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Back to the Drawing Board with special guest Matt Phelan (and a cool book giveaway!)

© Matt Phelan

Dear Teachers, Parents, Kids, Homeschoolers, Writers, Artists, Librarians, Readers, Curious Souls, and others, 

Our book, Spilling Ink, is coming out this week and we want to celebrate it. Imagine hundreds of brightly colored virtual balloons rising into the air, each one containing a special insight about creativity. That is what we hope to achieve with our Creativity Blog. Each month, a new guest blogger will share his or her thoughts about the creative process here on this page. We have an exciting lineup of amazing children’s book writers, so stay tuned! 

We’re thrilled to have Matt Phelan inaugurate the Creativity Blog. When we were writing Spilling Ink, we often chatted about what the illustrations should look like. “They should be full of warmth, life and fun,” we decided. “But they should have depth, sensitivity, and soul, too. ” It was up to our editor, Nan Mercado, to find the perfect artist. When we downloaded Matt’s first sketches for Spilling Ink, we were bowled over. Matt beautifully captured the spirit of our book in his drawings of young writers. They were everything we wanted and more.

Please make sure to read the very bottom of this post for a chance to win a copy of Spilling Ink in our giveaway. Enjoy, and thanks so much for stopping by! 

Anne and Ellen

Matt Phelan is the illustrator of Spilling Ink and many books for young readers, including, The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron, winner of the 2007 Newbery Medal. In 2010 Matt's graphic novel, The Storm in the Barn, was honored with the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction.  


I actually have a Drawing Board. It's big and old and it's where I both draw and write. I draw and write other places, too (the kitchen table, coffee shops, the zoo, waiting rooms) but the drawing board is where the real creativity tends to happen. And when I am being creativesketching, doodling, jotting notes or refining a final illustration – I feel absolutely exhilarated. I love creativity in any form, big or small, professional or for the sheer fun of it (that's often the best kind).

© Matt PhelanAnd yet... I seem to spend a lot of time NOT being creative. Procrastination is a strange enemy.  The worst thing about it is that when I'm procrastinating, I am fully aware that what I really want to do is be creative. That if I just went back to the drawing board I would eventually once again be swept up in that peculiar exhilaration that comes from making something up.

What to do? One solution is to look at what other creative people are doing. Whether you are an illustrator or not, you can't help but be inspired by reading the amazing illustrator profiles that Julie Danielson puts together at the stellar Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast blog. Honestly, this never ever fails to make me want to grab a pencil as soon as I finish reading. I also get a creativity buzz from browsing through Etsy or one of the many DIY culture magazines around like MAKE and ReadyMade. It all inspires me. 

Is it envy? A little, maybe. But mostly I think it’s the recognition that these creators have tapped into that peculiar exhilaration, that place of sheer fun that is the heart of creativity. I want to experience that again, too.

And so I go back to the Drawing Board. I always do.

Here is the trailer for Matt's graphic novel The Storm in the Barn.

Thank you, Matt Phelan! To celebrate the publication of Spilling Ink, we are giving away five signed copies! For a chance to win, leave us a comment under this post, with the word “Celebrate” at the end. Please be sure to fill out your email address  (only we can see it) so we can contact you if you are a winner. Winners will be randomly chosen. You have until Sunday, April 11, 2010 to enter this giveaway. One entry per person please. Good luck!

Reader Comments (65)

I can't wait 'till Spilling Ink comes out...2 more days! :) By two of my most FAVE authors: Ms. Anne Mazer and Ms. Ellen Potter! I'm sure this book will be as wonderful as all the other AMAZING books! :) Let's...CELEBRATE!

March 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAishah

I'm looking forward to the publication of this. Getting young writers inspired is reason to celebrate.

March 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJenP

I am definitely looking forward to Spilling Ink. As a young writer myself, it certainly gives me reason to celebrate :)

March 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterEmilee

this is great and if i win i will totally celebrate

March 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJessica Pages

Thanks for creating a young writer's handbook. I've been looking for good books on writing. Best wishes on your launch, time to celebrate!

March 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKrichelle Groth

shared this with my 9 yr old son who loves to draw; congrats on the new book; sounds great!
time to...

March 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKelly Salasin

I really want to read this!!
Let's Celebrate!

March 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterYiling

Thank you :-) I am excited and thrilled for the chance to win this book! You are both inspiring and give us cause to CELEBRATE!!

March 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJoan Young

I too am looking forward to the publication of Spilling Ink, and what a fantastic idea to have a creativity blog! More than enough reason to celebrate!

March 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMonica

Oooh, I've been waiting for this one- heard a lot (of good things!) about it. Its release is definitely a reason to celebrate!

March 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBoni Ashburn

Oooh! Pick me!!! Congratulations to all of you.

March 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMitali Perkins

... And I want to CELEBRATE!

March 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMitali Perkins

What a great read, looking forward to more. Matt's work is so full of heart and charm. So much to celebrate!!!!

March 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGina Perry

This was a great article--it's nice to know that others get aggravated with procrastination too, and he's got a point. If we look for things in our life that make us feel like being creative, it gives us a little kick to actually get to work! I'm looking forward to more. Your book definitely sounds like a reason to celebrate! :)

March 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKari Wolfe

This is very awesome. :D Celebrate!

March 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJelena R

The book sounds amazing! As an aspiring teenage writer I definitely CELEBRATE!

March 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterYoun C

Winning this book would help me to teach my kids that writing well is something to celebrate!

March 29, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterjennifer

I can relate to what Matt Phelan says about other people's creative works inspiring him to get creative (though for me that usually means writing).

Spilling Ink sounds like a cool book. If I win a copy I'll definitely celebrate!

March 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBeth

Now if that isn't a reason to celebrate!

March 30, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterkaren

Congratulations on your new combined blog. Glad I now know about it. Matt Phelan's illustrations are stunning and I can't wait to read his GN and your book, both reasons to CELEBRATE!

March 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBarbaraM

This creative work sounds like the perfect inspiration for our school's writing academy teachers as we help our students with their entries to meet our school's June deadline when we can finally CELEBRATE!

March 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCarolineG

Congratulations on the release of SPILLING INK! Definitely something to celebrate.

March 31, 2010 | Unregistered Commentertab

I have throughly enjoyed your other books. Can't wait to read this one. It should definitely be something to celebrate!

March 31, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRobin

I really enjoyed reading Matt's post. His illustrations always have a "young-at-heart" feel and I love that. The release of "Spilling Ink" is so exciting...looking foward to taking a look at it. It is definately time to CELEBRATE!!

March 31, 2010 | Unregistered Commenteraherbert

Bravo! A new book to help our young people to write-that is always reason to celebrate!!

March 31, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSharon Amyotte

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