Miss Pelican's Perch

Looking at my World from a Different Place


Index Card App

A few days ago I downloaded a new app:  Index Card by Denvog.  It is a tool for writers to organize idea and story components on virtual index cards (just like the old days when you had to write a research paper for school) right on your IPad.

I started using it last night when an idea for a short story came upon me.  I am still on a learning curve, but what I am finding useful to me at the moment is that I can storyboard ideas from the comfort of my reading chair with the tap of my thumbs rather than having to spread out cards on my desk or the floor.

When I complete my story, then I will give you a final assessment of the product.  In the meantime, you can see how the apps works through this video review:


From My Journal: Festival of Books

Festival of Books signToday I made my annual trek to the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.   I sat in on some panels comprised of writers of young adult paranormal and fantasy novels.   Here are some notes I jotted in my journal.

  • Magic realism is not a genre you want to write if you want to be considered a ‘serious’ writer, but write it anyway.
  • Ghost stories allow us to explore dark moral areas.
  • Find new ways in your writing to investigate traditional themes.
  • Use small pockets of time to write and always be writing in your head.
  • Use noise canceling headphones while writing.
  • Walk each day.
  • Read your work out loud and listen to the rhythm and sound of the words.
  • Write a one-page synopsis of your plot just to get you thinking about where you want the story to go. Then write a twenty-page synopsis with each paragraph possibly becoming a chapter. Be aware, though, that you may start in one direction but your characters may take over the story. You cannot force your characters to take the story in a direction that is not true to their nature.

I did not buy a single book at the Festival, but came away with priceless ideas.





Cedar and magnolia trees

Cedar and magnolia trees

Decades ago I moved out of my parent’s middle class neighborhood on the Westside and to a more affluent town in the South Bay.  It was not because I could really afford to live in a beach-side community in the aerospace corridor with engineers and rocket scientists as neighbors.  Actually, It was because I knew a local landlord who offered me a sweet deal on a tiny apartment she was trying to swiftly turn over.  I do not think she realized that by making it so affordable for me, I was not inclined to move out too soon.

Although I have lived here for nigh on a quarter of a century, to this day I still feel like I am just a visitor.  I just don’t fit in.  I do not work for aerospace or the military.  I am not into surfing or the Women’s Club. I do not not have a family lineage here that stretches back three generations.  I did not attend the local high school.    Oh, and then there’s the apartment:  Property ownership here defines your place in the community.  For example, once I had an exchange with a man who lives around the corner from me about his not cleaning up after his dog that he regularly allowed to dump next to my front door.  His response to me was, “You’re just a renter so I don’t have to clean up after my dog.”  Yes, he really said that.  For some folks, renters are second class citizens on the periphery.  We are transients and, therefore, to be treated like outsiders.

Don’t get me wrong: there are things about this town I like.  I can go walking at night with little fear of being assaulted. I don’t step over homeless people.  I am fond of manicured lawns and Little Leaguers.  For the most part –the jerk with the dog not withstanding– the people are pleasant.     And the town does offer up an amazing fireworks show on Independence Day.   I am grateful to live in this community even though it has never felt like home.

In the last few months I have needed to spend more time caring for an elderly parent back in the neighborhood where I grew up.  I am usually at my family’s house a couple of nights during the week and most of each weekend.  I am gradually becoming reacquainted with the neighborhood.   I was over there this weekend and since it was a stunningly gorgeous Saturday, I decided to get out for a bit and walk the half mile to the business hub of the neighborhood.

A lot has changed since I last lived here.  Now there are trendy shops, like the one that sells handmade soaps, a tattoo parlor, several highbrow bistros and gritty-looking coffee houses.  (No sign yet of the green and white mermaid).  Some places are gone like the paperback bookstore where I spent many a hot summer morning in my youth and most of my allowance money on Anne McCaffrey and Barbara Cartland novels.

The bowling alley is still here, as is the post office and library.  The vintage bookstore is still here too, and I swear the same guy is running it thirty years later.  When I entered it today, the musty smell of old books and the hypnotic drone of the NPR announcer on the speakers were comfort food for my soul.

Five generations of my family have lived in this community, but unlike the good folks of my current residence, I revel in the newcomer — especially newcomers who look or sound a little different than me.  My hometown has always thrived on diversity. I grew up hearing Spanish and Japanese spoken everyday.  I appreciated the observances of my Buddhist and Jewish friends.  I am glad to see that this has not changed.  Today I see more signs in Korean and hear more European accents, and the cafés are as likely to serve hummus and pita as burgers and fries.

This is the place a writer like me belongs.

As I returned to my childhood home after my walk, I took notice of the weeds growing in the cracks in the sidewalk.  Yes, the house, like a lot of others around it, needs a little work and the garden has gone a little feral, but the cedar tree and magnolias planted by my parents decades ago remind me of my own rootedness to this small community.    As the afternoon breeze softened the heat of the sun on my face, one thought fell upon me:

This is home.

ljgloyd (c) 2014



Mar Vista

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flamenco duendeI originally wrote this story back in 2006, inspired by a prompt from Heather Blakey’s Alluvial Mine at the Soul Food Cafe.


Duende: a. A ghost, an evil spirit.
b. transf. Inspiration, magic, ‘fire’. –Oxford English Dictionary

Marta whipped her red Mustang around the corner and slipped into a parking space behind the Café Andaluz. Resting her pounding head on the steering wheel, she listened to the tick-tick-tick of the cooling engine and tried to calm her nerves.

She jumped as her cell phone trilled. She grabbed it from her bag and punched it.

“What?!……I’m here, Bryan! Relax, will you?” She ended the call by cramming the phone back into her bag.

Marta scrambled out of her car, scanning the dimly lit lot behind the Café. As she headed towards the backstage door, she heard a rustling noise from the dumpster in the corner of the lot. She stopped and stared. A dark figure of a man stood next to the dumpster.

“Go away and leave me alone!”, Marta shouted.  She sprinted through the stage door and nearly collided with Bryan, the stage manager and director.

“It’s about time you showed up. Your call was two hours ago.”

“I know, I’m sorry. I got held up.”

“’Sorry’ doesn’t cut it sweetie. Esteban wanted a dress rehearsal of your number. You do remember, don’t you, that the dance reviewer from the Weekly is coming tonight? Esteban is having a royal hissy because of you. I swear, that man is gonna break a string if he keeps strumming his picados so hard.”

Marta had stopped listening to Bryan and stared at his face. For a moment, his face seemed to transform from his fair boyish looks to something darker, more sinister. The image vanished as quickly as it came.

“Marta! What is wrong with you? You’ve got 25 minutes until the curtain goes up. You’re the fourth number, right after Luz and Maria’s cante chico. Get into costume now, puhleeze, and, omigawd, tell me that’s not how you’re going to wear your hair tonight?”

Marta ignored Bryan’s last remark as she headed down the hall to the dressing room. When she entered, she met Lupe, the wardrobe mistress, who glared at her.

“You are late….again.”

“Sorry.” Marta slipped off her sweat pants and t-shirt and began putting on her costume, a flaming orange gown over layers of white lace underskirts.

“You need a manton for your routine,” Lupe flatly stated.  “Which one do you want?”

“The long black one, please. Thank you.”

Lupe waddled down the hall to the wardrobe closet to fetch the fringed shawl that would be an integral part of Marta’s dance. Marta was pleased to have the dressing room to herself for a few minutes. The other flamencas were already dressed, waiting in the wings for the curtain to go up. Marta buried her face in her hands. Every evening, the same thing—he comes—the dark one—to whisper in her ear.

The visits began about six months earlier right after she had auditioned to dance at the Café. Hector de Borromeo, the owner of the Café Andaluz, had muttered over and over as he watched her audition: “Fantastic!—That’s it; that’s dancing! Duende! She has it!” Senor de Borromeo hired her on the spot.

Then it started. Every afternoon on the days she danced at the Café, as she tried to get a few hours of sleep before going to work, he would show up. At first, it was only his voice, penetrating her dreams as she tried to sleep, then later, while she was awake. Lately, he had been manifesting in physical form, moving in and out of the dark recesses of her apartment, only for a moment, but long enough to cast his smoky brown eyes upon her. Always he would say, “you are mine—remember me when you dance.”

Then the headaches began—blinding migraines that slowed her down and made her late for work almost every night. She was afraid to say anything about the migraines for fear they wouldn’t let her dance. She certainly did not mention the voices or manifestations, for obvious reasons.

Marta began assembling her makeup and hair accessories. She looked up at the mirror and began to apply her foundation. Her eyes widened in horror. He was here, behind her, his face unseen. He had never followed her into the Café before.

She swung around. “Get out!”

“No, you need me,” he softly replied.

“No, I do not. I don’t even know who…who  you are.”

“I am Duende.”

Marta snorted. “Fairy tales. There’s no such thing.”

“If I am a fairy tale, then for certain you are mad.”

Marta had already considered this—a number of times.

“Come to me….” He reached out his hand to her.

Just then the door opened. Lupe, holding a folded shawl, entered, looking around the room. “Who are you talking with?”

“No one”. Marta turned back to the mirror and began brushing and tying back her hair.

Lupe raised an eyebrow and put the shawl on the dressing table “Bryan says hurry up.”

Marta quickly applied the rest of her make-up, slipped on her dance shoes and smoothed her hair. She heard the sound of applause and knew that the show had started. Marta made her way to the wings and waited for her turn.

She scanned the corners and rafters of the backstage looking for the dark man.

Luz and Maria finished singing their cante. The curtain fell and Bryan cued Marta to find her mark on the stage. Marta positioned herself, placing one hand on her hip and arching her back. She lifted the other arm high above her head, twisting her wrist into a graceful curve. The curtain rose and the spotlight fell on her.

Esteban began an aggressive strumming of his guitar. Luz and Maria clapped in rhythm with Esteban as Marta began rapid-fire tapping of her feet. Esteban’s deep voice boomed across the stage in a somber, resonating canto jondo.

As his singing became more passionate and the music rose in intensity, Marta’s awareness receded from her surroundings. Esteban and the dancers faded from her sight as did the audience. It was just Marta and the music.

Suddenly, unseen hands gripped Marta’s shoulders, and she could no longer move. She was frozen in the darkness. She felt a hand release one shoulder and begin to caress her cheek. She lifted her eyes. A light fell across his face and she could saw him.  His skin was a light warm brown; his face angular with full lips.  His brown eyes glittered and bored straight through to the deepest part of her being.

Marta opened her mouth to say something, but he put a finger to her lips to silence her. She felt a tingle grow in her stomach. A terror gripped her, yet she could not pull away from the man. Still gazing in her eyes, he slid his hand from her mouth, tracing with the barest brush her form all the way to her waist. He then slipped his arm around her to the small of her back and pulled her to him.

With his other hand, he lifted her face to his and pressed his lips to hers. Marta felt as if she were falling into the darkness, her soul merging with the duende.

Suddenly, her awareness was thrown back to the stage. Her routine had reached a climax, Esteban strumming furiously as Marta’s feet tapped in rhythm to the music. With a great flourish of her arms, Marta froze at the sound of the last down stroke of the guitar. The audience erupted into vigorous applause and shouts of “Jaleo! Jaleo! Brava!”

A photographer leaned over the edge of the stage and flashed a picture. Another man rapidly scribbled in his notebook. Marta smiled and with a graceful sweep, she took her bows.

Duende!   It had rocked her to her foundations.  She savored the terror and pleasure of the encounter, as she had before.  Tomorrow, he would visit again.

“Yes…..” she whispered.

Story and Image: LJGloyd (c) 2006, 20014