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Category: Slim to None

Who Doesn't Love a Life Guard?!

Congrats to Deborah Blumenthal for her new release THE LIFEGUARD (love that cover). She agreed to visit my blog to talk a little about her novel.

Tell us a little about The Lifeguard.

The Lifeguard is my new young adult novel about 16-year-old Sirena Shane who is sent off to spend the summer at the Rhode Island shore with her Aunt Ellie, because her parents, at home in Texas, are going through a difficult divorce.

It’s a summer that will transform her life – forever.

She moves into a beach house filled with ghosts, falls hard for a mysterious lifeguard with extraordinary looks and mysterious healing powers, and meets an 80-year old Brazilian artist and shaman who bequeaths her an unusual gift.

Tell us a little bit about your how your writing career evolved.

My first book, The New York Book of Beauty, was an extension of my work as a beauty columnist for The New York Times Sunday Magazine. It was a guidebook to the best beauty resources of New York City. “Research” involved going to different salons for manicures, pedicures, haircuts, massage, etc. In other words, equal parts work and fun.

But my entree into children’s book began with a tantrum — my younger daughter’s, not mine. We were on our way home from a play date and because she was hungry and tired, she had a total meltdown. That led to my first picture book, The Chocolate-Covered-Cookie Tantrum, written as therapy.

My first young adult novel, FAT CAMP, grew out of an article I wrote on weight loss camps for The New York Times Sunday Magazine. I was hooked on writing YA after that

How many books have you written?


How much of yourself and your own life do you put into your stories?

Even though my stories aren’t based directly on my own life experiences, I think you can’t help but put your own hopes, dreams, fantasies, and fears into the stories that you write.

In The Lifeguard, you create a portrait of a lifeguard with extraordinary looks, not to mention magical healing powers. Never mind the powers, did you base him on someone that you know – or knew?

Actually there’s a top male fashion model who has an extraordinary face, and I kept thinking of him when I created the character of Pilot.

Any advice for struggling writers?

Don’t give up. Keep reading. Keep revising. And if something isn’t working, put it away for a while and revisit it after enough time has gone by so that you can see it with a fresh eye.

What are you working on now?

A new young adult novel as well as some picture books.

How can readers find out more about your books?

On my website:

Sleigh Writer Dani Stone's Holiday Recipe


Get ready for the ultimate sleigh ride with Buzz Books. SLEIGH RIDE is a wintry mix of short stories with one common theme: each story includes a sleigh ride. The book will include seven short stories and a portion of the proceeds will benefit a national domestic abuse prevention fund via Alpha Chi Omega foundation. Women helping women is one of our highest endeavors, and we are extremely excited about the project.  The book is now available in trade paperback and ebook (Kindle and nook). We’re also hosting two big contests over at our to celebrate the launch.
At the back of the book, some of our authors shared their favorite holiday recipes. Dani Stone, “No Place Like Home,” shares hers below.

Cranberry Pecan Jell-O Salad by Dani Stone


1 stick butter or margarine

1 cup flour

1 cup chopped pecans

1 – 8 Oz. package cream cheese

1 cup sugar

1 – 12 oz. Cool Whip

1 – 6 oz. box of cranberry Jell-O

2 cups boiling hot waster

2 16 oz. cans whole cranberry sauce


1.    In a 9” by 13” pan, melt 1 stick of butter ormargarine.  Mix in 1 cup of flour and 1 cup of chopped pecans.  Press evenly in pan and bake at 350º for 12-15 minutes.  Cool.2.   Mix cream cheese and 1 cup sugar.  Fold in CoolWhip.  Spread on cooled crust.3.   Dissolve Jell-O in water and mix incranberries.  Refrigerate until thickened.  Pour over cream cheese layer.4.   Refrigerate until firm and ready to serve.

My mother-in-law makes this every Thanksgiving. We serve it on a piece of endive lettuce on its own little plate. The salad is a gorgeous, tasty addition to any table.

Dani Stone is a freelance writer juggling assignments like a circus performer in sparkly red shoes. Currently, she’s contributing web content for and writing a charity spotlight series for the life-changing micro-giving site, Dani lives with her husband and two children in the great flat state of Kansas.

I'm On a Roll, Baby

I have a friend with a real eye for design—in another life she definitely would have been a fabulous interior decorator if not an engineer creating useful products for better functionality. Often she’ll stare hard at something, point a menacing finger toward the thing and say, “That was designed by a man.” She never means this as a compliment. Rather, she she thinks men tend to design for looks, not function. Including functional flow in houses, on boats, in products we use in our everyday lives. They may think they’re helping, but generally, it seems not (or so my friend contends; do direct your complaints her way, thank you!).

(I Googled “man made” images and this is what came up first!)

I remember years back when public bathrooms started being retrofitted for wheelchair accessibility. It was at about the same time that the salesman for the Giant Toilet Paper Roll Company clearly hit the sales jackpot, because it seemed you couldn’t stumble upon a public loo in the U.S. without a gargantuan roll of the stuff. Which from a male-designed standpoint made some sense: buy big, buy cheap, sure. Buy big, replace less often. Okay, I’m with you. But then the plans things went awry: someone (a male? One wonders…) established standards that seem to have been implemented nation-wide about where to position these mambo-rolls within the narrow confines of a bathroom stall. It had some vague connection to wheelchair accessibility, but I can promise you it had nothing to do with how those in a wheelchair would then be able to access the stuff.

I think it was all about avoiding the handle bar that is installed midway up the stall. So this rocket scientist had a choice: position the paper high, above the bar, or install the paper low. For some reason low made imminent sense (is this because they don’t use the stuff, thus don’t “get” the failed functionality test?). Thus, these mega-rolls are forever installed wayyyy downnnnn lowwwww, requiring the user to lean far to the left and back slightly or forward too much to then get her arm bent enough to be able to reach up into the roll canister to access the stubborn paper that is stuck therein. Once there, you must hard, but argh, you can’t, because some brainiac (perhaps an infrequent user of the product, like, say, a man!) decided it was going to be even cheaper (yay!) to make the paper one-ply (sometimes I think they’ve gotten it down to near zero-ply), so that if you try to pull it–and bear with me because there is physics involved in this and I fail miserably at science concepts–the weight of the 20-lb. roll of toilet paper (TP for short) precludes the ability for the ply-less paper from holding strong against the vigorous force of the pull.

(it seems Bessie the elephant has it easier in the loo than your average woman)

So the innocent bystander (or should I say sitter) in said stall is left, shall we say, holding the square. Because the paper is not going to come off but for sheet-by-miserable-sheet, while you bend over at an awkward angle (and dare I suggest that your average wheelchair-bound woman in a public restroom is likely ill-equipped to be lurching gymnastically leeward to do the TP-twist?).

To compound this dilemma, you have the auto-flush toilet (man designed? you decide…). I once was helping potty train a kid who was terrified of the auto-flush. Poor child burst into tears upon hearing the ominous rumbling of the oncoming flush, a locomotive coming down the tracks. Once, when attempted to help wipe said child, the power flush erupted after having to tilt the kid to one side, and the poor thing literally flipped into a forward roll off the toilet from fright. Leaving me—the one who always cracks up over the wrong things—to laugh till tears streamed down my face.

Okay, so how this fits in with this theme: when you are in the midst of the left-leaning swoop to try to clutch at the elusive weak-willed TP, you then move away from the omniscient laser-beam light that tells the pot it’s time to flush. So while you’re desperately grabbing for paper, that cursed thing is flushing. Again, and again, and again. Because after the first flush you instinctually sit upright to stop the thing from happening, but then darned if you don’t have to reaacchchhhh wayyyyy down to try to get that elusive paper.

Maybe the end-result of this design flaw issue is that women are less likely to use public bathrooms, an added bonus for the provider, who then saves in water usage (except when the auto-flush goes awry), paper consumption (because you can’t get to it and thus you give up even trying), and cleaning supplies (because no one is using it with the regularity of days gone by). Plus you save on all that toilet paper theft.

About that TP theft…I’m sorry! I did it! I was a stupid college student! What can I say?

Yes, I have a dirty little secret: I have to assume some of the blame in this TP quandary. I admit there were times when my college roommates and I would help ourselves to a spare roll or two from the dorm bathrooms and take them back to our apartment. On a college budget sometimes you had to choose between spending spare cash on beer or TP. I think you can guess which usually won the internal debate. I do remember being at a bar one night with three rolls tucked lumpily in my backpack. I have to concede that it would be downright impossible (not to mention awkward) to lug a 10-lb roll of that cheap paper in your backpack. Plus once you got it home, what would you do with it? You’d have to hammer a railroad stake into the wall and dangle the thing from it. (note to students: if you do so, please hang it high enough!).

I have absolutely no idea what this has to do with this blog post but it seemed like such a bizarre image I just had to include it!

Okay, so back to the design thing. I am a female. I know how to do this better. It’s actually quite logical. Put the mega-giant-gargantuan roll of toilet paper up HIGHER, people (i.e. men who have decided it should be as close to the floor tiles as humanly possible). We women will appreciate it, and I have to assume particularly those in wheelchairs will thank you as well. End of rant.