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Friday, March 04, 2011

Welcome Max Elliott Anderson and How to Avoid Writer's Block

Please interact with our guest authors by answering the question they provide. IF there is a book giveaway, your response will also enter you in the drawing for a free book.


MAX ELLIOTT ANDERSON grew up as a struggling, reluctant reader. Using his extensive experience in the production of motion pictures, videos, and television commercials, he brings the same visual excitement and heart-pounding action to his adventure and mystery stories, written especially for boys. Both boys and girls have said reading one of his books is like being in an exciting movie.

Books For Boys Blog -
Author Web Site -

by Max Elliott Anderson
Published by Comfort Publishing


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 of running away gets a bit more complicated than planned when Mike and Barney hide in a railroad box car, fall asleep, and end up in Georgia with a circus in the middle of the night. Luckily 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 tragic 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.

Readers, buy your copy of Barney and the Runaway today!


How to Avoid Writer’s Block

I have to say that writer’s block, or blank-screen-itis has never visited my writing. And this is true after completing 36 manuscripts. But maybe I cheat the system a little. Here’s how.

I write action-adventures & mysteries especially for boys 8 and up. Before I begin writing a story, it’s been percolating in my mind for a couple of weeks at least. Finally the whole thing comes crashing in all at once. It’s at this time that I stop what I’m doing, pick up a recorder, and briefly tell myself the story, just as if I were telling it to a group of kids, or to my own children when they were young. After doing this, I know the beginning, the middle, and the end.

This gets typed and usually runs 8 – 10, single-spaced pages. The notes are put into a file and set aside. I don’t look at those notes again until the first draft is finished. I write as I go when it comes to the manuscript. It is only after that first draft is finished that I ever look at it or the original notes. I’m always amazed to see that all of the elements of the original story have found their way into the first draft. That has never failed yet.

Then, to get myself into the mood to write, I make sure to do a few things. Around my computer I place several photographs and any props that will help me think about the story and characters. Once I was writing about the Pacific Northwest, and logging. I went out and caught chipmunk in a drain spout and placed him in a small cage with cedar chips. At the end of the day I let him go but I wasn’t finished with the sequences in the woods. So the next day, I went out and caught another one. The sight of the chipmunk and the scent of the cedar helped set the mood.

The next thing I do is to always burn a candle next to the computer. I ONLY do this while writing. I never do it during brainstorming, editing, research, or reading a draft. The candle helps to take me to a different place.

Finally, I play mood appropriate music for the scene I’m writing. If it’s a funny scene I play comedy. A sad scene requires a single piano or violin. The music brings specific images into my mind as I write.

One more thing.

If I’m writing about a hot place, I like to write in the summer with the air off. If it’s a winter scene, I try to do those when it’s actually winter. I have written hot scenes in the winter, but that’s when I crank the heat way up high. I may have to stop doing that with the economy getting so shaky.

All of these elements, working together, go a long way toward setting the mood, conjuring up the proper images, suggesting dialog, and preparing the way to write. And using them, I have never faced a block of any kind. Not yet anyway.

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Thank you, Max, for sharing with us today.

Guest Question: Do you ever experience writer's block? If so, what steps do you take to get past it? If not, how do you avoid it in your writing?

ENTRY RULES Readers, leave your email address (name at domainname dot com/net) along with your answer to the question for your chance to win a FREE autographed copy of the book featured above. If you do not answer the question, and your email address isn't provided, you will not be entered.

This week, the contest is open to US/Canada residents only.


Raquel Byrnes said...

I didn't realize you had experience in that other media. How wonderful to translate that into an exciting book that motivates young readers. Wonderful job, Max.

Anonymous said...

Though I am not a writer, I am an avid reader and love finding new books to read. And I really enjoying your interview. I like hearing a little about the writers lives. I just love anything about books~
Thanks for offering this very interesting looking book!
Joy Hannabass

max said...

Right Raquel. I wouldn't mind returning to the life of production, but those doors seem to have closed for a purpose. I'm trying, instead, to find ways where others might be interested in producing my books into films. I see them as films while I'm writing anyway.

max said...

splashesofjoy, I appreciate your comments. I have contracs now so that a bunch of books will be released in the comming months.

Evangeline Denmark said...

I do get writer's block and I use some of the techniques Max suggested, but I've never tried burning a candle next to my computer. That's a great idea! I love staring at a campfire or hearth fire, and the there is something magical about the flickering flames. I'm going to try the candle trick. Thanks for the tip, Max.

max said...

Evangeline, for some reason, the candle takes my mind back to a simpler time, even before electricity. My mom is 92, and talks about a time when she used to do her homework by an oil lamp. The candle has an affect that's hard to explain but I find it helpful for getting and staying in a writing mood.

Sandra Stiles said...

I love your ideas. The worst time with writers block came the time I tried outlining every scene (per a class instruction). Like you I usually get the idea and instead of recording it I tell it first to my husband or a colleague, then I write it down. I think about my characters and what they would be like then finally sit to write. I keep easy listening or light classical music on. I too do research before I begin the actual writing and have pictures and other resources handy. I use only my desk lamp, no overhead light. If it is bright out I use only the light from my window. I too like the candle. It seems to me that you just put yourself in a very relaxed state so the creative juices flow.


Kathy Damp/Kathleen Damp Wright said...

Love the specific set-the-tone techniques. I was talking about this very thing with my writing students today at school. One student said playing computer solitaire helped. It also helps an author friend of mine. Permission granted to this student! The second student likes a list of random writing jumps to switch to to clear her mind. List provided! For me? I empty the dishwasher or ride my bike around the block. Immediate help!

writestartled at dot gmail dot com

max said...

Great, Sandra. Sounds like we do a lot of the same things. Hey, whatever works, right?

max said...

Never tried the dishwasher to clear my head. My kids did their best homework and writing in front of the TV. I never understood how they could concentrate but one is now a lawyer in Chicago and the other is a teacher in Florida. They got great grades through school, college, and grad school.
Give me peace and quiet while I'm writing.