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,


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!

Where did the idea for this book come from?

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 Lyran this 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?

Stay tuned . …

The Line of Sekhmet

At the core of my novel Song of Lyran is the idea that a soul can be reincarnated. The reader follows the Line of Sekhmet as the Divine Spark of her Lyran nature travels through her human descendants. They each battle darkness in their own way. Each woman lives a life unencumbered by the memory of the lives that came before. Yet, there are common threads readers will find woven through each woman’s story and echoes of the lessons each has to learn if they are to finally be victorious against the Brotherhood of the Snake.

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 Enjoy!

Hey friends, I’ve published a book!

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!

All my love,

Kristi Casey

7 June 2022

Newton, Iowa

My friend Jenny Schisler Hinely came up with the idea for the cover and my awesome child Lex Sanders drew the eye. How cool is that?