Ungodly Hungers Free for Halloween!

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The Luminous Creatures’s horror short stories, Ungodly Hungers, are free all day today, October 31, for Kindle. Creepy stories for a dark day!

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Foam Roller Sequence

You know it would be a good thing if your foam roller saw more use than as a scratching post for your cat. This list will help you unwind the cumulative effects of too many hours spent at the computer or help you recover after a tough workout. I keep my foam roller in my office and use it daily. Rolling is a great way to stretch, give a self-massage, and train for balance with both low and high risk options.

I’ve separated my list into three sections: beginner, intermediate, and advanced.

Today I’m posting the beginner sequence. Enjoy!

Beginner Foam Roller

Angel Arms

Angelarms

Side to Side Rock

side2side

Knee Fold

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Occiput Release

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Calf Roll

calf

Quad Roll

quad

Inner Thigh Roll

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Back Roll

back

Latissimus Twist

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Lower back Stretch

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Hip Sway

sway

Scissors

scissors

Hip Flexor Swing

swing

Neck Roll

neck

Khanjluri Game

My submission for last week’s Flash Friday (150 word story challenge) got another honorable mention, which surprised me. I figured my story was too obscure to appeal. The prompt picture showed two Georgian nationalists of the late nineteenth century, Ilia Chavchavadze and Ivane Machabeli, playing chess at a St. Petersburg cafe. I researched the men and discovered that both were presumed to have been assassinated, by Bolsheviks, Mensheviks, or by the Tsarist Okhrana.

We were instructed to include a “nemesis” and not to use the word “chess.” I chose to focus on the historical setting of the picture, a departure from most of the other stories, which focused on the chess match itself.

My associative process for my story went something like this:

“Georgian nationalists” made me think of the pride of the Georgian National Ballet, a dance company that beautifully blends the traditional folkdance of their region with the technical expertise of Russian ballet. I knew I had to use Georgian dance, somehow, in my story. I picked the dance called Khanjluri because it involves the use of daggers and a dagger would play a central role in the climax of my story.

I am fascinated by the way dance, particularly the ballet, has acted as a mirror of cultural and political feeling in the Russian/Soviet Empire. I tried to incorporate this into my story, with the two Georgian Nationalists mocking the Imperial Ballet while praising their own national dance. Here’s the result of my loose mind:

Khanjluri Game

Two men lean over the gameboard, gazes intent. A nemesis was best assessed while playing shakhmaty, so Sergei comes every day to the coffeeshop. To assess, he tells himself, though truly he only delays.

Chavchavadze moves brashly. Machabeli plays deliberately.

Sergei’s time runs short. The Okhrana’s cold breath prickles the hairs on his neck.

“Will you go to the ballet, friend?” Machabeli asks.

Chavchavadze snorts. “That Imperial nonsense?” He mimics the fussy steps of a Russian dancer. “Give me a proud Georgian Khanjluri, not this mincing Russian business.” He advances a gamepiece. “Check.”

Machabeli stares. “Ilia! You take me by surprise!”

Sergei notes that Machabeli is easy to surprise.

Machabeli concedes, standing. “Until tomorrow.”

Sergei silences his following footsteps, drawing his blade. At the Tripartite Bridge, he lunges, pinning Machabeli to the railing. He slits his throat. Blood drains into the Griboyedov Canal.

“For the Tsar,” Sergei whispers.

He pushes the body over the railing. It will never be found.

New LCP Book! Margaret Dashwood and the Enchanted Atlas

I feel incredibly lucky to have a writing and publishing partner who is as talented and smart as Beth Deitchman, and I often wonder how anyone who writes gets by without a Beth. She keeps me motivated to write because of her genuine, upbeat perspective. As you can imagine, a writing partner relationship is a deep, intimate, and ever-changing experience. I will someday write about it in greater depth. Today I’m too excited about Beth’s latest creation!

Yesterday we formatted Beth’s latest work, Margaret Dashwood and the Enchanted Atlas, for digital and print editions.

We had a blast. The workday included:

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As well as:

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AND an espresso shake and baklava. You may think we only rolled around on Pilates equipment and ate treats, but we also managed to get our work done, and the results are published and ready for readers and reviews!

Check out Beth’s magical romp in the world of Jane Austen:

MDEA

A Simple Wish

Here’s my flash story from Angry Hourglass this past week. It didn’t win any prizes, but it’s still one of my favorites. The photo prompt was a close-up of pumpkins.

A Simple Wish

Merryweather stood surrounded by my pumpkins. Their rows stretched as long as the wishlists of teenaged girls.

She waved a device at me. “Look, Rowan! It’s a new kind of apple! I can accept wishes by text.”

I glanced skeptically at the box labeled iPhone6. “You’re better off with your Gravensteins.”

“But this will help me compete with plastic surgery. I can grant more complicated wishes.”

Merry’s business had slacked off. She specialized in physical appearance wishes, and modern girls had so many other options. Merry flitted back to her own bower.

My requests—I did carriages and transport—arrived as pumpkins. No new apple contraptions for me.

Such exorbitant desires nowadays! Nobody wished for a carriage-and-four, a velocipede, or even roller-skates. Now the girls wanted Porsches or Teslas. Teslas! That battery gave me fits. Someone should turn Elon Musk into a frog.

“Bibbity bobbity,” I muttered, rejecting a pumpkin requesting a BMW-M1 and an Icon Sheen Motorcycle.

A tiny, forlorn pumpkin sat at the row’s end. I flicked my wand to hear its wish.

“Please, I need a bicycle. Papaji heard the boys Eve-teasing me on the way to school, and he will ban me from school or marry me off if I cannot make them stop. I need a bicycle to ride away from them. Anjali in south Delhi.”

A bicycle! I arranged two pumpkins side by side.

“Bibbity bicycle!” Sparks shot from my wand, cascading over the pumpkins. Their stems grew, intertwining to form frame, handlebars, pedals, crankset, drive train. The pumpkins became wheels with thick tires lest the roads Anjali traversed were rough.

***

I perched in the Delhi slum, waiting. Anjali emerged with her school bag, checking both shoulders for taunting boys. She froze when she saw the green bicycle with its fat orange tires. She pulled at the tag on its handlebars.

“For Anjali, so that she may ride safely to school,” she read aloud. “And leave those boys in the dust.” Tears of joy spilled down her face.

I tucked my wand behind my ear. Merryweather could keep her new-fangled magic and her complicated wishes. The simplest wishes were often the most important.

Hourly Arithmetic

My story Hourly Arithmetic got an honorable mention over at Flash Friday! I’m excited!

Flash Friday gives a weekly picture prompt that must inspire the 140-160 word story. This week we had an image of a small boat with two figures in it, surrounded by flat water. One figure appeared to be fishing–or something–with a net or a tool. The head dragoness of FF also demands that we incorporate a specific element into our story. This week the required element was a politician.

Here’s my 158 word story:

Hourly Arithmetic

Betty stared at the television, blank-eyed. The candidates blathered on about tax cuts, mouths gaping and flapping. They might as well have been screaming. A scream was all she had heard for sixty hours.

“Forty-eight hours,” the officer had said calmly, as if it wasn’t her daughter’s body they sought in the lake.

“Forty-eight hours?”

“Statistics show that if a lead on a missing person isn’t found within forty-eight hours, case resolution decreases by fifty percent.”

Betty’s forty-eight had expired twelve hours ago. The presidential debate was meant to distract, but Betty’s gaze crept back to the lakeview window.

Her heart nearly exploded every time the searchers lifted the dredge. It leapt every time the dredge came up empty.

They were bringing it up again. Did they look more labored? Did the winch bear a body’s weight?
She held her breath. The candidates screamed. The reeling seemed to take hours.

Water rained down from the dredge.
Empty.
Again.