Coyote Claus -- Read by a Ranger -- and the Backstory

It’s always nice to see one of the books I illustrated read in a video, and this one is appropriate for the season. But, as with every book, there are usually backstories that no one knows about.

I loved working on this book. It is one of my favorites. Having been born and raised in the Southwest, it gave me a chance to whimsically illustrate the flora and fauna I love so much. And also a chance to reminisce about growing up in an area that was once filled with so many beautiful wide-open and unspoiled spaces. I hope the book brings a smile and some joy to all who read it.

I am reluctant to share this backstory; after all, it is the holidays. And it really isn’t the best way to promote a creative work. But what flows from the pen and brush doesn’t always reflect what is going on in real life.

This was one of the most difficult assignments I ever worked on because it was done while I was also my beloved late wife’s caregiver during her first occurrence of metastatic hereditary cancer to her brain*. Many late nights were spent working on the art while I also monitored my wife for signs of seizures or one of the other horrible side effects of whole-brain radiation as she slept.

If you are interested in the book, please know that any and all royalties I receive from the book get donated to hereditary cancer nonprofits.

The book is available from the publisher: Sunbelt Publications, your local bookshop (find one here: www.IndieBound.org), select National Park and National Monument bookstores, and of course, all the online booksellers. ISBN: 9781941384534

Thank you. And to ALL a good holiday season.

And thank you, Ranger Sorom at the Bureau of Land Management, for reading the book!

* Read more about my wife's hereditary cancer story at FORCE, FacingOurRisk.org.


Turkey Cards

Even though I have conflicting feelings about my ancestors of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, given that it is Thanksgiving week, I thought I’d share a couple turkey cards I created a few years back.

Before the direction of my life and art career were forever altered by my late wife’s hereditary cancer*, I created many things over the course of my freelance career. Among them were greeting cards, wrapping paper, and other paper products for various publishers.

*Remember, Thanksgiving is National Family Health History Day. I created a pedigree to help you record and share family health history. It just might save the life of a loved one. More info here: www.MARKiX.net/pedigree


National Family Health History Day & Your Family Pedigree

This coming Thanksgiving Day is also National Family Health History Day. As you sit down at the Thanksgiving table this year, think of all of your blood relatives -- grandparents, parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins -- whether they occupy a chair at the table or not. 

No matter what your emotional relationship is with them, you share a genetic connection with each one – up to 50% of your DNA with some*. And with that genetic link, there might be some genetic health issues, including hereditary cancer.

So, while you are making plans for Thanksgiving this year, make plans to speak up about family health history. It might be difficult finding just the right moment to start the conversation, but having the discussion just might make a huge difference in your health or
the health of one or more of your kin.

Share the details of what you know and encourage your loved ones to share what they know and to be proactive in their own health care. Knowledge is power and it might potentially save a life.

Here’s the link to the Family Health History / Cancer Pedigree
pictured above that you can download and fill out to share when you gather with your relatives. Maybe print copies for your whole family. And if there is any history of chronic disease and/or cancer be sure to share the information with your doctor or a genetic counselor.

And if you know my wife's hereditary cancer story, you will know why I created this pedigree and why I'm so determined as an advocate to get families to share health history openly and honestly.

*See this post to learn more about genetic mutations and cancer:



# NationalFamilyHealthHistoryDay #cancer #FamilialDisease #HereditaryCancer #Genes #GeneticMutations #DNA #Thanksgiving #family #relatives #pedigree #FamilyTree #FamilyPedigree


November is National Family Caregiver Month. An Honest Look at Cancer Caregiving.

For those who may not know it, November is National Family Caregiver Month. It is easily missed. It doesn’t have the hype of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. There are no walks or galas to “celebrate” it. And, even though there are literally tens of millions of family caregivers in the US alone, very few publishers are going to feature an honest treatise on the subject because it’s hard to put a positive spin on it. Caregiving is difficult and absolutely heartbreaking at times; there really isn’t much of a feel-good angle to it. And only rarely is there a happy ending, so most stories are not going to generate many likes and shares.

I was a cancer caregiver, and I wrote this story about caregiving. And I was brutally honest (but not as much as I wanted to be). I’m grateful that The Mighty accepted the story and had the courage to run it.


Stepping Up Once Again to Prevent Cancer

I’m being asked to climb up on my "hereditary cancer awareness and prevention soapbox" and advocate for cancer screening legislation again...

My story at CURE about a hereditary cancer screening bill I initiated in honor of my late wife and the effort it has taken to try and get it passed.


Here's the link to the story: https://www.curetoday.com/view/stepping-up-once-again-to-prevent-cancer



A Thought for National Arts & Humanities Month

Not many people know it, but October is also National Arts and Humanities Month. And today is Pablo Picasso’s birthday, National Fine Art Appreciation Day, and International Artist Day. So, being an artist, I thought I’d share this.

Think about it the next time a politician asks for a donation.

While I was sharing some of my artwork at a school presentation one day, out of the blue I had a student ask me,   “How can the world be made a more beautiful place?”   “That’s easy,” I said. “Fund artists and let the politicians starve."     -- Mark A. Hicks, illustrator, www.MARKiX.net

 Imagine that world.



Somatic Mutations & Germline Mutations Illustrated

Somatic Mutations & Germline Mutations Illustrated

Ever since I created my germline mutation infographic (see this post),

I have been asked to create something about somatic mutations.

Okay, sure, no problem; that’s an easy task.

Not really.

How do you illustrate the process of mitosis as a cell divides and copies all its genetic information so that each resulting daughter cell ends up with the same complete genome? And also try to explain in simple terms how sometimes an error in the replication of the billions of nucleotides in the DNA can happen, and it can be either benign or can lead to diseases such as cancer. And then try to explain germline mutations, which are something entirely different. And how do you do it so that just about anybody can understand it?

I used to really enjoy doing this type of artwork as a professional illustrator for numerous children’s science magazines and other publications. But now I do it because it might save a life or two. And I do it as a hereditary cancer advocate, but with a heavy heart. I’m a widower because a handful of individuals didn’t have a clue about genetics and didn’t share what would have been life-saving information.

I want to thank a certified genetic counselor, for reviewing my graphic and making suggestions to help make sure it made sense.

Like all my previous hereditary cancer-related infographics, it can be viewed and downloaded at www.MARKiX.net/genes.

Please share. Knowledge is power.

To learn more about hereditary cancer and the mutations associated with it, go to FORCE - www.FacingOurRisk.org

#SomaticMutations #GermlineMutations #HereditaryCancer