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Announcing the Top Ten Finalists for the 2013 Make It Golden Contest!

 It’s time to announce the Top Ten Finalists for the 2013 Make It Golden Contest!!

Finalists: be sure to post your EXPANDED entries in the comments below (a total of 250 words, starting with the opening lines you showed us already, plus what follows) by 12:01 a.m. September 27 to stay in contention for the final round. 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!!

And can we just say WOW? The Make It Golden Contest always brings out a remarkable show of talent, but the Rubies were truly gobsmacked by the depth of the field this year: narrowing our choices to ten was downright PAINFUL, because it meant seeing many entries we LOVED LOVED LOVED get crowded out. We wish we could give prizes to everyone! We know we’ll be seeing lots of these opening lines in published books very soon, whether they wound up in the finals or not. (Seriously….you guys are GOOD!)

Thanks to EVERYONE who entered!!

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:

Carla Kempert:

“Why did I tell Eddie I’d go to his wedding?” I flipped through a rack of dresses that would only look good if I had the body of a life-sized Barbie doll. But I didn’t. “Because you got custody of his best man in the divorce.”

 

Greta M.:

I grew up fearing government agents the way regular kids feared hook-handed killers. When Frank Sterling entered the room, it was like meeting the devil himself. He sat down across from me and studied me carefully. I swallowed hard, my powers neutralized by the buzzing helmet they’d bolted onto me.

 

Amy DeLuca:

I’d seen a couple of caskets lowered into the ground, but I’d never seen one raised out of it. Neither had most people, probably. Maybe that was why so many were out here. Plus, when you live in a po-dunk town like Bell, you’ll take anything and call it entertainment.

 

M. Kassel:

My mother left me three things in her will–her guitar, her ’68 Mustang and advice to not be as trusting as she was. I’ll never play the guitar, or drive the car, but I took the advice, wove it through my veins and made it mine.

 

Jennifer M. Windrow:

Five months ago a chubby man-baby shot me in the ass with an arrow and saddled me with the soul mate from hell. Even during the post-coital high I still loathed with him with every fiber of my being. But we were stuck together for eternity because Cupid was the master at holding a grudge.

 

A.E. Jones:

Why did the demon cross the road? Apparently to get the hell away from me. Glancing back to see if I was following him, he picked up his pace when we made eye contact. Demon or not, I would recognize his buggy eyes and ridiculous comb-over anywhere.

 

Xio Axelrod:

It was the slap heard ‘round the world. Okay, maybe not, but it definitely reverberated off the brick walls of Laura’s apartment complex. I’d arrived just in time to witness the evening’s planned melodrama: a game of who could embarrass whom more. Laura was losing. Or winning. Hard to tell.

 

Jenny B.:

A dutiful daughter would have turned tail and scampered back to her room, but tonight Emmaline Talbot was anything but dutiful. The folded parchment containing her desperate plea crackled in her pocket, and the tall mahogany door’s hinges squealed in protest as she slipped out into the tropical twilight.

 

JJ Black:

Her life began the day Caroline Reynolds was sentenced to death. And even if it was only a matter of weeks or months, she was going to enjoy every last, stinkin’ moment of it.

 

Pamela D.:

Where were you the night that everything went dark and the world changed forever? I was sitting in a bar in the small town of Somewhere, Arizona, eating a burger and contemplating murder.

 

There you have ’em, folks! An amazing bunch!

Winners will be announced Monday, September 30.

(Remember, finalists: post your expanded entry in a comment box below with ENTRY in all caps at the start. DO NOT EXCEED 250 total words!)

We truly can’t wait to see what comes next!!

 

60 responses to “Announcing the Top Ten Finalists for the 2013 Make It Golden Contest!”

  1. Kim Law says:

    Congrats to everyone! There was a really great selection this year (those whose finaled and those who didn’t) and I can’t wait to read more!!

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  2. Congrats everyone so excited for you all!!
    Happy writing to you all. I’m always looking for new writer and books to read and learn from!

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  3. ENTRY

    “Why did I tell Eddie I’d go to his wedding?” I flipped through a rack of dresses that would only look good if I had the body of a life-sized Barbie doll. I didn’t.

    “Because you got custody of his best man in the divorce.” Sandy perused the rack next to mine. The mall dress shop’s offerings didn’t seem to bother her as much, but for a forty-something, my best friend had the figure of a young Cindy Crawford, while mine looked more like an old circus elephant. Okay, not really. Maybe I felt the part more than I looked it.

    “Oh. Right.” I sighed, rejecting another dress when all I’d seen of it was the shoulder. In my defense, no one looked good in that shade of green.

    Damn Eddie. Not only did he walk out me, but now he was making me dress-shop for a wedding I damn well didn’t want to go to. I hated dress shopping. Nothing ever looked right on me. None of my parts were where they had been fifteen years before. It’s hard to feel sexy when your boobs point south.

    I looked out the shop window at the people walking past. What I wouldn’t give to be any one of them. Some were prettier than I was, some were thinner, some were better dressed, probably most of them had more money, but I’d bet they were all happier.

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  4. Tracy Brogan says:

    Congrats to all the finalists!!! I participated in this contest a few years ago and it gave me a huge boost to land in 3rd place. That book did go on to be become a Golden Heart finalist, sold to a wonderful publisher, and has since sold many copies. Thanks, Rubies! And best of luck to all ten nominees!!!! You guys rock!!

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  5. Amy DeLuca says:

    ENTRY

    I’d seen a couple of caskets lowered into the ground, but I’d never seen one raised out of it. Neither had most people, probably. I guessed that was why so many were out here. Plus, when you live in a po-dunk town like Bell, you’ll take just about anything and call it entertainment.

    It was steamy already at eleven in the morning—June in Mississippi isn’t for wusses. Regardless, dozens of people had turned out at the Hickory Flats Baptist Cemetery to watch the exhumation. Folks were lined up at the chain link fence surrounding the square plot of land next to the old country church. Many of them I knew. Some I didn’t.

    Only the official types were allowed inside the fence, but the rest of us still had a pretty good view of the heavy machinery at the grave site and of the six or so people who stood near it, looking down into the open pit, watching as the muddy vault was lifted.

    Two workers stood to the side, leaning on shovels and wearing sweaty dark t-shirts and dirty jeans. It seemed wrong, somehow, for them to be dressed like that at this reverse funeral. The others at the gravesite wore deputy uniforms or dark pants and white dress shirts with ties. Only one of them wore a skirt. My mom.

    She hadn’t wanted me to be here today, but Jenny and Sophie had insisted. They’d double-teamed me at my front door a half hour ago.

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  6. Kate M. says:

    Best wishes to all the finalists! Great stories that I’ll enjoy seeing more of.

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  7. jbrayweber says:

    Congrats to all the finalists. All the entries were wonderful and it was hard to choose.

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  8. Congrats to all of the finalists. There were SOOOOO many fantastic entries that it was hard to narrow them down.

    GOOD LUCK!!!!!

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  9. June Love says:

    Congratulations to the top ten! However, I must say all of the entries were wonderful.

    I am looking forward to reading more. 🙂

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  10. Congrats, ladies. I had such a hard time picking my top ten. It took me hours to whittle my entries down. Six of them are here. I hope the authors of the other four don’t give up and get them published because I want to read them. Congrats to all the entries. YOU ARE AWESOME!!

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  11. Such fabulous entries, and congrats to my Lalala sisters Carla and Jenny and the Unsinkable Greta. (My fingers went faster than my brain and I spelled your name GREAT. Foreshadowing? 😉

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  12. Bonnie Staring says:

    Wow! These are all fantabulous! Congrats to the finalists!

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  13. Kate Parker says:

    All ten of the finalists were great, but Pintip, Arlene McFarlane, Selena Fulton, and Lisa McKinney, you’ve found yourselves a reader. There’s something about starting with death, or in Arlene’s case, dismemberment. Of course, a few of our finalists have found a reader, too, but I can’t say which ones before I have to vote! So many choices, and only one #1! Glad we don’t have to be so selective in the bookstore.

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  14. Congrats to all our finalists!!!

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  15. Pamela D. says:

    ENTRY

    Where were you the night that everything went dark and the world changed forever? I was sitting in a bar in the small town of Somewhere, Arizona, eating a burger and contemplating murder.

    The bar was fairly quiet. I guessed the incredible thunderstorm raging outside that had forced me to take a break from my road trip had also kept everyone but the most die-hard alcoholics home. Angry sheets of rain sliced in a wet cacophony against the window beside my booth, punctuated by blue flashes of lightning and thunder crashes that vibrated the building.

    Aside from the hopefully-soon-to-be-dead-man who held the main focus of my attention, only a handful of other people were around. A lone waitress with a smoker’s complexion tended to the few customers that had come in for dinner. A drunk lady in a short skirt and absurdly high heels tottering dangerously at the jukebox, trying to decide what ungodly country music song we’d all have to listen to next.

    He was sitting at a table towards the back of the bar with his back to a wall, sipping a beer with his own dinner. I would have recognized him anywhere; not only was his stupid, movie star-handsome face burned into my brain with violent hatred, but as a U.S. Marshall, I’d seen his photo a thousand times. In fact, I had an entire hard-copy of his file in my vehicle at that moment.

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  16. M. Kassel says:

    ENTRY

    My mother left me three things in her will––her guitar, her ’68 Mustang and advice to not be as trusting as she was. I’ll never play the guitar, or drive the car, but I took the advice into my heart, wove it through my veins and made it mine. It bothers me when I think about it, how I accepted from her the one thing that won’t make beautiful music or drive me anywhere. So I try not to think about it.

    I pad across the kitchen in my bare feet and rummage through the fridge, settling on a packet of instant oatmeal and a glass of milk. It’s thirty-one degrees out, but the floors have radiant heat. I’ve gotten used to luxuries. My dad sells medical equipment in Pittsburgh, and he’s real good at it, so we live in a nice house. Did I say a nice house? I meant to say awesome house. It’s the complete opposite from how my mom and I lived, rattling around in her rusty van.
    My gaze shifts to the vacant house next door, visible past a stand of tall pines. It’s impossible to look over there and not feel a cold shiver down my neck.

    Yet, I always look.

    A light blinks on inside the house.

    My spoon clatters into the bowl as my gaze sharpens. There shouldn’t be lights. No one lives there. After what happened in that house last year, I doubt anyone will again.

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  17. M. Kassel says:

    Gotta say “Wow!” to the other entrants, and finalists. Those are some amazing first lines! Thanks to the Rubies for hosting this contest. And a HUGE thanks to Pintip for entering my first 50 while my power and internet were out. You are a goddess.

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  18. Thank you Rubies for running this amazing contest! I’m honored to be a part of it!

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  19. Xio Axelrod says:

    ENTRY

    It was the slap heard ‘round the world.

    Okay, maybe not, but it definitely reverberated off the brick walls of Laura’s apartment complex. I’d arrived just in time to witness the evening’s planned melodrama: a game of who could embarrass whom more. Laura was losing. Or winning. Hard to tell.

    “Owww.”

    The imprint of Laura’s hand blazed red against the shocked white of her husband’s blood-drained face. Apparently, his response was not the sharp retort she expected. Hand still twitching, she seemed poised to test his faith which, perhaps, had lapsed, as he clearly wasn’t about to turn the other cheek.

    Alejandro Ramirez was head of the Theatre Department, a fact that anyone could guess by his head-to-toe black ensemble and penchant for melodrama. Hailing from “Es-spain”, he had wildly curly, black hair that I swear had never seen the tooth end of a comb. Being somewhat diminutive, he gave new meaning to the phrase ‘larger than life’.

    Laura Reynolds-Ramirez was a leggy, blue-eyed, all-American blond. She’d earned her stripes on Broadway, before marriage and babies took center stage. She was a few years older than Alejandro, something he reminded her of on occasion.

    Every function I’d ever been to with them had featured a scene from the War of the Ramirezes. It was usually sandwiched between an episode of The Adventures of Alejandro’s Wandering Hands, and the wildly popular Hot Make-up Sex They Thought No One Could Hear. Despite everything, I envied their passion, though not their thin walls.

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  20. Maggie Kelley says:

    Wow, I love so many of these. Good luck, everyone!

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  21. Xio Axelrod says:

    Let me just say wow, and THANKS to the Rubies for running this contest.

    All of the entries were amazing. Quite a few of my favourites made it into the finals (congrats!) and I’m honoured to be in such great company. Also, Tracy Brogan is my hero, lol.

    Best of luck to everyone!

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  22. Leslie Lynch says:

    CONGRATS to the ten finalists! AWESOME first 50 words – and I really enjoyed reading all the entries. And the 250 word entries are living up to the promise of the first 50 words. Thanks, Rubies, for a fun (and, incidentally, instructive) contest!

    Best of luck to everyone! Thank you for sharing your work. 🙂

    Smiles,
    Leslie

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  23. Pamela D. says:

    Jennifer, I LOVE this! I am dying to read more!

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  24. Greta M. says:

    ENTRY

    I grew up fearing government agents the way regular kids feared hook-handed killers. When Frank Sterling entered the room, it was like meeting the devil himself. He sat down across from me and studied me carefully.

    I swallowed hard, my powers neutralized by the buzzing helmet they’d bolted onto me.

    He looked at me like I was a bug, and I wondered what he had in mind. Entomology or extermination? Both, probably. But that meant I had time. With time, I could plot, and plan, and ultimately escape. Sterling might not think that was possible, but I’d been living the Code since I was old enough to understand. Survival was my nature, and studying him was item one on the survival agenda.

    He tapped his fingers on the table. His hands were large and square, the nails clipped short. I pushed away the thought of what those hands had done and focused on the gesture. Motion was communication. What had Sperling just told me?

    Impatience. He wanted something from me. But what? My powers were weak and underdeveloped. He would know that.

    Sterling must have tracked my sightline. His fingers stopped. “What did you do with my son?”

    His son? My eyes flew to his and I saw they were blue. Vivid blue, with a midnight ring around the iris. My heart stuttered and skipped. They were David’s eyes.

    David. My outsider, my love. The only time I’d ever weakened in my observance of the Code. David … Sterling?

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  25. Greta M. says:

    It’s very exciting to final! Thanks for running this contest, Rubies. I have really enjoyed reading the other entries.

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  26. JJ Black says:

    ENTRY

    Her life began the day Caroline Reynolds was sentenced to death. And even if it was only a matter of weeks or months, she was going to enjoy every last, stinkin’ moment of it.

    She gathered her coat and satin clutch from the passenger seat, swung her stilettos to the asphalt, and cringed as blue-white light engulfed the hotel parking lot. The roar that followed forced her back into her car faster than she’d thought possible, her palms pressed to her ears. Wedged into the driver’s seat to avoid touching the car’s frame, she twisted and peered up at the sky. Clouds rolled in unnatural charcoal waves over the treetops.

    She’d never seen a storm develop this quickly out of a clear sky, and if the rain came as fast as the rest, she’d be lucky to make it inside to Peggy’s wedding reception without a thorough soaking. The clouds glowed red and the car rocked as another burst pinned her in place.

    She wouldn’t—couldn’t—waste the evening sitting outside in her car, not with what was likely her last party going on a few short yards away. As soon as the thunder died, she bolted from the car and dashed toward the hotel’s arched entry. A third blinding flash bounced off the glass doors to the lobby. Squinting and hoping like hell the doors were automatic, she charged ahead. Straight into a pinstripe-clad chest.

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  27. Jenny B. says:

    ENTRY

    A dutiful daughter would have turned tail and scampered back to her room, but tonight Emmaline Talbot was anything but dutiful. The folded parchment containing her desperate plea crackled in her pocket, and the tall mahogany door’s hinges squealed in protest as she slipped out into the tropical twilight. Papa expected compliance. Well, she would not submit. Not without a fight.

    Emmaline skirted the glow from the tall windows of Papa’s study and darted into the shadows at the edge of the lawn. If caught, no doubt she would be locked in her chamber; so she ignored the apprehension that skittered up her neck on spidery legs and pushed onward. Once she reached the old stone wall at the end of the drive, only the village remained between her and success.

    She squeezed her eyes shut and filled her lungs with rain-kissed air. The familiar, fruity scent of poinciana drifted on the breeze from the drive behind her. Ahead, the high notes of a flute and the soft strum of strings beckoned from the village. The prickle along her neck faded, leaving in its wake a mere whisper of worry. Opening her eyes, she drew another breath.

    The Dutch ship transporting Aunt Lillian to Nassau was to sail with the tide tonight, and if Emmaline was to control her destiny, she must reach that ship.

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  28. AE Jones says:

    ENTRY

    Why did the demon cross the road? Apparently to get the hell away from me. Glancing back to see if I was following him, he picked up his pace when we made eye contact. Demon or not, I would recognize his buggy eyes and ridiculous comb-over anywhere.

    I jogged across the street and followed him. “Hey, Doyle! Wait up!”

    At the sound of his name, he jerked and looked wildly from side to side until he spotted the CasaBlanca Casino entrance and rushed inside. I sighed. I had just finished my dinner break and was heading back to work in the very casino he chose to take refuge.

    Even though I had only been living in Mesquite, Nevada, for six months, I felt a certain responsibility to protect the residents from the likes of Doyle. Though not a killer, he was a con-demon and thief, which meant he was looking for some quick cash.

    I entered the lobby and nodded to Manuel, the front door security guard. The jangling slot machines assaulted my ears as I did a quick sweep of the main casino, not spotting Doyle. Circling the pit’s gaming tables, it took a few seconds to adjust my vision to the hazy, cigarette smoke filled room. I zeroed in on him cowering in the bar and plopped down on a stool blocking his escape route.

    “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, you slithered into mine.”

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  29. Congratulations to all the finalists!! It was so hard to choose, there were sooo many great ones! I hope those of you who didn’t final keep on polishing up those entries, because there were a whole lot of stories I’d love to read more of!

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  30. Elisa Beatty says:

    Delighted to see all the finalists got their entries in on time!

    Tune back in on Monday, when we’ll reveal the winners!

    Honestly, though, these are all AWESOME!!!

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  31. ENTRY

    Five months ago a chubby man-baby shot me in the ass with an arrow and saddled me with the soul mate from hell. Even during the post-coital high I still loathed him with every fiber of my being. But we were stuck together for eternity because Cupid was the master at holding a grudge.

    I lay on my side and looked at the snoring mountain of muscle next to me. Grayson Adler. Supposedly my perfect match in every way, but whoever was in charge of perfect matches perfectly fucked up.

    Grayson and I spent our days locating and reconnecting lost loves, creating soul mates, playing eHarmony to the lonely and shy and desperate and unlucky in love. Unlucky in love? Ha. They should be stuck with my black cat of a soul mate.

    A wall-rattling snore broke through the hum of the window air conditioning unit that cooled the seedy motel room we met in every other week for our do-it-or-die conjugal visits. Grayson reached down and adjusted his erection through the starched stained sheet. His hand brushed my thigh and his touch ignited a spark in my nether regions. Hot and horny, that’s how it was with Grayson and me. Sexual compatibility off the charts. Too bad the rest of our relationship itched like sand in the crotch.

    I pushed his fingers away from my leg before my body reacted and caused me to do something I’d regret, like having sex with Grayson for a fourth time this afternoon.

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