20. September 2017 · Comments Off on BLOG, Sept. 20, 2017 · Categories: Blog, Short Stories

I promised I would post the last portion of the little story I wrote, Gorta and the Hole. I revised it and made it a short story, so the last seven pages are gone, but I’m hoping to include it in a collection of stories from prehistoric times, probably within the next few months. If I do publish it, it will be on Amazon.com, and I will make note of it on this website, if it’s still here (see the Home page for an explanation).

Meanwhile, I do have another short story you might enjoy. I hope the little pictures I added show through, but if they don’t, they’re just what I think these characters should look like.  Here it is.


By Harriet Darling

A young pixie called Emerald was on his way home after finishing his job helping a sick child. It was a hot day so he decided to cut through a section of the forest that looked nice and shady. “It’ll just take a few minutes,” he assured himself. “Nothing can happen to me in just a few minutes.”

But as he started onto the path through the trees, the sun went behind a cloud and the leaf-laden branches hanging over the path cut off the warmth and light that had been there just a moment before.

Emerald, now shivering a little from the abrupt cold, stopped short and whispered, “Oh, no.” He wondered if he should keep walking, or turn back. “Oh, there’s nothing here that can hurt me,” he told himself sternly. “It’s only trees, and I love trees.”

A dead log lay beside the path just ahead, and Emerald saw an indentation in the log where he might sit if he were tired. “But I’m not tired,” he murmured as if explaining to someone. He kept walking, but just as he passed the indentation, a large brown and green thing suddenly burst out of the seat and flew straight into Emerald’s face, screeching loudly and flapping pea-green translucent wings.

After screaming in terror, Emerald calmed down a bit and assured himself, “It’s only a wood nymph.”  But he was actually terrified; the creature was twice his size, and fluttered far too close to his face, laughing and pointing at him.

He could hear the gravelly voice of the nymph jeering at him: “Little pixie, the woods are no place for you! This is my domain, I’m the one in charge here, and you are not welcome!”

Emerald squeezed his eyes shut and told himself, “That is not true; the wood nymph only belongs in tree trunks and dead logs; she is not in charge of the entire forest! She cannot hurt me, and she has no business threatening me!”

But in spite of this seeming confidence, Emerald knew that at least the nymph could flutter around his face and perhaps cause him to stumble, or fall into a hole or off a cliff. She did have a certain amount of power over a pixie. Even the fairies steered clear of wood nymphs despite their magic, which was usually strong enough to conquer most any other creature.

The only ones who could walk fearlessly through the forest were the elves, who were taller and stronger than any of the other magical creatures of the forest. But Emerald was no elf.

The next thing the little pixie knew, he was out of the shaded trees and running just as fast as he could on the path, which was now sunlit once again. In explanation to no one, Emerald muttered as he ran, “This is why I stay out of forests. Now let’s hurry on home before that creature comes after me.”

And he ran all the rest of the way home.

[AUTHOR’S NOTE:  Well, the pictures didn’t come through, but the story did.]

08. September 2017 · Comments Off on BLOG, Sept. 8, 2017 · Categories: Blog

As promised, here are the next seven pages of the story, Gorta and the Hole. However, upon further reflection, and some research, I’ve decided I won’t be finishing the story and publishing it. I have started a children’s story that’s closer to the age group it’s intended for, but I will post the last seven pages of this story, in case anyone happens to be interested.



Page 7 – When everything was packed up, Mama and Daddy put on their furs.  Mama helped Gorta put his furs on.  It would be cold as they set out.  But when they reached the hut beside the river, it would be warm.

Page 8 – On the first day, it was very cold and Gorta was happy he had his furs.  They were the skins of some animals that Daddy had hunted.

Page 9 – Gorta saw lots of little animals as they walked.  Broot had a good time chasing some of them, like birds and squirrels.  When he first ran off, Gorta was worried.  But Broot always came back.

Page 10 – The first night, Daddy found a nice group of trees and said they would stay there.  Mama unpacked some food and Daddy made a fire.  Broot lay down beside the fire.  He knew he would eat soon.

Page 11 – In the morning, Mama said it was still cold enough for their furs.  So she put Gorta’s furs on and packed everything up, and they started out.

Page 12 – Gorta was glad whenever they stopped walking.  He got tired, but Daddy was happy to let him ride on his shoulders until Gorta was ready to walk again.

Page 13 – On the second afternoon, Daddy said they should make camp soon.  He was looking around for a good site, but there was a big hole and he fell into it.

04. September 2017 · Comments Off on BLOG, Sept. 2, 2017 · Categories: Blog

I just wanted to tell you about a new story I’m working on, a departure for me. It’s a children’s book about a boy who lives in prehistoric times. His people are hunter-gatherers, but they’re living in a pre-agricultural revolution period.  In other words, though his people are mostly nomadic, and travel from place to place depending on the season, other people, even in their living area, are beginning to plant trees and vegetables, in order to have food available where they live, rather than having to move around all the time.

So here’s a portion of my first draft of GORTA AND THE HOLE.

Page 1 – A long, long time ago, little Gorta lived in a hut with his mama and daddy.  Gorta was 7 years old, and he had a dog.  The two of them loved to play.

Page 2 – The dog’s name was Broot.  He was almost as big as Gorta.  The hut where they lived in the summer was only half of their home.

Page 3 – In the winter, Gorta and his mama and daddy and Broot would go to their winter hut.  They would walk a long way, for three whole days, to their hut near a river.

Page 4 – When it was almost time to go to the winter hut, Mama started to pack up food.  She went to the store house and packed some meat that Daddy had hunted.

Page 5 – The day before they would leave for the river, Daddy went on a last hunt with four other hunters.  The shaman prayed to the people’s gods that the hunt would be good.

Page 6 – When Daddy came home from the hunt, he had enough meat for their walk to the winter hut.  Mama was happy, so Gorta and Broot were happy, too.

I plan (hope) to get someone to do illustrations for the book; my vision is an illustration on each page showing whatever I wrote for the page.  For instance, for page 4, the illustration would show Mama packing some food in the store house.

I’ll share the next 6 or 7 pages in a few days. 

I’m also on the lookout for a photographer or artist to help me design a better cover for my book “The Dawn People.”  I’m just not happy with the cave and seashore image the book has now.


29. August 2017 · Comments Off on BLOG, Aug. 29, 2017 · Categories: Blog

This blog is about what’s going on with me today and in recent days.

Today I spent an hour looking for and adding Sacramento Writing Events for any readers who might be interested; they’re for writers and readers; one is for writers and readers of children’s books, and also for children themselves.  (Look in the Events category in the Menu bar.)

In the past week I participated in a writing event via Facebook: “How to Write a Captivating Book Blurb to Sell More Books,” or something like that. Participants were provided with a workbook to help us learn to convey our book’s content in a captivating blurb.  After completing the course, several class members uploaded our two blurbs and Janelle Alex, the instructor, gave us a final critique; in some cases, mine included, other writers/readers in the group, Authors Talk About It, chimed in, some with excellent suggestions.

We were encouraged to ask for feedback from others (family, friends, and/or a poll of readers we knew). I did the poll bit, and received 57 responses, of which only three were for my first attempt. So of course the second attempt won. I offered a prize for a random participant (the prize being one of my books), and the winner received “The Wizard’s Key,” my YA fantasy novella. I included the sequel, “Adventures in Fyelda,” and sent them both on to her.

While all this was going on, my son Andy and his wife Cathy were on a long weekend trip with their RV. They went to a campground north of Fort Bragg, meeting friends, and began their return trip on Monday, yesterday. I say they “began” their return trip because at about 1 p.m. I got a message that they were stuck in or near Willets because their truck had heated up. An hour later, I learned they had waited a while and started out again, but now they were stuck in Ukiah, and were trying to get a mechanic to tell them what was wrong.

They were planning to stay overnight (by now it was after 4 p.m.) even though they were only three hours from home, and come home today.  I haven’t heard yet whether they made it.

So that’s been my day so far, and it’s only 11:15 a.m.


05. July 2017 · Comments Off on BLOG, July 5, 2017 · Categories: Blog


Here’s a question many people are asking:  “How do we know we evolved from the ape family millions of years ago, and did not just appear 6,600 years ago exactly as we are now?”

The answer can be complicated.  First, humans evolved from a creature whose descendants eventually became two species of primate – apes and humans.  So the fact is that we did not evolve from “an ape family,” but from an ancestor of both the ape family and the human family.  These two families split from one another many hundreds or thousands of years after the original primate lived, and then split again many thousands of years later, and kept on splitting until now, when we have apes and humans.  And many scientists believe that there will continue to be new splits in the future.

Some of the tests that have proven the “theory” of evolution include the fossil record, DNA similarities, geographic patterns, embryonic similarities, various methods of dating (e.g., carbon, tree-ring, radiometric, coral, etc.), and quite a few other factors.

Evolution is a “theory” and a fact.  This seems contradictory to many since in everyday terminology, the word “theory” is often used in place of words like “hunch,” or “inclination.”  But in science, the word represents an idea or a set of ideas that explain facts or events.  Evolution is the only theory that can explain the diversity of life, and how it came to be.  It explains why fossils are arranged in the strata (a bed of sedimentary rock that represents continuous deposits) in the very order that they are, and how this correlates to modern fauna, even in terms of geography.

We know all this because of DNA, which is organized into chromosomes.  A simple definition of DNA:  “DNA is a very large molecule built up from smaller molecules known as nucleotides. The exact sequence of these nucleotides, much like the sequence of words in a recipe, tells the living cell how to put organic molecules together to form proteins.  Unlike a blueprint, to which DNA is often compared, slight changes to DNA can dramatically affect the end product, making the process dependent on the sequence of steps, as in a recipe.”

Every living thing has DNA, and this is how we can identify what type of living thing, or what person we’re looking at.  Chromosomes vary in number and shape among living things.  Humans, along with other animals and plants, have linear chromosomes that are arranged in pairs within the nucleus of the cell.  Humans have 23 pairs for a total of 46 chromosomes.  In fact, each species of plants and animals has a set number of chromosomes.  A fruit fly, for example, has four pairs of chromosomes, while a rice plant has 12 and a dog, 39.

The fact that we did not just appear exactly as we are now, six thousand six hundred years ago, is proven by the fossil record.  This is the collective record of biological development reflected in the fossilized remains of organisms through geological history.  The fossil record in fact refers to the collection of physical and research evidence that paleontologists and geologists have used to prove the truth of evolutionary theory.  The physical evidence in the fossil record comes from fossilized remains of prehistoric animals.  Many fossils (which is what we call pieces of bone from animals that lived long ago) have been dug up and studied, and DNA has been useful in determining what class of animal the living creature would have been.

For instance, someone in rural England (maybe in present times, maybe years and years ago) wished to dig holes in his land in order to change something; he might have wanted to build a fence or wall, or he may have simply wished to plow the land for planting.  But while he was digging, he happened on a fossil.  Wondering how this bone got onto his land, this person might have sent the bone to a research facility of whatever type (maybe a friend who was interested in things people found in their yards, or a sterile laboratory set up specifically to study fossils), and was told that tests (including DNA and carbon-dating) proved the bone was from an apelike creature that lived seven million years ago (e.g., the small ape-like primate scientists have nicknamed “Lucy”).

Scientists believe that an asteroid landed in what’s now Central America 65 million years ago, causing fires and leading to what they call a “nuclear winter.”  This means that the dust and debris kicked up by the impact, and smoke and ash from the fires, filled the air and created a barrier to sunlight for a long time, so that plants and animals that depended on sunlight could not grow.  This in turn was believed to be the cause of the disappearance of dinosaurs that lived at that time all over the earth.  They died off eventually from starvation, or dehydration, or other unknown causes (e.g., battles for the last vegetation).