Monday, October 30, 2023


I’ve arrived at a point in my writing career where I’m seriously considering retiring and finally giving up on my dream of ever penning a bestseller. The truth is, there’s just too much competition out there nowadays, and many of the writers whose books have made it to the top of the bestseller list have done so by spending thousands of dollars per month on ads and promotions.

Heck, I don’t even have thousands of cents to spend on promoting my books, so that pretty much leaves them (and me) at the very bottom of the literary barrel. 

Each book I’ve written took me months, even years in some instances, to complete. And upon finishing each one I've thought, “This is it! This is the one that finally will earn enough money to make it worth all of my hard work.”

But it hasn’t happened yet...and alas, probably never will.

I think part of the problem is I’m not certain which genre I write the best, if any. I have tried them all – romance, humor, sci-fi, paranormal, nonfiction, fantasy and more, hoping to attract a large audience to at least one of them so I'd know which was my true calling.

I remember when I searched online years ago to find out the most popular genre at the time. It turned out to be erotica. Laughing, I immediately searched for the second most popular. It was romantic thrillers. So I decided if that was what readers wanted, then that was what I would give them, even though I had no clue how to go about writing one.

I did have a plot idea in my head, but putting that idea into words that actually made sense and flowed perfectly turned out to be as challenging as trying to teach my dogs how to perform in a dance routine with the Rockettes.

After working on the manuscript for months and rewriting it at least a dozen times, I was satisfied I’d finally created a winner: Heed the Predictor, a thriller about a young woman who has the ability to accurately predict the exact day, time and way in which every person she meets will die.

I’ll never forget when I told my friend Bob I’d finished writing the novel. Its title, however, Heed the Predictor, obviously confused him.

“Is that like Conan the Barbarian?” he asked, thinking "Heed" was my character's name.

I probably should have taken that as a sign.

When the author’s proof copy of my book arrived, I thought it looked great. Smiling, I grabbed a cup of tea and sat down to read my masterpiece. I didn’t think I’d find any mistakes or typos in it because I so carefully had checked and rechecked every page before I’d sent the manuscript to Amazon, the publisher.

To my shock, there were so many mistakes, I began to suspect they secretly were breeding and multiplying as I read each page, just to defy me.

For example, on one page I’d written, “He walked over to the table and took a seat across from her.”

On the very next page I wrote, “Don’t just stand there,” she said, “have a seat.”

And then, I wrote, “Meg’s green eyes locked with his blue ones.”  But a few pages later, “His hazel eyes narrowed.”

The guy must have been part chameleon.

I know this sounds crazy, but I also wasn’t pleased with the deaths in my book. As I reread them, they just didn’t seem as scary as I’d intended them to be. For one thing, I had my characters die in very weird and unusual, even comical, ways. I couldn’t help it, my sense of humor kept bullying me and taking control, no matter how much I wanted the deaths to be worthy of the best Stephen King novel.

Finally, I made it all the way through the proof copy and submitted the corrected version of my manuscript to the publisher. Then I waited for another proof. When it arrived, I decided not to read it myself. Instead, I gave it to my friend Nancy to proofread for me.

After she and her husband both read it, she got right back to me.

“So what did you think of my thriller?” I asked.

“Well…for one thing, it’s not really thrilling,” she said. “Your sense of humor kept popping up and ruining things. And the first two chapters seemed a little too rushed with not enough depth.”

Her husband added, “I loved the surprise ending!  I didn’t figure out how the story was going to end until the fourth to the last page!”

The fourth to the last page? My “surprise" ending was supposed to remain a surprise until the very last sentence!

So once again, I sat down and rewrote the book. I changed my first two chapters by adding more details and dialogue so they would seem less rushed. Then I attempted to make the deaths in the book more tense and frightening. I added racing hearts, beads of perspiration and shortness of breath, which actually made my potential murder victims sound more like victims of cardiac arrest than homicide. And I changed the pages leading up to my surprise ending so the readers wouldn't be able to guess it until the book’s final paragraph.

By the time I was through, I’d unintentionally increased my manuscript by about 10,000 words. I had no idea if that was a good thing or a big mistake. I mean, by adding so much more to the plot, I'd risked turning the book into the equivalent of a giant sleeping pill.

I also decided, after doing some serious thinking, to add a few mild curse words to the dialogue. It just didn’t sound right for a maniacal killer to be saying things like, “Oh shucks!” and “darn it!” in the heat of anger.

Again, I waited for another proof copy to arrive. And once again, I started reading the book, even though I was so sick of it at that point, I’d have preferred to be doing anything else, like getting my underarms waxed.

The more I read, the more I found fault with just about everything in the book. There was something I wanted to change on every page. So I did. That’s when I realized I couldn’t be objective any longer – that even if I read that book another hundred times, I’d still change it a hundred times and not be satisfied with it.

So the book finally was published the way it was – good, bad or otherwise. And I didn’t remove all of the humor from it, so I suppose it can be called a “campy thriller.”

But to my delight, it has received positive reviews, with an average rating of 4.4 out of 5. Not too shabby, I guess, for a humor writer turned novice thriller-writer.

So I wrote a sequel, Conceal the Predictor, thinking I’d finally found my true calling, and then offered the original book free in e-book form (you can click on it below for a free download) to entice new readers.

To date, the free copy has been downloaded over 15,000 times and is in the top 75 in its category.

And I’ve sold a whopping 20 sequels.

Does that mean people prefer not to spend any money, so they specifically search for and read only free books? Or does it mean my original book is so terrible, nobody even cares about the sequel?

I guess I’ll never know…not unless I also offer the sequel free and see what happens.

But how can I ever fulfill my wish of writing a bestseller if I'm not actually "selling" the books?

As I said, maybe after 50 years, it’s finally time to retire from writing and do something less stressful that also will help supplement my income.

Like there’s an opening for a greeter at one of the area Walmarts I think I might check out.


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Sally Breslin is a native New Englander and an award-winning syndicated humor columnist who has written regularly for newspapers and magazines all of her adult life. She is the author of several novels in a variety of genres, from humor and romance to science-fiction. Contact her at:









Sunday, October 22, 2023


I hate to admit it, but because I'm always thinking about my safety, I often fall for infomercials that advertise home-security devices…especially the motion-activated ones.

One of them was a driveway alarm. The ad said it would send a signal to a receiver in my house that would emit a chime whenever a person or car was coming up the driveway. I thought it sounded like a great idea, not only for my protection, but also to reduce all of the jumping up and rushing to the front window I usually do whenever I'm expecting company or a repairman. 

I probably should mention here that I can't afford state-of-the-art, high-tech products, so my purchasing power is always limited to...well, basically cheap stuff. I think I paid $14.95 for the driveway alarm.

It was made of plastic and consisted of two pieces – the outside motion detector and the indoor unit that received the signal and sounded the chime. Each operated on just regular alkaline batteries.

At first, I was surprised at how well the alarm worked. The day after I hung it up on a tree facing the driveway, a UPS delivery truck came up the driveway. Immediately a loud beeping sound, similar to when a construction vehicle backs up, blared out of the receiver on my kitchen counter. The dogs and I jumped, startled. But I was excited the device actually did what it was advertised to do.

It didn’t take long, however, for that excitement to wear off. Due to the fact the alarm was a motion detector, everything set it off – squirrels, deer, leaves blowing in the wind and even bugs crawling over the sensor. On really windy days, the receiver would beep about 10 gazillion times (give or take a few gazillion). 

I wanted to toss a shoe at it.

Instead, I got into the habit of shutting it off on windy days, which kind of defeated the whole purpose for buying it. 

Alas, the motion detector ended up falling off the tree and crashing to the ground during a windstorm, and its cheap plastic casing cracked open. I'd never liked that casing anyway because it was bright white. If the manufacturers wanted customers to conceal a warning device outside in the trees, then they should have colored it green or brown so it would blend in with its surroundings instead of practically announcing, "Hey! Look at me, a secret driveway monitor! You can't miss me!" to the entire neighborhood.

One year, during a period of only a few weeks, three houses in my neighborhood were broken into and robbed in the middle of the afternoon while the homeowners were at work. When I told my uncle about the robberies, he was concerned and said he was going to bring over something to protect my property. That was fine with me. In fact, I was hoping he’d arrive driving a flatbed truck carrying an eight-foot-high electrical fence with a couple hundred feet of razor wire coiled around the top.

He arrived with something called a stealth camera – a motion-activated surveillance device that had infrared capabilities for taking both daytime and nighttime photos. He attached the camera, which was encased in black, to the trunk of a tree facing the driveway and said it would capture any burglars or prowlers on film in crystal clarity.

I secretly hoped it also might capture something more exciting…like an extra-terrestrial…or Bigfoot – something I could sell to a tabloid for big bucks.

The next day was trash pickup day, so at sunrise I wheeled my trash containers out to the road. I threw on a jacket over my nightgown and didn’t bother to take the pink foam-curlers out of my hair or remove my furry purple slippers and put on shoes. No one was around at that hour anyway, so I wasn’t concerned about frightening someone into instant blindness.

After I deposited the trash containers at the end of the driveway, I walked back toward the house. At that hour of the morning, I still was half-asleep and yawning...a lot. That’s when I noticed a pale orange flash in the trees.

It took a few seconds for me to realize it was the stealth camera. I’d forgotten all about it! I also realized that I, in all of my hideous frumpiness, had just been captured on film. To make matters even worse, my mouth had been wide open in mid-yawn at the time. I bolted into the house before any more embarrassing photos could be snapped.

The problem was, my uncle hadn't explained to me how to erase photos in the camera or even how to remove the little card they were stored on. Sure, he'd left the instruction booklet with me, but I hadn't even opened it yet. 

So if, at that very moment, a gang of burglars had come up the driveway and burst into my house, and the police needed the photo footage (with me still on it) as evidence, I wouldn’t have reported the crime. Sacrificing my TV, laptop and jewelry would have been a small price to pay to save myself from eternal humiliation.

I finally did learn how to open the camera and remove the card inside, pop it into my computer and erase it before inserting it back into the camera and resetting it. But it always was a struggle because the camera’s casing had several extremely tight external and internal snap-closures that prevented water from getting inside.

I did enjoy seeing all of the wildlife it captured, especially at night. But the camera ate up eight D-cell batteries every week, which turned out to be too much of a bother and expense for me to keep up with, so I finally quit buying batteries.

Now, years later, that old camera still is sitting out there, attached to the tree, and it serves a useful purpose as a nesting place for a colony of big black ants.

At least they figured out how to get inside the darned thing.

But I haven't given up. A few weeks ago I saw an advertisement for a set of Bell and Howell motion-detector spotlights on sale for a great price. They are solar-powered and need no wiring, so they can be placed anywhere, high up or low to the ground, with their purported super-powerful, blinding beams hitting and scaring off intruders (both two-legged and four-legged) who dare to set foot on the property after dark.

They sounded like a good idea to me, so I mentioned them to my friend and her husband.

"But you live in the middle of the woods and your house is surrounded by big trees that block out the sunlight," the husband said. "How do you expect to solar-power anything?"

Technicalities, technicalities.

I guess I'll just end up doing what my grandfather used to do on his farm to alert him if someone or something was out there – tie a string of tin cans about a foot off the ground from one side of the driveway to the other. 

I'm pretty sure I can handle that.

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Sally Breslin is a native New Englander and an award-winning syndicated humor columnist who has written regularly for newspapers and magazines all of her adult life. She is the author of several novels in a variety of genres, from humor and romance to science-fiction. Contact her at:



Monday, October 16, 2023



Three weeks ago I had the exterior of my house pressure-washed.

At the time, I thought it was good idea because my house, thanks to a summer that hadn’t produced that much rain since Noah built his ark, sprouted a variety of fungi in a rainbow of colors.

But once the guy arrived and started the actual pressure-washing procedure, I rapidly began to regret my decision.

For one thing, my house has a big farmer’s porch with white railings surrounding it – and those railings have exactly 100 slats. The minute the jet-propelled blast of water hit them, the area resembled a snow globe. White flecks of paint flew everywhere, like a blizzard, and landed on the grass, the driveway, and probably on a couple of crows in a nearby tree.

Even the walnut stain on the porch floor and steps wasn’t spared from the attack. By the time the washing was done, most of the stain had been blasted off into the stratosphere, leaving patches of bare wood behind in sort of a checkerboard pattern.

The carnage continued on the garage, where the wooden frame around the side door not only lost paint, it also lost chunks of wood.

As I stood and stared at the mess, wondering how I was going to get rid of the zillion chips of white paint all over my lawn (drag out the Hoover?), the guy who did the power washing asked me if I had a hammer, a ladder and some roof tacks.

Call me a pessimist, but that didn’t sound too promising.

He explained, in a voice that sounded calm and unfazed, that a section on the edge of the porch roof was sagging and he just wanted to tack it back up.

But when he climbed up there, I could tell by his expression his next words weren’t going to be anything I actually wanted to hear.

“There's nothing to tack it to,” he called down from the ladder. “The beam behind the siding is gone.”

“Where’d it go?” I asked, thinking it probably also had been launched somewhere up into the trees with the crows.

“It rotted away."

I hadn’t expected that answer.

“I have a friend who’s a retired carpenter," he said. "I'll send him over to check it out.”

I’m still waiting.

Meanwhile, I bought some paint, a scraper, sandpaper and brushes so I could repaint the railings. It’s been a slow process because every time it rains, I have to wait three or four days for the wood to dry out again. And it rains often. So I currently have 50 more slats to tackle.

And to be honest, I’d rather fling my naked body into a field of poison ivy than do any more painting. So, with luck, those remaining slats just might get done by 2026.

Anyway, common sense told me my priority should be to find and call a handyman, contractor, carpenter, or whatever, and get the sagging roof portion of the porch roof repaired before snow season…which, in New Hampshire, could be tomorrow.

The thought of  a lot of heavy snow piling up on something with a rotted-away beam that could cause my roof to cave in made me feel, well…desperate…to the point where I was willing to settle for a kid from an industrial-arts class or maybe even a beaver (hey, they construct pretty solid dams, don’t they?) to repair the sag.

When I mentioned the problem to one of my good friends, she said her husband, who has done quite a bit of carpentry work, would come take a look at the porch and maybe be able to fix it for me. I thought my prayers had been answered.

Alas, when he climbed the ladder, peeked behind the siding on my porch and let out a groan, my high hopes came crashing down.

“It’s not just a beam that’s rotted," he said, reaching underneath the siding and flinging what looked like pieces of year-old steak onto the ground. "The plywood all the way up to the roof is gone, disintegrated. I’m so sorry, but it’s too big of a job for me to handle."

He said his brother, however, knew a retired construction worker named John who might be able to do it at a reasonable price, and he’d have him contact me.

John called me that same night and sounded very gung-ho about the job. He said his two sons also were in construction and would come with him to check things out. And even though they all were really busy, he said they would make time for my job because it sounded like something that shouldn't wait. He gave me all of his contact information and even his sons' names, and said he’d get right back to me and let me know the exact time they would be over.

That was two weeks ago.

I called him and left a messages. Still no response.

So I did an online search for other carpenters and handymen, and also asked a couple of my neighbors if they could recommend someone. I ended up with two more names to contact.

Meanwhile, I found out that one of John's sons was out on bail after being arrested for pawning stolen jewelry, so that might explain why he never got back to me. And one of the two remaining guys on my list had his many 5-star reviews removed from Yelp when it was discovered his glowing reports all had originated from the same computer.

That left only a guy one of my neighbors recommended.


So I called him and he said he’ll be here this afternoon.

If he does show up, I have my fingers crossed he will have encouraging news for me and will be able to do the work within my meager (a.k.a. pretty pathetic) budget.

If not, I guess I will just have to hope for a snow-free winter.

Or an available beaver.

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Sally Breslin is a native New Englander and an award-winning syndicated humor columnist who has written regularly for newspapers and magazines all of her adult life. She is the author of several novels in a variety of genres, from humor and romance to science-fiction. Contact her at:


Monday, October 9, 2023



I wish I had a crystal ball so I could tell in advance how many trick-or-treaters, if any, will show up on my doorstep this Halloween. That way, I won’t buy too much candy and end up stuck with it, especially since the same amount and brand of candy I bought for $11.95 last year now costs $21.95.

I've also noticed that most Halloween candy expires the next August or September…just a few weeks short of being able to recycle it for another Halloween.

Tell me that’s not part of some greedy, sinister plot.

Back in 2010 when my first Halloween in my current house was approaching, I asked one of the neighborhood women how many trick-or-treaters she’d had the year before.

“Oh, about 40,” she said. “Maybe a few more.”

That was only about half the number I’d been accustomed to at my previous address, but it actually was more than I'd anticipated. Wanting to make a good first impression in my new neighborhood, I stocked up on full-sized candy bars. Then on Halloween night, I turned on all of the outside lights and waited for the trick-or-treaters to arrive.

Three hours later, I still was waiting. I thought I saw two kids sharing a very realistic-looking deer costume walking up the driveway and I got excited…but it turned out to be an actual deer.

“I don’t understand it!” I said to my husband. “The lady on the next street said she had over 40 trick-or-treaters last Halloween! So where are they this year? Did they have a mass migration and all head south for the winter?”

He made no effort to conceal the “what planet are you from?” look he gave me.

“Have you happened to notice that we live in the middle of the woods and have a 400-foot, unlit driveway?” he asked. “Or that our house isn’t visible from the road even when we have all of the outside lights on? And have you forgotten how many hunters have driven up here, thinking our driveway was a road where they could park their pickups while they hunted?”

“But word must have spread by now that there’s a new house here with people living in it!” I said.

My husband frowned. “I hate to say it, but the only living things you’re going to see around here tonight are our dogs...and maybe a skunk...and hopefully, not at the same time.”

As more houses sprang up in my area, however, things slowly improved over the years, and last Halloween I actually had about 20 trick-or-treaters. But this year I’m hoping for even more, so I’m trying to think of ways to attract them.

Maybe I could line my driveway with lit jack-o-lanterns and make it look like an airport runway?  

Or would that be the equivalent of hanging out a sign that says, “Come have some fun and smash these pumpkins or steal them! No one will see you do it!”

And speaking of signs, how about if I put one out on the road that says, “Hey, kids! Get your full-sized candy bars here!” with an arrow pointing the way?

On second thought, that might sound too much like something the witch in Hansel and Gretel might do to lure innocent kids into her stew pot.

I guess the ideal solution would be to take a lantern and a chair out to the edge of the road and then sit there and hand out the candy.

With my luck, I’d probably get run over by a truck.

Or mugged by a bear with a Kit-Kat addiction.

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Sally Breslin is a native New Englander and an award-winning syndicated humor columnist who has written regularly for newspapers and magazines all of her adult life. She is the author of several novels in a variety of genres, from humor and romance to science-fiction. Contact her at:






Monday, October 2, 2023





Although my visit was brief, the last time I shopped in the Mall of New Hampshire I left there feeling as though I should be sitting in a rocking chair, wearing a shawl and knitting. No kidding, I think I was the oldest person in the place. 

Throngs of teenagers were crammed into every nook and cranny of the mall. Most weren’t even shopping, they were just “posing,” like an army of jeans-clad mannequins. And they, both male and female, all seemed to be posing for the same reason…to attract other teenagers.

Although it’s been over 100 years since I was a teenager, I find myself thinking that things haven’t changed all that much over the years. I mean, the Mall of NH really is nothing more than the downtown Elm Street of my day…only with a roof over it.

I guess one of the biggest differences between the malls of today and Manchester’s Elm Street when I was a teen was shopping took a lot more guts, stamina and energy. And strutting up and down Elm street in mid-winter while wearing four layers of clothes didn’t exactly attract a whole lot of teenage guys.

But when I was in the mall one frigid winter night, the temperature inside was a balmy 115 degrees – perfect for all the navel-baring fashions the young girls were displaying. I, however, in my heavy sweater, boots, flannel-lined jacket and scarf, was about as comfortable as a polar bear in Tahiti. My lips were so dry by the time I got out of the place, I was afraid if I smiled, they’d crack into pieces and fall off my face.

Back when I was a teen, my friend Sandi and I were all excited about the first two malls that opened in the area: the Bedford Mall and the Nashua Mall (not to be confused with the modern and much spiffier Pheasant Lane Mall). Every weekend we’d get all dressed up in our sharpest outfits and drive to Bedford to roam through the mall there. Then we’d hop onto the turnpike and head to Nashua and do some more shopping in that mall.

That sense of adventure rapidly wore thin, however. No matter how “cool” the malls were, my heart still belonged on Elm Street. In fact, the stores downtown held so many special memories for me, I actually felt like a traitor whenever I set foot in a mall.

I also felt like a wimp, a real sissy, in malls. I mean, unlike shopping on Elm Street, mall shopping was pretty cushy. There were no skirts flying up to women’s waists or hairstyles being whipped to within an inch of their lives by the tornado-like winds that always greeted shoppers at the corner of Elm and Hanover Streets, even when the weather was calm everywhere else. And there were no puddles to leap over or snow to trudge through to get from store to store.

In malls, I also missed the Santa Clauses of all shapes and sizes ringing bells on street corners; policemen blowing whistles and motioning everyone to cross the street; and most of all, Old Mike, the newspaper man who walked up and down Elm Street every day shouting, “Leader paper, get your Leader paper!” as he peddled the New Hampshire Union Leader.

Maybe I’m just biased, but I think the stores on Elm Street back in the 1950s and ‘60s were a lot more fun than the ones in the malls of today. I still vividly remember the live hand-painted turtles and baby alligators upstairs in Woolworth’s pet department. And the lunch counter there and the one at J. J. Newberry’s always were favorite places to stop for a snack or a cold drink (or hot chocolate in the winter - served in real ceramic mugs). I’ll never forget the day my mother and I sat eating chocolate-cream pie (also served on real ceramic plates) at the lunch counter in Newberry’s when we spotted a big cockroach with whipped cream on its back scurrying across the counter. I was only a kid, so I thought it was hilarious.

But for some reason, my mother, her complexion suddenly looking a bit greenish, didn’t see any humor in it whatsoever.

And then there was Moreau’s Department/Hardware store where I, when I was just a little kid, saw a beautiful Lazy-Susan with dainty porcelain dishes on it on display and gave it such a forceful spin, all of the little dishes went flying off with such force, they looked as if they’d been launched by NASA…before they crashed to the floor. That time, my mom’s complexion wasn't greenish, it was a few shades paler than usual.

The store that was the most fun, however, was Leavitt’s Department Store – five spacious floors containing every item imaginable, from baby clothes to lawnmowers. The store even had an elevator that was run by an actual human who announced which departments were on each floor. Where else could a person take an elevator ride to the mezzanine? (Heck, I didn’t even know the meaning of that word until I shopped in Leavitt’s!).

And there was “Jerry the Cobbler” down in Leavitt’s basement, where he worked miracles on old, worn-out shoes and made them look new again. OK, so maybe he did intimidate people a little at first, what with all of his tattoos, long black hair and stories about his wild times with the Hell’s Angels, but he sure knew his way around a shoe.

Leavitt’s also gave free Gold Bond stamps with every purchase. One floor in the store was devoted to a large redemption center where customers could trade in their stamps for merchandise. I ended up with so many Gold Bond items, I could have opened my own redemption center after a while. Even to this day, I’m still using some of the avocado-green, Teflon-coated pots and pans I got with those stamps.

Now that I think about it, I suppose Leavitt’s Department Store was Elm Street’s closest thing to a mall – a vertical mall.

And I can’t count how many hours I spent listening to 45 r.p.m. records at Manchester Music, where customers were allowed to try out records before they  actually bought them. That probably explains why it was so difficult to buy a record there that wasn’t scratched. It didn’t bother me, though, because I always did more listening than buying anyway.

But in all fairness to the malls of today, I must give them credit for having one thing that’s a lot better than what Elm Street had: public restrooms. I’ll tell you, just one trip to the Merrimack Common area of Elm Street, where you had to descend a spooky flight of subway-like steep stairs beneath the sidewalk before you reached the “fragrant" underground world of those public restrooms, was enough to give you an instant case of constipation.

Nope, shopping on Elm Street definitely was not for wimps.

But in all honesty, I must confess…I loved every minute of it.


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Sally Breslin is a native New Englander and an award-winning syndicated humor columnist who has written regularly for newspapers and magazines all of her adult life. She is the author of several novels in a variety of genres, from humor and romance to science-fiction. Contact her at: