WHEN IN ROME Photo Travelog: The Appian Way

No trip to Rome would be complete without checking out the thoroughfare that carried armies, commerce, and travelers to and from Ancient Rome for ages.

Let’s let Kate Miller, heroine of WHEN IN ROME, set the scene for us:

The Metro Line stops just inside the old Aurelian wall. Domenic guides me to a transit stop to catch a bus farther south. It’s a short ride, and we get off on a quaint street that looks like time froze somewhere in the mid-1600’s. After stopping in a little market for fresh bottles of water, we walk the cobbled street, passing ruins as well as currently occupied homes, three catacomb sites bustling with tourists, and sun-washed fields stretching toward the horizon. Traffic is light, except for tourists on foot or locals biking. Occasionally a public transit bus rumbles buy, forcing us to step onto the dirt path beside the road that serves as a sidewalk. An hour or so into our walk, the smaller cobbles abruptly end in a jagged line and give way to large, smooth stones.

Domenic comes to a stop. “Welcome to the Appian Way.”

~ excerpt from WHEN IN ROME

The cool thing about putting my characters on an afternoon trek down the Appian Way is that I could draw directly from my own experience. There’s really nothing quite like stepping onto a roadway that’s been around for literally a couple thousand years.

I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

Picture 323 Picture 325 Picture 334 Picture 342 Picture 344

Next time, we’ll take a jaunt to the beautiful island of Sicily and visit Taormina!

WHEN IN ROME is available now for Kindle – and don’t forget to check out BETTER THAN CHOCOLATE (now available in print from Amazon and Barnes & Noble), the story that started it all!

Three friends. A broken engagement. A surprise elopement. A big secret. A lot of chocolate.

Three friends. A broken engagement. A surprise elopement. A big secret. A lot of chocolate.

Love isn't always picture perfect...

Love isn’t always picture perfect…

Want to stay updated on announcements and upcoming releases? Join my email newsletter and follow me on my socials (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and YouTube).

WHEN IN ROME Photo Travelog: Renaissance Rome

During the Renaissance Era, Rome became something of a center of power. Many of the buildings that remain today, while now occupied by apartments, hotels, retail spaces, and offices, date from this time period and are still stunning. Side streets are narrow and winding, while major thoroughfares are clogged with vehicular and foot traffic. Everywhere, hallmarks of Renaissance artists leave lasting footprints, even on the most mundane corners of the city.

Here are some of the highlights.

From the top of Castel Sant'Angelo, the dome of St. Peter's Basilica stands against the skyline.

From the top of Castel Sant’Angelo, the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica stands against the skyline. In the center foreground, you can see a structure that appears to be an aqueduct, but in fact houses a secret passage linking the Vatican to Castel Sant’Angelo, should the Pontiff ever need to flee to safety.

Here we see one of many bridges that cross the TIber River. Ponte Sant'Angelo is the only one closed to vehicular traffic.

Here we see one of many bridges that cross the Tiber River.

Also visible from the top of Castel Sant'Angelo is the Altare della Patria, a national monument. It's visible from many of Rome's hills, in fact.

Also visible from the top of Castel Sant’Angelo is the Altare della Patria, a national monument. It’s visible from many of Rome’s hills, in fact.

The entrance to the Villa Borghese (or the Borghese Gardens) lies just a little northeast of Piazza di Spagna (more about that in a moment). We could never confirm it, but we guessed that gates once closed off the villa to the general public back in the day.

The entrance to the Villa Borghese (or the Borghese Gardens) lies just a little northeast of Piazza di Spagna (more about that in a moment). We could never confirm it, but we guessed that gates once closed off the villa to the general public back in the day.

Tree-lined gravel paths that make you forget modern Rome? Yes please!

Tree-lined gravel paths that make you forget modern Rome? Yes please!

One of many fountains tucked away in Villa Borghese. Somebody had left a bar of soap on the edge of this one - whatever floats your boat, I guess.

One of many fountains tucked away in Villa Borghese.

Resting on a flower-speckled hill (not unlike Kate and Domenic in WHEN IN ROME).

Resting on a flower-speckled hill (not unlike Kate and Domenic in WHEN IN ROME).

The Spanish Steps, as seen from Piazza di Spagna. Okay, so this landmark dates from the early 18th century, not the Renaissance. But much of the surrounding structures are older. 135 steps. We walked them. Both ways.

The Spanish Steps, as seen from Piazza di Spagna. Okay, so this landmark dates from the early 18th century, not the Renaissance. But much of the surrounding structures are older. 135 steps. We walked them. Both ways.

And I ate some gelato while sitting to one side of the Spanish Steps.

And I ate some gelato while sitting to one side of the Spanish Steps.

Trevi Fountain. We had a terribly hard time finding this beloved landmark. We were, in fact, trying to find the Column of Marcus Aurelius, got lost in some twisty Roman side streets, and found Trevi Fountain by chance.

Trevi Fountain. We had a terribly hard time finding this beloved landmark. We were, in fact, trying to find the Column of Marcus Aurelius, got lost in some twisty Roman side streets, and found Trevi Fountain by chance. We did manage to shoulder our way to the front to toss a couple coins into the fountain.

On our last night in Rome, the hubs (then the BF) and I walked up to Pincio Terrace, which has its owns set of stunning views of Vatican City, Piazza del Popolo, and beyond. But sometimes, you forget all the history and just savor the moment you're sharing with somebody you love.

On our last night in Rome, the hubs (then the BF) and I walked up to Pincio Terrace, which has its owns set of stunning views of Vatican City, Piazza del Popolo, and beyond. But sometimes, you forget all the history and just savor the moment you’re sharing with somebody you love.

Join me next time, when we take a jaunt to the road that leads to Rome, the ancient Appian Way.

WHEN IN ROME is available now for Kindle – and don’t forget to check out BETTER THAN CHOCOLATE (now available in print from Amazon and Barnes & Noble), the story that started it all!

Three friends. A broken engagement. A surprise elopement. A big secret. A lot of chocolate.

Three friends. A broken engagement. A surprise elopement. A big secret. A lot of chocolate.

Love isn't always picture perfect...

Love isn’t always picture perfect…

Want to stay updated on announcements and upcoming releases? Join my email newsletter and follow me on my socials (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and YouTube).

Cover Reveal – The One I’m With (Sweet Somethings Book 3)

Since I just sent some revisions back to my editor yesterday and the release date is somewhat set in stone, I thought it might be a good time to reveal the cover for Sweet Somethings Book 3!

Ready?

perf5.000x8.000.indd

In this installment, I’ll be taking readers a little closer to my new home turf, with a setting in beautiful Asheville, NC. And who will be our romantic couple this time around?

Remember Josh Mattingly, the womanizing best man who tried (and failed) to snag a one-night stand with Carmella in BETTER THAN CHOCOLATE? Well, he’s been trying to clean up his act, and that includes erasing his playboy reputation. But his real challenge will be proving to Sweet Somethings newcomer Marissa O’Brien that she can trust him with her heart.

The truth is, letting yourself fall in love means daring to risk heartbreak.

Stay tuned for more updates about THE ONE I’M WITH, including the official blurb and release date. As always, if you want to stay connected on announcements and upcoming releases, email newsletter and follow me on my socials (Facebook, TwitterGoogle+, Pinterest, and YouTube).

And if you’re new to the Sweet Somethings series, don’t forget that BETTER THAN CHOCOLATE and WHEN IN ROME are both available for Kindle (and can be read on any device that supports the free Kindle reading app), and BETTER THAN CHOCOLATE is now available in print!

Love isn't always picture perfect...

Love isn’t always picture perfect…

Three friends. A broken engagement. A surprise elopement. A big secret. A lot of chocolate.

Three friends. A broken engagement. A surprise elopement. A big secret. A lot of chocolate.

WHEN IN ROME Photo Travelog: Ancient Rome

When the hubs and I went to Rome in April 2007, we spent our first full day puttering round  Ancient Rome, including the Coliseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill.

Like us, WHEN IN ROME heroine Kate Miller explores the major sites. Our photos aren’t as good as hers would be (since we used a little digital point-and-shoot instead of SLR), but I hope you’ll enjoy them anyway.:)

Much of the Roman Forum has been left open to the elements, and outside of a few facades, much of it has been lost to history.

The Forum connects to Palatine Hill.

The view from Palatine Hill encompasses the Roman Forum and Coliseum.

The Coliseum itself is impressive all on its own.

Next time, we’ll take our tour through Renaissance era Rome, including Trevi Fountain, the Borghese Gardens, and a few other beautiful views of The Eternal City.

WHEN IN ROME is available now for Kindle – and don’t forget to check out BETTER THAN CHOCOLATE (now available in print from Amazon and Barnes & Noble), the story that started it all!

Three friends. A broken engagement. A surprise elopement. A big secret. A lot of chocolate.

Three friends. A broken engagement. A surprise elopement. A big secret. A lot of chocolate.

Love isn't always picture perfect...

Love isn’t always picture perfect…

Want to stay updated on announcements and upcoming releases? Join my email newsletter and follow me on my socials (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and YouTube).

 

Tag: A Cautionary Tale (Virtual Tour)

tag tour banner_edited-1

What happens when a game of Tag becomes more than just a game?

Tag: A Cautionary Tale

By John Collings

When Tommy knocks Franklin over and cries “You’s it!” he starts a game of Tag to end all games of Tag. Before long, boys gathering to play on Arabella Hill are consumed with the game, picking sides, forging allegiances, and waging all-out war. In the process of the game, rules evolve, constitutions form, and lives are lost.

From the mind of John Collings comes a satirical allegory about the clash of ideologies and what happens if this confrontation is never resolved.

In the battle of the playground, there is only one question that matters—which team, will emerge victorious?

Excerpt

Back then, roads didn’t exist. Big buildings didn’t block out the blue sky. Even the cars didn’t hurry off to the places where cars hurry off to. Tall trees circled the expanse of the field, a few stray trees here and there offering their shade to those in need on sunny days, and shelter to those in need on rainy days. Arbella Hill stood over there, the steep sides of it also covered with trees. On the top of it stood the mightiest of all trees, a proud oak. And, of course, this rock I’m sitting on sat right here.

Back in the day, we didn’t call the hill Arbella; that name came later. We only called the hill, “The Hill”, just as we called the rock, “The Rock” and each individual tree, a tree. We didn’t spend a lot of time naming things back in those days. We had more important things to do. We had a big field.

I couldn’t tell you where everybody came from, but we came, none the less. We all wandered out of the woods and across the horizon, drawn by this majestic mound. It stood above everything else on the plain, rivaled by no other formation in its beauty. On it, assorted fruit trees and tall pines pointed their peaks towards the heavens, wondrous wildflowers blossomed, rearing their heads to the world, animals scurried under the protection of the hill, peeking their happy heads out whenever they saw fit. If they ever noticed us looking at them, they would dart back into the shadows. They didn’t know they had nothing to worry about because we cared about them as much as they cared about us. We had many more exciting things to do, besides.

We ran. Not to or from a specific place—doing something like that didn’t interest us much. We ran more for the why, rather than the where.

What was the why, you ask? Well, why not?

But just imagine a huge field stretched out before you, soft and supple grass growing just tall enough to tickle your toes as the drops of dew dance upon your bare feet, the subtle sun warming you as you wind your way through the maze of dandelions. And if ever its heat gets too hot, the shade of a nearby tree is there to comfort you. If you’d rather continue on your run, the wind is there to blow a refreshing breeze your way. As far as we were concerned, the field had been created for our pleasure, and we took every opportunity to partake in that gift.
As was the case with the hill, the rock, and the trees, we didn’t bother with each other’s names. We didn’t even bother to acknowledge each other’s presence. We weren’t very social at that time—running occupied most of our time.

We didn’t care about speed or direction—some of us sprinted from one end of the field to the other; some of us twirled in circles, arms outstretched; some of us darted this way and that; and some just meandered from place to place, spending more time taking in our surroundings than those who surrounded us. It probably helped to get it all started, I guess.

The first uproar was caused by two kids of opposite natures. I later learned that their names were Tommy and Franklin, but I just knew them as the Fat Kid and the Focused Kid.
Tommy ran with purpose. He focused directly on where he wanted to run and when he got there, he turned right around to focus on getting back.

Franklin didn’t run so much as meander all about the place, his head constantly turning to observe the world around him, darting from place to place, to stoop down to look at a wildflower, or up to the sky to watch an eagle fly. Rarely was his head in what he was supposed to be doing down on the field.

As in all other aspects of life, when you have two opposites such as Tommy and Franklin, they are destined to clash, and clash, they did.

Franklin backed into Tommy one hot Thursday afternoon, too busy watching a wild turkey dart across the field while trying to get out of its way, running backwards, not really looking where he was going. Tommy, on the other hand, was so focused on where his run was taking him that he didn’t see Franklin coming. Franklin weighed more than Tommy, and it was he who took the tumble and landed flat on his butt.

Tommy wasn’t much of an orator at that early age, but of course none of us were. Later, Tommy would become the great speaker you may have heard about, but on that fateful day, he looked at where he’d landed in that big field of grass, and said the only thing he could in that situation: “I’s It.”

Rather, that’s what Franklin thought he’d said, for even though Tommy talked as if he’d marbles in his mouth, he wasn’t one to practice such bad grammar. He also didn’t back away from a confrontation, particularly one spurring from an intrusion concerning his right to run.
Tommy stood up, and walked over to where Franklin was standing. Franklin tried to stammer out an apology, but was unable to articulate the thought before Tommy pushed him, and Franklin landed on his butt.

Franklin could not believe Tommy capable of performing such an act of anger. He looked up at his antagonist, hoping for an apology he knew wouldn’t come. Instead, Tommy responded with a retort that would endure in the cannon of our consciousness for all eternity.

“You’s It!” he said.

Buy Links

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Tag-Cautionary-Tale-John-Collings-ebook/dp/B01GOVCELQ

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/ca/book/tag/id1121357988?mt=11&ign-mpt=uo%3D4

Kobo : https://store.kobobooks.com/ebook/tag-14

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/John_Collings_Tag?id=IOJLDAAAQBAJ

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/tag-john-collings/1123892563?ean=9781508040897

Rafflecopter giveaway

ENTER FOR A CHANCE TO WIN one of three copies of Tag: A Cautionary Tale

About the Authorjohn-collings-photo-237x300

John Collings has traveled the world and has taken the wisdom he has collected from various cultures and placed it in his novels. He has found that satire is the best way to impart this knowledge due to its lasting effect with the reader. It is his goal to open up discussion about what he perceives is wrong with the world in the hopes that we can come together to fix it. Tag: A Cautionary Tale is the followup to his debut novel, Hell, and God, and Nuns with Rulers.

Follow John Collings

Blog: https://johncollings.com/

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/John-Collings/e/B00XT272WK/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/john.collings.33

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jacollings44

All Roads Lead to Rome

In WHEN IN ROME, the second installment of my Sweet Somethings series, heroine Kate Miller makes a split second decision to join an international photography team as they embark on a photo shoot in Rome, Italy’s “Eternal City.”

The story focuses on the development of Kate’s romantic relationship with fellow photographer Domenic Varezzi, but along the way, Kate gets to check out some pretty amazing sites in and around Rome (and later, Taormina in Sicily).

The fun part is that just about everything she experiences comes from my memories of Rome.

The Coliseum is one of the most recognizable landmarks of Ancient Rome.

In April of 2007, my own Romantic Hero of a Husband (though at the time he was my Romantic Hero of a Boyfriend) and I took a trip to Rome and Taormina when I was off school for spring break.

Awww, look at us!

Now, it’s time for you to join me on a return trip to Rome! Over the next several weeks, we’ll take a photographic journey through The Eternal City, followed by Taormina on Sicily’s Eastern coast. While you’ll have to read WHEN IN ROME to get all the juicy details of Kate Miller’s experiences, I’ll be sharing fun tidbits about my own unforgettable trip to Italy.

WHEN IN ROME is available now for Kindle – and don’t forget to check out BETTER THAN CHOCOLATE (now available in print from Amazon and Barnes & Noble), the story that started it all!

Three friends. A broken engagement. A surprise elopement. A big secret. A lot of chocolate.

Three friends. A broken engagement. A surprise elopement. A big secret. A lot of chocolate.

Love isn't always picture perfect...

Love isn’t always picture perfect…

Want to stay updated on announcements and upcoming releases? Join my email newsletter and follow me on my socials (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and YouTube).

School’s Out For Summer!

Friday was my last day of work for the school year, which, weekend not withstanding, means today is the first official day of summer vacation.

Ahhhh….

Of course, though our neighborhood does have a community pool, I don’t exactly envision myself spending the next two months relaxing by or in it. Wading around the kiddie pool trying to keep my toddler from falling and smashing her head into the concrete edge of said kiddie pool? Maybe that’s a bit more realistic.

(I jest. The kiddie pool is actually pretty sweet, and Babycakes totally loves it.)

In any case, it’s been quite a whirlwind of a year. Starting a new teaching job, putting Babycakes in daycare, taking Babycakes out of daycare and into Gramma-care, moving to our permanent home, releasing two novels (remember that Better Than Chocolate and When In Rome are both available for Kindle, and Better Than Chocolate is now in print!), and of course surviving my first year teaching fourth grade.

So what does the summer hold? Some training for work. Getting ready to change schools and grade levels. Writing Sweet Somethings Book #3, of course (and hopefully Book #4 as well). And a trip back to my old stomping grounds in July to visit friends and family.

And my first book signing! Details on that for those local to my old stomping grounds will be forthcoming once everything is completely finalized. Stay tuned to my Facebook page for the event announcement.

And the best is spending lots of time with Babycakes, who is now almost 2 and entering the “I won’t eat anything in the fruit or vegetable groups except carrots and asparagus and maybe some apple if you’re lucky” stage.

She also wants soup every day for lunch.

If it’s not one thing, it’s another, right?:)