Conversation Tools - Be Curious

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A quick tip on asking questions. Open-ended is always better and will yield better answers; however, not all open-ended questions are equal. Avoid using strong words because these are the words that your child will respond to and perhaps not the question itself. For example, "You must have been angry when that happened, tell me about that." Your child is going to tell you about feeling angry in that situation even if fear was their strongest emotion.

Conversation Tools - Emotions


Emotions, they color our thoughts, words, and actions, and we all know that is definitely not a good thing in most cases. The use of The Conversation Journal will give a buffer between your emotions and your responses, but that might not always be the case.  So how do we approach emotions in a conflict situation?

Emotions are often involuntary responses, which means they happen without our conscious effort. With time our emotional reaction to an event can change as well. Because they can change, we have a tendency not to treat them as concrete; however, when handling conflicts, it is important to do the opposite. The emotional response someone has in a conflict is real and felt no matter how much we agree with that response or not. When addressing conflict, it is crucial to avoid attacking emotions. Treat them as a fact and not something that needs to be changed, fixed, or negotiated away.

There is a popular older formula for conflict resolution where one uses "I" statements, (when you did X I felt Y). I do not like this approach. Obviously, it must have some merit because it is still taught in basic conflict management classes. For children, I find it is not helpful. It allows the child to put the responsibility of their emotions on the other person. I have 5 young children, and with all of them that have used that formula, they have had a tendency to place the blame of their emotional response on the other person.

In our house we try to use another formula, also taught in conflict management classes "cause and effect" statements. For example; when you did X here is how it affected me. Once the child has then solved the conflict that arose from that we can individually address feelings; when affect X happened, I felt Y, and I chose to do Z. We have found that this approach helps our kids own their own roll in their emotional response as well as the actions that then come from that.

Book Launch: The Conversation Journal

Being a wife and a mom is hard work. We’ve fought for women’s rights and so our lives have more freedoms and liberties than that of our grandmothers and yet our job is still hard. Human beings are tribal, we seek connections and community. We often form these tribes and communities around shared experiences and life circumstances - our personal stories.

I started making the Conversation Journal so that I could better connect with one of my 5 children. It occurred to me that there might be other mothers and fathers out there that would also want to connect with their kids in this way so M and I decided we’d share our Journal with everyone. I also feel a calling to share my story and experiences as an encouragement to other mothers out there who may struggle with some of the same things that I do or have struggled with.

My initial intention wasn’t to sell the journal to others. M likes to be artistic and so do I. A journal that represented us wouldn’t have been able to be a simple spiral-bound notebook. I began designing pages that I intended to print and glue into a spiral notebook, but the number of pages grew and grew until I realized I had designed an entire book for us. M saw my work and while I sat at my computer wondering how I was going to glue all the pages into a notebook she “You made us a book, we can share it with my friend and her mom. I’ve been telling them about our journal and they want to do one too.”

From there the path seemed simple. Upload my designs at no cost to myself to CreateSpace, Amazon’s self-publishing service. Once published I could then order myself a copy and share the link with M’s friend, end of story. My darling daughter was very excited about this idea and went straight to school to tell all her friends that her mom had written a book and they could all get one. I came to the school for a visit a few days later and got bombarded by a half dozen girls who all wanted a copy of the journal to do with their moms. 

A few days later I was talking to a mom friend about a conversation I had with D and she marveled at my genius. I of course knew it wasn’t genius and that I have little to no conversational skills, so I told her about another mom who had given me my idea. I then proceeded to tell her about the village of other mothers who I regularly hounded with questions about mothering skills. She said she wished I had recorded those conversations so I could share them with her.

I laughed when she said that, but it planted the seed for the podcast. Everything ended up way bigger than my initial intention of gluing a few pages into a notebook, and that is extremely scary to me. However after reading Kobi Yamada’s book, What do You do With an Idea, I am pushing forward through my fears. It is important to know I am not pushing past my fears, I wish I was past them! I am smack dab in the middle of my fears and slowly going forward.

I am standing out here on my own admitting that I don’t always know what to do as a mother and I have to ask other mothers for advice. I can’t always sit down and have peaceful and meaningful conversations individually with my five kids. My confession, I may be a seasoned mom with little kids, but I am not an expert. I need help and I need to ask other mothers for advice and help.

If you like what you read and you want to interact more I’ve created a group just for you on Facebook. We can share our struggles and ask for advice from other parents who have been there and share the same vision of having deeper longer conversations with our kids. 

4 Actions to Take For a Book Launch

how to launch a book

We chose to self publish for a number of reasons with our previous experience marketing books as a top factor in that decision. In this article, I’ll lay out some of the steps we take as well as link to a few useful articles and podcasts from other authors. If you want to read about the tools we use to write and publish our books click here. Interested in how we design our covers, read the article here.

We’ve worked with a few books published by major publishing houses. Yes, you get some major retailer shelf space when you publish with them, but if those books don’t sell they go back to the warehouse and you don’t get a dime. The bulk of the advertising, as well as the expense of it, falls on the lap of the author. You typically get a portion of your royalties upfront and can use that money to hire a marketing firm but still, the responsibility of getting the word out there falls on you as the author. A dirty little secret of the book publishing industry, right? Below are four actions we take in every one of our book launches.

Social Media
You’ve got a social network right? I mean who doesn’t have one these days? USE IT! You don’t have to be that super annoying friend with the multi-level marketing scheme that’s constantly plugging a product you don’t care about, just drop simple updates on what you are doing. “Hey, guys it’s been a long day of writing, 20,349 words and counting.” Something simple like this gives them just enough information to get them curious but not so much information that they feel imposed upon. Start out slow, with an update every week or two as you are writing your book (it takes longer than a week or two by the way). Then once you have a finalized first draft you can up your game a little with a post a week. Snap pictures of the proof copy, if you order one, and show all your mark-ups. Don’t give more information than you need to until you have a firm date settled on for launch. Allow your audience to ask you questions!

Launch Team
You’ll have some friends that show more interest than others into what you are writing. When you’ve gone through a proof or two and you feel you are nearly ready, approach a handful of these friends and ask them to give your book a read through before you publish. I know you may be hoping to squeeze pennies out of all your friends at first hoping every one of them will buy your book, but giving away a few copies will be better for the long game. You’ll get helpful feedback and hopefully, your friends will give some reviews and on launch day you can ask all of your “Launch team” to post on their social profiles about your book along with their review of it which automatically extends your reach. I know I just bashed multi-level-marketing schemes, but the fact is they work, so tapping into some of the less obnoxious elements they use can come in handy.

Facebook Groups
Especially if your book is non-fiction; Facebook groups are a valuable asset. Ask yourself if your topic is something other people might want to discuss or you can build a community around. Chances are the answer is probably yes! If you are writing fiction consider creating a Facebook Group or page around yourself as the author. The group can be a place where they learn what you are up to and talk with (or nerd out with) other fans of your work. Launching a Facebook group at the same time as your book can be a great way to stir up buzz. This also creates an audience for promoting future books and speaking events if that is a goal for you. Here is a really great podcast with Nona Jones, of Facebook, on how best to utilize Facebook groups.

For my book the Conversation Journal I launched a Facebook group for parents who want to have conversations with their kids. The group is designed to help and encourage parents as they are going on this journey. I share relevant content on this topic as well as experts and freebies that keep the book in mind.

I know we are struggling authors and we want to make money off of our work, now I’m telling you to give it away for free? Yes, yes I am. Not all of it, but a portion of it. Drive people to your website with a free offer of chapter one or a simple Google app-based quiz that supports your topic. Freebies serve two purposes, to inform the world about your book with a sample and to build up a contact list. Don't forget to use a tool like MailChimp to capture the contact information of the folks utilizing your freebies. I’m going to give another link to a Carey Nieuwhof Podcast because the dude is great! He launched his book I Didn’t See it Coming in August of 2018 and his rollout and promotion were superb. In this podcast, he details the steps he took, some really great advice here folks!

Now you have read about our four go-to actions and you are thinking “But I just can’t”. You don’t have the time, patience, or know-how - that’s fine! That is what we are here for, if you want to work with us we’d love to help you position your book for a successful launch. Click Here to contact us.

4 Tools You Need to Design a Book Cover

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I’ll be honest with you, Jason and I owned a marketing company so I have a bit of design knowledge and skills already. They are rusty from lack of use in the past ten years, but it doesn’t ever entirely go away. That being said I believe with these four tools anyone can design their own beautiful book cover with little with very little learning required.

Let’s start with the simplest one and one you probably already have access to already if you use Google, and that’s Google Draw. I used Google Draw to create the first draft of all the illustrations in the Conversation Journal. Remember that print and digital are very different quality when you design so make sure you set your page size based on 300 pixels per inch (best quality for printing). If you are making a 6x9 book your Drawing will be 1800x2700 pixels, pretty simple.

The next tool we use is a web-based app called Canva. Canva is great for just about everything you might want to create and design. You can do your entire promotional packaging using Canva, web ads, social media items, cover and much more. There are quite a few FREE elements but they’ve also got a great option to buy elements if your design skills are lacking. Plus they’ve got hundreds of great templates to help you with the layout if that’s not your jam. I personally hate layout design so Canva has been a great tool for searching ideas for me.

The next tool we use is Inkscape. It is a free tool that is very similar to Adobe’s Photoshop. There are a web-based app and downloadable software. Jason starts his designs out in Canva and then refines them using Inkscape.

The last tool we love is UnSplash. They’ve got amazing quality royalty free images. We used paid stock photography when we were running our marketing company and let me tell you these free images are just as awesome, if not more so. You don’t have, but you can always drop a call out on the inside of your book with photo credits.

Once you’ve got your cover designed and you want to make marketing and promotional items this guy has some great free templates you can use.

Is your laptop slowing you down? Yeah mine was too, here is the machine I now use that keeps me up and running, and here is my honest review of it.

If you want to read about my must-have tools for self-publishing go back to last week's article here.


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