Before I give you the goods, I wanted to take a moment and talk about what happens after publishing. The part I look forward to dreading: Reviews. Once, I was asked why I love Art History. My first, sarcastic answer was “What’s not to love? There’s nudity, violence and cave art.” But truly, it was the cave art that first took my breath away. I saw that primitive, dirty, hirsute, grunting man staring above his head at the ceiling of a subterranean cathedral and he gave me chills. Why? Because he wanted so desperately to communicate something he took the time to build a scaffolding of some sort and hunt for the colors he needed in the ruthless, basic world around him. He stopped struggling to survive and made art. I don’t know what motivated that man, but it moves me.
I don’t know what motivates each person to write but I know the reason it’s shared. We want to see that our work is read and we selfishly want it to be loved. We need to know that it’s loved. It’s the same with anything created. “Mommy, look what I made!” We never grow out of that. I have four books on Amazon now. I know, right? Yay, me! But here’s the part that keeps my stomach clench-ie for days on end: I check for reviews about twenty times a day. It’s pathetic. I want to know. Is it any good? Did I go too far? Did I not go far enough? How shit is my editing? For better or for worse, I want the feedback. Mostly, it’s been good. But even when it’s bad, I listen. If I’ve made a stupid error (Vane/Vain), I go back and fix it. The positive reviews keep me going for days and the bad reviews tear me to pieces but I want them all.
Here’s a ridiculous fact: My books have been downloaded over 7,500 times. Ok, that’s not ridiculous, that makes me dizzy and giggly. BUT, I’ve received 30 reviews. That’s less than half a percent. I’m sure there’s a way to get the exact number but I don’t know useful things like that. And that’s the point of all of this. Please! If you read a book, rate and review it! Maybe you don’t have time for a written review, just rate it. There’s a very good chance some desperate person with too much time on their hands is destroying their fingernails as they constantly refresh their computer screen, waiting to see if YOU enjoyed their work. Or, it might just be me.
Also, there’s a sea of readers out there with a finite amount of time. If you enjoyed a book, let them know. I’m guilty of overlooking a book because there weren’t enough informative reviews. I want to know if you think the book is decent and if it’s what I’m in the mood for. I value your opinion as a reader. Writing and publishing has opened my eyes as a reader. From this day forward, I will ALWAYS rate and review the books I read.
And now for something completely adorable. I’m working on my next K. Sterling book. Once again, there’s food involved because I’m such a chubby girl. Here’s a peek at Camden and Blake:
Camden’s stomach woke him up. The smell of garlic and lemon tickled his nose and made his mouth water. His eyes heaved open and he frowned as he looked out the window and saw that the sun was setting. The precious blue was slipping away and Camden had missed… how many hours of it? He sat and stared at his boots across the room. When did they come off? He wondered as he ran his hands through his hair and reached for his shirt. He pulled it over his head as he passed through the door and skipped down the steps. Camden’s brows rose to his hair when he found Blake shirtless, working at the stove.
“I was just about to wake you. Dinner is almost ready.” Blake said as he tilted a pan over the flame. Camden frowned as he surveyed the kitchen and the table as he made his way to Blake. Food in various forms was spread about the room. How long was I asleep? He looked over Blake’s shoulder and inhaled. He wasn’t sure what was in the pan but it smelled incredible.
“You’re cooking?” Camden rubbed his chin on Blake’s shoulder. Blake turned his head and pressed a kiss to Camden’s cheek as he laughed.
“It is a necessity as I like to live alone here.” Blake turned and reached for a handful of what Camden assumed was herbs and he spread them over the contents of the pan. He gave it a quick toss, causing shells to clatter and liquid to jump and Camden’s eyes grew wide as he stepped back.
“How did you learn this?” Camden asked in awe as he followed Blake to a large bowl and craned his neck around Blake’s shoulder. Blake tipped the pan, dumping the contents over pasta.
“Mostly, my nonna.” He set the bowl on the table and Camden stared down at it.
“What is this?” He asked as he poked at a black shell. Blake slapped his hand and Camden scowled as he pulled it back.
“We call it ‘Questo e Quello’.” Blake said as he set another bowl on the table. Camden recognized tomatoes, more herbs and round white chunks of…
“What are these?” He asked as he pointed into the bowl. Blake reached around Camden and plucked one from the bowl and raised it to Camden’s lips. Camden’s head pulled back and he raised a brow dubiously.
“Open.” Blake commanded. Camden opened his mouth and Blake set it on Camden’s tongue, stroking his lip with his thumb as he withdrew his fingers. Camden chewed obediently and felt his lips curve. Blake smiled. “It’s cheese.” He said softly as he pressed his lips to Camden’s.
“That’s delightful.” He murmured against Blake’s lips. He sighed as Blake moved away, reaching for a bottle of wine.
“Have a seat.” Blake gestured toward the table and Camden sat in front of a bowl and watched as Blake poured their wine. It was a very different type of intimate and mildly shocking to see Blake cooking and serving food. Camden raised the glass and sniffed. Floral and bright. He took a small sip and smiled.
“That’s very pleasant.” He said as he took a longer drink. Blake nodded as he took the seat opposite and popped an olive in his mouth.
“It’s made here.” He said as he served Camden. He caught Camden staring. “What?” Blake asked and he pushed Camden’s bowls toward him.
“This.” Camden gestured between them and then around the kitchen. Blake raised a brow in confusion as he started eating. “It’s very impressive. I can butter my own toast but I think I’d starve to death if I had to do much more than that. But it’s also very strange, us being alone and you preparing our food and serving. You’re a viscount, you’ll be an earl one day, not a lot of men of your station would do this.” Camden stabbed at the tomato dish and took a cautious bite. That’s rather divine, he thought and he took a larger bite. The tomatoes were warm and sweet, the cheese was soft, creamy and salty, there was a hint of a green flavor and it was all coated in a lovely lemon, olive oil concoction. He looked up and found Blake watching him, amused and mildly scolding.
“I’m sure you could manage better than you think. You’ll learn a lot while we’re here.” He grinned at Camden’s skeptical expression. “We get to be alone, Camden. Tomorrow afternoon, I can take you on that sofa if the urge comes over me.” He waved his fork toward the seating area behind Camden. For some reason, Camden turned in his seat and looked at the sofa. When he turned back, Blake winked suggestively. “We could walk around without a stitch of clothing all day, if we chose. I promise, cooking a few times a day is no hardship. And I enjoy it. My nonna and mama taught my sister and I to cook. It wasn’t about feeding ourselves, it was about being together and sharing memories.” Blake paused as he took a sip of wine. For a moment, Camden felt a stab of jealousy. Blake had happy memories and a valuable skill. He became absorbed in his bowl of tomatoes and whatnot. “I told you I would take care of you, Camden. I want to.” Camden’s head snapped up and the jealousy was replaced by something warm and floaty as his eyes met Blake’s.
“Why?” His voice broke and he reached for his wine. His hand jumped when Blake’s closed over it.
“Because I love you. Because it will make me happy to do so. Because you deserve to have someone do something for you because they care, not just because they have to. Because to me, you’re just a man with the same needs as any other man and I can give you everything you need while we’re here.” Blake’s voice was low and smooth as his gaze held Camden’s. It was too hard for Camden to speak. He felt something inside of him quake and his heart felt like it was too large for his chest. Blake must have sensed that Camden was struggling, he squeezed Camden’s hand before he released it and pulled his pasta in front of him. “Don’t get the wrong idea, I’m not your wife. I’ll find ways for you to help here and there.” Blake teased. Camden managed a smile before his eyes fell to Blake’s hands. He watched as Blake picked up a prawn and peeled it. He payed close attention as he served himself more tomatoes. When he was sure his composure had returned, Camden gestured at the pasta.
“Did you catch all of this?” He asked and waited for Blake to finish chewing. Blake shook his head.
“Someone else caught all of this. I’ll go out tomorrow and catch what we need for the day, it was too late by the time we arrived.” Blake turned his attention to the shells and Camden knew they were clams or oysters or mussels. He’d spent so little time close enough to the coast and usually dined alone, at home, when in Town. He hadn’t eaten a wide variety of seafood beyond fish. Camden frowned at the prawns.
“Does it take a long time to catch enough of those for a meal?” He pointed and the pink curls in his bowl before he stabbed at a pale ring. It was bouncy and Camden looked up as he heard Blake laugh.
“It’s not like catching trout, you don’t catch them one by one. I’ll go out with a net or go diving, depending on what the waters are like and where the morning takes us.” Blake looked expectantly at Camden, daring him to try anything in the bowl.
Camden glared and hooked one of the bouncy rings on his fork and popped it in his mouth with a great deal of bravado. He was pleasantly surprised. It was chewy but not overly so. The flavor was mild and the sauce that coated it was marvelous. Camden could taste the garlic and lemon he’d smelled when he woke along with olive oil and wine. He twisted his fork in the pasta and took a large bite. The sauce mixed with the salty flavor of the prawns and other phantom sea creatures in the bowl.
“This is brilliant!” Camden announced after he swallowed. He washed it down with the wine and shut his eyes in delight. Blake rolled his eyes.
“Why do I feel like you’re surprised? I don’t think I’ve ever given you cause to think me incompetent.” He grumbled before he scooped a forkful of pasta into his mouth. Camden grinned and shrugged.
“Politics, the law, shooting, billiards… you’re more than competent at most things.” He was starting to feel loose from the wine so he attempted a wink. Blake narrowed his eyes. “But cooking is an entirely different class of skill. It’s not often that men are good at something crucial to survival.” Camden tried a prawn as Blake glared across the table. Camden nodded enthusiastically as he chewed. “That’s lovely.” He said as he poked at the shelled thing. That was a different texture but Camden didn’t hate it. He shrugged as he smiled at Blake. “Can you repair garments as well?” He teased before his face fell. “Dear, Lord! Will you be washing our clothing and bedding?” Camden gasped as he looked around the kitchen and seating area and tried to estimate the various tasks that would need to be attended to. Blake shook his head and frowned.
“Someone will come in when we’re out. I’m not a savage. And I’m not your wife.” Blake repeated. For a moment, they were silent as the word “Wife” hung in the air between them. After a few minutes, it became clear that neither wanted to touch it.