Oprah and Pema Chödrön


Yesterday, Oprah welcomed prolific author and world-renowned Buddhist teacher Pema Chödrön to Super Soul Sunday.

Born Deirdre Blomfield-Brown in 1936, she followed a conventional path, attending a prestigious prep school and college before marrying and having children. Later, she divorced and married a second husband who, in turn, left her at age 35. Shocked and traumatized, it took her three years to grieve and then forge an extraordinary spiritual path from wife/mother to ordained Buddhist nun. Pema learned to embrace her authentic self at Gampo Abbey, a monastery on Cape Breton Island (Nova Scotia) where she is resident and teacher.

Throughout the telecast, Pema focused on what to do when one’s life falls apart. The knee jerk reaction is to run away. Instead, Pema recommends the practice of compassionate abiding with oneself: Breathe in the suffering (unwanted discontent) and be open to it. Be right there with the feeling, taking note of all thoughts. Then, breathe out and create a lot of space. She gently reminds us that nothing wrong has happened. Life is simply pointing us in a different direction.

Quotable Quotes…

If you don’t know the nature of fear, you can’t be fearless.

Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth.

The sun is always shining in the rain. It never went anywhere.

Let go of fear and ego to embrace your authentic self.

If you’re invested in security and certainty, then you are on the wrong planet.

We are one blink away from being fully awake.

Spirituality—Going beyond beliefs vs Religion—Holding onto beliefs

Fail. Fail again. Fail better

If You Don’t Have a Dream

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have author and public relations dynamo Adrienne Vaughan chatting about the importance of dreams.

Here’s Adrienne!

Adrienne and Winston

Adrienne and Winston

I’ve always loved that song, you know, the one from South Pacific, Happy Talk. It’s so true, if you don’t have a dream, how on earth are you going to make a dream come true?

There again, have you ever met anyone who doesn’t dream they were someone or something else? Most people wish for something different, but it’s the dreamers, and I mean the real dreamers who make a difference. Sighing and wishing achieves very little, as far as I can tell, it’s the proper, ‘let’s take this seriously’ dreamer who gets things done, changes themselves, their environment, the whole world if they mean too.

But it wasn’t until Joanne kindly invited me onto her blog, and I was giving this notion some thought, that I realised that’s exactly what I am, a serious dreamer!

I knew very definitely what my first act would be, from the age of seven I wanted to be a writer, no ifs or buts. I was given a Petite Typewriter and my fate was sealed. I wrote poems, plays, short stories and articles – pasting them together on the kitchen table, creating my own magazines.

My mother, taking a well-earned break with a cup of tea and a copy of Women’s Own, would open the pages and scream. I had usually chopped half of it out, leaving holes in the articles and no pictures to the features.

I was twelve when I decided I was going to be a journalist, ideally the editor of a glossy magazine, where I could meet and marry a rock star – David Bowie or Bryan Ferry were ideal potential husbands in my opinion – so I packed my dream in my suitcase and left Dublin to work in London, on a glossy pop magazine, of course.

Adrienne and Bryan Ferry

Adrienne and Bryan Ferry

Fast forward twenty five years and my career has turned from poacher to gamekeeper, I now run a busy PR practice, and my second act is well and truly upon me, emerging as part of my development as a writer, rather than a real need for change.

Writers write, it’s what they do, so of course I have any amount of half-baked novels under the bed, one is nearly thirty years old! But it wasn’t until I became involved with the Romantic Novelists’ Association, the New Romantics Press and Amazon that perhaps, my most serious dream came true. I published my first novel, The Hollow Heart and to finally hold my work in my hand as a real book was without doubt, one of the best feelings ever. Now, as I blearily edit my third novel, due out at the end of November, I keep pushing the dream on and it’s getting bigger and better.

My advice for anyone pursuing a second act? Use all the skills, contacts and determination you used pursuing your first. I would be nowhere without the RNA, Amazon and my precious chums, Lizzie Lamb, June Kearns and Mags Cullingford – and I wouldn’t even have known them without relentlessly pursuing my serious dream.

(l-r) Liz Harris, Pia Courtney, Talli Roland, Lizzie Lamb, Rowan Coleman, Julie Cohen and Adrienne Vaughan all pictured at Liz Fenwick’s book launch at Waterstones, Kensington High Street.

(l-r) Liz Harris, Pia Courtney, Talli Roland, Lizzie Lamb, Rowan Coleman, Julie Cohen and Adrienne Vaughan all pictured at Liz Fenwick’s book launch at Waterstones, Kensington High Street.

This is what’s stuck on my computer screen …She turned her can’ts into cans …and her dreams into plans! Go on, you can do it!

Moping about glumly wishing things could be different, if only I were rich, pretty, clever is never going to work is it.

Adrienne’s Books

coverthehollowheartMarianne Coltrane is a feisty,award-winning journalist who is far from lucky in love. Taking herself off to the wilds of the west of Ireland to recuperate, she literally runs into Ryan O’Gorman, the most conceited, infuriating man in the world. He’s an actor who’s just landed the biggest role in movie history and he loathes journalists. One thing they do have in common is they both think their chance of true love has passed them by…but fate has other ideas!

coverchangeofheartEscaping to a remote Irish isle, journalist Marianne Coltrane had not bargained for a tumultuous affair with movie star Ryan O’Gorman. When Ryan leaves to pursue his career, Marianne remains on the island to care for those who need her most, but Ryan soon realises he cannot live without her and returns to woo her back. Tricky enough without his problematic ex-wife or the contract he cannot break, but when a good deed puts all they treasure in jeopardy, it’s time to take stock and fight for what matters most…or is time running out for this charismatic couple and everything they hold dear?


AV-Author (2)Adrienne Vaughan’s books have been described as Maeve Binchy meets Jackie Collins – as these authors are two of her heroines, she thinks this is just fantastic!

Adrienne Vaughan has been making up stories since she could speak; as soon as she could pick up a pen she started writing them down. No surprise she wanted to be a journalist, ideally the editor of a glossy magazine, where she could meet and marry a rock star! Today she runs a busy PR practice, writing novels, poems and short stories in her spare time.

She was born in England, was brought up in Dublin and now lives in rural Leicestershire with her husband, two cocker spaniels and a rescue cat called Agatha Christie; she still harbours a burning ambition to be a Bond girl!

Adrienne is working on the final book in the Heartfelt trilogy Secrets of the Heart, which she intends to publish in November 2014. She has outlines for her next two books, which are set on the same island but feature different characters and storylines.

A member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writers’ Scheme since 2012, Adrienne is the current editor of the RNA’s magazine Romance Matters and a founder member of the indie publishing group, The New Romantics Press. In her professional life she is a member of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations and the Chartered Institute of Journalists. She also holds a licence to drive a powerboat.

Where to find Adrienne…

Website | Amazon | Twitter | Facebook

Joanne here!

Adrienne, thank you for sharing your inspiring journey and providing wonderful advice and insights. Your books sound delicious. I’m putting them on my TBR list.

Spotlight on Beth Carter

I am thrilled to spotlight Beth Carter and her delightful novel, Thursdays at Coconuts, one of my favorite summer 2014 reads. I am also impressed and inspired by her remarkable writing journey.

Here’s Beth!

My writing journey has been filled with sunny days, pouring rain, hills, curves, pot holes, and detours. But let’s get off this country road, shall we?

Beth Carter Facebook Crop (2)I’ve always loved to read and checked out many library books as a child. Reading and writing were my two favorite school subjects so it’s a natural fit. My first foray into writing was in eighth grade. I was hooked once I read my byline in the Pipkin Pirates newsletter. I was a staff writer and the roving reporter. From there, I loved writing papers in my English and literature classes in high school and college. Almost all of my college papers received “As” with encouraging remarks that I should submit them to national magazines. I didn’t. I just wanted to hold onto those words from an esteemed professor. She gave me the hope and boost I needed.

Enter marriage, a baby, and a divorce by the age of 25. Suddenly, I was a single mom and the head of our household. I had bills to pay. I worked full time and went to college at night. My daughter was just three years old. I wasn’t able to attempt a novel then, but I did a great deal of non-fiction writing. After my divorce I worked at a private college where I was executive secretary to the president, got a business administration degree, and later left and became a public relations director for a local hospital.

There, I had the opportunity to spread my wings and write press releases, newspaper articles for our various departments and physicians, and a hospital newsletter. I also ventured into script writing and created television commercials for the hospital and later for a bank. I won a second-place award in the state of Missouri for one of my television commercials on substance abuse. I also won two third place state-wide awards for an annual report and newsletter. It was a thrill but I still wanted to write a novel.

After being in marketing for over 20 years, watching my daughter grow up and go off to college, I turned back to my dream. In 2009, I enrolled in a “How To Write Your First Novel” series of classes at a community college. It was taught by a novelist who had written about 90 novels. He was entertaining and full of great information. I started my novel the next day. It was a romantic suspense and when I was nearly half finished, I lost the manuscript. I mean my computer ate it. I was sick. I was depressed. I cried. I got angry. We hired a tech guy who was the “best.” He couldn’t retrieve it. My hopes were dashed. Then, we heard about a computer lab in California that could find anything on a hard drive. My sweet husband paid the fee, shipped it off, and we crossed our fingers and toes. The lab described their clean room as akin to a hospital operating room where everything is sterile and the contents are spread out on a table. I didn’t hold out much hope. Months had passed, so I started a second novel, THURSDAYS AT COCONUTS.

Once I got into THURSDAYS AT COCONUTS, I fell in love with my characters and their journey. I was about one-third into it when we received the amazing news that the lab had retrieved my first novel. I was ecstatic but really wanted to finish COCONUTS, so I did. In the meantime, my husband copied off my first manuscript so I’d always have a back-up and bought a second hard drive. I still haven’t finished that novel but I will. In the meantime, the sequel to THURSDAYS AT COCONUTS is calling. Loudly.

That’s not the end. We had a family tragedy of epic Dateline proportions. Everything stopped. The world stopped. My writing stopped. Tiny spoiler: I have a tragic scene in THURSDAYS AT COCONUTS so I couldn’t bear to read my own work and the ensuing grief and depression that follows. (It all works out and there’s a happy ending.)

So…I turned to writing children’s picture books. Some family members went to grief therapy but writing kidlit became my therapy. I have three picture books that have been published including WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE? THE MISSING KEY, and SANTA’S SECRET. My fourth, SOUR POWER, is with an editor now. Going to schools and reading to kids has been a tremendous joy. I will always write children’s books in addition to novels.

All of this, and I didn’t even get to my pitching fiascos. Suffice to say, I flew to one state to pitch to a well-known agent and broke out in hives. I pitched to agents and editors who came to conferences in Missouri. All were receptive and asked for partials and fulls. My contract came when I pitched online where we had to boil our novels down into just five lines. A huge thanks to Debby Gilbert, senior editor of Soul Mate Publishing, for believing in me and my work.

Thank you for this opportunity, Joanne, and I hope you enjoy THURSDAYS AT COCONUTS. I’m happy to say I’ve gotten rave reviews (mostly from strangers!) and I can’t wait to get back to the sequel and that mysterious, playing-hard-to-get first novel.

thursdaysatcoconuts 850x1275HIGH (2)


As the go-to wedding planner, Suzy can’t find her own wedded bliss and has one shocker of a wedding day. It doesn’t help that she’s still pining for her high school sweetheart, the one who got away. Handling neurotic brides is the best part of Suzy’s day until her son brings home a bombshell from Europe.

Alexandra, a beautiful marketer with a “touch” of OCD, falls for a bad-boy cop who’s married and possibly stalking her. But he sure is sexy. Alex tries to stay at arm’s length after she puts her job—and life—on the line for the officer who isn’t always a gentleman.

Hope hates her name, looks, and frizzy hair. As a high school counselor, she dishes out sage advice to students, yet can’t see she’s enabling her deadbeat, stuck-in-the-seventies hippie parents. After tragedy strikes, she reexamines their relationship and discovers a secret that almost went to the grave.

Friends since high school, the thirty-something women meet every Thursday at Coconuts for their own form of friendapy.


A former bank vice president, Beth Carter shed her suits and heels to pen novels and children’s picture books. Her debut novel, THURSDAYS AT COCONUTS, released in August, 2014, by Soul Mate Publishing. A sequel is planned.

Her three picture books are: SANTA’S SECRET, WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE? and THE MISSING KEY. Carter’s short stories and poems are published in four anthologies and three six-word memoir collections alongside famous authors and celebrities. Previously, she worked in marketing for 20 years in healthcare and banking. When she isn’t writing, you’ll likely find her sipping a skinny vanilla latte or at T.J. Maxx.

Where to find Beth…

Website: http://bethcarter.com

Amazon: http://amazon.com/author/bethcarter

Twitter: https://twitter.com/bethcarter007

Facebook (Women’s Fiction): https://www.facebook.com/authorbethcarter

Facebook (Children’s Books): http://is.gd/ii12F2