More About the Author
Arthur Plotnik, in spite of his funny name, is a versatile author with a distinguished background in editing and publishing. Two of his works have been featured as Book-of-the-Month Club selections: "The Elements of Editing," a standard reference through some 20 printings, and "The Elements of Expression: Putting Thoughts into Words." Reviewers have consistently praised Plotnik's writing for its accuracy, style, and wit, often ranking it with "The Elements of Style" (Strunk & White)in practicality. However, his popular "Spunk & Bite: A Writer's Guide to Bold, Contemporary Style" (Random House)challenges some of Strunk & White's inhibiting dictates as it guides the writer to more risk-taking, more adventurous, more publishable prose.
His latest book, published in June 2012 by Viva Editions (Berkeley, CA)completely updates "The Elements of Expression" in a revised and expanded edition. The previous year Viva published his "Better than Great: A Plenitudinous Compendium of Wallopingly Fresh Superlatives," offering 6,000 alternatives to "great," "awesome," "amazing" and other shopworn terms of praise and acclamation. (www.freshsuperlatives.com) Former Poet Leaureate Billy Collins calls it "AMEN-ASTONISHING!"
A native of White Plains, N.Y., Plotnik studied under Philip Roth and Vance Bourjaily in the Iowa Writers Workshop. After an Army stint, he served as a staff writer on the Albany (N.Y.) Times-Union, where novelist-to-be William Kennedy worked across the city desk, puffing cigars.
Plotnik ground out 22 pseudonymnous potboilers for the Scott-Meredith Literary Agency, some of them while completing work on the second of two master's degrees (English, library service). In his return to respectability, he surfaced in Washington, D.C, as press and public relations assistant to the Librarian of Congress and newsletter editor. He was later a magazine editor in New York, where the second of his two daughters was born.
As a publisher, Plotnik brought five national awards to the American Library Association's book imprint. He won numerous honors also as editor of "American Libraries," ALA's flagship magazine.
Plotnik has written scores of magazine articles and columns, eight nonfiction books (including his first writer's guide, "The Elements of Authorship") and short stories and poems. He has appeared in publications ranging from "La Prensa" (Bolivia) and "Playboy" to "The New York Times" and "Los Angeles Times." A contributor to "The Writer Magazine" and member of its editorial board, he has also contributed to "Britannica Book of English Usage" and the "American English" column of "American Way" in-flight magazine.
A passionate observer of trees, he is author of "The Urban Tree Book: An Uncommon Field Guide for City and Town," illustrated by his wife, the artist Mary H. Phelan. "The New York Times Book Review" called this work "indispensable." On July 4 of the Constitution's 200th birthday year (1987), the National Archives published his "The Man Behind the Quill," a biography of the Constitution's calligrapher, Jacob Shallus. The award-winning book was highlighted in "Time" magazine and praised as "a small miracle of research."
A popular speaker, Plotnik taught briefly in the journalism department at Columbia College in Chicago. Special honors include service as a charter board member, American Book Awards, and first place in the prestigious "Verbatim" national competition for essays on the English language. He is listed in "Who's Who," "Contemporary Authors," "Journalists of the United States, and other directories of writers and journalists. He lives in Chicago with his wife, the artist Mary H. Phelan, and is represented by literary agent Roger Williams of New England Publishing Associates.
BRAGGIN' ON "SPUNK & BITE" AT TEN. This year (2015) I'm reveling in 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 37,000 sales later it's still chugging along, scoring gratifying reviews, in use at Harvard and in many writing programs, and--perhaps most pleasing-- winning thanks from aspiring individuals. Just today this tweet appeared from a writer 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 life of this one effort. Pictured: The paperback cover, with designer Nora Rosansky's spunky pooch. --Feb. 23, 2015