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Justin Lee on faith, culture, and nuance

Justin Lee on faith, culture, and nuance

From the Blog

Justin makes a BIG announcement!

Oh. My. Goodness.

You guys don’t know how long I’ve been having to hold this big announcement in and how badly I’ve been wanting to spill the beans. A couple of months ago, I thought I was about to be able to announce it, and then things got put on hold again while we ironed out contract details.

But now that there’s a signed contract, I’ve been officially allowed to tell you the good news.

I’m going to be an author!

Or maybe I already am an author. An unpublished author. But now I’m going to be a published author!

Whatever. Here’s the point: I have a book coming out! Yes, a real book! With pages and everything. And it’s going to be in stores! And you can buy it! And it will be cool!

I can’t tell you how excited I am. I feel like an expectant parent, waiting the long months for my baby to arrive on store shelves so I can buy a bunch of balloons that say “It’s a book!” and then take a ton of pictures of me holding it to send to all my friends.

Seriously, you guys. Seriously.

Okay, I know you want to hear all the details, so here you go. (And to the two of you who are shaking your heads, muttering that you don’t really want to hear all the details, well, no one’s forcing you to read this blog, are they? … They are? Oh. Well, don’t forget to subscribe.)

People have been telling me for years that I needed to write a book. Sure, I toyed with the idea, but who has time for that sort of thing? Besides, I thought, in the digital age, aren’t ideas just as well expressed in internet postings or YouTube videos? What would I have to say that would be worth the investment of an entire book? (I don’t know about you, but I’ve read a lot of books that didn’t really need to be written, and I don’t want to write one of those books.)

I filed the idea away mentally as one of those “someday, maybe” projects. But as I continued my work building bridges between Christians and the LGBT community, I kept coming across situations where I had helpful stories and ideas to share with people, but not enough time to fully explore them. I’d have long conversations with friends about the issues, only to hear them say, “Wow, I wish the whole world could have heard this conversation! This is really helpful!”

And it began to dawn on me that I’ve been really blessed with some unique opportunities to learn about this issue in a lot of different ways, and the more I thought about it, the more I found myself longing for a chance to share those stories and ideas.

So about three years ago, I bought a writing program—a little different from a standard word processor—and started to outline a book. I didn’t have much free time to work on it, so for a while, I just collected ideas and filed them away. I decided to make my own journey part of the book, so I began gathering up old notes, emails, and papers from the last 20 years of my life for reference.

And then, bit by bit, I began to write. I would go to work, come home late, throw a TV dinner into the microwave, and sit down at my computer to work on the book. There were days I thought I would never finish. But gradually, it took shape, until finally I realized I had a complete first draft.

The thing is, I had no idea how the publishing industry works. I didn’t know how to find a publisher or whether anyone would even want to publish my book. That process was a journey in itself, and I’ll have to share it later on.

For now, let’s just jump right to the end of the story—the part where I tell you about the awesome publisher I have and how excited I am.

My book will be called Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate. It’s about this (false) idea in our culture that gays and Christians are at war with one another, and how that mindset is tearing apart our churches, our families, and ourselves, killing Christ’s reputation in the process.

This is a book about real people and situations, not simplistic posturing. It’s filled with stories, pop culture, and things to make you laugh and cry.  It has personal details from my life I’ve never shared publicly before. And ultimately, it offers practical advice about what we can do as Christians to make things better.

There are a lot of books about homosexuality and Christianity out there, but many of them only get read by gay Christians and their close friends. I wanted to write a book that would appeal to people who have never given much thought to this issue, while still offering something new to those of us who think about it all the time. I hope I’ve done that, and I can’t wait to hear what people think about it.

My book is going to be published by a brand new division of Hachette Book Group, one of the largest publishers in the US. (Hachette publishes authors like Ellen DeGeneres, James Patterson, Joel Osteen… I’m assuming I’ll sell about the same number of books as them, right?)

Publishing companies call their divisions “imprints,” and Hachette is launching a new imprint called Jericho Books, focusing on Christian books that challenge the status quo. Or as they put it:

The mission of Jericho Books is to seek new, innovative authors who reflect a growing change in the church. These non-traditional voices will appeal to the fresh perspectives in today’s culture and provide an avenue for those exploring political and social issues as they relate to faith.

They’ve been wonderful to me already, and they really seem to love the book. I’m enjoying working with them, and I’m sure you’ll be hearing all about it on this blog.

“So when is this book coming out?” I hear you saying.

(Yes, that’s right, I can hear you. I had your computer bugged last week.)

Well, here’s something I didn’t know. Apparently it takes around 18 months for a finished manuscript to become a book on the shelf—and that’s in addition to the time it takes you to find a publisher and all that. If you think that sounds like way too long, you’re not the only one. Check out what author Anne Rice said on her Facebook page a couple of months ago.

So yeah, it’s going to be a little while still before my book is out.

In the meantime, I thought it would be cool to use this blog from time to time to give you an inside peek into the publishing world, as seen through the eyes of a guy who finds it all pretty baffling. Want to know what it’s really like getting your first book published? I’ll tell you. Ask any questions you want, and I’ll do my best to answer them.

And don’t worry, I’ll still write about the other stuff too… though every so often I might decide to be a tease and say, “You’ll just have to wait for the book!”

Mmmmm… I like the sound of that.

Newly expanded and revised for 2024!

Divided by faith and LGBTQ identity? Torn has an all-new edition with new chapters, new stories, and a new study guide to help heal the rifts.

Tired of the polarization?

Talking Across the Divide as an ebook, audiobook, and paperback

Learn about Justin’s book Talking Across the Divide, and download the free study guide!