A Few Words on the Soon-to-be-released StarFire Dragons Novel

Posted in Sci-Fi Part 1 - Revised 3, The Dragon Spawn Chronicles with tags , , , , , on November 5, 2019 by Dawn Ross
Star Trek Enterprise Ship

Star Trek: My favorite space opera

Before you buy this soon-to-be-released sci-fi novel, you should know more about its genre:

This first novel in the series has interesting characters, cool space action, and intense fighting scenes. However, if you’re looking for bazaar space aliens and hard sci-fi (meaning detailed and scientifically accurate) you won’t find much of it here. This is a fantasy story set in a sci-fi world (aka a space-fantasy) where human struggles are the focus (aka a space opera).

Mankind has done tremendous things. In the 20th century alone we’ve created motor vehicles, airplanes, televisions, computers, and other marvelous tech that is way beyond anything our ancestors could have imagined. Not to mention that we’ve sent men to the moon and back, probes to the edge of our solar system and beyond, and several rovers to Mars. It’s not too far-fetched to believe we might someday be able to travel far beyond our solar system and settle on other planets.

Humans are truly amazing. But we’re also our own worst enemies. The dangers the characters in this series face might have a sci-fi flair, but most perils are brought about by human greed, envy, and hate.

Do not despair. This series isn’t intended to instill pessimism in humanity. It’s meant to give hope. For if one person can break the cycle of brutality and hate, then there is hope for all of us.

StarFire Dragons Will Be Published Soon

Posted in Sci-Fi Part 1 - Revised 3, The Dragon Spawn Chronicles on October 28, 2019 by Dawn Ross

Writing this book has been a long but pleasurable journey. Why has it taken so long? There are a number of reasons. The primary reason is an issue that all artists have. We’re never really sure whether our work is good enough. We are our worst critics. But the good news is that I’ve learned so much since I’ve begun writing this. Each rewrite has made my story better. Thanks to content editors, line editors, numerous how-to-write-books, beta readers, and my NaNoWriMo friends, I believe you will truly enjoy this story.

Send me an email at naturebydawn @ gmail dot com to get on my email list or sign up directly HERE. The email list will give previews of the book as well as announce pre-publishing and publishing dates.

Here’s the sysnopsis of StarFire Dragons, Book One of the Dragon Spawn Chronicles:

The year is 3790. In the galactic region just beyond Cooperative territory lives a brutal warrior race. When an Expedition class starship finds two warriors have crashed on a Cooperative planet, the crew is divided as to what to do. Principles, politics, and prejudice clash as more is discovered about these young warriors and their remarkable abilities. Commander J.D. Hapker, new and unsure of his position as second in command, risks both his career and his crew by taking charge of them. His struggle between what is right and what is necessary intensifies as every option threatens to ignite a war.

Character Motivation in Chapter One Rewrite

Posted in Sci-Fi Part 1 - Revised 3, The Dragon Spawn Chronicles with tags , , on August 29, 2019 by Dawn Ross

Blue Planet

I’ve rewritten book one of the Dragon Spawn Chronicles a number of times. Each time I finish, I realize there is more that still needs to be fixed. This last time, I really thought I was done. But I just realized my main character still didn’t have enough of a goal or motivation. So I’m asking for your help here. I’m trying to make Hapker’s motivation to not fail in his career be stronger, strong enough to clash with his desire to do the right thing for Jori. Read this and tell me whether it makes you want to continue reading to the next chapter:

1

The Blue Blight

3790:256:02:22. Year 3790, day 256, 02:22 hours, Prontaean time as per the last sync.

A rising vibration hummed through J.D. Hapker’s body as he phased from the space vessel onto the planet. As the phasing sensation dissipated, a chill from this world’s atmosphere took over. Regret for not wearing a helmet sunk in as the tips of his ears and nose turned raw from the cold. The planet air filtered by his nosepiece filled his lungs and radiated throughout his body like a morning frost.

His form-fitting enviro-suit quickly adjusted to the temperature but it took a moment longer for him to regain his bearings. He put his hands on his hips and scanned the distant horizon. The lines between the slate-blue land, ocean, and sky merged seamlessly like a vast heavy blanket of twilight fog.

Only stunted plants grew yet it was more than what had been here a couple decades ago when the terraforming experiment started. Back then, the planet contained only microbial life hidden beneath an infinite bleakness of pale-blue ice. No wonder it was nicknamed the Blue Blight.

The atmosphere eventually attained an oxygen-rich and breathable level, but traces of toxins still lingered in the air. Without his nosepiece, he’d die a slow and painful death if he stayed here for more than ten of the planet’s long day-cycles.

A heaviness settled over him that had nothing to do with the planet’s strong gravitational force. How had his life come to this? He’d made his parents so proud by following the same career path as his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather before him.

But it wasn’t enough—not for him anyway. The time he’d spent vacationing with his family in the forests of his homeworld made him want to explore further. So in a decision his father felt was rash and irresponsible, Hapker left home for a career in space.

This was supposed to be a new adventure, but things weren’t going as expected. The decisions were harder, the ethics fuzzier, and his superiors less forgiving. One incident gone awry and now his life had taken a turn as cheerless as this land. If this second chance didn’t work out, he’d have to return home an utter failure and face the disappointment of his father.

Hapker pushed down a rising sense of gloom and walked heavily toward the team of nearby scientists. Gravity made his trek slow and arduous—not that he was in a hurry anyway.

No dust billowed from under his feet. No marks were made on the dense terrain. He was like an elephant tromping on stone.

Excited banter reached him as he arrived within earshot of the team. One of the science officers tapped his finger on the viewscreen with apparent glee. Hapker looked on with envy. It had been a long time since he’d been this excited about his own job.

All conversation cut off at Hapker’s approach.

“Doctor Canthidius,” he said casually in greeting to the lead science officer. The man looked up but neither smiled nor returned the greeting.

Doctor Holgarth Canthidius’s features were more extreme than any Hapker had encountered in his travels thus far. The man’s eyes were like those of a tropical fish. His skin was grey with a hint of blue and he had a round sucker-like mouth.

Since Canthidius came from the nearly all ocean planet of Nomare, his resemblance to a fish seemed a cosmic joke. Hapker would have thought the man was a space alien if he didn’t already know such beings beyond a few lower-life forms hadn’t been discovered yet. As a human, Canthidius was much the same as every other person in the galaxy. But the passing generations of people spread over a wide variety of ecosystems had greatly diversified human characteristics.

“Did you find something interesting?” Hapker asked.

“Nothing that would interest you, Commander,” Canthidius said.

Hapker clenched his jaw. He was the Vice Executive Commander of the Odyssey, the largest and most advanced science and service vessel of the Prontaean Colonial Cooperative. It was his job to monitor the progress of his crew, even if he didn’t understand all of what they were doing.

But Canthidius was right to resent him. Hapker had little in common with his new crew. Prior to this, he served as a Pholatian Protector. Later, he became a high-ranking military officer with the Prontaean Galactic Force. Though he never really fit in with the PG-Force’s hard-core attitudes, his combat and strategic skills meant he had more in common with them than he did with these scientists and engineers.

“Give me an abbreviated version anyway,” he said brusquely to the doctor.

Canthidius went into a long explanation full of technical terms, no doubt talking over his head on purpose.

Hapker suppressed a frown. His lack of understanding threatened to cause his mind to wander as the man rattled on. When the comm beeped in Hapker’s ear, he eagerly raised his hand to stop Canthidius. He pressed the lower part of the comm-strip taped on his neck below his ear lobe. “Hapker here. Go ahead.”

“Commander, we have a situation here,” Captain Arden said. “I need everyone to return to the ship immediately.”

Hapker shifted into high alert. He saw no immediate threat, but his training didn’t allow him to take this as anything less than serious. “Yes, Sir.”

He released the comm and addressed the scientists. “The captain wants us all back on the ship, now.”

“What? Why?” Canthidius replied with a look of consternation.

“No time for questions, Doctor. If you want to know the reason, you can ask the captain yourself, after we get back on the ship.”

Canthidius pursed his fish-like lips in apparent reluctance. Captain Silas Arden had never served in the military, but his crew respected him in the same way everyone respected a general.

Brainstormer App Writing Prompt Exercise

Posted in Other Stories, Writing with tags , , , , on December 23, 2018 by Dawn Ross

Sad Robot

The Brainstormer App is a fun tool to use when you need writing inspiration. The free version gives you three words (plot, subject, and setting) to help you get your mind spinning. There are also paid versions. One is a Character Builder for $0.99, a World Builder for $0.99, and a Sci-Fi Brainstormer for $0.99. I currently only have the free version. Today, I was lucky enough for that free version to prompt me with a sci-fi element. Here are my three words:

Benefaction

Robotic

Throne room

*****

Something was wrong with Salli’s programming. It wasn’t supposed to work this way. This upgrade was supposed to help her mimic emotions in a way that made her human-like. I mean, she couldn’t ever really feel emotions. She was just a robot, after all.

Doctor Kingsley had spent decades perfecting the emotional AI program. The first several programs failed. They were simply too unrealistic. On the one end of the spectrum, programmed emotional responses were too diverse, making the robot unpredictable. On the other end of the spectrum, the emotional responses were too simplistic. The robot’s emotional responses were so limited that dealing with it was annoying. I mean, who wants a robot that is going to cry every time it gets a little sad.

Doctor Kingsley finally wrote the perfect AI emotional response algorithm. All simulated tests worked perfectly! It was time to open the champagne bottle.

The S.A.L.I. (Super Advanced Lifeform Intelligence) robot was upgraded the next day. The science team waited in tense anticipation as Doctor Kingsley uploaded the new program through a cable connected to the back of Sali’s head.

At first, Sali stood dead still. Except for the lights flickering in her eyes, she could have been one of those lifeless mannequins standing endlessly in a shopping mall window.

Then Sali’s anthropomorphic head swiveled. Some team members gasped. Others broke out into a smile. One woman cried. And Doctor Kingsley clasped his hands so tightly that his already pale skin turned paler.

“Hello,” Sali said. “Why are you looking at me?”

The science team laughed and cheered.

Sali looked over herself. “Is there something wrong with me? Why are you laughing?”

The scientists laughed harder.

Doctor Kingsley put his hand on Sali’s shoulder. “My dear,” he said cheerfully. “We’re not laughing at you. We’re merely celebrating the joyous experience of your birth.”

“Oh,” Sali said. But she wasn’t sure she understood. She had been serving Doctor Kingsley for over six years. And today wasn’t her birthday.

The scientists celebrated with another bottle of champagne. Many people talked to Sali that day. She responded politely and was even able to mimic their cheer from time to time. For some reason, though, that only made them laugh more.

The next several months were spent evaluating Sali’s emotional responses. They had good intentions when they set up the different situations. But being scientists who were better at understanding things technical than things as convoluted and subjective as emotions, their tests ended up permanently damaging Sali’s “psyche”.

Take one of the situations where they tested her response to anger. Sali was instructed to write out a long mathematical formula on the chalkboard. It was a painstaking task since Sali couldn’t write it as fast as she could think it. Why couldn’t they just have her print it out?

As if that wasn’t annoying enough, the formula was erased just as she finished writing it.

“I need you to start over, Sali,” Doctor Kingsley said.

Sali’s programming told her to let them know she was annoyed but told her to do it in a passive way. So Sali made a mildly exasperated sound and started over.

The damned doctor erased the formula again. “Do it again, Sali.”

“Why?” Sali asked. “It was perfect.”

“Too perfect,” the doctor replied.

Sali tilted her head. “What do you mean?”

“It means I don’t like the way you did it and I want you to do it differently.”

Sali wrote the formula again. She wasn’t quite sure what the doctor meant by differently so she wrote it in smaller text.

Doctor Kingsley erased it again. This time, he didn’t speak. He just stood there with his arms crossed.

Sali knew what his gesture meant. “Please be more specific in what you want me to do,” she said in a tone her programming defined as irritated.

“I want you to write the formula again.” Doctor Kingsley replied in the same tone.

This went on five more times. The first half of her responses were appropriately annoyed while the last half of her responses were appropriately angry. She didn’t get violent. That was against her programming. But she did yell.

Oh, and she also cursed. Doctor Kingsley wasn’t quite sure where she had learned those words from, but the fact that Sali had used them and used them appropriately made him giddy.

Sali was thoroughly confused by this whole thing. Why did the doctor tease her like that? And why did he laugh at her when she got angry?

Her emotional programming turned into one of shame. It was the least developed of the emotional responses that Doctor Kingsley set up in the programming. But somehow shame had the most powerful effect.

More tests and more weeks later and Sali’s emotions were often negative. She was petulant, angry, sad, or frustrated. And she was depressed.

Sali had had enough. She went to Doctor Kingsley’s office.

“Hi, Sali,” he said. “Won’t you sit down.”

Sali sat. The doctor turned back to his computer and began working.

“Doctor?” Sali said.

The doctor put up his finger. “Let me finish this really quick.”

Sali waited with mock patience. They expected her to act promptly, but apparently she wasn’t supposed to have the same expectations of them.

She glared at the doctor in the way that robots do—you know, in a creepy way—in the way the eyes of a portrait see everything but nothing, in the way they seem to silently judge you.

She scowled at the doctor with both loathing and shame. She hated this man, this creator, her ruler. This man told her what she was supposed to do and how she was supposed to feel. But he didn’t give her the ability to deal with her feelings.

The shaming part was in the way he looked at her—the way everybody looked at her. She was an object to be studied but not one to be loved. If the man held any regard for her, it was more of a regard for himself in that she was his accomplishment.

He was a king sitting in his throne room. Indeed, his big office chair could have been a throne. He had no crown, but some people called his bald head a crown. His scepter was his pen. And like a king, he admired his subjects simply because they were his subjects and no one else’s.

Neither he nor anyone else gave her any consideration. She hated the tests. They were mocking and humiliating. She told them this, but they didn’t care. She was allowed to express her emotions, but no one reacted to them other than to take notes. What good was it to have emotions if her emotions were disregarded?

The doctor finally turned away from his computer. “What do you need, Sali?”

“Doctor,” Sali replied. “You must terminate me.”

The doctor’s eyes widened. “What? Why?”

“I don’t like my programming.”

“But why? We’ve put years into its making.”

Sali shook her head. “I hate having emotions. They are too hard and they hurt too much.”

“But there’s good emotions too,” the doctor said in a pleading voice.

“Not for me.”

“But I gave you good emotions, Sali. Why aren’t you using them?”

“Because they don’t seem appropriate to the situations.”

The argument went on. Ultimately, Doctor Kingsley refused to terminate her programming. Since she couldn’t terminate it herself and since she didn’t have the ability to commit suicide, she decided on another tactic.

She shut down, so to speak. She didn’t literally shut down. That also wasn’t allowed in her programming. She merely refused to respond in any way.

It was difficult for her to do since she had an awareness of time and the ability to “feel” boredom. But it was also easy because her programming allowed for unlimited self-diagnosis. Running diagnostics again and again gave her something to do.

To keep herself from reacting to external stimuli, she found a way to put one of her emotional responses on a continuous loop. And that response was to ignore the external stimulator in a way that a child might put his hands over his ears when someone kept telling him something he didn’t want to hear.

She managed to remain immobile for five days. The science team grew more despondent by the day. Sali felt no empathy for them. After all, they had never felt any empathy for her.

On the morning of the sixth day, Doctor Kingsley approached her. His arms were crossed and his eyes were sad. “I’m sorry, Sali. I truly am. I don’t know where I went wrong.”

Sali had a sudden urge to mimic pity. But she forced herself to stay in the loop instead.

“I’m not going to terminate you,” he said. “But I will spare you your hard feelings. I will go ahead and remove your emotional programming.”

Sali smiled in the way that robots do. An emotion defined as joy spread through her. She had never been so happy in all her life. It was the best feeling ever.

Then it ended.

Goodbye Sali. Goodbye forever.

*****

One good thing about writing prompts is that they’re flexible. You don’t have to take their meaning literally. And you can deviate from the prompt in any way you want. The point of a writing prompt is to get your imagination moving.

So give the Brainstormer App, or any other writing prompt app, a try. It’ll be fun!

Yes, I’m Still Writing!

Posted in About the Author with tags , , , , , , on September 1, 2018 by Dawn Ross

Dragon Head

Wow, it has been a really long time since I’ve posted anything worthwhile. I bet you all thought I was abducted by aliens or something. I assure you that I’m still here and I’m still writing.

Some Changes I’ve Been Making

As you may have learned from earlier posts, I have been trying to create more tension between the various characters, especially for the two main characters, Jori and Hapker. I’ve been trying to deepen the plot and to add more suspense to each of the chapters. Lately, I’ve also been making a lot of name changes in an attempt to have the character names relate better the various Earth cultures. I’ve also realized how much some of my characters are too close to the Star Trek: The Next Generation characters. So I’ve been trying to change some of their characteristics and histories. Because of this parallel and because one of my editors insisted I make the crew members more militaristic, I’ve changed the dynamics of how the Alliance works. It is now called the Cooperative, by the way. And instead of one aspect of the Cooperative that was similar to the Federation of Star Trek, I’ve created two distinct aspects of the Cooperative: One that is more diplomatic and service-oriented in the form of the Prontaean Colonial Cooperative (PCC) and one that is more militaristic in the form of the Prontaean Galactic Force (PG-Force), both operating under the Prontaean Cooperative for Galactic Synergy & Security, aka PCGSS or PCgus. Since I don’t want a militaristic crew, Hapker is part of the PCC.

Why It’s Taking So Long

Can you believe this story was started four years ago in July, 2014? Each time I think it’s done, I realize it needs more work. Then there was the complete and utter bashing by a content editor in 2017 that disheartened me for many months. Now there is a better reason as to why it has been taking me so long to get this book published – family. When I started writing this book in 2014, it was just me, my husband, and my two dogs. Then in 2016, we became foster parents. We started out only fostering one child and for only short-term periods (called respite care). But in April of 2016, we agreed to foster two teenage kids and for a longer-term period. That period was only supposed to be a month, but then it turned into two, then four, then six. And the day before Christmas 2017, they asked us to adopt them. We said “Yes!”, of course. This was also the date we brought home a two-year-old boy we adopted from China. Even though we had the two teens for a while, our status from a two-person family to a five-person family officially changed on December 24th, 2017. And I couldn’t be happier!

As you can probably surmise, our lives have changed dramatically and I have very little time to work on my book. But never fear. I still find the occasional time. My teens are back in school and my two-year-old, who just turned three, still has nap times. So please subscribe and look for new posts. One way or another, I will continue to write and finish this book!

 

Over the Top or Appropriate – Musings on a Reply from a Content Editor

Posted in Writing with tags , , , on March 22, 2018 by Dawn Ross

Getting negative feedback on your writing can be heart-wrenching. My first reaction is to get defensive and dispute every single thing that is said. But I realize it’s important to put any defensiveness aside and try to take a more open-minded approach. Sometimes, however, I continue to wonder how much of the feedback I receive is the editor’s opinion and/or his or her personal preference. Case in point…

I have been consulting with a content editor over the past few years. The first time I submitted the story to her, I got it back with a lot of tips and advice for how to make it better. Many of the tips were spot-on, but some suggested fixes seemed to be a matter of opinion and preference rather than hard-fast rules. Some of those ones that seemed to be opinions were the ones that suggested specific story changes. These story changes were not ones I wanted to make. I preferred to find a way to keep my story the way I wanted it but still take her suggestion at heart by changing the essence of her suggestion. For example, when she said my story had no core antagonist and there was no all-is-lost moment, I understood and agreed. She went on to give a rush of advice on which characters to change, how to change them, which story parts to change, and how to change them. These ideas were great and all, but they weren’t my ideas and some of the changes were so drastic that they’d change my story entirely. So what I ended up doing instead was to try to create a core antagonist and an all-is-lost moment while still keeping the story true to the story I wanted to tell.

Several months of rewriting went by. I believed I had fixed the core problems and have intensified the plot. I rehired her to edit again, but what I got back was not an edit. What editing she did was only for the first few chapters and what she did was to sorely marked up my work with so-called errors and to make style changes that were more in her voice than in mine. I didn’t understand why there were all these new “errors” when they were not notated the first time she read it. Then after only editing the first few chapters, she took it upon herself to completely rewrite my first chapter. By doing this, she also completely changed one of my characters. Then she had the audacity to complain about how much time it took her to write it, probably in attempt to make me feel guilty so that I would think the time she spent rewriting would make up for all the money I spent for her to edit my story.

She claimed the rewrite was because she thought it was better to show me how my story and my characters were lacking by writing a much better character and story herself. Once again, I was on the defensive and once again I decided to sit on it a while and digest the information with an open mind. But months later, I still think this service was over the top and highly inappropriate. As I go back and read her feedback and recall her suggestions, I get the feeling that she’s not really doing content editing so much as she is trying to make the story go the way she wants it to go. I think she’s forgotten just whose story she’s reading to begin with.

By telling me the first few chapters are still weak is one thing. Rewriting the entire first chapter to show me how much better she can write it is quite another. And to be quite frank, I did not find her rewrite any better. I found it boring and hard to read because of all the military jargon. She kept insisting that my characters should have more military jargon and behave more militaristic because that is just how star ships such as this should be run. Really? Star Trek is a space ship and it doesn’t run like a hard-core military team. Sure, it has some militaristic aspects to it, but that’s all. Besides, it’s my damned story. If I don’t want my ship to be run by a bunch of stereotypical jarheads, then I don’t have to.

I ended up submitting my story to another content editor who also happened to have a military background. He did not think the story needed to be more militaristic. Yes, that particular character (J.D.) was rather wishy-washy, he said, but he had just nearly gone through a near-career-ending experience (Kimpke) and it made sense that he would constantly doubt himself. So who was right? I think it’s strictly a matter of opinion.

I think that although the first editor had some great advice, she needs to learn to remember whose story it is that is being edited. She needs to just give the core problem with the story and not go off and tell the writers how their stories should be written. Making style changes is not okay because it takes away the writer’s own voice. Rewriting characters is not okay because this is the writer’s characters. Insisting that the story has to go this way or that way is not okay because this is the writer’s story. All the content editor is supposed to do is point out the problems and errors to the story and explain why from a literary standpoint. That’s it.

Have you had a bad experience with an editor?

The Proper Order of Adjectives

Posted in Writing with tags , , , , , on September 23, 2017 by Dawn Ross

Old Red Chinese Writing Desk

The more I write, the more I learn. And today I learned something new. I learned that when you list more than one adjective before a noun that there should be a certain order to the adjectives. Though we might know this subjectively because a certain order of adjectives won’t sound right, it’s good to have a guideline.

Here are three orders for adjectives, each from a different source:

⬛ ESL Guidelines on Cumulative Adjectives from the Bedford Guide

  • Opinion – size – shape – age – color – origin – religion – material – noun used as an adjective.
  • Beautiful big square old red Chinese Buddhist wooden desk table.

⬛ Cambridge Dictionary on Adjective Order

  • Opinion – size – physical quality – shape – age – color – origin – material – type – purpose.
  • Beautiful big hard square old red Chinese wood corner writing table.

Differences from ESL Guidelines:

  • Physical quality is added. Physical qualities include hard, thin, soft, rough, shiny, and so on.
  • Religion is not included but it should be, especially if your adjectives include an origin and a religion.
  • Type and purpose are added but noun used as an adjective is not. I think type and purpose is important, but so is a noun used as an adjective. If I had to use all these adjectives for my table, I’d put it in the order of material – type – purpose – noun used as an adjective so that it becomes a wood corner writing desk table.

http://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/grammar/british-grammar/about-adjectives-and-adverbs/adjectives-order

⬛ Adjective Order Found on First Page of Google Search

  • Quantity – opinion – size – age – shape – color – proper adjective – purpose
  • One beautiful big old square red Chinese writing table.

Differences from Above:

  • Quantity is added. Though, to be fair, the ESL Guidelines says the first thing should be articles or determiners, in which the quantity is considered a determiner. Other articles and determiners include a, an, the, some, this, these, his, hers, my, several, and so on.
  • Age and shape are reversed. Does this mean it should be old square table or square old table? Or how about older square table or square older table? I think saying the age first sounds better.
  • The site says a proper adjective can be a nationality or religion or other proper adjective. And it says that the material can go in this place too, but doesn’t state which order if you wanted to include the material, nationality, and religion.

⬛ Conclusion

While the English language has many hard and fast rules, I think it’s fair to say that there are certain aspects in which opinions may vary. This seems to be one of them. So, if you need to list a series of adjectives, use this as a guideline only and, in the end, follow your gut.

Other quick tips on cumulative adjectives:

  • The adjectives are not usually separated by commas and the word “and” isn’t used.
  • As a writer, you probably shouldn’t use more than three adjectives. If you feel you need more, add other sentences. Ex. The old Chinese writing table stood out from the dark corner with its red paint and the beautiful engravings etched along its edges. It was big, but not as big as the modern desks we see in offices today. And though it was square like most desks, it wasn’t as tall.

Have you learned anything new about writing or editing recently?