My first short story sale was "Outsourcing Blues", purchased by Adicus Garton for the May 2007 issue (Issue Seven) of Atom Jack online magazine.
OB was a fun little science/horror story that was inspired by two things; the trend in business toward outsourcing of costly, rarely needed services requiring a unique skill set and a heating grate on the floor under the desk at which I write on my trusty Mac.
So I started there and penned out a first draft which went to my critique group (critters.org- worth a look if you like to write speculative fiction and don't mind people telling you how poorly you write it, at first, it gets better) for review. Many of the reviewers didn't care much for the protagonist, and to be honest I didn't really like him either. So I exercised him from the text and imported a Janeane Garofalo-inspired software engineer (as she played Heather Mooney in Romie and Michelle- which may have not been the pinnacle of her career, but was my personal favorite). Viola- second query resulted in a sale. And this in spite of the fact I misaddressed the query letter- note to self and others, always proofread letters!
Oh, and I hear it's also not a good idea to let your wife read a story about a monster sucking a woman typing at a computer, through a heating grate, while she's sitting at a computer with her feet on the heating grate...just a thought.