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.
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.
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.
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.
As I start my journey back to Atlanta tomorrow I’ll leave copies in airports along the way with inscriptions like this.
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!
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:
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.
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.
Encouragement from Randall Harr during an Akashic records reading
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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,
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!
If you’ve ever experienced sleep paralysis, you know how terrifying it is. You are conscious enough to know that you can’t move your limbs, but too asleep to shout for help.
When I was a junior in college, this happened to me a lot. I would lay down to sleep and, as I drifted off, I’d hear calliope music. That in itself is creepy. Then, I’d feel my arms and legs freeze up, and I’d get sucked into a nightmare. The nightmare had many variations, but the theme was there was a monster chasing me.
I had all sorts of defense mechanisms to evade the monster. I’d ”switch channels” to a different dream. I’d try to stay up so that I was so exhausted I wouldn’t dream. But none of it worked.
The nightmare drained my vitality. After ‘running’ all night, I’d wake up feeling like I hadn’t slept at all. I was so sleep-deprived that I started hearing the nightmare’s calliope theme music while I was awake. Imagine sitting in a philosophy lecture and being dragged into a nightmare while you were awake.
I couldn’t keep going this way. Something had to change.
One night, after the calliope music played and paralysis set in, I let myself get sucked into the nightmare, without resisting. The monster burst out of hiding. It raced toward me.
For the first time ever, I didn’t run. I turned to face it.
“I’m too tired to run from you anymore,” I told it. ”Hurt me, kill me, do what you will. I don’t care. I can’t do this anymore.” I held out my arms and waited for it to attack.
Do you know what it did?
The monster hugged me and whispered, “All I wanted was for you to recognize me.”
I pulled out of the embrace to look at the monster. And that’s not what I saw. I finally recognized myself.
That’s what I’d been running away from—all the unloved, hurting, parts of me that I’d tried to keep locked away.
I embraced my shadow self again to show how much love I had for her. And that ended the dream. No more paralysis. No more calliope music.
I stood and went to the bathroom, tendrils of the dream still clinging to me. I washed my hands and looked into the mirror.
That’s when I noticed something was off about my reflection. My eyesight isn’t great, and I wasn’t wearing my glasses, but some kind of additional fog or smoke was passing between my mirror reflection and me.
As I stared, the image of my face began to flicker. It became several different faces—all with the same green eyes. I couldn’t make out what was happening for a moment because the faces flashed by too quickly. At some point I realized that I could recognize some of them, that the string of faces had a beginning and an end. Once I figured that out, some of the faces lingered for a second. As they came around again, they’d stay a little longer.
Then, they started to speak to me. Not in words, per se, but impressions. I got flashes of their lives. Emotions. Pain. Longing. I understood that I was meeting people I’d been in previous lifetimes. I saw a common thread we shared. Some of them shared my love of music or were poets or artists, like I am. “You are the last of our line,” they whispered. Then the mist receded and I was left alone to wonder if it was all a dream.
If you’ve read the first chapter of Song of Lyranthis vision may be familiar to you. It’s similar to what Honey experiences when she first meets the women of the Line of Sekhmet.
I experienced that vision thirty years ago. Why did it take me so long to write the novel it inspired?
The novel doesn’t feature every incarnation’s story, just the ones of the line’s final champion, Honey, and the incarnations that sit on her ‘Soul Council.’ Here’s a brief run-down of whose stories you’ll discover inside the book.
Sekhmet: An Aspect of the One, of the Lion-Hearted Lyrans. Sekhmet hails from the planet Vega and is on Earth to wage battle with the Brotherhood of the Snake in this current and future soul journeys. She is known as the Egyptian goddess of war and healing. In later Egyptian mythology, there are two versions of what became of her. Both versions involved Sekhmet becoming a ‘domesticated’ goddess after being subjugated, or ‘tamed,’ by love.
Filomela: An incarnation of Sekhmet’s soul that lives during ancient Grecian times (~900 BC). She is royalty, yet badly mistreated by her brother-in-law. To guarantee she cannot tell anyone the truth of her situtation, he cuts out her tongue. But she manages to weave and smuggle out a tapestry that tells the truth. She appears in Greek myths as Philomela.
Forach: An incarnation of Sekhmet’s soul that lived in tribal Ireland ~700 AD. A member of the Deisi tribe, her abduction and rape by the High King’s son and subsequent rescue provoked the exile and persecution of her people. They wandered through Ireland harassed by the High King until Dread Ethnui manages to sue for peace. Ethnui is rumored to have gained her strength by drinking the blood of infants. Her husband, Oengus, became known as the first Christian king of Ireland, and their descendants included Brian Boru, the legendary High King of Ireland.
Juana: An incarnation of Sekhmet’s soul that lived in Mexico City from 1648-1695, Juana was a nun who became known for her erotic, passionate poetry and proto-feminist writings. She possessed a great library and knowledge of everything from astronomy and physics to Latin, Greek and philosophy. One of her closest friends was the great polymath Don Carlos de Sigüenza y Góngora, who delivered the eulogy at her graveside. She died shortly after her books and scientific instruments were confiscated by the Church.
Honey: The last of Sekhmet’s line, Honey is a middle-aged woman who is pushing fifty and lost her sight seven years before the start of this novel. She’s birthed two children and weathered fifteen years of marriage. She lives in the woods and is the least likely candidate anyone can think of to combat the forces of darkness and win. The Song of Lyran is as much the story of how she uncovers the strength she needs to face her demons as it is the story of how Sekhmet’s soul evolves from its first to final incarnation.
Want to read more? You can peek inside the book and read the first few verses of the Song of Lyran on Amazon.com. Enjoy!
It’s called Song of Lyran. It’s about five women who share the same soul. We follow them from prehistory to the current day as they battle the forces of darkness. They’ve suffered four brutal defeats. But Honey is the last of their line, their champion, and their hopes are pinned on her victory. The problem is Honey is a blind, middle-aged woman who’s stuck in her life. How will she overcome a force that’s taken out heroes as great as Jesus and Joan of Arc?
I guess you’ll have to read the book and see. The ebook is available now (and it’s free to Kindle Unlimited subscribers!). Hardcover and paperback versions should be available for purchase soon. And an audiobook version is coming in August! Woo-hoo!
I hope you have as much fun reading it as I did writing it. And if you do, please leave a review. Thank you!