Contests? They are good nail-biting, fun-filled ways to get feedback on your writing and possibly net you some new critique buddies, an agent, or even a publisher. I've been following Ms. Snark's First Victim blog for a little while and am amazed by some of the talented writing on display in her contests. For those who may not be familiar with this blog, the anonymous host offers secret agent contests most months but has an annual contest coming up called the Baker's Dozen with multiple agents reading and requesting submissions from those who enter.
If you have (or will have) a polished manuscript ready to go by the end of October click here for more info on the contest and good luck!