Thursday, February 25, 2010

A Blast From My Past

This morning, my brother Lane sent me the most amazing email. He had been watching a televised auto auction when a special car from our past moved onto the auction block.

First, a little history.

Well into my adult life, I still have an occasional dream about this car. When you see the pictures, there’s no question that the car is fabulous!

Because of the work our father did in publishing and film production, we had the opportunity to meet a lot of famous and interesting people. I will never forget the day when my father, and a man named Lloyd Templeton, pulled up in front of our school just as classes let out for the day. We were instant heroes if only for a few minutes. But it was that car. Who could ever forget it?

When I opened my brother's email, clicked on the link, and saw the pictures for the first time in almost 40 heart rate went way up. And I’m sure my blood pressure wasn’t far behind.

Clearly, your reactions will be much less, but at least you can appreciate this truly beautiful work of art.

If you’re interested, the following link will take you to a page with more pictures along with a little history about the car.,16908/1950-Mercury-Bob-Hope-Special_photo.aspx

And this link tells about all the parts, from different cars, that went into building this one-of-a-kind roadster. 


Max Elliot Anderson
Still Trembling

Coming Soon! Book # 1 In The Sam Cooper Adventure Series -
Lost Island Smugglers

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Awana Interview

Awana's interview about my action-adventure & mystery books for kids is now posted on their web site.

The Awana Ministry touches over 1 million children each year. This interview was posted to their headquarters web site on Tuesday.

Max Elliot Anderson

Monday, February 22, 2010

Tot Trends Weekly - Boys Will Be Boys - Article about My Books

The focus of Tot Trends Weekly Magazine's current issue is Boys Will Be Boys. Included in this issue is a brief article about my work. But there is other information that you may find of interest as well.

Thank you,

Max Elliot Anderson

Friday, February 19, 2010

2010 Daytona 500

Yes, I returned safely from the Daytona 500. I’m a little late in posting about the race because I was greeted, on my return, with a contract for 7 books. In addition, I’m working to complete the final touches on a new series. It’s meant dealing with a lot of details, and I’ll comment on all of these developments as contracts are signed, and details can be made public.

Daytona was a lot of fun. This is the 5th year that my son and I have gone. I stayed at Jim’s home, in Chicago, on Friday night a week ago. Early Saturday morning, his wife Lindsay drove us to O’Hare where we took an American Airlines flight to Orlando. After renting a car, we drove to my daughter Sarah’s apartment in Lake Mary.
The race had a funny twist, however. Weather in Florida has been extremely cold, especially at night. Now, living in Illinois, we’re accustomed to the potholes that develop during the fall, winter, and spring. That’s due to the freezing, thawing, ice, rain, and snow. Well, the rains, followed by freezing temperatures that Florida has been experiencing, caused a large pothole to develop on the track, right in the middle of the race.

Technicians had a tough time fixing the hole. After trying several compounds and combinations, it was finally patched, only to break open again after a few laps. Isn’t that just like a pothole? It was fixed a second time, and the race was completed.

Unfortunately, my favorite driver, Jeff Gordon, even though he was out in front for a couple of laps, faded near the end of the race.

Even after the sun went down, there was still a lot of racing left.

But it’s good to be home, and to be back at work on my action-adventure & mystery books for boys.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Friday, February 12, 2010

Write a Caption

Here's another of the many pictures I've taken of my dog, PooPa. Her name comes from a word my wife and I heard, when we lived in Germany, that sounded a lot like that, and means "little doll." Today it's your turn to write a funny caption comment.

Hey, it's Friday. Have fun!

* Watch for the June release of
Lost Island Smugglers

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


We had an earthquake, here in Northern Illinois, at about 4 AM. The epicenter was only 40 miles from here. Our brick house shook, the windows rattled, and it woke me up. Needless to say, I didn't get back to sleep. It registered at 4.3.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

For Dog Lovers

Take a look at how the PooPa pictures were used on another blog, and enjoy some of the books there too

Along with the Super Bowl you didn't see!

Max Elliot Anderson

Monday, February 08, 2010

Daytona 500 Poodle

When I woke up this morning, the temperature was around 20 degrees. I looked at this picture of my dog PooPa, and thought of next weekend. That’s when my son Jim – a lawyer in Chicago – and I will jump on a plane and fly to Orlando.

Each year we go down to the Daytona 500 and we’re really looking forward to it this year. They’ve changed the rules so that I think we’ll see a more exciting race.

Jim’s happy because his favorite driver, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (#88) has secured the # 2 spot at the front of the field. My favorite driver, Jeff Gordon (24) has to qualify in the shorter races on Thursday.
If you happen to tune in to the race on Sunday, Jim and I, along with my sister Margaret, will be sitting in the top row in turn 1.
May the best driver - Jeff Gordon in my case : )) – win!

Thursday, February 04, 2010

How & Why I Became A Writer For Children

I would have to credit my parents’ influence for preparing me as a writer. In fact, my first published book, Newspaper Caper, is dedicated to them. The dedication reads, “To my parents, Ken and Doris Anderson, who have written so many important chapters in my life.”

My father was one of these can-do people who blazed a pioneer’s trail in the field of Christian film production for use in churches. He also was the author of over 70 books. But he traveled a lot, causing my mother to shoulder much of the load. And this was in a family of seven children. I have two brothers and two sisters older than me, and a brother and sister who are younger. In a family that size, there are things that can fall through the cracks. I’m sure no one was watching to see if little Max was reading books or not. I wasn’t.

Because of my father’s work in film, I gravitated to the more visual side of communication. As a child, I was absolutely fascinated by the filmmaking process. In fact, at the age of 8, I was “killed” by a hit-and-run driver while riding my bike. Fortunately, since the film I was in was being shot in black and white, the blood coming from my nose, mouth, and ear, actually originated in a chocolate syrup bottle.

My mother read to us when we were young, and when my dad was home, he was home. On many nights, in a totally darkened room, he’d tell us some of the most fantastic, exciting, and scary stories I’ve ever heard. The combination of parental input, coupled with being around film production at a very young age, gave me the seeds I needed to begin writing stories of my own. Before I started writing, I too, often told my own children original stories at night. I have also been involved in the production of films, television commercials, and video programs all of my life. These elements tend to find their way into the stories I’m writing today.

I grew up in a time before television. Imagine that! We had radio dramas, especially on Saturday mornings, but most of our fun came from situations we’d make up ourselves. It wasn’t unusual, during the summer, for me to hit the back door when the sun came up, and not return until dark. During that time, along with a core group of friends, we invented characters, situations, and adventures that captured our imaginations. We lived way out in the country, surrounded by lakes and dense woods.
                                                                                                            I know that many of the characters in my books consist of kids I grew up with, went to school with, or played with. As I’m writing a story, I feel as if I have physically entered into the various scenes myself, mentally. I also hear the dialog in my head and actually interact with others in the scene.

For me, the title always comes first. This is quickly followed by who the main character is, what his conflicting issues are, his challenges, strengths, and weaknesses. That is followed by a flood of impressions during which the entire story bombards my mind. I used to try to write it all down, and this was quite frustrating. Then I switched to a process of recording the story elements into a small tape recorder. Those notes are typed for future reference.

So, the basic story comes all at once. Then, as I write, the rest of the story literally unfolds as if I’m seeing a movie for the very first time. I don’t do any extensive outlining, though I already know the beginning, middle, and end. It’s all the other, more intricate elements, like additional characters, scenes, and issues, that show up as I go.

I believe that my film production experiences have everything to do with the kind of writer I am today. It might sound funny, but when I began to write, and people asked me about my work, I would often begin by talking about the manuscripts or stories as films. Then I’d have to catch myself and say, “No. I mean the book I’m writing.”

Many of the locations for my books come from places in the country or world where I’ve previously produced films and video programs.

Since I think visually, I write visually as well. My films…I mean books, don’t have large blocks of type to bog down readers. I don’t spend a lot of time on details to pad the books in order to make them longer. Like a good film, my books get the preliminaries out of the way as soon as possible, set the conflict, and then the adventure begins. The reader had better hang on tight from that point to the end.

Young readers tell me that reading one of my books is like being in, not reading, but being in an exciting or scary movie. I like hearing that a lot.
                                                                                                      Since I have extensive experience in the production of dramatic films for children, I learned something very early. We made a couple of films that featured a girl’s story. Boys hated those and wouldn’t watch them. However, girls were much more tolerant, and actually enjoyed the adventure films we produced about boys. I like to think of my books in terms of that same model. I also felt that there were plenty of books already being written primarily for girls. Though my books are first intended for boys, I know girls are avid readers of them as well. I’ve also gotten interesting feedback from adults. One woman told me she stayed up way too late one night because she just had to find out how the book ended. She was late to work the next morning.

I’ve heard from their wives, that some men have picked up one of my books because of all the excitement they heard from their children. They were skeptical that any book could be all that interesting. But this became the first time they had ever read a book, all the way through, in their lives.

Parents and teachers know that reluctant readers present a very serious problem. In some cases, my books are not the answer when a child has vision problems, or struggles with conditions like dyslexia. When it comes to a truly reluctant reader, the key is to find something that is of interest to that child. It could be as simple as comic books at first, or the sports page in the local newspaper. I’ve encouraged parents to choose material that is below grade level in the early stages, including picture books, even though the child might seem too old for those.

Stepping up from there, I’ve heard from several parents that the key in their home was to begin by reading out loud together. Many have found that it didn’t take long until their child wanted to take my books and read on their own. One of the funniest things I heard was when a very reluctant reader boy stormed into the room and told his mother, “I know what that guy is trying to do.” “What?” his mother asked. “He’s trying to get me to read the next chapter.” He went on to explain how the chapter he’d just finished, ended with a cliffhanger, nearly forcing him to read the next chapter, which is exactly what he did.

In addition to the above examples, some parents have used computer time, video games, or playing outside, as rewards. “Read three chapters, and you can…” Certainly each family will dictate what works or is appropriate. All I can tell you is that once kids get hooked on one of my books, they don’t want to stop reading. I’ve heard it over, and over again from parents or from the children themselves. I think it goes back to the fact that my books truly are visual, like the highly visual world where our children are living today.

At the time I started writing, I was concerned about boys who were growing up without a positive male role model in their lives. In a small way, the adult males in my stories are an attempt to provide models that a reader can tuck away in his mind, for a time in the future when he might start his own family. Regardless of how his real-world family experience might have been, he would have the seeds of the husband, man, and father he could become one day.

My job is just to sow into the next generation the most important things that have been sown into my life to this point.

Max Elliot Anderson

NOTE: Comming in June, 2010, book # 1 in the
Sam Butler Adventure Series
Lost Island Smugglers!

Monday, February 01, 2010

Because You Care About Boys

I grew up hating to read.

I know, that's a surprising statement to most people, now that I write action-adventures & mysteries for kids. My reasoning is that I'm attempting to create the kinds of books that I would have enjoyed as a child. Hopefully my work is making a dent in the problem of struggling and reluctant readers, especially boys.

In addition to writing original material for these young readers, I'm happy to display additional books and resources from others on this blog. That has resulted in reviews and announcements for a number of books for kids by other authors.

Today I want to address parents, educators, classroom teachers, librarians, and others who are working to help boys who struggle in our education system, with a resource that you may find helpful. The book, Why Boys Fail, by Richard Whitmire, is just such a resource.

Hard Numbers and Alarming Facts about Boys

· Nationwide, nearly twice as many boys as girls repeat a grade.

· In preschool, boys are four and a half times more likely to get expelled than girls. In the K-12 years, boys are twice as likely to get suspended and three times more likely to get expelled.

· On federal writing tests for 12th graders, more than a quarter of males score “below basic,” compared to 11 percent of females. In reading, a third of male students fall below basic, compared to 22 percent of females. Only 29 percent of male high school seniors are reading at the proficient and advanced levels, compared to 41 percent of females.

· The grade advantage long held by girls appears to be broadening. In 1990, both girls and boys had “C” grade-point averages, according to the Education Department’s High School Transcripts Study. By 2005, the gap widened to a “B” for girls and a “C+” for boys. According to the Higher Education Research Institute’s 2007 survey of college freshmen, 28 percent of women report a high school grade point average of “A” or “A+,” compared to 21 percent of men.

· Twice as many girls as boys were members of the National Honor Society in 2007. From 2006 through 2008, all the first place winners of the Intel Science Search were female.

· 54 percent of female high school sophomores are enrolled in a college-preparatory curriculum, compared to 48 percent of males.

· Overall, only 65 percent of our nation’s boys graduate from high school, according to the U.S. Department of Education’s most recent “national report card,” released in the spring of 2009.

· In the arena of higher education, a wide gender gap has opened up for students of all races. Among whites, women earn 62 percent of associate degrees, nearly 58 percent of bachelor’s degrees, 62 percent of master’s degrees, and 54 percent of doctoral degrees. Among blacks, women earn 61 percent of associate degrees, 66 percent of bachelor’s degrees, 72 percent of master’s degrees, and 64 percent of doctoral degrees.

· Young boys, ages 10 to 14, are twice as likely as young girls to commit suicide; young men, ages 20 to 24, are six times as likely.

· Among high school seniors, 23 percent of white males from college-educated families score “below basic” on federal reading tests, compared to 7 percent of females.

Actions for Parents:

· Volunteer for a reading tutoring program. Struggling readers need extra help and encouragement from adults. Book Buddies and HOSTS (Help One Student To Succeed) are two highly-targeted tutoring/mentoring programs credited with having a major impact on boys’ achievement. If your local school lacks such a program, lobby the principal to start one. Then, urge friends, relatives, and colleagues to join your volunteer effort.

· Welcome boy-friendly books. Many boys are only interested in books that girls (and Moms) find silly, too violent, or just plain gross. If your son prefers Captain Underpants to Bridge to Terebithia, don’t worry. Giving your son boy-friendly books will help him become not only an early and proficient reader, but also a voracious one.

Actions for Educators:

· Experiment more with K-12 reading programs. Consider the success of the Comic Book Project. Elementary school teachers wrap comic books and graphic novels into their reading curriculum, pressing students to analyze the text and pictures for mood, tone, and character development. Now in 860 schools around the country, this creative approach works, getting boys excited about breaking down a novel into its working parts.

· Focus on phonics. Reading experts overwhelmingly agree: Boys need phonics instruction more than girls. Boys are less adept at intuiting the structure of language, which means teachers need to make it more explicit for them. Besides letting boys sound out words, phonics lends itself to being taught in computer labs, with video-game-style hand controllers that boys thrill to using.

· Intensify literacy instruction in middle and high schools. After the elementary grades, most schools make a gradual transition from literacy to literature, leaving behind legions of weak readers, most of them boys. For boys to catch up on literacy, middle and high schools must embrace a collaborative effort to turn every teacher into a reading teacher. Reading and writing assignments should be standard in all subjects, including math.

· Make high school more relevant. Giving boys a reason to care about high school will get more of them to stay until graduation. California High Tech High charter schools keep boys by combining hands-on learning with a college-prep curriculum. Career academies, like Braden River High School in Bradenton, Florida, help students see the relationships between the skills they need to earn a living and the academics in the classroom.

Adapted from WHY BOYS FAIL: Saving Our Sons from an Educational System That’s Leaving Them Behind by Richard Whitmire (AMACOM; January 2010; $24.95 Hardcover; ISBN: 978-0-8144-1534-4). For more information contact Irene Majuk at 212/903-8087 /

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”