Marie writes: Some writing contests and fellowships require industry letters of recommendation. What if you don't have any connections to industry? How would one find someone to help with this?
I know this can be frustrating, especially if you don't live in L.A. and don't work in the industry -- but the fact that 7 out of the 8 people selected for ABC/Disney's writing fellowship this year don't live in L.A. should be encouraging.
When I met with one of the directors of the ABC/Disney writing fellowship, he stressed to me that recommendations needn't come from powerful people in high positions. You could ask a co-worker or a writing professor. You could also ask someone outside the writing/entertainment world to recommend you based on your work ethic and character, though the writing is most important.
These programs like to see that you're already trying to make your own connections in the industry. They're looking for ambitious, determined people -- and if you haven't made any connections, you might not be ready for such a program. See if there's some kind of writing or entertainment-related job you could get in your area (local news publication? film production?). You could also look into industry internships or script coverage jobs that can be done via the internet.