Saturday, December 19, 2009

Spy Games Author Gina Robinson Talks About Holiday Stress and the Writer

I'm thrilled that Gina Robinson has come to blog with us today at the Chatelaines to celebrate her new release, Spy Games, and to share some advice for surviving holiday stress as a writer. Gina will be giving away a mass market copy of the first book in her Fnatasy Spy Camps series, Spy Candy, to one lucky commenter--so enter and get yourself a fun Christmas present!

Gerri: Welcome! Glad to have you wtih us.

Gina: Glad to be here. Thanks for having me.

Gerri: Can you share with us your advice for de-stressing. I could use some of that about now.

Gina: Less than a week until Christmas! Has the holiday stress hit you yet? Have you finished your shopping? Done your baking? Mailed your Christmas cards? Put up the tree and the outdoor lights? And, oh, yeah, have you written anything lately?

Whoa! You can stress yourself silly worrying about balancing life, the holidays, and your writing. Here’s how I deal with the added holiday pressure: First, I’ve accepted that December simply isn’t as productive a month for me as the other eleven, page count-wise, at least. I no longer beat myself up over it. Instead, I embrace it. Knowing I’ll struggle to make my normal daily outputs, I lower my December page count goals and figure them into my yearly writing plan. Be realistic and set reasonable December goals. If you don’t, the guilt will creep back in. And who needs that?

Second, I realize writing can be done anywhere, including in my head. So while I’m not at my computer as much as usual, I’m thinking, plotting, and daydreaming as my mom calls it. From time to time I’ll jot down an idea I don’t want to forget. When January rolls around and I hit the writing full force again, the story should flow right out of my head through my fingers and onto the page. That’s the plan, anyway.

Third, I use holiday activities to hone my skills and recharge. I love the Christmas season. To me, it has a special magic and meaning. The short hours of daylight where I live, the pleasant slant of the low set sun when it shines, and the joy of the season fill me again with childlike hope and wonder. I try to forget reality and let myself dream, really dream big about all the things I’d like to happen with my writing and my life. Just like I used to when I was a kid dreaming about what Santa would bring. This dreaming nourishes my positivity and can-do spirit, which will be so necessary as the new year and reality sets in. So use the magic of the season to recharge yourself, which will help your artistic self thrive.

I love attending holiday parties and gatherings where I connect with family, friends, colleagues—many of whom I don’t see on a regular basis or as often as I’d like. I meet interesting new people I wouldn’t get to know under ordinary circumstances. Hearing about others’ experiences, listening to the way they speak, and observing their mannerisms sharpens my characterization skills. What is it that makes this person so likeable? How has this person managed to survive all that life’s thrown at them this past year? What is it about the way this guy tells a story that makes him the life of the party? So you see, attending parties and social events is writing, too, in a December way.

Fourth, I express my artistic nature in other ways. I love to bake, but most of the year I’m pressed for time. Plus I have a sweet tooth and can’t afford to eat the fruit of my labors like I used to. But this time of year, I indulge in my love of baking. Working in a different medium feeds all parts of the creative spirit.

Finally, I watch all my favorite Christmas movies and there are a ton of them. Every year I think about what makes these stories classics, at least for me. How did the authors of these stories move me? What about these stories makes me want to watch them year after year? Again, I’m honing my craft while enjoying myself.

This season, enjoy yourself rather than beat yourself up. Refill your well for the new year ahead.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!

Gerri: Great advice, Gina! We all need to relax a little whether we are writing stories or holiday cards. Now that we are all feeling a little more relaxed, enjoy this description and brief excerpt from Spy Games.

Reilly Peterson's been many things in her thirty-two years: an athlete, a model, a sportswear executive. Her ex-boyfriend, however, has done a good job of making Reilly something she's never been--scared. Now Reilly's ready to protect herself with more than her sharp tongue. Fantasy Spy Camp's Seattle-based Urban Ops division will train her to survive using everything from her bare hands to a submachine gun. But when she gets an eyeful of fellow camper Van Keller, all Reilly wants is to chill out, partner up, and go deep undercover...

Excerpt from Spy Games:

“You have any dinner plans?” Van asked.

Suddenly, I was one part pleased and nine parts panic. Flirting with Van under the innocent guise of playing basketball was one thing. But going on a date with him, alone, with Ket out there, was suicide. Or murder, depending on who Ket would kill, Van or me. Or both. I looked around at the group. “I don’t know. Have we made any plans?”

Undaunted by my sudden reserve, Van grabbed my hand and pulled the phone away from my ear. “I was thinking, we could make plans. You and me.” He pointed to me and then him. “Just the two of us. Eating together somewhere nice. I have the feeling you’re a local girl. You could suggest somewhere. I could pay.”

I turned to stare at him, my heart melting to mush. “Are you asking me out? Like for a date?”

“Yeah. Like for a date.”

My phone beeped. I had a text message. The dude 2 ur right wants u. Tell him ur mine. Im watching U. –K

Gerri: Sounds like a fun read. Perfect for holiday relaxing. Thanks for stopping by today, Gina. Wishing you all the best with your new release!

Please leave a comment or question for Gina in the comments to enter for a chance at winning Spy Games!


Gina Robinson December 19, 2009 at 8:57 AM  

Good morning and thanks for having me, Chatelaines!

Gerri--those cookies in the picture look so yummy! I still have my Christmas baking to do. And a bit of last minute shopping.

Heather Hiestand December 19, 2009 at 9:43 AM  

Great ideas on how to keep the holidays productive!

Rebekah E. December 19, 2009 at 2:11 PM  

Thanks for the great post. Love the tips on how to keep the holidays productive.

Gerri Russell December 19, 2009 at 5:14 PM  


I let the kids do the baking this year. It's not my most favorite thing and they all really enjoyed it!

Gerri Russell December 19, 2009 at 6:37 PM  

Heather and Rebekah, Thanks for stopping by the Chatelaines and sharing a little holiday time with us.

Virginia December 19, 2009 at 8:52 PM  

What a great post! I love the idea of setting your page count less for December! There is so much to do that month I don't see how autors get everything done. I am not a writer but I have problems myself getting every thing that needs to be done.

librarypat December 19, 2009 at 10:19 PM  

How frightening to be in that position. The text message was unexpected. I need to read the book!

Great suggestions for relaxing and enjoying the holidays. I think we all se ourselves up to be stressed.
I've learned to step back and not get upset with the little things, but my husband hasn't. He stresses, so I get stressed. Maybe our definitions of "little things" is too different.

Hope you have a great Holiday Season!

Dru December 20, 2009 at 2:08 PM  

Hi Gina,

I just started Spy Games, not knowing it was the second book in the series. So far, I'm loving it.

Gerri Russell December 21, 2009 at 7:18 AM  


So happy to have you spend a little time with all of us during this busy month! Wishing you all the time you need to get it all done!

Gerri Russell December 21, 2009 at 7:20 AM  


Spy Games is a great book! Lots of tension and suspense, but lots of humor as well! Gina is a master at light romantic suspense.

Gerri Russell December 21, 2009 at 7:22 AM  


Thanks for stopping by! So glad to hear you are enjoying Spy Games. It really is the perfect December read.

Gina Robinson December 21, 2009 at 9:36 AM  

Dru--I'm glad you're liking the book! That's always nice to hear :-)

It's not technically, the second book of a series. Each of my two books are completely standalone and have entirely separate casts of characters. The only thing tying them together is that each is a unique spy camp run by the same parent company, Fantasy Spy Camps.

Gina Robinson December 21, 2009 at 9:38 AM  

Thanks to everyone for stopping by! And special thanks to Gerri and the Chatelaines for having me as a guest :-)

Bonnie Vanak December 21, 2009 at 1:25 PM  

Please don't enter me, just wanted to say, great interview! Good luck and congrats, Gina!

Cindy Holby

Gerri Russell

Joy Nash

Bonnie Vanak

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