I suppose in this intial blog, I should share a tad about my experiences so far.
If you are a writer seeking greater exposure for your work, I strongly suggest submitting your short prose to FARAWAY a journal of art and literature - here's their connect: http://www.farawayjournal.com/ - the editor, Daniel Sawyer, has slowed down a bit due to his teaching requirements, but he's a good man who is more than willing to help struggling writers get a foothold. He was the first to publish one of my stories (on paper and the web) and for that I will always be grateful.
Another printed publication I can't say enough good things about is "Calliope, a Publication of the Writer’s Specialized Interest Group of American Mensa, Ltd." http://www.calliopewriters.org/ Those folks, their fiction editor Sandy in particular, have afforded me ample opportunities, including awarding a science fiction love story I penned, "Love and Crescendium," Honorable Mention 1st in their 17th annual writing competition. Check them out if you're looking to add another notch to your writing resume, or if you're simply looking to read some well-written stories.
Whether novice or accomplished writers, I don't believe we can get enough honest criticism. Now, be real here. If you really want to improve, which should be one of our primary goals, then we must seek out those who will be honest about our work.
If you only want to be told how wonderful your prose is, only let your mother read it, and all will be right within that fictional bubble you're living in. We, you and I, need to be critiqued by readers we don't know. Readers are the final arbiter. Sam Reaves, a mystery/thriller author - http://www.samreaves.com/ -, told me that. And he's right. If only your family likes your books, you won't be published for very long.
And I do truly believe that there are no harsher critics than our peers also seeking that fabled island of "published author."
Have a piece you want to receive some genuinely sincere reviews about? If you're brave enough, stick your inked toe into the waters at http://www.reviewfuse.com/ There are some folks there that will cut off your perfumed wrist at the neck. But there are also some who will give your prose a fair and unbiased opinion as well as suggestions for improvement. And, again, that's what we all should be striving for... improving and honing our skills.
If your hide isn't thick enough to handle reviewfuse, then you need to reconsider if writing is for you. Believe me, the criticism you will receive there is nothing compared to the scalding and scathing of professional editors. And rightfully so. Their job is to produce books the public will buy. Neither agents or editors are in the education business. Don't think for an instant they are going to tie themselves to a writer who doesn't know what he or she is doing yet. They don't have the time, and it's not their job. What they want, what they need, from us, is polished completed works ready for the presses and delivery to the buying public.
Anyone can write. That is a fact. But to be "read," that is another thing all together. It is only after being "read" that we can hope to become "published."
Best of luck on your journey, and keep writing. But just as importantly... keep reading.