Tuesday, November 18, 2014

$50 Book Blast Giveaway- How a Star Falls

How a Star Falls by Amber Stokes

How a Star Falls

How does a star fall? Quickly. Completely. Unexpectedly. Derrick Knolane escapes to Trinidad Head most evenings, avoiding his apartment and planning for the day he'll break free of Humboldt County. Working in a music store might be fine for a while, but it's far from the goal he had in mind when he got his college degree. Not to mention the fact that his roommate is a jerk and his family won't stop trying to run his life. Then Brielle falls into his world. She claims to be a star. Not from Hollywood, but from heaven. He thinks she's crazy. Certainly delusional. Yet, he can't just leave her alone on the cliffs. So he takes her home. And his whole world falls apart. A heartfelt and fanciful contemporary romance novella, How a Star Falls explores the uncertain season of new adulthood and shows that sometimes the worst inconveniences make for the best miracles of all.  

Praise for How a Star Falls 
"Perfect for when you want a whimsical, heartwarming read, How a Star Falls is more than an inspirational romance...it's a wink and a smile." - Joanne Bischof, award winning author of This Quiet Sky

"Amber Stokes has perfectly expressed the challenges of twenty-something life in her sweet contemporary new adult novella, How a Star Falls. Brielle and Derrick's journey reminds us all of the search to find ourselves in the midst of young adulthood. Their story is charming and wistful with emotions we can all relate to experiencing at some point in our lives. It is a tale about letting go in order to find yourself once again while never losing the importance of who you are...and who you can be." - Cerella Sechrist, author of Gentle Persuasion and The Paris Connection 

"Though not typically a reader of contemporary fiction, I found How a Star Falls to be a wonderfully told story of both sweet romance and coming to terms with the fact that even though life doesn't always turn out exactly as we dreamed it would, even our undesirable circumstances can lead to a bright future." - Jaye L. Knight, author of Ilyon Chronicles 

Purchase Your Copy

He led the way to the lighthouse, but instead of stopping at a bench, he headed down the stairs to the beach. When he finally reached the shore, he scuffed through the sand until he found a promising spot that didn’t look like it would get wet anytime soon. At the moment, they had the little piece of beach to themselves.   “This is really nice,” Brielle said as she clutched the paper bag to her stomach and gazed out at the boats bobbing in the choppy water. “A little cold, but nice.”   He glanced up from where he was smoothing out the towel. “Too cold?”   She offered him a cheeky grin. “Everything’s too cold for a star.”   That drew out a laugh from him as he sat on the towel and patted the other side. “I thought outer space was supposed to be freezing. Space suits and all that, right?”   She plopped down next to him and set the bag between them, turning her head at the screech of a seagull above them. As he brought out the food, she responded, “You’re thinking like a human. It’s not cold for the stars. They’re always shining, always warm. That frozen darkness could never touch them.”   Her words stilled his hand as he clutched an apple. Hadn’t he once told his dad the same thing, that stars would be warm to the touch?

 Amber Stokes 
Author Amber Stokes 
Amber Stokes works as a content writer (marketing services) for a Christian publisher. On the side, she self-publishes inspirational fiction depicting the seasons of life and love. Her passion for books compelled her to earn a bachelor's degree in English and to run her own freelance editing and publicity business for over a year. Happily, this new chapter of her career takes place in the Pacific Northwest—a part of the world she's always considered home.

book blast button

Book Blast Giveaway 
$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 12/16/14 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.   a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Behind the Stars... A MUST read!!

Leigh Talbert Moore
Action - Adventure Romance
Prentiss Puckett is certain of three things
  1. Graduation is two weeks away.
  2. Summer only gets hotter in south Mississippi.
  3. She’s getting a job with air-conditioning.
She did not expect to be kidnapped walking to work. And she never expected to become a hero.
Red Dawn meets LOST in this New Adult action-adventure romance from Amazon bestselling author Leigh Talbert Moore.
Behind the Stars will be LIVE 12.31.14!
Captive (Behind the Stars #1) - Out NOW!
Exclusive Excerpt
A cramp stabbing my ribs brought me back to the Here and Now. I was late, and last day or not, Dr. Green would fuss. “My assistants must be punctual,” he’d say. “It’s difficult being the only vet in a farming community.” I exhaled slowly as a bead of sweat tickled a path down the middle of my back, and I tried to keep the dirt out of my Keds. Back when the 911 service came through, most of these roads got numbers or real names besides “Shortcut to the Creek” or “Road Where the Broke-down House Used to Be.” But there were still a few like this one, “Old School Road,” that you only knew what to do with if you grew up in our little town of less than a thousand people. It didn’t matter, though. Strangers never stopped in Dabb Creek. That should’ve been my first warning. If I hadn’t been so focused on being late, I might’ve paid more attention to the strange man standing on the shoulder looking lost. Bad manners or not, I didn’t have time to give directions or to explain how far it was back to town. It wasn’t until I was up on him that I realized he was watching me, studying the pace of my feet. Then I saw the body on the ground. I skipped like a rabbit to the other side of the road, a scream forming in my mouth, but another man sprung up behind me. A rough cloth clamped over my mouth, and in two breaths, everything went dark. © 2014, Leigh T. Moore  
Learning to Spy (Behind the Stars #2) - Out NOW!
Exclusive Excerpt
The guards moved among us, placing dentist-office Dixie cups of what looked like water in front of everyone. A separate guard came to where I sat on the floor, clutching my knees. She lightly took my arm. “Please return to the table.” Her voice was smooth. “You’ve had a shock. Have some water.” I wasn’t about to drink anything they gave us. It was Day One all over again, only this time, it was Guyana. We were all being served the Kool-Aid. Next stop, mass graves. Stupidly, my friends and fellow prisoners had no such qualms. Didn’t anybody watch the History channel? I stared as they all took shaky sips without hesitation. “Just take a small sip.” The female guard was still with me. “It’ll calm you.” My throat constricted. My whole body was on revolt. Shaking my head, I didn’t meet her eyes. I only stared at the white cup of water. Braxton was at my side, and he drained his. What the hell made him do that? Did he want to die? Seconds ticked past and nothing happened. Nobody passed out. Nobody did anything strange—except forget what we’d just witnessed here. Braxton picked up his fork to finish his lunch. They all did. Like one of us had not just been taken out “swiftly and finally.” Only he had, and I was reeling from the shock. © 2014, Leigh T. Moore  
Harvest Moon (Behind the Stars #3) - Release Date: Nov. 23
Jackson (Behind the Stars #4) - Release Date: Dec. 7
Into the Woods (Behind the Stars #5) - Release Date: Dec. 21
If I Fly (Behind the Stars #6) - Release Date: Dec. 28
  "WOW, where do I begin.... Leigh has done it again. This time she has written something that I can't even imagine what is going to happen. I am completely enthralled with this book." --Goodreads Review "Light and suspenseful, keeping the reader unsure of what is real." --Somertime Book Blog "I was intrigued by the reference to LOST so I started this the day I received it... The action starts almost immediately to grab you and invest you in the story. I understand the LOST reference--we are as lost as the main character, Prentiss..." --Goodreads Review "An amazing series, and I definitely recommend reading them all. You will not be able to put these books down." --Carver's Book Cravings    
About the Author
Leigh Talbert Moore
Leigh Talbert Moore is the author of the popular young adult romantic comedy The Truth About Faking, its companion, The Truth About Letting Go, which is a Top 5 Finalist in the 2013 “Best Indie Book Awards,” sponsored by The Kindle Book Review; the romantic-suspense novel Rouge, which was a Quarter Finalist in the 2013 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards; and the Dragonfly series, a new contemporary YA to new adult romantic saga. A southern expat and beach bum (and ex-journalist and editor), Leigh lives with her husband and two young children in a landlocked location. To compensate, she conjures new worlds, characters, and situations while playing chauffeur, chaperon, group activity leader, and referee.  
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Friday, September 12, 2014

10 Most Influential Books to ME

My brother, Walker, mentioned I should participate in the meme going around Facebook where participants list their top ten most influential books. I laughed at first because he actually reads books that can actually influence. I read historical fiction romance with cowboys and pirates... But he explained it was suppose to be a list that influenced me personally for whatever reason. The more I thought about it, the more I figured I could do this. I should mention that I rarely read to research. I read to escape. I like to be lost in a book. I love happy endings. I love LOVE. So a lot of my books are going to fit into that category...

So, without further adieu I present to you-- the 2 people who still read my blog--  

TORI'S Top 10 MOST INFLUENTIAL BOOKS!! (in no particular order...)

1- Ghost Stories of Texas by Ed Syers - I read this book over and over again in elementary school. I can't even really say if the book was any good. But I do know it fueled my flame of the love of all things supernatural. (Shout out to Sam and Dean Winchester!!) I love ghost stories and ghost hunters and all things ghosts... 

2- UFOs, JFK, & Elvis: Conspiracies You Don't Have to be Crazy to Believe by
Richard Belzer - I've read this book 3 times. There's better conspiracy books out there, but I like the way Belzer presents his theories. This book helped me realize it's ok to ask questions and that I don't have to just believe what I've been told about anything. And I do not believe that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone, if he acted at all.

3- Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler - This book was about forbidden love between a white woman and a black man during the Civil Rights Era. The reason this book was influential to me is because it stayed with me, for days... weeks. I could cry speaking about it. Forbidden love- especially because of race- infuriates me. Everyone thinks they are doing what is "best" for this couple and instead ruined so many lives. I'm getting frustrated thinking about it... Just let people love.

4- The Work & The Glory Vol. 4: Thy Gold to Refine by Gerald N. Lund - I read this entire series a couple of times 15+ years ago. This is the book that stuck with me the most. It detailed the expulsion of the early Latter Day Saints from the Far West, the massacres, the abuse, the prejudice... There was a legal "Extermination Order" in Missouri where Mormons could be killed for being Mormon. Most people don't realize the early Mormon pioneers were forced to FLEE THE COUNTRY in order to save themselves and to worship as they please. Utah was NOT a part of the United States at the time- it was a vast, mountainous, unknown wilderness. Their faith and determination are inspiring and the prejudice is sickening.

5- Love Comes Softly by Janette Oke - I'll be honest and admit I read this book because I saw the Hallmark movie. But wow- this book led me to read 15 other books by Oke and encouraged my love of reading, especially historical fiction. I hadn't read anything regularly since the Twilight series and that was years ago.... This book revealed my inner bookworm. I was reading the Love Comes Softly series when the 50 Shades of Gray frenzy hit. I'm glad I was too into my Christian romances to be bothered with Christian Gray...

6- Dusty Britches by Marcia Lynn McClure - This wasn't the first book by McClure that I read. I read The Visions of Ransom Lake first. That was a great read, but Dusty Britches won me over as a Marcia McClure fan FOREVER. Our library only has one MLM book, so every book I've read of hers has been through an Interlibrary Loan, which means extra waiting. I've read 40 MLM books and have loved them all. I own several now and have re-read half of the ones I read before. She is fun, clean, spunky, and can write kisses like no one else I've read. Yep, Ryder Maddox in Dusty Britches sealed the deal forever for my love of cowboys and romance.

7-  Simplify: 7 Guiding Principles to Help Anyone Declutter Their Home and Life by Joshua Becker- Joshua Becker also has a blog I read regularly called Becoming Minimalist ... I think I've always been a minimalist at heart. "Things" aren't important to me. I've never had a dream car or dream house or dream shopping spree... This book helped with the "hows" and "whys" of minimalism and jump-started me on my journey of decluttering and living life. :)

8- Be the Miracle: 50 Lessons for Making the Impossible Possible by Regina Brett - I just loved that this book reminded me that I can do little things each day that seem insignificant to me, but could make a huge difference in someone else's day. :)

9- Don't Sweat the Small Stuff in Love by Richard and Kristine Carlson - I actually read this book in the midst of my divorce back in 2001. I can't tell you anything from this book except one piece of advice that I've always remembered and hung on to. Kris- the main author's wife - said to ask yourself "Who's quirk is in anyway?" In her example she said she found herself getting so frustrated because she would get a towel out for herself before her shower, but would inevitably get sidetracked. Her husband would take a shower first and use the towel she had set out. She was so bugged he would use "her towel" and thought he was so inconsiderate. Eventually she figured out that maybe SHE was the one with the problem. As far as her husband knew he had the most thoughtful wife who would set out a towel for him each day. He had no idea that she was irritated and thinking the worst of him. She started getting 2 towels out- one for him and one for her. It solved the "problem" that never was really a problem other than in her head. I've tried to remember to ask myself "Is this really MY quirk?" whenever "issues" arise in my marriage... I think it's awesome advice.

10- The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay - I actually just finished this book yesterday. I haven't stopped thinking about it since. I don't even really know WHAT I'm thinking about. It's like I miss the characters. They got in my head so deep. They were so broken and perfectly imperfect. All I could think was "JUST BE NICE!" the whole time I read it. People are each fighting their own personal battles, whether we can see it or not. Just be kind. I loved Josh's description of how people treat you when you're grieving. Truth. I mourned with Sunshine and her loss. I loved seeing them both struggle with loving someone and allowing themselves to be loved. It was about healing and letting go; about realizing you can't "fix" other people, but you can love and accept them. It was beautiful, emotional, powerful, and unforgettable.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Our reasons for deciding to sell our home

Well, my husband and I have decided to "throw our money away." We sold our home we owned fo 7 years and we don't plan to buy. We want to rent. And we understand that our reasons won't match others or make sense to all people, and we're ok with that. That's why they are *our* reasons.

Our reasoning all boils down to:

Pic found at: http://foundwalls.com/wallpapers/2013/05/Freedom-Beach-768x1366.jpg
  • We didn't own our house. It owned us. We had to take out a huge loan to basically prepay for shelter. Shelter we were responsible for maintaining including repairs, lawn care, HOA fees, etc... If something breaks WE were responsible for paying to fix it. If our yard needed mowing, but we've just been too super busy we could either pay someone to do it or do it our self- after receiving a mean "reminder" letter from the HOA. 
  • We like to move. And we couldn't move without selling it. We were stuck. STUCK. I hated that feeling. We were blessed in that our house sold in 6 weeks- but I didn't like the uncertainty of when we could move. The first 7 years of our marriage we moved 4 times. I loved it. I loved knowing that any place could be temporary if we wanted it to be. Some places we stayed just a year. Another place we stayed 3 years- because we had that option! There was a year when both of our "exes" took us to court regarding child support changes and visitation. Lawyers aren't cheap, especially an international lawyer which is what we needed for my husband. We wanted to move to a little apartment so we'd have a little extra money. Nope- we couldn't. Instead we took on more debt. :(
  • We became hoarders. Ok- I'm exaggerating. But we did collect so much stuff simply because we had the room for it. It's easy to say "Just get rid of stuff..." but not as easily done when you have room to fit more. I purge all the time, but stuff just collects again. It's a never-ending cycle.
  • Less stress. Home ownership can be stressful, especially financially. One year our monthly payment jumped almost $200. That's like adding another car payment to our budget. The next year it went down $150, and now it's gone up $60. Not only that- it was a super hot summer and to cool our house (and by "cool" I mean "keeping the a/c on 81 degrees, and ceiling fans going...) and our electric bill was $150 higher than average. This was the same year I mentioned about exes, and court, and we had ZERO extra money. We are still paying debt from that year- 5 years later. And we just gave up on watering our backyard at our house because we would go broke. Our backyard looked like hay every summer. Not only that- but the process of buying a home is stressful too. All the paperwork, finance people digging into every little nook and cranny of your life. Not an enjoyable process.
  • Why do we own now? We couldn't think of one real reason why we felt the need to BUY a home when we moved back to Texas from Utah. We just *did*. We must have because that's just what you do- you buy a house, you settle down. Now when we talk about it neither one of us remembers even discussing renting or anything when we moved. We jumped right into buying and regretted it pretty quickly.
  • We are wannabe beach bums. Our ultimate goal is to move to Hawaii. Yes, the cost of living is crazy. We know that. Yes, we'll have to change our standard of living drastically. We have no problem with that. We embrace that. Hawaii doesn't make sense to a lot of people, and who knows, we may only be there a year or we may end up at a different beach. But we want to try it. Life is way too short to do what everyone else expects or be scared to try new things or follow your heart.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Why do we need so much space?

Two of my favorite TV shows growing up were "Little House on the Prairie" and "The Brady Bunch." In one show we had a family of 5+ people living in a one room cabin with a loft. The other has 6 kids sharing 2 bedrooms and 1 bathroom (...with no toilet. HA!) On LHotP you can see that anything they owned was a necessity. It was a big deal to have a doll or a jewelry box. Books were prized possessions. I LOVE this. LOVE it. When did more space and more things become the norm? When did more room and more stuff become happiness? It hasn't.
Currently the home we are selling is 2566 square feet. It has 4 bedrooms, 2 1/2 bath, 2 living areas, a dining area, breakfast nook, and a nice sized backyard. The bedrooms are nicely sized as well. And all I can think is: We don't need all this room. I'm somewhat of a minimalist. I don't like to buy things we don't need. I don't like clutter. I decorate with things that are important to me. I'm really hard to shop for when it's my birthday or Mother's day because I truly do not like to add things to my home that I don't need. However, I live with 5 (sometimes 6 when my soldier is home!) other people who don't seem to hold the same philosophy... I'm not saying I want a log cabin with a loft, but in this home we can all spread out and not see each other at all, even when we're all home. I don't like that.

Homes have gotten bigger and bigger over the years. Did you know the average American home in 1950 was 983 square feet? I found this cool pic on www.shrinkthatfootprint.com. The information is based on the census. Our home size in the US on average is almost 2200 square feet. From 983 sq ft to 2164. Yet, the family size average is shrinking.
Personally for our family I don't want to be spread out over 2500 square feet. Not only that, but our in-home family size is shrinking. Our oldest is in the army and most likely won't live with us again (I'm trying not to cry as I admit that!) Our next oldest graduates high school next year so time with him in our home is limited... Our family doesn't need more space. I'm not really sure when society decided more square footage was a necessity...

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Stupid crappy Flappy Bird

You may have heard about the game app "Flappy Bird." My teens introduced it to me this past week. Basically you tap your screen to keep a bird in the air as you "fly" it through random Super Mario-looking pipe thingies. I've played it some and, well, I just suck. I do. I don't play it obsessively or anything, but I'm so bad that Liv beat me in her third try. My high score was 6. Yes, SIX.

I made the mistake of showing Seiuli this game. Sei is good at everything. Especially things that I suck at or have to work really hard to be good at. Take Guitar Hero, for instance... I would practice and practice one song, on medium, just to beat the high score and here comes Seiuli... He picks up the Guitar, puts it on hard or expert or whatever the hardest level is and beats my high score. No practice. No nada. He crushed my high score and my self-esteem as a hardcore gamer. ;) But I digress.
I introduced him to Flappy Bird and of course he's awesome. But I let him try it on my phone and he beat my amazing score of 6 his first try. He got 7. I yelled at him that it's rude to beat other people's high scores on their devices and to play it on his own phone. Y'all, it took me 3 days not to BEAT his score, but to TIE the seven. I'm that good.
We had a big discussion last night that lead to me crying because I was laughing so hard, about the correct part of the thumb to tap the screen with. He proceeded to show me and casually scored a quick 39 points. (That's not his high score. I think it's 43...) He even showed me how his thumb curves weird and that it was "made for Flappy Bird." Oh my. I didn't care because finally the 7 on my phone was MY 7 and not his. I even took a screen shot to commemorate the moment.
Imagine my surprise when I found this on my phone this morning:

What a weenie. Seriously. Who does that? My gamer self-esteem has again plummeted, much like the bird when I play. Sei was in training today so I had to text him. If you watch "Supernatural" you'll appreciate it a little more...

He is so lucky I love him.

Monday, December 09, 2013

Lots to catch up on

We were able to travel as a family to Missouri to see Tristan graduate from bootcamp! It was awesome and a fun trip. And so so SO good for my MOM HEART because I have been missing my boy!! The first day was "Family Day" on base. So basically Tristan had a pass to hang out with us on base... which isn't all that exciting, but it was exciting because we were with him!!!

Hanging at BK
Part of the Berlin Wall
So basically that day we ate at the Burger King, went to the PX, went bowling, and visited an Army museum. That was pretty cool. Tristan was so tired and I wished we had a hotel room on base, but we had too many kids so they were gonna charge us for 2 rooms... haha
The next day was the actual graduation. It was also Alec's 17th birthday!! My sister and her kiddos came from Kansas for his graduation. I thought that was way cool of them. We had a great time that day with Tara's family. I am so stoked they were able to come.
I loved the graduation ceremony and I'm pretty sure we cheered louder than any other family when Tristan said his name!
My soldier

We were able to visit his barracks that day, which we hadn't been able to the day before. We also visited the museum again with Tara.
A heart made of stone made by WWII POWs

Livie and her cousin!
Birthday dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings!
Crazy nights at the hotel!
Alec and Isabel left with my ex on Friday morning because they both had basketball tournaments to get to. Tristan went straight into AIT (advanced individual training). He is still at Fort Leonard Wood, while other soldiers left to new places. Sei and I took Taj and Liv to Branson for a little weekend vacay. I'll post more about that next. :)

Monday, November 04, 2013

Colorado Promise!

In the next few days look for my review of Colorado Promise by Charlene Whitman!!! Historical Romance is my favorite genre of book and I am excited to review this one. :)

Colorado Promise
Book One in the Front Range series – Historical Western Romance

In this passionate sweet Western Historical Romance, author Charlene Whitman introduces Emma Bradshaw—a high-society young woman from New York, who is forced to move out to the untamed Front Range in Colorado and finds that true love can withstand all the dangers the West can throw at her.

Greeley, Colorado, in 1875 is a town built on a promise . . .

. . . but to Emma it is a desert prison in the middle of a hostile and dusty prairie. Emma had hoped to go to Vassar College, to pursue her dreams of becoming a botanical illustrator. But when her father, struck with “Western fever” moves the family out West, Emma’s dreams are shattered. Her only consolation is that her childhood friend, handsome Randall Turnbull, has moved to Greeley to work for his railroad baron father. Her heart sparked by his comforting presence, she hopes Randall will fall in love with her and marry her.

But promises often turn bitter . . .

. . . as Lucas Rawlings, veterinarian and horse lover, well knows. Lucas has lived on the Front Range for three years at Sarah Banks’s horse ranch, after stumbling down from the Rockies consumed with grief. Since losing his precious wife and baby in childbirth, he doesn’t think his heart can bear ever loving again. But Sarah, a half-Cheyenne with a medicine woman for a grandmother, has a vision showing it’s time Lucas married again. He scoffs until he rescues Emma in a sudden hailstorm and their lives become intricately entwined.

Emma must choose—and fight—for the man she loves, at the risk of all she loves . . .

Emma yearns for the comfort and familiarity of Randall’s company, but Lucas’s easy confidence and gentle ways snag her heart. Facing a new life beset by grasshoppers, drought, and blizzards is hard enough. But when murderous ranchers try to force Sarah off her land, and her brother takes up dangerous company, the lives of her family and the man she’s come to love are threatened. It will take a miracle—and the strength and promises of true love—to come through unscathed in this untamed land.


Colorado Promise is now live. Here is the Amazon link:
 Print book, here it is:

About the Author

Charlene Whitman spent many years living on Colorado's Front Range. She grew up riding and raising horses, and loves to read, write, and hike the mountains. She attended Colorado State University in Fort Collins as an English major. She has two daughters and is married to George "Dix" Whitman, her love of thirty years. Colorado Promise is her first Historical Western Romance novel.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Strange things are afoot...

So I mentioned a couple posts ago that I was taking a self-defense class. I finished the course and it was so awesome. It really was. In fact, in the final test where we fight our way out of the room was recorded so we got to watch ourselves at the end. The instructor actually had the guy back my video up so we could watch me deck this cop in the face again. It was awesome. (We were all suited up so I didn't hit his actual face.) I can't post the video because they asked us not to, but I really left the class feeling more confident and assertive and prepared.

I mean, I was already pretty safety cautious and always uber-aware of my surroundings. Seriously- ask my husband. He taught a safety awareness class at our church and he asked me for all my ideas that I already do... So, I always try to aware of what's going on around me... But since finishing that class 2 weird things have happened to me.
A few weeks ago at the grocery store I was loading my groceries into my van when a car parked beside me. It was an old Crown Victorian that was obviously an old cop car that was sold in auction. The windows were tinted way too dark and even though I couldn't see in the car, I could feel someone watching me. No one got out of the car so I kept me distance and finished what I was doing. Then as I was closing my trunk the driver side window of the car rolled down. I could see 3 people clearly. There may have been a 4th. This is the conversation that took place:

Driver: Hey, can you come here for a minute?
I didn't answer, but I took a step back, angling myself so the bumper of my car kind of protected me some.
Driver: I'm not from around here... Can you hear me way over there?
Me: Yes. (still standing in a cautious contact stance)
Driver: Do you know how to get to the mall?

Ok, so I kept my distance, answered quickly, and got in my van, locking the doors. I started watching the car as they backed out and you know what? It didn't drive to the street I told them to go to. It circled around the parking lot going up and down the parking rows. When I told Seiuli he told me I should have called it in as suspicious activity or whatever, but I didn't. But it was WEIRD. Even weirder? I saw the car last week in our neighborhood and I now see it parked regularly in front of a house near Isabel's friend's home. I don't know if they moved here recently or if they loaned their car to a friend visiting when they approached me. Maybe they really didn't know how to get to the mall. Or maybe they, according to Sei's cop-brain theory, were going to gang rape me. I don't know- but it was eery and creepy. Why would you ever say to someone "Hey, can you come here for a minute?" and "Can you hear me way over there?" I was like 8 feet away?!

That was weird experience #1. Weird experience #2 happened yesterday... I often like to walk or ride my bike to random places. Just call me Elizabeth Bennet...
So I decided to walk to the library. I had on workout clothes, my headphones in listening to a book, and a small backpack that had a couple books I needed to return, my wallet, my gun, and chapstick. (What!? My lips are dry!) So it was pretty obvious I was out WALKING, not stranded because my car broke down or something. This big, black truck drives past me and pulls over and parks in front of this lake thing at the front of my neighborhood. I thought he was on his phone or stopping to help a turtle in the road... So I kept walking although I did walk as far away from his truck as possible AND got my lethal key chain off my backpack. It makes it easy to swing your keys into someone's face, but anyway... I noticed him and was aware he was there. I started walking past his truck and he said something to me. I had my headphones in, but the volume was low enough so I can hear things going on around me. I just didn't understand what he said. So, I took another step further away and pulled out an ear bud and said, "Excuse me?" and he said, "Wanna a ride?" Ok WEIRD!! 1st off- Do people actually ACCEPT rides from strangers?!!? Don't people know what can happen?! You end up a sex slave in a box under a guy's bed for 7 years. That's what happens! And 2ndly, WHY would you ask someone who is obviously out for a walk if they need a ride?! I just said, "Um, no thank you?!" and kept walking...quickly. I'm sure my face was like, "Seriously guy? You think I'm gonna ride with you?!" He drove off. Is that not weird?! And don't even get me started about the teenager walking with headphones in that kept "rapping" the same part of a song over and over and over... for like 1/2 a mile. I was on a sidewalk parallel to his and I wanted to yell "Learn the rest of the words! Oh and pull your pants up." People are weird.