Saturday, November 3, 2012

Talking With Chrissy Anderson

My guest today is Chrissy Anderson, author of The Life List, book one in The List series. Chrissy's book is fiction, based on a true story--hers.

About The Life List:
Chrissy Anderson, a twenty-eight year old fashion executive, created a seven-point life list at the age of sixteen, and she’s been steadily checking off the boxes and mocking the style and life choices of everyone around her ever since. Her life begins to run amuck when she unexpectedly meets a much younger man, Leo, who makes her question her “perfect life.”

Chrissy’s lifelong friendships and her marriage are put to the test as she tries to sort out her feelings for Leo. With the help of her brassy, no-nonsense therapist, Dr. Maria, Chrissy learns more about herself than she anticipates. But, it isn’t until the untimely death of her best friend that Chrissy is catapulted into long overdue authenticity and scrambles to correct the mistakes of her past….trying to figure out if it’s her husband, Kurt, Leo or both that she has to get rid of to make everything right.

Women of all kinds- twenty-somethings, housewives, and superwomen wannabes- will all be able to relate to the pressure of constructing the ideal life, only to fall short. Not everyone will agree with Chrissy Anderson’s decisions, but all will pause as they follow along on her journey to ask, “What would I do if I were her?”

Welcome, Chrissy. I‘m so glad you’re here to talk about The Life List. How did you come up with that title?

I came up with the title pretty easily as it was what I called the piece of paper that I carried around with me since I was sixteen years old. I’m one of those types of people who, once she puts a task or a goal on a list, she’s committed to accomplishing it. Unfortunately, I started getting more satisfaction out of crossing things off of my life list than what I was actually accomplishing. Needless to say, I woke up one day to realize I had everything I ever wanted, but happiness was nowhere in sight.
The original title of The Life List was "When She Died," but my editor thought it was too depressing. Given that there is a whole lot of humor in the book , it was a good choice!

I agree. I like The Life List. Your book is based on your real life. Am I right in assuming most of the events in the book really happened, but you've fictionalized parts and some of the characters?

You are correct. Most of the events happened, but of course, no one's life is that interesting so parts were definitely embellished to make it more..."WOW this girl is a mess!"

Why did you choose to write fiction instead of a memoir?

After five minutes of researching agents for each genre, I determined no one really wants to represent memoir. Plus, I knew my story wasn't 100% true and didn't want to get James Frey'd by the media if I advertised it as a memoir!

Which character did you most enjoy writing?

Without a doubt, Slutty co-worker! Interestingly, Slutty is the only character not based on an actual single individual from my past, she’s a morph of three women. It was fun to take the most influential (and hilarious) aspects of three women I used to work with and build this character that I just knew readers would adore. Out of all characters in The Life List, the most endearing feedback I receive is about Slutty co-worker. Everyone seems to crave her honesty, her humor, her unwavering support…her sex life!

I’ll bet. What would your main character say about you?

Chrissy Anderson is the main character, and since she’s me, I hope she’d say I have a lot of courage for putting her story out there. I cover some very heavy subjects in my book: teen pregnancy and adultery. I also dive deeply into integrity and conviction and the powerful roles they play in living a fulfilling life.

I think Chrissy would thank me for bringing to light some very taboo subjects and demonstrating that seemingly normal people have deep dark secrets that haunt them every single day, and in a lot of instances those secrets makes them stuck.

What song would you pick to go with your book?

Great question. Music plays an important role in Chrissy’s life and sets the mood for many of the chapters in my novel. There’s actually a sound track to The Life List on iTunes.

We’ve all been “that girl,” sitting there next to the fireplace, reflecting on some kind of heartbreak or obsessing about a major decision we’re petrified to make. We sit there with our sad music and ginormous glass of wine, listening to sad music, wondering, “what the hell?” Or, one song on the radio can take us back to some magical moment from our past, and it’s as if we can almost reach out and touch the experience. That’s what happens to me whenever I hear Alphaville’s, Forever Young
and Dave Matthew’s, Crash Into Me. I’m able to hear laughter, feel excitement…nervousness. I’m literally transported to these moments in my life that, without realizing it at the time, defined me.

What song would I pick to go with my book? Ironically, it’s one that didn’t even make it into The Life List. It’s the song that’s associated with my book video trailer
and it’s the song that opens the first chapter of the next book in The List series, The Unexpected List. It’s MaryAnne Marino’s, For One Moment. It encompasses all that The Life List is about. Like me, MaryAnne isn’t that well known. I hope that’s about to change for the both of us soon!


How do you handle criticism of your work?

My editor said it best when she said, “We want people to either love the book or hate it, no in-betweeners…bad for business.” And she has to keep repeating it to me! For the most part, feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. I’ve been falling in the 4-5 star review range on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Goodreads. I also have a very loyal following on my Facebook page and my website. However, I do get an occasional review that punches me in the stomach! Like, recently I logged on to Goodreads to see if there was any new action, and I found that someone had given me 1 star. I scrambled to look at the ratings she’d given to other books (that’s just how insecure I am!) and found that she never gave ANYONE more than 3 stars, including Stephen King, Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Weiner. It made me feel a little better, but I was still pretty upset. I went to Amazon and looked at the hundreds of thousands of bad reviews written about The Twilight series, Fifty Shades of Grey, and all the other stuff making a killing out there and then I felt a lot better! Bad reviews can be just as good for business if you have just as many great reviews to counter them. It creates interest and makes readers want to be the judge of things themselves…the result is more readers and potentially more fans. And those are very good things.

Surprisingly, no one has been critical of my real life experiences that I write about in The Life List. That was the thing I most feared as I entered the publication stage of my work. In fact, at the last minute I almost pulled out; I was too afraid of being called a failure, a cheater…the bad guy. The big three I never wanted to be! (That’ll make a lot more sense when you read the book.)

But my husband talked me off of the ledge and convinced me to put my story out there, and I’m sooooooo glad he did. I haven’t been called a derogatory name yet! In fact, I receive emails every week from woman who have been, or currently find themselves, at the same crossroads as Chrissy Anderson. They’re either thanking me for having the courage to tell my story or asking me for advice on how to get through their own.

That’s great. And I think you’re right about a few bad reviews. It generates interest. Tell us one of your favorite quotes.

The tagline to The Life List is…

“The difference between doing something and doing nothing is everything.”
The journey through my real life love story taught me that, and now I apply it to every single thing I tackle in life. In fact, my husband used it against me when I was struggling with whether or not to publish! If I caved in to my fears of public scrutiny I never would’ve known the joys of taking the risk. I never would’ve experienced the thrill of a book sale or good review. I never would’ve received emails from women thanking me for the courage to tell my story, and I NEVER would’ve been given the privilege of hearing their own stories if I didn’t put myself out there. Nothing would’ve happened with my story if I did nothing.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

I’d pick my house up and move it 10 miles west to Helvetia, Oregon. I love my home, and have worked very hard on it for the past two years, but my neighbors live like pigs, and I get anxiety attacks whenever I leave the house and am forced to look at their home. My husband and I have worked very hard for what we have, so we take really good care of our stuff. And now that I’ve given up a stable income to do this writing thing, we don’t buy too much new stuff! I wish other people in my neighborhood would have the same pride of ownership as us, but they don’t, and a million dirty looks from me hasn’t done much to change that. I’m not one who can block out things easily, so our next house will not be in a neighborhood, but down some remote road instead. Hopefully some healthy book sales will help make that move happen before I have a heart attack. Oh look….there they are now! Getting on their tandem bike to go for a ride as the siding on their house is falling off and their lawn is 3 feet tall! I need a cocktail!!!!!!!!!!!!

I feel for you! You published with Abbott Press. Can you tell us about your road to publication? Do you have an agent? How
many queries did you send out before finding the one? How long did it take for you to find a publisher? Do you have any advice for unpublished writers?
Ugh. The road to pub. was harder than writing the damn book! I don't have
an agent...yet! I sent out about 40 queries, and I have NO DOUBT not a single one was even read. The rejections came thru like they were on autopilot. It hurt, because as you know each query is very specific to each agent and they take HOURS to create. But, I'm an unknown, unpublished writer, and my name isn't Kim Kardashian or Snooki! Also, I've never won $1.00 in my life and figured the chances of me becoming the next Stephani Meyer were slim to none. I knew I had a great story that spoke to millions of women, and to keep spinning my wheels in agent land was a road block in getting my story out there, so I self-published. It took me many months to research self-publishing, and I was scared to death to take the leap, but I'm glad I did, and I don't regret it for one minute. I feel like I have so much more control over my processes, and I like that. Sadly, I don't have any advice for unpublished writers as I'm just trying to figure this all out for myself. Plus, everyone's story is different, and I think the paths for publishing them is different.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on book #2 in The List series, The Unexpected List. I’m in the final stages of the last draft, and then it’ll go to my editor. The goal is to have it out by March, 2013. It’s crazy because it took me four years to write The Life List and only six months to write The Unexpected List!

I’m in absolute love with the characters, and I know them so much more intimately now. I know where they’re all headed, and I can’t wait to get them there! In fact, it’s hard for me to take baby steps sometimes. Right now all of my characters are on edge and in this gigantic state of limbo, and sometimes when I’m writing, I yell at them. I’m like, “UGH! Why do you guys keep creating these roadblocks to getting you to the end of your journey! You’re making me crazy!” Then I laugh at myself because it’s the exact reaction I want my readers to feel. I want them to get frustrated with Chrissy, Leo and Kurt. Mostly though, I want them to identify with them. So far…so good.

Can you tell us the major theme of The Unexpected List? What will readers

learn or take away from it?

It's part II of The List Trilogy and covers the next two years of Chrissy's
life. The Life List leaves on an "Oh no, what did she do now?" note and The
Unexpected List
tells ya! In The Unexpected List, Chrissy does a good job of
showing readers how much she's grown from her experiences in The Life List,
but something so majorly unexpected happens, and it throws her world out of
whack once again. Readers are once again left wondering, is it Kurt, Leo or
both she has to get rid of to make her life right. The cover art for the
book gives you a little hint of things to come.

Oh my! I've seen the cover art. I won't give it away except to say I'm expecting people to love it. Hint hint.

About Chrissy:
Chrissy Anderson is the author of The Life List and the people, their quirks, and the major events of her story are derived from personal life events. She sees bits and pieces of her checkered past in almost every woman she encounters,
and she wants to help them, tell them they’re NOT crazy. Chrissy’s choices were stupid and sometimes sleazy, but, unfortunately, not all too uncommon.

Chrissy currently lives in Portland, Oregon, with the love of her life and her beautiful daughter. A former fashion executive, she is now a writer, wife, and mother, who spends her life doing exactly what she always wanted, doting on those she loves.

Find Chrissy:

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