As a member of the Florida Writers Association, I am able to submit works to an annual competition for the Royal Palm Literary Awards. They have a category for Short Fiction (it does not break down by specific genre from there, alas), and I had an unpublished work "A Face In the Light" that I put in to see how it would do (critique/feedback is part of the review process). It's a personal story, it's one I think can be a good one if I can get the kinks ironed out.
I just received word from the judges that I reached the Semi-Finalist stage of the Awards.
I'm not sure how many other stories I was competing against, and there is still no guarantee I will win outright. But getting THIS far in the competition is great news. It means that the story has enough style and oomph to win readers. It means I might actually be doing this writing thing right.
The finalists will be announced at the Annual Conference this October, so we will see then how I fare against the other good stories.
This is an unbelievably good way to brighten one's mood.