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Helping you Preserve the Stories that Matter Most [Guest Post]

Have you ever wished you knew a bit more about your mom’s life, or your dad’s life, or their life together? Sure, you know the basics, the “big picture”. You know they got married sometime in the 60’s. You know your dad spent a few years in the Air Force.

What years were those? Was he overseas?

And, you’re pretty sure your mom started college, but didn’t finish.

Why? Was it when your older sister was born?

You can be certain they had their own dreams, victories – big and small – and, probably some setbacks. And, you can also be sure they have a bunch of interesting, and entertaining stories – stories that you will never know, until you ask.

Journus Question screen with images

Imagine that you could easily capture and hold onto these stories. And, imagine that your parents would not have to wonder if anyone wants to hear or read about their lives, or – maybe worse – stare at an empty page and wonder, “Where do I start? What do I write?”.

You can stop imagining.

Enter Journus

With Journus (www.journus.com), you can easily ask all the questions you want answered by creating and sending a digital book of questions. And your parents (or other loved ones) can easily provide answers by adding text, photos, maps, and sketches to the digital Journus book. Then, you’ll get the real stories, straight from the source.

When the book is complete, you can effortlessly publish it as a timeless, hardcover book and then have it shipped to you or anyone who wants to preserve their stories.  

Journus uses Lulu’s print-on-demand platform to offer a variety of book sizes, cover types, and print options.

Journus Book cover and interior example

An Idea Becomes A Purpose-Driven Business

If you’re like me, then you really are interested in the details and stories that can paint a more complete picture of who your parents (or other loved ones) really are.  

You also know there’s no chance they would ever write any of these stories down for you and your siblings to learn, laugh and share. My father would rather stick his finger in electric socket (he was an electrician), than stare at an empty page with a heading that read: “Tell us about your life.” My mother would just smile and say, “Those stories are silly, that was a long time ago. This really matters to you? Do you really care about this?”

Uhmmm.  Yes, I do.

It turns out there are actually a few people out there who do write these things down – well, there’s at least one person. On a drive home from a skiing trip, a good friend told me how his father had written an informal autobiography and then printed three hardcopies for him, his brother, and his sister. My friend told me that he learned so many things about his dad’s life that he never knew. Through his life’s stories, his father became so much more interesting in my friend’s eyes. His dad was a real adventurer, with his own colorful journey that included so much more than being just his ‘dad’.

The next morning, I told my business partner about my ski trip. And then, knowing he was close with his parents, I mentioned the book – this book of stories – that my friend’s dad had given him. The exact details are fuzzy, but a few minutes later we were using our software backgrounds to design a system that could help capture the stories that matter most – from the people we care about most.

4 Easy Steps to Create a Storyography

You’re probably wondering, What is a ‘Storyography’.  

We are using “storyography” in place of “biography” to describe the books that our customers tell us they’re making with Journus. Rather than documenting every detail of a loved one’s life in meticulous chronological order, Journus is used to ask the interesting and entertaining questions about loved one’s lives. Journus books become a collection of colorful stories and anecdotes that will tell you who your parents or loved ones REALLY are.

Storyography definition from Journus

Now, you’re probably thinking, Sure, a storyography about my parents’ lives sounds great, but how much work is it?  How, exactly, do I create, share, and publish my Storyography?  

Not to worry. Journus will take you through the whole process – from building a book of questions and getting answers to publishing and delivering a hardcopy book to your front door.

1.  Create a Book of Questions

The first step is to create a book which has all the questions you want your loved one (we’ll call them your “author”) to answer.

Create New Book

Creating a new book is easy and free. Just add a title and select a book size – 6 x 9 or 8.5 x 11. In the future, Journus will be able to offer range of book sizes in both landscape and portrait orientations.

New Journus Book Size selection

After selecting your book size, you can start adding chapters and questions. We can help get you started with sample outlines and hundreds of sample questions.  And, of course, you can add your own questions.

Journus Outline Selector

Select from a list of sample outlines provided by Journus.

Outline Selector to create the question list for your parents

Journus Outline Builder

Next, using the Journus Outline Builder, you can create chapter names and add lists of questions. You can add, edit, delete, and rearrange the chapters and questions however you like.  Building the book of questions is easy with the Journus Outline Builder.

Journus Outline Builder with specific question selections

And, remember, creating and sharing Journus outlines and digital books is absolutely free! So, you can easily test different outlines, questions, and book sizes.

When you’re done with your outline, Journus will convert it to a digital Journus Book – a realistic-looking book with your cover, chapters, pages, and questions. Your author will add their answers – with text, photos, maps, and sketches – directly into the Journus Book.

New Journus Book

Journus Sample book image

2.  Invite your Author

Next, you will send your book of questions to your author so they can add their answers. Journus makes this easy as well. You just need to enter you author’s email address (and a short message if you’d like) and press “Send Invitation”. 

That’s it.

We’ll send a Journus Invitation via email. Once they click on “Accept Invitation” they will be able to see and edit the Journus Book.

Invite your parents to their Journus project

Now, they can start answering your questions. The Journus Book Builder is packed with easy-to-use tools to add text, pictures, sketches, and even maps to answer your questions. They can add new pages, chapters, and questions if they want to share more of their life’s story with you.

Journus Book Viewer

3.  Encourage

At this point you can sit back and relax while your author answers all your questions, right? Not so fast. You may need to check in from time to time to encourage them and let them know that you really do care about their answers.

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Journus is a collaborative system, so you can open the digital book at any time and see how your author is progressing and maybe help them if they get a bout of “writer’s block”. 

Stock image - family talking via phone

4.  Print and Ship

After your author has finished adding answers to your Journus Book, you are ready to convert the digital book to a timeless hardcopy edition and have it sent to you and others.

finished book from Journus printed and shipped

Hold on to Their Stories

You asked. They answered. They were inspired to tell their stories, and now you can hold onto them. Now, that’s a real “win-win”.

Journus Family Collage

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