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MAKE IT GOLDEN FINALISTS ANNOUNCED!

It’s time to announce the top ten finalists for the 2019 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 same 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!!! As usual, 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 random order) when you click on the arrow button below.

Here they are:

 ******************

 

Margot Ryan

I guess I understood why I’d been called the bad boy of the Purple Sevens, especially when you put me next to Charlie Diamond, who was smaller, blonder, and more charismatic. I was a lump of coal next to his diamond—made of the same stuff arranged a little differently.

 

 

Becke Turner

Finding a bargain spiked Shelly Peach’s spirits almost as high as good sex. Not that she had a recent comparison. But hey, at thirty-one she still possessed a great memory and a vivid imagination. Of course her latest purchase wasn’t as good as sex, but it was close.

 

 

Michelle McCraw

“Always late.”

Always critical. Sam didn’t say it out loud. She only reciprocated Mom’s hug, applying the same amount of pressure Mom used, counted to three, and backed away.Three seconds for family and close friends. One second sufficed for anyone else. Just one of the many rules Sam memorized.

 

 

Lana Sloan 

Un-showered and splattered in chocolate ice cream, I tossed the block of glittery splinters that used to be a phone into the backseat of my car. Slamming the door closed, I crouched beside my back tire, on the shoulder of the two-lane highway, just inside the town limits of Beau.

 

 

 

Stephanie Wheeler

I noticed her smell before I ever saw her face. That’s what drew me to her. I caught it in the air, mingled with moisture and salt, just beyond my ability to make sense of it. I lifted my nose a few inches and inhaled. I immediately yearned for more.

 

 

 

Kirsty Fitzpatrick

“Da has only gone and chopped Eli’s head off!” Molly’s screech sailed through the house.I jumped; the photo I’d been staring at crinkled. I grabbed the book closest, squirrelled the photo inside its back page, and launched it across my desk under the kneejerk calculation that distance equalled invisibility.

 

 

 

Rachel Alexander Grilliot

“Can I ask you something,” Tim asked as he traced the roses that bloom down my back.“I think you just did,” I mumbled into the pillow.I had to recognize the restraint he had shown in not asking about the tattoos in the six months we’d been sleeping together.

 

 

 

Carla Luna Cullen

By the time her plane touched down in Maui, Jessica Chavez swore she’d never fly again. Slightly problematic, given that she was now on an island in the South Pacific. But after three flight delays, extreme turbulence, and an obnoxious seat partner, she was done.

 

 

 

Sammi Spizziri

The first sign it was a mistake coming to this party is my song blaring through the speakers as I walk in.The second is that I recognize at least six people, and not from real life. These are legit famous people who have earned their invite.

 

 

 

AK Hudson 

Even if you weren’t fae, picking up a one-night-stand on Midsummer was ridiculously easy. In fact, it was a little insulting to both Ryan and his paramour. Clichéd. Meaningless. Everything he usually looked for to make himself feel good and keep his mind from wandering too far.

 

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

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!!

31 responses to “MAKE IT GOLDEN FINALISTS ANNOUNCED!”

  1. A.K. Hudson says:

    ENTRY

    Even if you weren’t fae, picking up a one-night-stand on Midsummer was ridiculously easy. In fact, it was a little insulting to both Ryan and his paramour. Clichéd. Meaningless. Everything he usually looked for to make himself feel good and keep his mind from wandering too far. Tonight, he wasn’t feeling it.
    Still, Ryan found himself at Black Betty’s, the hole in the wall bar with amateur musicians crooning out covers almost in the right key. And why?
    “What are we doing here again?” Ryan asked Liz Hobbs, one of his closest friends and a fellow detective. Thursdays they usually went over to Cherry Hill for Thirsty Thursdays. They knew the owner and he served them top shelf liquor for the same price as wells. Ryan wasn’t sure how they had landed that deal, but they milked it. Black Betty’s didn’t do Thirsty Thursdays. It didn’t do hand-crafted fancy drinks. It served craft beers, mostly IPAs. “Fucking IPAs.”
    Hobbs paused to shoot him a look that said he really should pay more attention. Ryan had a vague recollection that their plans had something to do with Evans, one of the other detectives who worked at Gauis Aeden, GA for short. Evans was a good guy. A friend even. But not like Hobbs.
    Most people looked at Ryan and expect nothing more than what they saw. He didn’t go out of his way to prove them wrong. But Hobbs, she was good people, and she saw past his bullshit.

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    • Elisa Beatty says:

      Ooh, very interesting, AK!!

      Lots of complicated relationship dynamics at work here!

      And you’ve created a vivid sense of place. Love “the hole in the wall bar with amateur musicians crooning out covers almost in the right key.”

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  2. Elisa Beatty says:

    Congrats to all the finalists!!! It really was a tough choice!!

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  3. Margot Ryan says:

    ENTRY

    I guess I understood why I’d been called the bad boy of the Purple Sevens, especially when you put me next to Charlie Diamond, who was smaller, blonder, and more charismatic. I was a lump of coal next to his diamond—made of the same stuff arranged a little differently.

    I’m not sure that I deserved that title, if you got down to it. Wasn’t like I was out there doing some things other bad boys of rock were doing.

    I simply didn’t sugarcoat things. And I took no joy in that. But I didn’t see the point in telling someone differently than it was. People seemed to ignore it anyway, like Oliver, our rhythm guitarist and resident mess. When he started to spiral on our tour, I kept checking in with him. Maybe if someone else in the band had said something, things would’ve been different. Maybe he’d have gotten help, if others had been willing to confront him.

    But those maybes didn’t happen.

    Everything that went down in Brooklyn cemented my reputation. It was the end of our tour. The venue was packed, the dry winter air thick with steam from so many bodies you could taste it. People stuffed themselves in like animals. Unlike other shows, the front row wasn’t all women trying to make seductive eye contact, or worse yet, trying to toss us their bras. That was the worst—what could you do with a bra in the middle of a concert, anyway?

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    • Elisa Beatty says:

      Great stuff! Love lines like “our rhythm guitarist and resident mess” and “the dry winter air thick with steam from so many bodies you could taste it.”

      As Louisa put it in her post yesterday about opening lines, it’s VIVID.

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  4. Congrats to all the finalists! I’m looking forward to reading more.

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  5. Diane says:

    These are wonderful. Congrats to the finalists!

    0
  6. ENTRY

    “Always late.”

    Always critical. Sam didn’t say it out loud. She only reciprocated Mom’s hug, applying the same amount of pressure Mom used, counted to three, and backed away. Three seconds for family and close friends. One second sufficed for anyone else. Just one of the many rules Sam memorized.

    Outside the lavender safe zone of Mom’s Burberry coat, the sounds and scents of the coffee shop smacked Sam. The pungency of coffee beans soaked into her skin. And because it was October, ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg from the pumpkin spice syrup curled up into her nostrils. When the coffee grinder started, its whine jangled in her ears and through her whole body. Sam took a deep breath, held it for four seconds, and let it out.

    Mom saw it. “Should we go outside?” Her eyes darted between Sam’s. Concern. Mom was always concerned about Sam. It was why Sam was here, in the cacophonous coffee shop, instead of snuggling with Bilbo Baggins in her apartment. Mom avoided Sam’s shabby apartment like it was infested. Not that it was, anymore. Sam had eradicated the fleas. Though there was nothing she could do about the dog hair.

    “I’ll be fine. It’s raining outside.” Sam flicked the beads of water off her black canvas coat. Her finger caught in the hole in the sleeve.

    “Then let’s sit. We don’t have to stay long if you start to feel uncomfortable.”

    Too late for that.

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    • Elisa Beatty says:

      I really love the way this captures the way the world is super-immersive for neurodivergent folks!! Terrific job of drawing us in to a very particular consciousness.

      Terrific lines:

      “We don’t have to stay long if you start to feel uncomfortable.”

      Too late for that.

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  7. Congratulations, finalists! Good luck in the final round!

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  8. Kirsty Fitzpatrick says:

    ENTRY

    “Da has only gone and chopped Eli’s head off!” Molly’s screech sailed through the house.
    I jumped; the photo I’d been staring at crinkled. I grabbed the book closest, squirrelled the photo inside its back page, and launched it across my desk under the kneejerk calculation that distance equalled invisibility.
    Molly appeared in my doorway, all fiery-hair and tattered work-clothes, as I realized—with gut-wrenching alarm—the absolute absurdity of my judgement.
    Of all the books to hand, I’d picked the one that stood out like a blinking neon sign in an ancient forest. I could have chosen ‘Matching the Macabre: finding your familiar without fuss’ or ‘How To Kill Vampires, Wendigos and Ghouls: an idiots guide to slaying the unslayable.’ Instead, I chose ‘A Lusty Night of Passion: the enigmatic Darius Diggler doesn’t relent.’
    My cheeks heated.
    I glanced at Molly gripping the doorframe. With the photo secretly tucked inside the gaudiest book known to man, her slight-boned presence felt like a monstrous guard against my low-ceilinged room. As she puffed out an exasperated breath, I forced my brow into a concerned frown.
    “Says he’s gonna swipe Marlow’s too,” she groaned, “Been grinding them pruning-shears good and sharp in his workshop. Ain’t nothing stopping him until Marlow’s head’s mounted alongside Eli’s.”
    While I appreciated Molly’s predicament I now had my own self-inflicted incident to contend with. I shouldn’t have brought either the photo or book home. Secrets only remained secret if there was no evidence to confirm them.

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    • Elisa Beatty says:

      You had me at “under the kneejerk calculation that distance equalled invisibility” and the title of the book she threw is hilarious…

      I love the dialogue voices!! Definitely a specific world, with a very particular energy, and I really want to know what’s on the photograph!!

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  9. Sammi Spizziri says:

    ENTRY

    The first sign it was a mistake coming to this party is my song blaring through the speakers as I walk in.

    The second is that I recognize at least six people, and not from real life. These are legit famous people who have earned their invite. They didn’t just create a mockable viral music video when they were thirteen, like me.

    A familiar wave of nausea rolls over me. Whether it’s an automatic response to my song or a result of stepping into this mansion outside of Nashville where I don’t belong, I’m not sure.

    I shouldn’t have let Mom talk me into coming. I shouldn’t have even told her about the invitation. But her eyes lit up when I did, and I thought this one thing out might buy me time before she pushed me to do anything else. And, okay, maybe the thirteen-year-old part of me wondered what a celebrity party was like, since Mom never let me go when the invites poured in four years ago.

    I spin around, chiding myself for being so foolish as to show up. At least no one saw me. I’ll drive home and slip into sweatpants like this never happened.

    As I reach the door, it flies open, smashing into me. I stagger because heels and me don’t mix—even if wedge heels are supposedly steadier—and fall. My breathing’s uneven and my butt stings, but all that fades because the perpetrator walks in.

    He’s my age. And attractive.

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    • Elisa Beatty says:

      Oh, I love where this went! That the song is from “a mockable viral music video” she made when she was 13, and that her first response is to “drive home and slip into sweatpants like this never happened.” Between that and being unsteady on heels, she’s super-relatable.

      And, ooh, literally knocked off her feet by someone attractive….!!!

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  10. Stephanie Wheeler says:

    ENTRY

    I noticed her smell before I ever saw her face.  That’s what drew me to her. I caught it in the air, mingled with moisture and salt, just beyond my ability to make sense of it. I lifted my nose a few inches and inhaled.
                I immediately yearned for more.
                I’d been on the prowl for my latest infatuation, a new boy I’d decided had to be mine.  He was a pretty thing and I’d been making good progress drawing him in. Another surfer with shaggy brown hair curling over his ears, broad shoulders that lifted effortlessly as he paddled out to sea.  He wore a leather cord around his neck with a shiny trinket dangling at his collar bone. But when I smelled her, I turned away from watching him. Even if only for the moment. He’d be there later. Where else did he have to go?  What else did any of these boys have to do?
                Her scent was deeper than anything I’d ever breathed. It was filled with pain and longing that drew me in.  So, I rose to my feet on the edge of my jetty and dove into the water. I felt the familiar tingling rush over my hips, down my legs, past my toes. I kicked three times hard.
    What did I find when I came up for air?  In some ways, just a girl. But as I swam closer, only my eyes skimming the surface, I found out all I needed to know.

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    • Elisa Beatty says:

      Oh, very complex and intriguing!!!

      I really like the description of the original target (is that the right word for it?): “Another surfer with shaggy brown hair curling over his ears, broad shoulders that lifted effortlessly as he paddled out to sea. He wore a leather cord around his neck with a shiny trinket dangling at his collar bone.”

      But the idea that the smell of the girl is even more alluring, because it’s “filled with pain and longing”….

      All very vivid, and raises lots of interesting questions!!

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  11. Kirsty Fitzpatrick says:

    Hi guys,
    I’m having problems posting, it seems to have disappeared into the ether. When I try to post again it says I’ve already posted my content. I swear I’m cursed when it comes to technology! Can you help? 🙂

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  12. Elisa Beatty says:

    Lots of great expanded entries coming in!! I always love what’s revealed when we get to 250 words…and I want to read MORE of all of these!!!!

    We still need to hear from Carla Luna Cullen, Rachel Alexander Grilliot, Becke Turner, and Lana Sloan, so if anybody knows them, give ’em a ring and be sure they know they’re finalists!!

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  13. Rachel Alexander Grilliot says:

    “Can I ask you something,” Tim asked as he traced the roses that bloom down my back.

    “I think you just did,” I mumbled into the pillow.

    I had to recognize the restraint he had shown in not asking about the tattoos in the six months we’d been sleeping together. I was braced for the questions early on, the first time he saw the full extent of the tattoo that stretches from my right shoulder down my back and over to my left hip.

    Of course, the first time he saw it was in a more official capacity and the purpose of the tattoo wasn’t as important as the fact of it.

    “Why are the roses black?”

    It wasn’t exactly the question I was expecting, but still.

    “Maybe I just like the aesthetic,” I responded. I was hoping I could still brush past this conversation that could only change everything.

    “Rory, I think I know you well enough at this point to know you didn’t choose this design for the aesthetic,” he said.

    “OK,” I rolled over and sat up, pulling the sheet around me as I did. “I can’t tell you this story if you’re going to react like a cop. There’s some things I’ve done and some things others have done for me that aren’t exactly legal.”

    “And these illegal things have to do with your choice in tattoo color?”

    “They have to do with what led me to get the tattoo in the first place.”

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    • Elisa Beatty says:

      Oh, very interesting!! I was not expecting the roses to be black!!

      And some very intriguing questions are raised… why was “the first time he saw it” in “a more official capacity”?? Why will the conversation “change everything”?

      I love that she tells him he can’t react like a cop!

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  14. Lana Sloan says:

    ENTRY

    Un-showered and splattered in chocolate ice cream, I tossed the block of glittery splinters that used to be a phone into the backseat of my car. Slamming the door closed, I crouched beside my back tire, on the shoulder of the two-lane highway, just inside the town limits of Beau. With the lug wrench clenched in my fist, I gave another hard yank, but the piece of crap still refused to budge.

    For three days, I’d been on the road, taking powernaps at truck stops and rest areas to save money. I’d survived on nothing but determination, junk food and cups of Earl Grey tea on my way from Southern California to Iowa—like some modern-day version of the Oregon Trail in reverse.

    Yet, as soon as I crossed into the town where I’d have access to a free bed and a shower…boom…pancake flat tire.

    Holy hell did I need a hot shower, and not just because I was gross, dirty, and tired. I was cold. So stinking cold. Because people weren’t meant to live in places where the average high temperature on any given day was below the mid-fifties. If I didn’t need a place to stay, I’d be back home basking in the post-Thanksgiving heatwave with the Santa Ana winds sucking every bit of moisture from my skin.

    When a large vehicle appeared in the distance, I gave the wrench another jerk, growling steam into the air. There was absolutely no way in hell I’d resort to hitchhiking.

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    • Elisa Beatty says:

      I thoroughly enjoy the voice in this!! And the scene is definitely vivid (to use Louisa’s term again), and I really feel for her! “I’d survived on nothing but determination, junk food and cups of Earl Grey tea”…that’s my girl!!

      And OF COURSE that vehicle on the horizon is about to make her life a whole lot more interesting!

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  15. Kim Law says:

    Woot! Woot! Congrats to all the finalists!!

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  16. Darynda Jones says:

    What great stories!!! Congrats to the finalists!

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  17. Becke Turner says:

    Finding a bargain spiked Shelly Peach’s spirits almost as high as good sex. Not that she had a recent comparison. But hey, at thirty-one she still possessed a great memory and a vivid imagination. Of course her latest purchase wasn’t as good as sex, but it was close.

    Her fingers tingled. Twenty-five freaking boxes lined the storage unit to her resale it shop, One More Time. Twenty-five chances to discover the item that would keep her business afloat for another six months. Twenty-five chances to prove to her ex she was not some Georgia twit with a half-baked dream.

    She grimaced. With the first sale from her new acquisition, she’d purchase extermination services because she had a serious rodent problem. And one of the critters had apparently met its maker in her building. Mercy, the smell would gag a maggot. She removed her pink and purple neck scarf and tied it over her nose. No malodorous rat was going to stop her from mining the contents of the neglected storage unit she’d purchased.

    Shelly rubbed her palms together. The trunk with the bronze hinges would look fantastic in her front window. A pirate’s treasure trove of glittering jewels and gold coins tinkled through her mind—once she fumigated it. She hadn’t been this excited since she’d opened the small velvet box from her ex.

    The hinges creaked.

    “Ahh,” she said in a reverent whisper.

    Resting on a white satin pad, an intricate silver frame glittered beneath the overhead lights.

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