Having written numerous articles (commentaries) in my community newspaper for several years, and as a lark I wanted to see if I could write a full pledge fictional story. I wrote three pages one week, two the next, three... At the end of a few months I had written about 35 pages I saw the beginning a story (paranormal romance) starting to take form. But, I wondered if a guy could write something in this genre and get it published. After a little googling I found the RWA (Romance Writers of America), and to my amazement the president at that time was a guy writing under the name of Leigh Greenwood. Well that does it. I got the green light to move on with my writing.
I located a local chapter of the RWA in Rockland County (New York), Hudson Valley RWA (www.hudsonvalleyrwa.com) which offered critiques to their members, but first I had to join the national organization (www.rwanational.org). I received a warm welcome at the first meeting I attended.
After attending a few meetings I had learned a great deal. One of the most important things I learned is that there is a vast difference between writing fiction and writing the non-fiction commentary type items I had become quite skilled at writing. It had been at one of these meetings that I read the first five pages of my manuscript, and I got to learn I had been making all of the most common mistakes new authors have, too many tags, being overly descriptive, POV, etc. There were a lot, and I do mean a lot of "problems" within those five pages. Yet, through each critique, I got the sense that no criticism existed in those critiques, except a willingness to support me in becoming a better writer.
Along the way, my wife suggested that I stop writing the story I had been writing, and write something for children, and since I had a severe case of writer's block (it had been several months I had written anything). I looked around, and seeing the antics of our two, I got an idea for a story, which I decided to call, "A Lesson My Cat Taught Me".
When I finished it, I showed it to one of the women there, who said, "that although it had a few minor errors..." she deemed it to be publishable (thanks to the support and guidance I had received in writing my romance manuscript), . At last a green light. Time to search out and get a publisher.
After the normal, drawn out process, of query, reject, query... I got picked up by a small press publisher. My contract ended in March of this year, and since my book will no longer be available, I'm in the process of going self-publish.
So seek out the organizations in the genre you're writing in, seek out their local chapters for guidance and support. And join.