Love this out of office reply one of my colleagues set today:
**OUT OF OFFICE REPLY**
The receipient of this email has vapourised. Please direct all future emails to Geri Clark Hellery, who is the only known individual with apocalypse training.
Hope you survived the Aztec apocalypse. For all the training you need, head to The Girls Guide to Surviving the Apocalypse Website.
Wow, I’ve been busy the last few weeks. Perhaps I should change the title of this post to Oh, what a month!
As we’re rapidly flying through June I’m reminded of my New Years Aims and Resolutions but I think I’ll review those another time (and perhaps catch up on a few too beforehand!).
So that last few weeks have been rather crazy. There’s plenty of plans afoot with the Girls’ Guide to Surviving the Apocalypse which has left me planning, writing, meeting other creative people to get them involved and more. Hopefully all this planning will come to something in the next few months and I can announce the GGSA’s plans to take over the world but for the moment, it’s rather a secret mission, so sssh! Until then, I’ve discovered where I want to do all my shopping: The Monster Supply Shop in London. Check them out here.
Resident Writers is also going well and every week we seem to be attracting new members. This week we also attended the Exeter Respect festival where we made poetry bunting which was a fun challenge and I’m really proud of the poem I wrote: real love means the time given to ghosts.
The Resident Writers were also invited to the book launch of ‘Tell the Wolves I’m Home’ by one of our writers, Carol Riftka Brunt which was incredibly exciting. We met some really interesting people and were lucky enough to hear Carol give a reading from her book, as well as taste some of her amazing baking.
I’ve also submitted a short story for ‘The Nun and The Dragon‘ which will be published in ebook format by the newly formed publishers ‘Fox Spirit‘. I’m exceptionally honoured to have been asked to contribute to this anthology and I’m hopeful there will be more in the future so watch this space!
I’m in the middle of Camp NaNoWriMo. As normal, it’s taken me a while to get into the swing of things but I’ve caught up and am writing a sequel to last years efforts ‘The Vampire’s Bodyguard’. I’m loving returning to a couple of my favourite characters and I’m already planning the next book in the series! The only negative thing about the Camp NaNoWriMo is that we were placed in ‘cabins’ with other writers. I’d love the opportunity to chat on the message boards but I seemed to be in a silent cabin! None of the other writers are chatting or really taking part. However, I put in a request to change and now I’m surrounded by lovely writers who seem to be enjoying the Camp as much as me. Luckily I’ve got friends on Facebook and Twitter who are writing so we’re keeping each other going, along with a lot of coffee!
The last week of May I was offered the chance to guest blog on Vie Hebdomadaires which was an interesting and challenging experience. I wrote four pieces for them, ‘What Writing Means to Me‘, ‘What Are You Reading‘, ‘Round the World in 80 Flavours‘, and ‘Luck of the Draw‘ but the piece I struggled with the most was my addition to the short story. Two earlier writers had started an interesting piece with two characters but if I’m honest, I didn’t ‘connect’ with the characters as I’d hoped I would and in only 1000 words it was tricky to move the story forward. However, I introduced two new characters and the feedback I’ve had from people who read it has been positive. I won’t spoil the ending for you but you can read my contribution and the rest here.
Thrown into the mix is new temp jobs, plans to meet up with friends in far flung places of the globe and attempts at BBQ’s in the garden. Phew, what a week!
As you know, I’m temping at the moment, so in honour of another famous temp, I reviewed Doctor Who’s companion, Donna Noble. You can see the original article here, or read below.
The Girls’ Guide to Surviving the Apocalypse: Know Your Idols Donna Noble
What’s her deal?
The self described best temp in the South East, Donna literally appeared in the tardis as The Bride. She helped the Doctor deal with the loss of Rose, although she decided not to travel with him, a decision she regretted. Having met the Doctor, she did decide to start researching strange paranormal events so when she meets him again, she’s ready and talk about prepared, Donna was fully packed and ready for anything with her bags in the back of the car. Her relationship with the Doctor is more one of brother/sister but she can still prick his conscience
Doctor Who: The Runaway Bride
Doctor Who: Series 4 of new run
Donna: Promise me one thing though, Doctor.
The Doctor: What’s that?
Donna: That you’ll find somebody.
The Doctor: I don’t need anybody.
Donna: Yes you do. Because I think sometimes you need somebody to stop you.
The Doctor: The last time, with Martha, it got complicated. And that was all my fault. I just want a mate.
Donna Noble: You just want to mate?
The Doctor: I just want *a* mate!
Donna Noble: You’re not matin’ with me Sunshine!
The Doctor: A mate! I want *a* mate!
Donna Noble: Well, just as well, because I’m not having any of that nonsense! I mean, you’re just a long streak of nothing, y’know, alien nothing!
Donna Noble : I’m waving at fat.
Donna Noble: [pointing to the Doctor] *He* is too skinny for words. You give him a hug you get a paper cut!
Donna brought a levity to the Doctors life and in counter-balance to earlier companions, she maintained a platonic relationship with him, the mere suggestion of romance between them being met with a snort of laughter. She’s feisty and fun and like me, she’s not that keen on all the running that being a Doctor’s companion comes with either. However, unlike Rose who was thrown into another dimension, or Martha who chose to leave the Doctor, Donna’s time with the Doctor comes to a sad ending when she absorbs
It’s a little belated for Mothers’ Day, but I wrote a post for the Girls’ Guide to Surviving the Apocalypse looking at how our mums have helped prepare us for the every day apocalypse. You can read the original post here.
Things My Mum Taught Me
A somewhat belated shout out to the mums! Hope you all had a fabulous Mothers Day and were treated like the true Apocalypse Girls you are. Mums are great, they are always prepared for anything, be it a tissue to wipe away snot, treats when you need them most and a hug when it all goes a little wrong. They also pass on their skills and knowledge to the next generation of Apocalypse Girls, giving us the ability to truly kick the ass of anything that gets in our way.
In thinking about this post, I wondered what skills my mum had passed on to me which would help me survive in an apocalypse situation. I suppose most people, when asked the question what has your mum taught you might say cooking. Now, I’ll let you into a well-known secret – my Mum can’t cook. She’s been known to burn toast to such an extent, even the birds in mid-winter won’t touch it. However, my mother-in-law (aka Mum 2) is an excellent cook with skills to rival Delia. So while my Mum instilled me with a sense of adventure with my cooking (when you’ve burned two thirds of dinner and have guests waiting, you get creative with what you serve) Mum 2 has given me the knowledge of herbs and spices and how these can save any meal.
Of all the skills you might need during and after the apocalypse, cooking will be essential: the ability to get creative in the kitchen while knowing what herbs will truly bring out the flavour of a genetically deformed chicken will literally be the determining factors between life and death.
So a big thanks Mum and Mum 2 and all the mums for being amazing Apocalypse Girls.
What skills or knowledge has your mum passed on to you that you can use in an apocalypse situation? Let us know below.
It’s hard to believe that Twitter has only been around for a few years, given the impact it has had not only on our social media interactions but also our language with new words such as ‘tweet’ being added to the Oxford Dictionary. Unlike other means of communication such as texting, Twitter encourages people to concisely present their thoughts without the need for abbreviations or ‘text talk’ into 140 characters.
Personally I’m a big fan of Twitter and it’s enabled me to contact and interact with authors whose worlds were previously a complete mystery and if nothing else, it’s good to know that even the professionals suffer writers block and character-induced stress like the rest of us! It’s also introduced me to the fabulous @ApocalypseGirls and has helped us create the invaluable Girls’ Guide to Surviving the Apocalypse.
Twitter has also given writers a new medium for their work: the telling of a story in 140 characters. It’s a significant challenge, one which here at Resident Writers we gleefully accept so check back here to see our attempts.
You can also follow me by clicking above or @GClarkHellery I’d love to read your stories so don’t forget to re-tweet them for me!
There’s been a spate of articles recently about Facebook, your online privacy (or lack thereof!) and how your private information can be used, both to target advertising toward you but also the fact that a growing number of employers (as many as 77%) are increasingly Googling prospective employees and your internet history can be used against you. I’ve watched the growing amount of information myself and friends are pouring into the internet: snippets of our lives which we are sharing with strangers and was reminded of the Ben Elton book ‘Blind Faith’ where everything you do is monitored and commented upon. With this in mind I’ve had a growing sense that 1984 might be closer than previously thought. Is my computer not the friend I thought it was?
I know I am very naive with regards to the internet and people viewing my writing. However, I find the idea that anyone can track my online activity, and that there is little monitoring of what is being done with this information, very concerning. It’s not that I have anything to hide, but I’m sure my internet search history would create eyebrow raising viewing. Writing for ‘The Girls’ Guide to Surviving the Apocalypse’ I frequently undertake searches for some of the less pleasant aspects of survival, most recently skinning, tanning as well as weaponry. I’ve also searched for poisons and methods of killing people. Viewing this a potential employer would think I was very odd at best, but at worst they may consider that I would represent the company in a positive manner. I never post about the employers I work for, that’s a separate part of my life from my writing and I would only make fleeting reference to the industry I work in.
I’ve also been looking at my Twitter feed, which has also been highlighted as a potential hotbed of contention. With the announcement that Twitter will start selling off my tweets, I reviewed what I have written in the last few months. I follow people who are atheist, Buddhist, Christian and Muslim and I read a variety of articles that they send my way. I have friends who are for and against alternative medicine and I’ve enjoyed the debate regarding this. There’s also writers who discuss the rise of e-books and the impact this has on traditional publishing as well as the trials and problems of undertaking the writing process. In fact I might also tweet or retweet articles about all these subjects. These shouldn’t be taken to represent my opinion: I think they are interesting and will stimulate debate or raise awareness about a particular situation or cause, so the thought that they might in some way be used to judge who I am, for instance if an employer chose not to hire me based on a retweet about domestic abuse or the fact that I read information for GGSA, is incredibly unfair and does me a huge disservice. What I look at on the internet is only a small part of who I am and is in no way a reflection of the level of work I produce.
During the recent ‘Twitter Blackout’ to protest against SOPA, I fully planned to follow the herd and ignore my tweets for the day. Then I saw a tweet from Jason Arnopp, along the lines that if you really wanted to show Twitter, Google, Facebook and innumerable other companies how angry you were with their use of your data, you should just delete your account. This gave me pause. Jason is right, the only way to truly show your anger at these companies is to delete your presence and encourage others to do the same.
Which brings us to the conundrum: in this world of email, Facetime, IM, YouTube and more, the only way to get your voice heard is via the medium of Twitter and others. One thing many authors have told me is that publishers do not have the money to promote authors in the manner they previously did and now rely on authors to do much of this work themselves through websites etc. So, I’ll continue blogging and tweeting, I’ll try to keep my private and work lives separate and I’ll hope that future employers will love the slightly crazy but highly capable, responsible and quick learner that I am.
I love movies it’s always exciting to discover a fabulous foreign movie which I did recently with ‘The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec’. I really enjoyed the feisty Adele who single-mindedly worked to achieve her goals. Great stuff! And with an attitude like that, I thought she definitely deserved to be added to the list of idols for the Girls Guide for Surviving the Apocalypse. My post is below and you can read the original post here.
When her sister accidentally ends up with a hairpin lodged in her brain, adventurer and writer Adele Blanc-Sec knows what she must do – raise an Egyptian mummy who has the skills she needs to cure her sister.
What’s her deal:
Set before WWI Adele is a cynical yet famous adventurer and writer who faces many different foes, including corrupt officials and supernatural creatures. The comics cover her exploits predominantly in Paris but also other countries whilst in the movie our heroine heads to Egypt. She’s probably best described as a cross between Indiana Jones and Victoria Beckham. No matter what the situation, she remains calm in the face of danger and deals with all she meets in a respectful but no nonsense manner, including when meeting an Egyptian pharaoh she helped raise from the grave and an over-enthusiastic fan-boys. Adele will do whatever it takes to reach her goals, be it learning how to ride a pterodactyl, challenging officials or creating a number of different characters to ensure she can gain access to the information or people she needs.
Les Aventures extraordinaires d’Adèle Blanc-Sec (The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec) (the comics) 1976
Les Aventures extraordinaires d’Adèle Blanc-Sec (The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec) (the movie) 2010
Death is the only path that leads to birth
Adele: ‘What’s move in Arabic?’
Camel herder: ‘Yallah, Miss Adele.’
(the camel still won’t move) Adele: ‘And ‘move, you ass, or you’re dead?”
(Narrator) One thing you should know about Adele, she listens to her instincts, not her publishers.
Like our own feral leader, Adele challenges the preconceived notions of societal constraints of the day, all whilst rocking a variety of stunning outfits with a single mindedness we should all hope to attain.
I watched ‘Red’ a few weeks ago, about a group of retired CIA/MI6 workers pulled out of retirement due to a crooked politician who wanted to kill them. It’s a fun action film and like ‘The Expendables’ you can tell all the actors had a blast making the movie. Anyway, I also loved Helen Mirren’s take on ‘Victoria’ completely classy but very deadly with a gun, she’s also a woman in love with the wrong man (just because he’s a Russian spy doesn’t make him bad!). Anyway, I thought she deserved to be classed as one of the Girls’ Guide’s ‘Idols’. You can read the original article here.
What’s her deal:
A professional assassin, Victoria retired from the intelligence service after events in Guatemala. She was the best sniper MI6 had. Whilst working for them she fell in love with a Russian spy (Ivan Simanov) and her loyalty to queen and country was called into question. Putting her career before her man, Victoria staged an assassination of Ivan, shooting him three times in the chest, but missing his heart with each shot. Dragged out of retirement by Frank Moses she proves she’s still got what it takes and can take down even the best of men while wearing killer shoes, red lipstick, and an evening gown.
Red (the movie) 2010
Red (the comic) 2010 DC Comics
Frank Moses: Victoria is the best woman in the world with an RPN.
Sarah Ross: Oh, wow. Um, what’s an RPN?
Victoria: [smiling] I kill people, dear.
Victoria: I was in love with an agent once.
Sarah Ross: What happened?
Victoria: Well, I was with MI6, and the relationship wasn’t… sanctioned. So when it came to light, my loyalty was questioned, and I was ordered to kill him. It was a test.
Sarah Ross: What did you do?
Victoria: I put three bullets in his chest.
Victoria proves that there is art in assassination and brings a level of class and sophistication to the rag-tag group of assassins. She shot the man she loved to save herself and him. She also proves that there is no age limit on when it comes to looking glamorous while firing a gun and that army boots can be worn with an evening gown.
I received the brilliant ‘Life’ and ‘Planet Earth’ both narrated by my personal favourite, Sir David Attenborough, chronicling animals battle to survive. I also watched a number of films where humans were turned into animals and it got me thinking, should the apocalypse come and we’re all turned into animals, what could be learned from Sir Attenborough’s show? You can view the original article here. If you could be turned into any animal, what would it be? Sound off in the comments section below
What to do if you’re turned into an animal
Having been struck down by a version of the T-Virus which has left me bed-ridden, waiting for ‘the change’ to occur, I’ve been watching a lot of movies and I’ve noticed a trend: people get turned into animals with alarming regularity. I’m thinking of ‘The Emperors New Groove’, ‘Help I’m a Fish’, or ‘Spirited Away’ to name a few.
Make yourself look bigger: Ostrich, cats, puffer fish and many other creatures use this tactic. If you look bigger than you actually are the chances are any predator will start having second thoughts and look for smaller fish to fry.
Camouflage: The chameleon is a successful predator as well as being on the menu for snakes and birds of prey. The reason for their success is their amazing camouflage, so look around you. Are you in a jungle? A coral reef? Try and blend in, being unseen is your best defence.
Stay on your feet. Remember all those wildlife shows with David Attenborough’s dulcet tones covering the killing of yet another antelope? What is the downfall (excuse the pun) of each of these creatures? They don’t stay on their feet. As soon as you’re on the ground you’re as good as dead. It’s difficult to defend yourself as your spreadeagled on the floor and it’s a lot easier for predators to attack your weak spots so as the song says ‘Keep on running’.
Safety in numbers. When you’re a tasty treat for a larger predator your safety lies in numbers. Think of the ‘bait balls’ of fish such as sardines, who congregate in large numbers. In the same way that camouflage helps you blend in, become part of the crowd, it might keep you alive.
Prepare food and be patient: As an animal you’re going to have to adapt what you eat and how to fit with your new lifestyle. For example, there is a group of monkeys in Boa Vista who love a certain type of nut. However, these nuts are tough to crack so they know that in order to prepare them they have to peel away the outer layers and leave the nuts in the sun for a week or two to dry out, then using heavy stones they can smash open the nut casing and enjoy the treat inside.
Let someone else be the hero: There’s an episode of ‘Life’ (voiced by the delectable David Attenborough) where juvenile penguins discover the sea for the first time. They are all eager to dive in, but one (the hero) beats everyone else to it. And what happened? The lion seal snagged him. This goes for horror movies, space ships and most definitely humans turned into animals – let someone else be the hero because they’re the ones who frequently end up being dissected on a slab by the Predator.
Find the one who turned you: Lets face it, you don’t just wake up and discover you’re an animal. Well, ok, most of the time you do, but generally there’s someone behind your transformation. Often it’s a wicked witch or warlock, a naughty sibling intent on revenge or a myriad of other people. In order to return to your human shape you need to find this person and then use your powers of persuasion (or a firm flipper!) to encourage them to turn you back. However, if all else fails, you should by now be fully equipped to live life as an animal.