Out with the Old, In with the New

I’ve been sporadic (to put it mildly) about blogging. It’s a new year, but I’m going to skip the good intentions and promises to do better this year. However, it’s traditional to look back and look ahead when the calendar turns over, so in an effort to prove I can do traditional, here goes.

Night view outside the Adam and Eve, reputed to be the oldest pub in Norwich, England.

In 2018, I wrote some new short stories and submitted stories both new and old. Rejection occurred (of course), but two were accepted (more on that later). Definitely one for the win column.

I left one job and found another. Big win. In between, I worked three days at a Dairy Queen, but that’s a story for another time. A time with alcohol. Lots and lots of alcohol.

I went to Europe twice. Norwich remains a favorite city, and I’ve added Düsseldorf to the list. How can this be anything but a win?

The publisher of my two novels, The Ceiling Man and Ghosts in Glass Houses (by my much nicer alter ego, Kay Charles) stopped accepting and publishing new books. However, they didn’t completely close-up shop, and both books are still available. This makes me much luckier than the many authors whose books lost their homes in the shuttering of too many publishers last year. (Note: The Kindle version of Ghosts is on sale in the US for 99¢ through Wednesday, January 9th.) Not a win, but not a total loss either.

In Düsseldorf bin ich als die Katzenfrau von Maya bekannt.

Tantor Media offered me a contract for the audio rights to The Ceiling Man, and I gladly took it. A win.

I remembered to get my flu shot. Another win.

There were a few more ups and downs but overall, despite horrible happenings in the world, my little corner of the universe wasn’t so bad. I’ll take it. And I am grateful to all who helped make it a good year.

Looking forward to this year, I’m excited.

Tantor’s audio edition of The Ceiling Man is scheduled for release on January 29th. (As I write this, the cover image at that link is a placeholder.) It should be available through Audible, Amazon, iTunes, and all the other usual audiobook outlets. It may even show up in Overdrive or Hoopla—check your local library.

A restaurant window in Cologne. Yes, we ate there.

On February 22nd, C.M. Muller’s new anthology Twice-Told: A Collection of Doubles will be released. It includes my story, “Zwillingslied.” I’ve read the proofs on this one folks, and it’s not to be missed. Twenty-two original takes on the doppelgänger theme and all of them wonderful. (Well, at least 21 are. Not so sure about that “Zwillingslied.”)

Sometime in 2019, date to be announced, “That’s What Friends Are For” will appear in David Longhorn’s Supernatural Tales. This weird little haunted house story has netted me the best rejection letters ever. The kind you read to make yourself feel better when the writing isn’t going well. (Yes, that sort of rejection letter does exist!) I am so glad it’s found a home and a wonderful home at that.

The first thing I did in 2019 was pull out a piece of knitting I started on June 8, 2015 and put away a month later in frustration over what turned out to be an error in the pattern.

You could point out all the errors (mine—the pattern’s been corrected) and half-assed fixes, but please don’t.

I intended to unravel it and use the wool for something else. Instead, I decided to finish it. It was complicated enough that I couldn’t listen to an audiobook or watch a movie or otherwise multitask while working. Which made it a contemplative experience. Which is not necessarily good thing for a pathological over-thinker. (Okay, I will make a New Year’s resolution: No more introspection for the next 365 days.)

Somewhere along the line, with all the unknitting, ripping out, and reknitting, the mistakes I tried to fix and those I decided to ignore, and the hole that appeared while I was neglecting and avoiding it, the thing became a metaphor for my entire life.

After three and a half years, I finished it.

And I’m going to wear the hell out of it, badly applied patch and all.

Happy New Year all.

Easy As Pie

Fresh out of the oven, one Chocolate Pecan Rum Pie and one Chocolate Pecan No-rum Pie, both gluten-free. EVERYONE GETS PIE.

Pecan Pie is a wonderful thing. You mix up a bunch of stuff—in one bowl—pour it into a crust, bake, and people are impressed. Pretend you worked hard. Don’t tell them how easy it was.

The hardest part is the crust, and you have options. If gluten isn’t a problem, and you enjoy making traditional crusts, knock yourself out. If gluten isn’t a problem, and you don’t enjoy (or fear) making piecrust, use a Pillsbury® Refrigerated Pie Crust or something similar. They’re not bad. I put them past my grandmother—the woman who taught me to make piecrust—for years before she found out, and she only found out because I confessed. Near the end of her baking years, she used them herself.

If gluten is an issue, you’ll need to do a little more work but not much. I highly recommend Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Pie Crust Mix. It’s easily available in most grocery stores, not hard to make, and it’s delicious.

The gluten-free version did not suck. EVERYONE HAD PIE.

I made the two pies pictured in honor of a visiting cousin. She has Celiac Disease and loves pie (because who doesn’t love pie?). You know That Person at family gatherings? The one who as soon as they hear gluten-free lifts their eyebrows and acts skeptical, sure they’re missing out on something even though they went decades before they ever heard of gluten? That Person went back for seconds. Maybe thirds.

Traditional Pecan Pie, which usually contains both some sort of syrup and sugar is really sweet. Some say too sweet. My grandmother came up with the following recipe for Not-So-Sweet Pecan pie. When I take it places, people rave. They go back for seconds, often saying, “I usually can’t eat two pieces of Pecan Pie. I WANT THREE.” Less sweet also makes it perfect for adding chocolate. Or booze. Or BOTH.

In honor of the new year, I give you my grandmother’s Pecan Pie recipe, with my variations.

Happy New Year. May it be filled with pie.

Grandma Fischer's Pecan Pie


  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
  • 1½ cups dark corn syrup
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1½ cups pecans
  • 1 unbaked 9 inch pie crust, traditional or gluten-free


  1. Preheat oven to 450°.
  2. Beat eggs.
  3. Fold in other ingredients, adding pecans last.
  4. Pour into unbaked 9-inch pie shell.
  5. Bake at 450° for 10 minutes.
  6. Turn oven to 350° and bake for 40 minutes or until done.


  • Chocolate Pecan Pie: Prepare through step three. Before pouring filling into shell, cover the bottom of the pie shell with 1 to 2 cups dark chocolate chips or chunks. Continue as directed.
  • Tipsy Pecan Pie: Add 3 tablespoons to ¼ cup of bourbon or dark rum to filling, in step 3. (Rum is the safer gluten-free option as some bourbon may contain traces of gluten.)
  • Better Yet: Add both the chocolate and the bourbon or rum!


  • Pecan halves make for a pretty but hard to slice pie. I either use half pecan bits and pieces and half pecan halves or break up about half of the pecan halves. Pretty pecan halves float to the top, and the pie is easier to slice.
  • For gluten-free, I recommend Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Pie Crust Mix. The texture is more like a cookie-crust than a traditional crust, but it is delicious.

Recipe by Patricia Lillie: https://patricialillie.com/2015/01/01/easy-as-pie/