Posts Tagged ‘Tommie Vaughn’

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Susan had liked Tommie Vaughn’s This Rock in my Heart, and she passed it on to me. I didn’t like it the way she did, and I hate to say that I liked This Roll in My Soul even less.

I’m not the uptight editor Susan is, but even these typos and the writing got me down. Everything is perfect, beautiful, amazing, incredible. Band names are still spelled wrong, and how the hell can anyone actually get the title of Bon Jovi’s classic “Wanted Dead or Alive” wrong? All I had to do was Google the wrong title Vaughn used and the band name and I got pages of the right song title.

Come ON. Just as we reviewers have to respect the authors, the authors need to respect the readers. That means making sure these simple things are done right.

So what’s the book about? To be honest, I’m not totally certain. It doesn’t seem to be about anything, really. It’s more like a diary, where things happen and there’s not really anything that ever goes wrong—the guy who winds up in rehab embraces it and all’s good; Frankie’s sorta love interest from the last book has a magical weekend with her and leaves it to the grapevine to dump her, but she’s okay with that. She’s professing love and wanting a future one second and being at peace the next. Even when Frankie’s friend Eva calls her, stoned and high and probably drunk and definitely ripe to be murdered by some psycho who’s spotted the world’s easiest mark, but hey, the girls have a heart-to-heart and Eva goes back to her hotel room and it’s all good!

This is real life. It’s not all good. Life is ugly and messy and people wear the wrong things and mistakes with their makeup don’t make them look beautiful and the sex isn’t always good and people don’t always pull back from doing the nasty just in the nick of time.

But that’s what Vaughn gives us. And it gets boring ’cause we don’t really care enough to keep reading. There’s nothing that’s important, nothing that keeps us up late turning the pages even though it’s two in the morning and we’ve got to get to work by nine.

I did a quick search to see if Vaughn has put anything else out—I’ve been sitting on this book long enough that something should be—but while I’ve seen mention of this being a three-book story (yes, taking three volumes to tell one plot), the third book doesn’t seem to have been released yet.

I hope that before she hits publish, the author will drop Susan an e-mail and have her edit it. I get what Susan liked. I don’t agree, but I get it. And that means I hope the author will raise her game and bring us a better story while still keeping Frankie optimistic and sunny. You can be both even in the face of big, ugly, scary problems. You really can be.

This review was originally posted at West of Mars. It is being reposted here, at its permanent home.

One thing that often creeps into Rock Fiction is a bit of cynicism. Anyone who watches the TV show Nashville can tell you what a tough world it can be to navigate and survive. For all the glitter and glamour, there’s every bit as much, if not more, sleaze.

That’s why Tommie Vaughn’s This Rock in my Heart is such a breath of fresh air. Her lead character, Frankie Spencer, is naïve and one of the most optimistic characters you’ll find in the genre. Nothing gets this woman down for long, not the divorce that brings her to a job in a recording studio, and not anything that happens afterward: the groupie who tries to intrude on Frankie’s maybe love affair with a visiting guitarist, money issues, the lack of a band to make music with… it all works out with a happily ever after that satisfies and yet leaves room for the upcoming second in the series.

The downside to all this breezy optimism is that there’s not much at stake. The best fiction hinges on conflict and this novel works awfully hard to keep conflict at a minimum, at best – as if Frankie, as she heals from her divorce, can’t take any more and simply needs it all to be sunshine and roses.

This both works and doesn’t. It is that breath of fresh air, but at the same time, things are a bit too easy. Bad things don’t happen in Vaughn’s world, even when, perhaps, they should.

This novel’s most serious flaw is in its editing, and I don’t say that as the editor that I am. I say that as a reader and music fan who simply can’t excuse Ozzy’s name being misspelled – Ozbourne, instead of Osbourne – and the travesty done to Concrete Blonde’s name, as well. These are easily confirmed facts and spellings. There simply is no excuse at the editorial level for this because it undermines Vaughn’s authority and oh, so apparent knowledge of the music world. Even her cameos, from such notables as the legendary Henry Rollins and Concrete Blonde’s Johnette Napolitano, are fun and while they might be a bit too much in the unicorn-and-rainbow theme, there’s still an authenticity that can sometimes be lacking in less capable hands. As there should be: Vaughn knows of where she writes. She’s an industry vet, herself, which makes the happy tone to this novel all the more appreciated. She could have turned so easily and been cynical or jaded… but didn’t.

Author Vaughn was kind enough to send me an e-book copy of This Rock, and she’s also been gracious enough to send me a copy of the next in the series, This Roll in My Soul. While I’d prefer a grittier book, I’m eager to see what comes next in the world of Vaughn and lead character Frankie Spencer.