Nook E-Reader Update Version 1.5: Could It Get Better?

This photo has nothing to do
with the article at all.  But it got
you here, didn't it?
Now I was already a big fan of the Nook, but in a word, yes, the Nook did get better with this update.  The Version 1.5 update has made its debut, and I'm impressed--I didn't even realize I wanted half the stuff that was included with update Version 1.5, but some of the enhancements of the Barnes & Noble Nook e-reader are terrific, and make it even more enjoyable to use.  I dropped into the B&N, saw the update was available on my Nook, and dowloaded it via Wi-Fi.  It took about ten minutes to download and reboot.  I'll give you a few of the highlights:

Turn the Pages Faster

As it was before the update, you could turn the pages faster than you could with a real book (if you try to turn pages that fast in a real book, you'll tear them out.)  Now, when you turn a page, it's nearly instantaneous.  Now, if you're like me, and sometimes you get sleepy when you read, it can cause a little confusion, because it changes so fast you think it hasn't so you turn the page again, and next thing you know, you're all confused.  I'm sure I'll get used to it. 

This photo does . . .  this is
a Nook!

Organize Your Library

The new Shelf feature is very nice, and it takes only a few minutes to organize your library like you want it.  I basically split my titles up between "Fiction" and "Non-Fiction" but you could be much more specific than that.  You could organize then by genre, or author, etc.  However you want.  It's a great feature, and makes it easier to find your books.  If only my library shelves at home were organized like this, because I can never find anything I'm looking for there. 

Battery That Goes On and On and On . . .

As it is, I'm lucky if I have to charge my Nook once a week.  But the battery life has been improved in this version.  More is always better.  One new thing is that the Nook will turn itself off after 72 hours on standby, so if you put your Nook down for a month instead of a day, you won't go back to it and find it dead as a hammer.  It was a good idea. 

This photo does not . . . do you
see the pattern?

Password Protection

 Previously the Nook didn't have Password Protection.  It does now, and you can set it up two ways.  You use a password each time you turn it on to unlock it.  That's kind of a pain for me.  I'll probably set it up the other way--password protection for any downloads.  That way, if somebody does swipe my Nook, they won't be able to rack up my credit card with Barnes & Noble downloads.   More security on a portable device like this is always a good thing.

Sync Feature

The Nook always kept track of what page you were on in each of the books in your library, but you can get Nook applications for many of your wireless devices, and even your PC.  Before this upgrade they didn't sync.  The new Nook 1.5 software will sync wireless with your other Nook programs. If you forgot your Nook, and were reading something from your library using your PC or cell phone, your Nook will know what page you left off on when you get home.  It's a very handy feature. 

And More . . . 

How about this one?
What do you think?

There are a few other bells and whistles with the update, including some enhancements to the online functionality, but these are the ones I thought were the best.  Basically, the enhancements to the Nook make an already impressive e-reader even better.  There is some argument over which e-reader is the best, and although the Kindle might have a slight advantage on the hardware side of the equation, the Nook I think has far surpassed any gains you get there in functionality and ease of use.  It's easy to use, and made not for the gadget aficionado, but for the reader--the really serious reader.  And this software update I think takes the Nook far beyond the Kindle. 

Ludwig van Beethoven: Freemason Wisdom To Begin Your Week

"The barriers are not erected which can say to aspiring talents and industry, 'Thus far and no farther.'"

~Ludwig van Beethoven

Who creates the barriers that stop us from living our dreams?  Who creates the barriers that prevent us from attaining our full potential?  Does society limit us?  Are we limited by our lack of education or money?  Or do we create those barriers ourselves?  Do we lack the faith to pursue those things we really want and create our own obstacles?

Imagine what we might accomplish if we truly believed we could not fail.  What might you try to do if you believed success was eminent.  If you look at the lives of truly successful men, you will see a common theme many times over.  This idea they possessed that they would inevitably succeed--that they couldn't possibly fail.  It was that passion and belief that fueled these men through all the difficulties along the way, and finally delivered them to the place they knew in the beginning they would eventually reach.

What do you want to do?  Do you truly believe you can?  Then why aren't you doing it today?


Todd E. Creason is the author of Famous American Freemasons: Volumes I & II where you'll find many other great stories about famous Freemasons.

ONE LAST SHOT: Sample Chapter 2

I'm going to take a few days off to enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday.  Here's another sample chapter of my novel to keep you entertained. 


Gryphon Tea Room
Savannah, Georgia
“Something seems to be on your mind today,” Ray Billings said casually, looking at Levi over the top of his teacup with his dark gray eyes. The cup looked tiny in his massive hands.

Levi said nothing at first. The remark surprised him since it was unlike Ray to pry. Ray set his teacup down and leaned back in one of the trademark orange wooden chairs of the Gryphon Tea Room. The chair creaked under his massive athletic build. In the morning light streaming through the front windows, his badge gleamed brightly from the pocket of his perfectly pressed khaki shirt

Ray, who was in his mid-fifties, kept his head shaved clean, but his most defining feature was a handlebar mustache, which he kept waxed and curled up at the ends—the kind of mustache not seen much anymore. Ray crossed his arms over his chest, looking confident that his assessment was correct.

“Why do you say that?” Levi replied.

“Levi, don’t bullshit a bull-shitter,” Ray said with a chuckle. “I’m a trained observer with more than twenty-five years experience. Little gets past me, as you should well know. When I pull over a teenager, I can tell by his mannerisms if he has beer in his trunk. I’m so good, in fact, I can usually guess how many.”

Levi grinned. Ray was good. He was often mystified by his friend’s powers of observation. He’d often thought of himself as Watson to Ray Billings’ Sherlock Holmes.

“You’re a wise man, Officer Billings. What gave me away? What little hint did I give you that something is wrong? ”

The giant man smiled broadly. His size and demeanor were intimidating, but when he smiled, all that melted away in an instant. He had a face people instantly trusted, a trait that served him well in his job.

“It was pretty easy, actually. You probably could’ve figured this one out yourself,” he said, chiding Levi.

“Really? So easy even I could’ve figured it out? Oh, please, share.”

The great observer thought for a moment about how he would reveal the answer.

“How long have we known each other, Levi?”

“I met you shortly after I moved to Savannah ten years ago.”

Gryphon Tea Room trademark orange chairs
“Has it been ten years since that night I caught you and that young lady in your car in the parking lot of the Crystal Beer Room? Come to think of it, you never did tell me what you and that girl were doing in that car.”

Levi grinned. “Nothing, thanks to you.”

“I believed your story.”

“That’s what you say now, but it sure didn’t stop you from running me in back then. And, by the way, I maintain the same story I told you then—I had no idea that young lady was a hooker.”

Ray shook his head, smiling at the memory, and continued, “And on that following Monday, I run into you here.”

“And I was thrilled to see my arresting officer again so soon. Of course, you invited yourself to join me at my table,” Levi said, sarcastically. “And you ate all my damned scones.”

Ray ignored him. “We get talking, and we become friends. And since then, we’ve met here just about every Monday”

“True,” Levi said. He had no idea where Ray was going with this.

“I’d say we’ve missed maybe one or two Mondays a year when you’re off on speaking engagements or frying chicken with Paula Deen on her show or signing books somewhere.” Ray often teased him about his celebrity. “So we’re talking about what? Five hundred Mondays all told that we’ve met here at the Gryphon?”

Levi nodded. “You’re pretty close.”

“And yet, when I came up behind you today and said ‘good morning’ as I always do, you jumped a damned foot. You didn’t expect to see me here on our regular meeting day. Now I know you come up here a few times a week, but your reaction means either you didn’t know it was Monday, or you are so preoccupied with something else you forgot it was Monday.”

As with Holmes and Dr. Watson, when the answer was revealed, it was always more obvious than expected.

“True,” Levi said, smiling and shaking his head.

“So what’s bothering you?”

Savannah Scottish Rite Temple looms above
Gryphon Tea Room
Levi’s smile faded. There were few men on earth he trusted more—maybe none. Ray had started out as a jack-ass cop, but he’d wound up as a friend and later a brother. Levi glanced down at his gold ring which featured a red stone with the gold square and compass emblem embedded in the stone. Ray wore a Freemason ring just like it. In fact, two stories up from where they were sitting at the Gryph, in a lodge room in the Savannah Scottish Rite Temple, Ray had raised his new friend a Master Mason. Levi had since become a 32° Scottish Rite Mason as well.

“I think life is about to change for me,” Levi said. “I’m forty-two years old, and I’ve been successful, but I’m hemorrhaging cash, and I think the cash cow is about to dry up.”

“Ah,” Ray said, “what a strange day. We’re on a topic we never discuss. We’re talking about your books—right?”

The strength of their friendship was based on the fact there were some things they never discussed. One topic that seldom came up was Levi’s books. Ray always got the feeling Levi wasn’t completely comfortable with his celebrity. Even upstairs, amongst his Freemason friends, Levi didn’t want to be known as “the famous writer.” He bristled every time someone introduced him that way or brought up the fact he was a published writer. Ray didn’t understand Levi’s reaction, but he respected his privacy.

Levi’s past was another topic they never discussed. Levi was very adept at steering conversations away from his history. Ray had picked up a few things over the years since Levi had occasionally let comments slip. For instance, Ray knew there were problems with his parents, and that Levi hadn’t been home in nearly two decades. And, of course, there was a ten-year gap between the time Levi had graduated from the University of Illinois and when Ray had met him—a blank slate about which Levi had never dropped even one hint. Ray knew he could find out more if he wanted to, but again he respected Levi’s privacy.

Ray leaned back in his chair, sipping tea as he listened to Levi’s story about the declining quality of his three books. He knew Levi was getting to the crux of the problem.

“The book I just published, Thou Art with Me isn’t very good. My agent tells me it will sell, but another crappy book will put me out of business for good.”

Ray finally leaned forward and looked Levi square in the eye.

“So you wrote two good books and one bad one. Write another good one,” he said simply. “Try harder. Spend a little less time chasing tail and a little more time writing books. I mean, that was the problem last time, right?”

Levi looked at him blankly. He’d just heard this same lecture from Wanda. When Levi didn’t say anything, Ray suddenly understood the real problem.

“Ah, I get it. It’s deeper than that, isn’t it. You, Mr. Garvey, are going through a mid-life crisis. You’ve reached that age when you begin to think your best years are behind you. You think you’ve already reached the peak of your craft, and everything to come will pale by comparison. Y0u don’t think you can write another good book.”

“Another good book?” Levi snorted. “That’s the problem, Ray. In all honesty, I’ve written only one good book. I spent years thinking about But for the Grace of God before I wrote it. I don’t mind saying it was a great book. The second book was a variation on the same theme—a cheap knock-off. The third book was another carbon copy. Every incarnation of that same theme has been a little weaker than the one previous. In truth, I’ve had only one brilliant idea and one good book. I’ve been plagiarizing myself ever since.”

Ray nodded. “You’ve been half-assing it because you never really believed that first book was anything but a fluke. You’ve been riding that success for all it’s worth. That’s why we don’t discuss your success—you don’t think you deserve it. And now that you’ve ridden it as far as you can, you realize it’s time to either put up or shut up, and you’re scared shitless. You don’t have another idea, and you aren’t convinced you’ll ever have one.”

Levi was stunned. Ray had nailed it.

Ray leaned forward and took a scone off the table. He took a large bite, then leaned back and chewed it as he eyed Levi. There was a long pause as Levi waited for more, but Ray had said what he wanted to say.

“So what do you think I should do? You can’t buy book ideas at Wal-Mart.”

“Well, think about it,” Ray said. “How did you get that first book idea? You said you thought about it for years. Where were you? What were you doing? What was the one experience you had that got you thinking about writing a book? You weren’t a writer when you got that idea, but once you got it, you couldn’t stop yourself from thinking about it. You were just going through life, and that one thing stuck. Right?”

Levi thought for a moment, then slowly nodded his head.

Suddenly, Wanda was there, her words echoing from their conversation an hour before—“Maybe you need to go back to the place where you got that first idea.”

“You’re a good friend, Brother Billings,” Levi said.

“Did I help?” Ray asked.

“Oh yeah,” Levi admitted. He reached for his Panama sitting the edge of the small table between them and picked up the newspaper he’d bought from the machine outside. “If you’re not doing anything, why don’t you come by tonight and bring a few beers. We’ll sit on the porch.”

“Sounds good. I’ll be there.”

One Last Shot will be released by Moon & Son Publishing in Spring/2010.
Copyright 2010 Todd E. Creason. All rights reserved.

Treat Yourself to a Good Read Over the Holidays

The nice thing about the holidays, is the quiet time, where you can sit down and enjoy a little time alone with a good book, and maybe a nice cup of cocoa in the front of the fireplace (or perhaps more realistically as you read at the kitchen table, sipping a beer as Spongebob Squarepants drones on in the background).  I read a lot more fiction this year than non-fiction--it's usually just the opposite.  In fact the last few years, I've read very little fiction, so I'm a little behind on my favorite authors.  Here's a few titles that stand out in my mind as being particularly good. 

Charles Finch is definitely on my favorites list--terrific author.  I've read two of his novels in the last few months (he has four at this point).  His first novel A Beautiful Blue Death was nearly impossible to put down.  His second book The September Society was a little different, and a bit slower paced, but well crafted.  They're just great reads, especially if you enjoy the era of Sherlock Holmes--the foggy gas-lit streets of London.  Finch weaves great stories.  I hope he continues with these.  Try him out.

You can hardly walk by a book rack without seeing Stieg Larsson's books.  It took me some time to finally get around to reading it.  So often books that receive that much hype are usually disappointing.  I'd have to admit, it took me some time to get into The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and I'd nearly put it down before I finally got caught up in it.  It did wind up being a very good book.  It's a little longer than it needs to be, but it's worth the effort.  I haven't read the other two yet, but they're definitely on my future reading list. 

This is one of those cases where they made a pretty crappy movie out of an excellent book.  And if you actually thought that movie was good, then read the book, because it's way better.  Shutter Island is chilling, and impossible to put down from the first few pages.  Some of Lehane's books I like, and some don't do much for me, but this one was outstanding.  I just loved it, but it one of those books that's probably best to read over lunch rather than right before you go to bed.

This is a newer series by Michael Connelly.  I finally got around to it.  It's a great character, and a real departure from Harry Bosch--Mickey Haller is a defense attorney that truly believes in justice.  The Lincoln Lawyer offers up a great plot, interesting characters, and all the twists and turns Michael Connelly is known for.  A very quick read.  You may remember this new character's name if you've read Connelly's Harry Bosch series--they're half-brothers.  Harry and Mickey will eventually get together in a couple books as this series continues.   

And C.S. Harris' Sebastian St. Cyr novels are good too.  I was a little behind in the series, but I've caught up this year.  I'd read the first two when they were originally released.  I would have to say some of the books are better than others, but they are all well done and worth reading.  Like Charles Finch's books, they take place in 19th century London. 

This is the short list.  I actually discovered a lot of new writers this year (at least new to me).  I get stuck in a rut sometimes, but I did a pretty good job of expanding my horizons somewhat.  If you try and like C.S. Harris, and Charles Finch, be sure to check out  Will Thomas.  His books seem destined for Hollywood.  They are fast paced, action adventures.  They are a little less realistic 19th century, and a little more escapist, bordering on the edge of what might be called steam punk fiction.  It's a little bit like James Bond in Victorian England. 

Enjoy your quiet time if you get any this holiday season.


Useful Holiday Tip #1: Genius Takes Many Forms

Don't you feel stupid now . . . I mean really, it's so simple.

Enjoy a Safe and Happy Thanksgiving!


Ben Franklin: Freemason Wisdom To Begin Your Week

"Do not squander time for that is the stuff life is made of."

~Benjamin Franklin

When we're very young, a summer vacation seemed like it lasted forever.  But as we get older, it seems like time moves more quickly, the seasons coming and going in a blur.  Before we know it, middle age is upon us, and old age is creeping right around the corner.  We begin to understand the value of time, and notice just how badly we spend it.  Those unfilled dreams of youth again come to our mind, and we begin to ask ourselves when we're going to get around to them, if ever.  It's always about time.  We're too busy to chase dreams, and live our lives. 

But are we too busy?  Ask yourself a question.  How are you spending your time?  Are you spending it wisely or are you squandering it on meaningless pursuits?  Are you spending your time on the things that are going to matter most to you when your reach the end of your journey or are you going to leave this world disappointed you weren't able to do more?  Old Ben Franklin understood life, and he was keenly aware of his own weaknesses.  He began each day with a catechism of his own design:  "I hold within me the power to do things differently today than I did yesterday." 


You like this?  Check back next Monday for another great quote from a famous Freemason.  This may wind up being a regular feature of the Toddz Spot blog

Missed My Chance! The Force Was Not With Me . . .

Lord Darth Creason????
I sure missed a really good opportunity recently.  I went over to get my official portrait taken that will hang on the wall at the Valley of Danville after I receive the 33rd degree.  I could have worn a tuxedo, but opted to wear a nice conservative black suit.  But then last week, I saw that the original Darth Vader costume had gone up for sale at Christy's Auction in London.  I've been kicking myself ever since.  Wouldn't that have been an awesome portrait?  I guarantee it would have been the only one like it at the Valley.  Or maybe that's not the best idea.  See, it's thoughts like this that kept me out of the really good schools.

Original Darth Vader costume being prepared for auction
at Christy's in London (see I didn't make that part up!)

Facebook Addiction? Really?

I was reading an article yesterday that said 1 in 4 Americans use Facebook, and the average amount of time they are using Facebook is 6 hours per week.  Six hours per week?  Holy crap!  That seems like a lot until you figure that's less than an hour a day!  If you're on Facebook six hours a week, you're spending about two weeks a year "liking" things, and ROFL and LOLing.  And I'm on there more than that.

So then I get thinking about what I'm getting out of Facebook.  Sure, you can keep up with your friends.  I get into some interesting and lively conversations.  I'm sometimes very amused with the exchanges I get into.  I've got a lot of very quick witted friends, and they put me to the test often.  I'll have to admit, it's great fun. 

But there's another side of it too.  Clive James was known for saying "Fiction is life with the dull bits left out."  Sometimes I think I know where the dull bits go--Facebook!  I catch myself doing it.  Posting meaningless remarks, and commenting on other people's meaningless remarks.  Commenting for the sake of commenting.  Surfing around in Facebook land for something interesting through mountains of stuff that's not that interesting when there's other things I could and should be doing.

So I'm going to give it up for a while.  Maybe I'll finally find a direction for this blog.  It's a real mess.  I haven't really found my blog niche.  But I think I know where I'm going now, so we'll see what happens with that.  Maybe I'll finally get serious about the next book project.  Do some reading.  There's a lot I could do with that time.

Imagine what you could do with an extra two weeks a year.  Think about it.  What are you really getting out of Facebook? 

Inventory Reduction Sale: Perfect Gift for the Mason on Your List!

I still have about ten copies of the very first edition of the first volume of Famous American Freemasons on hand.   These are the last of my first order back in 2007.  They've been sitting because the cover has since been updated.  In the next year these books will be republished through Moon & Son Publishing, so these Lulu editions are the last of that first edition.  These books were made long before there was a "Volume II" or even thoughts of a "Volume II" yet.  I'm cleaning out my office and they have to go.  $20.  I'll pay the shipping.  And I'll sign and personalize each copy.  And I'll try really hard to make it legible.

Contact me at  Give me your address.  How you want it signed (and be specific because I'm going to copy it word for word).   When they're gone, they're gone. 

Got a Book Lover On Your List: How About A Nook?

I'm not much of a gadget guy, nor am I an impulse shopper, but my wife lead me astray back in May, and suggested I might enjoy a Nook.  I'd thought about it, but had decided against it.  I'm a voracious reader, but I like reading real books.  There's a whole tactile side to reading I thought I'd miss.  But it was a fun idea, and it was near my birthday, so I bought one.  I got the 3G model so I could even get books from home out in the country during those inevitable winter snowstorms and power outages.  Valerie bought me a beautiful rich leather holder--it's as soft as a baby's butt according to a friend of mine. 

It couldn't be easier to use or understand, and after reading a couple chapters of my first Nook book, I was hooked.  It's been part of my standard equipment since--keys, wallet, phone, Nook.  It uses little power, and stays charged for a long time even with moderate to heavy usage.  I usually charge it once a week, and you can do that with a wall outlet, or through a USB port on your computer.  There's a few features I particularly love about it.  I like being able to re-size the font--a larger font makes it easier to read in the car, on the bus, or in low light.  The real-ink technology is amazing.  It's not like reading a book on a computer screen, it's like reading a book.  The words on the page look as sharp and crisp as a printed book.  But the Nook is not back-lit, which means you can't read in the dark, but unlike your cell phone or laptop screen, you can read a Nook just fine outside on a sunny day.  It's compact, and since you're only reading one page at a time, you can read with one hand.  Valerie and I were watching a guy today at lunch reading a book while eating a sandwich--he was trying to turn the pages with his chin.  It was hilarious.  If you're a reader there's little not to love about it, and you'll make the transition quickly. 

I think the thing I enjoy the most, is I can shop for books anywhere and anytime, and do all the same stuff I'd do in the Barnes & Noble store or on their website.  I can browse by subject or author, read a couple chapters, read reviews, etc.  And the Nook books are cheaper too.  And if you're an author, there's another reason to love electronic books--there's no print or production costs, so the author receives the lion's share of the royalties on electronic books.  Yes, I'm working on it now!  Soon my books will be available for Nook and Kindle.

There's a lot of things the Nook can do that I don't use.  You can search a book for a phrase, or highlight text.  Of course, the Nook remembers where you were in all the books in your library, so you never lose your place.  You can subscribe to magazines or newspapers and receive them on your Nook.  You can access the Internet on the 3G like mine.  You can load music on the Nook.  You can share books.  There's even games in there.  If you're a big magazine reader or read children's books on your Nook, I saw there is a full color version coming out in late November with the same real-ink technology. 

I'm not sure which book reader is the best.  I like the Nook.  I'm sure the Kindle and several others all do pretty much the same thing.  I've been a regular customer of Barnes & Noble for the past twenty years, so that's why I picked it.  I'm there all the time, and the Nook has a few special features you can use while you're visiting the store, including expanded browsing that allows you to read any book on the shelf of the store while you enjoy a cup of coffee in their coffee shop.  Very cool.

I can also tell you if you have a problem, they stand behind it.  I had one last week.  It was very traumatic for me.  I awoke to find my Nook completely dead.  I don't know what happened.  They don't know either.  I took it to the store expecting a hassle.  They got on the phone with the service people, and took care of it then and there.  Two days later, I received a new Nook in the mail, and shipped my old one back with the pre-paid label.  I didn't buy the service plan or they would have given me a new one right there in the store.  I was surprised how quickly they took care of it just with the standard warranty with no questions asked.  I charged the new Nook, logged into my B&N account, and all my books were there.  In five minutes I was back in business. I didn't realize how important that little gadget had become to me.  I love this damned thing.  That was a long two days. 

If there's somebody on your list that loves to read, this is the perfect gift.  And it would be great for a kid too.

ONE LAST SHOT: Sample Chapter


“Hey, Levi!” Brittany squealed through the window screen. “You’re going to be on TV!”

Levi Garvey was finishing his breakfast on the front porch of his Savannah townhouse. Sighing, he ignored her as he leaned back in his chair, sipped his coffee, and watched the early morning joggers and dog walkers on Pulaski Square. Dressed, as usual, in a cotton button-up shirt with the sleeves rolled up to the elbows, blue jeans, and tennis shoes, he took it all in from under the brim of his ever-present Panama.

The morning light in Savannah, Georgia, was especially breathtaking in Pulaski Square, one of the beautiful town squares in the historic district. The sun’s golden rays beamed down wherever it could find an opening through the live oaks draped in Spanish moss. The gauzy light illuminated the purple wisteria blossoms, the cobblestone sidewalks, and the palm trees. Early morning was Levi’s favorite time of day.

“Levi, come quick! You’ll miss it! They’re going to talk about your book,” Brittany called again from inside the house.

Glancing at his German shepherd who was sleeping at the top of the porch steps, he said, “Come on, Rosco. Let’s go see what Brittany is so excited about.”

The dog never flinched.

“Rosco!” he said louder.


Grinning broadly, Levi got up from his chair, walked over to Rosco, and nudged him with his foot. Rosco’s brown eyes blinked open. He raised his head and looked around slowly, not sure what had disturbed his nap. When he finally realized his master was standing behind him, his ears went up and his tail wagged, but he never got up.

“I just wanted to make sure you weren’t dead,” Levi said as he leaned down to scratch Rosco’s head. “You have to be the laziest dog I’ve ever seen. You’re good for nothin’.”

Levi walked across the porch to the screen door and disappeared into the house. Rosco looked after him for a moment, then put his head back down on his paws and fell asleep again.

* * *

Brittany was sitting on the arm of the couch, eating Lucky Charms right out of the box. She was the kind of girl most men dream of—young, blonde, and blue-eyed with a perfect tan on a perfect body. The slogan on the skin-tight t-shirt she was wearing described both her strengths and her weaknesses in one short statement—I wish these were brains.

“See, I told you,” she said, pointing at a morning news program.

A bit surprised to see Brittany was watching the news, Levi figured that she’d probably run across it by accident while looking for SpongeBob SquarePants.

The cover of his most recent book was on the screen behind the critic. Brittany smiled, her eyes blinking brightly as she munched on the cereal and watched the commentary.

“. . . and after reading his first book But for the Grace of God back in 1999, I truly believed Levi Garvey was well on his way to being one of America’s great writers. I found that same powerful storytelling ability and tense prose in his second book, Fear No Evil, in 2005. These were books readers not only enjoyed reading but also continued to think about long after they turned the last page. The popularity of his first two books skyrocketed again when they were adapted into blockbuster Hollywood movies. But after reading Garvey’s latest book, Thou Art with Me, I think it’s obvious that he’s lost his touch. This book has very little to offer fans of his previous books besides disappointment. Levi Garvey has gone from genius to hack in just three books.”

“Is hack better than genius?” Brittany asked.

“No, Brit. Being called a hack is not a good thing,” he said.

“Oh,” she said, cocking her head and looking a bit perplexed. The wheels turned ever so slowly. “So he didn’t like your book?”

“No, he agrees with everyone else that it sucks.”

Thinking that during the past few weeks had caused butterflies in his stomach to flutter. Saying it aloud caused him real pain.

Brittany’s short attention span was quickly whisked away by a buzzing sound. “Hey, your cell phone has been ringing every five minutes,” she said pointing to it as it vibrated on the coffee table.

Levi picked it up, glanced at the number, and shoved it into his pocket without answering it.

“I think I’ll take a walk, Brit. Maybe down to the Gryphon.”

As he walked towards the door, Brittany said, “Hey, Levi? What channel are the cartoons on again?”

I know that girl way too well, he thought as he shook his head and grinned. “Channel 162,” he called back over his shoulder as he walked out the screen door.

Rosco was still sleeping at the top of the porch steps—no big surprise.

“Rosco, you want to go for a walk?”

Rosco’s eyes opened sleepily, but he never raised his head. The answer was pretty clear.

“Suit yourself,” Levi said as he quickly descended the steps and walked out into Pulaski Square.

* * *

Levi loved walking in Savannah. He’d learned a lot about the history of the city in the past ten years. The city’s twenty-two squares in the historic district were just beautiful. In the center of each city square was a block-sized park with perfectly tended gardens, park benches, and of course the live oaks and Spanish moss for which the city was known—picturesque and historic places that were favorite sites for family picnics and weddings.

Many of the squares were named for famous Americans—Franklin, Washington, Greene, Warren, and Madison. However, one of the original squares, Liberty Square, was named after a founding principle of America. It was a parking lot now. Levi considered it ironic that Liberty Square was one of two original squares lost, since liberty was so often sacrificed in the name of progress.

Many of the squares featured fountains, statues, and memorials, each as visually stunning as it was rich in history. Most of the houses, churches, and buildings surrounding the squares were original. The squares were often used in Hollywood films, especially those that were set during the Civil War era. One of Levi’s favorite movies, one set in modern times, had also been filmed there. He wasn’t too far away from the square where Forrest Gump had sat on a park bench, waiting for a bus while telling the story of his remarkable life to those waiting with him.

Savannah’s historic district was an American success story. After decades of neglect, many of the oldest, most historic blocks in Savannah had fallen into disrepair—the district becoming a ghost town with block after block of abandoned mansions and townhouses from America’s past boarded up and forgotten. It was only through the dedication of the Savannah Historic Society that many of the houses were saved through renovation and restoration. In order to own one of the historic homes, owners had to agree to maintain them exactly as they were when they were built. Savannah’s historic district had gone from an abandoned relic to a thriving community again. The great success story of its historic renovation had encouraged many more historic cities to do the same thing.

Levi’s townhouse on Pulaski Square was part of that success story. His home looked exactly as it had when it was built in 1844. Inside, however, it had all the modern conveniences along with five bedrooms, three baths, original fixtures, and hardwood floors—all that for a hefty price tag he could afford thanks to his first two books and the movies that followed.

As he cut across the square, Levi’s phone chirped in his pocket. A text message. Reluctantly, he pulled out the phone, then he froze as he read the message: U better answer!

“Oh, shit,” Levi said.

It was Wanda Sterling, his agent. And she was angry. He’d been dodging her calls for a couple weeks. If he kept dodging her, he knew she’d show up in Savannah.

Seconds later, the phone vibrated in his hand, startling him. That was quick, he thought. He sat down on a park bench, stared at the phone reluctantly for a moment, then answered. “Hello, Wanda,” he said.

Wanda never said hello, and she never said goodbye. She said what she had to say, and when she was done with the conversation, she hung up. That was her style.

“What the hell is wrong with you?” she snapped.

Levi knew her well enough to say nothing. He heard her inhale deeply. He could almost see her in New York, sitting at her desk behind mountains of paper, chain-smoking and slugging coffee. She was one of the most successful agents in the business, and she was not a woman easily ignored, especially since she’d been in publishing longer than he’d been alive—a fact she reminded him of often.

“I don’t know what the hell you’ve been doing,” she said, “but you picked a hell of a time to go off the radar. You don’t show up for two signings, you miss an important interview, and your publisher is not very happy about it.”

“I’m sorry,” Levi said. “I figure I’ve written my last book. Right?”

She sighed. “Although the critics hate Thou Art with Me, your adoring readers are buying it by the tens of thousands. This book could actually wind up being another bestseller for you. Don’t get me wrong. We both know it was terrible, but as long as it sells, Moon & Sons is willing to move on. You’ll lose a few readers, but you can easily come back after one bad book—you just can’t come back after two. You have one last shot, Levi, so don’t waste it. Write another clunker, and you’re done. You’ll never see your name on the new release shelf in a bookstore again.”

“I don’t know if I can write another book, Wanda,” Levi said flatly. “I’ve been thinking about it. I don’t think there is another book in me. I should’ve never written the last one.”

Silence. He heard her take a drag off her cigarette. He heard her sip coffee.

“You don’t really have a choice in this, Levi. You’re going to write another book,” she said gruffly. “You and I have a contract, not to mention the publishing contract with Moon & Sons. Like it or not, I do expect you to write one more book to satisfy your obligations. Now it’s up to you whether you write a good book or another bad one. Look at this as an opportunity to redeem your tarnished reputation as a writer.”

Leaning back on the park bench, Levi pushed his hat back on his head. “I don’t know, Wanda,” he said, shaking his head.

“You can do this. I’ve seen this a thousand times. You’ve just let yourself get swept up by the fame and fortune, and the most important thing, the writing, has suffered. I’ve seen lots of writers pull out of a slump and go on to write great books again.”

Ah, the inspirational speech, Levi thought.

“I don’t know what you need to do to get back to that place where you can write a great book. If you’re drinking, then stop drinking. If you don’t drink, then maybe you should start up. Maybe you need a new age-inappropriate girlfriend—or do that Hugh Hefner thing and get two more girlfriends. Maybe you need to go back to the place where you got that first idea. Whatever it is, you need to start thinking about the next book right now. Are you listening to me, Garvey?”

“I hear you,” Levi said.

He took off his Panama hat and wiped the sweat off his forehead. His hand was shaking slightly. It was suddenly very warm in Pulaski Square.

“Then stop all this self-pity garbage and get back to work,” she snapped. “You’re a gifted writer. That should be obvious considering the quality of your agent. Believe in yourself.”

“You’re right, Wanda.” He said the words, but he wasn’t sure he really believed them.

“And, Levi.”


“If you think you have problems now, you try ignoring my calls again. Don’t think for a minute I won’t come down there.”

Levi couldn’t think of anything more unpleasant than a personal visit from Wanda.

“I’m sorry, Wanda, I’ve been—”

But the phone was dead. Wanda was done speaking, and the conversation was over. He stared at the phone for a moment before putting it back into his pocket. He could feel his heart pounding in his chest and the pain in his stomach. It’s all coming undone. There isn’t another book in me, he thought.

Levi glanced around the square, trying to decide if he was going to walk back to the house or finish his walk to the Gryphon Tea Room as he’d originally planned. The Gryph, as he called it, was one of his favorite places to think.

He got up and began walking towards Bull Street where the Gryphon Tea Room was on the first floor of the Savannah Scottish Rite Temple.

One Last Shot will be released by Moon & Son Publishing in Spring 2010.  Copyright 2010 Todd E. Creason.  All rights reserved.

The Cover of One Last Shot!

I knew I wouldn't be able to wait.  I was going to wait until December to release the cover image, but as soon as I got it Wednesday, I wanted to get it out.  The back cover is very cool too--maybe I'll save that.  Anyway, from the creative genius of graphic artist Brion Sausser, here's the cover for One Last Shot.  I couldn't be more happy with it.

Moon & Son Publishing (February 2011), 5.25 x 8 x 1.2 inches,
 326 pages, ISBN 978-0-9831156-0-1

One Last Shot Scheduled for Release in Early 2011

Close-up of element for One Last Shot cover
by graphic artist Brion Sausser
Description of One Last Shot from publisher:

Levi Garvey, the best-selling author of two novels, is at a crossroads. His third novel has been widely criticized as a flop. His celebrity lifestyle is falling apart, but he fears there isn’t another book in him. Because the creative well has gone dry, he realizes it’s time to figure out the next phase of his life.

Levi heads home to the small rural town of Twin Rivers, Illinois, for the first time in two decades to settle his grandmother’s estate and to attend his 25th high school reunion. It isn’t long before he’s reunited with the only woman he’s ever truly loved, Tori Buchanan. Then the unexpected happens. He gets the spark of an idea. As he works on it, he knows it could very well become his next novel. But as Levi researches this new novel, he stumbles upon a decades-old secret—a secret that will inexplicably change his life and the peaceful little town of Twin Rivers forever.
As we get closer to the release of the book in upcoming weeks, I'll be putting up a few chapter excerpts from One Last Shot for your enjoyment.

And also, as soon as I get it, the complete interview I did a couple weeks ago from my favorite table at my favorite watering hole (which also served as the model for "The Beer Chaser," a location in my novel.)  She's got the difficult task of making sense of it, and putting into into some kind of cohesive form.  I've been calling the interview "the Beer Summit" but I doubt she goes with that for some reason.  I could be wrong.

And of course, it won't be long, and I'll be ready to unveil Brion Sausser's great cover art.  The above art piece is just a single element in the finished cover, and even it wasn't complete.  I haven't seen the final version yet, but the few glimpses I've had are outstanding.  I can't hardly wait to see it.