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Announcing FIRST-ROUND TOP TEN FINALISTS for the MAKE IT GOLDEN Contest!

Thanks again to everybody who joined us for our Blog-O-Versary bash, and to the 79 entrants who boldly offered their first lines for our Make It Golden Contest!  The Rubies read them all, marveling at the variety and hilarity and overall wonderfulness, and struggled to narrow the field to ten.

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 can return to the field of battle.

The Top-Ten 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).

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

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

What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas — unless you’re stupid enough to marry him. –Heidi Luchterhand

When Granny trudged down her ramp with the four-footed cane in one hand and an 18-inch pipe wrench clutched tightly to her bosom, I knew this would not be the typical Methodist Bean Soup Luncheon.  – Jeff Salter

Sisters with morals were a dreadful nuisance.  –Gillian Layne

Meg Malone’s day began a slow, downward slide at 7:42 a.m., the precise moment she squinted down at the pregnancy test stick in her hand, hoping like hell she’d misread it. –Arlene @ Love & Laughter

I haven’t slept soundly since the world ended. –Sarah Shade

“Her mother had always proudly told people, “I got some something better than a son; I got a daughter with balls.” –Heather Nickodem

Why couldn’t the stupid bastard just hold still so she could shoot him?  -Andrea Laurence

The grief counselor told the group to be grateful for what they had left, so after lots of considering, Charla Rae decided she was grateful for the bull semen.  –Laura Drake

Before that morning, Delaney Matthews had foolishly believed that nothing could be worse than being flashed by a geriatric superhero high on Viagra.  –Heidi Luchterhand

Killing one man shouldn’t take this long. –Callie James

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

The winners will be announced on the Ruby blog on Oct 5.

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

Second Place: $20 bookstore gift certificate

Third Place: a Ruby Slipper journal

53 responses to “Announcing FIRST-ROUND TOP TEN FINALISTS for the MAKE IT GOLDEN Contest!”

  1. Jeff Salter says:

    ENTRY

    When Granny trudged down her ramp with the four-footed cane in one hand and an 18-inch pipe wrench clutched tightly to her bosom, I knew this would not be the typical Methodist Bean Soup Luncheon. Surely, I thought quickly, if that drug-dealing neighbor she’d reported to the police was home from prison, this Stillson might already be bloody.
    Granny finally reached the dented GMC pick-up and paused at my window. “I bet you’re wondering why I brought this monkey-wrench,” she said, breathing heavily from the exertion.
    I nodded cautiously. I tend to brace myself for unpredictable adventure anyway, since I also drive her to Kroger’s monthly senior discount days.
    She did not explain, however. She let her cane stand on its own four feet as she struggled to extend the heavy tool through my window. I wrestled it past my own bosom and carefully examined the gray metal for matted hair or dried blood. It was slightly grimy … but it probably hadn’t killed any druggie-neighbors. Not recently anyway.
    Granny re-gripped her cane and continued around to the truck’s passenger side. With considerable effort, audible grunts, and accidental flatulence, she finally got situated in the seat.
    “So how long do I have to wait for the explanation?” I pointed toward the weighty implement I’d just clunked onto the rear floorboard.
    “Oh.” Though still panting moderately, she tried to restrain her grin. “The cap won’t come off my mouthwash bottle.”
    “Granny, are you still planning to eat bean soup today?”

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  2. Meg Malone’s day began a slow, downward slide at 7:42 a.m., the precise moment she squinted down at the pregnancy test stick in her hand, hoping like hell she’d misread it.

    Now, exactly 11 hours and 13 minutes later, she was sleepy, cranky and spoiling for a fight. And since the jerk she really wanted to tell off had moved hundreds of miles away without leaving a forwarding address, the arrogant-looking guy who’d just plopped his denim-clad butt into one of the chairs at the bar table she’d been about to claim would have to suffice.

    Meg glared at the interloper, in no mood to fake civility near the end of a long day that had shaken both her home and professional lives. “I was about to sit here.”

    Even in the crowded bar, her voice carried farther than she wanted. She winced, wishing she sounded less strident. She wasn’t bitchy by nature — and even if she was, she shouldn’t vent her frustration on this table thief.

    Unperturbed by her tone, the stranger reached a well-muscled arm up to turn his baseball cap backward, obscuring the logo before she could recognize it. Then he tipped his head up to look at her. Meg felt his insolent gaze as it roamed over her, annoyed by her nipples’ response when his eyes lingered on her breasts. For ogling her like that, maybe he did deserve her rudeness.

    “Looks like I beat you to it, little girl.”

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  3. ENTRY

    Meg Malone’s day began a slow, downward slide at 7:42 a.m., the precise moment she squinted down at the pregnancy test stick in her hand, hoping like hell she’d misread it.

    Now, exactly 11 hours and 13 minutes later, she was sleepy, cranky and spoiling for a fight. And since the jerk she really wanted to tell off had moved hundreds of miles away without leaving a forwarding address, the arrogant-looking guy who’d just plopped his denim-clad butt into one of the chairs at the bar table she’d been about to claim would have to suffice.

    Meg glared at the interloper, in no mood to fake civility near the end of a long day that had shaken both her home and professional lives. “I was about to sit here.”

    Even in the crowded bar, her voice carried farther than she wanted. She winced, wishing she sounded less strident. She wasn’t bitchy by nature — and even if she was, she shouldn’t vent her frustration on this table thief.

    Unperturbed by her tone, the stranger reached a well-muscled arm up to turn his baseball cap backward, obscuring the logo before she could recognize it. Then he tipped his head up to look at her. Meg felt his insolent gaze as it roamed over her, annoyed by her nipples’ response when his eyes lingered on her breasts. For ogling her like that, maybe he did deserve her rudeness.

    “Looks like I beat you to it, little girl.”

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  4. Laurie Kellogg says:

    Congratulations to all of the finalists! And a big ya-hoo to Heidi!

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  5. Laura Drake says:

    ENTRY

    The grief counselor told the group to be grateful for what they had left. After lots of considering, Charla Rae decided she was grateful for the bull semen.

    Charla Rae Denny wiped her hands with her apron and stepped back, surveying the shelves of her pantry. This month’s Good Housekeeping suggested using scraps of linoleum as shelf paper. It had been a bitch-kitty to cut, but cost nothing, and for a few hours, the project had rescued her weary mind from the hamster-wheel of regret.

    The homing beacon in the Valium bottle near the sink tugged at her insides.

    Her gaze returned to the two-foot wide stump the way a tongue wanders to a missing tooth. Tentative grass shoots had sprung up to obscure the obscene scar in the soil.

    She hadn’t known a mere tree could kill a child.

    She hadn’t known a mere coed could kill a marriage.

    And if those pills could kill the knowing, she’d take ten.

    At the familiar, throaty growl of a Peterbilt turning off the road out front, Char jerked, realizing minutes had passed. She’d been listening for that deep throb for hours. She always did. As the cab and empty cattle hauler swept by the window, she wound her shaking hands in her apron, as if the sturdy cotton would hold her together. She’d rather clean bathrooms at the airport than confront Jimmy, but it seemed most of her choices these days were like that.

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  6. liz talley says:

    Woo-hoo! These are good. And I want to read more of all of them. Congrats on having some great hooks!

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  7. Callie James says:

    ENTRY

    Killing one man shouldn’t take this long.

    Waiting for the final word, Allison Banks stared through the scope, her eyes burning as she watched her target. Two hours crouched next to the window had taken a toll on her knees and she desperately longed to sit. She wasn’t a wimp by any stretch of the imagination, but as her vision blurred and her peripheral senses shifted from her target to her surroundings, she wished with everything in her she didn’t have to be here tonight.

    Rolling her head forward, she stretched her neck muscles briefly before focusing again on the task at hand. The dark, empty office suite with all its creaks and groans was beginning to unnerve her. Between the howling wind and the rustling, thick plastic that dangled from the half-renovated ceiling, her solid determination to prove herself was beginning to crumble under a good old-fashioned case of the heebie-jeebies. The office she’d claimed for this job was one of many in the building, its vacancy due to the restorations in the dilapidated structure’s West side.

    Another howling wind produced a rush of goose bumps along her arms, and she gave herself a mental shake. They’d planned this hit since Friday night, nearly a week ago, and now she’d become a doubting wreck. All this thinking was playing with her mind.

    “Bollocks to this waiting,” she whispered.

    Resolute, she forced herself to focus and trained her gaze down the rifle’s scope again, fixing on her mark.

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  8. Elise Hayes says:

    Congrats to our finalists! What a treat to get to read more of your work!

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  9. Diana Layne says:

    Oooh, I am loving this! And I’m losing Internet sometime today, darn it. Going to have to go hunt down some free wifi so I can read them all! Congrats to the finalists!

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  10. Congrats to all the finalists. We really did have a hard time picking the top ten. There were so many great opening lines.

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  11. Congrats to all the finalists! These entries look awesome!

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  12. ENTRY
    Why couldn’t the stupid bastard just hold still so she could shoot him? Was that too much to ask?
    “I said freeze, you son of a bitch!” Randi’s voice echoed down the abandoned hallway, but the suspect’s footsteps didn’t hesitate for a moment. The stomps of his feet grew even louder. He was heading up the stairs. If they didn’t hurry, they’d lose him in the maze of the condemed building.
    “I should’ve shot him when I had the chance,” she lamented to her partner, James Bennett, as he rushed up alongside her.
    “Where the hell’s our backup?”
    Randi shook her head, stopping short of the stairwell. “It doesn’t matter. If we wait for them, we’ll lose him.” She peered around the doorway before charging up the stairs. She didn’t need a judge and jury to know this guy was a murdering pedophile and had no problem with shooting a cop. He’d been caught in the act and would’ve killed another little girl if he hadn’t been interrupted by a patrol car. The officer had been seriously wounded trying to stop him. Neither Randi or Bennett would be able to live with themselves if he got away after what he’d done.
    They pounded up the steps, following the trail of blood he left behind. Bennett’s shot had caught him in the arm, but it hadn’t stopped him. It barely slowed him down. But it did make him easier to track.
    “Here,” Randi whispered as they approached the landing.

    Thanks guys! Please forgive if I have a typo. I’m entering this on my iPhone while I’m in the mountains with no laptop internet connection.

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  13. Elisa Beatty says:

    Wow–these are thrilling! I wish we had a third round where we got the whole chapter!!

    Keep ’em coming!

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  14. gillian layne says:

    ENTRY

    Sisters with morals were a dreadful nuisance.

    “I’m dead. Tell him I’m dead, Maddie.” Matching deed to words, Rebecca Stayton collapsed among the feather pillows littering her bed.

    “Corpses are marked by silence, dear.” Madeline rescued a mewing kitten from the depths of a discarded afghan upon the floor and settled him into a bedside basket with his littermates.

    Rebecca propped up on her elbows, blowing an errant curl out of her face. “I am, in truth, the very picture of health. It’s criminal, your obsession with my simple cold, while countless others languish, deprived of desperately needed medical attention.”

    “I’ll concede your lungs are unharmed.”

    A smart rap upon the bedroom door pulled Madeline’s attentions away long enough for Rebecca to tuck her last bag of treasured lemon drops under a pillow.

    “You may enter.”

    The physician who strode through the doors, however, pausing only long enough to drape his long coat across the camelback sofa and nod respectfully to Madeline—of course, he was respectful to Madeline, whose graceful stance never faltered—was not the elderly Scotsman who had visited Rebecca each day for the past week. This gentleman’s frank stare or brisk conduct could never be confused with the rambling manner of their jovial family doctor.

    Physicians ought not visit their patients looking quite so robust and well kept and—and virile. Such observations would be rather lowering, if the disheveled patient gave a fig about the immaculate physician’s opinion. Thankfully, she suffered from no such inclinations.

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  15. Kim Law says:

    So much fun! I’m loving reading these. Where are our other finalists??? I need more! 😀

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  16. Heather Nickodem says:

    ENTRY:

    As far back as she could remember, her mother had proudly told people, “I have something better than a son; I have a daughter with balls.” Well, maybe she hadn’t used those exact words when Hallie was a little girl, but she had somehow always understood that being ballsy was a good thing. Sometimes it was the only way for a girl to get what she needed in life.

    Hallie smiled, thinking of her mom’s classic line as she yawned and stretched in the confines of her bunk. That’s what had gotten her here, sandwiched between Gina Marini who slept below her and Trixie, who slept above. Trixie had balls in spades. Rumor had it that she had also slept with half of the Atlantic Fleet – the male half. Hallie wasn’t like that. She thought of herself as more of a lady. An intelligent, educated, professional, well-spoken, lady. With balls.

    Chutzpas Barbie. This model came with a navy blue and gray camouflage uniform, cute little combat boots, and a pair of aluminum dog tags to adorn her neck: McCabe, Hallie L. 243-57-7048/USN/O+/Prot. Hopefully the O positive blood would never be needed. Or the Protestant chaplain, unless it was to perform a wedding. The gray, steel bunk beds were optional, but certainly came in handy when she pulled the duty and needed a place to crash. The white canvas seabag to stow all the extra outfits in was included. And the set of balls? Well, those came standard on Chutzpas Barbie.

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  17. These are great! I hope they’re leaving us to go to the Golden Heart. They’ll make a judge’s heart do a happy dance! Keep ’em comin’.

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  18. Kristina says:

    Congrats to the finalists!! Good luck to all of you!

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  19. It’s wonderful to see the talent of our readership brought into the light!

    Ladies and gents, just think of how awesome it would be if the entry we sponsor ends up as a finalist!!!! I know that’s getting ahead of ourselves, but it’s hard not to imagine the best for our fabulous finalists. Each of these entries is beautifully written and draws me straight in. It’s going to be hard to pick a winner…

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  20. Tina Joyce says:

    I’ve been dying to see the expanded version of those first lines. Great job, everyone, and congratulations to our finalists! These are wonderful!

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  21. Heidi Luchterhand says:

    ENTRY

    What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas – unless you’re stupid enough to marry him.

    Meg Cromwell really didn’t want to open her eyes. She was lying in bed…somewhere. The room was dark, the sheets smelled musky, and there was a big heavy arm curled around her from behind – with its big heavy hand cupping her breast. Her naked breast.

    Which matched— Meg shifted her hips slightly and…yep. Which matched her equally naked bottom.

    And his. Hard to miss that fact. Or the fact that Meg’s mystery man wasn’t entirely asleep despite the soft snores ruffling her hair. One part of him, at least, was wide-awake and raring to go.

    Meg shifted again, just a little. Just enough to discourage Mr. Happy but not enough to wake his owner and—

    Oh, God. If the unexpected moisture between her legs was any indication, Mr. Happy had gone riding without a saddle that night.

    How could she have been so stupid?

    Her last one-night stand had been her only one-night stand – and that had been her freshman year in college about a gazillion years ago. She’d been stupid then, too, and also impatient to become a “real” woman by embracing her sexual freedom. She’d realized later, after her marathon hot shower, that having sexual freedom also meant having the freedom to say “no” or “not yet.”

    Or at least “not without a condom.”

    How could she have forgotten any of that? Or her ensuing pregnancy scare?

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  22. Heidi Luchterhand says:

    ENTRY

    Before that morning, Delaney Matthews had foolishly believed that nothing could be worse than being flashed by a geriatric superhero high on Viagra.

    She’d been wrong.

    Worse was when it happened again. And again.

    “Now, Mr. Anderson,” she said in her most authoritative voice, “we’ve already discussed this, remember?”

    But of course he didn’t remember. Mr. Willard Anderson – aka the Winged Avenger – had broken the sound barrier one-too-many times saving the world and now his short-term memory was all shot to hell.

    “Dang impressive, ain’t it?” Mr. Anderson said, grinning and waggling his bushy gray eyebrows at her. Delaney knew from experience that he was waggling something else, too, but she’d learned from her previous mistake and so kept her gaze due north. Not an easy feat when she was seated behind her desk at Sunset Ranch – the top-secret retirement home for elderly superheroes – and Mr. Anderson was standing in front of it. With his “little superhero” at eye level.

    “Maybe I should tell Mrs. Leon about your behavior,” she threatened.

    Mrs. Camille Leon – aka Cammie Chameleon – was Mr. Anderson’s girlfriend and his Viagra dealer. Delaney had tried in vain to cut off his supply after the first time he’d flashed her, but as Mrs. Leon had warned her, “It’s impossible to stop a horny old broad who can shape shift.”

    And she’d been right. All Delaney had ever accomplished was making a fool of herself chasing shadows.

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  23. Rita says:

    CONGRATS TO THE FINAL 10 AND….OWIE!
    This is going to be tougher than getting it down to the ten entries.
    I have to say all the first lines were darn good. I hope everyone is continuing to polish their entries for the GH.

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  24. There’s definitely some stiff competition! I’m loving seeing the other entries.

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  25. jbrayweber says:

    These are WONDERFUL! Congrats to the finalists. I’m really enjoying reading the entries. Oomph. It’s going to be so hard to judge.

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  26. Enjoyed reading all the first lines and congrats to the finalists. Looking forward to reading the entries and thanks to all for joining in the fun:)

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  27. Sarah Shade says:

    ENTRY
    I haven’t slept soundly since the world ended.
    I sleep light with good reason, aware that the slightest disturbance could mean danger or impending death. My life and the lives of the other twenty-eight citizens of Haven rely on constant vigilance, day and night.
    Thus, a muffled thud jolts me awake. The cause is probably my new roommate – for the umpteenth time. I hate that damn cat.
    I never take chances, though. The moment my eyes open, I reach for the pistol I keep wedged between the mattress and the wall. Gun in tow, I silently and stealthily slide off the bed to the packed dirt floor. I’ve had a lot of practice lately thanks to my feline companion.
    With a quick glance over the edge of the mattress, I survey the confines of the room – an easy task in a space only forty feet square containing no more than a coverless twin-sized bed, a pillow and a battered-up footlocker.
    The good news is: the noise wasn’t the cat. It’s fast asleep in the far corner. I won’t have to kill it – this time. The bad news is: the noise wasn’t the cat. By and large, that means trouble.

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    • Sarah Shade says:

      Thank you Ruby Slipper Sisterhood for the nomination and for hosting this wonderful contest! I apologize profusely for missing the deadline (look at my submission time). Life got in the way today (I spent all day working with a show choir – think “Glee”). I was unable to get to my computer until 10:30 MST which is too late (cry). I posted only to validate the contest and the other finalists’ incredible entries. You are all truly amazing!

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    • Elisa Beatty says:

      Oh…great entry, Sarah!! I love the final paragraph….an awesome NEW hook! Wish I could keep reading!

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    • Your entry is wonderful, Sarah. It’s a damn shame it’s disqualified. But please, please, enter it in the Golden Heart. It reads like a finalist!

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  28. gillian layne says:

    Rubies, please accept my heartfelt thanks for hosting such a wonderful contest. I’m flattered to be included in such talented company.

    Sarah–your full life is probably one reason you write so well–your entry is amazing!

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  29. Laurie Green says:

    Bravo, Sarah. This carried a wonderful sense of tension along with a light touch of humor. I would definitely read on.

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  30. Callie James says:

    I, too, would like to thank the Rubies for the opportunity and final nomination. It’s been a lot of fun reading all of these intriguing submissions. Best of luck to all entrants and finalists in the Golden Heart!

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  31. Laura Drake says:

    I feel like that commercial, where the woman stands outside the store, saying, “Open, open, open!” Can’t wait to hear the winner!

    I’m honored to be in such an elite group – what great writers!
    Laura

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  32. Nan Dixon says:

    These are all great! And they all lived up to the first line. Congratulations — finalists.

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  33. Congrats to the 10 finalists! The Ruby Sisters will have a tough time picking a winner!

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  34. […] out the wonderful and hilarious 2010 finalists here.  (And may we point out–with a lovely little glow of pride–that finalist Arlene Hittle […]

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