Sunday, September 24, 2017

Chicken Soup Contributor Luncheon

Earlier this summer I posted about a Chicken Soup for the Soul luncheon I attended in Chicago for their contributors. Here’s a picture. I’m the short guy in the middle of the back row, wearing the yellow shirt.


Friday, September 22, 2017

I grew up hating to read...so how did I become an author for middle grade readers?

I grew up hating to read...so how did I become an author for middle grade readers? Sometimes I ask myself the same question.

Still, it’s true. I didn’t like to read as a child. This was ironic because my father was an author who published 77 books during his life. Many of them were for kids, but I couldn’t have been less interested.
Several years ago, I decided to look into why I didn’t enjoy reading. That research resulted in my decision to begin writing the kinds of books I would have enjoyed as a child. 

A recent issue of Newsweek carried a cover story warning, “The Boy Crisis. At Every Level of Education, They're Falling Behind. What to Do?” Since reluctant reading is primarily a problem for boys, I’ve found my books are filling an important need. 

My professional background has always involved the production of films, television commercials, and video programs. I’m a visual learner. So I began to incorporate some of those visual concepts into my writing. For example, readers won’t find these books to be heavy on descriptions. Boys especially want a story that moves rapidly. 

I chose to write many of the stories with completely different characters, setting, and plot. My work also includes two series. But as a child, I could never accept the concept of a group of friends, or cousins, or a brother and sister who would get up, every Saturday morning, go out into the back yard, and save the world…again. For that reason, each story in those series can stand alone.

These 6 Books Coming Soon!



Letters and emails from readers and their parents indicate that these new books are hitting their mark. Yet, not only are they enjoyed by reluctant boy readers, but avid boy readers, girls, and even adults get swept away in the stories, action, and adventure. 

Here is just a sampling of the comments that I regularly receive about these unique books.   

A mother writes, “I can't believe it ....as the concerned mother of two struggling readers...who is also the daughter of a children's librarian ... I think I have purchased every book recommended for reluctant readers  however, they have all fallen short until today. We were able to purchase our first Max Elliot Anderson book...and we're hooked!!!"

A teacher reported, "This year, we started with one of your books. The students are already finished with it. Our school only planned on using three of your books for the whole year. Now we’ll have to buy more titles.”

Another mother said, "At last we've found something that will interest him in reading."  

A school administrator wrote, “It is a joy to see our students, especially boys, asking for more! I can recommend every book without hesitation. While reading the first one, I had trouble putting it down. Max Elliot Anderson, the author of these books, has a unique ability to keep the reader on the edge of their seat. As a grandparent I am encouraged that the books creatively and appropriately weave Christian character traits and biblical principles through the life of the main character and his friends. Parents, you will find this true of every book.”

It is often said in business, find a need and fill it. We have a need to capture the interest and imagination of the next generation, or risk losing our readers. 

Today, kids have so many other, more visual distractions with personal electronic devices, television, computers, video games, and DVDs. It takes a different kind of book to hold their interest. These books will hold their interest.

My books are compared by readers and reviewers to a modern day Tom Sawyer, The Hardy Boys, Huck Finn, Nancy Drew, Tom Swift, Scooby-Doo and adventure author Jack London. 


Children write to me after reading one of my books. They have said that reading one of these middle grade mysteries or adventures is like being in an exciting or scary movie…good scary and not dark. If you're looking for books to excite the interest in your children for reading, you've come to the right place.


Check out all my books on the Amazon Author’s Page at:
https://www.amazon.com/Max-Elliot-Anderson/e/B002BLP3EE 
More new books on the way very soon - reviewer requests welcome contact me at mander8813@aol.com 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

How gross must we be to attract young readers?

How gross must we be to attract      young readers?

There are articles circulating on the Internet asking how gross we have to be, in our writing, in order to attract boy readers. I won’t quote the titles out of respect for the readers of this blog, and children who might also be visiting it today.

In recent years, a number of books have been published that make use of toilet humor, gross words or situations, and certain sounds. Are dirty or questionable words funny? Of course they are. Are certain body parts, sounds, and functions funny? No question. But that is no excuse to use them in our writing, especially when children are the intended audience. 

There are two kinds of comedians. One can tell a side-splitting joke, or set up a situation and deliver a line so funny, it hurts our stomachs and makes our eyes run, all without reaching down into the gutter. Others come out on stage with crutches. Their crutches include nasty situations, dirty words, swearing, and a gross use of humor.  Just because it’s funny is no excuse for us to say it or write it. 

As writers we have a responsibility, especially to the next generation, to set positive examples in the language we use. Our daughter teaches 3rd grade, in a public school. “Dad,” she’ll say, “you can not believe what these kids say to each other, to me, and to other teachers.”

Where does this come from? Truth is, they see it on TV, listen to it in their music, hear it in their own homes or from friends, and read it in some of the books intended for middle grade readers. 

We can do better. And we owe it to them.

The Internet articles I mentioned take the position that the more gross we can be in our writing, the more likely we are to attract boys back to reading. While the premise might be true in some cases, I reject the concept. Even though one might be able to point to skyrocketing sales figures, what is the long term effect going to be.

My favorite styles of humor are either sight humor, where something is visually funny, humor where something that is said or seen earlier, gets a funny punch line later, and humor you can see in your head.

You might ask, “Okay, so you’re saying we can write for kids, and clean humor will attract young readers?” That’s been my experience so far. Not only can we, I believe it’s our responsibility. 

Humor is an important component of all my middle grade adventure and mystery books. Over the next few weeks, six of my new books will be published. 

Following those, another nine will be republished after the original publishers went out of business. I grew up hating to read, so I write for readers 8 –13, especially boys. And girls enjoy reading them just as much. 

When  it comes to writing for kids, we’re talking about the next generation. And shouldn’t we try to leave this world a better place than the way we found it? As the adults in the room, we ought to be looking for ways to raise the bar, not lower it.                                                                    

Check out all my books on the Amazon Author’s Page at:


Note! Bloggers and web site owners are welcome to republish this column.

Monday, September 18, 2017

6 NEW Middle Grade Adventures & Mysteries

These NEW Middle Grade Adventures & Mysteries are in the final stages of production now. Each is a standalone title.
If you are a reviewer of middle grade books, and are interested, please send your name and address to mander8813@aol.com  so I can make sure you're on my reviewer list.




Synopsis_________________________________

Shadow

Shadow is a classic, boy-and-his-dog story, filled with twists, turns, action,

danger, and mystery. For as long as he could remember, all Bobby Taylor ever wanted was a dog of his own…any dog. But, he had a problem. His step-father managed the local animal control facilities, and the last thing he wanted to see at home was another barking dog.
Bobby began to notice a severely neglected dog, in the back yard of a run-down home that he passes on his way to school. So, he sort of adopted this pitiful animal as his own. He even gave him a name; Shadow. Unfortunately, because the dog had been so mistreated, he had an extremely vicious side. But, whenever he was in Bobby’s presence, anyone would have thought that this was the most gentle dog in town.
Buck and his followers made it their mission to pick on Bobby with every opportunity. That’s because Bobby was one of the scrawniest kids in school.
Then a rash of vandalism struck the town of Mason City. It began small, but became increasingly destructive. After each hit, the vandals left their mark; a symbol that was always spray-painted on a wall or sidewalk. Bobby is able to keep Shadow, as his own dog, under one condition. If the dog ever attacks anyone, the sheriff has ordered that Bobby’s father would have to put the dog down.
What happens when Bobby finally discovers who’s behind the vandalism? And, when they know that he knows, they set out to make sure he never tells another human being. After Shadow ultimately saves Bobby’s life, he puts his own in jeopardy.
This story will remind readers how important it is to tell the truth, no matter what the consequences may be.



Synopsis_________________________________


Snake Island


Rod Campbell loved to go tubing with his friends down the lazy river outside of town. They often wondered about Snake Island as they drifted by.
Then, one day Mr. Patterson rushed out in front of the boys as they rode their bikes. People around town said he was a little crazy since he’d come back from the war. Some said his injuries had affected his brain. But Mr. Patterson warned them about the island.
Rod talked his friends into camping out on the island since it was near his grandfather’s farm. If they could last the whole night, then there wouldn’t be anything to be afraid of they reasoned.
On the night of the campout, someone came to the island, dug a hole, and rolled a large piece of carpet in. Then he began covering it up. The boys were terrified when they realized the man digging the hole was Mr. Patterson.
They raced off the island. The next day they learned that the richest man in town was missing. Police suspected murder. 
Rod and his friends reported what they saw and Mr. Patterson was accused of the crime. But did he do it? And what did he bury in that hole?

Synopsis_________________________________


Last Chance


Derek Snyder is about to begin his last year of middle school. This is the last chance he’ll have to feel in charge, before beginning at the bottom of the ladder called high school. He plans to be the captain of his football team, and everyone at school pretty much did as he said. Although his teachers were allowed to call him Derek, everyone else at school had to call him Snyder.
On the day he arrived for the first day of school, Derek was in for a huge surprise. He found his friends crowded around a new student. Even though Derek hated to admit it, this new guy was attractive in every way. Yet, he was not at all what he seemed to be.
Through this story, we learn that Chip used to live in a large city. There, he had been involved in gangs and had even been the cause of the death of another boy.
Derek is determined to push Chip off center stage; a place that only Derek rightly deserved.
This story captures the nuances of junior high identity struggles. Everything Derek had imagined unravels one after the other. Plus, there is plenty of exciting football action.
Readers will learn what is truly important in life as they witness the concept of a person being willing to give up his life for a friend.
This story is funny, exciting, sad, and touching, all at the same time.

Synopsis_________________________________


Troubles at Timber Ski Lodge


Sibling rivalry and a neighborhood bully are only two of the troubles Eric faced. Eric Baxter is twelve-years-old. His little brother, Shawn, drives him crazy with every opportunity. The Baxter family moved to the lodge two years ago because Eric’s grandfather could no longer keep up with the place.
Unfortunately, it hadn’t snowed enough in those two years for the lodge to turn a profit, and there had never been extra money so the Baxters could buy the snow-making equipment that would have made all the difference.
It didn’t help matters to have Thunder Mountain Ski Lodge right next door. Vince Turner’s father owned the place, and the Turners were filthy rich. Vince reminded Eric of that fact almost every day.
One afternoon, the village authorities learned that a gold shipment had been robbed. The reports said that a small airplane had been stolen around the same time. It’s expected that the crooks might try to fly the stolen gold across the mountains.
What happens when the boys hear the drone of a small plane just as a fierce storm is moving in? And, will Eric be able to save Timber Ski Lodge before it’s too late?
An avalanche, sibling rivalry, and being chased by gold thieves only add to Eric’s troubles.

Synopsis_________________________________



Whispers in the Graveyard


Josh didn’t like moving from his safe, comfortable house into a cramped apartment in Chicago. His father had taken a new job and the family hadn’t found the right house yet. But Josh made friends with Kim, Mason, and Dexter. The four boys did everything together. Dexter’s father was a funeral director.
The boys’ biggest problem was that the quickest way to the subway was straight through the center of the biggest cemetery Josh had ever seen. The place was locked at night, but the boys knew how to get in. The only thing was, who’d want to?
One night, as the boys returned home after dark, a gang began chasing them. Josh and his friends had no choice but to duck into the cemetery. They thought the gang was scary, but that was nothing compared to what they saw and heard next.
The boys set out to unravel the mystery behind why those awful men were digging in the cemetery at night.
What they discovered was a gigantic drug smuggling ring, and the boys found themselves right in the middle of it.
Now if only the police can get there in time.  

Synopsis_________________________________



Scanners


What do bar codes, scanners, tattoos, and 666 have to do with the life of a twelve-year-old boy? Maybe nothing.  Maybe everything.  
Alex Peterman had a dream life. He could walk into the grocery store, pick out anything off the shelves, and walk back out without paying for it. Of course, it helped that his father owned Gilbert’s Grocery store.
Alex and his friends, Noah Bates and Tim Price began working with him, in the store, for the summer. But it wasn’t long before some money was missing, a lot of money. And it always happened on the weekends.
Alex didn’t care what it took, he was determined to catch the thief. Only he could never have imagined how big it was, or how many people were involved. He and his friends set up a secret fort, made from wooden delivery pallets that were stored up in a loft above the receiving area of the store. From that vantage point, they could watch anyone who came or went through the back doors.
One day, the boys ran into a delivery man with the tattoo of a skull and swords on his arm. They decided to keep a close eye on this man. When they did, they saw him doing some pretty suspicious things around the store.
The boys were convinced that this was the man who had been stealing from the store, but how? When they saw him again at the regional food convention, they were certain. Now Alex had to come up with a plan to catch him. But he wasn’t prepared for what happened next.


Bio - Max Elliot Anderson

Max Elliot Anderson grew up as a struggling, reluctant reader.  After surveying the market as an adult, he sensed the need for action-adventures and mysteries for readers 8 – 13, that would have interested him as a child. 
Using his extensive experience in the production of dramatic motion pictures, videos, and television commercials, Mr. Anderson brings that same visual excitement and heart-pounding action to the stories he writes. His books include different characters, setting, and plot as well as two traditional series. 
Young readers have reported that reading one of his books is like actually being in an exciting movie. 

Max Elliot Anderson’s Amazon Author Page https://www.amazon.com/Max-Elliot-Anderson/e/B002BLP3EE 

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Chicken Soup for the Soul Luncheon

Earlier in the week, I had the distinct pleasure of joining with other fellow contributors to books for Chicken Soup for the Soul. (No, they didn't serve any chicken soup) But what a pleasant group of humble writers.

The luncheon was hosted by Amy Newmark, Executive Editor of the Chicken Soup books. Her talk was both entertaining and informative.

At the luncheon, we were given two books. The first is called “Simply Happy, A Crash Course in Chicken Soup for the Soul Advice and Wisdom.”

The second is “Chicken Soup for the Soul, My Kind (of) America” which was released on the day of our lunch.


This is a great, highly positive organization. I encourage any writer to keep an eye out for the next “call for submissions” and send in your story.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

If you missed it, “Middle Grade to the Max” (Page 18) in Southern Writers Magazine

If you missed it, “Middle Grade to the Max” (Page 18) in Southern Writers Magazine and FREE right now. To catch up on my books…go take a look! http://southernwritersmagazine.blogspot.com

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

9 Middle Grade Adventures & Mysteries to be Re-published

One of my early publishers has encountered trouble with a distributor who cost them so much revenue, they decided not to continue as a publisher an longer.

That’s the bad news.

The good news is all of their books are in the process of being re-released in the next few months. Those book titles are:

When the Lights go Out

Synopsis_________________________________

Peyton Aldrich has just moved to a new army base with his parents and younger sister. He doesn’t understand why his father has been sent to such a rundown place in the middle of nowhere. After all, his father was a colonel, with top security clearance, who completed the elite Ranger school. And his training had been in Army Intelligence. Yet, here they were.
Peyton was never allowed to ask his father anything about what he did in the army. Nor was he allowed to ever get in the way. There were many secrets that his dad couldn’t even tell his own family.
Peyton idolized his father. One day, he hoped to grow up to be just like him. His father had told him that the army may not be for everyone, but after what happened on 9/11, somebody had to help keep the country safe.
Peyton finds two friends. Gill is the son of the base’s motor pool sergeant, and Dave’s father is the base chaplain. Together they decide to train like Rangers, and search for some kind of mission they could do. Little did they know that a mission was about to put the boys right in the crosshairs of a dangerous terrorist plot, when a secret weapon would be delivered to the base on its way across the country.
There was no way Peyton could tell his father what he knew. After all, it could cost him his job. Peyton, Gill, and Dave have to take matters into their own hands, and they do.
Will the terrorists find out who is trying to expose their evil plan? Will the boys be able to stop them? And what will happen to Peyton’s father when the general finds out what the boys did?
When the Lights go Out.” A story for kids, and their parents, so we never forget 9/11.

Barney and the Runaway

Synopsis_________________________________

Barney and the Runaway tells the story of Michael Ellis, who has recently told his parents to start calling him Mike from now on. He especially hated the way they were always telling him what to do. Mike decides to teach his parents a lesson by pretending to run away for a day with his dog Barney. 
The plan gets a bit more complicated than planned when Mike and Barney hide in a railroad boxcar, fall asleep, and end up in Georgia with a circus in the middle of the night. Fortunately for the runaways, Big Bob the Clown takes Mike and Barney to safety in his wagon. Mike decides that living and performing with the circus might be a good idea until Big Bob opens Mike’s eyes to his unfortunate past. 
Mike’s encounter with this grown up runaway, in the circus, helps him to understand that his parents truly love him. Then Mike and Barney save the circus. Through it all, Mike learns the importance of family.
Parents often punish their children, but only because they love and want what is best for them, not because they don’t care. Even though the life of a circus performer with a circus family may appear fun, if given a choice, most would agree that living in a warm home with loving, caring parents is the preferred choice. As the saying goes, “You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.” After Mike overhears some unsettling news and both he and Barney are involved in a scary and dangerous crime, Mike learns his lesson before it’s too late.


Mystery At Wolf Lake


Synopsis_________________________________ 

Eddy Thompson cheated on anything, anytime, anywhere. His hero is John Dillinger, one of the most dangerous bank robbers in American history. It’s winter in Indiana and Christmas break is almost here. 

Finally school is out. After Christmas, Eddy's father invites Chet, Rusty, and their fathers to drive up to a cabin he owns on Wolf Lake, in Michigan, for ice fishing, tobogganing, and winter fun in the snow. But something happens up at Wolf Lake that will change Eddie’s life. It isn’t the brutal cold. It isn’t when Eddy falls through the ice. It isn’t even when two scary men arrive at their remote cabin.

The boys’ fathers go fishing and leave them to build a snow fort along the back fence. It’s dark when two real bank robbers show up, on the other side of that fence, as police sirens race toward them. They toss their stolen cash over the fence, hoping to come back for it later.

Eddie the cheater wants to keep it, and that’s when their troubles really begin.
With so much danger closing in and with the help of his friends, Eddy realizes how wrong it is to cheat. 

But the danger doesn't end there. After the boys return from Wolf Lake, and are alone for New Years Eve, they find that home might not be the safest place, either.


Legend of the White Wolf 



Synopsis_________________________________ 

Take two eleven-year-old boys, a mysterious white wolf, a dangerous band of illegal hunters, and all the excitement of the rugged outdoors near Yellowstone, put it all together in a book and you have an adventure story even the most "reluctant" of readers will pick up and enjoy. 
Brian Fisher was no different from other young boys and, so, it was not much of a surprise that he resented the fact that no one believed his fantastic tale about a white wolf. It was also no surprise that he decided to prove the story true, even if it meant putting his own life in danger. 
It all began when Brian discovered a white wolf pup caught in a trap and set it free. Since then, Brian was convinced that he and the wolf shared a special bond. Stung by the disbelief of his family and friends, Brian sets out to confirm the story and ends up getting a lot more than he bargained for. It is bad enough that he is caught out in a snowstorm and attacked by a mountain lion, but when a group of lawless hunters begins killing off the wolf population, that's when Brian has to get right in the middle of it. 


Newspaper Caper


Synopsis_________________________________

Tom Stevens was a super salesman. He and his friends delivered newspapers early every morning. Along their route, the boys often saw some pretty strange things. Then one day they actually became the story in the papers they delivered. 

Early in the morning, while it was still dark, the three boys stumbled across some suspicious activity. A tow truck begins to hook up an expensive car in someone’s driveway along their paper route. Tom sees the name Jake embroidered on one guy's pocket. But when the tow truck driver sees the boys, he drives off in the truck, leaving the car behind. 

Tom reads in the paper the next morning about a string of car thefts around the area. He begins to see a connection between a local car repair shop and the thefts. The same Jake turns out to be a mechanic at a relative's garage, and he acts very secretive when the boys are around.

The boys’ adventures begin as they take matters into their own hands and investigate the car thefts. They befriend an elderly widow whose car was stolen, and encounter vicious watchdogs and the thieves themselves at the chop-shop, in an abandoned warehouse used by the crooks.

But it’s Tom who proves to be the one who carries this mystery to its dangerous conclusion. Will his investigating skills be enough to help him to solve the crimes. 


North Woods Poachers


Synopsis_________________________________

It was that time again—the annual fishing trip. Every summer was the same. The two Washburn families packed up their identical over-sized pickup trucks and headed for Canada. Only this time Andy Washburn determined it was going to be different. He didn't quite know what, or how he was going to work it out, but he was not going to spend two weeks in a boat, fishing this year. There had to be something better they could do up there instead. Even if they had to include Sarah, Andy's nine-year-old sister, and Jessica, CJ's sister, they'd do it.
Andy and CJ, his cousin, both approaching their twelfth birthdays, tried to find ways to get out of all that fishing. CJ is a computer whiz, and tests new products for his father's company, so he brings this year’s newest games and gadgets along, and they sure come in handy.
After arriving at the lake, the boys made a deal with their dads. They'd fish for the first couple of days then the boys could go off and explore the area. This becomes even more exciting when two, identical, black float-planes landed on the lake, after dark, and disappeared into the cove around the bend from the Washburn's cabins. Then they took off again before sunrise the next morning. 

The boys determined to find out what that was all about. When Andy remembered that, at the Canada/US border, they'd been stopped and searched, another vehicle had been found to have illegal turtles hidden in the spare-tire well. Andy was sure these planes were poachers landing and taking off in the dark.
When the four children set out on their mission, they have no idea what they're getting themselves into. They find an old forest watch tower which, of course, they have to climb. From there they can see into the lodge on the other side of the cove where the two strange float-planes had gone. They return to the tower the next day with a telescope that belongs to Andy's dad. What they see and discover turns into sudden danger for these four kids.  They uncover the answer to the mysterious, black planes, but they also stir up some serious trouble when they discover that there is an international ring of wild animal poachers operating out of the old abandoned lodge.  




Mysterious Cabin

Synopsis_________________________________

It was only supposed to be a mountain wilderness hike for three boys with camping gear, guides, and everything. What could possibly go wrong with all those adults around? These three friends plodded along at the back of the line of hikers. Then one of the boys did something he knew was wrong; he darted off the trail to get a picture. They’d taken special classes, joined an expert group of mountain hikers, and now they found themselves separated from the group, all alone, and lost in the fog. But that’s not the worst of it. The boys had to cross a broken-down suspension bridge high above a bottomless gorge with raging water gushing right through the middle of it. There was a bear that nearly ate Benji, hundreds of soldiers on a military training exercise, and an abandoned cabin – which wasn’t abandoned after all. A band of terrorists were in the final stages of carrying out their deadly attack. Could the boys get away? Could they tell someone about the evil plan? And would anyone be able to warn the city of Denver in time?



Mischief After Midnight

Synopsis_________________________________

When a brother and his younger sister find out they’re going to spend spring break out west, on their cousin’s ranch, they have no idea what dangers lie ahead of them. This is no old-time dusty western story. The children ride in their uncle’s airplane, he uses his satellite telephone, and the local sheriff patrols the area in a powerful helicopter. And the people stealing cattle from  ranchers in the area use large trucks, all-terrain vehicles, and their own high-tech equipment in an effort to stay one step ahead of the law. The kids are invited on a trail ride to find new calves for branding. Evidence is piling up that one of the ranch hands might be in on the stealing. But why is he working on the ranch? Their cousin told them the guy should be in prison for stealing cattle. Then a rattlesnake bite changes everything. Now it’s a race against time to help the victim, find the rustlers, and save the ranch.

The Great Cave Caper


Synopsis_________________________________


Four boys had formed a detective club in their little town where nothing much ever happens. That is, until they put their money together and ordered a police scanner for the shack where they held their meetings. The area around where they lived, in New Market, Virginia, was littered with caves. The uncle of one of the club’s members has a cave right on his farm. That’s when the guys hatched the idea of going out to the cave for a little innocent exploring. The cave was on private property, so they knew they’d be safe and no one could bother them. But on the night before their big adventure, the scanner came alive with reports of a big bank heist in a nearby city. The boys thought surely the robbers would be long gone by the time they set up their campsite near the cave. They were wrong. Inside the cave the next morning they found something. Now the robbers were coming in the entrance of the cave and the boys couldn’t get out.