Monday, November 28, 2011

It Could Have Been SO Much Worse

After the service at Moody Church, we had a wonderful after thanksgiving dinner in Chicago yesterday with our son, his wife, and extended family. Finally, it was time to return to Rockford for my wife, our daughter, and son-in-law. We drove my wife's car because it's better on gas. At around 7:30 PM, on I- 90, I noticed two trucks up ahead on the side of the road. As I signaled and moved away to the next lane, suddenly, with no warning, an entire re-tread from an 18 wheeler lay in the center of my lane.
I've heard many horror stories of people who swerved to avoid a collision like that, resulting in death or serious injuries, and with only about 2 seconds anyway, I chose to take it head on. What a sickening sound. The front of the car rose up, and the huge chunk of rubber rolled under the car and out the back.
Right away we smelled smoke, the fan belt came off, and the temp gauge shot up. But rather than to stop, and since we were so close to our daughter's house in Rockford, we kept driving and made it there.

Later this morning, before the tow truck arrived, I went over and took a few pictures. The damage was a lot less than I thought when we'd looked at it in the dark the night before. So we have another big thing to be thankful for. Then I just got a call with the estimate, and that part won't be as painful as it could have been either.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Christmas Campfire Companion

Note From the Publisher: I've given this collection a PG or PG13 rating for some of the "cowboy language. "

Christmas Campfire Companion

My friend, and agent, Terry Burns, assembled an excellent group of writers, and Port Yonder Press has produced a great new book I wanted you to know about.

Christmas Campfire Companion

"Fourteen of America's top western writers publishing today have contributed delightful Christmas stories to this collection, fourteen saddle-hardened writers who reached down to give a glimpse of their sensitive side. Each story is a gift, and each a take on Christmas . . . a western Christmas. I'm honored to have a small part in it." Terry Burns

Terry Burns

Livia Reasoner (Livia J. Washburn) has been writing award-winning, critically acclaimed Western, mystery, romance, and historical novels for more than twenty-five years.

Troy D. Smith has published eight books and more than fifty short stories and magazine articles and was a 2001 winner of the Spur Award, the western writer's equivalent of the academy award.

Frank Roderus is a well-published author of over 300 books, twice received the most prestigious award
a western writer can receive, the Spur Award.

Tim Champlin (pseudonym of John Michael Champlin) is the author of 30 historical novels over the past 30 years as well as 35 short stories and non-fiction articles.

Larry D. Sweazy won the WWA Spur award for Best Short Fiction in 2005, and was nominated for a Derringer award in 2007 and has published over 50 non-fiction articles and short stories.

Robert Vaughan sold his first book when he was 19 years old, and, under his own name and several pseudonyms, he has sold more than 400 books, including approximately 200 Westerns. He has hit the NY Times, Publishers’ Weekly, and USA Today bestseller lists numerous times, and is the recipient of the Spur Award (SURVIVAL, writing as K.C. McKenna).

Douglas Hirt won the Colorado Authors’ League Top Hand Award. His 1998 book, BRANDISH, and 1999 DEADWOOD, were finalists for the SPUR award given by the Western Writers of America.He is short story writer, and the author of thirty-two novels and one book of nonfiction.

Dusty Richards is the author of a hundred western novels under his name and pseudonyms. He’s won two Spur Awards, one for a novel called “The Horse Creek Incident” and the other a short story on, “The Comanche Moon.” He also received the Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center’s Wrangler award for his book, “The Sundown Chaser.”

Kerry Newcomb was born in Connecticut but had the good fortune to be raised in Texas. Newcomb is a New York Times bestselling author with over forty novels to his credit. He has been published in several countries.

Matthew P. Mayo’s short stories appear in a variety of anthologies, and have been finalists in both Western Writers of America Spur Awards and Western Fictioneers Peacemaker Awards. He also contributes to several popular series of Western and adventure novels and has a number of non-fiction books.

Robert J. Randisi is the author of more than 540 books in the Western, Private Eye, Men’s Adventure, and Horror genres under a number of pen names. As J.R. Roberts he is the creator and author of the long running series “The Gunsmith.” He also wrote and created the Tracker, Angel Eyes, Bounty Hunter, Mountain Jack Pike.

Rod Miller is author of Things a Cowboy Sees and Other Poems, published by Port Yonder Press. Other recent work includes a historical novel, The Assassination of Governor Boggs as besides poetry and fiction, he writes nonfiction, magazine articles, book reviews, and essays.

James Reasoner has been a professional writer for more than thirty years. In that time, he has authored several hundred novels and short stories in numerous genres. Best known for his Westerns, historical novels, and war novels, he is also the author of two mystery novels that have achieved cult followings, TEXAS WIND and DUST DEVILS. Writing under his own name and various pseudonyms, his novels have garnered praise from Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and the Los Angeles Times, as well as appearing on the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists.

"They even allowed me to hang out with them in this collection:"

Terry Burns writes Christian fiction with a western theme and has over 40 books in print, including 10 novels. He has a two-book set from Port Yonder Press, included in The Sagebrush Collection. These contain the best of his short stories and a Young Adult book, Beyond the Smoke, won the Will Rogers Medallion in 2009.

How long has it been since you read stories from such well know authors? Well, that's too long.

Find it on Amazon:

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Too Late For Turkeys?

No one would suggest that turkeys are the smartest birds in the world. But then, it wasn't too long ago that I realized they really can fly if they want to, so who knows? I'd found them on my roof one morning, and up in a tree in my back yard the next.
Then this bunch wandered into my yard again yesterday. On a good day, we might see more than 60 of them pass by in flocks of various numbers. But this rafter of birds ambled across the yard at a slower than usual pace. I warned them that Thanksgiving was today. Then the biggest of them all tried to remind me, through his gobbling, how close the founding fathers came to naming the turkey as our national bird. Whew, that was a close one.
Anyway, I warned them that it'd be a good idea if they headed into the woods and hid out for the day.

That's when two of them got all puffed up. I'm sure I heard a few vulgar turkey words before they turned around, walked across the road and into the woods like I told them. That's when I called out to them, "There's a reason why they call it Turkey Day, and it's not because you get an award!"

Monday, November 21, 2011

Life Lessons from Grandparents

Life Lessons from Grandparents: A Trip Down Memory Lane (Volume 1)

This new book has just been released from Write Integrity Press.
Book Description

Grandparents, whether intentionally or not, have great influence over the lives of their grandchildren. Those who take the calling seriously are perhaps one of God’s greatest blessings here on earth. The stories featured within these pages reveal many of the lessons our grandparents have taught us. May their legacy continue to live on, and may their Life Lessons touch you as much as they’ve touched each one of us.

Recently I participated in a new book that has just been released, Life Lessons from Grandparents: A Trip Down Memory Lane. My story is called Owen and Hanna. It's about my grandparents who lived on a farm in the middle of Nebraska. These two remarkable people left lasting impressions on me.



Max Elliot Anderson

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Radio Interview

Here's the link for a blog radio interview that was done recently about my books for readers 8 - 13, especially boys.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Special Christmas Book Announcement

FROM: Chicken Soup for the Soul
Publishing, LLC

Dear Max

Your premium Christmas gift book is back in stock!
Last year, your Christmas story appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Gift of Christmas, which was sold exclusively at Walmart. We are happy to announce that Walmart will be carrying the book again this Christmas, although in a slightly different “finish,” not quite as fancy as last year. The list price of the book will be $17.95 this year instead of last year’s price of $19.95.

This book contains my story called No Christmas Presents. It's an amazing true story that happened in our family when I was just a small boy.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Over 25 Years in Who's Who

The following recognition has been received for my inclusion in Who's Who in America for over 25 years.

Dear Max Elliot Anderson,

Your outstanding record of achievement has earned you the coveted distinction of being a member of the Marquis Who's Who family for an impressive 25 years.

Congratulations on your extraordinary tenure as a Marquis Who's Who listee and we wish you continued success for many years to come.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veterans Day 2011

Sometimes it's hard to believe how fast time goes. This Veterans Day is one of those times. These pictures are from 1967 - 1968 when I served in the U.S. Army. I was drafted for two years of service. That's a term that not many think about today, but it meant that your local draft board, through Selective Service, could order you into the military.

My tour of duty sent me to Ft. Campbell, Kentucky, for basic training, Washington, and the balance took place in an armored battalion in Germany where I rode around on a tank for several months. I was fortunate not to have been sent to Vietnam, and have the utmost of respect for all who were sent there.

After returning to the states, I rejoined my father's film production and distribution company. And the first assignment was to shoot a film with Venture for Victory. The basketball team we traveled with went to several countries in Asia. Would you believe that one of those countries was VIETNAM? I couldn't believe it. There I was, in a country I had trained to fight in, had feared I'd be sent there, and now, I was really there with nothing more to shoot with than a film camera. If I told you some of the things that happened to me, your hair would stand straight up.

Because of my profound respect for those who serve our country in the military, especially those who fight so the rest of us don't have to, I wrote a book for readers 8 - 13 that military families will love. When the Lights Go Out takes place on a military base where three boys, a secret weapon, and a terrorist plot collide. I hope you'll pick up a copy of this new book today.

In addition, I want to remind us all of the importance of this day...Veterans Day, 11/11/11.

Max Elliot Anderson
When the Lights Go Out video

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Watch as a Book is Printed

This video demonstrates how the Expresso Book Machine works. It's fun to see as a book is created while you watch.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Connect With Me Online


If you're here after listening to the radio interview, you can contact me at

Connect with me on twitter @MaxEAnderson

Connect with me on Facebook!/max.e.anderson

My Youtube Videos

Over 50 pages of reviews

Author of Books for Boys that girls love reading, too.

And if you didn't hear the radio interview, here's a link

Friday, November 04, 2011

Sometimes You CAN Judge a Book by its Cover.

It's my pleasure to introduce a gifted and talented artist who produces the interior design and covers of the books at Comfort Publishing. His name is Reed Karriker, and Reed has been responsible for the artwork on three of my books now.
You’ve been at Comfort Publishing for a short time. Could you talk about your work experience prior to that, and some of the projects you’ve been doing since joining Comfort?

Before joining Comfort Publishing, I worked for a travel publication called Where® magazine for 8 ½ years. I came in as a freelance artist to design vector-based maps for them, and after six months or so they hired me full-time to design ads for the magazines. Over the years I worked my way up the design food chain from Ad Designer to Associate Art Director to Art Director, eventually designing covers and editorial content exclusively. Since joining Comfort Publishing, I’ve had the opportunity to do the same sort of work, just in a different way and on a different scale. Designing book covers requires a different skill set in terms of marketability, which gives me an opportunity to tap into my creativity.

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, or consider before you begin to paint or draw?

It is very similar for me as an artist. Often when I read a synopsis or cover description, an image of the cover will form in my mind. I consider several elements of the subject matter (central focus, location, mood/tone, plot points) and balance their importance with regard to the composition. I translate what I imagine to the computer/sketch pad and massage the image until it feels successful, as it pertains to the story.

Explain the different steps you took in producing the cover art for When the Lights Go Out.
In books, there is sometimes a key scene where the different parts of the story come together before the climax of the story. These scenes hold a tremendous level of anticipation when read, and similarly when created as an image. When the Lights Go Out had the perfect scene for this: the boys hiding in the bushes, waiting to surprise the bad guys as they attempt to escape. As a cover image, it needed to feel dangerous and almost a little scary, to enhance that anticipation. To do this, I chose the perspective of the boys, with the viewer peering over their shoulders from their hiding place, directly in the path of the oncoming truck. The details in the mid-ground (chain-link fence, army barracks) set the location of the abandoned army base. In order to draw the viewer into the illustration, I used visual cues (the sloping roofs of the barracks, forming a “v” and pulling the eye to the center) and areas of high contrast (orange explosion against the deep blue night sky, bright white lights of the headlights and helicopter spotlights) to create a strong, central focal point. I repeated the orange on the title to really make it stand out against the black and give the cover a nice balance of color. And there you have it.

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

The biggest challenge was pulling together the many different separate components (the boys, bushes, fence, gravel, truck, barracks, explosions, helicopters, sky) and reworking them as a composite image that appears as though it was originally one piece of art.

You've also done cover artwork for additional Comfort Publishing projects. Can you tell us more about those?

Like with When the Lights Go Out, I try to identify and extract that “key scene” for each of them. In the case with Legend of the White Wolf, an element of the story (the painting) provided me with excellent subject matter for the cover. In some cases, location can be the simplest and strongest of images, as with Terror at Wolf Lake.

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? What experiences have you had with this?

Artists definitely get creatively “blocked” at times. The key to beating it for me is to remain flexible and don’t lock yourself into something that just isn’t working. For the cover of He Heard Hannah, I tried everything, from a siren to a heart monitor, to an ambulance, even a dispatcher’s headset. All of those things fit the subject matter of the story, but did not have the visual impact to grab a viewer. In the end, I used a portrait of the little girl in the story on the cover, and instantly I knew I’d found my cover image. Not only is she important to the story, her endearing smile is enough to get anyone to stop and take a second look at the book on a store shelf.

How do you know when you've found the best solution for an art project or assignment?

Sometimes there is an “ah ha” moment, when you just know you’ve got it. Most often, though, I collaborate with co-workers and my artist peers. It helps to have someone not directly involved with a creative project point out things you can’t see because you are working so closely with it. Their fresh perspective helps me iron out the things that don’t necessarily work well and tighten up the piece.

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

I’ve always been an artist. Since I was able to pick up a crayon, I was drawing/coloring in my free time (and even sometimes when I probably shouldn’t have been). I pursued art in school. I eventually matriculated at Appalachian State University from 1997-2001 and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design. I wasn’t able to get a design job right off the bat, however. Walmart paid the bills for six months until I was able to find work at a print shop running a small, out-dated printing press. I was horrible at it! From there I worked with a staffing agency that places artists into part-time or freelance positions until I stumbled over a job in Charlotte, NC designing maps for Where® magazine. I spent 8 ½ years designing ads and editorial for magazines and travel books until I was able to find my new position as Art Director at Comfort Publishing. I guess the moral of the story is, you can’t always start off at the top; sometimes you have to work your way there. I try to be charitable with my natural ability as often as I can, so I provide design work for my wife’s elementary school when they need a poster or an award, and annually I paint faces and draw caricatures for Relay for Life.

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

The first cover of my book-publishing career was a piece I did pro-bono for a struggling young writer. He needed a complete front-to-back cover design in a pinch and I agreed to do it for an artist credit. It was called The Descendant: Mary’s Song, and gave me a chance to really let me creative talent shine. I was very happy with the end result, as was the author. I’m a tactile guy, and being able to hold a book in my hand with my artwork on the cover was a big deal for me.

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

I’d like to explore animation and movies at some point. I love movies as much as I love books. The ability to escape reality, even for a short time, and find yourself in another world really feeds my creative spirit. I’d like to work with Art Directors and Set Designers to design and create the characters, places and things in the movies I have come to enjoy so much. Also, animation seems to best fit my skill set as an illustrator, and I’d like to try my hand at it to see what I could accomplish.

Many people want 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 or illustration?

Stick to your interests and immerse yourself in them. As a boy, I loved to draw and read books. As I grew older, I read more books and magazines, and drew whenever I had a chance. I soon discovered comic books, where art is a significant part of what makes them successful, and absorbed the diverse styles and techniques I found in them. The more I experienced, the more I learned, and I incorporated much of it into my artwork. My personal training is just as important as my professional training, and I am constantly finding new things in books, magazines and movies to expand my creativity and imagination.

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

Please keep in mind these links are under construction, but I plan on updating them soon!

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Nothing can take the place of experience. No job is too big or too small, too beyond you or too beneath you. Everything you do adds to your character, to who you are. I designed T-shirts in middle school, designed ads and logos in high school; I even applied my creativity to pricing signs I created while working at Walmart. Don’t miss an opportunity to grow as an artist.

And finally, you introduced my wife and me to a cherry-flavored, carbonated soft drink called Cheerwine. We’re hooked. We even brought back three cases to share with our kids, after our visit to your place in North Carolina. Is there a link where readers can find more information about Cheerwine? And could you also tell them what you know about this unique drink?

I grew up drinking Cheerwine. It is made in Salisbury, NC, close to where I live. My grandfather told me it was served in a little soda shop there, and folks used to come from all over the county to get a taste. It’s best when served in a tall glass of ice, but even better when you chill it, pour it into a glass and add a scoop of vanilla ice cream for a Cheerwine float. Definitely one of my favorite Southern sweet treats!

Wednesday, November 02, 2011