Get out your pencils, pens, keyboards - whatever medium works for you and enter some contests this year. The Internet is brimming with writing contests all over the country. If you're just getting started in this roulette wheel of writers' games, you might want to stick fairly close to home, especially if you write regional genre fiction like I do - my settings are almost all Southern. That usually gets you at least one rung up the ladder if your piece has any merit at all. But don't let that limit you. One of my writing friends, Polly Pope, wrote a beautiful piece that's very earthy and set in the South on a farm in Alabama. It's heartwarming and speaks to everyone - a real feel good piece - and she made it to the Writers Digest honorable mention list! Go Polly!
Here's a few you might want to check out. Most have a small reading fee to enable them to gather the prize money.
James Jones Fellowship Contest
The Willow Springs Fiction Prize
The Ledge Magazine 2010 Fiction Awards Competition
Remember: The phrase "working mother"! is redundant. -Jane Sellman-