My Year In Review . . .

I've begun a very long and much needed vacation.  I don't know how often I'll be posting during this vacation, but there is a good chance it won't be with the same regularity I usually do.  So I thought I'd wrap up the year by looking back on what has been a very remarkable year for me . . . don't worry, I'll just hit the highlights.

Published My First Novel

I've wanted to write a novel for years--and I've tried a few times. It isn't as easy as you might think. Most of those earlier attempts are still gathering dust in my file cabinet.  But that was about to change.  I got an idea for a novel on a long drive home from a meeting in 2009.  It was an idea that was brand new for me, and by the time I arrived home, I knew I had something.  I worked on it all night, and by morning when my wife got up, I was sitting at the kitchen table with a cup of coffee and a rough outline of a novel called One Last Shot.  About a year-and-a-half later (Spring 2011) I published it.  It became so popular so quickly, that I immediately began a second novel--a follow-up to the first.  I'd actually gotten the idea for the second novel while I was editing the first.  The second novel, A Shot After Midnight, will be released in Spring of 2012.

I Got Fired, And Then Sentenced To Life The Same Day

I finished my term as Worshipful Master at my lodge. I had mixed feelings about it.  I enjoyed my time in the East a great deal. Many are relieved when their term as Master is over, but I would have gladly done another year.  We did a lot of interesting things the year I was in the East, perhaps my favorite of these events was sponsoring the play "December's Rose" at our lodge, and using the proceeds to help a local family.

But, the members of my lodge had a plan for me after all--they elected me Secretary.  So now I have a job for life (unless I really mess up.) 

The 33rd Degree

The cap ceremony at the Valley of Danville (IL)
It goes without saying that receiving the 33rd Degree is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It's not likely I'll ever forget that trip to Chicago in August.  Receiving the 33rd Degree is without question one of the greatest honors I've ever received.  We had so much fun, we ate some great meals, and made many new friends.  It's also the first time Valerie and I had a few days alone since our four-year-old was born (she stayed with her grandparents that week).  There are all kinds of pictures of that weekend posted here. You just never know where life is going to take you, but I can honestly say, I certainly never thought I'd be considered for such a great honor.  I certainly never dreamed where my writing would lead when I started writing the Famous American Freemasons books back in 2006, but the idea it might one day lead to a white cap certainly never crossed my mind. 

The first weekend of November, I received the last part of that honor--the white cap from the Valley of Danville.  As is the tradition in my Valley, Valerie had the priveledge of putting the cap on me (as Katie watched).  That guy in the purple hat standing off to the right is the Illustrious James L. Tungate, 33, our valley Active member of the Supreme Council.  Jim has become a very good friend of mine, so I asked him to write the introduction of Famous American Freemasons: Volume II, which he did.  It was a terrific introduction, and Valerie claims it added a much needed "touch of class" to my books (I don't know what that was supposed to mean). 

I should also mention that Bro. Tungate received a big honor recently, too--he was elected Grand Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite (NJ). It's a big honor, and much deserved--congrats Bro. Tungate!

Two Day Booksigning At Illinois Grand Lodge

Brian "Rooster Cox & Todd E. Creason signing books
Our outgoing Grand Master, Richard L. Swaney, gave me and another Masonic writer Brian "Rooster" Cox a unique opportunity at our Grand Lodge's Annual Meeting in Springfield (IL).  Grand Master Swaney gave us a table, and for two days, Rooster and I talked to Masons all over the state about our books, about writing, and about publishing. We had a lot of fun doing it, and on the second day, our wives and our kids came and joined us. And we might have been having a bit too much fun--our corner was said to be the noisiest one there.  It wasn't all us--we had plenty of help turning that corner of the lobby into a circus. Brian and I went back and worth all weekend, and he even remarked that I shouldn't be surpirsed if he didn't make me a villian in his next book. But be careful, Brian, two can play that game. But it was certainly a fun weekend, and a nice family trip for us. 

Helped Charter a New Chapter of High Twelve

Now this one hasn't happened yet, but we're well on our way.  There was a group of local Freemasons that work at the University of Illinois that were getting together every so often for lunch.  Sometimes we had five or six, and other times there were just three of us.  But we got talking about doing something more with our little unofficial lunch club--maybe use it as a means of networking with other Freemasons in the area, or to use the club to introduce perspective Masons to other Freemasons in a more social setting.  So we started meeting more regularly, and inviting more people to join us for these lunches.  By our second meeting, we had enough we started thinking about chartering a High Twelve chapter.  Well, the state representatives for Illinois High Twelve joined us at our last meeting, and we're well on our way to chartering the Illini High Twelve.  And it was a great honor for me to be named the Illini High Twelve's first President!

A New Novel Is Coming!

I've been getting a lot of emails asking about when the sequel to One Last Shot will be released.  One thing I do plan on finishing during my vacation is my second novel A Shot After Midnight.  The first big round of editing is done.  I'm working my way through the second edit now, and then there will be one more round, just to catch anything we missed, and to finish fine tuning.  We are right on schedule for a Spring 2012 release.  It's looking like possibly April at this point.  And this story is a doozey--I think it's even better than the first novel.

What Next?

This is going to be tough year to beat without a doubt, but I plan to get to work on the last volume of the Famous American Freemasons series this year.  I'm also planning on working on a few articles and pieces this year--in fact, the first of these will be published soon in The Working Tools Masonic Magazine.  And there's another idea for a possible third novel too.  We'll just see where this next year takes us.

I hope you all have a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year!


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