SONG OF LYRAN historical and creative notes

The Jewish approach to knowing God comes through words, which may be sung and come with numeric values.

Much of the symbolism in SONG OF LYRAN is inspired by or borrowed from Judaism and Jewish mysticism. Since the Hebrews (known to the ancient Egyptians as the Ivrim tribes, which included the Essenes) were the OGs of monotheism, it seemed a fitting tribute to include them in a book celebrating the concept. Also, because the other two major religions, Christianity and Islam, are based on Jewish texts and ideas, doing so also opened the door to a space where the Brotherhood of this book might be able to manipulate meaning, exploit intent, and otherwise mislead good people attracted to the concepts but unfamiliar with the source context or culture.

One of the fascinating elements of Judaism is the value of each letter of the Hebrew alphabet, which gives each word a deeper meaning than what is understood when it is spoken aloud or translated. For example, the letters het and yud in the word chai (חי), which means life, have a value of 18 when added to together. Because of this, it’s customary for those of the Jewish faith to give gifts in increments of 18 to symbolically bless the recipient with the gift of a good, long life.

In the faux-religious book within this book, it is mentioned that the Aspects will be called back when the last turn of the wheel is completed. The value of that epoch is given 25,776 years. People familiar with astronomy might wonder why I set it there rather than at 25,772 or 36,000 years. Those numbers are generally thought of as being the Great Year or Platonic Year, which is the time it takes the Earth’s equinoxes to complete one turn around the ecliptic, or for the sun, moon, and planets to travel to the same place you see them in now, respectively. It’s because I wanted the number to be divisible by 18.

The choice of women in Sekhmet’s line was a combination of art and science. When I was 19 years old, I had a vision, much like the one described in the first Honey chapter, during which I saw the faces of all the people I’d ever been, including one who had the head of a lion. They were all so different, but the one thing that bound us all was that we all possessed the same eyes.

A conversation with my friend Randall Harr, decades later, inspired me to take that vision and turn it into a longer narrative. If you enjoyed this story, you should thank Randall for putting the idea into my head that this was a story worth telling.

When I sat down to write this book, I made a grid of all the women I remembered seeing along with potential birthplaces, cultures, and other half-remembered clues from that vision. I then chose a handful that I felt the strongest connection to, anchored them to real or mythic women who had similar enough facts to tie them to the story I wanted to tell, and began to weave this narrative together.

Much of Sekhmet's journey takes place in Egypt.
Much of Sekhmet’s journey takes place in a version of ancient Egypt when Amarna was under construction.

If you are curious to learn more about the women featured in this story, search for Sekhmet and Nefertiti, Philomela and Ovid, Foreach and the exile of the Déisi people in Ireland, Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz and her friendship with Carlos de Siguenza, and talk to any unhappily married woman in present-day America. You might discover interesting similarities and more than a few creative departures to the characters who appear on these pages. After all, this is a fictional work of my imagination.

What I did not invent or elaborate on should be easily found via Google or Wikipedia search (Author’s plea: Please donate to Wikipedia!). If you’re curious to see more notes and source material I used for this book, visit kristicasey.com.

Although this is a creative work, I do think it is worth reexamining what’s been passed down to us as fact. After all, we know that history was written by the victors, and even religious texts have socio-political reasons for being. What, then, is the truth? We may never know. All we can do is hope to find the Answer we’re looking for in this life. And be content with that.

Where do souls come from?

In the SONG OF LYRAN, readers follow the Line of Sekhmet from pre-history to the present day. This line is one of soul transference, taking for granted that in the world of the novel, reincarnation is how souls evolve. But where do they come from? And is there any connection between the soul theories of my novel with experiences people have in real life?

Photo by Porapak Apichodilok on Pexels.com

Before I go further, I should remind you, dear reader, that SONG OF LYRAN is a work of fiction. Even though much of its mythology and even some of its characters are rooted in real history, it’s a product of my imagination. But that doesn’t mean that I’m the only person to have these thoughts. Where I’ve found similar theories, I’ve hyperlinked the below text for your further reading.

Here are some of the soul theories I posit in my novel:

  1. Some of the people on Earth are star seeds, which means their souls originated elsewhere and are reincarnated in Earthly bodies. This creates a line of descent, like the Line of Sekhmet. In their prime state, they were known as Seraphim or Nephilim or by other regional names. As they are reborn, they become more human and less otherworldly.
  2. Some of the people of Earth are not star-seed. They are who we think of as humans, children of Adam and Eve or ‘children of the garden,’ which was not on this Earth.
  3. After death, you can choose to be reborn or be reabsorbed by the Source, also known as ‘The One.’
  4. The purpose of being reborn is to find the ‘Answer’ you were destined to know or fulfill the mission you chose. Once you’ve accomplished this, you can return to the Source.

I’ve mentioned before the benefits of the Writing in Community Akimbo workshops. I recently started another WIC workshop to get my novel NEURONET out into the world. A core benefit is writing every day and getting feedback on what you’re writing in the moment. But a secondary benefit is that of synchronicity — stumbling across another writer’s work that complements your own or inspires you to think a little differently about your own.

During the writing of SONG OF LYRAN, the people I interacted with the most were Cindy Villanueva, Scott Lowe, Russell John, Heather Buttons, Abbey Spiro, and Stacey Mayo (if there’s no link, keep those names in mind because amazing books are coming). Recently, I’ve found myself avidly following the daily posts of Carol Arcus, who’s working on a memoir. Carol is someone who spends much of her time interacting with ‘lost souls’ and spirits.

This morning, I read a story she wrote about wandering down a road in rural Australia. She sensed the spirit of a lost soul, a little indigenous boy. She followed her feeling to a fence she couldn’t move past. Calling out to the child, she asked him to come to her, and he did. Previous to this encounter, the souls she found needed her help moving into the ‘light,’ so they could pass on. But this little boy wanted her help walking to a tree she’d just passed. She walked into the tree and his soul found peace. It was then she realized that some souls truly belong to the Earth. And others come from elsewhere, which is why they look for a light or a channel to move from this dimension to the one where they truly belong.

When I read that, I had to take a breath. It struck me that what she’d experienced in her soul workings dovetailed nicely with the mythology I’d created in SONG OF LYRAN. It’s a world I’ve imagined, but it was intense to find echoes of it in the real world.

What do you think? Are you familiar with the concept of star seeds? Do you believe in reincarnation? Or do you think it’s all a load of hooey? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences. Please share them in the comments below.

Who — or what — are the Lyrans?

Eye of Sekhmet by Lex Sanders

If you’ve heard of SONG OF LYRAN, you’ve probably wondered: what’s a ‘Lyran’? Well, settle in my friends and I’ll give you a little background on where the idea for the Lion-hearted Lyrans, exemplified by the character of Sekhmet, came from.

I have to say that the villains of the book came to me first. During the dark days of the pandemic, I started hearing about QAnon and 4Chan. At first, I didn’t take what I heard seriously. I mean, c’mon! There’s an alien race of reptilians disguised as politicians who are running the country? And they’re pedophiles who like to operate out of a pizza joint in Washington, D.C.?

But then I started to meet people, including members of my extended family, who believed these things. If not wholeheartedly, then at least as ideas that existed within the realm of possibility. I noticed that while these same people purported to be scared of corruption and the evils attributed to the ‘lizard people’ who ran the ‘swamp,’ the politicians they supported were being accused of the very same evils.

How clever would it be, if I was trying to deflect attention from myself, to accuse innocent people of committing the atrocities I’m committing, I thought. And indeed, as this germ of an idea rattled around my brain, I did stumble across this very idea in propaganda playbooks. Now, the idea became: what if there was a race of reptilian creatures who ruled things from behind the scenes and manipulated humans into aiding and abetting them through fear and propaganda that accused the innocent of the very crimes they committed?

That gave me the power dynamic for the book. I knew who the figures behind the darkness would be. I googled ‘alien race of reptiles,’ I found entries talking about ancient aliens called the Brotherhood of the Snake who were connected to all sorts of groups, like ancient Egypt’s Amun Priesthood, and originated from the star Draco.

Bingo! I had my villains. Now I needed worthy opponents. Returning to my rabbit hole of Google research I stumbled across the Lyrans. By some accounts they were connected to lions, in others they had green eyes, in all they were descended from the star Lyra and connected to other ‘star seed’ from the Pleiades and Sirius. Cross-referencing the idea of lions of light and snakes of darkness with the historical epochs each of the women of Sekhmet’s line inhabit, I was able to find lions (or their feline counterparts) and snakes in each of the women’s cultures.

In the SONG OF LYRAN, I elaborate on this mythology, connecting it to earthbound myths you might be familiar with from the Torah or Old Testament. For example, Sekhmet’s ability to form a line of genealogical descent can be explained by Book of Genesis angels being able to have children with humans.

All this is a very long answer to the short question: who or what are the Lyrans?

The short answer is: Lyrans are aspects of God. They are not human, but they interact and can breed with them. Some call them aliens, others know them as angels. But they are engaged in an eternal battle with the forces of darkness, represented by the Brotherhood of the Snake, who also have divine origin.

What other questions do you have for me about SONG OF LYRAN? Leave a comment and I’ll answer your query in a future blog. 🙂

How Honey’s journey inspired one woman to stand up for herself

The greatest compliment you can pay an artist is to share how their work has affected you. Imagine how blown away I was when a reader shared how Honey’s journey in SONG OF LYRAN inspired her to be a hero in her own life.

Last weekend, the Davenport Beach Book Club invited me to Zoom in and answer questions after they discussed my book. After sharing stories about where the idea for SONG OF LYRAN came from and talking about my process, one woman, who I’ll call J, spoke up.

I Zoomed in from the Atlanta airport to join the lovely ladies of the Davenport Beach Book Club to answer their questions on Sept. 3.

The day after finishing the novel, J went to a meeting with a male colleague to meet with legal counsel representing an organization. When it was time to discuss sensitive matters, they asked for her male colleague to leave the room to discuss the matter with them.

The man demurred, telling them that they didn’t need him. J was the person they needed in the room.

”Oh, we don’t need her, he’s here, we’ll just talk with him,” was their reply.

”No, you need me,” J said. “I’m the head of the department.”

In spite of J’s obvious seniority and relevance to the matter, the other men kept insisting that they didn’t need to talk with her, they preferred to talk to her male colleague instead.

Fed up, she emphatically pounded the table and announced that they could not meet without her in the room. It took a while, but they finally understood that J — the woman, not her male report — was in charge.

“Things like that happen all the time,” she said. “But it’s not usually so obvious. I had just finished reading the book. I couldn’t believe what they were doing. And after I stood up for myself, I thought: Oh, I just had a Honey moment!”

Hearing how my words inspired another woman to call out prejudicial behavior and assert herself made my day.

If SONG OF LYRAN has inspired you to act differently or if it’s helped you see or think about things in a new light, I’d love to hear how. Share your stories and thoughts in the comment section below.

Song of Lyran on the road

Twenty years ago, I left my job in Amsterdam at Boom Chicago and started a five-month journey. One of the most significant stops was the Sunrock Vrachos resort on the island of Corfu in Greece. Known for spectacular sunsets, the island attracted young backpackers from all over. A two-night stay stretched into two weeks after my traveling companion, Danger Amy, lost my ATM card to a machine in town and I had to work the breakfast shift in exchange for room and board. But it was a fantastic time filled with crazy characters: Lord Philip the White Witch Doctor of South Africa, George the Love-Sick Guitarist, and Iron-Footed Nikos, to name a few.

Me, changing a CD instead of making omelettes or Greek pancakes as I should be doing, during the breakfast shift at the Sunrock Vrachos in September 2002. Photo by Nikki Bayley.

I’ve been thinking about that time because I’m currently visiting with one of the friends I made there, Nikki “Oy! Bayley!” Bayley, exploring much of British Columbia, Canada. While in Vancouver, we discovered that another person we’d been at the hostel in Greece with was in town, Adam “Alpha Romeo” Laing. It would have been beautiful to connect with him, but alas, when you’re no longer 19 you have family obligations, and he was in town for those, not to connect with old friends.

Alpha Romeo worked the evening bar shift at Sunrock Vrachos with Bjorgvin “Bird” Agnarsson. The night Danger Amy and I arrived, they introduced an ice-cube-passing game that quickly devolved into an all-out kissing party at the bar and ended with a 2 a.m. skinny dip in the Mediterranean and many new intimate sleeping arrangements. In these pandemic times, I wonder if moments like these will be forever lost to our young ones. I hope not. Or at least not for good.

Freed from the hostel by a wire transfer from home, I left Greece for Turkey and traveled there for a month before returning to travel the Greek islands with Alpha and Bird for a couple of weeks. We ventured from Ios to Santorini and spent a whole week driving around Crete, skinny dipping and sunbathing. It was a glorious, free, fantastic time. And during one of our ferry trips, Alpha taught me something that stuck with me. Being abroad before electronic books, every hostel had a lending library where you took a book and left one, much like the little libraries you see in front yards in the suburbs now. Alpha liked to take those books and write a little note encouraging people to share who they were, where they found the book, which places they read it in, and when they began and finished it.

”One day,” he said, “I hope to run across a book I read and learn its journey.”

I traveled to Canada with a few copies of SONG OF LYRAN. Originally I’d thought to give it to friends, but they’d already bought copies. (THANK YOU!) So, in honor of Alpha, I started leaving copies in lending libraries like this one in Whistler, British Columbia, Canada.

I found this little library on the Village Trail while staying in a B&B in Whistler and I couldn’t resist leaving a copy of SONG OF LYRAN inside.

As I start my journey back to Atlanta tomorrow I’ll leave copies in airports along the way with inscriptions like this.

My ode to Alpha Romeo … I hope one day to re-encounter these books again and see where they’ve been.

Dear traveler:

Please take this book with you, love it, and then leave it somewhere else for another person to find.

If you enjoy it, please leave a review on Goodreads and Amazon, recommend it to your friends, book clubs, and libraries or local shops.

Thank you for being curious and willing to take a chance on this book.

Believe in love.

With devotion,
Kristi Casey
”The Talespinner”

Hopefully one day I’ll stumble upon one of these books in the wild and be able to see who it reached, where it traveled and who it touched.

And to increase the chance of that, I wonder: would you like to be one of these traveling readers? If so, email me at kristi (at) kristicasey.com with your address. You just need to promise that you’ll share the book with others and your thoughts with me when you’re done reading.

Thanks for helping my words, heart, and thoughts reach others!

The symbolism of the Lyran eye

I love the cover art my child, Lex, created for SONG OF LYRAN.

The concept for the cover art came from Jenny Schisler Hinely. Our gifted child Lex Sanders drew the cover art. Alix Po designed the exterior and interior layout of the book.

Central to its design is an eye, referencing the green-gold eyes shared by the women of the Line of Sekhmet. Because each of the women also share a shade of red hair, the lashes are ginger-toned. But there’s more to this image than what you see at first. Let me explain.

In the center of the green-gold eye, there are five interlocking rings. Each of these rings stands for one of the women whose stories are told in SONG OF LYRAN.

As I was writing this book, I wanted each woman to have a distinctive voice. Some of that definition came from the historic era they occupied, or the culture they inhabited. I read each chapter aloud as I was writing to help give each woman’s section of the song a particular rhythm.

I also found inspiration in the idea of elements. Specifically: Metal, Fire, Water, Air, and Earth.

The rings at the core of the Lyran eye reflect these elements. Each element stands for one of the women central to this story. Here are the women I associate with each element:

  • Metal: Sekhmet
  • Fire: Filoméla
  • Water: Forach
  • Air: Juana
  • Earth: Honey

As you read SONG OF LYRAN, think about the women and their elemental connections. Now that you’re aware of their elements, can you see echoes of those elements throughout their songs?

Another thing I bore in mind as I wrote is that the soul they share evolves as it passes from one to the other. And in this way, this song is also the story of how Metal becomes Earth . . . Something designed to destroy becomes something that is capable of bringing forth new light . . . Life has beaten the sword into a plowshare by the end of SONG OF LYRAN.

Honey’s world

In SONG OF LYRAN, the landscape in Honey’s chapters plays a primary role. This is for a couple of different reasons. Readers follow Honey as she attempts to reclaim the world around her from the darkness of her adult-onset blindness, treading old pathways to see if she can remember how to do so safely, and so regain some independence. The landscape is by turns welcoming and menacing, and it parallels the journey she takes in order to ‘see’ herself as she truly is.

But there’s another reason, one that has its roots in the author’s (my) everyday reality. You see, the paths that Honey treads are ones that I walk every day. And the idea for Honey to bear some kind of disability is an idea born in these woods.

Every time I pass this clearing off the trail, I imagine Honey opening a portal between our world and the in-between, and can see her talking with Sekhmet, Forach, Filoméla, and Juana.

Three things led to the writing of this book:

  1. The vision I had at age 19
  2. Encouragement from Randall Harr during an Akashic records reading
  3. Nighttime walks with my late, great dog Charlie Tango through the woods and reaching a familiar patch that felt so unfamiliar I wondered if I’d fallen through to another world

The first person I bounced the idea off of was my friend and past comedy collaborator Danger Amy. I told her that I wanted to write a story about five women who share the same soul. “We’ll follow them from pre-history to current day as they battle the forces of darkness. Their champion is a middle-age woman living in the woods.”

”Oh! I want to read that book! That sounds cool,” Danger said. “You should give the champion some kind of disability.”

This is one of the sights along the ‘easy’ path Honey chooses to take around the lake on a moody morning.

At first I felt bristly. I’d recently separated from my husband. One of the things that rubbed me the wrong way about our creative collaborations was that he couldn’t listen to me tell him about my creative work without suggesting I do things a different way — the way he knew it would be better.

I fought back the urge to be defensive. “Why do you think?”

Danger sipped her tea. “Well, if she’s the champion, then you don’t want her to be perfect. Anything she has to overcome will make the ending that much stronger.”

Then we went for a walk in the woods. We marveled at the verdant beauty around us. We joked about the animals we might encounter. We listened to the birds and cicadas. An idea came to me. “What if she’s blind?”

Danger smiled. “Ooooo, I like that.”

This is the view from the bridge Honey stands on when she’s attacked and saved by Regina.

Honey is not me. But out of all the women, she’s the one who inhabits a world closest to my own. So when it came time to put her in a space, in a house, in a world that felt real, I modeled it on my woods, in my home. Now, I can’t walk through the woods without imagining her. I feel her spirit around every corner, babbling over every brook. And sometimes, late at night, I can even hear her and the others whispering in my kitchen.

If Honey could see, this is what would greet her on her way back from dropping the kids at the school bus stop.

When you read SONG OF LYRAN, did you imagine landscapes like this? Does seeing these pictures help you envision Honey’s world? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Info for Book Clubs and Reading Groups interested in SONG OF LYRAN

Are you a member of a book club or reading group? In the back of each edition of SONG OF LYRAN, there are questions you can discuss after reading. To make it easier to evaluate if this is a novel your group might enjoy, here are the questions. Feel free to add your own before discussing with your friends.

SONG OF LYRAN Reading Group Guide

  1. Song of Lyran is told from the perspective of five women—Sekhmet, Filoméla, Forach, Juana, and Honey. Whose story did you find most compelling, and why?
  1. Each of the women represents a new incarnation of the same Aspect of the One. How did the soul of Sekhmet’s line evolve as it moved from Sekhmet to Honey? What is one lesson each woman learned during her lifetime?
  1. Kristi Casey draws inspiration from history and terrestrial/extraterrestrial mythologies. Were you familiar with any of these elements before reading Song of Lyran? If so, which elements? Which elements were new to you? What did you learn? Which elements do you want to investigate further?
  1. In this novel, the Brotherhood of the Snake edits and promotes one-sided versions of the truth. Can you name a historical or religious story that might have a different ‘her-story?’ How would the ‘her-story’ version differ from the traditional story?
  1. The women of Sekhmet’s line live in different eras. What are some ways in which their lives were similar? What are some of the differences? How did the role of women evolve during the line’s evolution to present day? Do women have more freedoms now than they did in other eras? Why/why not?
  1. Why do you think this book is called Song of Lyran? Elements of music include rhythm, vocalization, patterns, repetition, and vibration. What are some of the ways Casey used these elements throughout this novel?
  1. Casey created a faux-religious text—Book of Lyran—for this novel. The contents of this ‘scroll’ are distributed throughout the book. What did you discover about the line of Sekhmet, their mission, and the Lyran people from reading it? What would have happened to those discoveries if you read it all at the beginning or end of the novel?
  1. Why do you think the Brotherhood of the Snake was so difficult to defeat? Chad says that everything comes from darkness, which is why they’re stronger than the light. Would you agree with this statement? Why or why not?
  1. Sekhmet possessed tremendous strength and the ability to channel energy. Mikha’el had the gift of flight and a flaming sword. Oya could control the weather and fashion bolts of lightning. Which two gifts would you like to have, if you were an Aspect of the One? What would you like your mission in life to be? If your life were to end tomorrow, what would the Answer you’ve discovered be?
  1. Song of Lyran told the story of one Aspect’s line. If we followed Mikha’el or Oya’s line, which historical figures could have been their incarnations? Who might have been in the line of Aron or Yeshua?

Special shout-out to Mary Ellen Cowan, pictured below, who pitched the Davenport Beach Book Club and got them to agree to read and discuss SONG OF LYRAN at their September 3 meeting. Because they like to do themed menus and refreshments inspired by the main character, I recommended they serve a quiche or frittata with Southern-style biscuits and honey with wine for their brunch meeting on the beach. Afterward, I’ll Zoom in and answer their questions. I’m so grateful that they’re willing to take a chance on an independent author like me.

Mary Ellen after her successful pitch to the Davenport Beach Book Club.

Do you have a book club or reading group? Let me know if you’re interested in selecting SONG OF LYRAN. It’s available in hardcover, paperback and ebook versions–for a limited time the ebook is free to Kindle unlimited subscribers. An audiobook version will be available late August. And if my schedule permits, I’m happy to Zoom in at the end of your meeting so your club gets a personal meet and greet with the author. Leave me a comment if you’d like to talk further about this.

Thanks, and happy reading!

The importance of writing every day

Five years ago, I stumbled across a Stephen Hunter article. It asserted that you didn’t need luck or talent if you wanted to write a novel. All you needed to do was write every day.

I’ve always loved books. I used to read all night and smuggle books into school, reading as I walked through the hallways. I read in the car, at the dinner table, and when I was supposed to be hanging out at social events. Books were so much easier to get along with than people. They offered a helpful ladder I could use to climb out of my boring, painful, awkward life and escape into a place of joy, love, and adventure.

Photo by Mike L on Unsplash

That’s why I wanted very much to be an author, someone who could write a book that offered other weird kids a way out of their boxed in lives and expose them to my kind of magic.

I’d always written–poems, journals, essays, plays, screenplays, magazine articles, blogs–but I’d never had an idea that could carry the weight of a full book. And I didn’t display any particular talent writing short stories or flash fiction.

What story would I tell?

That idea haunted and paralyzed me. It kept me from beginning more times than I can count. One of my professional mentors at a magazine used to tell me all the time that as soon as she retired, she’d finally write a novel. I didn’t want to wait that long. But my twenties and thirties passed and no one offered me a cabin in the woods where I could hide out until a novel was born. I had to work long and hard to support my family, and very little energy was left for creative work.

During an improv workshop with the brilliant comedian Susan Messing at the Funny Women’s Comedy Festival in Chicago, she told us, “God isn’t so cruel that he’d give you the desire without the talent.”

I have the desire to write. Do I really have the talent?

I floundered for years after that–writing business books, history books, thousands of articles, but still no fiction novels.

Then I read Hunter’s article. “The most important thing is habit, not will,” he wrote. He wasn’t the most talented or gifted, but he would finish his novel while thousands of other writers’ books would wither and die. Because he was committed to showing up. Every. Single. Day.

So five years ago, I sat down and made the commitment to just begin. I wrote. Every day. It wasn’t brilliant stuff. But the act of showing up was keeping me connected to the story in a way that made it easier to write. I’d go for a run and realize that a character wanted to go in a different direction. I’d take a shower and figure out a thorny plot point that had been irking me. Suddenly, I wasn’t ‘writing’ I was channeling the story and letting it take me to unpredictable places. Five months later, I had my first draft of NEURONET, the story of a woman who’d figured out a way to keep people from dying, only to realize that she might be sentencing them to a fate worse than death. While I was querying that novel, I started a second book that I could work on every day, THE TIGHT FIVE. That one, inspired by women I played rugby with in New York, was about a insecure cadet placed with a heroic all-female space squadron who learns how complicated it is to do the right thing.

Neither of those books has been published yet. Writing them taught me how to write, so I want to polish them before you read them. But they were important works of art because they taught me how to show up every day to do the work.

I was disciplined. I’d finished two books! But I still wasn’t a published author.

In the fall of 2021, I was ready to take the next step. Shopping NEURONET for four years had left me disillusioned with the traditional publishing industry. I didn’t want to be one of those writers with a drawer full of unpublished books.

If I want to be a published author, do I need to do it independently?

The prospect terrified me.

“2022 will be the year that I publish my first book,” I promised myself. Because NEURONET was in good shape, I thought that would be the one to go first. But I enrolled in an Akimbo workshop called ‘Writing in Community,’ (WIC3) and discovered that I wanted to use my daily writing time to tell a different story. SONG OF LYRAN is the story that dripped out of me day by day. I began writing every day on the WIC3 platform in October 2021. By January 2022, I’d finished the book. Thankfully, WIC3 was designed to walk people through the self-publishing process. They gave me a calendar and structure that made the act far less daunting. From February through May, I did developmental and line edits and worked on the cover design. In June, I uploaded the book to IngramSpark to lay it out and by June 7, I’d published the hardcover and ebook through that channel and the paperback through Amazon. It wasn’t as hard as I thought. Hunter was right. I just needed persistence and the will to show up. Every. Single. Day.

So don’t give up hope! You, too, can achieve your dreams. You never have to do it all at once. Just take the time to do something every day that gets you closer to your goal.

Love letter from a SONG OF LYRAN Beta reader

Writing a book is the easy part. During the first draft, you can put down anything you want. Then you have to clean it all up through a series of editing rounds. One of the early rounds involves getting people to read your book. These ’Beta readers’ give you insight into how other people might approach or engage with your story. Beta feedback helps you reshape your book during a developmental edit round so that gaps are closed, lapses in reason are fixed, and missing information can be added. Their critiques help you cement your story, smooth out the flow, and fix any glaring errors.

One of my Beta readers is Jen. She was one of three women who changed the course of my life in 1999, by convincing me that my shoulders would be wasted if I didn’t play rugby. I trained for six months in an East Village gym and Alphabet City park with the coolest group of women I’d ever met. I loved tackling, ran fast and had zero talent catching the ball, so I ended up flanking. Jen was second row, so in the scrum, she was one of the women I’d bind onto as we pushed against the other team for possession. We reconnected during our 20th anniversary Village Lions tour in New Orleans just before Mardi Gras in 2020. It was the last trip I took before the pandemic shut everything down. Here’s a little window into the fun we had.

Jen and I flexing after a rugby tournament for the Village Lions in 2020.
Jen is sporting a European Lions jersey from a previous tour and some impressive big bird accessories. I am flexing at being the oldest woman on the pitch, the fact I made it through three games without injury, and having Wonder Woman footed pajamas.

The first story anyone ever purchased from me was about why women play rugby. I got a job in Europe performing for Boom Chicago soon after, and was asked by a German website to blog about that. When I returned to America in 2003, I got a job as a writer for a travel and arts magazine, and that started a whole new career path for me.

Last week, I received this awesome letter from Jen.

Postcard image of ‘Des caresses/L’art/Les caresses (1896)’ by Fernand KHNOPFF (1858-1921) © Musées royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, Bruxelles

Dear Kristi—

Well as I mentioned in email I was culling through old keepsakes and found this print—and I immediately thought of Sekmet and your book!

I must have bought this in Belgium when I was back packing over 30 years ago!! And loved and saved it—clearly for this moment.

Hope all is well!

Lots of Love,

Jen XOXO

How cool is that? I love hearing from people who have read my books. Have you read SONG OF LYRAN? I’d love to know the thoughts and associations you had reading it! And if you find images or art that remind you of the story, please share them!