To celebrate the release of Jessica Bell’s latest novel, WHITE LADY, she is giving away an e-copy (mobi, ePub, or PDF) to the first person to correctly guess the one true statement in the three statements below. To clarify, two statements are lies, and one is true:

Jessica Bell’s first creative goal was …

  1. to become a rock star
  2. to become an inspirational author
  3. to become a professional dancer

What do you think? Which one is true? Write your guess in the comments, along with your email address. Comments will close in 48 hours. If no-one guesses correctly within in 48 hours, comments will stay open until someone does.

Want more chances to win? You have until October 31 to visit all the blogs where Jessica will share a different set of true and false statements on each one. Remember, each blog is open to comments for 48 hours only from the time of posting.

If you win, you will be notified by email with instructions on how to download the book.

Click HERE to see the list of blogs.


*This novel contains coarse language, violence, and sexual themes.

​Sonia yearns for sharp objects and blood. But now that she’s rehabilitating herself as a “normal” mother and mathematics teacher, it’s time to stop dreaming about slicing people’s throats.

While being the wife of Melbourne’s leading drug lord and simultaneously dating his best mate is not ideal, she’s determined to make it work.

It does work. Until Mia, her lover’s daughter, starts exchanging saliva with her son, Mick. They plan to commit a crime behind Sonia’s back. It isn’t long before she finds out and gets involved to protect them.

But is protecting the kids really Sonia’s motive?

Click HERE to view the book trailer.

Click HERE for purchase links.

black and white_Jessica Bell

Jessica Bell, a thirty-something Australian-native contemporary fiction author, poet and singer/songwriter/guitarist, is the Publishing Editor of Vine Leaves Literary Journal and the director of the Homeric Writers’ Retreat & Workshop on the Greek island of Ithaca. She makes a living as a writer/editor for English Language Teaching Publishers worldwide, such as Pearson Education, HarperCollins, MacMillan Education, Education First and Cengage Learning.

Connect with Jessica online:

Website | Retreat & workshop | Blog | Vine Leaves Literary Journal | Facebook | Twitter

*New Music* “Look What They’ve Done To My Song, Ma”

227. Melanie Safka

This week’s new music is my version of Melanie Safka’s “Look What They’ve Done To My Song, Ma”:

Look What They’ve Done To My Song

Look what they’ve done to my song, Ma
Look what they’ve done to my song
Well, it’s the only thing I could do half right
It’s turning out all wrong Ma
Look what they’ve done to my song

Look what they’ve done to my brain, Ma
Look what they’ve done to my brain
Yeah, they picked it like a chicken bone
And they think I’m half insane, Ma
Look what they’ve done to my brain

Wish I could find a book to live in
Wish I could find a good book
Cause, if I could find a real good book
I’d never have to come out and look at
Look what they’ve done to my song

But maybe I’ll be alright, Ma
Yeah, maybe I’ll be OK
Cause, if the people are buying tears
Then we’ll be rich someday, Ma
Look what they’ve done to my song

Written by Melanie Safka

(Click on image for credits)

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*New Music* My Version of “To Make You Feel My Love”

226. Dylan 2009

Many people will be familiar with this song from Amy Winehouse or Adele and may not know that it was written by Bob Dylan for his 1997 album, Time Out of Mind (proving that when Uncle Bob wants to, he can still bang out a good tune). This is my version of “To Make You Feel My Love”:

Make You Feel My Love

When the rain is blowin’ in your face
And the whole world is on your case
I could offer you a warm embrace
To make you feel my love

When the evening shadows and the stars appear
And there is no one there to dry your tears
I could hold you for a million years
To make you feel my love

I know you haven’t made your mind up yet
But I would never do you wrong
I’ve known it from the moment that we met
No doubt in my mind where you belong

I’d go hungry, I’d go black and blue
I’d go crawlin’ down the avenue
No, there’s nothin’ that I wouldn’t do
To make you feel my love

The storms are raging on the rollin’ sea
And on the highway of regrets
The winds of change are blowing wild and free
You ain’t seen nothin’ like me yet

I could make you happy, make your dreams come true
There’s nothing that I would not do
Go to the ends of the Earth for you
To make you feel my love

Written by Bob Dylan

(Click on the image for credits)

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*New Music* My Version of Leonard Cohen’s “Sisters of Mercy”

225. leonard-cohen

This week’s new music is my version of Leonard Cohen’s “Sisters of Mercy”:

The Sisters of Mercy

Oh the sisters of mercy, they are not departed or gone
They were waiting for me when I thought that I just can’t go on
And they brought me their comfort and later they brought me this song
Oh I hope you run into them, you who’ve been travelling so long

Yes you who must leave everything that you cannot control
It begins with your family, but soon it comes around to your soul
Well I’ve been where you’re hanging, I think I can see how you’re pinned
When you’re not feeling holy, your loneliness says that you’ve sinned

Well they lay down beside me, I made my confession to them
They touched both my eyes and I touched the dew on their hem
If your life is a leaf that the seasons tear off and condemn
They will bind you with love that is graceful and green as a stem

When I left they were sleeping, I hope you run into them soon
Don’t turn on the lights, you can read their address by the moon
And you won’t make me jealous if I hear that they sweetened your night
We weren’t lovers like that and besides it would still be all right
We weren’t lovers like that and besides it would still be all right

Written by Leonard Cohen


(Click on the image for credits)

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*New Music* My Version of The Blades “Last Man in Europe”

224. The Blades

This week’s new music is by an Irish band from the 80s who – while hugely popular in Ireland – sadly, never got their break outside of Ireland. Their popularity in their home country was proven once again recently when they reformed to play a number of sellout shows. This is my version of one of their most popular songs, “Last Man in Europe”:

The Last Man in Europe

Now I’m expecting you to track me down
And yes I think I know what you’ll say
This place was dark but now it’s bright again
Oh no, don’t tell me it’s a new day

Need your tales of doom and gloom
So it can all be over soon

I wish that I could be the last man in Europe
Then would you fall for me, the last man in Europe

Don’t poison me with fear and jealousy
And all the secrets that I’ll never know
Deception hurts my brain like acid rain
So tell the truth and let the venom flow

Hurry up and block the sun
And maybe then I’ll be the only one

I wish that I could be the last man in Europe
Then would you fall for me, the last man in Europe


Written by Paul Cleary

(Click on image for credit)

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Lee Miller – The Forgotten Feminist

Lee Miller was many things: a fashion model, Surrealist muse, assistant to Man Ray, Vogue photographer, war photographer, sexual bohemian whose lovers included everyone from Charlie Chaplin to Picasso – but most of all, she was a feminist long before the word became popular.

Miller 1927

“I looked like an angel, but I was a fiend inside,” Lee Miller said of her early days as a model.

Born in Poughkeepsie, New York, in 1907, her father – an amateur photographer – took many photographs of Miller, as well as her schoolgirl friends. Troublingly, many of these were nude shots. Miller was raped by a family friend at the age of seven (Miller’s son, Antony, speculated that the rapist may have been her own father) and contracted gonorrhea, the treatment for which at the time was invasive and extremely painful. The counselling afterwards cautioned the tiny girl not to confuse sex with love. Biographers have speculated that both her father’s photographing of her and the horrific rape had a profound effect on the rest of her life.

Miller went to New York to study art at the age of nineteen and a chance encounter with the owner of Vogue magazine (he stopped her from stepping out under a passing car) led to her becoming one of the most successful models in New York at that time. A photograph of her was the first ever picture of a real-life woman used in a sanitary towel advert and caused a mini-scandal. But the life of a model wasn’t enough for Miller.

She moved to Paris in 1929 with the intention of becoming a photographer. She tracked Man Ray down in a cafe: “I told him boldly that I was his new student. He said he didn’t take students, and anyway he was leaving Paris for his holiday. I said, I know, I’m going with you – and I did. We lived together for three years and I learned a lot about photography.”

Miller went on to be hailed as one of the most beautiful women in Paris. Her breasts were used by one French glass company for modelling the shape of its champagne glasses.


Miller photographed by Man Ray

She became part of the surrealist set, starring in one of Jean Cocteau’s movies, all the while taking her own photographs and honing her skills. (Indeed, many photographs attributed to Man Ray were taken by Miller.) When she began to embark on the same kind of hedonistic lifestyle – with the same laissez faire attitude to sex – as her male counterparts, however, Man Ray decided this was a step too far.

“The woman who was a shockingly good surrealist photographer shocked her daring male surrealist friends with her far-too-open attitudes to sexuality. Free love was for the boys; even the surrealists found it too surreal in a girl … her sexual independence drove [Man Ray] nearly insane with jealousy. He took to threatening suicide, walking round Paris carrying a revolver and wearing a noose, then made his famous sculpture Object to be Destroyed – a metronome whose ticking pendulum tip is, revealingly, a photograph of one of Miller’s eyes.”

“The Look of the Moment” Ali Smith

In June 1934 she married an Egyptian businessman and moved to Egypt. She may have been looking for a quiet life but she very quickly became bored and was ready to move onto the next phase of her life.

“At a costume party in Paris she met Roland Penrose, a wealthy British painter and writer who was an eager member of the Surrealist circle. After waking in his bed two mornings later, she embarked on a passionate affair with Penrose, and a wild summer of bohemian partner-swapping and exhibitionism that included a visit to Picasso at Mougins. There Lee was painted by Picasso six times and gladly loaned to him by Penrose for a night or two.”

“Shutters and Shudders” Toni Bentley


One of a number of paintings Picasso did of Miller

Miller moved to London with Penrose and got a job with Vogue magazine – this time on the other side of the camera. When the Second World War broke out, she wanted to go to the front but the British army had a policy of not giving accreditation to female photographers.

“You cannot understand Miller’s deep feminist need to get herself to the very centre of events unless you also understand her other, equally deep conviction that those events could not possibly damage her.”

“The Real Surrealist” David Hare

In 1941 she met the Life photographer Dave Scherman. He became her friend, lover and – after moving in with Miller and Penrose – a third member of a ménage à trois. He also solved her accreditation problem. If the British army wouldn’t take her, he told Miller, the Americans would.

Miller’s war photography is astonishing: from a top-secret napalm strike to corpses piled high in the Buchenwald and Dachau concentration camps, her stark photographs shocked the readers back home. “She got very close to things,” said Mark Haworth-Booth, who has curated exhibitions of her work. “Margaret Bourke-White [famed WWII photographer] was far away from the fighting, but Lee was close. That’s what makes the difference – Lee was prepared to shock.”


One of the most famous shots of Miller (taken by Scherman) in Hitler’s bath.

“It is almost impossible today,” Scherman wrote “to conceive how difficult it was for a woman correspondent to get beyond a rear-echelon military position, in other words, to the front, where the action was.”

But the war had taken its toll on her. When she returned to England in 1946, Miller was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and drinking heavily. She gave birth to a son in 1947 and suffered from postnatal depression. Miller and Penrose moved to Farley Farm House in East Sussex in 1949 and were visited by many of their famous friends and colleagues, including Miró, Picasso, Henry Moore and others. But Miller continued to battle her demons.

“Her looks had deserted her once she got on the bottle and she was having trouble accepting Roland’s affairs,” recalled her son, Antony. “They had both always had lots of affairs, the place was very free sexually, but Lee got more and more angry watching women hurling themselves at Roland, and she drank more and argued a lot.”

Lee Miller and son Anthony Penrose

Miller with her son, Antony

Theirs was a fraught relationship, although they reconciled a year before her death. She died in 1977 at the age of 70, a minor figure in the art world. It was only after her death that her son realised the depth and importance of her photographic work, something Miller had hidden away in the latter part of her life. He discovered boxes in the attic containing over 60,000 negatives, as well as her writings and letters. Since then, Antony has devoted his life to promoting his mother’s varied career. Her work is now housed in the Lee Miller Archive at her home, Farley Farm House and is on display at

The reason she “buried” her work is probably best explained by Miller herself: “I could never get the stench of Dachau out of my nostrils,” she told her biographer Carolyn Burke shortly before her death.


Click on pics for credits

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*New Music* My Mash-Up of Neil Young’s “Southern Man” and Dolly Parton’s “Jolene”

Neil & Dolly
This week’s new music is the unlikely duo of Neil Young and Dolly Parton. This is my mash-up of “Southern Man” and “Jolene”:

Southern Man/Jolene

Southern man, better keep your head,
Don’t forget what your Good Book says
Southern change gonna come at last,
Now your crosses are burnin’ fast, southern man

I saw cotton and I saw black,
Tall white mansions and little shacks;
Southern man when will you pay them back?
I heard screamin’ and bull whips crackin’
How long, how long? Ah!

Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene
I`m begging of you please dont`t take my man
Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene
Please don`t take him just because you can

Your beauty is beyond compare
With flaming locks of auburn hair
With ivory skin and eyes of emerald green
Your smile is like a breath of spring
Your voice is soft like summer rain
And I cannot compete with you, Jolene

He talks about you in his sleep
There`s nothing I can do to keep
From crying when he calls your name, Jolene
And I can easily understand
How you could easily take my man
But you don`t know what he means to me, Jolene

Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene
I`m begging of you please don`t take my man
Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene
Please don`t take him just because you can

Lillie Bell, your hair is golden brown,
I’ve seen your black man comin’ round,
Swear by God, I’m gonna cut him down!
I heard screamin’ and bull whips crackin’
How long, how long? Ah!

“Southern Man” written by Neil Young

“Jolene” written by Dolly Parton

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