A Memoir by Lisa Vaughn

Lisa was conservatively raised in a Catholic family in no-where middle America, where excitement is scarce and dreams are for sleeping. Little did she know, at age thirteen, she would suddenly find herself on a totally different path.

Through an unlikely chance meeting of a fellow classmate, she's surprisingly mesmerized, almost consumed, to befriend a girl who is obviously from the other side of the tracks...the cool side. Lisa does whatever she has to just to be accepted into this small club of coolness. Little did she realize, she was signing up for a lot more than social status. The two best friends find themselves innocently taking their relationship to a foreign level neither had experienced or saw coming.

A rollercoaster ride littered with choices and challenges Lisa never fathomed facing, especially in no-where middle America. She will find out what she is made of as she faces the consequences and struggles that come along with going against the grain.

Throughout their six year relationship, you will witness a touching story of human nature at its best...and at its worst. Showing just how far the human spirit can be challenged and pushed to a point where your “fight or flight” instincts naturally kick in. Struggling just to survive in a world where you are not like everyone else, but at the same time you really are. The daily struggles - both internal and external - are exhausting, yet necessary in their quest for one simple human need....love.

Finally breaking through all constraints that hold them back, reaching levels of one-ness that few actually obtain in a lifetime with their partner...only to find once they've reached that special place, it's not quite the right fit...for one of them, at least.

This contemporary story, told in the voice of the teen that lived it, will lead the reader through highs and lows, giving insight to the everyday challenges of the socially unaccepted, which will no doubt leave them rooting for the underdog. A true story of human resilience and the power of love...plain and simple.

*Please be advised, this memoir is real, honest, and raw. If you're looking for your typical 'sterilized' read, I'm not your girl - but if you're looking for a read that is written from the heart, certain to impact you on a human level, follow me! Have I got a story for you!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Discussing Author James Frey..Did He Get What He Deserved?

Ahhh James Frey...remember him? The 'Million Little Pieces' memoir guy? The one that Queen Oprah built up via her bookclub, launching him to literary stardom - only to turn around just as quick and take it ALL away - his credibility as an author, his pride, ego, and manhood? All based on one rumor...he had 'lied' to Oprah, and apparently, the world! Gasp! His memoir, it seems, had a bit of 'fabrication' woven into the unbelievable text. I guess his crazy days as a drug addict needed a little 'beefing up' to make legendary status, as it did.   

I remember seeing his original interview with Oprah, plugging his newly discovered memoir - long before I ever dreamed I would one day write one of my own.  I have to admit, he captivated me also, with his painful story of past struggles and triumphant come back. I rushed out like the rest of the world and bought his colorful book.  I read it, and although I do not remember a lot of the details now, I thought it was a good, entertaining read.  Yeah, he had gone through a lot for one man, but hey, we all have our stories, right? 

Then the news broke. James Frey was a LIAR! People that he had named in the book were supposedly stepping up, claiming parts of his memoir were fabricated or embellished. But worse than lying in his memoir, James had dupped Oprah! Well we all know one thing for sure. You do NOT dup the big O and expect to get away with it. This sleeping dog was not allowed to lie still, quite the opposite - he was publicly embarrassed. Drug through the coals for allegedly lying in a memoir, which by definition means a slice of one's life - a TRUE slice, to the best of their recollection.
If the allegations weren't bad enough, the worst was yet to come - public humiliation on the Queen's stage!  He was summoned to face Oprah...again, but this time he would see her evil twin - pissed off Oprah. 

We all tuned in, anxious to see what James' fate would be - public stoning, firing squad, the gas chamber? No, none of that would happen. Instead he got the big stink-eye from the big 'O', and was told how disappointed she was in him.  Oh no she didn't! Yes, she gave him the guilt-ridden, 'mother's disappointed in you' speech. I nervously watched as James sat helpless with his publisher, who did not say much - neither putting up much of a fight when confronted by Ms.O. You could tell this poor lad was in-between a rock and a hard place! I was disappointed that he may of lied, but more disappointed that he didn't put up much of a fight for his defense. Maybe the whole book was a lie? Maybe his hands were tied? Maybe O just scared the crap out of him! Who knew? I just knew I felt really sorry for him for some reason, and at the same time was thanking my lucky stars I was not HIM! 

Nevertheless, time went on - refunds were made to those who were totally appalled, the offending liar dropped out of society, and we all forgot about James Frey. 

Fast Forward: Oprah's retiring. She has a need to have James back on the show, perhaps she over-reacted, and wanted to make amends, having him on the show one last time to clear the air, reset her karma. Of course I had to see this! Would there be fists flying this time? Would there be more jumping on those couches?  I could feel the tension on the set, or perhaps it was just coming from my own couch!
It took some time, but finally midway through the interview I started to see the light, as the REAL truth behind the disaster of 'A Million Little Pieces' started to come into focus.  Turns out, it wasn't his fault so much as his publisher's! Apparently he never intended to write a 'memoir' in the first place. HE wrote a novel loosely based on his real life experiences. It was his publisher that strong-armed him into classifying it as a memoir in order to get noticed and boost sales. In fact, that was the only way they would sign him. Aha! The evil marketing machine once again! Now it was all beginning to make sense. And again, I felt sorry for James. He was not a liar at all. The only thing he was really guilty of was being a newbie author that was excited to find someone that agreed to publish him - at whatever costs - even if it meant magically changing his work into a memoir.  Like he explained to Oprah, what could we have expected him to do? What would you do in his shoes? He knew this opportunity may be fleeting, so he'd better jump while he had the chance. So James sold a little piece of his soul...a million little pieces, to be exact.  

And you know what? I can't say I wouldn't have done the same damn thing!  

Bottom line: I don't blame James at all, in fact I empathize with him. Now that I am an author, of a memoir no less, I totally understand his actions. I'm sorry he had to sacrifice his work for the sake of the almighty dollar, but understand his actions. Did it outrage me as a reader that I had bought the book and it wasn't totally on the up and up? Of course not. I did not ask for a refund because it was still an enjoyable read to me...regardless of the hoopla. In fact, years later James would inspire my style of writing as well. I admired James' unique approach to telling his story, noticing he did not follow 'the rules' of accepted grammar and proper sentence structure...and I liked that. A fresh, indie approach that greatly influenced my writing style, and something I look for when choosing a book to read myself. 

So yeah, I think everyone came down on ole James a little too hard. I think he was/is an indie author that just got caught up in the marketing steamroller. I think his hands were tied contractually and he, unfortunately, had to take the knocks. I was pleased to learn he has since moved on to great success - publishing more books, and owning his own publishing company that helps out fellow struggling indie authors, just like he once was.

I'll close by saying, 'Thank You James Frey!'  First, for getting me back into reading, rediscovering my favorite genre - memoirs and biographies. And for inspiring me, as an author - reminding me that we don't always have to follow the rules. After all, isn't that what indie means? But mostly, for reminding me to stay true to myself, as THAT is what it's all about in the end...not the almighty dollar. 

Do you think James got a raw deal? Or did he deserve what he got?
(Please vote..there should be a poll directly below this post - scroll down below comment section)


  1. Don't see a poll. :( But great post. I think poor James was the scapegoat here, especially if it was true that he was bullied into classifying his novel as a memoir by his publishers.


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  2. Great post! Ummm. Sooo. The thing is James Frey really did not get this side of the Atlantic I think and I didn't know who he was until I read this. Haha.

    But! It totally sounds like it wasn't his fault. And, also, I know memoirs are supposed to be factual but at the end of the day I don't really care as long as they're well written.

    Who's to say what reality is anyway? Not me.

  3. No, I don't think he got a raw deal. The way he tells it doesn't sound like his fault. Why would it when it's easier to blame the publisher. Considering the treatment he is accused off with MFA students involving Full Fathom Five (supported by a contract released by one of them), I'm not sure he deserved sympathy. In my opinion he is untrustworthy. I personally will never buy his books or recommend them to anyone.

  4. I'm with you Lisa I think he is guilty of wanting to be a published author; like the rest of us. I have had nothing but empathy for him.


  5. I'm sure there are a lot of creative 'lies' or is it just creative license? Memory is faulty at best. I'm just surprised people were so surprised. I suppose if I had bought his book and held it as truth, as a model to follow or a beacon of hope, then I'd feel differently.

  6. I think the way he was treated was appalling. Sure there were lies in his work, but you think the rest of the world's memoirs are 100% accurate? Embellishments, exaggeration and a little gold tinting are all part of the game that get's your book on the shelf. A Million Little Pieces, along with My Friend Leonard, and I must say, A Bright Shiny Morning, fantastic reads, passionate pieces of work, and I will continue to look forward to his next work. True or not.

  7. Naw, Frey got exactly what he deserved. He's a pathological liar at best and a high-functioning psychopath at worst (check out his Full Fathom Five shenanigans--yeesh!), and being charming is part of that job.

  8. I don't buy it for a minute. He lied the first time, invented a story that sounded better after some time to reflect on it. I am sure there is a hint of truth to it, but embellishment seems to be the order of the day.


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