Sunday, November 3, 2013

Practice Makes Perfect - About Habits

First of all: this blog is not giving any advice about physical habits (smoking, alcohol, medicines, drugs) - there are other websites to find tips on those things. This post is about other habits that we have which cost us money and get in the way of reaching our savings goals.

As far as hobbies or talents go, we all know that we get better at something when we practise. If we spend an hour every day on the piano, we improve. Well, unfortunately, if we practise doing not-so-great things all the time, we get really great at doing the not-so-great things.

We all understand "Money 101" - if we want to save money, we have to choose to stop spending it somewhere. We usually look to our "convenience" habits as places to shave down. This might be a newspaper subscription, a morning coffee, a takeaway lunch, getting hair or nails done, or things like the gym, fashion magazines, and cable tv. And one by one, most of us will reject certain changes because we consider the change too unpleasant. The key to making the changes less painful is in what you make the effort to practise, what you're used to doing already, and how you think about life's necessities.

As an example, there are a bunch of small convenience things that we probably take for granted these days that our grandparents might not have had. Washing machines, late-night-shopping, luggage with wheels. None of those are likely to break the bank, but it doesn't matter. The point is, we get used to having them around, so if we use them all time, we get very good at it. We start to think of them as normal and necessary. We practise using the washing machine so it becomes normal to have one. We don't want to switch to that "old" way of hand-washing, so a washing machine becomes necessary.

Most of us will agree there is nothing wrong with getting used to washing machines, late-night-shopping, and luggage with wheels. There isn't, and I am never going to try and talk you out of having these things. What's important is to understand is that we get used to what we always do - practise makes us perfect at needing things. It doesn't just happen with common and inexpensive things, it can happen with anything at all.

This means that if we practise buying lunch every single day, it becomes a habit. Buying lunch becomes something we're very good at - all that practice we do. Packing a sandwich in the morning looks more and more difficult because we are out of practice. We enjoy not bringing it from home and enjoy the convenience of buying it instead. We don't want to change. It becomes easier to keep a habit, than to change.

But don't despair just yet. There is good news! Cast your mind back to the first sentence: we get better at something when we practise. Have you ever thought about why some people are content without the things that we have? Some of them just don't miss what they never had, but many people have learned to go without.

UGH, THAT SOUNDS DISGUSTING. Don't panic, and don't run off just yet. We're going to approach it a different way. We're going to practise something that we know is cheaper, even though we don't like the idea of changing our habits. The idea of practising is to try and get better at it.

The Practice Period: Pick one habit that you kinda know could be done a cheaper way, and you think you could live with the home-version, but grumble-grumble-grumble you don't really want to bother changing. For this post, I'm going to use the morning takeaway coffee, but your takeaway lunch might also be one where you'd like to practise the alternative. Your practice period needs to last four or five times - so for a daily habit make it five days, for a monthly hair colour, make it four months.

Figure out a good, home-made version that you might be ok with having instead, even if you don't like the effort just now. For me, I bought some nice gourmet coffee. Home coffee is not quite as convenient as just grabbing the takeaway, but it's a good compromise. I already have a travel mug, so I'm good to start my practice period.

For a whole week, I made the effort to DIY my morning coffee. I allowed a few extra minutes so I'd have time before leaving the house. I made sure the mug was clean the night before. As I sipped it during my morning commute, I reminded myself of my savings goals and concentrated on the nice gourmet flavour.

When you feel like caving in, remind yourself it's not forever. Just 3 more times until it's done, and so on.

At the end of your practice period, physically count out the amount of cash you would have spent, but didn't. It's important to see this and feel the money in your hands. Look at that money you saved, and think about how easy it was to make that change. You're now getting better at the cheaper option, and the cheaper option is quite ok. If you continue to make the effort, it will continue to become easier and easier, until you don't even think about it - you just do it. It becomes a habit. We start to like habits. It becomes easier to keep a habit. Even the good habits :)

Don't think that this is limited to obvious "luxury" purchases. Big or small, it applies to anything that you would like to change, from buying shampoo in bulk to baking your own bread, from carpooling to recycling.

Tell me what you've changed, how it felt to make the very first leap, and how you felt as you added up the savings?

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Disappearance of Elisa

I know I have been very scarce, but there's a good reason. Well, partly it's that I have taken on more than I can possibly do right now, but I've also been attending a writing course (with lots of homework).

There is so much to writing that I just didn't know about. It's fascinating.

And I found out that the next course is on English grammar. I am pretty excited about that (I know that my grammar is lacking). We'll see whether it actually improves my writing at all ;)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

It's my blog

so I can be a showoff. I got 10/10 for the "Letters to the Editor" essay. So there.

We had another writing exercise in class, where we had to describe a market preparing to open for the day. Here's mine. (It only got 9/10... but not bad for being done in 30 minutes flat.)
While the small children still slumbered, the marketplace had awakened. The vendors hastened to unfold their wares, takeaway coffees forgotten and rapidly chilling in the refrigerated air. Those acquainted with rushed their hellos, seemingly unwilling to waste precious breath on exhaled fog. And intertwined with the click of the tables unfolding, the crisp call of the mynah birds cut through the courtyard.
As the sunrise crested upon the soldiers, the hubbub and haste ascended in a crescendo of anticipation. Doughnuts and croissants invaded the nostrils of the advancing shoppers, teasing and cajoling and battling for their attention and purses. The keenest of these explorers ignored the flustered stall keepers, undeterred by dirty looks and unpacked boxes, pawing through stockpiles still in disarray, querying and haggling and haranguing at will.
And finally the main gates opened, signalling 7am and trumpeting the call to arms, as families and dealers flooded in and launched themselves violently at the market at large.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Since this is a writing blog,

I figure that it's fair game to post my first English AS-Level essay. We had to write two "letters to the editor", one for and one against a new development in an area of natural beauty. Not perfect, but here they are anyway.

I read with frustration your recent article regarding the new development at Ellesville Ridge ("Elles-Full Ridge", September 8th). The assertion that "Ellesville’s environment will struggle under the weight of 4,000 new residents" is not only misleading but a misrepresentation of what the Ellesville Ridge development will encompass.
Ellesville Ridge is a planned development of 1,100 new building blocks, plus various essential services. Population modelling indicates we will see about 2,900 new residents, not 4,000. The first release is for 450 blocks, expected to cater to 1,100 residents. It will include a sports field, a shopping precinct, a medical centre, a library and a primary school.
All of these are services which Ellesville desperately needs. It is expected that many current town residents will take advantage of the new services up on the ridge. The current school, with overflowing playgrounds and inadequate buildings, will see enrolment relief as students transfer. The medical centre will improve residents' access to health care and relieve pressure on Ellesville Hospital.
There is no doubt that the natural beauty of the area is an important concern. For this reason, extensive tree-planting will be required by all new residents, and house footprints will be restricted to one-third of the block space, ensuring that the area remains green. These are detailed in Council's Master Plan, available for viewing in Ellesville Town Hall.
It is, of course, prudent to question how much this will cost. However, it is unfair and inaccurate to paint the Ellesville Ridge development as a drain on the public purse. The development is largely being financed by private enterprise and the only buildings funded by Council will be the library and sports field. The Ellesville Ridge Development will bring much-needed services, businesses and tax revenue into an area suffering from high unemployment. Rather than struggling, Greater Ellesville will flourish as we welcome new residents and services to our area.
John Chapman, Counsellor for South Ward,
Ellesville Council

Thank you for your excellent piece on the upcoming Ellesville Ridge development ("Elles-Full Ridge", September 8th). It's about time that someone spoke up about just how many problems this folly will cause.
Nobody seems to be interested in the nature trail, which will be destroyed to make way for the sports field. Ellesville already has a sports field which is rarely used, and the nature trail has lovely birds and plants which will disappear overnight. Not only that, the planned shopping strip will see the demolition of existing homes. Why bulldoze houses just to put in ugly supermarkets and fast food restaurants?
In addition, it’s unbelievable that the question of water has not come up. Not only is the Ellesville River inadequate to supply the new residents, the Sewer Treatment Plant will be overwhelmed in heavy rain, resulting in overflows. The fact that we haven’t had a complete failure in eight years is just luck; with 4,000 new residents we can look forward to regular catastrophe. As for drinking water, Council's "compulsory rainwater tank" rule won’t solve the problem. Many of us already have rainwater tanks which collect rust all year, as we prefer the clean, pressurised water from the kitchen tap. A rainwater tank is just another white elephant.
And what will it all cost? Council claims it will be paid for externally, but where are the billionaires stepping in to foot the bill? I fear that Council will be left holding the baby, and with good reason. We all saw what happened to Riverview, when blocks sat unsold for years, the exorbitant cost becoming a millstone for their necks.
Ellesville is a tourist attraction for good reason. It’s a quiet, tree-lined community offering a unique, old-style experience. Main Street is what attracts people to our town. We're known for our gift shops, towering oak trees and boutique accommodation. The crowds of new residents will bring demand for "big city" convenience and loss of identity - convenience stores and hamburger shops will destroy the ambience of the area. With many retirees and low-income families, the town is ill-equipped to bankroll such grotesque assaults on taxpayer funds. Turning our beautiful Ellesville into a metropolis will be an albatross.
Deidre Blacksmith,

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Good Father - Noah Hawley (review)

I wanted SO BADLY to read this book, and picked it up while working at the library. The book is the story of a father's perspective when a child is accused of murder, and worse, the murder of a future president, with all the public scrutiny attached.

It follows a father's quest for answers. Divorcee Dr Paul Allen is a prominent and well-respected specialist in medicine whose world is turned upside down by the news of what his son has done. Only he never really accepts his son's guilt. Initially he's convinced the boy never pulled the trigger, despite all evidence to the contrary. He makes it his mission to amass evidence himself, researching for umpteen hours, poring over reports and paperwork and generally neglecting his family in an insatiable quest to prove his son's innocence. His son, however, refuses to discuss it, and then pleads guilty.

Despite everyone around him begging him to accept his son's guilt, Paul continues as before. His focus changes from denial to a conviction that someone else must have masterminded the plot. He considers spy activity. He tries to blame terrorists. He points the finger at homeless war veterans. He is absolutely deaf and blind to what is staring him in the face; that his son grew up in a broken home and has grown up and done something terrible, and might face the death penalty.

Don't get me wrong, most parents in this situation would expend ferocious amounts of energy as Paul Allen did. The author did a good job at showing the virtual insanity that such a situation might induce. The problem is that I just didn't care. The book was a little too bogged down in minute details that didn't help move the plot along, and a little too short on positive traits that might have made me LIKE the father. Even his interactions with his son are largely absent - if he was openly hostile to his dad, perhaps I'd feel sorry for the doctor. Unfortunately, Paul's only actions were in denying all rational thought and neglecting his family, which made him a character I couldn't pity.

It's very rare that I can't finish a book, and even more rare that I get three-quarters through before abandoning it. But this is one where I had to. I was bored, and, like everyone apart from the father, I'd dealt with the heartbreak of his son's fate back in the first quarter. I'd finally arrived at the point where I didn't care what happened to the father anymore because his irrationality had just dragged on too long. I was even hoping his second wife and family would leave him, so that he'd be forced to take stock of his life (and to break the monotony of "Not his fault! Not his fault! I need to look into more clues and gather more evidence! Not his fault!").

Two stars.

Side note: my copy had multiple instances where a year was incomplete, such as a trial date like "21st January 20__" - the author had apparently intended to go back and fill the year in, but somehow it wasn't picked up by the editors. Multiple times. Maybe it was never copy-edited (which would explain why the father becomes an insufferable person). I am still giving the book two stars rather than one, simply because the author can actually write well. The book just needed plot work.

I did something silly

...and I looked at the bestseller list for adult short stories. Apparently nothing is taboo. This might mean that there's a possible home for some of the shelved short stories that I wrote nine years ago (I recently had them pulled from the website where they originally appeared). I was hesitant to release them because, erm, I suppose I feel like "real" authors don't write about creepy relationships or situations. But I've grown a little in the past nine years, and have come to accept that this was merely my own prejudice and there are people who want to read about those subjects.

I am cleaning them up and choosing which ones deserve to be released.

I still can't bring myself to release "naughty" work under my own name. I could pretend it's about protecting my identity in regards to risqué work, but the truth of the matter is, I'm still not convinced that I'm a good enough writer. Despite the reviews I've had to the contrary. In a way, I suppose I'm waiting for an accidental hit under my pen name to give me the confidence to release as myself.

Time will tell. :)

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

I'm writing, and I'm in my stride.

I think I found a way to un-shelve that book. I know, right? Call the papers.

The one that didn't have a >>reason<< and didn't have a plan or a direction. I think I found one. It still doesn't have a climax, but I think it'll be much easier. Life doesn't come with an instruction manual, either, and we still consider it worth doing. You know what that means... it means I'll need to put it back on the sidebar as a work-in-progress.

I also got my second erotic short out this week, and in a few days' time I will do the final edit on the third and prep it for release. Phew. I've been more organised than, like, ever. Something must be wrong! ;)

It feels nice to have some purpose. To be busy.

Monday, August 5, 2013

On "Failure" (and Procrastination)

I think I'm the master procrastinator. If you think I'm joking, then my book list should allay any doubts.

I am also the master of not-finishing-anything. But it has occurred to me of late that not every unfinished book is a failure.

Take Work Two (Ana). I spent a great deal of time developing that story, the downtrodden girl destined for greatness. It is immensely clichéd in theory, but the way she was to get to the destination I had hoped was unique. I am certainly yet to hear of another book that describes a character with the same attitudes and values as hers.

And yet, despite the weeks of effort I put into that, it was going nowhere. The storytelling just wasn't engaging with the reader. It was painful, but I eventually shelved it, knowing that until the twist or new character spoke to me, it was pointless continuing with drivel. Shelving hurts - at the time I always assume it will be forever, so even if the shelving turns out to be temporary, it can sometimes make me feel a little sad.

Even so, all was not lost. It was writing Work Four's outline that I realised the idea was familiar, and so Work Two's premise could be used. (I know I've mentioned this before but stay with me.)

The point is... time spent writing is never wasted. Shelving a book is not the end. Accepting a work's limitations is not failure. It is a learning process, and we are growing as writers. It could be said that the secret to good writing is in what gets thrown out.

In my procrastination for today, I stumbled on a blog I'm loving. Oh, I hate what the blogger has to say and I hate her genre. What can I say, I'm opinionated. But it stirred me into writing today, and into updating this blog. Twice. You only see one new post, but that's because I posted something else and queued it for later.

Even annoyance can be a tool. Including being annoyed at your own work. See?

(Ever the procrastinator, I don't think I'll post this... just yet.)

Friday, August 2, 2013


I have had a stressful couple of days in MeatSpace™ (otherwise known as "the real world") and it has impacted on my ability to focus. Or I should say, my willingness to just sit down and write. I haven't written much lately anyway, and it is causing ants in the pants - I am seeking out distractions, getting bogged down in time-waster websites and doing pretty much anything rather than open my word-processor.

So far I've only gotten one chapter done today, and it was a chapter I didn't want to write, although it is surprisingly acceptable work.

And then, boom, I'M OUTTA THERE, can't bear to look for which chapter I should do next.

The distraction thing (read: playing instead of working) has been an issue for a long time. There is a shiny new android netbook on its way to me, by definition not as exciting as the desktop with the mouse and more distractions, and I want to dedicate time daily to writing, by picking up the netbook and physically removing myself from this desk. Fingers crossed.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Sentinel

The sentinel stood as he always had, tall and watchful and white. But somehow now the gloss had fallen, his once-proud wings no longer glinting in the sun. The furrowed brow and sorrowed eyes cast over his battlefield, ever-vigilant, but pride now waning.

He had been the lauded one, the saviour boy, the golden angel breathing life. The rapture, the joy! - oh how he remembered! And then bitterly, from atop his pedestal, had he endured the turning of the crows. The taunts, the vile words, where once he had heard only lovesongs.

But still, and more, he endures stock-still, ever-rendering services required, fulfilling canon, exceeding grades. And thankless yet his back stands tall, while his worshippers flock to his adversaries, declaring him wanting and unwanted.


Friday, July 26, 2013

Why your competitors are not your competitors

...huh? What's she smoking? If I have a small business, anyone else doing the same job is likely to steal my customers, right?

Not quite. If you're selling vacuum cleaners, that might be correct, because most homes will choose between the available brands of vacuum cleaners and only select one.

But the internet is full of "want" items these days, not just "need" items. Games, brands, books. Art in general. In the case of books, don't assume that another author is a threat. For indie authors in particular, >>other indie authors can be your greatest early resource<<.

I've highlighted that sentence so that you'll now go back and read it again. (Go on. I'll wait for you here.)

You see, they too understand how it is when your fabulous work is obscure, unknown and nobody's talking about it. And I don't care who you are or how super-special-awesome your writing is, in the beginning you're sitting in a black hole. Until you have some good reviews and people are talking about it and >>doing the marketing for you<<, your book is the one buried under the piles of manure and gold that have flooded the market.

Did you see that second sentence highlighted? We would all love that. People with names like J K Rowling or Stephen King, their names are so well-known that with the slightest push, people run with it. They Facebook it or tweet it or Google+ it or talk about it on the phone to their cousin Sam. Nobody's doing that with your book, unless you do the pushing. If you're lucky you'll blab on about your book until you are hoarse, typing and posting and social networking until your fingers are sore, and then you'll sell... four books. Per year.

Most of us like to work alone. Most of us didn't write the book in collaboration, so we have an obsession with guarding our baby and controlling how it's marketed. Fine. But you know what? Instead of two individuals self-marketing two books independently, with everyone using two hours a day of marketing work, you could simply do one hour, then reshare the posts of the other author and they do the same for you. Then read the their book and review it, and they do it for you.

It seems at first as if you're merely cutting your own marketing in half and helping someone else take your customers. Right? Right? But that's assuming readers only buy ONE book.

>>Readers do not only buy one book<<.

There is no guarantee they will buy your book plus the other author's. But that doesn't matter. You have doubled your exposure because all their followers see your post (and vice-versa). Even better, reviews are critical. And you now have one.

Imagine the possibilities if you move on to the next author?

Indie authors... look after each other and you will be looking after yourself. When another author reshares your post, jump on it. It's an opportunity to cement a link that can work for both of you. When a reader or follower reshares your post, make a point of going and saying thank you. Spend five minutes (only five minutes!) reading their other posts. Interact. You are building a fan club.

If you don't even bother to thank these people, are you sure they'll support you?

>>Your fan club are your paying customers<<.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

About that romance work

In the end, I didn't go ahead with it. I was too angry at the shitty genre.

I did, however, finish a short erotica piece. I bet you wish you could read it. Sorry. It's released under a pen name.

It didn't sell as well as I had hoped, but it has done ok. I plan to write a handful more in between projects, and re-release it as a collection. We shall see. :)

About Work Four

Or, you could say, the reincarnation of Work Two, which I mentioned here . I recently read a very moving memoir-type novel, in which the author had managed to blend in a near-supernatural fantasy element (think: psychic child) and she managed to do so without awkwardly forcing a huge suspension of disbelief. It was also written in first-person, renewing my hope that I could also successfully make a story work in first person.

I started planning Work Four last week (now tentatively titled Pass Girl), and this recent memoir-type book prompted a few ideas. I also happened to look at the Young Adults section this week (and it's depressing). More than 90% of them are supernatural novels, most of which are vampires, followed by zombies, shape-shifters and werewolf-type creatures. It saddens me a great deal, for even though it's wonderful to see teenagers reading at all, and it's fine that they lose themselves in fantasy, it feels as if authors just aren't trying all that hard. Take a formula, plug in the character names, churn out a book. The massive swamping of the market since Twilight is Just.Not.Funny!

Even The Hunger Games is fantasy, to a certain extent, but they did it by NOT touching the central character herself. Instead, the fantasy is in the setting, and in the surroundings. She is an ordinary, contemporary, imperfect teenager, unsure in her interactions with boys, and she finds herself a pawn in someone else's game.

In a roundabout way that is where Pass Girl happens to be going. I only realised the Hunger Games connection later. Since Pass Girl involves a virus, I pondered a future setting myself, but I'm not sure I want that level of unfamiliarity in the work - it creates other problems, like having to invent tons of future stuffs, which I personally find distracting in a book. Think of Back To The Future, where the sight of Hoverboards means we are continually reminded that this thing ain't real - not necessarily awful, but I prefer my readers just to lose themselves without having to be conscious of the utter unreality of it all. It should be believable. And so instead of the future, it will be a parallel universe, an everyday YourTown, but the consequences of the virus mean laws which render teenagers powerless and at the mercy of adults. It is the protagonist's rejection of this arrangement which I want to portray, a stake of claim on her own life and future. It is probably, unintentionally, influenced by Stephen King's The Stand, although I will not be detailing any kind of medical, horror or barfworthy things anywhere.

I began to outline the book, and after a while, I realised what I had. I had a purpose for Work Two (with some re-writing). Work Two is right now nothing but a journey, and although I had used "downtrodden abused girl escaping" as the reason for her journey, I can remove that and replace it with "rebellion escape", which works better and is less clichéd, I think. And it gives me scope for an actual ending - kinda important ;)

I didn't set out to write YA fiction - I was in the YA section because I had no interest in reading what's on offer in the Adult section. But I think YA sits well with me. I'm not opposed to Adult Fiction per se, but when I thought over the elements that would be in my story, I don't actually want to limit the audience by detailing, erm, certain sexay details because they simply don't add to the story. Let's just call it Fiction in general, because I hope it has broad appeal despite the main character being 16.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Career Woman

Have you ever met a Career Woman?

I don't mean the kind you think I mean. I mean the ones who float in smug satisfaction. They need not justify themselves to anyone. They have already reached the pinnacle of success.

Every day is an exercise of efficiency: the hair is styled just-so. The make-up prepared perfectly. The clothes are never the height of juvenile-dominated fashion; more like the windows of the Ladies' clothing stores. Ladies with a capital L. A respectable spring scarf about the neck. A handbag which matches the low heels. Comfortable, but with a carefully-created outlook of style, serenity and self-assurance.

Every morning has its tasks. One must ensure the youngest Junior Executives have everything they need, and are taken to their respective appointments. Junior Number One is no longer in the same Office, and is forging his own life. The second Junior is twelve now. He plays the clarinet. He must look neat and tidy; it would not do for any of the others to make note of a dishevelled appearance. The Career Woman takes note of his school shoes, which are wearing on the sides. She types it into her phone, so that she will remember; she tells Junior that they will be going shoe-shopping that weekend. He grumbles as expected; she swiftly silences him with a look, or perhaps even a slap to the ear. Junior Executives must know their place in the Company. And they must achieve results which keep The Boss impressed.

After this, she takes care of The Office. The Office must be pristine. Beds made, kitchens tidied, bathrooms spotlessly scrubbed. Career Woman sits in the Meeting Room, and talks on her phone while all this is going on. There are networks to maintain, images to portray, important connections to be made while some unfortunate soul is on hands and knees attending to bathroom tiles. Once the office work is complete, there is the Maintenance work to do. An hour on the treadmill, sometimes with inspirational music. She must ensure the Product is maintained. It is of the utmost importance to her Business Model.

There are always business lunches with other Career Women. Sometimes Career Woman holds them at her office. Sometimes in a cafe. They discuss important aspects of their Careers, since they are all in the same industry. Money is never discussed, and wealth is never flashed about. That, my colleagues, would be inappropriate.

Most afternoons, she does her research in the Meeting Room. The remote control allows her to select which channel will be most informative. One must know what's going on in the world, you see, even if it's the imaginary world which gets researched the most. On some days, trade magazines have more valuable information. Without knowing which celebrity is dating which, business lunches might become awkward.

A quick trip to the supermarket allows her to prepare for the second-last task of her work day. The meal must be good, and it must look excellent, and it must be on time. The Boss relies on Career Woman to meet his expectations.

The Junior Executive has been trained to stay away from The Boss, unless summoned. When summoned, he shall present a recent stellar report card, or perhaps some project for which he was given an award. He shall then retire to his quarters and remain concealed until the next working day.

The Boss confers with business associates in the Meeting Room while Career Woman obliterates all evidence of a meal having occurred. She does this quickly, quietly and efficiently. It is her job, after all, and The Boss must not be disturbed. At some point she intrudes on his solitude with two glasses of a nice wine. Thus begins the last task of her day.

Tonight, she has dressed in Evening Attire and steep heels. Career Woman is thirty-nine, and she knows it is getting rather late to re-cement her place in The Company. Seduction is part of her job, but tonight, like the last few weeks, she has neglected to consume a certain medication. Her timing has been calculated perfectly. Even a Career Woman keeps certain secrets from her Boss. Hopefully, this task will succeed.

In a loyal, hard-working personal assistant, every Boss will forgive occasional surprises, and this Boss has room in his office for another Junior Executive. Another Junior Executive will keep her in a job for a further twenty years.