It’s Release Day!!!
Genres: Romance, science fiction
Collection: Home for the Holidays
After four years in the Alpha Centauri solar system, astrobiologist Dath Bellin is relieved to be back at ECHO-Crosspoint Space Station. His next mission: return to Earth and take a vacation. There’s family to see, R&R to catch up on, and Imbolc to celebrate with his Druid grove—everything he could hope for from a Canadian winter. Unfortunately, everything goes wrong before he can even leave the station. There’s also the matter of his exes, whom he can’t have back no matter how much he wants them, not after his horrible mistake.
For the past four years, Mack Ainsley Tsallis and Kytzia Polović have wanted to know why Dath left them the way he did. They’re determined to win him back together, especially since Mack is convinced Dath wasn’t completely honest with xem and Kytzia before he ran off to Alpha Centauri. Being ignored isn’t cutting it anymore: it’s time to start fresh and prove the three of them are perfect for each other.
Content notes & trigger warnings: Of Kindred and Stardust contains some explicit content, mentions of past transphobia, and references to depression.
*Are you on Goodreads? Add it to your shelves!
\o/ HUZZAH!! It’s here! It’s here!! \o/
Today, my publisher has released all of the books in their Home for the Holidays collection, and I’m so completely and utterly
giggly thrilled that Of Kindred and Stardust is part of it! The submission call encouraged stories about holidays outside of the mainstream, giving me the perfect chance for something I’ve wanted to do for a few years: write something for one of the Druid holidays, which overlaps with those celebrated by Wiccans, eclectic Pagans, and others. I had 8 days to choose from, each of them special in their own way, and while I originally tried (desperately) to make something work for a Samhain piece, it just refused to cooperate in a way that wasn’t paranormal. I’d aimed for writing something in the contemporary genre this time, with a modern look at how we celebrate these Pagan holidays, but that didn’t work either. Everything I came up with fell short… until my sci-fi side took over and gave it life.
That leads to Of Kindred and Stardust, a sci-fi romance novella set in 2099 on a space station in Mars’ orbit. It’s also a poly romance and on the sweeter side! The holiday featured? Imbolc, a Celtic festival celebrated on February 1st or 2nd, depending on the person/group. It’s commonly celebrated by neo-Druids, which is how the main character, Dath, identifies. I don’t see many stories (if any) that have real-life neopagan Druidry in them, especially romances, so I wrote it. And I’m both humbled and incredibly grateful that LT3 has given this story a chance, stepping up and encouraging people like me to share these stories and characters when others would just turn us away. Thank you, Sam, Megan, Sasha, and LT3 as whole! ♥ And such a huge thank you to all readers who give it a read! ♥♥♥
In a nutshell: this is a love story FOR Imbolc. The way that the relationship moves, the personal journey that the characters are on, and the overall plot — it’s all inspired by Imbolc, and the significance of the holiday weaves throughout the story because Imbolc is about renewal, rebirth, and more. It’s a time of great reflection and pushing forward, caught between Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. It’s a time of celebration, joy, relief, and hope because the dark half of the year (aka. cold-as-heck winter for many of us!) is heading out and spring is coming, bringing growth and life that’s going to blossom into so much more. And so follows Dath’s relationship with Mack and Kytzia. It all goes together in the spirit of the festival, right on through to the various aspects of Brigit, Goddess of hearth, home, and healing; fire and wells; poetry and inspiration; and smithing and crafting!
As I’ve said in previous posts, this story has so much personal significance and experience packed into it. If you listen to Dath’s voice, it’s very… me, actually. And being inside his head is like taking a trip into mine. I’m 100% not joking. It’s almost like putting a diary out there for everyone to see. THE HORROR.
Though there’s also a lot of my partner in this and our experiences with our Pagan community, which has so very kind, gracious, and open to us both. This is a shout-out to all of them and the love for life, family, and everything they’ve shared with us… just set in the future, because I’m curious about what Paganism will look like 80 years from now, especially with all of our tech and how it keeps growing, along with our interest in space exploration. Nature and knowledge are integral to Druidry, so I ran long and far with them. (And for anyone who doesn’t have any idea what I’m talking about, here are major organizations that can hook you up with info: ADF (Ár nDraíocht Féin), OBOD (Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids), AODA (Ancient Order of Druids in America), and the Druid Network! We’re a rather diverse bunch. ^_^)
I also wanted to play with one possibility for how our future could look in space, taking into account everything going on right now, particularly with all of the advances being made in astronomy (the super-awesome data from the Kepler space telescope is going to keep folks busy for a while!) and the likes of SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Boeing working on ways to take space exploration and tourism to the next level. Add that to so many other factors, including the Millennial generation — how they’ve been been born into a highly technological world that’s only getting more technologically advanced with an incredible amount of access to knowledge and each other’s ideas — who knows where we’ll be in 2099?? Could we have a large space station out there in our solar system by then? At this point, who really knows, especially since 80 years ago, no one would’ve known we’d have the internet and smartphones or self-driving cars and AIs in constant development by now. They were the stuff of fiction. Honestly… the future is open to so many things.
So, yeah, that’s a little about the story and how it came about!
And just for a bit of fun…
Here are a few songs I thought I’d share — a few of my favourites, especially as of late! They’re not on the playlist for the story, but they do have a certain sound that fits the story and characters so very well. 🙂
Though if you want the real deal… here’s the actual playlist for OKAS!
Active Child – Evening Ceremony
Banks – Alibi
Banks – Before I Ever Met You
Banks – You Should Know Where I’m Coming From
Digital Farm Animals – Tokyo Nights (feat. Shaun Frank & Dragonette)
Dotan – Home II
Ed Sheeran – Afire Love
Ed Sheeran – Autumn Leaves
Ed Sheeran – Give Me Love / The Parting Glass
Eisbrecher – Die Hölle muss warten
Ellie Goulding – Only You
Ellie Goulding – Winner
Erik Hassle – No Words
EUZEN – Judged By
Faun – Golden Apples
Gregorian – All I Need
Gregorian – Dark Angel
Hoobastank – A Thousand Words
Hoobastank – Can You Save Me
Imaginary Future – As Long as I Have You, I’m Home
Imaginary Future – Everything We Need
Imagine Dragons – Dream
Inkubus Sukkubus – Love Spell
Lord of the Dance Soundtrack – Suil a Ruin
Loreena McKennitt – Snow
Nadia Ali – Fantasy
Of Monsters and Men – Black Water
Of Monsters and Men – Human
Of Monsters and Men – Slow Life
Of Monsters and Men – Yellow Light
Of Monsters and Men – Your Bones
Omnia – Fairy Tale
OMNIMAR – Out Of My Life
OMNIMAR – Ego Love
Sarah Polley – Courage
Sarah Brightman – Eden (Enigma Remix)
Secret Garden – Prayer
Stone Sour – Hesitate
Susan Craig – Shadow
The xx – Angels
The xx – Fiction
The xx – I Dare You
The xx – Reunion
The xx – Stars
Unheilig – Geboren um zu leben
Now for an Excerpt…
If ever there was a time to strip and run through the space station naked, today would’ve been it.
Gods, the thought of it loosened more than one of the stubborn knots in my shoulders. Liberty just by shucking my pants and then some… Not really the homecoming I’d been expecting, but the looks of sheer horror could hold me over for a while if I tried it. At least until I got back from Earth. After that, everyday boring Dath Bellin would return to business, all plants and data, pretending like he didn’t make a run for public indecency. But once—just once—this Dath Bellin wanted to be reckless, throw care to the wind, and scream, “I’m home, baby!” in all the ways no one saw coming.
Fuck, it’d been a long four years.
Snickering at the lapse in thought, I continued down the long, brightly lit corridor, fingertips tracing the bright white and gunmetal grey wall. Staff bustled past me in both directions, some of them engrossed in conversation, their snug black uniform jackets with the robin’s-egg blue and white crossroad patches of ECHO-Crosspoint Space Station welcoming me home. Others rushed towards the lifts with tablets and mugs in hand, likely on their way to the cafeteria down on deck four for a quick lunch before returning to their offices. Most of them ignored my star-struck daze, the occasional brow quirked at how I caressed the lukewarm metal wall, loving the soft pulse and hum of electric wires beneath the surface. I was one shiny control panel away from trying to jack myself into the systems to get at everything I’d missed.
Never thought I’d be so sick of living in my own damn ship, but hey, the day was here.
Not even the day. The year. A whole fourth year.
Why did I agree to this mission to begin with?
I’d been asking myself the same question since the day I left, the answer as lost to me as the parts of my ship, the Sleipnir, that got ripped off during our intra-galactic exploration. Plants, I’ve kept telling myself. I went for the plants and stayed for the tourism. The last four years had put my training to the test, stretching my astrobiology PhD to its fullest with more of the universe than my memory could ever hang onto. I’d always wanted to work among the stars, and the mission to the Alpha Centauri solar system had launched entire new worlds at me, forcing me to rethink every classification I thought I knew and reconsider the meaning of life—if it really was forty-two, because the hell if I knew anything more than how small I was in the grand scheme of things. I fell in love out there, even with the planets we barely made it off of and the pre-flight check prayers that ended in, “Shit, shit, shit! Not another bloody fucking incident report.”
But as much as the mission made all my nerdy botanist dreams come true in galactic brilliance and failed alien bug spray, being back at Crosspoint warmed my heart with the fuzziest damn bunnies. Some of it may have been the pot of coffee I’d practically inhaled in the med bay after arrival. It may have even been being away from the rest of my team, allowing me to think without distractions or wondering if we’d return with the whole five-person crew without befalling a disaster of natural or close-and-way-too-personal proportions. Or maybe it was as simple as considering the station home and wanting to plaster myself to its spaciousness and the fact that it was stationary… ish.
In any event, here it was, right where we’d left it in Mars’ orbit: thirty decks of space-proofed tin can thanks to ECHO Causroy-Belforte Limited and the relatively new multi-national Milky Way Space Agency. Crosspoint itself was still a baby—only seven Earth years into the project that needed to last for decades longer—but it was worth calling home away from home. Though that was part of the point, to be honest: for more people to call this home. Most of us at the station conducted research, especially on the inter-planetary level, with hopes we’d get a similar station built out by Jupiter. But Crosspoint was more than that: it was a multi-purpose facility, acting as part of an evacuation plan for Earth, a refuge from war, environmental disaster, and any catastrophe thrown at our beloved blue ball, especially if it turned out we could no longer live on Earth’s surface in the future. Crosspoint was the lifeboat of lifeboats orbiting in wait.
And one very colourful lifeboat at that.
Damn, what had people done at the station on New Year’s Eve? Raise a Party God incarnate?