MacGregor would marry a man she’d never met, and yet had hated all her life.
–Tracy Brogan

For a man presumed dead, Alexander Gamage was feeling quite chilly.
–Miranda Liasson

The tricky thing about having a poltergeist as a partner was how hard he was to find, even when he was standing mere feet away.
-Cindi Madsen

She didn’t know whether it was the enticing smell of beeswax rising from the wood, or the soft shine of late-winter light reflected in the polished walnut, but Charlotte Farnsworth—disgraced daughter of a viscount—had a sudden and desperate desire to hitch up her skirts and slide down the long banister at Brentwood Manor.
–Eileen Emerson

If I’d known that I was going to die that day, I wouldn’t have bothered getting ready for work.
–Jacee James

“Bury me standing, for I have been on my knees all my life.”
-Joanne

You were dead to us the moment they touched you.
–Bec

If there was one thing I’d learned so far in high school, it was this: good girls are just bad girls that don’t get caught.
–Shana Silver

“You’re bored, I’m drunk…let’s get married.”
-Asha

Good luck, finalists! You’ve got us riveted already—we can’t wait to see more!

The winners will be announced on the Ruby blog on Oct 3.

GRAND PRIZE: your $50 Golden Heart entry fee paid by the Rubies.

Second Place: $20 bookstore gift certificate

Third Place: a Ruby Slipper journal

 (And don’t the eternal Fame and Glory.) 

101 responses to “Make It Golden Contest – Finalists Announced!”

  1. Congrats to the winners! I can’t wait to see what happens next.

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  2. Yes, I feel rather sorry for the Rubies… that was a rough choice! I am quite anxious to see where some of these go! Thanks for a fabulous contest Rubies, first lines are so much fun!

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  3. Carla says:

    ENTRY

    “Uh, coach, why is there a naked woman in our showers?”

    Tommy stood in my office doorway, looking as confused as he was excited. He was just fifteen, and naked women were still a novelty.

    Exhaling what I wished was my last breath, I hung my head. My hand stopped halfway to the bottom drawer of my desk where I hid the whiskey. For the tenth time, I wondered if this job was worth the money.

    The whiskey would have to wait. “Is there, now.”

    He nodded, his already sunburned cheeks very nearly to full-on scarlet. “She’s there, all right. And she’s, uh, singing.”

    I pushed myself out of the creaky wooden chair. “Just shoot me now. Okay, Tommy, show me this naked woman.”

    I followed him across the locker room, holding my breath against the smell of stale sweat and dirt and cut grass and rusting metal. Steam billowed out of the shower room, over the heads of the small crowd gathered there. Over the faint murmur of fascinated voices, I heard what, indeed, sounded like a woman’s voice, singing…The Blues Brothers?

    Shit.

    I pushed my way through the players and staff crawling on top of each other to get a better look. Through the doorway, I walked into a cloud of steam perfumed by soap and female skin. Even before I saw her face, I knew it was Remy Turner. Despite the humidity, my mouth went dry.

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  4. She didn’t know whether it was the enticing smell of beeswax rising from the wood, or the soft shine of late-winter light reflected in the polished walnut, but Charlotte Farnsworth—disgraced daughter of a viscount—had a sudden and desperate desire to hitch up her skirts and slide down the long banister at Brentwood Manor.

    A quick shake of her head dispelled the unladylike impulse. It would never do to let Lady Westin witness a relapse to the hoydenish behavior of fifteen years ago, for the odious woman was already poking and prodding for weaknesses in Charlotte’s armor.

    Settling her shawl over her upper arms, Charlotte descended the stairs at what she hoped was a graceful and demure pace.

    Amanda had better appreciate the sacrifice Auntie Charlotte was making for the sake of her soon-to-be niece or nephew, for Lady Daphne Elworth Warwick Westin was shredding the very last scrap of Auntie’s patience.

    The long string of names attached to her sister’s thrice married mother-in-law made the corners of Charlotte’s mouth lift. She took a deep, steadying breath and opened the sitting room door, her smile now firmly and most determinedly in place.

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    • The sencond to last paragraph should be in italics as it’s an internal thought, but I didn’t know how to make the format change here.

      Thanks, Rubies! What an awesome opportunity!

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    • ENTRY

      She didn’t know whether it was the enticing smell of beeswax rising from the wood, or the soft shine of late-winter light reflected in the polished walnut, but Charlotte Farnsworth—disgraced daughter of a viscount—had a sudden and desperate desire to hitch up her skirts and slide down the long banister at Brentwood Manor.

      A quick shake of her head dispelled the unladylike impulse. It would never do to let Lady Westin witness a relapse to the hoydenish behavior of fifteen years ago, for the odious woman was already poking and prodding for weaknesses in Charlotte’s armor.

      Settling her shawl over her upper arms, Charlotte descended the stairs at what she hoped was a graceful and demure pace.

      Amanda had better appreciate the sacrifice Auntie Charlotte was making for the sake of her soon-to-be niece or nephew, for Lady Daphne Elworth Warwick Westin was shredding the very last scrap of Auntie’s patience.

      The long string of names attached to her sister’s thrice married mother-in-law made the corners of Charlotte’s mouth lift. She took a deep, steadying breath and opened the sitting room door, her smile now firmly and most determinedly in place.

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  5. Joanne says:

    ENTRY

    “Si khohaimo may patshivalo sar o tshatshim.”
    “There are lies more believable than the truth.”
    -Old Romany saying

    Chapter One

    England 1508

    “Bury me standing, for I have been on my knees all my life.”

    Valentina Rupa bowed her head to hear her beloved mother’s last words, to see the twitch of her eyes beneath her eyelids, the rise and fall of her chest beneath the thin blankets.

    Her mother’s breath faded, already settling into the bleak night, already gone.

    Unearthly quiet filled their makeshift canopy. The dwindling light from the nearby campfires of their Romany tribe seeped through the canvas.

    “Daj, Mother . . . don’t stop speaking.”
    Tears blinded Valentina’s eyes, defeated her voice. She caressed her mother’s wrinkled, frail cheekbones. She focused on her mother’s lips, willing her to speak once more.

    What good did it do to be a drabardi, a powerful fortuneteller and healer, if she couldn’t save her own mother? The anguish in Valentina’s heart rose to her throat. She gulped and tried to be strong.

    Valentina’s younger sister, Yolanda, stood beside her and gazed at their mother’s peaceful face. “Please, daj, ’tis not your time.” Yolanda’s voice trembled to a whisper. “Her lips, she’s breathing . . .”

    “Nay, ’tis the north wind.” Valentina peered straight ahead at the oak tree branches bending against a biting gust, threatening to collapse their crude canopy. Wagon wheels creaked, groaning into the dirt, familiar sounds, yet so distant.

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  6. Joanne Barnaba says:

    Thank you, Rubies, for this wonderful opportunity to share my Tudor historical about my Romany (Gypsy) heroine and her way of life in 1508 England.

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  7. Jacee James says:

    ENTRY

    If I’d known that I was going to die that day, I wouldn’t have bothered getting ready for work. I certainly wouldn’t have worn my light pink granny panties, especially since I didn’t even have the excuse of laundry day. I would’ve gone out and enjoyed life, in a thong, and lived ‘high on the hog’ as Daddy used to say.

    A one-night-stand with a totally hot stranger, or maybe I could’ve stolen the neighbor’s 1965 Shelby and taken myself on a wild ride . . . something.

    Still, dying wasn’t really as bad as I imagined, not that I expected it. I certainly don’t dwell on it. My lack of a love-life, yes. Imminent death? Not so much.

    But there I was in rush hour on the US60 freeway. It’s an everyday nightmare of stop and go, with road rage being the only common denominator between drivers.

    “Hello?” I yelled. ”Do you not see me over here?”

    Obviously not, as the most current idiot, aka soccer mom putting on her mascara, in an oversized SUV merged into my lane and almost into the passenger side of my Camry. I swerved, and like the wave at a football game, all four lanes followed suit.

    My exit arrived and I thanked God that I’d survived the freeway one more time. Being in a funky mood, the soundtrack to Grease was blasting and I was singing at the top of my lungs.

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  8. Kelley says:

    Congratulations, everybody! There were so many fun, interesting lines to choose from but the Rubies did a terrific job of selecting the top eleven. I’m looking forward to reading the expanded entries. It’s so interesting and there’s so much to learn here. Thanks again, Rubies. Kelley

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  9. I can see our entrants refuse to make this easy on us. These are fabulous.

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  10. Oh Goodie! I see so many of my favorites here that I was dying to see more off. It was hard choosing only ten out of a hundred, and I fear whittling this down to only three will be even tougher. Well done, ladies!

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  11. Congrats to the winners, Shana Silver’s one liner really grabbed me!

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  12. ENTRY

    Stalked by that most fearsome creature of the Beau Monde, a matchmaking mother, Lord Lindsey didn’t think, he ran, dignity be damned. Ignoring greetings along the way, he weaved through the merry revelers in Lady Twynham’s ballroom toward doors which opened out to a flagstone terrace. Outside, he dashed down to the lawn before reentering the mansion into a quiet hallway where his hostess’s library could be found. He’d whiled away a pleasant hour or two there in the past, not always in intellectual pursuit.

    Opening the third door on the left, he slipped into the room. A cheery hearth fire greeted him. He was reaching for a Greek version of “Odysseus” when a rustle emanated from the opposite side of the library.

    He was not alone.

    Searching the shadows, he discovered a female reclining in a chair, book in hand, titian hair piled up in some sort of artful arrangement with the au courant curls cascading across creamy shoulders. He recognized her gown, in a shade the fashionable world had named verdant spring, chartreuse jonquil, or some other silly name, to be all the rage. Ribbons trailed from a handsome bosom which owed nothing to artifice; he’d undressed enough women to know the difference between illusion and truth. The color of her eyes was harder to discern, not only because of the relative darkness of the room, but because the lady in question wore spectacles. He had no trouble discerning their expression, though. Bemused would cover it nicely.

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  13. Thanks, Rubies, for this wonderful honor. I’m thrilled beyond words about being one of the 10, scratch that, 11 finalists. “To Pluck a Rose” was such fun to write; glad it found favor in your eyes.

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  14. Cindi Madsen says:

    ENTRY

    The tricky thing about having a poltergeist as a partner was how hard he was to find, even when he was standing mere feet away.

    “Hey, Milt?” I flipped through the files in my filing cabinet, growing more impatient by the second. “Did you file the Morrison case under M, or V for vampire?” I’d checked both places twice, but couldn’t find the information. With every minute that passed, the more likely it was that I’d run into someone I desperately wanted to avoid. School had been worse than usual today, and I didn’t think I could take one more annoying confrontation. “I swear, it was right here.”

    “Are you talking to me?” a smoky female voice asked.

    Every nerve in my body went on edge as I slowly turned around. The stacked, overly-collagenated succubus who stole my boyfriend stood on the other side of my office, gripping a tiny beaded clutch.

    Speaking of people I’d rather avoid.

    I clenched my jaw. “The answer to that question will always be no.”

    “Aha, but right there, you are talking to me.” Nadia twisted a strand of her platinum hair around her finger, something I was sure drove the y-chromosome population crazy. Hell, I was a little hypnotized by the motion myself.

    I returned to flipping through my files. “Go away.”

    “I’ve got a case for you.”

    “I’m all filled up on cases.”

    Nadia made a big show of looking around. “Yeah, I noticed the long line.”

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  15. Amanda Brice says:

    Great openings everyone! It’s going to be so difficult to whittle it down even further!!!

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  16. Alexa Bourne says:

    Good luck to the finalists!

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  17. Tina Joyce says:

    Wow, great job everyone! These are going to be fabulous. Congratulations to all the finalists.

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  18. Helen King says:

    Congratulations to all the finalists!

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  19. Kate Parker says:

    These are great. I’m enjoying reading them. Good luck, everyone.

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  20. Tracy Brogan says:

    ENTRY

    Today Fiona Macgregor would marry a man she had never met, and yet had hated all of her life.

    Peering through the narrow window of her crumbling tower room, she plucked at the frayed hem of her sleeve and marveled over nature’s twisted humor. This morning of all mornings, she wanted the sky burdened with ominous clouds. The winds should howl and slice to the bone, fierce as a claymore in her brother’s hand. But the early spring day was soft, mild as a Highland calf, and in her misery she could not reconcile the irony.

    In hours, perhaps even moments, the Campbells would pass through the gates of her ancestral home and enter the bailey below, unwelcome, yet unaccosted by her father’s men. Now two months in the grave, Hugh Macgregor could protect his daughter and his people no longer, and the calculated bargain, struck the day Fiona drew in her first breath, was sealed with the wheeze of his last crackling gasp. Betrothed to Myles Campbell by command of the King, her parents had once rejoiced at such a noble match. But that was before, when a different King sat on the throne, long before the raids, and the retaliations, and the accusations of treason and murder. And long before Fiona’s own dear mother was found dead, lying broken and naked in a stream, with Cedric Campbell’s brooch pierced into her pale ivory skin.

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  21. liz talley says:

    Ooh, these definitely make me want to read more. I’m dying to know about poor Lord Lindsey. LOL. Oh, and I loved the succubus. And the naked Remy in the shower? Oh, goodness. I’ll never be able to decide.

    Thanks for playing. This will be fun!

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  22. Bec says:

    ENTRY

    You were dead to us the moment they touched you.

    My mother’s final words to me echo in my brain despite the years since they were so calmly spoken. It takes everything I have to push them aside. I can’t afford to wallow.

    “Hey.” Peter’s voice is familiar in a whole school of new.

    I look up, straight into his eyes. They’re more hazel than green today. Must be because of the brown school sweater he’s wearing. His sleeves are pushed up to his elbows. I tug at mine, making sure they’re down.

    He grins with a flash of dimples. “Good luck.”

    My stomach, already teetering on the edge, flips into a full roll. “You too,” I mumble, and drag my gaze away. I could get lost in those eyes and I need all my wits about me today.

    We are not in this together.

    It’s me who Verity, Peter’s mother, is worried about. I need to fit in. She didn’t realize I’d overheard her whispered conversation, but fitting in is the least I can do for her. I owe their family everything. All I have to do is enter the classroom, get through the introductions, ignore the inevitable gapes, whispers and points and keep my head down. Easy.

    At least I hope it will be, as soon as Peter and the office lady behind him move along. Every second I wait makes the ball of nerves in my stomach expand, filling my chest so it’s hard to breathe.

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  23. Shoshana Brown says:

    It’s so much fun to read these. Congrats to all the finalists!

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  24. So much fun reading these! Congratulations on making it to the finals, ladies. 🙂

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  25. Shea Berkley says:

    Wow, we are going to have a really difficult time picking a winner. These are all great. Good luck everyone!

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  26. Asha says:

    ENTRY

    “You’re bored, I’m drunk…let’s get married.”

    Sometimes being drunk meant the answers to life’s puzzles were crystal clear. Puzzle solutions were a good thing. And good things came in three.

    Right now, Jacob Morgan understood three things.

    One, he was drunk in Vegas’ hottest club and he was sure they were doing their damndest to make his head throb in sync with the music. Two, he had solved a puzzle regarding Claire Smith, the laughing woman beside him. Three, he wanted more than best friend status from Claire. On three, Jake inwardly admitted he had an inkling of after The Fish Incident, but had ignored it. Until now.

    He swallowed a shot. God bless Patron. Liquid courage was going to make or break his future with Claire. Or, at worst the rest of this trip. If need be, he could try and talk his way out of the doghouse later.
    Alcohol had loosened his tongue and the jumbled thoughts he had never entertained for more than a few seconds had rebelled tonight, organizing themselves into words and leaping from his lips, tumbling one right after the other when he had least expected them.

    Claire thwacked him on the forehead. “You’re thrashed. You don’t even know what the hell you’re saying.”

    Jake grabbed her hand. “Dear Claire,” he said grandly. “I believe both of us are drinking.” He gestured at the tabled shot glasses before lifting her hand and kissing it.

    She snorted. “Yeah, but you’re the one acting all cray-cray.”

    ——————***
    I just wanted to say (1) RSS, thank you so much for this opportunity (2) good luck to all the contestors (3) I have never been so nervous for Oct 3rd to come round!

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  27. ENTRY

    London, 1830

    For a man presumed dead, he was feeling quite chilly.

    Alexander Gamage huddled in a gorse thicket surrounded by crumbling tombstones and weathered stone crosses, packed together as tightly as the crowds on a busy London street. The wind kicked up, bringing the first fallen leaves tumbling across the dry grass and rushing clouds over the moon. He turned his collar up against the chill, tugged his cloak tighter, and hunkered closer to the ground.

    As he kept guard, Alex ventured a glance at his friend, stretched out next to him. He whispered sharply, “James, you asleep?”

    A soft, muted snore emanated from where James, long and skinny as a poplar sapling, rested face down on his arms.

    Lucky bastard. (ital.) Alex himself craved sleep, longed for it. Yet it evaded him night after night.

    An image danced inside his mind, of a girl in a white gown, running through a field of wildflowers. Summertime, the sun warming his skin through, his blood hot with desire. Her laughter fell on his ears like the tinkling of the stream nearby. She beckoned, and he reached out to take her hand, ready to follow her anywhere.

    Peregrine. (ital.)

    Her name flooded him with anguish. For one tremulous, suspended beat, agony squeezed his heart.

    She thinks you’re dead. (ital.)

    “I had no bloody choice,” he whispered out loud. She’s better off without me. (ital.)

    He had done this. He had put himself in a never-ending hell, without escape. No wonder he couldn’t sleep at night.

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  28. Just wanted to say thanks, Rubies, for making us think hard about our first lines.

    I loved everyone’s entries!

    Like Eileen, I just could not figure out how to do italics. That darn internal dialogue!

    Thanks for all the fun!

    Miranda

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    • admin says:

      Yeah, I’ve been trying to change those words to italics, but even in admin status it doesn’t seem to work. I think because I can only edit comments in html and I’m kinda html-illiterate. Sorry!

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    • Elisa Beatty says:

      Absolutely, Miranda–this does make me feel very self-conscious about my own first lines. It’s hard to make those first few words count in all the ways they need to. (I’m reminded of those RWA sessions in which editors and agents read submissions aloud and call out the moment at which they’d stop reading….amazing how often they DON’T make it past the first line.)

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  29. Elisa Beatty says:

    Calling Shana Silver!!! I hope you get here within the next hour and twenty-eight minutes to meet the deadline!!

    Anybody know Shana who can give her a call?

    I feel like one of those radio shows where they call a name and you have to call within ten minutes to claim your prize…..

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  30. Diana Layne says:

    whew, gonna be tough!

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  31. These are just so fantastic!!!!!! Way to go, everyone! ~D~

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  32. […] Check out the 2011 finalists here. […]

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