Why I wrote a book

Saturday, December 28, 2013

My Five Favorite Blog Posts from 2013


Wow, 2013 is almost over. I can look back over the past year and agree with Tale of Two Cities author Charles Dickens that is was indeed "the best of times and the worst of times." On the bright side, I had my first book You're Grounded released in July, and I started this blog in the fall. 








If you're new to the blog - or you just have seen a post here or there - here are the top five I would encourage you to read from 2013. 

1. Is Kanye West a Christian? Yeezus showed up on the Kris Jenner Show talking about a WWJD bracelet and Christianity. You can read my take here.


2.  Why I'm Not Looking at The Front Door.  A blog on why my wife Emily (read her blog here) and I stick it out through the ups and down of marriage.  You can read it here.



3. The Interracial Cheerios family and church. There was a huge uproar when Cheerios used an interracial family to advertise its cereal. If this fictitious family was to ask me about finding a church as a interracial family, here's what I'd tell them. You can read that blog here.




4. Hope for the Hurting. This year, really from start to bottom, has probably been the most pain-filled and difficult year of my life for any number of reasons. This story about an amazing tree always encourages me that our pain isn't wasted. You can read that blog here.


5. How Nike's Blake Griffin Commercial reminds me of the gospel. I love this commercial from the music sample to the layout. The theme of the commercial is also amazing consistently with the main story of the Bible. Read how right here. 

There's plenty more on the blog, such as my thoughts on what 2Pac, the movie Friday and the show Preachers of L.A. have to do with one another and a great guest blog from my wife on forgiveness. I also threw in a few things I learned from going through the publishing process.  One blog that just barely missed the cut was a blog I had about what if rap star Ja Rule was to walk into your church?

I hope you enjoy it, and I would love your feedback on anything you read.

Happy New Year's! 

Chris Lassiter is a Christ-follower, a husband to Emily, and a father of five wild and crazy kids. He has written for The News Leader, VIBE, Rapzilla.com, Young Life Relationships and many other publications. His first book was published by Moody Publishing in July. (Read about it here.) The Cross Promotion Blog gets updated twice a week. Please consider joining this site by subscribing by email or following the link at the bottom that reads "Join This Site."  



















 

Monday, December 23, 2013

Three Reasons I'm hyped for my first book signings

Dreams do come true!

Since the time I've started writing professionally, I've wanted to write a book. Not only did I write a book, but Moody Publishing actually published my first book,  You're Grounded, in July.   

Now I'm holding a pair of book signings. The first will be at 10 a.m. at Danny Moats' barber shop the morning on Sat., Dec., 28.  The second will be Monday night, Dec. 30,  at the Robert E. Lee High School boys' and girls' double-header basketball game. 

Here are the three reasons why I am so excited about the signings. 

1. Because of where I'm signing the books.


The two locations of the two book signings, the Paul Hatcher Gymnasium and Danny Moats' Barber Shop, have both played pivotal roles in my life.

Moats has been my barber for 20 years, and the shop holds a special place in my heart. Even though there are constant jokes about how lumpy my head is, that barber shop is home to me.

Additionally, being part of the Fighting Leemen basketball fraternity was a big deal to me. The city of Staunton has a rich high school basketball tradition, and I was lucky enough to have a small chapter in that history. 

It's a coming full circle of sorts as I achieve one dream (a book signing) so close to where I spent so many nights chasing other dreams (a state championship and a college basketball scholarship). 

 Additionally,  I still volunteer at the school every day through a ministry called Young Life, and I have a great love for the students at that school. I couldn't choose two more appropriate places. 


2. Because of the subject matter of the book.

 "The Greatest Story Every Told is rarely ever told!" 



It was a very long time before I heard Jesus explained in a way that made sense to me. But once it made sense to me, it was the greatest thing I've ever heard (Watch this powerful 4-minute video above to grasp what I mean).

 Now that someone took the time to explain it to me in a way that made sense, I want to take the time to explain the gospel to others in a way that makes sense.

 3. Just Because ... If you know me well, you know I'm a people person, and I could talk to anybody for hours. And just like my family, anything good that happens in my life, I want to share it. I'm excited that I accomplished one of my life goals, and I hope to get to see all my friends and family at one of the two dates. 

I write these blogs as conversation starters. Becoming an author was one of my dreams. What is one of your dreams?

Chris Lassiter is a Christ-follower, a husband to Emily (visit her blog here) and a father to five wild, crazy and lovable kids, a former sports journalist for 15 years and a freelance writer. The Cross Promotion Blog gets updated twice a week. Please considering following by clicking "Join This Site" at the bottom of the page. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

The Grinch and the Gospel: Three things we can learn from Whoville

The Grinch doesn't even get nearly enough credit as a criminal mastermind.

Think about it. He "stole" Christmas from a whole town! And think about how he did it. He wore a costume associated with extravagant giving to do extravagant stealing. 


How gangster is that? Just imagine if you took your kids to sit on Santa's lap at the mall and when your kid came back 20 bucks was missing out of his or her pocket. Pretty clever, right?

Usually whenever I watch or read a story - and The Grinch That Stole Christmas is one of my favorites - it reminds me of the one big theme in the Bible. God had a rescue plan in place to redeem fallen humanity through the person and work of His only Son Jesus Christ. We call that the gospel.

Here are three gospel truths we learn in the Grinch story.

1. We, like the Grinch, have a heart problem. We've established that the Grinch was an evil genius. The narrator tells us why the Grinch was an evil genius. His heart was defective. The Bible explains we have the same problem. There is no love for God in our hearts.

2. If our joy comes from stuff, our joy can leave with stuff, too. The Grinch was an evil genius, but his plan had a fatal flaw. He assumed he could steal something that couldn't be stolen; the spirit of Christmas. The true key to joy is make sure your joy is rooted in something that can't be taken from you. We know from scripture that Christ's love is something no one or no thing can ever take from us.

3. Heart change always proceedS life change. The Grinch ended up eating dinner at a house he robbed a day earlier. How does that happen? It was clear that it wasn't the same Grinch. We learn in the Bible that the gospel changes us internally. Christ lived a perfect life and died a subsitutionary death in our place so we could experience true heart change. He gives us new hearts, filled with affection for God, the way hearts are supposed to function. Just like the Grinch, our new hearts lead to new actions. But it is always in that order. Hearts change first. Actions follow.

I write these blogs as a way to start conversations. What is your favorite Christmas story and why? Or just give feedback on this blog post.

Chris Lassiter is a Christ-follower, a husband to Emily (read her amazing guest blog post on forgiveness here), a father to five crazy but wonderful kids, and a Young Life leder in his hometown of Staunton, VA. He was written for VIBE, Rapzilla.com, Young Life Relationships, JamTheHype.com, HipHopDX.com and other publications. Moody Publishing recently released his first book, You're Grounded, which you can purchase here.

The Cross Promotion Blog gets updated twice a week. Please considering following the blog.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Three The Hard Way: (Part 2) Three More tips for aspiring authors

Last week, I wrote a blog  for aspiring authors wishing to get a book published.

If I'm fortunate enough to have another book published - and I am starting work on some new books - there are also some things I would do differently. 

Here's a list of three things I learned from experience. Looking back, these are the things I would fix with the next opportunity. 
1. Invest your advance. When you sign a book contract, you typically get an advance. As I said in the first of these two blogs, being an author is being a part-time writer and part-time business owner. Businesses have start-up costs. My advice would be to take your advance and put it all in to the business side of being an author, such as buying copies of your own book.
2. Be prepared for the release date. I once read that the opportunity of a lifetime must be seized within the lifetime of the opportunity. There are months between the submission of your final edit and the release date. This time could be spent setting up book signings and other promotional things, which often take weeks to set up and publicize. If you time it right, which I didn't, you can have your book-signing set up right at the release of your book.

3. When the book releases, your job is just starting. Author and blogger Jon Acuff, perhaps the funniest guy on Twitter, used his blog to address friends who wrote books but felt awkward about promoting the books. 

Here was Acuff's response

"OK, Next time don't write a book. Write a diary. It's a lot easier and you don't have to promote it all." (1) 

 Writing a book is the first half. The second half is then convincing people that reading your book is worth their time. By this, I don't mean arrogant self-promotion. It just means standing by your work. Your book is a product just as Gatorade is a product. Gatorade has to convince athletes that sports drinks provide them with an advantage. And we, very humbly, must promote our product as well. This takes time, energy, finances and resources. 

You can hear a full-length interview I did about the book, You're Grounded, on the What in The Ham Sandwich Show podcast here.

I write these blogs as conversation starters. What questions would you like answered about writing a book? If you are an author, what advice would you give? 

Chris Lassiter is a Christ follower, a husband to Emily (read her moving testimony about forgiveness here)  and father to five crazy but wonderful kids. He leads Young Life in his former high school, Robert E. Lee in Staunton, VA. Chris has written for VIBE, Young Life Relationships, Rapzilla.com, JamTheHype.com and other publications. Moody Publishers recently put out his first book, You're Grounded, which you can purchase here. The Cross Promotion blog gets updated twice a week. Please consider subscribing. 

1. John Acuff, Don't Write a Book, http://acuff.me/2013/10/dont-write-a-book/

Friday, December 6, 2013

Getting Booked: Five Tips for Aspiring Authors

In August of 2012, I was at Buffalo Wild Wings in Waynesboro, VA with a group of recent Robert E. Lee High graduates. 

We were doing what guys do, acting hyper-masculine by trying to eat the hottest wings on the menu. In reality, it was just a chance to get together before many of the recent grads I had worked with in Young Life left for college.

In the middle of that dinner, my wife called me and told me to check my e-mail immediately. I opened the e-mail on my phone to read that Moody Publishing was offering to publish my first book.

It was truly one of the most exciting days of my life. 
I got to meet John Perkins in Chicago!


Going in to the book-writing process, all I knew that I enjoyed writing and I wanted to write a book. Literally nothing else. Having now gone through the process once, I've started to learn what to do and what not to do. In the first of a two-part blog, here would be my advice for ambitious writers hoping to get their first book published. 

1. Being an author is part-time writer and part-time small business owner. Being an author will feel like a part-time job or sometimes even a full-time job. I played basketball in college. Fans see the glamorous part, but players know all that happens behind the scenes before game day. As an author, you wear a lot of hats besides that of a writer.  Publishers definitely help you out throughout the process, but you are the main person responsible for the writing and promotion of your book.

2. Write as much as you can. Prior to writing a book, I wrote sports at The News Leader in Staunton for 13 years.  I also wrote for many other publications about faith, culture and music. I wrote for free for as many publications as I could, and I was able to build lots of relationships. Also, expanding my reading audience beyond the local newspaper readership was important as I sold the idea of my book to a publishing company. I would suggest creating a personal blog and finding a Web site that is looking for writers. Then contribute to both sites consistently. Set a goal of one personal blog and one published blog a week.

3. Read as much as you can. One book that was required reading for me was Michael Hyatt's Platform.  (Read about it here.) The book is filled with insights that apply to new and aspiring authors. Another way I continue to improve as a writer is to read as much material as I can from really good writers. Not only is reading enjoyable, but you grow as a writer, so it's a win-win situation. 

4.  Know what publishers like. Publishers are not looking to read your book. They want a book proposal that tells them why lots of other people would read your book and two sample chapters. Hyatt actually addresses the right way to make a book proposal in the Platform book and on his blog.

5. Be prepared for your big break. In July of 2012,  I attended The Legacy Conference  at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. I actually had my book proposal in my backpack. When I met the representative from Moody Publishing, she told me what I needed to submit to have my book considered. I was able to hand it to her right on the spot. If nothing else, she knew I was serious about becoming a published author. 

I was interviewed on the Chris Fabry Live! show about being an author and the Trayvon Martin aftermath. You can listen here.

I write these blogs as conversation starters. I would love to know what type of book you would like to publish, and what other questions you have about writing a book. If you have written a book, what other tips would you suggest to aspiring authors? 

Chris Lassiter is a Christ-follower, a husband to Emily (read her blog about forgiveness here), and a dad to five crazy kids. Chris leads Young Life at his former high school, Robert E. Lee, in Staunton, VA, and he has written for VIBE, Rapzilla.com, JamTheHype.com and other publications. Moody Publishers recently released his first book, You're Grounded, which you can purchase here. Please consider subscribing to the Cross Promotion blog, which gets updated twice a week. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Hook-Up: 4 Books (besides mine) to snatch up on Cyber Monday

Moody Publishing (the company that published my first book) is having a gigantic Cyber Monday sale (click here for online sale). 

If you are looking for a stocking stuffer, here are four other Moody Publishing books I recommend in addition to mine: 

1. DNA: Foundations of the Faith by D.A. Horton


Advance13 - D.A. Horton from Advance The Church on Vimeo.

D.A. is the director of Reach Life Ministries, a ministry that works in conjunction with the Reach Records label.  He's incredibly gifted in taking theological truth and making it applicable, especially to Christ-followers who grew up in hip-hop culture. I've met him and his wife on occasion. In his teachings (which I podcast regularly), he's extremely passionate, open and vulnerable. Keep up with his ministry and you will grow.

2. The Cross-Shaped Gospel by Bryan Loritts



Without any exaggeration, I think I have listened to every sermon this man has ever preached. (You can listen here).  I love his ministry. He's a great preacher, and he's a master of illustration and storytelling. He always uses those gifts to lift up Jesus. Watch the five-minute snippet above and you will see exactly what I mean.

3. The Good Life by Trip Lee



Most people know Trip Lee as a theologically sound rapper. His ministry is so much more than music. He preaches, too, and recently he wrote a book, The Good Life, that has the same title as his last album. The book takes a look at how people, including those in hip-hop, would define "the good life" and then addresses it from a gospel perspective.

4: Kai'Ro - The Journey of an Urban Pilgrim 

Kai'Ro is a brilliantly written hip-hop remix of John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress. Our family has used this book and its sequel, Kai'Ro Returns, for family devotionals for the past few months. 

It's one of the best fiction books I've read addressing the challenges of being a disciple of Jesus Christ in an urban environment. (The other would be Phanatik's City of Allegory, which you can find here.)

As a reader, I'm growing more convinced that fiction writing does play an important role in our Christian journey. As a dad of five, it's been fun watching my kids embrace parts one and two of this book.

5: You're Grounded by me, Chris Lassiter





You're Grounded is an introduction to the gospel and the Christian life aimed at the hip-hop influenced reader. It's perfect to pick up and read, as a gift for a friend, or to study in a group. 

I'd love to hear back from you. Which book on this list interests you?  What other Cyber Monday deals are you excited about? 

Chris Lassiter is a Christ-follower, a husband to Emily (read her blog about forgiveness here), and a dad to five crazy-but-oh-so-lovable kids. Chris is a Young Life leader in his hometown of Staunton, Va. Please consider following The Cross Promotion Blog, which gets updated twice a week.