Ladies it was close (hell, it’s been close for months!). I had five original judges pick their top five, in the end there was a 5 way tie for the final slot. So I had to send it to another judge to pick her top pick out of the five who were tied. Below are the collective results of the contest. I’m very proud of the quality of these entries, and ladies? I wish you much luck with Hilary.
To all of the entrants from day one, thank you for making the contest such a success and for spreading the word. I will be doing this again, in roughly six months time. I will again have an editor as the final judge and an agent to cull the first round. The contest has been a learning experience for me. It just goes to show everything is so subjective but also the value of every word counting. Again thank you for participating.
Now, you fantabulous final five have ten days from today, (deadline: April 19th) to get me the first 10 pages of these entries. Email as an attachment to firstname.lastname@example.org put your name and First Line finalist, in the subject line. Otherwise I will delete it as I do not accept attachments from unknowns. Please make them 12 pt courier new or times. 25 lines per page and one inch margins. Put your name on each page. Also a query/cover letter to go with your entry. That way Hilary will have a better sense of you and the story. Be sure to include all of your contact info. While I have had editors and agents email me for info on an author it is a waste for their time. So have it all there for her. That way when she requests the full she can contact you asap!
Now without further adieu, here are the final five:
1. She’d become nothing more than a common thief.
No, not common – nothing about Egyptologist Katherine Meyer could ever be construed as common, especially when she was legally dead.
Kat checked her reflection in the bathroom mirror one last time, took a deep breath to settle the nerves in her stomach and told herself she looked pretty good for a seven-year-old corpse. The black slacks and matching jacket were perfect, nothing fancy, not one thing about them the slightest bit memorable. No one glancing her direction tonight would ever see anything other than the professional assistant she resembled, and that was precisely the way she wanted it. The less attention she drew, the safer she’d be, because being here wasn’t a choice, it was a matter of life and death.
Her stomach rolled as she turned down the long hallway, as her sensible flats clicked along the cement floor. Muffled music from the party out front drifted to her ears; ahead, a security guard looked up from his post at the end of the corridor and gave her the once-over.
She smiled what she hoped was a confident grin as she approached and flashed the ID badge she’d lifted from a Worthington’s employee only days before. The picture had been digitally altered to match her current disguise â€“ dark brown, bob-style wig, blue color contacts, tortoise shell glasses – and as long as the man in front of her didn’t look too closely, she was home free.
“Hold up there.”
Damn, so much for easy.
2. As much as he’d hoped Lacey McLaren had gained a hundred pounds and sprouted horns in the five years since he’d last seen her, she hadn’t. Noah cursed, unable to pull his gaze away; if anything, she was more beautiful now than when they’d first met.
His heart tripped over itself, his gut twisting into knots as he watched her lead the chestnut mare into the middle of the indoor arena and mount up.
Thank God it was too damn hot for chaps today; the image of her ass framed in tight suede was one he really didn’t need to carry with him.
Just the thought sent blood rushing south, causing his jeans to grow tighter around the zipper.
“Does Lacey have a clue that it’s me, specifically, who’s come to look at buying her horses?” he asked, casting his half-brother a sidelong glance.
Colin’s sly grin was all the answer he needed.
“She’s expecting my brother,” he explained calmly, not taking his eyes off the horse and rider, “she just doesn’t know that you’re him.”
“Seeing her reaction might just be worth the jetlag,” Noah said, unable to keep the bitterness from his tone.
During the long flight from Phoenix to Toronto, all the feelings he’d worked so hard to keep buried after she walked out on him slowly began to resurface.
“How did you find her?” he asked, damning the part of him that had to know.
“Would you believe me if I told you it was luck?”
3. Jordan Blake always figured he’d go to hell someday, but he never expected it to be this soon. His first clue was a no-brainer, the sign posted outside the town limits read: Hades, Colorado, population two hundred and six.
He almost hit the second clue as he wheeled his Lexus onto Main Street and immediately swerved to avoid the horse tied to the hitching rail. Swearing under his breath, he parked across the street, then jerked on the rearview mirror to make sure he hadn’t been seeing things. Yeah, there was a horse tied to a hitching rail, all right.
He stepped out of his car and looked up and down the street, squinting against the fine mist that dampened his face. Not much to look at—a barber shop, some tiny crafty-looking store, a gas station/mini-mart/Laundromat, an old stone church, three houses, and a flat-faced building with a faded *Oleson’s Mercantile and Coffee* sign above the door. Between the name and the horse, he felt like he’d been transported onto the set of *Little House on the Prairie.*
Only the jagged peaks of the Rockies veiled by gloomy clouds weren’t no prairie, and the girl walking out of the mercantile with saddlebags slung over her shoulder wasn’t Laura Ingalls; Half-pint didn’t limp.
A gust of wind blew the hood of her dark green rain duster back, revealing a pale face and long hair the color of a vintage Bordeaux. For the first time in months, he almost laughed. Except for an unfashionable pair of thick-rimmed glasses, she looked like Laura Ingalls all grown up.
4. Jack Sutton heard a whisper of movement a split second before an arm wrapped around his neck and something sharp plunged into his gut. The shocking reality that he’d just been stabbed registered as he was shoved to the cold, grease-stained concrete floor, his entire midsection on fire. Instinct forced him to his hands and knees before a hard shove sent him crashing back to the floor.
“You should’ve slit his throat,” a croaky, unfamiliar voice complained.
“He’ll be dead in an hour,” a second voice assured the first. “Come on, let’s get the cash register opened—if this don’t look like a robbery, we don’t get paid.”
Jack lay still as death, praying whoever these bastards were they’d hurry the hell up. If he could crawl to the phone and dial 9-1-1, he might have a chance.
Jesus, he was going to puke. *Concentrate, Sutton,* he thought, swallowing hard, choking down bile. He cracked an eye open and wished he hadn’t. The sight of his own blood was enough to bring on another wave of nausea, the sickly sweet smell mingled with the noxious odor of gasoline, making it worse.
5. Who said dying was easy?
Ruby May stepped out the front door of the Delta Funeral Home in what had been her good luck dressâ€“until they buried her in it. She studied her reflection in passing, and realized dying in Delta had a downside; she was a Blue Light Special on heels.
The town slowly receded as Ruby walked the winding Tennessee roads, reliving life moments all strung together like glass beads. Life didn’t come with a damn rulebookâ€“-a good thing since ignoring advice had been her personal mantra. She had led an amoral life, impossible to sugarcoat, and there was a high probability her view would be outside those pearly gates her mama talked about.
In the distance, the old homestead sprawled across Cooper Mountain and Ruby ran to it, like a child bolting into a mama’s arms. The heart of the place welcomed her; surprising since she had high-tailed it out of town at the first bump in the road. Leaving a daughter for Syble to raise had shocked the good people of Delta, like every other shenanigan she’d pulled all in the name of Ruby.
She settled on the old porch swing, ready to face the music and count the wounded she’d left behindâ€“Ruby expected a few frayed edgesâ€“-but the panoramic glimpse about killed her…again. Lordy, she’d landed in Oz, and where in the hell was that Yellow Brick Road?
Suddenly, an iridescent light gathered and became a windowâ€“-Layne, her daughter, sitting a few rows from the casket, a stoic expression on her lovely faceâ€“-and Ruby heard thoughts a mama never wanted to hear, dead or alive.