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2006, Robert W. Morgan acquired an agent using firstwriter.com's
of literary agencies. Eighteen months on, he's repeated the
same success by placing his latest work with another agent,
again found through firstwriter.com. We asked him about
his writing, and how he found success.
fw:Thank you for taking the time to talk to us again, Robert. Tell
us a little about your latest work.
RWM: The first one out of the box is The Soul Snatchers – a
nonfiction work. SS is based upon several true-life experiences that became a
search that literally took me half way around the world. The driving theme had
its seeds planted while as a younger man I went trekking alone among the
mountains of western Washington State – Mason County to be precise. While half-heartedly hunting bear, (I used any excuse to escape my shipmates after a
nine-month cruise in the Pacific Theatre; our ship was in a Bremerton dry-dock for
some repairs) I encountered a large anthropoid that supposedly does not exist.
Some white folks call it Bigfoot; the West coast Natives call it Sasquatch; it
has many names. In time I learned enough to refer to them as giant people – yes,
people – who live in the wilderness. No, that's not wistful thinking; that came
about slowly and they earned it the hard way.
When we met, I don't recall which of us appeared the most astonished, but I
would bet on myself. Hell, I was a kid from a steel town in Ohio; what did I
know about this living legend the Native Americans accept as reality yet most
white folks continue to deny because it doesn't quite fit into their
preconceived concepts of what the world should contain. After all, they
maintain, Man stands alone (according to our self-created pyramid of who and
what are best of all) because Man alone stands. Oh, really?
Well, that stand-erect fellow I bumped into had not read our books and did not
know he shouldn't exist. There he stood erect on two legs, the hand I saw had
an opposing thumb, he had buttocks – no Pongidae (ape) have those – and his eyes
were far from dumb. Moreover, the expressions that crossed his face from being
startled to being cautious to interest indicated he was just as amazed as I at
our encounter except, I might guess, he didn't have that sudden bodily urge to... oh, never mind.
Anyway, the most noticeable difference between us was size; he was huge and I
got more itty-bitty with each heartbeat and my 30-30 Marlin rifle shrank in my
hands to the size of a Redd Ryder BB gun. He also was covered head-to-toe with
long dark-brown body hair (it glinted a clean reddish in the sunlight), and the
fact that he was stark naked and I was bundled up further accentuated our
differences. He was one with nature and I was an obvious intruder who lived not
with it but in spite of it.
In any case, once our mutual astonishment wore off and we stopped staring, I
scrambled down toward where my car was parked – seemed like 100 miles – and my
retreat made so much noise that I couldn't have heard any that he may have made
no matter what he did.
Being a city kid, I stopped at the first public telephone I came across to call
a local law enforcement agency to report an "escaped circus gorilla!" ( I had to
compare it to something, right?) Well, sir, they acted as if they intended to
send an ambulance out with some men in little white coats, so I exited stage
left. Arriving back on board the USS Princeton, I briefly attempted to share my
experiences with my shipmates. Bad idea. So, I filed the experience away on that
long list we all have called "one of these days I'm gonna..."
Well, sir, that day didn't come for several long years. After college I was
recruited into the FAA and became responsible for the certification, repair, and
maintenance to the entire computer complex at the Washington DC ARTCC. Not
fitting in well as a mindless guv'mint automaton, I resigned after 7 years
service to do lots of things I always wanted to do because that damned internal
clock kept going tick-tock in my brain.
One of the first things I did was to test the efficacy of that computer program
I had designed to help select the most likely places that such a wild hominid
could survive in modern America. I had fed in and cross-indexed the primary
factors of Indian legends, pioneer reports, modern reports, and then had chosen
areas that remained comparatively wild and ecologically probable to support and
conceal such an entity. Then I launched what became known as The American Yeti
Expeditions (see www.trueseekers.org and also tune in to our weekly
radio show) that magically became subject material for a feature-length
docudrama The Search For Bigfoot (I find that term overly simplistic).
Soon my work became featured in the Smithsonian Series Monsters: Myth or
Mystery? and I became a guest on the Tom Snyder Show, Montel Williams, Larry
King, Art Bell, etc. and was featured in the National Wildlife Magazine. (It
was claimed to be the most requested reprint in their history.)
The Sunday supplement Parade also helped spread the news, too, and I shook my
head in wonder when (picture and all) I got splattered across the front page of
the Wall Street Journal. Frankly, that had to be the most inaccurate report ever
written on this subject. They had sent a spanking new cub reporter who had been
born and raised in NYC and the only time he'd been "in the woods" was in Central
Park! I recall groaning aloud when I picked him up at the Hilton Hotel in
Canton, Ohio. He looked like a mannequin for Eddie Bauer... and he had no
clue as to what I was showing him. For instance, atop a windswept hillock outside
the village of Minerva we found a cluster of maple leaves that had obviously
been placed – placed! – atop an oak sapling at a juncture of two faint paths.
Past observations had told me those paths were being used by those whom I had
come to call the Forest Giant People – and all the maple trees in sight were at
the base of that hill. It would have taken a damned tornado to blow them that
far uphill... but my cub reporter
stared blankly while I attempted to explain that it was probably a marker from
one FG family to another to say "we went thataway!" His article proved it that
this was lost on him... Not to worry. He no longer covers such things.
Instead, he has been assigned to the Congressional beat in Washington, DC.
In time I was invited to lecture at the University of Miami, The Museum of
Science, Barry College, Kent State, Santa Monica College, etc. Darned if I
didn't have fun and, apparently, so did the audiences. By this time I had
recruited a Science Advisory Board of 17 men and women, most of whom had their
PHDs in a variety of complementary sciences, but, and after several treks into
the mountains of Washington, the deserts of Arizona and the wilds of the Florida
Everglades, I discovered more about the self-imposed limitations of my fellow
humans than I did about my subject. I also noted that I received much more
valuable insight from Native Americans... why? They didn't have the white
folks' religiously-imposed demands that Man was so damned special. Instead, my
Native American associates did not mind acknowledging that we humans were in a
sense the lesser when compared to animal life when it comes to living with as
opposed to in spite of Mother Nature. After all, in most cases humans must wear
the skins and hairs and plant fibres and foul feathers to survive winters; we
have to cook much of our food, and, without self-made fires, we were duck soup!
In short, I learned more from the older Native Americans than I did from science
– why? Because most science is supported by public tax dollars and much of that
comes from folks who would object to having the underpins to their faiths
questioned and perhaps altered by their own contributions.
My Native American mentors included Ciye Nino Cochise, a Chiricahua Apache;
Round Bear, a Seminole/Miccosukee, and others who asked that they not be named.
However, what they shared with me opened my mind to the limitations our various
religions have found convenient to (a) reassure us how very special we are
(despite being in large part the only UNbalancing creature in nature, and (b)
constantly pick our pockets for tithings, and (c) assure us that we only have
but one life so we should do a little good here and there but go ahead, exploit
the earth, rape her, pillage her – what the hell, so long as you follow some
religious concept all will be forgiven you (remembering your church in your will
is a surefire free pass into heaven, right?).
I admit to being baffled by these conundrums until I met a refugee Tibetan lama
in Moscow who opened all three of my eyes. He reinforced my emerging
understanding as to who we are as human beings, why we are, where we came from,
where we are going – and how to best get there. His warnings echoed what I had
been told before: "Beware of those who would snatch at your soul for their own
gain..." Those entities look like humans, act like humans, and walk and talk
and grin like them but... they are not human as we would define it.
Thus was born my work, The Soul Snatchers. Is it meant to convert anyone? No,
no, hell, no. I am merely sharing the little that I have learned with those who,
like me, simply want to know truth.
fw:So, once you'd gathered all these experiences and ideas, how
did you go about formulating them into a book?
RWM: Worked on it slowly, I felt that I had to live it and test it
before I shared it.
fw:But this isn't your first attempt at
writing, is it?
RWM: Not really. I've done paramilitary manuals and wrote a lot of
anti-Castro propaganda for Colonel Frank Sturgis (yeah, yeah, the Watergate guy)
for an anti-Castro Cuban group, and Stephanne Dennis is currently shopping that
work. It is a series of true stories that give a separate view and some rather
startling revelations about what really-really happened at the Bay of Pigs, and
why JFK (Saint Jack my foot!) permitted and encouraged the assassination of
America's strongest ally against Castro, Rafael Trujillo. It also explains
Frank's opinion of why JFK was assassinated (he was accused of it along with
Howard Hunt) and he makes it crystal clear without myth or rancor – and a
heretofore unpublished account of Jack Ruby's involvement in it all.
Frank also revealed a startlingly different reason and rationale why Teddy
Kennedy "forgot" to report the death of Mary Jo Kopechne at Chappaquiddick – and
Sturgis also knew the truth behind the Clinton's attempt to recruit and
blackmail retired Admiral Bobby Ray Inman as their Intelligence Czar and the
outrageously embarrassing event that cancelled that nomination in a heartbeat.
As a man, Frank Sturgis was greatly misunderstood; however, I worked closely
with him for several years and came to understand why he died so suddenly. It
was not as natural a death as was claimed. I know because I damned near went
My new literary agent, Stephanne Dennis, is one of the most unusual folks I have
met in that industry. She read Soul Snatchers – and sold it within a month to a
west coast publisher. She didn't blink when I also sent her my proposal about
Frank Sturgis and my involvement through him with the anti-Castro Cuban
movement. Nor did she balk when I delivered a third nonfiction proposal to my
100% verified undercover work as a civilian with the DEA and FBI. How did I get
involved with that? Some idiot drug dealer made the stupid mistake of peddling
his poison on my daughter's playground. I tracked him down and we had a chat in
the only language he understood. The last I saw of him he was swimming a race
with some alligators.
I then did what any parent should do (in my opinion). I wanted to nail not the
street corner dealer; I wanted his boss, his supplier and his supplier, too. I
wanted to nail every single SOB who would dare to sell drugs to our children.
And, thanks to Frank Sturgis and advice from his pal Eddie Egan (the retired NYC
detective who broke The French Connection) and my old pal and author Oscar
Fraley (The Untouchables) I managed to penetrate the connection in Florida that
was bringing dope into the Mafia pipeline out of Cuba. I grabbed that string and
in time managed to follow it out of Meyer Lansky's Florida to its controlling
source in Tucson, Arizona. It ended at the door of the capo de tutti capi Joseph
Bonanno. That's when I called in the Big Guns of the DEA and the FBI. I am proud
and pleased that I materially contributed to assist in their recovery of over
$500 million from the Mafia... sounds wild, huh? (Sopranos, my foot! This
time the good guys won – for real!) Interestingly, my co-authors to this work
back up every word; they are the two federal agents who were my handlers over those years. They are offering their own chapters to describe certain
things that at that time I had not known. (And I am glad! I would have had to
wear diapers to keep my seat clean.) Suffice it to say it went to Rome and was a
contributing factor to the "mysterious" suicide of a one-time Vatican banker.
Lessee, in between all that I managed to sell a few screenplays and concepts to
keep the lights on. I wrote, produced, directed commercials and a small
exploitation film (The Night Daniel Died/Bloodstalkers). Stuff like that. I am
currently writing that film's sequel which I will direct in 2008.
Oh, only this past week Stephanne arranged the option to one of my feature film
screenplays for a purportedly $30 million budget – it's based on a true event – (a
friend of mine ran what became a $400 million marathon to help save his nation
from starvation, but that same ungrateful nation's communist regime literally
erased his name from their history because the money was American!) Stephanne
has stirred the pots of interest on that one, too.
fw: How important do you think your previous work was in securing
your current agent?
RWM: Probably quite high; however, after shopping around I found it
well nigh impossible to get past ho-hum readers who have a poor grasp of history
and its importance.
fw:Were you ever tempted to try and sell your work yourself, or
did you always go through an agent?
RWM: No, I did the looky-loo approach at first, but with little success.
It was a waste of time – however, those who did respond on a more timely basis
were found through
your service. Frankly – and I am not one to pat popos – your
service is an invaluable tool. I can't over stress the importance of the role it
played. I am grateful!
fw:Thank you for the compliment! We're glad you found it so
useful. Had you tried any other methods of securing an agent in the past?
RWM: In years passed I had been represented by Walter Kohner of the
famous Kohner Agency in LA and also Lew Sherrill, but they are long retired. So
I used firstwriter.com – and to great success! While it's true that several ho-hum
agents are still responding to my query after a six month lag, I had four
agencies that you list respond almost by return email. Two of them became
bewildered by my plethora of works so they were not for me (stick to cook books,
guys). One lovely lady was very interested in certain works but frightened by
the tough stuff. We got along fine until a personal tragedy put her on an
indefinite hold; she will remain a friend, though.
However, The Author's Literary Agency of Chattanooga, TN, not only responded
quickly but intelligently and with enthusiasm. It became a fusion of talents and
personalities between us from the get-go. Stephanne Dennis wowed me by reading
and understanding my material. Within scant weeks she had successfully
negotiated a WGA-guided option contract for a feature-length motion picture with
a proposed $30 million budget and is currently shopping its nonfiction book
proposal. She has also sold the book Soul Snatchers to a west coast publisher.
That's all within the past two months! I have now placed in her hands three
screenplays and four more book proposals (as described hereinabove) and I am
confident she will place every single one. She is professional but lively and,
for me, a delight to work with. Moreover, she has no fear.
fw:How did you go about approaching the agencies you found on
RWM: I shot out emails that were condensed and to the point. I didn't
waste their time "telling" them how good I was (ho-hum!); instead, I described
the work and identified its market and offered more upon request.
fw:Did you get a lot of rejections? How did you deal with them?
RWM: I am still getting rejections from queries I sent out months ago.
Good – and bye-bye to them! Who wants an agent who is that bloody lethargic
so veddy-veddy busy with soooo many other clients? How did I deal with it?
What's to deal? I said "Next!"
fw:And what makes the agent you secured a good match for you?
RWM: We are both blunt and to the point but always with a smile.
Stephanne has expertise I lack totally – she is charming and witty while I am
blunt and abrasive – and I appreciate the mesh.
fw:How is your agent going about promoting your work? Are you
constantly being dragged off to high-powered meetings in New York?
I am too busy with the current work she has already sold to worry about what she
is doing now. She has me booked up for 6–9 months already. As for the
high-powered meetings, that's up to her. I am best kept in a closet with one leg
chained down. I not only bark, I have been known to bite.
fw:Do you have any tips for other writers trying to find an agent?
RWM: Be brief and be honest and don't waste their valuable heartbeats
reading rah-rah about how good you think you are. The proof is in the doing.
fw:And what are you planning on next?
RWM: I have no less than 14 wholly-owned literary projects outlined;
several have accompanying screenplays completed. They run the gamut from kids to
young adult to adult; I am not genre exclusive. I have two huge films for Canada
so if there are any Canadian producers who want to win Oscars, give us a shout.
In addition, I am forming a production company for those smaller projects
that I wish to produce and/or direct.
fw: Thank you for your time, Robert – and best of luck with
There is one of the unexplained mysteries of the writer/publisher interface
that grieves me. Why do writers submit their work to magazines without first
checking out their suitability? It grieves me because my belief that writers
would not hand over their masterpieces without first ensuring that the magazine
wasn't printed on toilet tissue with a John Bull home printing set led me to
publish my own short story magazine entitled Libbon.
I set aside a substantial sum of money in the hope that my goal of a
non-profitmaking but self-sustaining magazine would be established within a
couple of years. This would enable me to create a high quality publication that
would showcase stories from new writers.
Obtaining high quality stories would be a breeze; set up a competition with
prizes for the winner and runners-up and they would pour in. I charged an
entry fee initially to set against the publishing cost of the premier issue.
Stories certainly came in but the "high quality" was thin on the ground.
Nevertheless, after three months there were enough good ones to launch Libbon,
the United Kingdom's newest short story magazine. I made sure that production values
were high with full colour photographs complementing the text and all
professionally printed on high quality paper.
The plan was to sell the magazine via the website
www.libbon.co.uk and run a
second competition on the lines of the first. Previous entrants would surely
purchase issue one to see what had been selected in order to question the
parentage of the judges in not selecting their stories instead of the
inferior offerings on display. New entrants would buy the magazine before
sending in their pride and joy just to check that it was worthy of
showcasing their work. However, sales did not support my thesis.
Undaunted, I pressed on and published issues two and three on a six monthly
cycle. Top notch stories now arrived by new writers from around the globe
with Dr. George Green, of the creative writing team at Lancaster University
and himself a published writer, supporting Libbon with one of his own.
Feedback came in and those that had read Libbon thought it had now become a
genuine serious small press magazine. Money was getting low so I decided to
beef-up my marketing strategy. I paid for advertisements in mainstream
writing publications, was interviewed by the local rag, and "appeared" on
our local radio station.
My final push came with issue four, abandoning the competition and entry fee
I sought and found good quality stories from a wider group of writers. I
received the support of Roger Morris, author of Taking Comfort and A Gentle
Axe, who submitted his own high quality story.
Still the fatal flaw in my logic remains, it seems that some writers are
desperate to have their work published regardless of the quality or
suitability of the publication.
Issue five looks a long way away now – if at all – because my budget is blown. A
shame, because I had just linked up with Rootball, which has done successful
creative writing work with children excluded from schools in Brent, London,
and is about to work in Brixton and Hackney. If a young writer shows signs
power and promise for a good short story it could be published in a future
issue of Libbon without the stress of competition and possible rejection.
Seeing a story
published in a high quality literary short story magazine alongside adults
would I'm sure be a huge self esteem boost and bring obvious benefit to that
Hopefully this can still happen. Why not give Libbon a chance? Keep sending
in your manuscripts, but how about visiting
www.libbon.co.uk and checking it
author "My interest in fiction publishing was born out of the rejection of my own literary efforts. I know that
there are hundreds of writers ‘out there’ who can tell stories with a difference but like me are rejected by the
mainstream publications. I wanted to start a magazine with an adventurous editorial policy that could bring these
stories to a wider audience and so help emerging writers achieve recognition. It has been tough, I was initially
referred to as a 'joe-schmo' by a Creative writer from Lancaster University, but he became so impressed with the
magazine that he now assists in reviewing submissions.
"My main alternative interest is travel – especially
America. My quest to visit all 50 states of the union, 39 to date has led me to a number of interesting places
well away from the interstates. My ambition is to see
Libbon for sale in my local newsagent."
ETPmagazine (ethical and traceable products) aims to provide a positive view of women, secure, and self-confident with who they already are, rather than dictating what should and shouldn't be drunk, eaten, and worn.
Author Management agency closes James Rouch advised
firstwriter.com on September 3, 2007, that he had taken the decision to close his literary agency, Author Management. This decision was taken for health reasons.
Florence Poets Society competition winner Ms Jean Tupper of Wrentham, Massachusetts, has been announced as the winner of the $1,000 grand prize in the Florence Poets Society annual poetry contest. Eleven additional poets earned the title Poet of Distinction and twenty poets were designated Poet of Merit.