Saturday, May 30, 2009

Cheryl and Betsy's BEA Bash

Betsy Bird of the School Library Journal’s Fuse #8 Blog and Cheryl Klein, editor at Scholastic, throw some great Drink Nites. This time it was to celebrate Book Expo America in town for their convention at the Jacob Javits Center.

The Best Bets: Betsy Bird is a great hostess.

So many publishing people attended, authors, illustrators, editors, librarians, SCBWI folk, bloggers and more. I got to chat with illustrator Jesse Joshua Watson as well as authors Susanna Reich, Greg Neri, Steven Kroll and pink-haired about to pop pregnant, Laini Taylor

Author-illustrator John Rocco and his lovely author-illustrator wife, Aileen Leijten are neighbors from DUMBO.

A table of good cheer. Left to Right, Heather Scott, Jennifer Hubert from Reading Rants, Laura Lutz from Queens Library and Michael Santangelo from Brooklyn Pubic Library.

Photos: Melanie Hope Greenberg

Friday, May 29, 2009

Artists In My Book / *Shannon Kerner* Interview

I met Shannon Kerner in 2005, we were creative vendors for the Jay Street Market in DUMBO, Brooklyn. Shannon is also a Superfine Dinette, they marched as The MerMod Squad in the 2005 Mermaid Parade.

A woman of many talents, Shannon writes, sings with her own band, and loves to create art daily. I’ll never forget the chocolate pastries she baked and sold at the Jay Street Market. Yum.

Here’s her interview.

Q: If you had a mermaid name what would it be? 
SK: Shanimal. I'm always a mermaid, so my name wouldn't change. I guess when I'm underwater it's something more like shaaa aaa aa niii niii maaaaaaa llllll. 
Q: What does Coney Island mean to you? 
SK: It means enough to me that I wrote a song about it. I think Coney Island is a place that has been constantly in flux as long as it has been a place for people to escape the city. It is unfortunate that we are living during a time when it will be under development, but such is life. It will always be a place where anyone and everyone can get to the water on a hot day and have some fun. Wonder Wheel Forever! 
Q: Why do you march in the Mermaid Parade? 

SK: I think of it as a holiday, something not to be missed if possible. You wouldn't miss eating turkey on Thanksgiving, would you? 
Q: What are your current creative endeavors? 
SK: My band Shanimal is going to put out an album soon, called Rough & Tumble. You can check out my music. We are also making a video! This album has taken awhile, so it is pretty exciting. I try to make art everyday. Write a song or make pop-up art or do something funny to make someone smile, you know, the good stuff of life. 
Thanks, Shannon!

*Image: Shannon Kerner in MERMAIDS ON PARADE.
Copyright Melanie Hope Greenberg
*Photo: Tim Galbreath

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Association of Booksellers for Children Visits Melanie's Exhibition at the Brooklyn Central Library

The Executive Director of the Association of Booksellers for Children, Kristen McLean, was kind enough to visit my exhibition while she’s in town for Book Expo America. We slowly toured the 28 display showcases filled with original art from my picture books and chatted in the beautiful plaza in front of the library.

Kristen will host the Not-a-Dinner and (Mostly) Silent Auction, ABC’s gala event for the BEA, this Friday evening May 29 at the Brooklyn Marriott. The auction features original children’s book illustration and comic work by some of the most well known illustrators in children’s publishing.

ABC's Kristen McLean by the golden pillars of Brooklyn Central Library.

See this original illustration from AUNT LILLY’S LAUNDROMAT, a picture book I wrote and illustrated now on exhibition in "Ordinary into Extraordinary", at the Brooklyn Central Library *Youth Wing* 10 Grand Army Plaza until June 13, 2009. It's FREE!

I got the idea for AUNT LILLY’S LAUNDROMANT while doing laundry at the Ideal Laundromat on Montague Street in Brooklyn Heights. I discovered the owner, Mr Chen fast sleep in his chair. I wrote a story of an immigrant who must adjust to a new environment; the hard working backbone of a community, sometimes overlooked. I chose a Haitian main character because I love the colorful, vibrant, spiritual, and multi-patterned art of Haiti.

Copyright Melanie Hope Greenberg

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Writing and Illustrating / Dummies Are Not Dumb

Now that I’ve written a story about a shy mermaid coming out of her shell, how do I go about getting my story published?

In order to present my book idea to an editor I take these steps.

First, thumbnail grids help to see the whole 32 page book at once in a sequence of scenes.
Click on image to enlarge.

Then, storyboards for the 32 pages put words and pictures together.
Click on image to enlarge.

After that, the dummy, a fake 32 page picture book with both sketches and text helps me feel the turn of the page.
Click on image to enlarge.

Last, I found an editor who was interested in my book idea.

To sell a book, I send the editor my packet which includes a typed manuscript, the book dummy and a color art sample.

Wish Me Luck!

All Images Copyright Melanie Hope Greenberg

Friday, May 22, 2009

MERMAIDS ON PARADE wins an honor

MERMAIDS ON PARADE has been selected as Bank Street College of Education’s 2009 Best Books of the Year!

The Children’s Book Committee at Bank Street College of Education creates, publishes, and distributes one of the most comprehensive annotated book lists for children, ages infant–14. The committee reviews over 4,000 titles each year for accuracy and literary quality and considers their emotional impact on children. It chooses the best 600 books, both fiction and nonfiction, which it lists according to age and category in the annual Best Children’s Books of the Year List. 

Mermaid Parade Season Has Started

The Superfine Dinettes, who star in my book, MERMAIDS ON PARADE, had their first Mermaid Parade meeting to discuss our plans to march. The parade takes place at Coney Island on June 20, 2009 at 2pm.

More to come......

The Dweck is Gweat!

On May 19, 2009 I presented a power point program about the creation of my picture book, MERMAIDS ON PARADE, for some delightful second graders at the Dweck Auditorium in the Brooklyn Central Library.

The program celebrated my exhibition "Ordinary into Extraordinary" that is FREE to the public until June 13, 2009.

Afterwards, the students went upstairs to see the exhibition.

Schools expert, Joyce Szuflita, from NYC School Help, was my invited guest.
Here's her recap of my program on her blog, My Side Walk Chalk.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Picture Book Art

You can see this original illustration from a picture book called,
ON MY STREET by Eve Merriam, in "Ordinary into Extraordinary" at the Brooklyn Central Library *Youth Wing* 10 Grand Army Plaza until June 13, 2009. It's FREE!

I never met poet Eve Merriam, but believe we'd be friends. Many authors and illustrators work on the same book project but never meet. I'm so fortunate to know many of my wonderful authors. Anne Rockwell, Miriam Cohen, Norman Rosten, and Olga Litowinsky all requested that I illustrate their books. That is rare. I am forever grateful to them. This book is dedicated to my beautiful neighborhood, Brooklyn Heights.

Image: From ON MY STREET. Copyright Melanie Hope Greenberg

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Artists in My Book / *Alex Battles* Interview

Alex Battles is about good energy. He's also a big supporter of books.
Transplanted from Ohio, the multi-talented performer also produces many popular musical venues in the New York City area; including the Johnny Cash Birthday Bash and the Brooklyn Country Music Festival. I saw him with Banjorama at the 5th Annual Brooklyn Winter Hoedown last March at Superfine. That’s when I asked for an interview and he agreed.

Q: If you had a mermaid name what would it be? 
AB: Gary Ukulele! 
Q: How do your music ventures connect the NYC arts communities?  
AB: We just had an artist Martin Sartryb, do a beautiful mural for the
Cash Bash. I would like to do more things like that. 

Q: Do you march in the Mermaid Parade?   
AB: No, but I once videotaped a mermaid wedding! :D 
Q: What does Coney Island represent for you? 
AB: The Cyclone. 
Q: What are you currently working on? 
AB: Making a record. 

Thanks Alex!

Photo Credits: Katie Kovach
Image * Alex Battles in MERMAIDS ON PARADE GP Putnam's Son

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Brooklyn Blog Fest '09 Recap

Last November, author-illustrator Douglas Florian, sent a pink blogspot template my way; he named it Mermaids on Parade and suggested the blog be used to publicize my picture books. I started blogging.

When I read there was going to be a Brooklyn Blog Fest '09 I had go.
Besides, it was held at powerHouse Books who sell A CITY IS.

I introduced myself to faces I recognized from photos online, like Claude Scales of the Self-Absorbed Boomer Blog as well as the Cobble Hill Blog, and Louise Crawford of Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn, who MC’d the event.

Our name tags also helped. Introduced myself to LA Slugocki. Glad I was friendly, she mentioned my blog in her review about the Blog Fest '09 for the Dumbo NYC Blog and the Brooklyn Heights Blog.

I met a guardian angel named Joyce Szuflita, a school specialist from My Side Walk Chalk Blog. She suggested I attend the Parent Group breakout session after the panel. (Joyce quickly listed my website in her NYC School Help Newsletter).

The Parent Group was very helpful. Everyone took everyone else’s business cards. How great to find out that Blog Fest panelist, Hip Slope Mama’s Melissa Lopato knew about my books; that Karen Connell of A Child Grows in Brooklyn remembered my author visit from a couple of years ago; that Anna Fader of Mommy Poppins and Bethany Rule Vedder of Sane Moms were so approachable; and that New York Magazine and Park Slope author and mom, Amy Sohn once bought my jewish holiday book.

Floated across the street on Cloud 9 to the Blog Fest after party at Galapagos. Finally met Homer and Mrs Fink from the Brooklyn Heights Blog which voted me Brooklyn Heights Blog Ten 2008. BHB reporter Sarah Portlock was there too. Have not seen her since my PS 58 author residency.

Photo: Found in Brooklyn's Lisanne McT won the digital camera in the raffle. She visualized winning it beforehand. Hope her luck rubs off on me!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

I LOVE DUMBO/ DUMBO Loves Melanie's Books

Superfine sells autograhed copies of MERMAIDS ON PARADE all year.
They are located at 126 Front Street 718.243.9005.

Today was one of those great days in DUMBO Brooklyn for chats, hugs, delicious food and books. It started at Superfine. Nothing beats my favorite Sunday brunch and live music with the Lounge Leader.

Superfine owner Cara Lee Sparry poses with my book. Thanks, Superfine!

After brunch I walked over to the Bklyn Designs show at the St Ann’s Warehouse.

Iglooplay children's furniture by Lisa Albin Design invited children’s authors and illustrators for book readings and signings. Thanks, Lisa! Author and illustrator Janet Pedersen warmed the bench reading her delightful book, "Houdini the Amazing Caterpillar". Lisa Albin, Janet Pedersen and I had the Mother’s Day spirit.

Then it was my turn to read.

A full moon Mother's Day felt filled with love. Even met my former yoga teacher at the show!

My time at the show was over. I strolled through DUMBO and discovered that Kim who owns Journey at 166 Water Street displays a copy MERMAIDS ON PARADE in her beautiful shop. Thanks Kim!

I stopped into P.S. Bookshop at 145-A Front Street. They sell autographed copies of A CITY IS and GOOD MORNING, DIGGER. Thanks, Yuval!

On the way home I stopped into powerHouse Books at 37 Main Street. They carry autographed copies of A CITY IS. Thanks, Susanne!

Did I tell you that I LOVE DUMBO?

Photo Credits : Melanie Hope Greenberg, Janet Pedersen and Sat Jagat Singh Khalsa.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Events / Brooklyn Designs 5/10/09

Happy Mother's Day!

I'll be reading and signing MERMAIDS ON PARADE, GOOD MORNING DIGGER and A CITY IS on Mother's Day
Sunday, May 10th
2:30 pm – 3 pm
Kid’s Story Time with Lisa Albin Design's Igloo Play,

St. Ann's Warehouse 38 Water St DUMBO Brooklyn

Collect my autographed books in the Dumbo area at:
* A CITY IS @ PowerHouse Books 37 Main Street DUMBO
* MERMAIDS ON PARADE @ Superfine 126 Front St. DUMBO 718.243.9005

Image: "Mothers & Children" by Melanie Hope Greenberg Copyright 1997
Collect this original illustration.

Melanie's Library Exhibition / TV Interview

TIME OUT NEW YORK mentions my current Brooklyn Central Library Exhibition:
“Illustrator Melanie Hope Greenberg captures the magic of New York City in the simple yet evocative drawings that can be found in her children’s books including ‘Mermaids on Parade’ and ‘A City Is’ “ - Issue 710, pg 57

All the BPL artists were filmed by Brooklyn Cable Access Television for the ELEANOR TV show. The interviews air on Sat May 9 @ 9:30AM
Ch 67 (cablevision),
Ch. 34 (Time Warner)
Ch 82 (RCN)
Ch 42.
Airing is scheduled in Queens on QPTV
Fri May 15th @ 12:30pm Ch 34
Sun May 17th @ 3 pm Ch 56.

You can see this original illustration from DOWN IN THE SUBWAY in "Ordinary into Extraordinary" at the Brooklyn Central Library *Youth Wing* 10 Grand Army Plaza until June 13, 2009. FREE to the public.

DOWN IN THE SUBWAY was chosen "New York Times Great Read" in 2008. Author Miram Cohen personally chose me to illustrate her “subway ride to nowhere”. Miriam and I met through Learning Leaders in 1993, traveling to give author visits at PS 59 in the Bronx. We both saw white doves in our gardens in Queens and in Brooklyn. Around the same time, Miriam mentioned a manuscript written for her Jamaican friend Gladys, who had recently passed away. I painted Gladys (The Island Lady) as Mother Nature who gifts the hot subway riders with the four elements of air, water, earth and fire from out of her colorful bag. Miriam has always been a wonderful friend and guide in my career and life.

All Art is copyrighted 1998 by Melanie Hope Greenberg.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Writing / Editors *Interview with Timothy Travaglini

Most people do not understand how a book gets on a shelf. I am often approached by friends, family, strangers and asked if I can illustrate their story. They explain it's a hit with their children, classroom or friends. If only publishing were that easy.

The reason for this blog is to end the misconceptions. To sell a story idea for publication an editor has to like it first. Currently, over 50 children’s publishing houses exist, each with several editors. It’s the job of the aspiring author or illustrator to find an editor that will buy their story. Not easy, each house has their own submission rules.

I originally met senior editor Tim Travaglini when we were faculty for SCBWI crossing paths in Alabama and Nebraska. It was at the 2005 SCBWI National conference in Los Angeles when I approached Tim about a new book idea. I knew he loved my illustration style. It took another 6 months for me to rewrite and sketch to show Tim my idea. Within weeks of my submission I was offered a contract with GP Putnam’s Sons, an imprint of Penguin USA.

Tim graciously explains his complex job.

 Q: What does a picture book editor do for a book project from creative to pricing to marketing?

TT: An editor discovers a project; advocates acquiring it; negotiates advances and contracts; finds an illustrator (if not a one-person project); does the above with the illustrator; edits the text; addresses publisher's and art director's concerns with text; "edits" sketches and then finished artwork; addresses publisher's and art director's concerns with sketches and artwork; oversees the project's path through copyediting, design and production; launches the project in-house to Sales and Marketing, and later may present to the sales force at Sales Conference; coordinates author with Marketing to maximize author's key contacts and local/regional/or topical media; advocates for support of book as needed.  Increasingly the Modern Editor may also market directly (e. g. solicit and send copies to bloggers, accounts, librarians, and the like), and most importantly marshal the artist-author's self-promotional efforts (which now includes a vast arsenal of options).  And I am sure I have overlooked a few things… 
Q: How can authors and illustrators help their books sell well?

TT: The Modern Author must have a comprehensive and interactive website; on-line video content; maintain a living list of contacts that she/he both emails and mails to quarterly (or to announce special events).  She/He ideally should aim for as many school visits per year as possible; become acquianted with every children’s librarian, school, bookseller, and
children’s literature specialist in her/his state or region; create classroom activities and/or discussion guides unique to each book.  And she/he must continue to produce the best possible books. 
Q: Which strengths did you find in my submission of MERMAIDS ON PARADE to offer a contract (so quickly) ?

TT: MERMAIDS ON PARADE was on a topic that not only had never been done before, but is about an immensely creative, colorful and vibrant event.  And it was about a girl dressing up.  Coupled with your artwork it was an irresistible combination. 

Q: If you had a mermaid name what would it be?
TT: Fishy Seabottom 

Thanks Tim!

Photo: Tanya Rynd owner of Superfine, Timothy Travaglini and Melanie at the MERMAIDS ON PARADE launch party at Superfine in Brooklyn.
Image: Timothy Travaglini as Fishy Seabottom in MERMAIDS ON PARADE.