Linda, I know what you mean about selling them. It can be a hassle. I used to do on eBay, but they really aren't all that great for the small seller anymore. I'm leery about craigslist -- too much bad press. I have sold some here on SCS B-S-T, but last batch had no takers. So I think I need to go the donate route -- either Goodwill/Salvation Army or maybe to a retirement village for their craft room.
I'm very interested in what you discover for photography as I struggle with that as well. On a perfect weather day in the mid afternoon I can get great pics, but otherwise, it is hit or miss -- even with Ott lights and mini spots. The greens and yellows are particularly challenging for me.
Definitely make it a goal to do your submissions. Kind of like the lottery - results are out of your control, but you have to play to win.
In your Copic coloring skills quest, I know that Debbie Olson often does tutorials on her blog entries. And, if you are on Pinterest, I've come across some good cheat sheets there as well. I think my biggest obstacle right now is that I need more colors. In some families, I have what I need to get good shading and then in others there is just too much of a gap.