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Please welcome Bonnie Staring to our Firebirds blog.  Bonnie is excited (and terrified) to be a 2013 Golden Heart® finalist in the Young Adult category with her manuscript, CAMP AWAKENING. When not writing young adult fiction, she works as a freelance copywriter, uses a lot of coupons and has appeared on a few game shows. […]

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GH Finalist 2013: Bonnie Staring

Posted by on May 15 2013, 1:15 am

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BonnieStaring_LOL (2)Please welcome Bonnie Staring to our Firebirds blog.  Bonnie is excited (and terrified) to be a 2013 Golden Heart® finalist in the Young Adult category with her manuscript, CAMP AWAKENING. When not writing young adult fiction, she works as a freelance copywriter, uses a lot of coupons and has appeared on a few game shows. (Don’t get too excited—they were Canadian game shows, so she’s still using those coupons.) Bonnie lives in Toronto, Ontario with her loving husband, the kitten of mass destruction and five houseplants.

Bonnie would like to thank the contest judges, critique partners and literary agents who told her that the main character in her first submission-worthy romance novel sounded like a teenager. Seriously. They were totally right.

Find her on Facebook –

Twitter – @Bonnie Staring


Thank you so much for having me here! Now, before I chicken out, there is something I must share with you:Fear can be your friend.I hear you snickering. When someone first said that to me, I thought they’d been sipping crazy sauce. Luckily, that person was nice enough to explain that sometimes fear is our go-to emotion when we’re about to step out of our comfort zone.As writers, we love to add descriptive labels to our fears. Some claim a fear of success, a fear of failure or the dreaded fear of being discovered as an imposter.No matter what we call it, fear pops up like a weasel or a burnt piece of toast when we least expect it. Let me share some fears that I’ve experienced (and maybe you have too):


The fear of rejectionbonnieheights

The easiest way to avoid rejection is to not enter a contest, send a query or actually reply to a request with your partial or full.  But if you don’t embrace the energy that fear is giving you to get over it, you could end up experiencing something like:


The fear of wasting your time
When this fear strikes, it’s telling you to re-evaluate how you define success. Are the goals you have actually within your control, or are you aiming for pie-in-the-sky-not-up-to-you achievements? Focus on the writing—doing anything else is the true waste of time.


The fear that the validation you’ve received is a mistake

Yeah, I experienced that when my name didn’t appear on the GH finalist list until an hour after getting the call. Thankfully, my excitement over being a finalist completely outweighed that fear, and I continued to dance around the house doing the odd jumpy-clap when I wasn’t on the stairs.


The fear that your words suck

Thanks to RWA, I’ve met tons of talented authors who tell me that this fear never, ever leaves. It’s the smart writer who develops a game plan for dealing with those times of suckage.

For me, I use music (anything from the ‘80s) to take me to a happier writing place. And when the going gets tough, Nora’s quote “You can’t revise a blank page” is my inspiration. The words may start out as crap, but even oatmeal cookies look like barf before you bake ‘em.


So what fear do you experience most as a writer, and how do you defeat it?

Speaking of fears, I’m afraid that I’ll be away from a computer until after lunch today, but I promise to drop by and check out all the fear action as soon as I can!


52 responses to “GH Finalist 2013: Bonnie Staring”

  1. Piper says:


    I am happy that my middle of the night insomnia allows me to tell you that this is a great pep talk! I never thought of fear as an energy. I needed this right now, so thank you!

  2. Hi Bonnie, congratulations on being a Golden Heart Finalist. It’s fun and not frightening, honest! In my 20s I read Susan Jeffers’ ‘Feel the fear and do it anyway’, a philosophy that has taken me into, and through, scary exposure as a writer. You’re quite right, Fear is just energy and it’s mostly made up of dread of imagined consequences. I heard an actor saying recently that he’d been advised by an old hand to change ‘I’m so frightened’ to ‘I’m so excited!’ I do that too – not sure if it works! And in common with most writers, I am never entirely sure that my successes are valid, but always believe the criticism. But having run workshops for beginner writers, I can say with certainty that those fears are actually essential for progress. The danger signs are the person who won’t ever show their work or share it for fear of criticism, or the person who won’t change a word because they believe it is totally right as it is. The other fear, the do-it-then-quake-while-waiting-for-a-response type is good. It’s fuel in the tank.

    xxx Natalie Meg Evans

    • Hey Natalie,

      I love the tip for changing “I’m so frightened” to “I’m so excited!” Then I can break out into the Pointer Sisters song and forget about what terrified me in the first place! Oh, did I just reveal my love for all things ’80s? 😉

  3. Bonnie! Girl, we’re like fear soul-mates. LOL. You know that I didn’t query or submit for more than two years because it’s easier to not get those rejections sometimes. I love the fear as excitement. I’m going to try to use that from now on. I’m not scared! I’m just excited! 😉
    I’ve told you before, but I’ll say it again. I read the partial for CAMP AWAKENING several years ago, and every single time it didn’t final for the GH, I wondered where it was. Because it deserved to be there every year. It’s a great story filled with wonderful characters. I’m so glad to see it getting the recognition it deserves!
    I think, more than anything, we have to learn to believe in ourselves as much as others do. I have a huge problem with that. I feel like I’m sitting around waiting for someone to pat me on the back and proclaim my writing genius, but that’s not really going to happen. Sometimes we have to move out of fear, out of our comfort zones, and pat our own selves on the back!
    Loved your post, Bonnie.
    And I agree 100% about those oatmeal cookies. LOL

    • Great way to sum up how to tackle fears, Kim. Love “I’m not scared! I’m just excited!” Gonna use that!

      • Kim!

        I think a few of the previous year’s GH judges saw my ms as a bunch of oatmeal cookie dough. LOL Thanks so much for letting me know how much you enjoyed my opening pages (again)!

        Yes, we all need to learn to believe in ourselves because some of those Amazon reviewers might not. 😉

  4. Bonnie … so glad to have you with us. Man, this one hits home – I’ve had a difficult time since my 2012 GH final and I know it’s because I’m afraid I’m not good enough. It’s a hard thing to get past!!

    Love the pics!! You look like you’d be lots of fun … sorry I won’t get to meet in you Atlanta.

  5. Amy DeLuca says:

    Hello my GH YA sister! Thank you for preaching the fear gospel today. I do sometimes fear that it’s some kind of accident I’m a finalist and have won a contest with my ms,though at the same time I love my story. Insane? Maybe.I guess the eventual fear-cure is just making yourself move forward even if it’s only baby steps. A year ago I’d never entered a contest before and had just joined RWA, so it’s getting easier. I completely agree that fear can be a motivator when you realize it’s alerting you to the fact that you’re doing something that will possibly change the course of your life. That’s when fear truly equals excitement. So glad to be sharing this journey with you and looking forward to seeing you in person in July!

    • Oh Amy!

      Thank goodness you finally started entering contests or we wouldn’t be on this fantabulous roller-coaster ride together! You should love your story — it’s GH-final worthy!

  6. Great blog on fears, Bonnie! You hit all the top ones on my list. After receiving the call that I was a Golden Heart finalist, I waited for hours before sharing the news. I couldn’t say anything until I saw my name posted on RWA’s website because I thought… This is so wonderful. It must be a dream. A dream that will turn into an embarrassing nightmare if I share the news and it’s not true. Oh well, it all worked out in the end 🙂 Looking forward to seeing you in Atlanta, my Lucky 13 sister and fellow Canadian!

  7. Robena Grant says:

    Congratulations on your GH Final, Bonnie! I adore your post. These are exciting times and they only get better. By the time the event arrives you’ll have made a ton of new friends you won’t care who wins. I was very much like you and Jacqui in that I wouldn’t believe the call until I saw my name go up on the RWA site, guess it was fear of my own imagination. ; )

  8. Great post, Bonnie, and congratulations on finagling! Yep, those fears have crawled up my spine from time to time. I use fear as a motivator and forge ahead. Seems I always learn something through the process, right? Thanks for stopping by.

  9. Terri Osburn says:

    First off, I love that you include your plants in your bio, and that oatmeal cookie bit is hysterical. You sound like someone I’d like to hang out with. Can’t wait to read your voice on the page.

    I judged your category, and though I was not fortunate enough to have received your entry, I did judge 2 others that finaled. If those 2 are any indication, you are ALL amazing writers. Don’t let anyone tell you differently!

    I’m one of those people who is pushed by fear. If I’m afraid I won’t do it, then I grit my teeth and push until I cross the finish line. Which is good because right now I’m scared sh*tless that I won’t make this next deadline.

    • Thanks, Terri!

      My houseplants are very demanding and get upset if I don’t mention them. 😉 As for that deadline, you can doooooo it! Lock the door and get ‘er done. 😉

  10. Hellion says:

    I think that’s the most inspiring message I’ve ever read–I’m totally taping it on my computer: “Even oatmeal cookies like barf before you bake it.”

  11. Elisa Beatty says:

    Great post, Bonnie!

    It’s maybe the most important lesson in life that fear is natural, but NOT necessarily a sign that we shouldn’t keep walking forward into a new situation. Unless you’re (realistically) running the risk of being eaten by a predator, you’re probably going to be just fine.

    Love your book’s title!!!

  12. Magdalen says:

    Hi, Bonnie — Congratulations on your final! I know you’ll make those houseplants proud!!

    I think there’s a proportion to fear. Some revisions scare me more than others. Just as, when I used to enjoy the surf on my family’s beach in Maine, some waves scared me more than others. I’m currently trying the “build up to it” approach to revisions (doing the easier ones first) and working hard to ignore those tsunami nightmares I had as a child…

    • Thanks Magdalen,

      That’s a great point about fear being proportional, especially where revisions are concerned. Now I have a cool way to measure the “waves” of my fears, thank you!

  13. Nan Dixon says:

    Ahh Bonnie, Fear is your friend. Hmmm.
    My greatest fear is that I will just keep almost getting to publication. Runner up so to speak. Especially because at this stage in my career (see how postive I am — I call this a career) I am in the hurry up and wait phase. Why won’t the editors just read the mansucript already. They’ve had it months and months. (I fear I haven’t learned patience.)
    Congratulations on your final. See you in Atlanta, GH sister!

  14. Oh, Nan!

    I’m with you on the lack-of-patience train. The time spent waiting can drive a writer to drink, swear or watch too much reality TV.

    Thanks for dropping by!

  15. Sandra Owens says:

    Great post, Bonnie. I think any writer not fearing rejection is probably a robot. I love your sense of humor that comes out here and in your Lucky13s emails. I’ve no doubt that shows in your stories.

    Hold back for yourself some of those cabana boys and chocolate fountains you keep sending the rest of us. You’ve earned a cabana boy or two! 🙂

    Can’t wait to meet you in Atlanta!

  16. Jacs says:

    Yay! Another place I can congratulate the fabulous Bonnie Staring in getting in the finals of the Golden Heart-YA category! 😀

    I’m very sad I’m going to miss cheering you on in Atlanta. Just have a wonderful experience, take it all and enjoy yourself. And wear shoes that you won’t trip when you walk on stage to get the award! Oh and the cabana boys will be my treat 😉

    Seriously…so thrilled for you. You deserve it!


    • Aw, thanks Jacs!

      I’ve got the pretty-yet-walkable shoes picked out already so I don’t trip on the way to the bar, er, I mean stage. 😉 National won’t be the same without you!

  17. Sonali Dev says:

    That quote of Nora’s is definitely responsible for many a published books, I’ll tell ya. It’s truth in it’s purest form.

    Yes, Yes and Yes to all those fears. Somehow identifying them and labeling them makes them easier to deal with and overcome. So, thanks, Bonnie!

    Hugs and Congrats!!

  18. Sharon Wray says:

    Hi Bonnie!
    I loved your post since fear and I are long-time frenemies! I have a love/hate thing going on with fear right now–fear I won’t finish the manuscript I’m working on, fear my agent will hate it, etc. Yet, defeating that fear and making sure it knows it’s WRONG is what keeps my butt in the chair.

    I’m so proud to be a Lucky 13 with you!

  19. Jean Willett says:

    Congratulations on your Golden Heart nod, Bonnie. I have to say that your post hit the bulls-eye for most of us. I’m like Nan, in that *hurry up and wait and wait and…well, crap, another rejection* mode 🙂 So, I am now crawling out of that bottom well and looking at another story and trying to not let… “I’m so excited”[think that’s a keeper] get in the way. From now on, it’s the image of an oatmeal cookie that is forever imprinted as barf that’s going on my monitor. It will remind me of your post 🙂 Good Luck! HOpe to see you in Atlanta.

  20. AE Jones says:

    Bonnie – This post is very timely for me. I think now that we have ‘settled’ into our GH finalists roles this year I am starting to let fear start sneaking up on me again. You’re right, if you don’t try what is the point?

    And I loved your line comparing fear to weasels and burnt toast – too funny!


  21. Bonnie, you are a wise woman. Fear is a fantastic motivator, pushing us to get past inertia if we use it well. Excellent post.

    I fear writing the wrong book. Sounds silly, but with so much pressure on This One Fitting into the Market or That One Taking off Like Crazy in the Indie World, it seems like so much rides on the decision about which idea to pursue, among the many churning in my brain.

    My solution? Write faster, write ’em all. (Yeah, right. Call it my solution in an ideal world in which there are 48 hours to a day, only five of which need to be used up on sleep, with a clone at my beck and call.)

    My real solution: close my eyes and point.

    No, not that either.

    Still working on it….

    (See you in Atlanta, Lucky 13 sister!)

  22. Chris Taylor says:

    Great thought-provoking post, Bonnie. I’d love to say I’m FEARLESS, but of course, I’d be lying. It really helps to put it into perspective. Thanks for putting it out there. Proud to be a fellow Lucky 13s!! See you in Atlanta!

  23. Kay Hudson says:

    Great post, Bonnie, and congrats. I’m very familiar with all those fears, and I’d like to add, if no one else has, the fear of success. There are definitely times when I wonder what the heck I’ll do if someone does want to buy my book(s), and then expects me to write more of them! On schedule!

    And now I’m going to watch incredibly brave young dancers audition for SYTYCD. I’d never have the guts, even if I could dance (which I promise you I can’t).

    • Oh, Kay, I think the fear of success is one of the scariest fears of all! As much as we wish for it, there is that overwhelming “excitement” about getting that “yes”.

      • Leslie Lynch says:

        I must chime in here. Fear of success often masquerades as fear of failure! Failure makes sense, and everyone can understand that one. But the unknown of ‘success’, especially the pressures it might bring, is a different horse.

        But the oatmeal cookie dough analogy really works for me! Love it! 🙂

  24. Darcy Woods says:

    Bonnie, my sweetart of a YA sister! Fantastic post and always ooooh, so timely! FEAR. The true mother of the four-letter-f-words. And then there’s FAILURE…um, also an “f” word. I think that’s the thing that strikes the most fear in my heart. You know what else starts with F? FRIENDS because they help you trudge through that word count when your legs feel crippled by the tentacles of fear. And if all else fails? FRENCH FRIES. Because it’s important to have a backup plan 😉

    Thanks for sharing! Can’t wait to see you!

  25. Oh, Darcy!

    Thanks for sharing all those great f-words. Your backup plan rocks. I’m totally borrowing it!

  26. Great post, Bonnie. Love the oatmeal cookie analogy! Your YA voice really comes through in your post, entertaining and funny!

  27. Thanks, Miranda!

    Can’t wait to meet you and the other Lucky 13s in Atlanta!

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