Friday, July 30, 2010

3 More Days!




ISBN 9781935600022

Lost Island Smugglers releases on August 1st. There are several options for ordering copies.

1. Since the book is distributed through Ingram, you can go to any local bookstore and it should be in their system.

2. You can find it on any of the online bookstores like Amazon and Barnes & Noble and others.

3. You can order signed copies from me. If this interests you, send an email to for details. Great for birthdays or Christmas - my wife is always buying Christmas presents W A Y in advance!

4. You can order copies from the publisher at

Lost Island Smugglers is book # 1 in the new Sam cooper Adventure Series. Captain Jack's Treasure and River Rampage are due out in future months.

My author web site is located at

If you're looking for action-adventures & mysteries, that boys will've come to the right place.

Max Elliot Anderson

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Speaking to the kids at Cabrini Green in Chicago

I’ve been in some rough places in my life. Right after I was discharged from the army, and while the Vietnam conflict was still raging, I went there to shoot a film project.

In the middle of the worst “troubles” as they called it, in Northern Ireland, I made another film in the heart of Belfast.

Cabrini Green is a rough place for kids to grow up.

Earlier this week, I had the honor and privilege to speak to a group of students in Cabrini Green, in Chicago, Illinois. If you want to know more about Cabrini Green, just enter that name into your search and you’ll find plenty.

For several years my son, Jim, has tutored at Cabrini Green, even though he has a very demanding law firm schedule downtown. He was the one who opened the door for me to speak there. He tutors at a place called By the Hand Club for Kids  I hope you’ll take the time to learn more about them.

And they’re making a difference in the lives of the kids they serve both spiritually and academically.

Their children ended the school year with 45% making As, Bs, and Cs. This was a 45% increase over the 1st quarter.

130 students made the honor roll.

12 students graduated from high school. Of those, 11 are going to college and one will be going to the army.

I spoke to the students for about an hour and a half. I gave my presentation on using the imagination. This includes music and sound effects that come out of my film and video production background.

Jim accompanied me to the event along with my daughter, Sarah, who teaches 2nd grade in a public school in the Orlando area. I gave out several books, bookmarks, and an information sheet about the book and motion picture called Gifted Hands, written by Cecil Murphy, as we talked about how important reading is in their education.

What impressed me most is that these kids could have been anywhere else doing any number of other things. It’s summer. It’s hot. But they chose to come to the center to learn.

In all, it was a great time.

Five More Days!





Thursday, July 22, 2010

Must we be gross to attract boy readers?

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

Must we be gross to attract boy readers?

By Max Elliot Anderson

     A few articles are circulating on the Internet that ask 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 months, 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 that it hurts our stomachs and makes our eyes run, all without reaching down into the gutter. Others come out on the stage with crutches. Their crutches are 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 2nd grade, in a public school, in the Orlando area. “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 their books.

     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, 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. Am I just a prude? Please! I spent two years in the army.

     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 boys to reading?” 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 books for boys. Over the next six months or so, nine of my books should be published. I grew up hating to read, so I write for readers 8 –13, especially boys. And girls enjoy reading them just as much. Here’s a list of those titles:

Lost Island Smugglers

Sam, Tony, and Tyler took scuba lessons together. Tony’s father owned a marina, so Tony got them in for free. After the boys completed the course, they decided to try their new skills in the ocean. The only problem was, none of them had permission to go, or to take one of the sailboats out for their diving adventure. Everything went well until the biggest storm the boys had ever seen, blew up from out of nowhere, and they found themselves stranded on Lost Island. But, if they thought the worst had happened, they were wrong. What about those high-powered speedboats that mysteriously disappeared? And what were they going to tell their parents, even if they did get off the island?

Barney and the Runaway

Summer had no appeal to Mike Ellis. But neither did homework, or class assignments, or self-discipline. He especially disliked his parents always telling him what to do and punishing him when hew didn’t. Wanting to teach his parents a lesson, he decides to pretend to run away from home for a day with his dog Barney. His plans go terribly wrong when a day later he finds himself halfway across the country and very lost. Meeting an old clown who also ran away as a child teaches Mike the importance of home, family, and doing what’s right. But can Mike and Barney save the circus in time?

Newspaper Caper

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. Readers will like the humor, attack dogs, car thieves, and the chop shop Tom and the others uncover. This story reminds us of how important friendship is. It also teaches God isn't just for emergencies. He wants to guide our lives every day.

Terror at Wolf Lake

Eddy Thompson was known for one thing and one thing only. Eddy was a cheater. He cheated on anything, anytime, anywhere, until something happened up at Wolf Lake. It wasn’t the brutal cold. It wasn’t when he fell through the ice. It wasn’t even when two scary men arrived at their remote cabin. What happened would change Eddy’s life…forever.

North Woods Poachers

The Washburn families have been coming to the same cabins, on the same lake, catching the same fish, for about as long as Andy can remember. And he's sick of it. This summer would be different he decided. Only he never imagined how different. The story is filled with excitement, danger, humor, and drama. In the end, Andy learns the concepts of family tradition, justice, and it is important to follow the rules. Readers will enjoy the gigantic, jet-powered floatplane, computers, home made radio transmitter, and naturally, no one will ever forget Big Wally. He’s a fish of course.

Mountain Cabin Mystery

Scott and his friends had dreamed and prepared for their first wilderness camping adventure. When they become separated from their group in a mountain fog, trouble begins. There was that bear, the decrepit suspension bridge over a bottomless gorge, the sheer cliff in the dark, those terrorists in the remote cabin, the Army, the helicopter ride, and…

Big-Rig Rustlers

Todd and Amanda live with their parents in a Midwestern city. The family doesn’t go to church. The children are invited to visit their uncle, aunt, and cousin Drew, on their Wyoming ranch over spring break. Todd learns, in a unique way, why stealing is wrong. He decides to choose a new path for his life because of his uncle’s positive example. A band of high-tech cattle rustlers are caught, revealing that Todd was also wrong about Travis, a shadowy character. Read about the round up, rattlesnake, and rustlers.

The Secret of Abbott’s Cave

A detective, a police scanner, and a cave offered possibilities for danger and excitement. Who are the real heroes in America? Randy and his friends pooled their resources to go cave exploring, discovered the hidden loot from a bank robbery, and learned they weren't heroes at all.

Legend of the White Wolf

They didn’t call him a liar; they just couldn’t believe his story. Brian Fisher was determined to prove it was true even though it involved the risk to his own safety. His rescue of a wolf pup from a steel trap results in a mysterious relationship with surprising results. The story is set in the lower elevations near Yellowstone

     Let's close the lid on toilet humor. When it comes to our writing, 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 should be looking for ways to raise the bar, not lower it.

Your comments are welcome.

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

Please visit my Author Web Site at

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Exclusive Interview with Sam, Tony, & Tyler of Lost Island Smugglers

If you know of friends, family, organizations, churches, publications, newsletters, schools, libraries, web sites, blogs, or any others who would be interested in action-adventures & mysteries for readers 8 - 13, especially boys, please forward the following links to them:

Author Web Site
Books For Boys  

Thank you!Exclusive Interview!

INTERVIEWER: This is the first interview that has been granted by these three heroes, Sam Cooper, Tony Dodd, and Tyler Erickson, since their dangerous adventure out on Lost Island. Now their story is about to be told in a brand new Sam Cooper Adventure book, called Lost Island Smugglers.

We can use their real names, because no one actually knows where they live. But due to the massive drug smuggling operation they uncovered, we are only allowed to show sketches of the boys, and are not permitted to photograph their faces.

Tony, let’s start with you. What can you tell us about Harper’s Inlet and what happened to you three brave boys?

TONY: Well, because we stopped some pretty bad people from bringing any more drugs in through our port, we can’t use the real name of our town for the new book.


SAM: Right. I guess it’s kinda like what they did in To Kill a Mockingbird.

INTERVIEWER: And what was that?

SAM: You know, it was a small town in Alabama, but they changed the real name. And in that story, the peoples’ names were changed too.

INTERVIEWER: I see. And Tony, I understand that one of your father’s boats was destroyed in the storm.

TONY: Biggest storm I ever saw. That boat didn’t have a chance.

INTERVIEWER: Did you get in trouble for that?

TONY: Boy did I ever!

TYLER: We all got grounded.

SAM: Right, but part of that was to make sure we were safe.

TONY: That and because your parents didn’t want you hanging around us and getting in more trouble.

SAM: That’s true.

INTERVIEWER: So, Tyler, were you ever afraid out there?

TYLER: Every second. Especially when those guys came into the cove with their roaring jet boats. The shark’s teeth and blood painted on the sides of their boats still give me goose bumps when I think about them. Here, just look at my arms.

INTERVIEWER: Sam, how did you boys survive out there?

SAM: I’d rather one of the guys tell it.

TONY: I will. Sam’s the kinda guy who can figure out just about anything. He knows how to build a shelter, start a fire, find food and water…he knew everything.

TYLER: Yeah, and the signal fires. Don’t forget about the signal fires he had us make.

INTERVIEWER: Did you learn anything from your experiences in the storm and on the island?

SAM: We learned that it’s important to tell the truth, and that if you’re gonna go someplace, make sure you tell somebody and that you get permission.

TONY: That's for sure. At least then the Coast Guard would have known where to look for us. That was my fault.

TYLER: It was all our faults.

INTERVIEWER: Are you still afraid now?

TONY: The FBI and the drug officers did a good job of hiding who we are and where we really live. But since Lost Island, we’ve had some other amazing adventures. I think they might write a book about those too.

INTERVIEWER: Oh really! What can you tell us about them?

SAM: Only the titles.

INTERVIEWER: And what are they?

TONY: Captain Jack’s Treasure and River Rampage.

SAM: But we shouldn’t give away any of the stories. Else nobody’d wanna buy the books.

INTERVIEWER: I see. Are there any other adventures in your future?

TYLER: I sure hope not. Only, with these two, anything could happen.

TONY: Yeah, and it probably will.

SAM: It’s not that bad.

TYLER: Please!

INTERVIEWER: I have this sketch of you boys. Do you think that could be dangerous for you?

SAM: With the drug guys?


TONY: Nah. I’m not really that fat anyway, and Sam doesn’t look that good.

TYLER: You are too, Tony.

TONY: Watch it Erickson.

INTERVIEWER: Well, it’s been a pleasure talking with you brave boys. And I’ll be careful to keep your identities and location secret. Is there anything more you’d like to tell my readers?

SAM: Sure. I hope somebody makes a movie about one of our adventures some day.

TYLER: That’d be so cool.

Lost Island Smugglers
Now Available on
"Sam Cooper Adventures are like good, family movies . . . as an ordinary kid finds himself in exciting and extra-ordinary adventures!" Bill Myers - author

"Max Elliot Anderson brings a lifetime of dramatic film and video production to the pages of his action adventures and mysteries." Jerry B. Jenkins, Author

Monday, July 12, 2010

Artist & Illustrator for Lost Island Smugglers, Holly Heisey

So much attention is given to the author, when a new book is released. However, many times it's the cover that draws in potential readers, or turns them away.

Following is an interview with Holly Heisey, the artist and illustrator for my new book, Lost Island Smugglers, which will be released on August 1st.

It’s often said, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” However, in this case, I hope people will be drawn to the cover of my new book. Explain your initial thoughts as you approached this project.

I've always been drawn to vibrant covers that seem to come alive with the story. That's what I wanted to do for Lost Island Smugglers--give the readers a slice of the action so they'd have to know more.

A writer sees images and words in his head. When you approach an art project for the first time, what are some of the elements that you see, before you begin painting or drawing?

This depends on if the drawing is from my imagination, or based on a story I've written or read. If it's from imagination, I'll often sit down and either start randomly doodling with a pen or painting bold colors until shapes start to emerge and I have an idea of what the drawing could be. Art from stories is a little different. When I'm reading, a concrete image in the words will jump out at me, and I'll scribble down a very loose sketch. I rarely deviate far from my original "flash image." If it's strong enough for me to see in living color, it's strong enough to paint.

Explain the different steps you took in producing the cover art for Lost Island Smugglers.

I knew the cover for Lost Island Smugglers should be centered around the storm, which was the most exciting and action-packed part of the story, so when I read the manuscript, I paid close attention to the details to find just the right image to start with. Once I got my image and scribbled it down, I went on the web and found dozens of pictures of catamarans, storms, wavy seas, stormy skies--anything and everything that would help me make the painting as realistic as possible. Then, with my reference in hand, I scanned my original tiny sketch into the computer, blew it up to the size of a cover in Photoshop, and started to digitally paint over it with shapes and forms in shades of gray. It helps to start with gray so I can get the lighting right without having to worry about the color. Once I had a good idea of what it would look like in gray, I started painting over it in color. Like a writer has first, second, and third drafts and so on, every time I went over the painting again, I tightened the shapes, put in more details, made everything more accurate. Finally, I adjusted all the colors in Photoshop and put the finished painting into the design for the book cover.

Authors talk about facing writer’s block, where it seems impossible to go forward with a writing project at times. Does an artist ever experience this sort of creative block? And if so, how do they get past it?

A lot of artists are very much like writers in that they are visual storytellers. If I can't find the right story to tell with my art, I will get blocked. A lot of times I get past this by looking at paintings by artists I love. It's so inspiring and freeing just to appreciate art at its best that it often gives me the idea I need to keep going. Good books and movies will do that, too. It's all a big creative melting pot!

What would you say was your biggest challenge in creating the artwork for this book cover?

My biggest challenge for this cover was painting the waves. I've never been out on the sea and certainly not in a storm, so I had to pour over many paintings and photos of waves in storms until I got my painting to just where I liked it.

You also did some pen-in-ink illustrations for the interior of the book. Could you talk about those, how you approached each subject, and any other details that readers might find interesting?

When doing interior illustrations, I want the pictures to tell as much story as if there were no words in the book at all. When I was reading, I was always on the lookout for big, exciting, pivotal scenes to turn into a visual story. When I got a clear idea, I'd scribble down a quick drawing, scan it in, and then digitally draw over top of it like with the cover. From there, I printed out the bigger drawing, took tracing paper and went over each drawing again and again until I got it right. Then, I inked the drawings with pens and a brush and scanned them back into the computer for the finishing touches.

Could you tell us about your art training, background, experience, and some of your other work/projects?

I was fortunate enough to have a great private art teacher while I was growing up, and I trained with her for seven years in pastels and watercolor until she "graduated" me. I learned all my foundation in fine art from her, and had some fantastic opportunities like having drawings commissioned for a national cookbook while I was still in middle school. I don't do pastel paintings anymore because I developed an allergy to the chalks, but I've been training myself to paint on the computer, and most of my artwork is digital now, although a lot of it still emulates the style of traditional work. I recently had five weeks training with the great school The Art Department, which broadened my horizons even more, and I'm excited for what I will do in the future.

Is there one piece of artwork you’ve done in the past that you are the most proud of and why?

I don't know if there's any I'd say I'm most proud of. I learn so much with each painting that they're all special to me in some way. I can look at my paintings and say, "Here's where I learned how to handle textures," or "Here's where I learned how to paint with colored pencils." In that sense, every piece of work is a badge of accomplishment to me. I can say about the Lost Island Smugglers painting, "Here's where I learned how to paint the sea!"

What are your hopes and dreams for your art in the future?

I really love telling stories with my art. I hope to hone my skills enough to do illustrations for the top science fiction and fantasy books and magazines. I'd also love to do concept art for movies--that would be just amazing.

Many people what to know how they can break into the writing and publishing field. How would you advise young people who are interested in a career in art?

The first step in anything creative is just lots of practice. Lots of doing it and finding things out as you go. Look all over the internet--sites like and are a great place to start--and find what kind of art you really like, and then study the paintings to find out how the artists did it. Study the lives of artists and how their lives influenced their work. Take art courses online and buy art books and look at everything, study everything, and draw. You will never regret honing your drawing skills, and they will always serve you, again and again. And while you're at all this, plug into groups of area artists and online forums like,,, and where you can get and give feedback from other artists and gain contacts in the industry while you go. You don't have to go to an expensive art school to succeed in the art industry, you just need a passion to grow in your art and a constantly improving portfolio.

Please list the links where people can learn more about you.

My personal website is:

My portfolio is at:

And you can follow updates on my art on my Facebook fan page at:!/pages/Holly-Heisey-Artist/119051711443606  

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Thanks, Max, for having me on your blog. I had a blast and learned a lot while doing the illustrations for Lost Island Smugglers, and I hope they enrich the book and make it as much fun to read as I had fun doing it!

Port Younder Press on Youtube:

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Update on Viral Experiment

Because of the help of several people, my viral experiment sent nearly 500 new people to this blog that I wouldn't have reached on my own. And many, many of those emailed to tell me they tweeted the information about the soon release of this new book, emailed friends and contacts, included information on their Facebook, and many other sites, blogs, and social media outlets.

Thank you all!

One of my next posts will include an interview of the artist who painted the cover for Lost Island Smugglers and drew additional pen in ink artwork for the interior of the book. Watch for that.

And, new for me, I've begun updating my own author's web site. If you haven't been there for a while, here's a link  

In less than a month now, Lost Island Smugglers will be released. Let me know if you have any comments or questions.


Monday, July 05, 2010

A Viral Experiment

UPDATE - 238 blog visits since the viral experiment began.

A couple of days ago, I read about the millions and millions of H1N1 Swine Flu vaccine doses that will expire soon, and have to be destroyed. The Swine Flu never spread to the extent that "experts" said it would.
However, I'd like to ask you to help me spread some viral information that I hope will be much more effective.

Would you be willing to post information in a tweet, on your Facebook or other social media sites, on your blog, in emails, your web site - a sign in front of your, forget that part - or any other method you can think of, about my new book that comes out on August 1st? The message I'm asking you to post is simple:

Lost Island Smugglers is a new action-adventure that kids will love. Find out more at  


"Sam Cooper Adventures are like good, family movies . . . as an ordinary kid finds himself in exciting and extra-ordinary adventures!" Bill Myers - author

"Max Elliot Anderson brings a lifetime of dramatic film and video production to the pages of his action adventures and mysteries." Jerry B. Jenkins, Author

I hope you'll help me with this viral experiment to spread the word.

Thank you!

PS. You can also go to the Lost Island Smugglers UPDATE page for more information