Ooh, you know what's coming up? The deadline for the Writer's Digest Short Short Story Competition (yes, that's two "short"s). It's for stories that are 1,500 words or fewer, which, yeah, is really quite short. There is an entry fee but the prizes are pretty fantastic. Not only do you get money/gift certificates for placing the top 20, but if you win first prize you also get a trip to the Writer's Digest conference, which is just pretty much the awesomest prize ever.
This spring they paid for my train ticket down to NYC, plus a room at the Sheraton where the conference was being held for two nights, plus the whole conference admission fee. I never would have been able to afford that kind of trip for just myself. The conference was wonderful, inspiring, and really well organized and I met some amazing writers. Did I mention I have two kids under four and I got a whole hotel room all to myself? Yeah, that was crazy.
So anyway, if you write short stories, you should give it a shot. If it hadn't been for discovering this contest with such a close deadline to when I was writing my story, I probably never would have been motivated enough to finish it and send it out. So here's me giving you a little nudge. Send out your work -- if not to this contest, then to somewhere else! Do it! You never know what might happen.