I sent Alfie Slider out to an agent that I really, really wanted to work with at the beginning of the month. They got back very quickly (their respectful attitude to submissions is one of the reasons I was drawn to them) with a polite thanks, but no thanks.

The thing is, before I started looking for an agent, everyone that I shared Alfie with was overwhelmingly, amazingly, positive. This wasn’t just politeness, this was a genuine enthusiasm for the character and the story. Alfie is a bit magical like that. Whilst I knew, rationally, that finding an agent and then publisher was going to be difficult there was a part of me that hoped the Alfie magic would hold true there too.

I’ve adjusted my expectations. I know that agents and publishers get to see a lot of really great submissions; one agency said they got over 300 a week. I know that there are a lot of really talented writers out there, and I know that publishers are now looking for books that are a calculated certainty to make a profit. It isn’t as simple as someone reading the book, falling in love and throwing caution to the wind to publish it. It’s business, but it’s also a bit disheartening.

Alfie will get published, one way or another, but I would really like it to be through a traditional publisher. That route has so many advantages to getting the story more widely read and that’s what I want; lots of kids enjoying reading Sci Fi. I think it’s a great time for kids Sci Fi, between Doctor Who and the planned Coal Hill School spin off and the release of new Star Wars stories, Sci Fi is big right now.

In the meantime, my spirits are being lifted on a weekly basis by Hour of Writes. It’s a competition website that gives a three word prompt and a one hour time limit to respond to it in any way you please; prose, poetry, fiction or non-fiction. I’ve been entering for a few months now and have been lucky enough to win three times.

The latest was for my entry in Christmas week, Pass the Parcel, which I really enjoyed writing. I had a feeling it was a strong one, as when I was reading it aloud to my husband both kids stopped to listen too!

Hour of Writes challenges me to write well, speedily. The prompts take me to subject areas I probably wouldn’t explore otherwise and within a week I have feedback from three different people as to how they think the story went. Getting pretty consistent positive comments, and useful critique where I’ve dropped the ball, really keeps me going.

I recommend it!