Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Q&A with author Denise Grover Swank



As part of the Chick Lit Plus Blog Tour for the book Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes, I had the chance to interview the author, the delightful Denise Grover Swank. I hope you enjoy the interview!

1) Who and what inspired you to become a writer?

I've always written, since I was a kid. I loved getting lost in stories. I started my first book in fourth grade, inspired by a dream, and wrote 70 spiral bound pages before I stopped. But it was my high school English teacher, Mrs. Davis, who made me believe I was good and that writing was worthwhile. I dedicated Twenty-Eight Wishes to her.


2) You have wrote Chicklit, a paranormal thriller, and a young adult novel. Which is your favorite genre and is there one that you haven't wrote in yet but are looking forward to?

I also have a middle grade half way completed in first draft. I read lots of genres and you hear "tell the story you want to tell." Even with all the different genres, they're actually not so different. They all involve some type of mystery or unknown. They all have moments that are tense, exciting or thrilleresque. And they all have some type of fantastical element.

I like having the freedom to write both dark and intense-- my paranormal thriller series-- and also fun and light hearted-- Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes.


3) What is your cure for writer's block?

Keep writing. Seriously, especially in first draft. It might suck but you can fix it later. That's the whole point of editing.



4) In your book, Rose has a list of twenty-eight wishes. Do you have a similar list?



I have things I want to do but I haven't written them down the list tends to evolve. I add new things and others drop off. But Rose's list came from a time in my life after my husband died and I realized that if I didn't live now, I might never get the chance. I look at life differently now and try to make every moment count.


5)Twenty-Eight and a half wishes" is listed as book one. Do you already have a second book plotted out?


I have three more books for Rose semi-plotted out. I'm eager to start on her next book! I miss her.


6) My favorite question to ask of any writer - Who would you cast in a movie of your book?

Funny you should ask. I just figured this out a week or so ago. Rose: Ginnifer Goodwin Joe: Scott Foley Violet: Piper Perabo Daniel Crocker: James Frain Mildred: Randee Heller I have yet to find someone for Sloan. He'd be fun to cast.


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Thank you, Denise, for the fun interview!

You can find out about Denise and her books at the following:
Denise's website
Denise on Twitter
Denise on Facebook

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Guest post: Thoughts on friends with benefits by Meredith Schorr



The title of my book is Just Friends With Benefits. Did you hear about the new movie called Friends With Benefits starring Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis? So did I and, no, there is no association between my book and the movie.

I cannot tell you how many people have said that to me, a chuckle in their voice or an "LOL" at the end of their email, like they are SO funny and original and like I'd never heard it before. Stating for the record, I've heard it before and it's not that funny. No offense.

Anyhoo, yes the title of my novel is Just Friends With Benefits and my main character, Stephanie, sleeps with her old crush from college who is also a friend. He labels it "friends with benefits." She plays along but secretly wants more.

I had obviously heard the phrase "friends with benefits" ("FWB") before I wrote the book. It's pretty popular these days and I used it in my title hoping to entice readers to buy the book. I've never, however, had a FWB myself. I just don't know if I could handle it. I'm pretty selective about who I sleep with and need a certain amount of physical attraction. I'm also pretty selective about my friends and only befriend people I genuinely like and enjoy spending time with. So, the way I see it, if I'm attracted enough to want to sleep with a man, yet like him enough as a person to call him my friend, chances are, I'm going to want him to be my "boy" friend and having sex with him regularly is probably going to make it worse. And I'll keep hoping that the FWB status will segue into a relationship, it probably won't (since my life is not a romantic comedy movie), I'll waste time, get my heart broken and likely lose my friend in the process. No thanks.

The FWB concept does not work in the movies either. The characters in No Strings Attached took their friendship up a notch and became friends with benefits. Then they fell in love. I haven't seen the movie yet but would be willing to bet my next royalty check that Justin and Mila's characters in Friends with Benefits eventually fell in love too. If the FWB status worked for them, there would have been no desire to upgrade to boyfriend and girlfriend. Although I'm aware that No Strings Attached and Friends With Benefits are fictional stories, I suppose real-life FWBs sometimes become boyfriend and girlfriend too, but more likely, I think one of the two is quietly praying for an upgrade and like my main character, feeling bad about herself that her "buddy" doesn't want to be her boyfriend. (And I'm sure in some cases it is the man who secretly wants more.) And while I would not be able to blame my FWB for any wrong doing since the rules of a FWB relationship are clear, anyone who makes me feel not good enough, purposely or not, should not be allowed to see me naked. I truly believe a one night stand makes more sense for me than an FWB. And that statement should not be taken to mean I have regular one night stands. But it would be more likely than a FWB. I just don't think it works most of the time.

It's worth noting that my opinion comes from my own stage in life as a single, never-been-married woman who is still looking for "the one." It would be different if a guy friend and I starting dating with the best intentions and it didn't work out. I could live with that since no relationship comes with a success guarantee, but I'd be afraid to get too caught up in a no-strings sexual relationship with someone I might honestly see myself getting more serious with. But I can see some situations where it could work. For instance, when two people enjoy each other's company and are physically attracted to each other but, due to extraneous factors such as physical distance, know that being in a serious relationship could never work. Or two people who have already been in serious relationships, not interested in going there again and are truly just looking for companionship with no strings. Maybe people in different stages of their lives, ex. older woman and much younger man who have nothing in common aside from a mutual physical attraction could make it work. Or even married couples who have agreed that sexual relations outside of the marriage are allowed. There are exceptions to every rule and I'm sure the FWB actually works in some cases, but for single people like myself who are actually looking for something more, I'd be very surprised if, in the majority of cases, both parties to a FWB situation are truly satisfied. (And I don't mean "sexually" satisfied!)

Anyway, that's my opinion on the subject for what it's worth. But, hey, did you hear about that book Just friends with Benefits by Meredith Schorr? It has nothing to do with the movie, but you should read it. It's good!

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Thank you so much, Meredith, for dropping by my blog with such a great post! I most definitely recommend Meredith's book "Just Friends with Benefits"!

Official Website.
Facebook .
GoodReads

Review: Just Friends with Benefits by Meredith Schorr



When a friend urges Stephanie Cohen not to put all her eggs in one bastard, the advice falls on deaf ears. Stephanie's college crush on Craig Hille has been awakened 13 years later as if soaked in a can of Red Bull and she is determined not to let the guy who got away once, get away twice. Stephanie, a 32-year-old paralegal from Washington, D.C., is a 70's and 80's television trivia buff who can recite the starting lineup of the New York Yankees and go beer for beer with the guys. And despite her failure to get married and pro-create prior to entering her thirties, she has so far managed to keep her overbearing mother from sticking her head in the oven. Just Friends with Benefits is the humorous story of Stephanie's pursuit of love, her adventures in friendship, and her journey to discover what really matters.


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Friends with Benefits is a hot topic in Hollywood these days, as debut novelist Meredith Schorr will talk about in the guest post that will follow this review. Stephanie Cohen has been carrying a crush since college on Craig Hille and when she finally gets the nerve up to make her move, he promptly puts them in the friends with benefits category. I love the premise of this book and I really liked the majority of the characters. Stephanie is smart, quirky, and bound so deeply to the friends she made in college that a lot of her life revolves around them. I think friendships define us, just as much as our family, so that was one of the most positive things about the book. However, there is one character in this book, Paul, that just grated on my nerves from start to finish. He just came off as rude and annoying, no matter the scene. Paul aside, I really enjoyed the book. Stephanie meeting cute Ryan and having to decide if she wanted to pursue a real relationship or keep on hoping that eventually Craig would move her to girlfriend status was the real story here. I found myself applauding Stephanie and then groaning at her actions in the next moment, pretty much how you would imagine such a scenario would play out in real life.

Meredith Schorr has a great novel in "Just Friends with Benefits". It's about more than recapturing a missed love with someone from your past, it is about the friends that are with you through thick and thin and learning to value yourself and your needs/wants. Thank you to both Meredith and Samantha from Chick Lit Plus for allowing me the chance to read and review this book.

You can find Meredith at the following:

Official Website.
Facebook .
GoodReads

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Update to the interview

I went down to the second floor about 15 minutes early, wandered around to find the conference room. (We have so many conference rooms with weird names on them.) Finally found the room, took a seat to wait for the interviewers to show up. Some guy walks in and tells me I must be in the wrong place. After some chaos of phone calls, it turns out the H/R manager gave me the WRONG DAY! Yup, the interview is for FRIDAY!

So now I get to do this all over again tomorrow. Which I guess is okay as I wasn't feeling my outfit when I got there. But geezo peezo, another day to stress?

Cross your fingers and send me good luck! I am still needing it.

Who's got the butterflies? Raise your hand!


It is 7:55AM and as I am sitting at my desk, processing invoices, my stomach is full of butterflies and I quite honestly feel sick. Why, you may wonder? I have a job interview for another department at 1PM today. I don’t know about the rest of you, but the thought of doing a job interview rattles my nerves completely. They are right up there with a visit to the doctor. However, after two years of being a temp and lacking benefits and holiday/vacation pay, this is an opportunity that can’t be passed up. To make it even more anxiety filled, when H/R called me about it yesterday I was told they interviewed one other person last week and passed them up so I am the only one remaining. If they like me, it is mine. If they don’t, the job opens back up. Fabulous.

I do know how to sell myself pretty well, but I always fear I am either going to come off too arrogant or not confident enough. I had a friend “interview” me yesterday, asking me a variety of questions to prepare myself for today. I AM prepared, I just feel sick to my stomach at the thought of doing it. (Such a wuss, I know.)

But cross your fingers…this is something I need desperately.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Warrior



Last night I took in an advanced screening of a movie coming out on September 9th called "Warrior". Last year, if you remember, one of my favorite movies of the year was "The Fighter", and after seeing the trailer for this movie, I figured it was along those lines.

Trust me when I say this movie is "The Fighter" and more! The story of two estranged brothers - Tommy, a Marine dealing with the demons of the past and war, and his older brother, Brendan, a high school physics teacher struggling to help his family survive. They both enter into a MMA (mixed martial arts) tournament for different reasons and this movie packs one heck of a punch. There isn't much that I can say about it right now, as it is still a few weeks from release. But what I can tell you, without a doubt, go see this movie. Beyond the fighting in the cage, see this movie for the heart that it has and the incredible acting from Joel Edgerton and Tom Hardy. (With supporting cast of Nick Nolte and Jennifer Morrison.)

Warrior Official Website

Friday, August 19, 2011

Simple little life thought.

Here’s something about me that maybe you didn’t know – I get wangsty around my birthday every year. I inevitably take a moment to think about where I am, where I’ve been, what I’ve accomplished, and end up talking myself into a funk.

This year was no exception. The day before my birthday, I was driving home from work and got too deep in my head and felt my mood starting to fade and that “meh” state of mind settle in. However, I quickly asked myself WHAT exactly was I sulking over?

No, I didn’t lose all that weight that I wanted to. And I didn’t win the lottery and see the world. Heck, I’m still at the same job. But I also strengthened bonds with old friends, made some new friends, experienced new sights, had my mind blown by music, books, and cinema, laughed a lot, regretted little (except for a speeding ticket), and lived. Not too shabby.

So many times we are in such a rush to show what we accomplish and to make better that we don’t really pay attention to the little blessings that we have. You put all those little blessings together and you are going to find that your life is pretty damn spectacular after all.

If you ever find yourself in a pre-birthday funk or just feeling a bit sorry for yourself, take note of everything around you and find all those little blessings adding up.

Friday Five

1. Bath & Body Works has their Halloween line out. It fills me with glee to think fall is coming. And Halloween! I need to go buy this little cutie for my car:



And bonus is she smells like frosted cupcakes!!

2. “Conan the Barbarian” opens today with the oh so sexy Jason Momoa!



I missed seeing him at Comic Con (very sore subject), but I did get a Conan tattoo.



2A. “Fright Night” also opens today starring another hot one, Colin Farrell. I am not a big fan of horror movies, but am definitely seeing this one.

3. I have had a nagging headache for a couple of days now. Combo weather/allergies/work, I am guessing. But there are times that I wish someone would offer to behead me.

4. I got a Kindle for my birthday. I love it, but I have to be honest…I think my books on my bookshelf are giving me the evil eye. I need Kindle to smell like a new book, that is such a comforting smell.

5. I have some really fun reviews and author guest posts coming up on my blog to share with you all. I’m also going to start offering up those books for adoption, will have a list hopefully this weekend. My only stipulation is going to be if you ask for one of the books that you read it, post a review (blog, Amazon, Goodreads, etc), and if you pass the book on, you request the same. There are some fabulous authors that are just starting out and they deserve to get their name out there for more people to hear about.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

ChickLit Villains: A Guest Post by Britney Bronte

ChickLit Villains

To some extent I’ve touched on this in other blogs. When you talk about Chicklit heroes, you can’t get away from villains, because within this genre the guy who looks like the prince is often the toad. Working out which is which can form a massive part of the story.

The genre is unusual, in so much as you don’t need a villain to create the plot. It helps but it’s not absolutely necessary. Chicklit bad boys seldom tie the heroine to railway tracks or blackmail her or poison her relatives, though sometimes we wish he would. Often, he’s a classic example of the kind of man fallen for and never understood; the man who acts interested but then doesn’t text back, the guy who dumps us without a reason, or the love of our life who tells us he can’t commit, then marries a finalist from America’s Next Top Matchstick.

In general, the key to a chicklit villain is that he doesn’t care, or he cares in a way that makes us unhappy. He is always charming and on some level false. Once we know what he’s like, we ‘re generally shouting at the heroine to stop loving him, only she can’t because he represents something she lacks. And that’s a situation we all understand..

Of course, the enemy is not always the male who doesn’t care. Check out The Devil Wears Prada, where the obvious nasty is our heroine’s boss, Miranda Priestly. From bitches to witches, bad girls are just as much fun as bad boys. Whoever your villain is, don’t let them get too heavy; remember Sex and the City, where Aleksandr hits Carrie and gets his just desserts from Mr Big? That’s the point at which the romcom element is almost over, and something more serious is taking its place. It may be a lot of things, but it’s not funny.

Usually, chicklit life is a comedy of errors. In Do Not Lick The Phones, it’s the funny circumstances and mistakes that make the story. If there’s any real danger at all, it lies in what Britney may become if she lets herself. There is a tiny element of seduction…but I’ll leave that for you to discover.

So when it comes to villains./villainesses of course they should add flavour and plot, Let them be as real and recogniseable as it takes to be ridiculous. If they spark you up, chances are the readers will feel the same. Love them, hate them, laugh at them, but most of all, enjoy them. Treated well, they’ll make your story pop!

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Thank you, Britney, for the delightful post!

For more on Britney Bronte and her debut novel "Do Not Lick The Phones", you can visit the following: her website, Facebook, and Twitter.

Oh this is high on the list of WANTS!!!

Official singing "Big Bang Theory" soft kitty

Review: Do Not Lick The Phones by Britney Bronte




The True Confessions of a TV Psychic!

A sparkling romcom based on the true life adventures of Britney Bronte, hapless wannabe celebrity psychic.

Meet Britney, a girl with a pack of cards and almost no ambition, who finds herself jetset to stardom on psychic Television. Will she find fame? Inner meaning? True love?

Crazies and conmen, angels and aliens, predictions and porn, they're all to be found in this whistleblowing romp through the New Age. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll howl... but whatever you do, remember please, DO NOT LICK THE PHONES!

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Britney Bronte finally lands a dream job, hosting a psychic bit on television. Unfortunately, the station is owned by Satan, but the cast of characters that she encounters is enough to keep things always hopping. Britney weaves a fascinating tale of her job and the people who surround her. Life at the studio is never dull, that is for sure. From the "babes" that do the adult lines to the varied psychics and mediums working in her studio, the tales are varied and amusing. There is a bit with a sheep and another that involves an exorcism of a plant that had me stuck in a laughing fit. Of course, a man enters the picture. Kumar, the hottest man alive, is his name and Britney is definitely interested. And it is complicated, naturally. I think my biggest issue was the fact the book rarely left the studio. It felt hard to get a grasp on who Britney really was because it was all work related and so much detail into the inner workings of the TV station with too many characters being added on a constant basis. Overall, a good debut novel out of Britney Bronte and hopefully more to come.

All proceeds from “DO NOT LICK THE PHONES” will go to help out communities in London recover from the horrible riots that recently happened. That, folks, deserves a lot of respect given to Ms. Bronte.


You can find Britney at the following: her website, Facebook, and Twitter.

As always, a big thank you to Samantha with Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours for inviting me to review this book.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

I had the time of my life



In 1987, there was this little movie that came out called “Dirty Dancing” and I fell in love. The sweet good girl, Frances “Baby” Houseman, that aspired to save the world falls in love with the proverbial boy from the wrong side of the tracks, Johnny Castle. Not only was he from the wrong side of the tracks, but he was older *gasp* and been around the block a few times. But fall in love they did and from the moment Baby tells him she carried a watermelon to the scene where Johnny stands up to her father, telling him that no one puts Baby in the corner, I was hooked. The music was perfect and the dancing was fabulous, but it was the chemistry between Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze that made the movie. (And I developed a crush on Patrick Swayze that lasted until his unfortunate passing.)




Earlier this week, it was announced that there was a remake of “Dirty Dancing” in the works. Not just a remake, but basically copying of the original, down to the music. Can you say “boycott”? Then today I saw the names they are throwing around for the remake and I wanted to kick something. For Baby they are talking Lea Michele (from “Glee”), Demi Lovato, and Mily Cyrus. For Johnny, the names hinted at include Matthew Morrison (from “Glee”), Usher, Justin Timberlake, Chace Crawford (from “Gossip Girl”), and Derek Hough (from “Dancing with the Stars”). Uh, how about no, no, no, and hell no?? If you want to copy the movie so badly, why not just re-release the movie? It stands the test of time, gaining new fans from newer generations, and you won’t need to go through the trouble of making those of us that love the original howl in outrage.



I can’t imagine anyone singing “She’s like the wind” but Patrick Swayze. I can’t imagine the “Mickey and Sylvia” scene without Patrick and Jennifer. And I surely do not want to see this movie Disneyed up.



Bad enough, we have a remake of “Footloose” coming out shortly, which I will also be avoiding. Blake Shelton, while I’m sure he is a fabulous singer, is no Kenny Loggins and I don’t personally care to hear him try to do “Footloose”. Hollywood, get original! The remakes are insulting and quite honestly, it is rare they top the original. Sucky movies are becoming too prevalent.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Read it forward coming soon!

Because I don't happen to have something as awesome as this at home:



(nor do I have the room for something as awesome as that.)

I have decided to do a little read it forward soon and will be passing on some fabulous books that I have read this year. I just have to figure out how I want to do it. :)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Art of Writing - A guest post by author Lennie Ross

People always ask me what it’s like to write. I say it’s like playing with a Rubik’s cube the size of a house with tiny little squares the size of a postage stamp. We move words around until they make some sense, accurately reflect the images in our mind, and hopefully strike a chord of emotion in the reader.

I love to write. I started writing when I was fourteen. I wrote a book of poetry. I have no idea where that book is—probably in a tattered cardboard box in my mother’s attic collecting dust—but I would love to look at it again. The beautiful thing about all forms of writing is that they act like a time and date stamp of our thoughts and feelings at a certain moment in our lives. I guess that’s why so many people keep journals.

Like all artists, I have struggled to get paid for what I do. I have written copy for brochures selling everything from dental equipment to retirement living. I have written about local building projects, water contamination, and community fairs for small local newspapers. I have written TV movie projects inspired by real life stories of dying mothers looking for someone to care for their children and women who survived physical and sexual abuse, which I pitched from one network to the next until there was nowhere left to pitch. I have written erotica scripts where every ten pages there is a simulated sex/love scene. With all of these projects, I managed to get paid to some degree, but I have never made a living as a writer.

I know a few successful writers who make upwards of a million dollars a year doing what they love. I am not one of them, though I do hope that a little of their good fortune might rub off on me. A few years ago I became so disenchanted with writing due to my lack of financial success that I stopped writing for two whole years. It was the most foreign experience for me. I missed it. I craved it. I felt guilty for not writing, but I could not handle the disappointment and pain of not being financially successful at that which I loved.

Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore. I thought my mind was going to explode with ideas. Writers write; whether we are compensated financially or not, it is just something we have to do. So, I chose a new medium: the chicklit novel. With a new medium to explore, I was faced with endless new challenges: How long should it be? What voice should I use? Where do I find an editor? How do I find an agent? How do I self-publish? Throughout the process I found myself asking, “what do I do now?” Nobody was answering, so I just figured it out on my own. It was just another piece of the puzzle that is writing.

Two years later, after endless challenges, I have my first published chicklit novel, “Blow Me”. It’s a tale of three women’s struggle with sex and love in the City of Angels and one women’s struggle with being a writer.



Lennie Ross can be found on her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads

Review: Blow Me by Lennie Ross



Blow Me is the story of three single women—each close to forty and living a life they have long outgrown. Aware that the women’s magazines of their youth sold them a false bill of goods about having it all—the amazing career, the baby, the house, the husband—each woman is desperate to achieve some sense of stability. Skylar, a hairdresser/executive assistant who lost her job and burned down her apartment after a fondue party, is living out of her car; Chloe, a struggling actress/real estate agent with a French Canadian accent who has never sold a house and doesn’t have her SAG card, struggles to get a Green Card; and Dawn, an MBA-educated dating matchmaker, is hedging her bets against the ticking clock by freezing embryos. Their lives are in chaos and their only hope is to be rescued through marriage or by a Hairy Godfather. Situated in the shallow world of Los Angeles, this provocative novel in the style of Sex and the City provides a humorous look at aging, dating, and being single in the new millennium.


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Let me just say, Lennie Ross, you wrote one entertaining book!! I was fascinated with the lives of Skylar, Dawn, and Chloe. Set in the glitzy setting of Los Angeles, three very different women have forged a life for themselves and a tight friendship. (At least two of them did anyway.) Skylar's journey to finding herself and her purpose in life was rocky. Losing your job to two Barbie dolls and then burning your apartment down (hey, it was in the proverbial heat of the moment) is definitely rough. Living in her car, she had to work out where she could park for a night, where to find free food, where to grab a quick shower, all the while avoiding letting anyone know that she was, in fact homeless. Enter a man that seemed very unlikely to catch Skylar's eye, but helped her grow and find her dream job. Dawn's path was filled with an overbearing mother that just wants to see her married with children and possessing a hesitance to live her life. Her mother finally takes matters into her own hands and signs up, posing as Dawn, for a dating service and arranges a date for her daughter. Enter Jake. Dawn, as much as she likes Jake, is privately going through the process to freeze her embryos to keep up with the biological clock that is ticking away. And then we have Chloe. Honestly, I didn't find her likable. She felt fake and too materialistic. As she schemed to find herself a husband to stay in the country, I couldn't get behind her character and root for her.

Lennie's debut novel is full of heart and fun characters. The supporting cast is made up of some incredible men, some downright sleazy men, a mother that makes you want to yell at her in Dawn's defense, and a couple of cute kitties. If you've been to LA, you can envision clearly a lot of the places that are described, which helps bring it to life. I have to agree that if you love "Sex and the City", you are going to enjoy "Blow Me", a great debut from Lennie Ross.

If you want to learn more about Lennie, please check out her website, you won't regret it!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

You say it's your birthday?

It’s my birthday, too!!



I am never overly thrilled with the prospect of my birthday. However this year I have decided that I am going to be celebrating my birthday from this weekend through next weekend.

What do I have planned? Nothing yet. Other than my birthday (the 9th) I did ask for my mom’s homemade lasagna for dinner. No other plans are made yet, but I think I deserve a week long celebration! I’d go for a month, but even I’d get sick of myself and my birthday by that time.

Party On!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

I want to go here!!!

Chef creates Star Wars replica treats for diners at his sushi restaurant.


Han Solo! <3


Master Yoda. Eat or eat not, there is no wasting


And my favorite little bad attitude in a can, R2-D2 (with bonus Ewok!)
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