Make It Golden – Winners Announced

WOW! The quality of the entries this year has been AMAZING! You did not make it easy on us, and I think I speak for all of us when I say we loved having such awesome competition and diversity among entrants, even though it made picking the winners SO very tough.

Each and every entry, whether it was picked for the top ten or not, piqued our interest in some way and left us wanting more. You are ALL fabulously talented and we want to thank you for entering our third annual Make it Golden contest.  This has become such a fun event for us, and we look forward to seeing many familiar names on the 2013 Golden Heart Roster when calls go out on March 26th, 2013!

Are you ready to see the winners?

After the jump, they’ll be announced in this order:  THIRD, SECOND, FIRST.


  • 3rd Place: This beautiful Ruby Slipper Ring Holder!








  • 2nd Place: a 25-page critique (any genre) from RITA award winning author Darynda Jones!
  • 1st Place: Their Golden Hear Entry Fee PAID by the Rubies!

[Note: sad to say, we had a last-minute disqualification because of a word-count overage. We apologize profusely for not catching it a bit earlier.]

Now, without further ado….*drum-roll please*…


Third Place Winner – LEA

Fog stole around the hem of Emily Starling’s prison uniform, brown serge stamped with broad arrows. Her eyes closed for a moment, gritty with exhaustion. Rows of moored ships stretched along the wharves, masts rising toward the dawn like a primeval forest. Her heart thumped faster as the open cart halted in front of a waiting vessel. She willed her trembling legs not to clatter the ankle chains. No black ferryboat of the underworld here—looked as sinister as a dependable workhorse.

A hatchet-faced guard dragged her to the worn cobblestones. “Ain’t you a fine bit o’ muslin?” He bent to unlock the shackles, tickling her calf with an insinuating stroke.

Emily’s stomach tightened, protesting the Newgate’s final meal, a breakfast of marrow soup. A wild urge to turn heel and flee seized her, but the body of the prisoner behind pressed close, preventing any such retreat. She pinched the inside of her elbow, vexed by the foolish impulse. She wasn’t made of such stuff, could barely muster enough energy for the next step, never mind an audacious escape. And if she did manage to escape…where could she go?

A familiar voice brayed, “Don’t go botherin’ with that wee bone bag, there’s more to satisfy right ’ere.” Bertie Spragg—Emily’s former Newgate cellmate—thrust her hips in an obscene gesture, her fleshy breasts colliding against her ample stomach.

Sailors whooped encouragement from the decks. Appraising gazes crawled spider-like over Emily’s body leaving a trail of gooseflesh in their wake.



Second Place Winner – JILLIAN LARK

Lady Selborne preferred to tuck truths away in her head where she wouldn’t misplace them like her appointment diary or her husband. The blackguard had disappeared after their hastily arranged marriage ceremony five years ago. It was the diary Marguerite wished to recover.

Before the arrival of Lady Buxton, who devoured bits of gossip like morsels of clotted cream.

“I beg your pardon, Your Ladyship.”

Marguerite nodded toward her butler.

“I did knock. If the matter were not of some urgency, I would not have interrupted.”

“Urgency?”  Marguerite scrutinized the gnarled lines of Pearson’s face. Something was amiss in his expression.

“A gentleman wishes to see you, Your Ladyship,” Pearson said, setting the silver card tray on the tea table.

“I don’t recall scheduling anyone except Lady Buxton.” At least Marguerite hoped she hadn’t.

“Your Ladyship, the gentleman claims to be your husband, Lord Selborne.”

Edmund? Here? If the man was her husband, he was no gentleman. She stared at the name engraved on the card and blinked. It didn’t change.

“Please tell His Lordship to wait in the parlor,” Marguerite said, stunned the words fumbling in her mind managed to escape in an intelligible form.

“As you wish, Your Ladyship,” Pearson bowed and exited.

Marguerite wanted Edmund to wait. Wait and wonder and worry like she had for the past five years. However, she wanted him to wait elsewhere, not reclined on a settee in her parlor.

Elsewhere, like harpooned on an iceberg in the Arctic Ocean.


First Place Winner – EILEEN EMERSON

Surely, they were warming a seat in Hell just for her. But if she faced eternal damnation for her sins, lusting after the gloriously beautiful vicar would be the least of her offenses. Nevertheless, these covetous thoughts were wrong, and Olivia Petherton knew they must be stopped.

She picked at the hem of her black-edged handkerchief, praying silently for strength and just a modicum of common sense. By the end of the Collect, she felt composed enough to risk glancing at the man again.


Mr. Whitmore was still as blond as before, still as broad-shouldered, and his skin still glowed under the streaming, honey-hued morning light as if the hand of God Himself reached through the chancel window to anoint his golden hair.

That thought sent ice washing through her veins, dousing the spark that had heated her blood just a moment before.

This man is everything you are not, she thought, as warm as you are cold-hearted, as virtuous as you are corrupt, as unsoiled as you are tainted. You’ve sinned quite enough for one lifetime, and are not fit company for such a man.

And then, as it always did, another more rebellious impulse straightened her spine. If her sins had already secured her a hereafter among Lucifer’s minions, what further harm could she do to her eternal soul if she continued to ogle the vicar?

Look she would, and to hell with the consequences.


CONGRATULATIONS, winners! We will email you very soon with details on claiming your prize!

And thanks again to all our entrants for putting yourselves out there and making this contest such a success. Best of luck in the Golden Heart!


31 responses to “Make It Golden – Winners Announced”

  1. Jillian Lark says:

    Congratulations to Eileen and the other finalists and contestants! The entries were amazing, and I wish I could read all the completed manuscripts.

    Rubies, thanks for sponsoring the Make It Golden contest and offering such fabulous prizes! I’m thrilled with winning the 25 page critique by the talented Darynda Jones.


  2. Jenn! says:

    Let me just say that it was a tough decision to make. All the entries were fabulous. FABULOUS!

    Congratulations Lea, Jillian, and Eileen. Well deserved! And I expect we will be seeing more of you. 😉


  3. Diana Layne says:

    Seriously, y’all, this was a tough contest-all the entries were winners in my opinion. Basically I had to say eenie meenie miney moe to vote. Really tough. Congratulations to all!

  4. Hope Ramsay says:

    Congratulations to the top winners, but let me say that this was one of the hardest judging decisions I’ve ever been presented with. Every single entry made we want to turn the page — without exception.

  5. Ginger Ring says:

    Congratulations winners and thanks for having this fun contest!!

  6. Elisa Beatty says:

    Congratulations to our winners!!!!!

    The final voting was SO SO SO close…our webmistress had to use some advanced calculus to break ties.

    These are amazing book openings! Wow, I think we’re going to see many of these books in the Golden Heart 2013.

  7. It was a fun opportunity. And good luck to all the winners.

  8. Oh, I’m so excited!! And to have been up against such steep, steep competition! Total AWESOMESAUCE!

    Thanks to all the Rubies and to the wonderful community of writers you’ve assembled over the past three years. I’ve enjoyed every minute of your existence.

  9. I never read and walked away so many timesto clean or do laundry. That is my process in picking a winner. Did the words stick with me? If they did the entry made my cut. I have a sparking house. Not a dust bunny in sight. Every entry this year was awesome.

    Congrats to the winners! I’m sure we’ll see you in Atlanta.

  10. Congrats to the historical contingent, ladies! I want to read the rest…now!!!

  11. Lea says:

    wow rubies, thank you. it was a real treat to read such wide-ranging entries. i’m not surprised the results were close. i tried to play along and choose too, and simply couldn’t! jillian and eileen, congrats. i loved both your openings.

    • Jillian Lark says:

      Thanks, Lea! I loved your entry, too. Thanks for making sure I knew about the finalist announcement and checking on me when I was sick during the expanded entry phase. You truly have the Ruby spirit for supporting a fellow competitor you hadn’t met online or anywhere else before.-Jillian

      • Lea says:

        no worries jillian! i never looked at you as a “competitor.” good writers make people want to read more—we all succeed together 🙂 glad to meet you

  12. Congrats to the winners!!! All the finalists were so great!

  13. Gwyn says:

    All I can do is echo what the others have already said—although, unlike Autumn’s, my house didn’t benefit from my quandries. I paced, swore a bit (blush), reread, and reread again until I completed the distillation process, second-guessing myself again and again. So I want to say, “Thank you!” to all our entrants and finalists for some riveting reads. You really upped your game this year, and I look forward to reading more if I’m lucky enough to judge your GH entry. On to Atlanta!

  14. Congrats to all the winners! Everyone made it so tough on us!

  15. Laurie Kellogg says:

    Congratulations Eileen, Jillian, and Lea! And to all those who didn’t quite make the cut, just know that this competition was close–VERY, VERY close. You all submitted some wonderful openings, and I expect to see many of them as GH finalists in March. Good luck to you all!!!!

  16. Elizabeth H. says:

    Congrats ladies!!

  17. Kelley Bowen says:

    Congratulations, talented ladies! Eileen, Jillian, Lea -great job!

    I enjoyed reading all of the final entries and am so steeped in curiosity, I hope some of these stories arrive on my doorstep come January.

    Thank you, Rubies for hosting such a fun, energizing contest. It’s been a blast. 😉 Kelley

  18. Shoshana Brown says:

    Congrats Eileen, Jillian, and Lea! And thanks so much to everyone who entered–and made this such a difficult decision. 🙂

  19. Kate MacEachern says:

    Congratulations to the winners! Great entries, all enticing with the promise of great stories to come!

  20. Liz Talley says:

    Congrats to all the entrants. They were all so good. Makes me start to wonder how in the world I even got published – so much talent around me and I sort of stink at openings. LOL. I wouldn’t have even made it to the semi-finalist round.

    I’ve been kinda peeved that I can’t finish some of these entries. When I got to the end, I moaned, “Nooooo!”

    Good stuff!

  21. Kate Parker says:

    I expect we’re going to see a lot of names from this contest on the screen in Atlanta when they list the Golden Heart finalists. Phenominal openings. I wanted to read more of so many of them. It made voting difficult.

  22. Kim Law says:

    Woot! Woot! Congrats to all. The entries was FABULOUS this year!! Can’t wait to see all three of these final in the GH!!

  23. Jodelle Brohard says:

    Congratulations to the winners! Thanks for offering this great opportunity to us all. Just being a finalist was so encouraging to me.
    Thanks again and I hope to meet some of you in Atlanta.

  24. Congratulations to everyone!

  25. Elise Hayes says:

    I LOVED getting to read all the entries. Congratulations to ALL the finalists–I expect to see a lot of your names in the GH finalist ranks come March!!

  26. Congratulations Eileen, Jillian and Lea! Whoo hoo!

    And thank you to the Rubies for hosting such a fun contest and offering such an awesome opportunity. You lovely ladies made us all feel like winners!

  27. Yay!!! Congratulations to the very talented Eileen, Jillian, Lea, and all who entered.


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