Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Author Chrissy Anderson. Chrissy is the author of the 'List' series. She writes Chick Lit, Romance, Humor And Comedy novels.
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Who is Chrissy Anderson? Does it even matter really? I guess it would matter to the real Chrissy if she wrote The Life List for fortune and fame. But she didn't. She did it all for you. Hold on, scratch that. Of course there were some self-indulgent components to the whole shootin' match, but at the end of the day, 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.
Women of all kinds- twenty-somethings, housewives and superwomen wanna-bes- will all be able to relate to the same pressures Chrissy felt of constructing the ideal life, only to fall short. And I suspect there will be a lot of exhaling going on as those women read The Life List. 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?"
*CHRISSY ANDERSON spends her life doing exactly what she always wanted: doting on those she loves. A former fashion executive, she is a writer, wife and mother whose own life events inspired THE LIFE LIST. She lives in Portland, Oregon, with the love of her life and her beautiful daughter.
"The difference between doing something and nothing is EVERYTHING."
SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author
First things first. Congratulations on ‘The Unexpected List’. Rumor has it that you have another book in the series on the horizon called The Hope List. Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?
Thank you so much. Actually, it’s hard to believe The Unexpected List (part II of The List Trilogy) has already been published and I’m mid-way through writing part III, The Hope List.
The final installment is super difficult for me write, let alone talk about. I’m so emotionally connected to the characters and it’s so much harder than I thought to complete this last chapter of their lives. Although, given the hell I’ve put all of them though, I bet they’re all pretty psyched to have this trilogy over with! I can just hear Slutty Co-worker now…“Can we get this sh*t wrapped up, so we can all get on with our lives?” My answer to her is, “Sure, I’ll wrap it up, but just consider the wrap up a short vacation!” You see, the ending of The Hope List paves the way for a whole new convoluted and chaotic love story about….well, you’re just going to have to wait and see. I guess you can consider that my tease!
As far as a release date goes for The Hope List…I have no freaking idea. Knowing this last installment was going to be emotionally challenging, I originally gave myself lots of time to work though it and specified a spring, 2014, release date. Well, boy-oh-boy, the fans of The List Trilogy (I lovingly refer to them as ‘The Life Lister’s) were NOT happy when they found that out. I’ve since revised the release date to winter, 2013 to stop the hate mail. But I can’t rush this project. I’m not willing to short-change myself or my readers by being deadline driven. It’ll interfere too much with the characters destiny and I can’t have that. I love them all too much to rush them into anything.
How important have your social media relationships been? Do you see a carry over to your writing success?
Sigh. So important. So important that I wish I’d globbed onto them a lot sooner. This writing thing…well, scratch that. This self-publishing thing—it’s the toughest job I’ve ever had and, believe me, I’ve had some tough jobs. For starters, the product you’re selling is your soul; it’s everything you have bottled up inside of you, produced for all to see. Now I’m a gutsy girl, but it took A LOT of guts for me to unveil my work. Trust me, a lot of cocktails were involved the day I gave the green light on part I of the trilogy, The Life List. But once it was out there, it got great reviews on Amazon. I’m not just talking about the first ten five-star reviews I forced my friends to leave so I wouldn’t look like a fool, I’m talking about the fifty or so from total strangers that came after those. It was only then that I breathed a huge sigh of relief that I’d created something special. Those reviews were the validation I needed and then I sat back and waited for more reviews to flow in while I farted around with my webpage
my Goodreads author page, facebook fan page, twitter handle…you name it, I had it. I was locked and loaded for a big huge wave of something special. But, it was like crickets after the initial release of the book. Even with the great reviews, my audience reach was essentially non-existent. I was 100% dependent on the first round of readers to spread the word. Well, I don’t have to tell you how that worked out. Pissed at only selling one book a week, I was like, “Here we go, time to make some new friends.”
I pushed the writing of The Unexpected List aside and immersed myself in the wonderfully confusing world of social media book promotion. I swear to God, it feels like I’ve earned a graduate degree trying to figure out how to market my books wisely. I’ve barely scratched the surface of what it’s going to take to become a well-known Indie author, but, and I say this while shaking my head in ultimate gratitude, some well-intentioned and plain ‘ol nice folks are to credit for those fifty five-star reviews turning into over a hundred. The biggies that I have to name are Steph and Annmarie at
for placing me on their coveted high raters list (right alongside The Devil Wears Prada!), author and blogger Amy Metz of
, Samantha at
, and Jessica at
These women introduced me to author interviews, and ultimately to you, James! I also have to acknowledge Anthony Wessel at
He genuinely wants us Indies to succeed and I can’t say enough about the momentum he’s given me. There’s Melissa Foster at
and Jeff Bennington over at
Those names aren’t a secret in the world of self-publishing promotion, but the fact that they actually care might be! They care!
They actually care! And I see the results of it in my sales. Now that I have those relationships established, I’m better able to use my website, FB, twitter, etc…more effectively to tout my work.
Do you do book signings, interviews, speaking and personal appearances? If so, when and where is the next place where your readers can see you? Where can they keep up with your personal contacts online?
I haven’t yet. I’m building up the courage to do my first book signings this summer in the bay area, Layafette and Danville to be exact. How cool for my first signings to be where my story began? I get goosebumps! But I’m also a chickensh*t and can’t imagine for a second that people would actually line up for my signature! I mean, who do I think I am? The whole concept is just plain nuts. If I do it, I’ll probably end up giving all of the books away and drinking beer in the parking lot with the readers. That sounds like a lot more fun.
You have great covers. How does your book cover creation process work? Do you hand over the basic theme or do you have more of a hands-on approach? Do you get your readers involved in its development?
I did them! I wanted each cover to give you a glimpse inside of Chrissy’s head. The Life List cover shows you she’s worried. How many women have stood in front of a window with a cup of coffee—anxious about something forbidden? Trust me, James, it’s a lot more than you think!
The Unexpected List cover shows you Chrissy’s scared and guarded--clinging to her pregnant belly. Then The Hope List cover exudes hope and beauty. The feeling of clinging tightly to a handsome man in a suit and tie, who’s clinging back…c’mon, who doesn’t hope for that? The Hope List cover shows you Chrissy’s taken care of all of the anxiety, the fear and the restraints so prevalent in the first two novels. She’s grown-up and one man, Kurt or Leo, is right by her side celebrating that growth.
I actually created the last two covers before the outlines of the books were even drafted. They were my inspiration for where I wanted Chrissy to go.
You have a great book trailer. (See link below.) Do you know how much impact they have had on your book’s success? Tell us about the process that you used to create your trailers? They look very professional. Do you use the trailer in your character development? Are the pictures and background the way you see your characters and scenes?
I love that damn thing! A lovely independent producer by the name of Amoris Walker in my hometown of Portland created it. (I actually call her Glamorous AmorisJ) I originally contacted Amoris to help me figure out social media stuff, but she was quick to persuade me to have a video trailer. I was resistant at first. Thought there were other things I should be focusing on, but Amoris pushed back and OH MY GOD I’m glad she did. I remember the moment I clicked on the first take she emailed me. Within two seconds of hearing the music, tears were streaming down my face. She brought my work to life! There they were—the characters, the emotion, the suspense—right in front of my very eyes. It was the moment I visualized The Life List as a movie. And you know what, James? It will be a movie one day. I just know it. Too many women relate to the same pressures I felt of constructing the ideal life, only to fall short.
The world is full of Mini-Chrissy’s and Forsaken Francesca’s (that’ll make sense when you read the books!), and those women crave something like what I’ve written to be on the big screen.
As far as this trilogy goes, this will be the only video trailer. Amoris was able to encapsulate the entire List Trilogy in that 30 second piece. I don’t necessarily think the trailer has a significant impact on the books success, but it absolutely legitimizes them!
What kinds of writer support groups do you belong too? Do they help with the writing, marketing and the publishing process?
None. I’m a loner. Ha! Not really. In all seriousness, it comes down to time and not everything I want to do can fit into how little I (we) have of it. I’m a wife, mother, daughter, sister, Aunt, friend, cook, housecleaner, dog-sitter, gardener, jogger, writer…In that order. At the end of the day, all I can squeeze in is one of my shows on the DVR and a cup of tea or glass of wine. But, my guess is, even if I had time to belong to a group like that, I wouldn’t. I have a hard time sitting still—talking about what I want to do. I have to be doing it. I’m sure I’d be better at everything if that wasn’t my nature. But it is how it is.
Between your book writing, blogging, marketing, family and all the other things that can get in your way, how do you manage your time? Do you have a set schedule or do your sort of play it by ear?
Two things are funny right now. #1 is that my husband just placed a ginormous bloody mary in front of me (it’s Mother’s Day) so it’ll be interesting to see how the rest if this interview goes J. And #2 is that we were kind of just talking about this in question #6! The answer: I’m a very scheduled/regimented person. I carve out three six hour days a week to devote to all aspects of my writing (i.e. actual book writing, blogging, marketing). I won’t even touch the work if I’m not able to get in a full uninterrupted six hour slot, it’s too unsatisfying.
I wish it could be more, but like I said in question #6, there are so many other things that have to get taken care of. I don’t function well when laundry starts to pile up, there’s no food in the fridge, or when the toilets are dirty! I’m only able to work on my writing when everything else in my life is in order. All of my writing work also has to be done at 3pm. That’s when I pick my daughter up from school and the second part of my days begins. It’s impossible to devote myself to her needs (she’s knee deep into learning division and it’s a grind) and to enjoy the time with my husband when he gets home shortly after that if I try to cram in writing after 3pm –so I don’t even try. It’s hard, impossible sometimes, to block out the creative stuff after 3pm and at times can be very frustrating. But it’s a good frustration and I feel so blessed to have it. I don’t think I’m different from most women in feeling that way.
What has been your experience in giving your books away free? Have you been involved in any other type of giveaways and how did that work out? What was your main goal in doing this? Did you run into any obstacles?
As a virtual unknown, giveaways are essential. I’m primarily reliant on word of mouth to drive my sales and the most effective way to get my work into the hands of the most people is by giving it away for free. I’m not going to lie, it SUCKS to give something away you worked so hard on, but it is the way it is and I won’t be able to change a system that’s been put in place. I think the only aspect of giveaways (at least the ones done via Amazon’s KDP select program) that I hate is that someone who obtained my work for free, someone who’s probably not even remotely interested in my style of writing…someone who just grabbed something for the simple fact that it was free, can review it. It feels very…take my soul at no cost and rip it to shreds.
I’ll never know how many five-star reviews of my work were obtained from giveaways, it’d be interesting to know. But I do know the crappy reviews I get as a result of them. One stupid idiot man downloaded The Life List for free and without reading it, gave it a one-star review because he thought it was supposed to be about bird watching. It makes zero sense to me how his mistake is able to drag down my Amazon ranking. It makes me insane! The Life List also got into the hands of a ninety year old woman—for FREE and I think the first five pages with all of its swear words and sex talk damn near gave her a heart attack. End result…a one-star review.
Those people are not my audience and they never should’ve gotten the book! But like I said, it is the way it is. I have to hope the overall effect of giveaways benefits me. I know the Goodreads ones do and most certainly the ones I do via my website and facebook page. Those folks know what they’re getting and I respect how they review my work.
How do you manage your plots, characters and timelines to keep your stories going? Do you use any software to keep track of your books?
I have an excel spreadsheet to keep track of the characters ages. There are several of them and the time sequence in which The List Trilogy is set up can make keeping track of how old everyone is kind of tricky. Prior to starting a new book I jot down a simple outline on paper, but basically everything begins in my heart and ends up in a word document. Because The Life List is based on real life experiences I know how the story ends. It’s like putting a puzzle together to get to that ending. I manage my plot by keeping it real. Readers, including me, get pissed if you take them on this seemingly authentic story-ride and then toward the end drop a big unrealistic bomb on them just to wrap things up. I say doing that is totally worthy of a one-star review!
You have a great blog. What is your primary goal? And where in the world do you find the time to create great novels, take care of the social media and maintain your blog?
I love my website. Seriously, I have a crush on it. And the whole Leo vs. Kurt voting element is so damn fun! The men, sexy and compelling in their own right, are so different and it’s a blast to see how the votes get cast for each of them. I’m working on a way for women to explain why they vote the way they do. I’m very interested to know and I think it’ll create great dialogue amongst The Life Lister’s.
To be honest, I don’t blog anymore. I used to have a page on my website called ‘Unsolicited Advice’, but it took up so much time for what seemed like low traffic. It takes A LOT to get someone to leap from facebook to your website and, I think, at the time I closed out my ‘Unsolicited Advice’ blog I only had a hundred FB fans to lure to it. I have nearly nine hundred now, so it might be time to reinstate it. I get emails every day from women all over (even got some from Germany and Japan last weekJ) and they want to talk about the book.
They have their own stories to tell and I’m constantly asked to give them a platform to do it. And that, right there, is my goal. It was my goal when I wrote The Life List, to when I launched my website, to when I established my FB page….to give women a platform to talk about their own chaotic and convoluted real life love stories and do it in a place that’s safe—free from judgment and ridicule. I want the Forsaken Francesca’s to offer advice to the Mini-Chrissy’s and I want the Mini-Chrissy’s to offer validation to the Forsaken Francesca’s. My goal is to join these forces and change lives for the better. It sounds so big and so pompous when I write it, but isn’t it what we, as women, need? Isn’t it what we deserve?
While “Leo” was my inspiration for my convoluted and chaotic love story, all of those women were the ultimate courage to tell it. I don’t want anyone to ever feel as lonely, scared, or confused as I felt during those years of my life. No matter if you’re at the beginning of an arduous relationship, or deep into one that you wish you left a long time ago, I hope I’ve made some women feel sane and supported. I want them to know they have a friend. Maybe those things will be their difference between doing something and doing nothing. And if they aren’t, well no one knows why better than me.
Being a former fashion executive, does that world of people play any role in your character creation?
Ugh. Fashion. Everyone thinks it’s so glamorous. NOT! But it was certainly entertaining at times and, yes, it does play a role in some character creation. Especially Chrissy’s. She’s a driven woman with an incredible work ethic. I’m hard-pressed to think she would’ve learned those qualities had it not been for the high-stress/low pay-off/cut-throat fashion world.
This has been a blast James! Thank you for reaching out to me and giving me one more social media platform in which to build an audience. If it weren’t for people like you I’d just be talking to myself! A second ginormous bloody mary has just been placed in front of me. Time for me to begin my Mother’s Day celebration with my family.
Author's Book List
The Unexpected List
- The List Trilogy
Chrissy Anderson's The Unexpected List delivers another charismatic combination of romance and anguish, peppered with large doses of wit. In this second novel from THE LIST TRILOGY, Chrissy, who is now divorced from her husband, Kurt, is finally free to pursue a "truly, madly, deeply" relationship with the man of her dreams, Leo.
And it looks like Chrissy is finally going to be able to have her wedding cake and eat it too as Leo valiantly tries to make all of her dreams come true. But once again, Chrissy's world, and her relationships, are turned upside-down as someone else close to her dies. And, an unexpected gift forces her to grow up-- fast. For a second time, Chrissy is pushed to make a choice between love and obligation. What will she choose this time?
Your favorite characters from The Life List are back. Dr. Maria, Slutty Co-worker, and Chrissy's best friends from high school, Courtney and Nicole, continue to laugh and cry with Chrissy as she learns how to pick herself up and move on to achieve the life she's always wanted, and now knows she deserves.
As in The Life List, 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?"
Order the Book From: Amazon
The Life List
- The List Trilogy
The Life List, part I of The List Trilogy, is the ultimate chick lit novel and most of the story is true. 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, 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 Kurt, Leo or both that she has to get rid of to make everything right.
Women of all kinds--twenty-somethings, housewives and superwomen wanna-bes--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?"
The Life List
Order the Book From: Amazon
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