Arthur Plotnik, Author
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News, Notes, Surprises
Albert Camus Prize runner-up

"Guest Interview," a short story by Plotnik, has won second place in the Albert Camus Prize Contest 2015 of
Red Savina Review. The story appears in the March issue and was also selected as a finalist in the Walker Percy Prize for Short Fiction of New Orleans Review

Tenth Anniversary of SPUNK & BITE

The year 2015 marked the 10th anniversary of SPUNK & BITE my "Writer's Guide to Bold, Contemporary Style."

Random House published the hardcover in 2005 and the paperback in 2007. About 39,000 sales later it's still chugging along, with enthusiastic reviews and use in many writing programs, including at Harvard

Abroad, too, the book is valued for its insights into contemporary writing. The iconoclastic ABC Books of Amsterdam, for example, recommends it to buyers and stocks it regularly.

Perhaps most pleasing, S&B continues to receive thanks from aspiring writers. Recently this tweet appeared from one such author who goes by "Danger Geist":
"I used Spunk&Bite to spice up my 2012 war memoir. It turned out better than it should have. I am grateful . . . ."

And I'm grateful—as a writer who has experienced plenty of the trade's downsides—for the sweet longevity of this particular  effort. Pictured: The paperback cover, with designer Nora Rosansky's spunky pooch.


Featured Interview

The go-to grammar-and-style website, featured a spring 2014  interview with Plotnik in a series that includes several prominent language mavens. A lively site worth visiting on its own.
Express Thyself

In 2011 Viva Editions, the adventurous publisher of my recent Better Than Great (see below) asked me to update and expand an earlier work that had been a featured selection of The Book-of-the-Month Club, enjoying a long and successful run. At first grudgingly, then seeing the potential and catching fire, I completely updated the book, expanded many of its best bits, and added a major new chapter on "Intensity in Creative Expression." 
The result is the 2012 publication of:

awaiting you in bookstores and online venues, along with e-book versions and a tidy CD audio package from AudioGo:

Booklist Magazine says: ""The second edition of Plotnik's neat little guide to writing comes at a good time in history---with more people communicating electronically than ever before, it often seems that grammar, spelling, and the sheer ability to express one's thoughts clearly are all under assault. This book offers tips on how to write and speak in an engaging and effective manner. More than a grammar guide, this should find a place in most libraries and will be appreciated by both the casual blogger and the professional writer." ---Oct. 15, 2012

"Useful for writers, editors, speakers, or simply anyone who uses English on a regular basis, Plotnik’s surprisingly plebian book will delight, instruct and, above all, smash the shackles of stunted self-expression." ---Andrea Klein, Portland Book Review, June 10, 2013

How superlative can you get?

Are you still using
shopworn terms like awesome, amazing, and great to express your excitement over special things, to excite others about them? Or are you igniting interest with fresher, more forceful language---say,supernal, larky, epochal, trill, transformative, soul-juddering, mind-flummoxing? 

To help writers (including this one) rise above weary terms of praise and acclaim, I compiled some 6,000 fresh superlatives for a book published in June 2011 by the refulgent Viva Editions of Berkeley, CA.

The title is
Better than Great: A Plenitudinous Compendium of Wallopingly Fresh Superlatives.

In addition to selected, intensified, and creative new terms in 15 categories, Better Than Great delivers the complete skinny on expressive  praise and acclaim.

The venerable London publisher Souvenir Press published a UK edition in July 2012. AudioGo has issued a boxed CD audio set.

To critics, journalists, bloggers, copywriters, and others wishing to rise above stock expression, I say, "Don't praise anything without it." 

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Now on Kindle:
The Urban Tree Book: An Uncommon Field Guide for City and Town, by Arthur Plotnik, illustrated by Mary H. Phelan.  (Crown)  Averaging five-stars in customer reviews
on Amazon.

LOOKING FOR AN  EDITOR OR WRITING COACH? I don't offer these services myself anymore, but I can recommend a select few masters of such arts—and as author of The Elements of Editing, I don't recommend lightly.

Carole Cudnik brings years of government communications experience and much more to her proofing, editing, and research services. On her website, , she writes: "I specialize in working with self-published authors, authors seeking traditional publishing, and freelance writers. When I work with you, you’re not just another customer in my queue. I don’t use a cookie-cutter approach when editing. I respect that your project, needs and budget are unique."

Christina O'Shaughnessy, who operates out of France, is an experienced,  highly skilled, and convenient choice for Europeans needing an assist. An Irish native with 23 years experience as a United Nations editor, she now offers full time editing /proofreading in English (technical and general texts) and workshops in editing/writing for international organizations.  Also translates German and Spanish. She can be reached at While she revises her web site, she uses the facebook page

Eva von Emden, editing out of Vancouverhas a science background and can work/translate in English and Dutch. Her  special interests are editing academic and popular science writing and editing fiction, particularly science fiction, with an eye for detail and excellent language skills as well as wide general knowledge and a good sense of logic and common sense. Check out her site at

or contact her at

Daphne Gray-Grant also operates, wisely, out of beautiful Vancouver, handling work from all parts. She's an established  writing/communications coach and consultant, with a compelling list of services that you can check out at

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