MUSED
BellaOnline Literary Review
Death of Salome by Kristina Gehrmann

Letter From the Editor
Jill Florio
Dear Mused Readers,

Death of Salome, the astounding digital painting by Kristina Gehrmann, just had to be our cover. And it's even somewhat seasonally appropriate - the bracing icy waters supply a soothing image for these hot summer days. Not that the subject matter is a very calming topic: Salome, who received the head of St. John the Baptist on a plate, is being dragged to a watery death by demons. But the work was so very arresting we could not choose anything else.

Okay, you got me. We almost picked Joe Joe Liotta's Fatal Kiss. Vampires fantasies suit sultry, sweaty summer days. If you are an Anne Rice fan, or recall the romances between Buffy and her brooding, sexy vampire lovers, you will enjoy this virtuoso graphite pencil drawing.

Besides these two deliciously morbid artworks, Dan Florio's painterly Blue Falls photo was also a cover consideration. Ultimately, we felt the work was a bit too subtle for a cover. Taken at Havasu Canyon in Arizona, this impressive near-abstract isolated cascade exposure truly illustrates how to use the camera as a paintbrush.

It's not just photography that blurs the boundaries of our expectations. The poem Shellin' Peas, by Stephanie Arwen Lynch, borders the line between poetry and prose. But as Poetry Senior Editor Lisbeth Cheever-Gessaman explains, "The important distinction is, is it good?" As she says, the piece evokes a pleasant feel of a summer day and crickets and regrets and love. Summer, again.

Michelle Taylor's Thunder haiku evokes powerful summer memories of nighttime rumblings on hot, humid nights, while Deborah Crawford's sweltering Summer Heat is perfectly oppressive.

In non-fiction, we received entries honoring life's transitions: Her Life Unfolding, a touching ode to a step-daughter by Jody Zolli, received raves from our Non-Fiction jurors. Lemon Dropped, by Jacquelyn Richey, plies us with sweet visions of awkward teenage years and fumbling first kisses. And Cynthia Parker's The Song of Life perfectly encapsulates her ambiguous emotions and final joyful acceptance of turning 40.

Sue Moore's Eggs Four Different Ways is our favorite fan fiction story this month - it's an engaging short tale with fully fleshed characters, honest reactions, and a delightful cheekiness. Fiction editor Cynthia Parker writes, "The theme of the dinner flowing through the external framework with the styles of eggs is an interesting technique," while Vannie Ryanes, another of our Fiction jurors, offers, "Moore writes good, readable fiction."

We also have a macabre summer read in The Curse Breaker, by Amanda D. Barncord Doerr. To accompany our artwork depicting death, demons, vampires, goths, Egyptian princesses, pirate ships and thunderous summer storms, this tale of witches and cursed artifacts makes for satisfying reading.

The last thing we are unendurably pleased about is our own stunning PDF design this issue. Now that our PDF subscriptions are free, we strongly, STRONGLY suggest you open this version for a browse. Our talented Art Director Diane Cipollo tried a few new things and we adore the full bleed Valley of the Sun page as a canvas for our haiku.

I can't help gushing about this issue. So let me simply stop. My advice: go muddle a cool mojito, lounge under a beach umbrella with your laptop, and enjoy our Summer Solstice offering.

A toast to summer,
Jill Florio
Editor in Chief

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