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.