Lisa Hendrix

Myth. Magic. And the power of love.

Category: My Heroes (page 1 of 2)

The Priory of Kirklees

Left nearly powerless by the wounds she received during the battle at the end of Immortal Warrior, Cwen the sorceress found refuge in the nunneries of England, eventually ending up at Kirklees, a Cistercian priory in the forests of what was traditionally known as the West Riding of Yorkshire. There, she worked her way up to Prioress (second to the Abbess), and that’s the point where we meet her again in Immortal Outlaw.

Saint Alice of SchaerbeekThe Cistercians are an order of enclosed monks founded by St. Roger of Molesme in 1098 at Cisteaux, France. They were strict followers of the Rule of St. Benedict, which called for vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, and dictated self-sufficiency and a simple life that included manual labor (St. Bernard was another famous founding member of the order.) Women were admitted to the order almost immediately, with the first nunnery opening at Langres in 1125. The nuns were known as White Ladies because of their white robes. I’ll confess right here that I screwed up on this point and talked about how Cwen liked her black robes, because they honored the old gods from whom she draws her power. Oops. I didn’t catch the mistake until well after galleys were done, and strangely, my usually perfect copy editor  didn’t catch it either. However, in our favor, the nuns did wear a black hooded surplice over the white robes (as in the image of St. Alice of Schaerbeck to the left). Perhaps we can both be forgiven.

Kirklees was founded in 1155, during the reign of Henry II,  with the grant of land confirmed in 1236 by Henry III. In addition to nuns, the house was used as a sort of boarding school by local noblemen intent on keeping their daughters out of trouble. This effort had mixed success: the young noblewomen brought luxuries and a sense of fun with them that sometimes spread to the nuns, and there are several recorded incidents when nuns ran off with priests or otherwise carried on scandalously, sometimes right on priory grounds; those stories inspired both Cwen’s magic-weaving in her cell and the story of Sr. Paulina and Fr. Renaud and their clandestine affair.

old photo Kirklees

Kirklees escaped the initial rounds of the Dissolution in 1535, but was eventually surrendered in 1539, when only eight nuns remained. After the inmates left, the chapter house was razed and its stones eventually were used to build Kirklees Hall nearby. However,  the gatehouse escaped the predations and still stands today, though parts were apparently rebuilt in the intervening centuries.In the traditional Robin Hood legends, it is in that same gatehouse that Robin meets his end, bled to death by his cousin, the prioress of Kirklees, whom he sought out when ill. When he realizes his cousin has betrayed him, Robin summons help with his hunting horn. It’s too late, however, and all Little John can do is help Robin shoot an arrow out the window, promising to bury him on the spot where it fell.

Robin's headstone

A well-marked grave exists at Kirklees today, surrounded by an iron railing and showing a Victorian era headstone in pseudo-Gothic  English that claims it’s where Robin lies. Suspiciously, it lies a good 600 yards from the gatehouse — over twice the distance of a good medieval longbow shot. However, travelers to the area during the mid-16th century report visiting Robin’s grave in a different place, at about the right distance for a bowshot. And indeed, human remains were found in that spot during renovations of Kirklees Hall during the mid-18th century. It’s unclear wherther those remains were reburied at the spot now marked for Robin.

The Victorian headstone, pictured, reads:

Here underneath dis laitl stean
Laz robert earl of Huntintun
Ne’er arcir ver as hie sa geud
An pipl kauld im robin heud
Sick utlawz as his as iz men
Vil england nivr si agen

Whether Robin lies in the marked grave or not, both locations sit on private land, inaccessible to  the public. Somehow, I think it’s appropriate that Robin remains as elusive to us today as he was to the Sheriff in the 13th century.

Next up on the tour:  The village of Harworth

Romancing Arianna

Over at the Huffington Post, writer Joanne Rendell provided a terrific report/critique on the recent Princeton Symposium, Love as the Practice of Freedom? Romance Fiction and American Culture. In the article, she points out that even the pro-romance pros present didn’t quite go far enough in their analysis of why romance is proving so recession-proof.

Here’s a snippet:


“Although Crusie wasn’t talking specifically about the appeal of romance in this recession, it struck me that these “emotionally just landscapes” are perfect antidotes for our current times. When shady Madoffs are making off with billions of dollars and banking executives are awarding themselves huge bonuses from bailout monies (while the rest of us watch our 401ks disappear like puddles in the midday sun), the appeal of a world where integrity and honesty are rewarded seems obvious.

But as the Princeton conference continued,…I realized that it was too hasty to rush to this conclusion. Romances are not one kind of thing. Neither are their readers. And to draw fast conclusions about the genre and its audience is to perpetuate the kind of stereotyping which has always made romance the “most maligned of literary texts.”


Click over to HuffPo for the complete article, “Heaving Bosoms: A Tonic for the Recession?

The heaving bosoms in the title, btw, refer to the wonderfully outrageous book by Candy Tan and Sarah Wendell: Beyond Heaving Bosoms, The SmartBitches Guide to Romance Novels (CLICK HERE to buy at B& This story came by way of their blog, SmartBitchesTrashyBooks.

The World's Got Talent

Trust me. Follow THIS LINK, read the explanation, then watch the video. It will likely be the best thing you do all day.

Then take a moment and post a link to your favorite feel-good video in the Comments.  We all need a smile.

Policy, er, glitch, er…it's the French!

Amazon still hasn’t come up with an acceptable explanation for what happened over the weekend.  Or rather, they’ve come up with so many that it’s clear they’re vamping in the hope we’ll forget.  We won’t.

I could go through the whole thing, but others have done it and given better analyses than I could manage, so I’ll send you off to them (please do remember to come back…):

Amazonfail: Post Mortem by Kassia Krozser at Booksquare.

Amazon = Fail by “the angry black woman” at Alas, a Blog

The Amazon Fail by Hugh at The Book Oven.  He also offers a suggestion to publishers that would diffuse some of the big A’s power and  keep a similar decision/error/”glitch” from causing such a significant hit to a particular segment of books. Publishers, are you paying attention?

Go forth, become educated, and understand why monopolies are bad and what you can do to help. While you’re gone, I’ll be working on my links to offer readers choices beyond Bezos.

Can we say prejudiced?

Amazon has shown its true colors by de-ranking certain types of books. They call them “adult,” but the designation involves a preponderance of gay/lesbian/transexual books amid the erotica. Don’t think that’s so bad?  How about if I tell you that they’re also de-ranking romance novels left and right? How about if I tell you they’ve de-ranked the children’s book Heather has Two Mommies as well as Annie Proulx’s Brokeback Mountain? How about if I tell you that they still happily rank dogfighting books and videos and everything in the Playboy repertoire?  How about if I tell you that Unfriendly Fire: How the Gay Ban Undermines the Military was de-ranked and American Psycho was not?

Amazon Rankings don’t really mean anything to customers…but they mean everything to Amazon itself, which uses them to generate things like front page searches, bestseller lists, “If you like x then you’ll like y” recommendations, and everything else that effects the visibility and sales potential of books.  In other words, if your book is de-ranked, it WILL NOT appear on a front page search, even if the reader searches by your name or title. Heaven help you if they search by topic. Here are a couple of more thorough explanations

Dear Author 

Smart Bitches,Trashy Books  (My particular favorite, but as always, be warned if you’re reading at work or have a tendency to swoon at explicit language).

LA Times Book Blog

And for good measure, a here’s a definition of the term  Amazon Rank. (Add this link on your own site and help Google Bomb the term so it comes up #1 on searches. More about this in the Smart Bitches post.)

Piggy Banks, or Banks as Pigs

piggybankLast October, I posted about a terrific explanation of the mortgage crisis that had been done on This American Life.

Well, they’ve done it again: Alex Blumberg and NPR’s Adam Davidson explain how a bank works in terms any of us can understand, and then explain toxic assets and all those other terms bandied about on CNN and MSNBC.

That show, Bad Bank,  is available for listening on the TAL website, but is also downloadable on iTunes (free at this writing, but perhaps costing a buck or so later — search podcasts for This American Life, then pick the show Bad Bank).  

Go grab it, then listen. Carefully. Do not imagine you understand  what the hell is going on until you do.  We cannot be good consumers or informed citizens until we get this stuff.

Why I don't Tweet

Never say never, but really…



Hope 2009

I’m smiling so hard my cheeks hurt. 

Following is the text of President Barack Obama’s Inaugural Address:

My fellow citizens: I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors.

I thank President Bush for his service to our nation as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.  

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath.

The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because Continue reading


The number of words my 13 year old wrote during the month of NaNoWriMo. Yeah, nearly 13 THOUSAND words. An 8th grader!

Of course, being 13, she didn’t bother to tell me she was even participating in NaNo, so I didn’t find this out until after the fact. But can you see the grin on my face?

Tomorrow, I’ll tell you what I’ve been up to the past couple of days, but I wanted to get this in and give my kid her due.  Brava!

Leave a message for her in Comments and I’ll make sure she reads it.




aka Proud Mom

The best $1.90 you'll ever spend.

Swinging way off topic here (do I have a topic?) to do a public service announcement:

Last Saturday, while sitting in my car waiting for my daughter to finish a riding lesson, I was transfixed and appalled by an episode of This American Life in which a pair of money types explained the credit crisis.  They had done a similar show back in May, where they explained why the mortgage market was crashing (that show was singled out by no less than the New York Times for its excellence).  Between them, the two programs give you a grounding in wtf is going on that you will not get anywhere else.  If you’re wondering why your 401k is tanking or why your bank just changed names or why you’re about to lose your house, this is where you find out. You can download transcripts, listen to streaming audio, or buy the shows on iTunes for $.95 each:

The Giant Pool of Money

Another Frightening Show About the Economy

 You’ll be stunned. But you’ll also be smarter and a better citizen. Pretty good deal.


UPDATE 10/13 — This weekend, TAL had another short segment on the financial crisis, this time discussing the politics of the situation, i.e. who bears responsibility.  You might be surprised. Or you might not. But it’s still worth hearing it spelled out.   The show is mostly a repeat from 2006, except for this important update segment at approximately 30 minutes in. It’s a free download during this week. Afterward, you have the same options as above.

A Better Mousetrap 2008



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