Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Book Cover Junkie Interviews Memoirist Melissa M. Monroe


Now living in Los Angeles with her daughter Grace, Melissa M. Monroe was born in Yuma, AZ. She attended Loyola University in Chicago. After finishing at Loyola, she studied modern dance at University of Chicago. In 1995, she moved to California to train in Pilates, yoga, and acupuncture, which she practices as a professional.

Website: http://www.melissamariemonroe.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/tripleMMeaning

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MelissaMarieMonroeAuthor

Tik Tok: https://www.tiktok.com/@triplemmeaning

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/melissammonroe/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/melissa-monroe-b0b1197/

Tell us about your book! What inspired you to write it? 

I began to blog about a month after my two-year-old daughter Alice died in her sleep of

unknown causes (SUDC) because I could barely speak, and folks wanted to know how I was doing. They also wanted to know what happened. 

I thought some friends and family would read the blog, and I'd save my breath and sanity because re-telling the story over and over was traumatizing. But the blog took on a life of its own, something I didn't expect. 

Eventually, my friend Teresa Strasser (author of Making It Home) ordered me to turn it into a book and send her chapters, and I always (sometimes) do what I'm told.

How did you choose the title for your book? Did it come to you right away, before you started writing it, or did it come later? 

It's funny. I generally have the name early in the process, often before I start. But not this time. Teresa (Strasser, author of Making it Home) used that phrase to describe the book in her notes on my manuscript. And then I remembered that grief guru David Kessler says that "finding meaning" is the sixth stage of grief. While discussing potential titles with another friend, Mom's Search for Meaning was the clear winner. I found myself searching for meaning long before I knew it was advisable to do so. In cases like Alice's, where no cause of death can be determined, one's need for "closure" becomes unattainable, and therefore, finding meaning can become a driving force.

Tell us about the cover design process. Did you have a basic idea of what your book cover would be like?  

I clearly envisioned what I wanted it to be, and Jason Arias beautifully executed it. The image comes from a vision-of-sorts I describe in the book. I sent Jason a mock-up and the passages I wanted to inform the image, and then he produced the cover. It went as smoothly as it could have gone. It was a joy to work with him. 

Who is your cover designer and how did you find him/her? 

I found the fabulous Jason Arias on Reedsy. He also has an Instagram page. 

What has been the readers' response to your cover? 

The reaction has been overwhelmingly positive. I keep hearing, "It truly draws me in!" and “It’s perfect, Melissa!” 

What tips would you give to authors who are looking for a cover designer? 

Great question! In my opinion, you have to research the work of several designers, then pitch a few. At this point, you will learn their fee structure, proposed turn-around time, and what exactly they will provide for that fee. During this phase, you can get a sense of how someone works and if it that works for you. While discussing terms with Jason, a few things stood out:

  • He seemed genuinely moved by the topic
  • He provided clear responses in a timely fashion
  • He was strategic and thorough in his questions about what I was looking for... which saved so much time. 
  • He respected what I envisioned, which was evident in his follow-up questions 
  • He was kind and compassionate to this naïve, debut author
  • Clearly, he had work experience that would save us many headaches during the frustrating formatting process. 

I went for kind, efficient, experienced, clear communication, clear expectations, and top-tier work. And I hit the jack-pot. 

Anything else you'd like to say about your book? 

I realize people are afraid to discuss grief in general and child loss in particular. Still, I promise your life will be fuller and your relationships more satisfying if you spend some time considering these topics. My book is more a love letter than a eulogy. It's a love letter to my daughters, my community, the Southern California Counseling Center, trauma therapy, and to every person who is willing to sit with another human during their Dark Night of the Soul.




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