Here are some things that might help, if you haven't discovered them already. Here is a page that will tell you how to do italics: viewtopic.php?f=35&t=3697
Also do you know the categories that the judges use to score the entries? Check them out: viewtopic.php?f=54&t=31273
After the judges are done, Deb gives an all clear and people can leave links to their stories to get more feedback. Make sure you leave the link in the right thread. Some people leave it under how to throw a brick and people may not see it. Also it's unlikely that people will check out the bricks after the winners are announced so make sure you do it early in the week. viewforum.php?f=56
Another thread that is super helpful is Jan's Writing Basics. She gives great advice and used to be a judge and is an editor currently. She also works hard at responding to each post. viewforum.php?f=67
The next thing I would encourage is to read and comment on as many entries as possible. Use the sandwich method (start with something good then if you have a constructive critique point that out, and give examples, don't just say you need commas) then end with something positive. I've learned so much by doing this. Once I discover things that work or don't work for me then I can apply that to kmy own writing. While some people prefer just positive comments, the only way to get better is to know what to fix.
Once someone told me almost every paragraph began with a name or pronoun. I remember rolling my eyes and thinking that he was exaggerating. Well, it turned out almost every sentence began that way. I couldn't believe it and I learned about varying my sentence structures.
The first time I entered the challenge, I was positive I would win, but now when I go back and read those early submissions I cringe. It took me almost 15 months to receive my first EC, then another two years to get two more so I could move to Masters. Perseverance does pay off so don't get discouraged! You have a great attitude and some good stories in you.