Wednesday, December 29, 2010


I want to recommend a wonderful blog for readers: FOR THE LOVE: Melissa, lawyer, homemaker, and avid reader lists her favorites for 2010.

I love that she said: "I've read by the pool, at the gym, in bed at night and in the hammock in the yard. I read the books I wanted to read. Not the book that would make me look like a cultured smarty-pants to passers-by at the hotel pool or the latest novel to receive a glowing review from the New York Times so I could chat about it at a cocktail party. (We've all done this, right?)"

A book is an investment of time. And that's all we have. How do you choose a book? Where do you like to read?

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Boxing the Octopus

The excellent publishing blog: BOXING THE OCTOPUS posted a #BuyThisBook blog and the book they chose was The Scandalous Summer of Sissy LeBlanc.

What intelligent readers. I added a new quote to the Southern Belle's Handbook:

"Writing is easy. Only writing well is hard."

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Cliff Hangers

Pop Eaters just published my post on cliff hangers. And the summer I wrote the episode that solved the greatest cliff hanger of all time: Who Shot J.R.?.

Check it out:

Cliff Hangers

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Literary Feast

Last week Carl and I went to New Orleans for the Pirate's Alley Faulkner Society Literary Festival Words and Music. There we danced and ate and listened to many learned discussions. I gave a master class on Creating Great Characters in the historic Cabildo in the center of the French Quarter. Carl was on a panel on translation and introduced classist Stanley Lombardo at a yummy lunch at Muriel's resterant.

I took the picture at left with my little cell phone, so the quality leaves something to be desired, but there are two National Book Award winners Tim O'Brien in the hat and Julia Glass sitting next to him talking to Stewart O'Nan. That's Simon Mawer laughing. He was short-listed for the Booker Prize. Attending to his lunch is moderator Randy Fertel whose foundation created the Truth Teller Awards.

Words and Music. On the dias at left is Rosemary James the organizer extraordinaire of the festival which this year was held in conjunction with the National World War II Museum.

But it wasn't all books and conversation. We found time to go to the gorgeous sculpture garden in City Park. Here I am with Julia Glass and short-story writer Maurice Ruffin. And at bottom Julie and I surround Botero's amazing scupture of a mother holding her child while standing on the prone body of the father.
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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Southern Belle Sounds Off: Creating Great Characters for Film and Fiction

Creating Great Characters for Film and Fiction

Next week I'll be in New Orleans where I'm giving a master class on Creating Great Characters in Film and Fiction at the fabulous Pirate's Alley Faulkner Society's great literary festival: Word's and Music. Y'all come.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Musical Week

What a week. Thursday night we heard Dr. John at a free concert on the Santa Monica pier. We were jammed together, standing, dancing outside under the stars. The sweet smell of flannel cake and marajuana filling the air.

Then Friday night Randy Bachman scored a great box at the Hollywood Bowl for the Earth, Wind, and Fire concert. It was sold out for mere mortals. Didn't have my camera but snapped this photo with my trusty Droid. That's Randy and Denise McCann Bachman as the concert began. He's in town promoting his new Bachman Turner recording which is fabulous.

The Southern Belle says: Might as well have fun while you're on top of the ground. It'll be too late once you're under it.
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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Last Photos of Summer Party

"It's okay for a woman to know her place.
She just shouldn't stay there."
Rule 59
The Southern Belle's Handbook

My wish for the beautiful and talented women who attended the Northwestern Council of 100 and NUEA summer party is they all find their place and carve out a brilliant future.
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Northwestern Council of 100 & NUEA

More photos of the summer party hosted by NU's Council of 100 and NUEA. Do you see yourself in any of these photos? If so post a comment.
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Sunday, August 22, 2010

Uppity Women

" An uppity woman with a good good education will find a way."
Rule 59 of The Southern Belle's Handbook, Sissy LeBlanc's Rules to Live By.

The women in these pictures had an excellent education. They are recent graduates (and one or two not so recent) of Northwestern University.

Uppity? Not sure. But most of them are on track in their careers and lives. So I'm guessing uppity, but you all can let me know if I'm wrong.

We met for a summer get together and networking party in Beverly Hills at the end of July. I had a great time and met some exceptionally bright and beautiful women.

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Friday, August 20, 2010

Looking Good

"A girl has to look her best while she's still young enough to look real good."
Rule #24, The Southern Belle's Handbook

Last month I helped the Council of 100, a mentoring organization made up of one hundred of the most successful women ever to graduate from Northwestern University, organize a party for co-eds and recent grads. And these young women were looking good. Real good. We were joined by the Northwestern Entertainment Alliance a fabulous networking group of NU grads working in the entertainment industry.

Boy do I wish these groups had been in existence when I came out to Hollywood. I was hopeless. I might not have leaped to fame and fortune, doors might not have opened for me, but with the Council of 100 and NUEA, at least I would have known what doors to beat my head against.

I wish I could have captioned every photo here, but I admit it I'm hopeless. Once when I had to introduce my fiance (now husband) I clutched and couldn't say his name, since then I've learned never to introduce anyone. So I encourage you to comment and tell the world who is in the photos.

I'll start-- in the top photo that's Candy Deemer on the left in the red and me on the right in the black and Northwestern purple.

In the coming days, I'll post more photos. I have 26 ready to go.
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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Who Says?

Who says music is only for the young? (I was going to say peurile, but scratch that.) Last night we saw the last concert of the Carol King/ James Taylor Reunion. Wow. They filled the Anaheim Honda Center --all 18,900 seats and when they finished the audience begged for more. How can they leave all that love? Yes, Carol, we still love you in the morning. And James, We always thought we'd see you again.
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Monday, July 19, 2010

The Hard Life of the Writer Part II

This weekend celebrity food writers extraordinaire Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg (known to their fans as Kandrew--sort of like Brangelina) stayed at our house. We celebrated by opening a bottle of Louis de Sacy champagne which we were keeping for friends whom we knew would appreciate it.
Saturday night they took us to the spectacular Beverly Hills French Restaurant Bouchon where the chef gave us a tour of the kitchen and sent out delicious dish after dish including a fabulous beet tart and melon salad. My trout almondine with fresh string beans was cooked to perfection.
Sunday morning we ambled through the Beverly Hills Farmer's market before going home lunch by the pool of fresh corn (picked that morning), and an heirloom tomato salad Andrew made with Greek feta cheese, onions, and red peppers. For dessert we ate fresh strawberries and raspberries. We lazed around and swam (I told you writers have tough lives) until it was time to go to the Hollywood Bowl to see a sold out performance of "The Swell Season" --the duo of Glen Hansard and Marketa Irgova who won an Oscar for best song in their film, Once. We capped off the evening with a visit backstage and a long chat with the charming Marketa.
Andrew and Karen flew back to New York this morning leaving us to our regular lives, but they tell me they will bring out an app: "What to Drink with What you Eat" based on their book of the same name. Soon we'll be able to check our phones and learn the perfect wine to order whenever we're out for dinner. Cool huh?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Play Date or Don't Mess with the Muse

Sometimes my writing tickles me. That's when time flies and the writing is good. But today after about 3 hours, I'm boring myself! So I'm taking myself for a play date and going to look at the beautiful fresh fruit and flowers at the Westwood Farmer's market. No point messing with the Muse.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

BellaChella's Summer Reading

I love to hear from readers and as you know I often post what they write to me. BellaChella in her blog Mic's Picks "Literature Lovers Unite" was kind enough to review THE SCANDALOUS SUMMER OF SISSY LEBLANC. Here are the first paragraphs of her blog:

I was hooked at the beginning by it's vaguely similar qualities to "The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood," a very special book to me for sentimental reasons. It's reminiscent of my beloved Ya-Ya's in that it is set in a small town in Louisiana (near New Orleans) and takes place mostly during the early 1940's-1950's, and it is a story of a strong woman in a time when that was truly a novelty and even a threat.

On a very un-Ya-Ya note, there are some ***VERY "ADULT" SCENES*** in this delicious and entertaining tale. (It's wouldn't be a very "scandalous summer" without them, but be warned this gets graphic in spots and deals with some very mature issues!!!) You've been warned...

I like that Mrs. Despres deals with some very real and inflammatory issues of the time, such as desegregation, as well as some very provocative, age-old issues like adultery and murder. I know, sounds pretty heavy for summer chick lit, but there's plenty of brainless fluff and cute wit to keep it light.

For the full review see

I'm delighted she liked the book. But ***VERY ADULT***? I knew I wrote some sexy scenes, but I didn't think they were ***VERY "ADULT***-- Have you seen ABC Family's THE SECRET LIFE OF THE AMERICAN TEENAGER? Oh well, once it's written, the story belongs to the reader.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Hard Life of a Writer

I just got back from St. Croix where Ethlie Ann Vare and I broke story on a romantic comedy set in the islands. She has a villa there overlooking the Caribbean. That picture of sunset over the ocean at left was taken from her balcony. We found the crystal waters so inspiring. That's me on the right, Ethlie in the middle, and her friend Craig Torrey on the left. The final shot shows rain on the water to remind us that a writer's life is hard.

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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Weeds--A Walk In the Park

My husband complained that walking in the park near our house bored him to tears. He's a fauna guy. Now I love fauna as much as the next person. I like to see the ducks and the turtles, but I also love the native flora. There's always something new to see, especially in the spring. So Thursday I picked up my point and shoot Canon Ixus 100 and set off to photograph some weeds. Sorry if you hit on this blog hoping to get some news of the excellent Showtime Series or directions to where you could buy some really good weed, for medicinal use of course. I just wanted to share a walk in the beautiful park near our house.

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Monday, May 24, 2010

Cool Note from Facebook Friend

My books take so long to write, letters from readers mean a great deal to me. I thought I'd share one I received last month from a Facebook Friend:

Ms. Despres -
Thank you for the comments and the wall posts. I hope you know that myself, as well as the girls I work with, absolutely love your novels, and the rules from The Southern Belle's Handbook...I I truly do appreciate your writings, as they tend to influence us on a daily basis. For years it has been a habit of mine to pick up the handbook and simply remind myself of all the little life lessons, and the situations that surround them. I will continue to do so, and will be passing allong "The Bad Behavior of Belle Cantrell" as soon as it arrives and I get the opportunity to enjoy it.

I hope you are well, and enjoying life to its fullest.

Thanks again,

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Two Kinds of Men

There are two kinds of men. The ones who are interested in you and the rest. The second kind are so misguided, they're not worth your time. Because if a man doesn't have the sense to appreciate you, he obviously doesn't have any sense at all.

Rule Number 71, The Southern Belle's Handbook.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Reader on the Go

Recently, a reader shot off a note on her T-Mobile Sidekick. I thought it was so very nice of her to take the time to write, I decided to share her kind words.

Dear Loraine,
I was wondering if there will be another fabulous book to this series? I enjoy your books and they sure drag you into them. I hope in the near future you'll be willing to write another book. I appreciate your writing and thanks for everything.

Your fan,

Thanks, I'm finishing up a new book right now.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

How to Interview a Man

to find out if he's good enough for you.

A good way to begin is by asking: "What do you want to be doing in five years?"
If the answer is, "I don't know, I don't have any real plans." That's a clue he's not ambitious. It's also a clue, you'll be supporting him if you stick around.
If his answer is: "A rock star filling arenas."
Your next question should be "So how's that going? You in a band?" If the answer is, "No, not really." That's another clue that you could be working for two. If instead he says, "Oh, yeah, and we just got a record contract." You might want to stick around. You could be in for a fun ride. Or not.
Whatever the answer, the guy will have lots of fun talking about his dreams and think you are one interesting woman.
But if you really want to find the man of your dreams, before you begin the interview, the Southern Belle advises ask yourself, "Where do I want to be in five years?"

Monday, May 03, 2010

A Reader from Chicago

A reader from Chicago contacted me through Shelfari an on-line community of book lovers. She has a staggering 214 books on her shelf, but generously took time to write me this. I had share it with you.

"Ms. Despres,
I just wanted to write you a quick note. I originally read the Bad Behavior of Belle Cantrell severals years ago and decided to read it again last week. I loved it even more the second time around! I read The Scandalous Summer of Sissy LeBlanc yesterday and absolutely loved that as well. I'm originally from New Hampshire, and have never visited the South, but I feel as if I could connect to your characters so well.
I hope you plan on writing more books like these, because I thoroughly enjoyed them!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Men Are Easy

I talked to a beautiful young 20 something today who told me she was excited because someone invited her for a date.
"What!" I said. "You should be carrying rocks in your pocket to fend them off. What do you mean, you're excited?"
"I guess I'm not very encouraging. When I'm out with my girlfriends, I'm sort of out with them." She went on about how she discourages men.
"How's that working for you?"
She tried to change the subject. Finally she admitted it wasn't working out well at all. She dreams of having children, but I know too many lovely 40 somethings who are sitting home Saturday evenings, because they don't know how to encourage a man.
What she and any girl who's looking for love has to do when they go out on the town is to interview the men who come up to them and offer to buy them a drink.
The guys will love it. As I said in The Scandalous Summer of Sissy LeBlanc, Rule #11 "Men always find themselves the most fascinating subject of any conversation."
Let him talk. He'll enjoy himself and you'll be interviewing for a bf. The point is, you want to find out if he's good enough for you.
More tips on how to interview for a boy friend in later blogs.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Avid Reader

Avid reader and talented photographer Erin Norman took time out of her busy life to read and blog about the Scandalous Summer of Sissy LeBlanc. I thought I'd share her kind words with you.

"My 13th book was The Scandalous Summer of Sissy LeBlanc by Lorraine Despres and it was great! It was recommended to me by a friend (Thanks McCall!) and I really couldn't put it down, I read it in about 2 days. Its basically about one small town Louisianna woman's summer of scandal, the title says it all. One the first page of the book, it says that her husband buys a gun, so the whole rest of the book, you're taken on a journey of twists and turns to find out why exactly her husband buys that gun and what he does with it. You learn more about Sissy's life as she "flashes back" and she really is a victim of her own mistakes but you can't help but to like her, and root for her. If you love a good piece of "Chick Lit" this one is definitely one for you!!

This book is full of Sissy's Rules to live by which she calls the Southern Belles's Handbook:
#39- A girl doesn't have to give in to temptation, but she might not get another chance.
#102-When making a life decision, you can't trust your head.
And my favorite:
#59- Its okay for a woman to know her place, she just shouldn't stay there."

You can find this and other reviews as well as her reading challenge on her blog along with some of her beautiful photography :

Thursday, April 22, 2010


A woman who goes out with a married man plays second fiddle to his wife--Southern Belles don't make that kind of music.
Rule #54 The Southern Belle's Handbook

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Awesome Reader

I keep getting such moving letter from my readers. I wanted to share this one with you from Leslie Amyette, Ayden, NC who graciously gave me permission to post it.

"Your novels are awesome. I was turned on to you a few years ago by my sister. We are both avid readers and are Southern girls ourselves. Anyway, we have eagerly awaited a new novel by you. I checked out your website, but was unable to determine if you have a new novel in the works. I am just curious to know if you are or plan to write another novel. If so, could you please let me know approximate publication date? Or even just if you are planning something so we can be on the lookout for it!

Leslie Amyette"

Leslie, you will be the first to know.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Naked Girls, Modest Guys

Summer is near, It will soon be bathing suit weather and women across the world will be looking in the mirror, dieting, buying cosmetic elixirs promising the impossible, worrying about every real and perceived figure flaw.

That got me thinking. For my novel, The Bad Behavior of Belle Cantrell, I researched swim wear in the early 20th century. In 1920, men wore tight shorts and wife-beater teeshirts when they ventured into the water. At the same time, respectable women wore long skirts and stockings. Some women's swim teams did adopt men's suits, but in 1922, women wearing such "indecent" attire were arrested on the beach in Chicago.

Today, the guys wear boxy, knee-length shorts that would seem modest to a time traveler from the early 1900s, while girls are next to naked, every blemish, every tiny roll of flesh. Are we giving up our mystery?

I read a book by an American who went to Saudi Arabia. When he attended party of Westerners, he found unveiled faces of women incredibly erotic. Now, I'm certainly not in favor of veiling women, but I wonder are we giving up some of our allure by flaunting so much Southern exposure? American men could wear the tiny briefs we see on European beaches, but they don't want to be that exposed. Why do we? Just asking.

Monday, March 15, 2010


Sometimes the Southern Belle is able to actually go to a book club.

That's what happened March 3, when the vivacious Elaine Donan invited me to her home to discuss THE BAD BEHAVIOR OF BELLE CANTRELL. Inspired by the Southern theme, some of the ladies even wore hats.

We wined and dined on fried chicken and sweet potatoes and discussed the book and the research I did into the year 1920 when prohibition became law and women finally were able to vote. I told them some men thought they were protecting us as we were too delicate to "withstand the rough and tumble of the voting booth." That was also the year the KKK spread across America as a money-making pyramid scheme and equal opportunity haters.
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Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Have They Lost Their Minds?

I keep getting ads for mini-skirts in spring and summer fashion:;jsessionid=DOXPQGGGZ5EIKCQAAKTRACY?itemId=cat25260741&parentId=cat25260731&masterId=cat000003&icid=her0b

The Southern Belle says if you've got great legs flaunt them!

But how many of us want to show off our knees or God forbid our thighs? Just as men put on extra weight in there tummies, for women every extra ounce shows up in our neither regions,which in the great scheme of things is healthier.

Although tall skinny models wobbling on stiletto heels may look great on the runway, designers who expect real women to wear those clothes have lost their minds. Maybe they have a poverty wish.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Letters from Readers

As an author I often hear from my readers and I always welcome their thoughts. But rarely do I get an email that moved me as much as this one. Ms Zeboor gave me permission to share this with you and use her name:

Dear Ms. Despres,
I wanted to tell you how much of an impact your book, "the Scandalous Summer of Sissy LeBlanc", has had on me. I have moved 7-8 times in the past year or two. I have been to nice places, and gotten a chance to see new things, but I have also been to the rougher side of the tracks living in my car and being homeless. But one thing that stayed constant in my chaotic life is this, your words. I have reread sissy so many times my copy is tattered and yellowed, the pages are softening like paper does when it's touched a million times. Next week monday is my birthday, and I was wondering if I could mail you my book to sign? It would mean so much to me, and from one southern belle to another. Your book kept reminding me of the good days down south where everything slows down enough for you to enjoy summer and get yourself into a bit of trouble.
If you cant do this, i completely understand. You must be a very busy woman, but I had to try! Thank you so much for your time and I hope that the three books you wrote (of course I have them!) wont be the last! :)
Heather "Scout" Zeboor

" We shall not cease Exploration, At the end of all our exploring, Will be to arrive at where we started...And know it for the very first time.."
T.S. Elliot

Monday, February 08, 2010

Mother's Love

As I wrote in an earlier blog, I went to London for my son's wedding. The wedding was held in Newlington Green Unitarian Church, built in the early 1700s and a hotbed of radicalism at the time of our American Revolution. A perfect setting for the bride. You'll get the idea from her blog:

A few days after the wedding she gave us a tour of Oxford, where she had studied "maths." Training for a stand up comic, right?

It was cold and rainy and I needed a hat. Confession: I have a big head. Most women's hats don't fit and those that do look down-right silly. So I found this great men's hat. I loved it. It was warm and kept the rain off. And I loved the way I looked. I'm sharing the photo with you because, I gave it away. Sob.

It looked great on my son, so I left it for him in London. I think that qualifies in the "no greater love" catagory.
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Sunday, January 31, 2010

London transportation

The fastest way around London is by the tube. But you're underground, breathing foul air, herded like cattle at transfer stations. The most expensive is by taxi and it can be very expensive. The slowest is by bus. Yesterday, I had lunch with a friend in Belgravia. What a treat it was to walk down Sloane Street past the achingly beautiful and wildly expensive shops and then take the bus back to the flat in Maiden Lane. I sat on top in the corner and watched the world go by. We lumbered past Hyde Park Corner, the Wellington Arch, Green Park, the Ritz Hotel, up Piccadilly past the Royal Academy of Arts, around Trafalgar Square, up the Strand to Maiden Lane. A great way to see London and get home at the same time.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Mother-in Law in a gang of Comics

My son, David Mulholland, is a stand-up comic and runs the Soho Comedy Club in London. When I set off for his wedding to the brilliant comedian and blogger Kate Smurthwaite, my friend Carl Gottlieb, a great screenwriter and wit, emailed me that I was very brave going into a group of comics as "the Mother-in-Law."

The wedding was held in the oldest Unitarian church in London--built in 1709. It's where Mary Wollstonecraft worshiped and had her school for girls. If you don't know who Mary Wollstonecraft is look her up. She's the mother of feminism.

Anyway, the reception was held in a pub and was filled with comics. They were attractive and very smart. (You don't have to be smart to be an actor. You may be or not. After all you're saying someone else's lines.) But you have to be very smart to be a comic. I expected the evening to be very funny. It was fun, but the comics were not trying out material. They were professionals. Instead I heard lots of intense conversations on the craft of comedy. It reminded me of a time a few years ago when I was in Paris. An old school pal had become one of France's leading artists. He invited me for drinks with another artist. I expected to hear a high minded conversation on art. But no, the two of them talked about a hardware store in the suburbs where they could find the tools they needed for their sculptures.

Amateurs and fans talk about art. Professionals talk about the tools of their trade.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Snake Poison

Saw the Golden Globes last night. 50 years after the Woman's Movement and all those actresses are injecting snake venom into their faces to freeze their expression. It's sad they/we feel we have to. Foot-binding anyone? Oh, we don't need to do that, we have those beautiful high rise shoes with tiny heels to trip us up.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Fame, Fortune, Fun, FAST

With the holidays pressing upon me and trying to wrap up my next book, I didn't get a chance to blog. But this is my wish for the new year. May 2010 bring us all: FAME, FORTUNE, and FUN FAST. Don't we deserve it? What do you want most? Fame? Fortune? or Fun?