Monday, December 7, 2009

Your Easiest Christmas Gift

Merry Christmas!

Okay, we've still got three weeks to go, but it's snowing outside and the family is getting ready to put up our Christmas decorations.

So I've got a gift for you.

Well, not exactly for you.

My novel, The Sacred Cipher, just jumped over 80,000 positions on the sales list. I don't know what's going on but, obviously, it's going up.

A week ago I checked the webpage for The Sacred Cipher (listed below). The page has the basic info for the book, how to buy, reader reviews (16 now ... 15 either four or five stars! What are you waiting for. Join the fun). And it also lists where The Sacred Cipher ranks in sales compared to all the other books on Last week The Sacred Cipher was ranked 169,843 in the sales list.

Today ... hey, we've jumped to 83,381 in sales! What a jump. Yeah ... there's a few more books to hurdle before we can challenge Dan Brown's latest. And these sales rankings change regularly. But, hallelujah, we're moving in the right direction.

So, in celebration of this good news and the coming celebration of Jesus' birth, here's a gift .... for somebody you really care about.

Contact someone you know who is a reader. Have that person send me an email at with their mailing address. All of those who respond will be entered in a drawing that will be held on December 10. Blindfolded, I'll select five people who responded and they will win a free, autographed copy of The Sacred Cipher. I'll mail the books on Dec. 10th so they will show up in plenty of time for Christmas.

It's as easy as that. Merry Christmas! Hey, if you're slick enough, you might even be able to cross someone off your gift list.

Sorry, if you're on my mailing list already, you're not eligible. But all your friends and family are.

So distribute this invitation. Strike while the iron is hot. The early bird gets the worm. And five who respond to this contest will receive an early Christmas gift.

Merry Christmas to all ... and to all a good night.


The Sacred Cipher can be purchased on


Christian Book

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

And now, for the rest of the story

And now, for the rest of the story …

I have a dear friend, husband of a former colleague, who has spent a significant portion of his life working for a highly regarded, multi-national, faith-based organization fighting poverty, disease and injustice throughout the most tangled and torn corners of this earth.

For most of his tenure, he travelled extensively and spent long stretches of time in one impoverished part of the world or another, spearheading the “justice and mercy” arm of this international ministry. Son of a diplomat, he spent much of his time overseas interacting with and trying to influence the leaders and decision-makers of the world’s hot spots.

He is a man of substance and discernment … and boots-on-the-ground experience.

He sent me an email this morning, in response to The Insomnia Special I sent out last night. His words are worth considering:

“As you know I have a great passion and professional investment in
international affairs. Coverage of Iran in Foreign Policy, Foreign
Affairs, the Economist, International Crisis Group among others may
fill out the gaps in the caricatured picture that Rosenberg draws.

“It's irresponsible to say 'Iran's the enemy'. Lest we forget, millions
of young, reform-minded Iranians poured into the streets a few weeks
ago, risking life and limb to protest against Ahmadinejad and his
thugs. There is an opposition worth supporting (and praying for) in
Iran. We would commit the same error as the extremists if we declared
war on the Iranian people.

“The actual situation is exponentially more complicated and nuanced
than Joel Rosenberg wants us to believe. The solutions are many,
varied, and do not need to involve pre-emptive warfare.

“As Christians we have a responsibility to arm ourselves with the
truth. Jesus warns us to "Be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.”

It didn’t take long for me to take a step back … and send a response, part of which is below:

I really appreciate your thoughtful answer and gentle admonishment. Too often I think like a novel writer. You are right in bringing me back to a more balanced view of the world. Thanks again. I deeply appreciate your wisdom, clarity and friendship.

And then it wasn’t long before he responded in kind.

“Anytime brother. "Like iron sharpens iron, so one brother sharpens another." Proverbs 27:17 Let us seek the Lord to sharpen us together.

“I am by no means an expert on Middle East issues, but I have been a student of international conflict for the last 15 years and by God's grace I've had a front-row seat on many conflicts around the world. I literally did sit in the front row of the UN Security Council audience when Colin Powell briefed the Council on Iraq. Things are rarely as simple as the media or entertainment worlds have the capacity to convey.”

It’s a bit bracing when your ignorance is revealed. Perhaps there are others who, like me, have only a surface understanding of a critically important issue for the future of our world – the Islamic Revolution and its impact on Western culture.

Perhaps it’s time we learned more. This is not an age for the simple.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

How To Lose Sleep

If you want to bring on a sever case of insomnia, read the first two pages of Joel Rosenber's new book, Inside the Revolution.

How about a little excerpt:

"Iran's senior leaders have taught in recent years that the (Islamic) Revolution is now reacing its climax ... that the end of the world is "imminent" ... (they) have vowed to annihilate the United States and Israel, and have urged Muslims to envision a world without America and Zionism. They have come to believe that Allah has chosen them to create chaos and carnage on the planet.

"The key leaders in Iran seem hell-bent on accomplishing their apocalyptic, genocidal mission. They are feverishly trying to build, buy or steal nuclear weapons. Iran is actively testing advanced ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear warheads. Tehran is building alliances with Russia, China and North Korea - all nuclear-armed powers ...

"Iran's leaders are building a network of thousands of suicide bombers ready to strike American targets ... are harboring scores of al Qaeda terrorists ... are digging hundreds of thousands of new graves in Iran itself to bury the enemies of Islam. They are calling for the unification of the Islamic world.

"Put simply, the leaders of Iran believe that Allah is on their side, the wind is at their back, and the end of the Judeo-Christian civilization as we know it is near.

"If, in (God's) sovereignty, He chooses not to remove the Radicals from Iran peacefully, then I believe a major, cataclysmic war, or series of wars, is coming soon ... The question we all must be asking is not if there will be war with Iran, but when it will begin and who will strike first."

Okay, I've been keeping a weather eye (old nautical term) on Iran and the nut balls pulling the strings over there. I believe they are after nukes, want to smear the Israelis off the face of the earth and have the good old USofA in their crosshairs.

Iran is the enemy - whether we like it or not. They've picked us. We haven't picked them.

But war ... the possibility of nuclear war ... seems so absurd that my rational mind immediately dismisses the possibility.

Until you understand one point. In radical Islam, the individual is not important. The Revolution is important. Individuals are expendable. So one million people died - gassed with biological weapons or slaughtered in massive human assault waves - in the last, eight-year-long, Iran-Iraq war.

How much more damage could a radicalized Iran do with a nuclear-tipped ballistic missle - or dozens of them? If you believe Rosenberg, we will either soon find out ... or soon take them out.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

In the Halls of Barnes & Noble

Hey, if any of you guys are getting bored (or bugged) by these email newsletters, please let me know and I’ll take your name off the list.

So, after my friend Matt Farinelli shared his Barnes & Noble story, here are a few more.

Some of the news is good … some disheartening. Just remember, each B&N manager has a lot of discretion in how and which books are displayed in their stores. So even though the sales agreement may say ‘main aisle placement’, it’s often just a suggestion, not a requirement.


My wife, Andrea, and I spent all day Saturday going to almost every Barnes & Noble in Manhattan. We were armed with hundreds of Sacred Cipher post cards, a very good pen, and the knowledge that an author can ask to sign the store stock and the store will put a green "Autographed Copy" sticker on the front of the book. Also, the largest B&N stores in the nation were scheduled to promote The Sacred Cipher with a table placement in the 'main aisle' between August 11 and 24.

So we'd go into a store and I'd say to Andrea, "Now, we won't ask to sign the books until we can find the display in the main aisle and you can get a picture of me with the books on the display table."

But not one of the stores had the book on display. Not one.

At most Barnes & Noble stores, the Christian Fiction rack is in the farthest, backest, leasest corner of the store, and usually comes after the Gay and Lesbian, and the Middle Eastern Mystic sections. Farthest, backest, leastest can be the basement, or the top floor or around the corner, down the hall, out the back door and around the block (well, maybe not that far).

In every store we did the 'search the store' thing, looking for the table display promotion. In every one, we ended up in the farthest, leasest, backest. And there it was, on the shelf.

So, like any self-respecting author who wants to sell books, Andrea and I went to the good, old, Customer Service Desk, presented my card and one of the 5,000 promotional post cards I got from Kregel, and asked if I could sign the store stock. "Sure," they said. "We'll just go and get them."

Which gave me the opening I was looking for.

"Oh, where are they? On the shelf? Oh, well, aren't they supposed to be in a table placement promotion in the main aisle? At least that's what I've been told. There's supposed to be a promotion between August 11 and August 24th, right?"

So they would go to their computer, tap a few keys, find The Sacred Cipher, click on 'Promotion' and up would pop ... what do you think? ... "Table Placement Promotion - main aisle."

And, in all but one store, they said, "Oh ... it's supposed to be on display." So they did. Now, each store displayed it differently. And I don't think it ever made the main aisle - you know, the one with tables filled with all the best-seller book names.

But, hey, I was just happy to get out of the backest, farthest, leasest. And into the light of day.

So, once the book was out where people could find it, Andrea and I went out and stood outside the front door of the B&N store and handed out my Sacred Cipher promotional postcards to people entering the store.

Now, in New York City, you get darn tired of people trying to shove something into your hand nearly every day of the week. So I was skeptical of how well this would work. But it did. You know why? Because the cover of the book is soooooo interesting, people would be rushing past, take a look, slow, look again, then take the card. All the while I'm giving them my sales pitch.

And a number of people even turned back to me, smiled, and said "Thanks."

Can you imagine that! In New York City?

Here’s the funny part. We must have given out - maybe - 200 ... 300 postcards over the course of the day? And you know what the total number of copies the stores had? 40! All together, in all of Manhattan, B&N stores had 40 copies.

So ... man ... I hope we created a BIG demand here in NYC. A demand that will get filled, even if B&N runs out of copies.


Here’s an experience my friend, Stew, had in Florida:

Just a note to say I bought Sacred Cipher for a friend in the B&N in The Villages here in FL. It appeared to be the last one, but I was disappointed to see it in Christian Fiction. The Customer Service person found it for me.

I told her they would sell more if placed in the section with Dan Brown's book. She was not responsive to that comment.


And this, from my sister-in-law in New Jersey:

My friend, Pat, needed a new coffee table & asked me to go with her to Raymour & Flanigan in Exton, PA.

Pat & I were greeted at the door by a very nice young lady named Angela, a Home Furnishings Consultant. As she was writing up the sale in the computer, I asked if we had enough time to go across the road to Barnes & Noble to see if my brother-in-law's book was on display. Angela was curious & asked the name of the book & what it's about. When I said, "The Sacred Cipher" by Terry Brennan, she said, "I've seen that book on Dan Brown's website."

I happened to have a copy of the brief synopsis that was posted on the Internet. I gave her a quick narrative about your background & that you are a first-time published author. When I read it, she got very excited & said, "Oh, I definitely have to buy this book".

(Neither the B&N in Exton, nor one in Marlton, NJ, had the book on display)

Please send me some of the postcards so I can give them to my friends & relatives. It seems that word of mouth, e-mails & blogs just might be as powerful as having the book in stores.


Okay, so mabe it's not shelved near Dan Brown's book in the Barnes & Noble, but each of you can go to (as I did) and click on what book you think The Sacred Cipher is most like ... or what author. If you click on Dan Brown, whenever someone goes to look for his book, Sacred Cipher should also pop up as, "People who bought this book also liked ....."


Here's an excerpt from a new review. Betty Bantz reviews more than a dozen books a month on her website. This one is short ... but oh, so sweet.

"Truly this is an epic of Raiders of the Lost Ark proportion, only better. Its historic integrity is phenomenal, the pace superb. And the ending is more than satisfying, more than plausible; I can’t wait to see if it actually takes place in the very near future, ushering in the second coming of Christ Jesus.

Action adventure at its best, I highly recommend Terry Brennan’s debut novel The Sacred Cipher. It’s the best book I’ve ever read, bar none."

Thanks a bunch for all your help.


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Making Waves on the Left Coast



Dear Terry,

So here's how it all went down:

Yesterday, we decided to take the kids out and go to the bookstore, a favorite past time for my four-year old, Caleb. I figured it would be a good opportunity to grab my copy of "The Sacred Cipher" and snap a few pictures of it on the display. So we get to the Barnes & Nobles Bookstore in Tustin, CA, I send the wife & kids off to the children's book room and begin my search. To my disappointment, I did not find the book on any of the main book displays in the front of the store. So I strolled back to "Christian Fiction" and still, no Sacred Cipher. So, at this point, I'm a little nervous and conjuring up many scenarios as to why this book is nowhere to be found, "perhaps B&N didn't get the memo?", "perhaps the release is only on the East Coast?", "am I too late?"....lots of questions and only one place to go to find the answer - The Customer Service Desk!

So I arrive at an empty customer service desk, wait the customary New York minute for someone to show up, then, in a manner only displayed by a transplanted New Yorker, I grab the computer terminal from behind the desk and begin my book search. Well, a few minutes into my hacking (passwords to those systems are usually quite easy to guess), I retrieve the records for "The Sacred Cipher" by Terry Brennan, and, to my surprise, the computer flashes that the book is "On Display: Trade Paperback: Floor Display: Christian Fiction". Arrgghhh, I was just there and the book was most certainly not on display! At this point, I'm about ready to get "management" involved! Well, it was only a few seconds into my thoughts that a very stern "Ah-hem" came from behind me with a pleasant, but clearly annoyed, inquiry from the multiply-pierced, oddly hair-colored goth-inspired reference lady of, "That terminal is for employees only. Can I help you find something??" Caught. I shoot a glance over at the front door and, to my relief, the rather plump security guard is fixed in need to execute any daring escape maneuvers.

"Sure," I said, flashing a grin of one who knows they've just been caught but hopes to change the conversation as quickly as possible. "I'm looking for this book, the computer says it's in the store, but I can't find it. Any thoughts?" Clearly not impressed with my charm, the young lady clad in black wrests the computer from my hands, taps in her own sacred cipher, hits the return key and, after the annoying little hour glass spins for a bit, scans the codes. Her eyes widen with understanding a bit and, without even looking up at me, says "Oh yeah, that book. We had copies of that out for display, but they're all sold." My worst fears confirmed, I was too late! "Wait here," she says firmly, breaking my thoughts of despair, "and please don't touch anything. I'll go in the back and see if there are any left."

A few minutes pass and a line is now forming behind me. I wait nervously as the clock ticks away and notice that Christine is flagging me from the children's room giving the shrugged shoulder look of "hey, what the heck are doing standing there, can I get some help in here with the kids???" I give her the finger (the raised pointer finger) asking for one more minute then I would come to the rescue. Well, the lady strolls back to the customer service desk with two copies of "The Sacred Cipher" under her arms and she says to me in a rather plodding voice, "You're in luck. These two were being held behind the register for a customer but they left without buying them. My manager said it was ok to give you a copy. You want one or both?" "One will be fine," I said.

So, in the end, I got my copy of The Sacred Cipher. However, I now wish I had gotten the other copy as well because my mother-in-law, who is a voracious reader, snagged a look at my copy last night and informed me that I'd better hide it lest it disappear to her bedroom for a few days....So, sales of The Sacred Cipher are brisk out here on the left coast!

I'm on chapter 8 right now and it's hard to have to put it down. As you know, parenting requires that we interrupt the simple pleasures in life to go deal with the latest mishap our little ones get far, a real page-turner! And that's from a guy who doesn't read nearly as much as he should and is a slow reader at best. Can't wait to hit that last page....

Blessings from the land of sunshine,

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Sell Out Amazon!

The content below went out last weekend as a newsletter to my mailing list. So it's a few days old.

But this isn't. It's hot off the presses.

I just checked again and guess what? They only have three more copies of The Sacred Cipher in stock!

Way to go, gang! Somebody out there is making a difference.

Let's keep up the momentum. LET'S SELL OUT AMAZON.COM Go for it.


Hey … I just checked Amazon. In the last few days The Sacred Cipher has gone from about 440,000th on the Amazon sales list to 38,800th on the list. We are zippin’. Let’s keep it going.

It was this weekend four years ago when I first visited the Philadelphia Christian Writer’s Conference with an idea. That idea now sits on one of the tables in the bookstore at this year’s conference. It is a very cool … but very surreal … experience to see the book where it all started.
In 2006 I came here with an idea; in 2007 with a finished manuscript and – ultimately – got connected to an agent; in 2008 I came here one month after a publishing house (Kregel) told us they wanted to buy the book; and this year I’ve brought the just-released novel back to its spawning grounds.
Through those years I’ve learned a lot about writing, about editing what you’ve written to make it better, and about myself. One painful thing I’ve learned is that pride is still a snare I too easily fall into.
This year I come with a longing to find balance in my life so I can get back to writing. I’m here to pay back some of what’s been invested in me, but also to re-ignite my enthusiasm for the work of writing and to search for the discipline I need to make the time to write.
But this week … this month … the work is really marketing.
It was eight days ago that The Sacred Cipher was officially launched by Kregel Publications. Currently, there are at least two “blog tours” occurring on the Internet. If you Google The Sacred Cipher you will likely come up with a lot of hits from some of the bloggers on the tour. Some have written reviews of the book, some author interviews, some just a blog posting about the book, often with the first chapter. So, this is great publicity.
I haven’t read all of the book reviews yet, but some of them I’ve seen have just been wonderful. There is a mother of six kids in Nebraska who said she was so engrossed in the book that she stayed up until 3:00 a.m. one morning to finish it. But I’ve been sobered by discovering that, often, when a blogger puts up a posting about the book, but doesn’t include a review, it’s because they didn’t like the book. I’ve seen a couple of those, too. So … we remain humble.
Still, this is a very exciting time. And I have to continually remind myself to celebrate in it. It really is very cool.
The special promotion in Barnes & Noble begins in four days … August 11 … and continues through August 24. The Sacred Cipher will be featured with a table placement in the main aisle of the largest Barnes & Noble stores in the nation. This is a great honor, and very unusual for a novel from a first-time author.
So, if you have a decent sized Barnes & Noble in your neighborhood, please go and visit, ask where the book is, let them know you’re there for The Sacred Cipher. If it’s your desire, purchase a copy – or two.
And … if I may … we can all really make a huge difference right now.
If you are thinking about buying the book – or recommending it to your neighbor or family – please do it now. The first week … the first 30 days … are critical in determining the ultimate success of a book’s sales. If there is an immediate spike in sales, if there is a significant demand and growing interest, both book stores and media drivers like sit up and take notice. And, if we can stir up a huge swell of interest, books can jump onto the best-seller list very quickly – even if only for a week – if there is a big, short-term, spike in sales.
You can also call your local library and ask them to secure some copies of The Sacred Cipher and add them to their shelves.
If you can, do it now.
And, if you want to recommend the book to your family or friends, I have 5,000 Sacred Cipher post cards that were provided by Kregel. If you would like some, let me know and I’ll mail them out to you. In addition to helping build the ‘buzz’ for The Sacred Cipher, it will help to clear out a couple boxes of post cards from my office.
Thanks to all of you for your encouragement – and your willingness to read these newsletters as we’ve gone on this journey together.
And if you don’t want to receive these newsletters, please let me know and I’ll remove you from the mailing list.
One week and counting … thanks so much.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Launch Day

Friday was the official launch day for The Sacred Cipher. Even though the book has been available at Barnes & Noble for more than two weeks, and has been shipping for a couple of weeks, it was still the day set by Kregel Publishing. So it was worth celebrating.

About 25 close friends gathered at our assistant pastor's house for food, fun and fellowship ... and a reading from this newly minted author. This was my first. I kept worrying I was being too long-winded, but everybody appeared to stay with me. And there were even so very thoughtful questions after the reading. Then more than an hour of book signings. You know, with friends there is always so much more to write than simply "thanks". So many of those folks have walked with us through so much over the last four years.

Then we get home from church today and what do I find waiting for me? There will be a "blog tour" occuring through the early weeks of August (I don't even know for sure what a blog tour is) with at least 80 bloggers participating with book reviews or author interviews. Well, one of the bloggers shared her review early with the folks at Kregel Publications. So they sent it along to me.

Here's the link:

This is pretty crazy stuff.

Thanks to all of you who have been so supportive and encouraging during this amazing journey.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

A Big Delivery!

Hi, Gang ...

I'm sitting here holding my book. My book!

Our book! The Sacred Cipher. Right here in my hands.

Andrea's Book! She got the first one out of the box.

Tears ... a knot at the crook of my throat ... a deep, fantasy-land breath. A knowing smile ... a shiver of the shoulders ... the longing glance of a lover.

Like giving birth, I guess. Without the pain.

This is Miranda's book. Dawn's book. Cat's book ... all the great folks at Kregel. Rachelle's book, too ... my agent.

I wrote them a note, including: "God is good. But He also uses good people to do His work. Thank you for helping us give birth. Thank you for an emotion I can't put words to. Brother of Joy ... Sister of Awe ... Son of Grace. Thank you for making this moment possible. My life ... our lives ... will never be the same again."

Sounds all muushhy, doesn't it? Well, guys, I really gotta say, this is an indescribable moment. I got home late tonight after a meeting at church. Walked in the door around 10:00 and Andrea, my wife, is shooting pictures like it's Christmas morning. I think I sprung every muscle in my shoulders lugging the 35-pound boxes out of one of those go-to-the-grocery-carts.

Slicing the box open, knowing what was inside, yet ... still ... shock and awe when the box is open and there, four square, is this thing that you created ... no, that God created through you. It's a part of you, but it lives on its own. Has a life of its own. And is staring back at you.

I don't know. I just keep coming back to giving birth. A gift from God with your name on it. Wow.

Well, there probably won't be much sleeping in this apartment tonight.

Thanks to you all for walking with us through this exciting time. It's been a remarkable journey.

And, hey, you too can hold one of these little beauties in your very own hands. Can you say Barnes & Noble? Amazon? C'mon, you can say it. I know you can.

And, if any of you are in the vicinity of the Spring Lounge in NYC ... Spring Street at Mulberry Street, just off Little Italy ... tomorrow night (Friday), come on over for a little celebration. I'll let you buy me a Guiness.

Wow ... this is so cool. Wanted you to share this night with us.

Warmest Regards,


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Big News Hits Home

Okay, in the last month I got a job as Vice President of the National Organization on Disability here in NYC, our daughter got a graduate assistantship that will cover all her expenses for an MPA at Pace University and my wife, Andrea, got a job as a nanny – her dream job – for a lovely little boy and family and she can walk to their house.

But, I gotta be honest. The most exciting news might be this.

Barnes & Noble has put in an order for The Sacred Cipher.


Okay, if you were like me, you were whooping … jumping up and down … pounding on any solid surface you could find … scaring the neighbors … and causing dogs to bark up and down your street.

I mean, I’m only a little bit excited … like heart attack, brain freeze, catatonic crazy excited, know what I mean?

Here’s the deal – Barnes & Noble has agreed to promote The Sacred Cipher in its largest stores around the country with “a table-placement in the main aisle” from August 11th to August 24th. They put in an order for 1,500 books. The Sacred Cipher is scheduled to be released by Kregel Publications on July 31.

What does that all mean?

Well, 1,500 books would be one-third of the originally projected initial press run. If initial demand for the book is strong, perhaps the press run will now be increased.

More importantly, the largest book-selling chain in the nation will not only be stocking The Sacred Cipher in its largest stores, but it will also give it a prominent promotional position in the store. “Table placement” means a display of some sort, usually a bunch of your books attractively arranged on a table surface with other similar novels. Not simply stuffed onto a shelf with only the book’s spine showing.

Cat Hoort, my marketing rep at Kregel Publications, and Rachelle Gardner, my agent, both said the same thing. “VERY exciting… this doesn’t happen very often.”

I have an old friend who worked for Zondervan, one of the largest Christian publishing companies in the country, and her take on this was similarly psyched. “It's almost like a trial for the book and if it does well you will see the sales through Barnes and Noble sky rocket.”

So, my faithful readers, we are racing down the homestretch to launch day – July 31 – and the momentum is already building.

What to do?

Well, remember what I wrote last month about BUZZ. Call your local Barnes & Noble, or drop in. Ask if they will be one of the B&N stores stocking The Sacred Cipher. If not, why not! Go to another local book store. Ask, “Will you carry The Sacred Cipher? I know Barnes & Noble will.”

You can still pre-order from or Christian Book Distributors ( The book-selling industry watches Amazon sales closely.

Or, you can engage in some cyber conversation about the book. Below are some websites where you might find readers of similar interest.
An Anti-DaVinci Code Site:
Amy Welborn – author … Catholic issues

A Pro-DaVinci Code Site:
Dan Brown’s bookstore on Amazon … there is a customer discussion section
Dan Brown’s UK fan club site

Barnes and Noble “Book Clubs” Chat Room

Barnes and Noble’s Community Blog “Unabashedly Bookish”
There are different book clubs reading specific books – fiction; mystery; religion & spirituality

Barnes and Noble Community Room for chat
Very active … lots of topics … user info says all views are welcome

Facebook groups:

A Jason Bourne blog that appears fairly current – not overly active

The Book Club Forum … UK … same kinds of chat

Joel Rosenberg

Lastly, I’ve come across some websites of people called “influencers”. These are, primarily, other authors or “book types” who have active blogs or websites and who are regularly involved in book reviews and/or author interviews. For instance, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance ( will be hosting a ‘blog tour’ for The Sacred Cipher from August 14th through August 17th.

I’ll list a lot of these “influencer” sites in the next newsletter.

And if you can’t remember the plot, here’s a short reminder:

History's greatest secret could be tomorrow's greatest threat More historically and biblically accurate than The DaVinci Code and just as adventurous as an Indiana Jones movie, The Sacred Cipher combines action and mystery to draw readers into a world of ancient secrets and international escapades. When an ancient scroll appears in a secret room of the Bowery Mission in New York City, Tom Bohannon is both stunned and intrigued. The enigma of the scroll's contents will send Bohannon and his team ricocheting around the world, drawing the heat of both Jewish and Muslim militaries, and bringing the Middle East to the brink of nuclear war in this heart-pounding adventure of historical proportions. The Sacred Cipher is a riveting, fact-based tale of mystery and suspense.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

So Close to Home

So, now I won't wonder so much about fantastic fiction plots and whether they are 'plausible'.

Last night, around 11, my daughter walked into our living room.

"Dude ... did you see the news? These guys tried to blow up a synagogue in Riverdale!"

Seeing as how we live in Riverdale, she got my attention.

Seeing as how we had lunch a few blocks from where the bomb was planted, it really got my attention.

Four men from Newburgh, NY ... a couple of hours upstate ... were arrested last night for attempting domestic terrorism, attempting to detonate car bombs in front of a synagogue and a Jewish center here in the sleepy, suburbs-like far northwest corner of the Bronx - a green oasis of large homes and quiet streets called Riverdale.

The men, reportedly four Black Muslims who were determined to wage jihad on America, had been under surveillance for months after contacting an FBI/NYPD informant. The informant recorded their conversations, even videotaped the men making their plans. Then the informant set up transactions where the men purchased inert C-4 plastic explosive from Federal agents and also purchased inoperable surface-to-air Stinger missles. Their plan included trying to shoot down military aircraft during takeoff and landing at Stewart Air Base in Newburgh.

The suspects were arrested Wednesday night, shortly after planting a mock explosive device in the trunk of a car outside the Riverdale Temple and two mock bombs in the backseat of a car outside the Jewish Center, authorities said.

The Riverdale Temple is at 237th Street and Independence in Riverdale. My daughter and I enjoyed a lunch 'date' at the Blue Cafe, 235th Street and Johnson, on Wednesday afternoon, less than four blocks away.

The plot of my new novel, The Sacred Cipher, which will be released on July 31, involves a 'normal' guy who inadvertently falls into a series of events that make him the target of terrorists, endanger his family and lead him into an international firestorm that could trigger nuclear war in the Mideast. Sounds like a good story, right? But stretches the limits of plausibility, right?

Well, how whacked is it to think there may be guys who are planting plastic explosives in a car to blow up the church around the corner from your house?

This is one crazy world ... seems to be a world often devoid of peace.

Thank God, there is a God, whose name is love ... and peace.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Eye-to-eye in the Middle East?

Not surprisingly, Monday’s meeting between President Barak Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu needs to be assessed more in light of what was not said in their joint statement than in what was reported.

Obama and Netanyahu said they agreed on the critical need to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons. "We don't see closely on this, we see exactly eye to eye on this," Netanyahu said in a joint news conference with Obama at the White House.

Eye-to-eye does not necessarily mean heart-to-heart.

Netanyahu wanted Obama to give the Iranians a three month deadline to come to the table for serious talks on their burgeoning nuclear development program. Clearly, the Israelis are getting tired of Iran’s ingenuous assertions that their nuclear enrichment program is aimed at developing power plants.

On Newsweek’s web site, Dan Ephron reported ( the American government is concerned that a firm deadline would damage its attempts to repair 30 years of tension with Tehran and that it wants to assure the US can arrange meaningful negotiations with the one man who can make binding decisions in Iran - Grand Ayatollah Ali Khameini.

Obama and Netanyahu are not the only government leaders with differing views on how to best deal with the Iranians. A Senate Foreign Relations Committee report issued earlier this month, Iran: Where We Are Today, states that some U.S. government officials favor strict deadlines while others believe they would amount to a "recipe for failure."

As if to underscore the tenuous and problematic nature of the talks, the Israeli Embassy in Washington was evacuated at the same time that Netanyahu and Obama were meeting—the result of a bomb scare.

What kind of scare would erupt in the Middle East – and around the world – if Iran developed another kind of bomb … a nuclear bomb? How close is a nuclear confrontation in the Middle East?

Sounds like part of the plot for The Sacred Cipher – coming to a bookstore near you on July 31st.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Terry's May Newsletter

Hi,Thank God it's Spring!

While we’re eagerly awaiting the release of The Sacred Cipher – still slated for July 31st – there’s an awful lot of real news pouring out of Israel and the Middle East.

Israel’s new Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, will be in Washington this week for a series of meetings with American officials, including a critical one with President Obama. The global importance of these meetings does not center on Israel’s position regarding a Palestinian state, but rather on our government’s willingness to fully understand Israel’s inevitable conflict with a nuclear Iran.

Two weeks ago, Vice President Biden told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in Washington that “Israel has to work for a two-state solution” with the Palestinians. General James Jones, the President’s national security advisor, wired a European leader that “The new administration will convince Israel to compromise on the Palestinian question. We will not push Israel under the wheels of a bus, but we will be more forceful toward Israel than we have been under Bush.”

At the same time, Prime Minister Netanyahu travelled to Egypt to meet with President Hosni Mubark and made s surprise visit to Amman, Jordan to meet with King Abdullah II – both meetings aimed not at resolving the thorny Palestinian question but rather at building upon growing determination among Arab leaders to prevent Iran from going nuclear.

Author Joel Rosenberg (The Last Jihad; The Ezekiel Option; The Copper Scroll) was interviewed on CBN News last week. Rosenberg, a communications strategist for Netanyahu in 2000, said on his blog ( the new Prime Minister “understands that the current Iranian leadership are members of an apocalyptic, genocidal death cult who believe it is their Allah-given mission to destroy Israel and the U.S. and end Judeo-Christian civilization as we know it.”

There appears to exist a fundamental political and philosophical fracture between the US and Israel on what is the most crucial problem facing those in the Middle East. It is into just such a critical geo-political cauldron that The Sacred Cipher’s story is launched.

Stay tuned!


About 75 days and counting before the release of The Sacred Cipher. And I could use your help.

First, if you plan to purchase The Sacred Cipher, one strategy would be to either pre-order, or wait until launch date, and order from Sales on Amazon are watched closely by people in the book-selling industry and a sales spike on Amazon gets a good bit of industry buzz going.

Another strategy would be to go to your local bookstore and ask if they will be stocking The Sacred Cipher when it is released. If a couple of people in your town/neighborhood/area could visit the same bookstore, they would take notice.

A third strategy to help build the all-important BUZZ for the book would be to engage in some cyber conversation about the book. Below are some websites where you might find readers of similar interest.

An Anti-DaVinci Code Site:Amy Welborn – author … Catholic issues

A Pro-DaVinci Code Site:Dan Brown’s bookstore on Amazon … there is a customer discussion section

Dan Brown’s UK fan club site

Barnes and Noble “Book Clubs” Chat Room

Barnes and Noble’s Community Blog “Unabashedly Bookish”
There are different book clubs reading specific books – fiction; mystery; religion & spirituality

Barnes and Noble Community Room for chat Very active … lots of topics … user info says all views are welcome

Facebook groups:

A Jason Bourne blog that appears fairly current – not overly active

The Book Club Forum … UK … same kinds of chat

Joel Rosenberg

And if you can’t remember the plot, here’s a short reminder:

History's greatest secret could be tomorrow's greatest threat More historically and biblically accurate than The DaVinci Code and just as adventurous as an Indiana Jones movie, The Sacred Cipher combines action and mystery to draw readers into a world of ancient secrets and international escapades. When an ancient scroll appears in a secret room of the Bowery Mission in New York City, Tom Bohannon is both stunned and intrigued. The enigma of the scroll's contents will send Bohannon and his team ricocheting around the world, drawing the heat of both Jewish and Muslim militaries, and bringing the Middle East to the brink of nuclear war in this heart-pounding adventure of historical proportions. The Sacred Cipher is a riveting, fact-based tale of mystery and suspense.

Thanks for all your support.


Thursday, April 23, 2009

April Newsletter - Home Stretch

Finally looks like Spring, eh? Well, I’ve finally come up for air after a marathon season of editing for The Sacred Cipher.

Ever since I sent out the February Newsletter I’ve been under the gun with the editing process. At one stretch, I worked on the edits for the book every day for three weeks straight.

The result is that the book is better now than ever … and it’s still scheduled for a July 31 release date.

I was working with a dynamite editor at Kregel Publications, who really challenged me and my writing. The toughest challenge was in building more richly developed characters, and then strengthening each character’s motivation … why they were doing what they were doing. And then there were a gazillion different edits, fixes and rewrites of sections.

I just went through another week of work on the second round of edits. This time, a different editor reviewed the manuscript and found things we missed the previous round.

But it’s still the same story. The characters are just more real.

And now, the editing is DONE! Yeah! And the book has been sent off to the design department who will develop the inside design and layout of the pages. The book will go to press sometime in May or early June.

And be in your bookstores in July! If you want to get psyched, you can click on the trailer link below just to check out the 30 second trailer.

But here’s what I need you to do. And there will be more about this next month.

Identify the person or persons in your life who operate in lots of different circles – who know lots of different people. Talk to that person about The Sacred Cipher. Tell them how great a book it’s going to be (there you’ll have to take a step of faith).

And … ask that person to talk to their friends about the book. That is the best way to get Buzz going, and Buzz sells books.

The second thing you can do … if you are inclined … would be to join fan clubs, chat rooms, blogs, facebook groups for things like The DaVinci Code, or Bourne Identity and other Bourne movies, or Indiana Jones, or something in that vein. And then talk it up about, “This great new book that’s about to come out. It’s a lot like The DaVinci Code (or ????) …” That’s another great way to help get the word out.

And, if you are wondering what to say about the book, send me an email ( and I'll send you the Synopsis so you can brush up on the content. Hey … you guys are going to love this story. It’s a great summer read.

Thanks for your interest … and all your help.

Catch you next month.

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Noble Tradition

If there has been one constant in all the writer's conferences I've attended, besides eating too much, it is that Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird - Some Instructions on Writing and Life, is always one of the most highly recommended books that starting writers "must have" in their generally unread collection of How To books.

It only took me four conferences to get to the book table early enough to snare a copy.

And this year I finally read it.

You should, too.

Bird provides so much fodder for comment I almost don't know where to start.

But I do.

How can a good Christian woman be so profane in her writing? Yikes!

How can a good Christian woman be so funny in her writing? Yikes!

How can ... well, you get it.

However, in between the yuks and the profanity is a garden of wisdom and solid counsel. Too much to cover. But here are some slices I loved from her chapter on Publication. (Other chapters include School Lunches, Jealousy, Broccoli, Radio Station KFKD and my favorite, Shitty First Drafts. Hey, they're not my chapter titles!)

After listing a litany of things that publication is not, Lamott allows herself to dance with the joy of being a published author.

"But the fact of publication is the acknowledgement from the community that you did your writing right. You acquire a rank that you never lose. Now you're a published writer, and you are in that rare position of getting to make a living, such as it is, doing what you love best. That knowledge does bring you a quiet joy."

Lamott is great at chronicling the pitfalls and false security of pursuing publication as the Holy Grail of your writing, but she also says this.

"But the truth is that there can be a great deal of satisfaction in being a writer, in being a person who gets some work done most days, and who has been published and acknowledged. I carry this around in my pocket, touch it a number of times a day to make sure it is still there. Even though so much of my writing time is stressful and disheartening, I carry a secret sense of accomplishment around with me, like a radium pack implanted near my heart that now leaches a quiet sense of relief through my system. But you pay through the nose for this."

Yes, the price is high. Deadly days of pounding out words and wondering if they make any sense ... if they will ever connect with another human being. It's a lonely work, full of self doubt that culminates in allowing people, most you've never met, skewer you and your work in public. Some fun, eh?

Lamott leaves us with some perspective.

"Being a writer is part of a noble tradition, as is being a musician - the last egalitarian and open associations. No matter what happens in terms of fame and fortune, dedication to writing is a marching-step forward from where you were before, when you didn't care about reaching out to the world, when you weren't hoping to contribute, when you were just standing there doing some job into which you had fallen."

Wow. Words like this make it all worth the price.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

How is your "Change" spelled?

So, here we are on March 24th, two months into the historic presidency of Barak Obama. The man who vowed to bring change not only to Washington, but to the entire country as well.

Obama appears to be fulfilling his promise.

I’m just wondering if the change this President is orchestrating is what 26 million Americans were expecting when they cast their votes for him.

What we know so far is that President Obama’s change will include universal health care (run by the government); a college education for anyone who wants one (paid for by the government); a punitive energy policy (run by the government, but paid for by every American through higher heating oil and gasoline prices); and the largest Public Works endeavor in the history of this nation (run by the government and paid for by our sons and daughters, grandsons and granddaughters, great grandsons and ...).

Okay, so we’re not that surprised that a liberal Democrat who posed as a “centrist” to get elected … like, for instance, Bill Clinton … would attempt to flex his muscles on the heels of an electoral “mandate”. And we’re not surprised this muscle flexing includes socialized medicine, socialized education and socialized public works.

What we are surprised about … and perhaps those 26 million who voted Democratic are surprised about … is that now this President is asking for the power to seize American business.

No, not just nationalize the American banking system, which has already begun.

No, now the reports out of Washington are that President Obama wants to give the Secretary of the Treasury the power to seize American businesses and to enforce a limit on compensation for executives. Not just businesses that have accepted some of the $700 billion bailout bribery – but any business the Secretary thought could create a problem for the economy should it fail. Not just executives who are on the government take, but any executive.

Now it appears as if President Obama's change will include socialized banking and socialized business … the government telling us who should survive, and how much they should make while they’re doing it.

Okay … I’m just being paranoid, right? The last time I wrote about Obama Socialism here, I got roasted on several fronts.

But, listen to this.

Dick Morris was on one of the talking-head shows after the President’s news conference. This is the Dick Morris who was the brains behind the Clinton campaigns and President Clinton’s closest advisor. A conservative Republican he is not.

So, this is what Dick Morris said about President Obama’s plans for change. Morris said the President wants to make a good show of trying to save the economy, but he wants to fail. He’s planning to fail. Then, when the country is in a real crisis, on the brink of disaster, Obama Socialism will come in like a flood to save the day.

That’s what Bill Clinton’s closest advisor said Tuesday night on national television.

President Obama held a news conference last night for one purpose … to put pressure on Congress to pass his proposed budget. He called it the centerpiece of the economic recovery program.

Good faith estimates from the Congressional Budget Office indicate the President’s proposed budget will add $1 trillion more, each year, to the federal deficit for the next ten years and beyond. That our interest payments on the national debt will be $800 billion dollars a year. Just the interest.

Barak Obama’s budget will bankrupt the country. No nation can afford to throw $1 trillion into the black hole of economic stimulus … see one-third of the nation’s wealth evaporate … then pay for socialized medicine, socialized education, socialized banks, socialized business and the largest public works project in our history.

Perhaps Dick Morris is wrong. Perhaps President Obama is not willfully steering this nation into catastrophe. Perhaps he is not planning to destroy this nation so he can rebuild it in his own image.

Whether Barak Obama is acting willfully to bring this country to its knees or not, he is clearly focused on accomplishing the change that he pledged to bring to this nation.

Change that is spelled r-e-v-o-l-u-t-i-o-n.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Hell Formerly Known as Editing

This blog originally appeared on March 17th as a guest blog on Rants & Ramblings, the blog of my agent, Rachelle Gardner. It recounts some of my experiences during the editing process for my first novel, The Sacred Cipher, scheduled for release in July.

It was June 30, 2008 and my wife and I were driving home from the Adirondacks when Rachelle called. “How does it feel to be a published author?”When I stopped dancing around the car – yes, I had parked first – my head was spinning. It still is. But the dreams of fame and fortune, which so quickly sprang to mind that day, have been put on hold. First comes editing.

I signed a contract with Kregel for my first novel, The Sacred Cipher. We’ve been through two rounds of editing with three more to come. The release date has been shuffled from April to July 31 of this year.The first thing I must say is that the people I've worked with at Kregel have been great. They are all professional; holding to high standards; clear and articulate in their counsel, questions and needs. They’ve been compassionate and sensitive in their delivery, open to suggestions or differences of opinion and deferential to the author's vision.No complaints on that side.But the editing process is exhausting and, at times, frightening. Twice I thought this train was headed off the bridge.My editor, Dawn Anderson, presented me with a laundry list of edits, deletions and revisions – some quite extensive. The big issues (extensive character development; character motivation; plot pacing) were too big to tackle at the beginning. They overwhelmed me. So, first, I read through the entire manuscript.Then I went back and started fixing the 'smaller' problems, keeping the big issues in mind and keeping notes of my own thoughts. That helped me make progress while I was still thinking through the major issues.In addition, Dawn asked two perceptive, but alarming, questions about timing – one at the beginning of the book (I wrote that four years ago!) and a second about the conclusion – so substantial, I thought the book was dead. It took four days to find a solution.POV was a nagging, consistent issue, but dealing with the characters was my biggest problem. Each of the main characters needed more depth and development but the great challenge was motivation … why would they do this? Too many times, my first answer was, “I don’t know.”I worked on the revisions at least four days a week for nearly a month. Even with all the revisions ... 98.5% of my editor’s observations or requests were valid … the story is the same, the characters are the same (though deeper) and the plot still moves. I'm okay with it.It helped a lot to hear from Rachelle that significant edits and revisions like this are not unusual. So, I didn't take the requests personally.All that said, editing is a big deal. The revisions were harder work than the writing. At least, that's how it felt. I think I was having selective amnesia. I know there were several very bleak days in the writing, as well. But, in the editing stage, there was more at stake. More downside risk. Much more challenge to be a 'better' writer.As a result, I am physically and emotionally spent. Squeezed out and hung to dry. Brain dead and bug eyed. And tired of talking about this book. (I've done a really good job of marketing to everyone I know ... and they ALL ask!). But the edits keep coming. A freelance editor will be reviewing it for substance, internal editors will do a line edit, then a copy edit.Honestly, I'm numb. There have been so many days of doubt. I think the book is good ... the folks at Kregel are excited about it. And I believe it's better now than ever.But I’m not dancing around the car anymore. Not now. I won't be able to believe this rumor about being a published author until I have one of those 362-page suckers in my hand. This process is just too fragile to take anything for granted.

Friday, February 27, 2009

The Shades of Love

I've been wanting to share this for a week. Wasn't sure how to go about it. So, I'll just spit it out.

Here's Terry's Tip for Feb. 27. I recently finished reading three great books ... The Given Day by Dennis Lehane and The Road by Cormack McCarthy.

Dennis Lehane wrote Mystic River. I started that book (my son, Matt, loves Lehane), but the language was tough to take.

I was amazed by The Given Day. It's a wonderful story, epic in proportion, intimate in family.

But what shocked me was the lyricism of Lehane's writing. His wonderful turn of phrases, sparkling word pictures. It reads like the best Steinbeck. But I loved how he intertwined smells into his scene tapestries. Smells ... something I ignore too frequently in my scenes. But how strong, and powerful and seductive are smells.

The Given Day is a rough story in spots, Lehane is gritty, but I didn't want it to end.

The Road is absolutely mind-blowing. McCarthy has a style like none other I've ever seen. No chapters, for one. He creates a foreign, forbidding world and enchants you into its center. Two characters you ache for. That's all I can tell you without giving too much away. It's spectacular.

The third book? Yesterday I finished reading The Shack. Wow! What a revelation. My wife got it from the library and we all read it before it was due back. Now, I've got to go out and buy myself a copy. There's just too much in there to absorb, and remember, in just one reading. Fascinating.

Odd thing ... all three books are about love. Expectations of love in The Given Day. Responsibilities of love in The Road. And the gift of love in The Shack.

It's all love. Two are enslaving. One is freeing. We all have a choice which one, or two, or three we would like in our lives.


Pretty cool, this writing stuff.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

State of Who's Union?

One of the great benefits of history is that it gives us perspective ... perspective of not only what happened in the past, but why it happened. And a perspective with which to measure and assess the present.

I listened to all of President Obama's State of the Union speech last night. It is certainly clear to all Americans that "Now is the time ..." for perspective.

Over the last two years we have endured what may be the greatest economic collapse in the history of this nation.

No one knows for sure where this fiscal disaster will stop. What we do know is that the rate of decline continues to accelerate. One third of the total jobs lost during this two-year recession have been lost in the last three months. The last quarter of 2008 saw the greatest decline in home values in generations. Home values in many California communities have declined 50% ... 35 to 40% in many Florida communities.

We are suffering through an economic cataclysm of historic proportions. Only history will tell us if this time is, in fact, The Great Depression.

At the same time, our nation has undergone the greatest political cataclysm since Thomas Jefferson authored the Declaration of Independence.

Last month, I watched all day as our nation inaugurated an African-American man as President of the United States. Make no doubt about this point ... that day was the change of an age. Nothing will ever be the same again.

The age of the Baby Boomers has ended ... at least their control over the age.

When I was a boy, African-American men and women in the South could not chose their own seats on a bus. They could not eat in "white-only" restaurants; they could not drink from "white-only" water fountains.

A colleague of mine, a man who must be at least 10 years my junior, told me recently his grandfather was born a slave. Imagine that. A grandfather who was born a slave.

And, today, we have an African-American man as President, and there has not been rioting in the streets or acts of civil disobedience ... or the secession of states to form their own union.

This is a new age ... something we have never seen before.

So, we are living through the greatest economic and greatest political cataclysms - perhaps - in the history of our nation.

Which leads me to wonder ... what comes next? And what will it mean?

In the days after 9/11, the people of this nation were, in the vast majority, willing to surrender some of their rights for security - whether real or imagined. We were all afraid of what would come next. I know, living in New York City, I was. And we wanted the government, the military, to protect us from these mad terrorists.

Now, in the first days of his Presidency, Mr. Obama has closed the detention camp at Guantanamo and ordered an end to torture during interrogation. In the days after 9/11, putting suspected terrorists in detention anywhere, and using extraordinary measures to protect our citizens, may have looked a lot more palatable. Today, in hindsight, they look like big mistakes.

So, last night, I heard our President - and God bless him and help him make wise decisions - say that he wanted government to dictate what proper business practices would be in this new age; that he wanted government to determine how banks should function; that he wanted health care for every citizen; that every student has the right to go to college; that he wanted to tax the richest 2% of Americans to help pay for his plans.

And ... all this is the face of the largest spending bill in the history of this nation - the $1 trillion economic stimulus package - that was passed by Congress in less time than it takes to renew your driver's license at the DMV office.

Yes ... we need to do something to try and shore up the economic disaster that threatens the very fabric of our society. Doing nothing is not an option.

But, what I wonder is, what will history tell us, once we have a chance to shine the light of perspective on this time?

Will it tell us that the Federal government made all the right decisions, spent all its money wisely, resurrected economic growth - and then got out of the free market system?

Or, will history tell us that we just entered a new age. The age of a socialist America?

I listened to all of President Obama's State of the Union message last night. And what I heard made me fear even more for the future of this nation.

I'm concerned that, in the name of economic stability, we are inviting socialism to replace democracy. That we are ready to jettison our republic in favor of expediency.

And I fear for our future. Good intentions in dangerous times have led us to disastrous blunders in the past. And what happens when there is another cataclysm added to what has transpired so far? What happens if, God forbid, terrorists once again defile this nation and its people?

Is that the day we move from the age of democracy and freedom to socialism and dictatorship?

Is that possibility so far away? Or, is Now the time?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Edward Elgar - An Enigma


Did you ever dream of breaking a secret code? Well, here's your chance.

This month, we're going to give you a little sneak peek at one of the plot elements that help drive The Sacred Cipher. And we'll also give you a chance to solve a 100-year-old code that has never been broken.


He was a chemist – in his basement. He was a cryptographer and code breaker – in his spare time. He went to work in an insane asylum – to find the peace he sought to compose music.

Sir Edward Elgar, one of the most beloved and influential English composers of this age … a romantic scientist of music … died 75 years ago.

Elgar passed away on February 23, 1934. Yet, his music is as alive today – as modern and well-known; as ingrained in our society – as the music of the Beatles.

Who is Edward Elgar?

Have you ever heard the Pomp and Circumstances March … the music that is played at every school graduation ceremony? Then you’ve heard Sir Edward Elgar.

But, if you watch much TV, or many movies, then you’re likely to have also heard Sir Edward Elgar’s work. There was a series on television about World War II – Band of Brothers. Click on this youtube connection below and see if this sounds familiar.

This music is Nimrod, one of the “Variations on an Original Theme” Elgar wrote to widespread acclaim in 1899 – his now famous Enigma Variations, some of the most beautiful music this world has ever heard. Elgar’s compositions are vast and varied, far too many to comment on here – his Cello Concerto; the Music Makers; his 1st Symphony and his masterful the Dream of Gerontius (1900).

The 75th Anniversary of Elgar’s death will be celebrated on February 28th by a commemorative concert played by the renowned English Symphony Orchestra (ESO) at the Worcester Cathedral in England. Continuum has just published a book on Elgar, Elgar: An Anniversary Portrait … Introduced by Nicholas Kenyon. The liner notes read:

This collection of essays offers a new insight into the composer's life.

Edward Elgar was a man of many contradictions. He was born an outsider, into a family of lower-middle class, Catholic, origins. Yet his fame, and ability to write music that struck a chord in the national consciousness, led him to adopt a sycophantic attitude towards the Royal Family and high society, even though he always felt ill at ease with them.

Elgar was a depressive with a problematic marriage, who craved recognition, but in many ways he regretted the piece of music which made him famous. 'Pomp and Circumstance' made him the leading English composer of his age, but also contributed to the jingoism which he so disliked during the First World War. Yet, unquestionably, he was the greatest musical genius that England had produced in centuries.

This Portrait, by some of the scholars and musicians that understand him best, offers new light on a wide range of aspects of Edward Elgar's life and work.

Why do I care about Sir Edward Elgar? On the surface, my interest has little direct connection to his music. It has to do with the Dorabella Cipher – a code Elgar wrote in 1897 as a birthday present to a friend … a code that has never been broken.

The Dorabella Cipher is one of the key elements that Tom Bohannon and his team – Dr. Richard Johnson, Sammy Rizzo and Joe Rodriguez – use to solve the mystery of The Sacred Cipher, my first novel which will be published by Kregel Publications and released on July 31.

The Elgar Society ( holds an annual competition for those code-breakers who are attempting to crack the Dorabella Cipher. In 2008 there were seven entries submitted, but the cipher remains a mystery and the £1,500 prize has yet to be awarded.

Can you break the Dorabella Cipher written by Sir Edward Elgar?

If you want to win the prize, perhaps reading The Sacred Cipher may help. But, if you can't wait the five monts until the book is released, next month, we'll give you some more history of the Dorabella Cipher, and some more clues.

And, oh yeah, Sir Edward Elgar is the man who opened the EMI Recording Studios on Abbey Road in November, 1931. You remember Abbey Road, right? Some English group made an album of that title. Can’t quite remember their name.

Click below to see a rare piece of film - Elgar conducting his Pomp and Circumstance at the opening of the Abbey Road Studios.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

January/February Newsletter - Rock & Roll

Are you ready for some Football!

Well … okay … not exactly.

Are you ready for some Rock And Roll?

Here you go, then … something to get you psyched up for the Super Bowl.

Click on the link below and get zapped. It’s safe … it’s clean … and it’s only 29 seconds long. Try it. It’ll get your toes tapping.

WOW … wasn’t that cool?

One of the great folks in the marketing department at Kregel Publications put that together last week as a trailer to the upcoming release of The Sacred Cipher. I’ll tell you … what a rush it was the first time I loaded it up.

And now it seems like there’s more and more every day.

If you go to this link you’ll see Kregel’s preliminary page on presenting The Sacred Cipher. The book is now slated for release at the end of July.

I know … the release date has been a moving target. But I’m told that’s not unusual.

One of the reasons the date’s been shifted from Spring to Summer (I think it will be a great beach read) is that I’ve been working furiously with the Kregel editors on some much needed revisions to the manuscript.

Just imagine what happens when a rookie novelist runs into an editor who was nominated for Editor Of The Year in 2008! That’s right … a whole lot of homework.

But we’re making great progress and, the best thing is, the edits and revisions are making it a much stronger book. It’s still the same story – just told with a good bit more skill – the editor’s, not mine. But I’m learning.

So, here’s your homework for February.

Go check out and search for The Sacred Cipher. Yes! It’s there. (Hey, I am not the Terry Brennan who writes about “Primate Ecology” or “Organophilic Clays” … I don’t even want to think about that.)

Go check out … yes! Nothing on Barnes & Noble, yet. also has the book on its site, at the best discount, but there were some errors in their posting (wrong release date), so it may be down then come up again next week.

But, here’s what I’d ask of any who feel so inclined … go onto one of these sites and put in an order – before the book is released. Talk to your friends, relatives, co-workers, folks in line at the supermarket. Get them to pre-order it also.

Call your local Barnes & Noble. Ask them if they’re going to have it in stock when it’s released in July. If not, why not?


It’s the buzz that makes the book. “Word of Mouth” is the best, most effective, strongest kind of book marketing that exists. Let’s all get the buzz. Baby needs a new pair of shoes.

Or, in the immortal words of Clark Griswold, “If there’s enough money left over, we’ll all go to Disneyland.”

Or, was that John Elway?

Happy Super Bowl. And have a great February.