Hour of Writes: A Grumpy Agent Responds


Fanfare! One from the Houses

Gem Of A Blog Post On How To Make Your Dialogue Sparkle

Not open for further replies.


Capo Famiglia
Full Member
May 19, 2014
London UK
-----Original Message-----
From: Alison Ireland
Sent: 09 December 2014 23:25
To: Peter Cox
Subject: Introducing Hour of Writes

Dear Peter,

I hope you are very well and that you’re having a good Autumn.

Who are you? And isn’t it winter already?

My name is Alison Ireland and I am writing to you because you are a writer.

No, I’m an agent.

For some time I’ve been working on a new literary website called Hour of Writes.

Sorry, but what the hell does that actually mean? Do you mean to say “Hour of Writing”? Or “Hour of Writers?”

Are you even literate?

And is English your first language?

It’s an international, weekly writing competition. After two years of hard work, it finally launched last week! The first week had a fantastic response, with more than 100 entries received - see them here:

Why? Why would I want to “see them”? And do you have any idea how freakin busy I am? And even if I was a writer, as you allege – why would I want to read one hundred other pieces of writing, for cripes sake?

The site is designed to be a peaceful space – a blank piece of paper - in the busy online world, where you can write down, share and structure your thoughts, in the context of a life which often has other priorities.

You know, if I want a blank piece of paper, I – guess what! - get a blank piece of paper! And just stare at it for a few minutes, until the urge passes.

When variables are controlled, the mind’s creativity is able to flourish; it can feel like freedom. That’s why the site's focus point is an hour-long writing competition each week with a cash prize.

Did that sentence mean anything at all? It’s probably just me, but I’ll be darned if you made any sense at all just then.

The competitions so far (tests and last week’s real one) have been really fun and inspiring, with genuinely beautiful writing in several instances. This week, we are aiming for over 100 entries again. Could you write one of them?


There's a minimum £100 prize money and the guest judge is British author, medaevalist and academic, Dr Kate McClune.

Still no.

After registering you'll be sent a link to get a credit for one free competition entry (worth £3 GBP).

Aha! I was wondering where the catch it – et voila!

So it’s going to cost me £3 to enter each weekly comp, yes?

And the prize money is £100?

That means, on your current 100 entries, you’re grossing £200 a week.

Ok, Alison - I see where you’re coming from now.

Enter the competition!

Still no.

Any time this week, from now until the end of Friday 12th Dec. Once you start your enty

I think you mean “entry”. Small point, minor typo, but still...

One of the ideas behind of Hour of Writes is to celebrate and give voice and form to the considered thoughts and original ideas we all have every day

Oh yeah? And another of the ideas is to part impecunious writers from their hard-earned cash.

Funny how many folk, big and small, want to do that these days (yes, Author House, I’m looking at you...)

Could you reply and let me know whether you think you'll be able to enter this week?

Consider this my response.
I get the impression that that particular piece of junk mail was the straw that broke the agent's back.
On a broader topic, I am highly sensitive to efforts to extract cash from aspiring writers, and on principle I refuse to play with anyone seeking cash from said source whether in the guise of reading fees, 'submission administration expenses', competition entry fees, etc. I can see why people adopt those business models, but given the odds of success, I can't justify the cost of participation, even where fees are small. One might as well buy a lottery ticket.
Hahahaha...and ...'breathe '(why do people say that, of course we're going to breathe. While we can.) I hope they appreciate your carefully considered feedback.

I don't know about the merits of paying to enter bigger, more "meaningful" (do I mean that?) contests. I did know someone a while back who made serious dosh out of running a very legit-sounding operation... the thousands of slush-pile entries were mostly weeded out by his son, for a pittance...
Ah, yes. Every morning of autumn-winter I awake and wish that I could find a place to pay for rejection. I hear it makes you a better writer.

Below is my story. The £3 will be delivered promptly by owl.

There once was an Alfred and he was a young man. and one day he walked through a barley field. But how young was Alfred? And why was he in a barley field?! Well, while Alfred had been making his mother's coffee as Alfred always did (being Alfred, and Alfred only knowing to do the kind of things Alfred once did) he looked outside and saw that there was an alien! (!!!) The alien waved at Alfred and mouthed "Hello!" Now, you may ask, how could Alfred be certain of what the alien had mouthed? How did he know it wasn't alien explicit language, or an alien word for sleep with one eye open? Well, Alfred didn't. So, Alfred did something Alfred had never done before and he went to meet an alien. After a couple of minutes in the barley field Alfred heard a loud bang. BANG!!!! To be continued. The end.

Please note that if you do not publish this and if I am not announced as the winner then you are wrong.

We could also look at the email as a message from someone who has mastered time travel. Autumn when it's winter? Enty rather than entry - could she mean entity? "The site is designed to be a peaceful space – a blank piece of paper" and if we shuffle this around we nearly have "I am sending this to you on a blank piece of space paper, we come in peaceful." :confused:

You know, if I want a blank piece of paper, I – guess what! - get a blank piece of paper! And just stare at it for a few minutes, until the urge passes.
- Haha! :D
Please find attached, my blank piece of paper. It did have words on it, but as its spring (seriously it is on some planet), the ink faded due to a spelling error and anyway, I'm too busy being an agent (re, I'm a writer). I prefer free rejections anyway, especially with it comes with the comment
"Thank you for sending us your work, which we have read with interest.
Although we did enjoy looking at your material, in the end we felt it wasn’t quite right for Conville & Walsh"

True story ;)
Haha!! Love it. That's a tad presumptuous to assume because you are in the writing community, that you are A. A writer and B. Interested in making her some money :/ Some people are truly a little short on a few screws ;)
Peter, it sounds like you had fun playing with your prey before you ate it. Whole.
They deserved it, GOS. The words lion and mouth spring to mind.
Not open for further replies.

Fanfare! One from the Houses

Gem Of A Blog Post On How To Make Your Dialogue Sparkle