…some folks I have worked with and links to their fabulous work…
I hired Pam for a developmental edit of a short story, but what I got was much more. Pam’s wise insights helped me coax a better story out of myself than I thought was possible. She is a superb editor with a keen eye for identifying what works, what doesn’t, and why. But what truly made Pam a joy to work with was the grace and exquisite care with which offered her thoughts. She cares not only about the success of the story, but about the success and well-being of the writer. She became a steadfast ally who I will recommend to every writer I know and who I will call on again and again for her guidance.
I worked with Pam about 10 years ago on my first non-fiction book, Birth of a Boom. Pam was a dedicated and supportive editor who seemed to take as much interest in the entrepreneur biographies that made up each chapter as I did. I didn’t think that was a big deal back then, but now I know it is. As an editor myself, I try to emulate her enthusiasm and care. She was also unafraid to tell me what I needed to hear—another essential trait of a good editor!
After teaching theater arts for nearly twenty years, I felt I’d lost all sense of my own artistic voice. I still had an urge to create but I had a difficult time wriggling out of the role of nurturer. I wasn’t able to prioritize my own experience or my own growth. I didn’t need Pam as a playwrighting mentor in the sense of a tutor or instructor – which I know she can do – I needed an editor’s eye, a gentle reminder to structure, and reliable feedback. Pam was the honest angel on my shoulder whispering affirmations when my inner critic was telling me I was selfish to think of my own art rather than my students’ development. She was a coach in the best sense of the word. I can’t recommend her highly enough!
Complete What You Started is a guide to rediscovering half-finished projects and carrying them across the finish line, based on my coaching work with creative word people.
Working with Pam was a powerful experience. Her thoughtful line-editing and comments brought the concept together in a way I had not been able to imagine myself. Seeing the manuscript go from raw to polished was such a joy!
…and some lovely words written about my work as a writer…
Read the opening of the book HERE!
Written by Pam Bustin
Published by Thistledown Press
Review by Shelley A. Leedahl
For The Saskatchewan Publishers Group
$18.95 ISBN 978-1-897235-39-3
Mostly Happy knocked me out of my boots. The new novel by Saskatoon fiction writer and playwright Pam Bustin subtly gathers steam as it progresses; only after I’d completed it did I realize how ardently I’d been cheering on the main character, Bean, and her dysfunctional family, and how emotionally-involved I’d become in their real-as-nails story.
Although not specifically written for a young adult audience, this book deserves a spot in the curriculum of every Canadian high school. It puts a human face on the downtrodden in our communities, and inspires compassion.
Tough issues, credible characters, places we know, and inhabit. Bustin relays this gritty, necessary story like she’s lived every word.
Review by Ruth Latta for CM (Canadian Review of Materials) Volume XIV Number 22
Mostly Happy is a gritty, realistic work of fiction set in western Canada in the last decades of the twentieth century. It traces the life of Bean E. Fallwell from birth to a major epiphany in her early thirties.
“Prissy pulled up in a cab just as they were putting Dee in the ambulance. I went mental. I started screaming at her that Dee had almost died… I kept screaming. ‘I’m ten, for fuck’s sake! She’s sick. She coulda died.’ I’d never screamed at Prissy before. I never said that I was afraid to watch Dee when she was sick. I wasn’t afraid. I just did it, like I did everything else…”
Whatever our life circumstances, people from our pasts almost always yank the chains forged in childhood. Bean’s ongoing internal debate about what she owes them and what she owes herself, will strike a universal chord in many readers. Mostly Happy is a coming-of-age story akin to Tobias Wolff’s memoir, This Boy’s Life, and Janet Fitch’s White Oleander. Yet Bean E. Fallwell is a unique character whose survival will give hope to readers in comparable situations.
And some words from fans….
What a wonderful work you created. Not only was it a marvelous piece of writing, but it woke me up and has the potential to wake up many people. So honest and brave. I was impressed how you used dialogue and only a minimum of description to take me on such a wild journey, both in the life of the characters. You had me in tears many times. I also love the metaphors that run through the work.
It made me think of many things. In the last year, I’ve done a lot of yoga and am going further in the practice of it. It calms the mind and brings you to a quieter place. One thing I read recently in a book on yoga made me think of Bean. A psychologist spoke of how we don’t need the perfect teachers, the perfect parents, or the perfect therapist. We only need them to be good enough. It seems there’s enough within us to pull us forward, to do the rest of the work.
Thank you for your great mind! I look very forward to reading whatever comes next.
Darren Ell https://www.darrenell.com/
Finished reading Mostly Happy on Friday evening. Wow!!! I ended up using Prissy and Bean as examples in my sermon. Hope that was OK.
This book should be standard reading in psychology classes!
More realistic and relevant that half the bs I encountered there.
As a survivor of Child sexual abuse, I was very impressed by how realistically you presented Bean’s story. No melodrama. Just her life. But as I read it, I felt and saw and knew the reality of her life.
I am sad to think, society really hasn’t come very far in understanding and accepting the reality of sexual abuse but progress is slow.
I think your book will make a difference. I hope it gets the attention it deserves.
I read the book. Fantastic!!!!!!!!
Congratulations – it is poignant and chilling and funny and awful all at the same time. It is a very compelling read. I hope it is selling like crazy!
I really enjoyed reading your book. I haven’t been pulled along like that by a story for a while. I found I couldn’t put it down and I finished it a few hours ago as I was waiting in a plane for takeoff at the Calgary airport. You had me crying as I was sitting in the Calgary terminal!
The characters were really well drawn and you set the stage so well. I also loved hearing your voice again…. I look forward to reading more.
Sydney Bell http://www.sydneybell.ca/
I just finished the book….I started, got 10 pages in, and then I read it all in two late nights before bed.
P.J Bustin, I am so incredibly proud to know you and call you friend. Your writing is so real, and feels so personal to me, that I don’t know if I can put it into words just how amazing I think this novel is. So let me throw back to my lizard brain and say this…….
You’re a fuckin’ A great writer, sweetheart..I haven’t been grabbed by a book like that in a long time.
I also want to go find Jack and screw him to a board ( maybe you brought out a little old testament in me!)
I wish you as much goodness and light as you can hold.
Continue to kick ass, sister!
A wonderful read. Powerful.
This thing Bean said,…it stuck with me. “…I really did. I thought I was fine. I didn’t even know I was pretending. Now, I’m a fucking mess.” (From the Chapter “Goose From Goose,” page 246)
It was powerful how you showed that nobody’s perfect. Even our heroine made big mistakes. I wanted things to go right for Bean, I wanted for her to be able to fix her family’s problems. I’m still hoping she’ll pull through, now that the final page has been read; and I think she will pull through.
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