For the last 4 years I've been active in recruiting talent (including authoring technical assessments & reviewing results) for my company Medullan in our effort to find talent particularly Software Developers, Senior Software Developers and Technical Architects. It has been a hard slog.
According to Wikipedia (which is community contributed) the definition of a software developer is
a person concerned with facets of the software development process. Their work includes researching, designing, implementing, and testing software. A software developer may take part in design, computer programming, or software project management.
At my home, if I were looking for a plumber, what would be some of the expectations I would have? I think one basic expectation many of us have is, if someone says he's a plumber (even one straight out of plumbing school) they'd be able to fix a facet but probably not be able to design a septic system.
In designing technical tests I design the tests in such a way that only those who have been practising any form of software development can pass. For example, write an algorithm to enforce the rules of a tic-tac-toe game in 30 minutes. If you aren't actively practising you can't pass it.
What do I suggest?
Write applications for writing an application sake. For example, at my home in the hills of Jamaica I've been freezing every night and it's always a joy to start the car in the morning to see the thermometer reflecting 68F temps (yes I know Boston is colder, this is cold for us) and telling my wife. Wouldn't it be cool to create an application to store the temp everyday and just generate a chart every month.
This may sound lame but the problems you'll face in building applications like this (data connectivity, handling arrays and testing your application) will be very similar to the scenarios you'll face in your day to day work life and WILL get you through many technical tests. If you're not creative enough to think of any ideas check out sites like topcoder.com or elance.com and just grab the ideas and develop them, even if you're not entering a competition or bidding for jobs.
My final word is, you can't say you're a software developer and haven't written code in months. It's similar to a student leaving school with an accounting degree and is practicing no accounting, it just doesn't make sense.