Foxmask – Juliet Marillier

A book reivew! It has been a while…

Foxmask by Juliet Marillier

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

One of her best, and I have read almost all of them now.

The islands are beautifully described and you have such a clear sense of place; I would now love to visit, as with the Orkneys, Scotland and Ireland. The main characters are real and vibrant, with quirks and flaws. The writing is lyrical, lovely, evocative and of a high standard; you will not be jolted by a clumsy phrase or plot hole (although I think twins became just one child without explanation!). There was plenty of myth, enchantment and wonder, which I love in her stories. It was balanced, and no she doesn’t rush, but there is a dreamlike quality to the work which just draws me in until I have read for much longer than intended. I don’t ever want to hurry, as I don’t want it to be over!

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In addition to the review, I will say that I have a Celtic fantasy on the boil. It is plotted, but not really started. Juliet Marillier and Marion Zimmer Bradley are my inspirations here. There is little or nothing written in this vein about Wales, though – and there should be. We have dragons, Myrddin Emrys (Merlin), Idris and his Cadair, ladies in lakes, giants and maidens. We have the Mabinogion! The Red Book! And much more.

While I am studying coding languages, other language learning such as Welsh and English (you never stop learning even with a PhD in it) will slow somewhat. I find Javascript as exciting as learning any language though, and you can really do some things with it!

You Know Nothing

“You know nothing. You know less than nothing. If you even knew that you knew nothing, that would be something. But you don’t.” – Harp, Point Break.

Thus begins Johnny Utah’s first day at the FBI. Nice way to welcome someone to the office…

In fact, Johnny is a “real blue-flame special” as Harp also notes – top of his class, football star, the works. But he’s still made to feel like he’s less than, before he’s even got started.

So, why would I write about coding? I’m no blue-flame special. I know nothing (and I know it).

But of course, I still know more than some. For example, if you want to learn to code, where do you start? I know about that bit!

It took me ages to find Code Institute and the Welsh government’s career-changers scheme (the Personal Learning Account) which would allow me to do the Web Application Development diploma. I kept looking at bootcamps, online courses, even full Comp Sci degrees, but I could never afford them.

(I know people self-teach from free courses, but I want to go deeper faster than I think that would allow me. I also know my propensity for procrastination – Lord knows what I’d end up actually learning.)

The first thing I can write about is that journey. Knowing I wanted to learn to code and develop, but not knowing how to go about it. The barriers to even knowing that it would be a possibility.

The main barrier was still in my own mind – is this really something I can do? Don’t I have to be good at (shudder) maths? And I’m a girl – is it even allowed?! And I’m too old! And so on and so on.

The thing is that even when I am an expert in something, I still feel like this. Imposter syndrome gets everyone.

So, I will just do it anyway! I want to write about my journey because I’ve always loved writing. I 100% want to use those hard-won skills and expertise to back up my journey, and maybe along the way (when I know a little more than nothing) I can be useful to others as well.

Theory is when you know everything, but nothing works.
Practice is when you don’t know anything, yet everything works.
In programming we combine theory and practice; nothing works, and we don’t know why.


Lordy. No writings for some time!! Well, not on here, anyway.

I have actually had a really fun gig ghost-writing articles for a lovely guy on a great relationships site. I can’t claim it properly though!

NaNoWriMo was the usual flop for me…I had to get my ass moving on Surfergirl’s Seaglass’s website and business plan, and once you’re a few days behind on word count it all starts to look impossible, even locked down with no other fun to be had.

But it’s a real and definite goal to get writing my next novel, ‘Ffynon’ (Well) this year. At least a first draft is required!

Plenty of creativity on the silversmithing side of things, and I use the time at the bench to listen to podcasts on creative things and business advice. While I stay home in Wales, my mind wanders all over the world…


Free Fluff

“It’s a quick video about why you don’t need any special “skills” or “experience” to launch a full-time lifestyle business as an influencer…”

This influencer is peddling courses on how to make and sell courses – and telling people they don’t need any special knowledge to do that. What if you want to make a course about x but you don’t know any more than the next person? Who wants to be taught by someone who isn’t the best of the best at what they do? What if, like most people, you are not the best at anything, and really not qualified to instruct anyone on anything? What if you’re just out to make a quick buck off people, and you make shit courses?

Some of these internet influencer courses seem dangerous. You could pay a lot and really get not much back. I worry that most of these courses could have been written up into a great book, landed a publisher and been assigned an editor, gained reviews and so on. I worry that the ones that couldn’t get published like this are mostly the ones that are shite. I suppose it’s like indie publishing, self-publishing – there are some crappy books, and there are some good books. But with a Kindle title you might waste a few quid and then leave a review so others don’t do the same. With something like a freelancing one I’d like to do, you pay A LOT of money. I mean, like £800. And what if it’s rubbish? There’s a money-back guarantee, but what if it doesn’t work but you don’t find out till it’s too late? Or they quibble, or disappear? I just think there’s a lot of potential for bullshit like the above – bad advice from people who are well-meaning – and some who maybe aren’t. And there’s nowhere for honest reviews – their sites and social media are carefully curated shop windows, which is fair enough, but nowhere gives the downsides, the ‘didn’t work for me’ stories. Even the best books have some poor reviews, a balanced view.

Maybe this is me being too old to grasp the new paradigm…but there was an article about one influencer kid who is basically running a Ponzi type scheme, and it’s fucking with trading, which is real and serious money… People lose money, so they have to recruit new losers, and so on.

Anyway, I’ve unsubscribed from this particular brand of fluff. I still rate some influencers and online course creators really very highly – Renae Christine’s Cupcake Trainings, for example, which is ‘awesomesauce’ (free book image from Renae!). The quality of the free stuff tells me the paid-for would be awesome, totally worth it, but it’s just too expensive for me. Same for the freelancing course. One Of Many, which I also love, is more sensibly priced.

It’s fair play to those who are succeeding with this new way of connecting with people. But I’m going to steer clear of any more of the ‘free webinar with everything you need to know – then the hard sell at the end!’ type stuff. Some of it is bad, bad, bad. I’m quite susceptible to the marketing as well, and just ain’t got the dollar! Also…I just still really like books…and independent reviews…

I’m looking at ways to grow my writing and jewellery businesses, and turn it all into one lifestyle brand umbrella where I get to share everything I love about the surfer girl lifestyle and writing life with people, so I am interested in things like handmade business advice etc. I think there’s some great stuff out there, but I’m also pretty sceptical.

What rules?

“She was already learning that if you ignore the rules people will, half the time, quietly rewrite them so that they don’t apply to you.” (Terry Pratchett, Equal Rights)

If, that is, if you’re that good at whatever you’re trying to do, they want you regardless. (At least that’s how I’m interpreting it.)

And let’s hope so, because I am going to apply for a research fellowship. I have is a complex and interesting idea for a project, but will they think so? My application won’t follow a lot of the rules, because it’s quite a short-dated opportunity, but I might as well give it a go, right?

Every time I talk myself out of it with sensible advice, something like this pops up and whispers to me, “You want to write this, so why not just do it?”

Gewn ni weld.