Good News from Israel (For a Change): Got My HarperCollins Contract for My Novel, A Remarkable Kindness

There may or may not be a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. But you want to know what is definite?

My novel, A Remarkable Kindness.

Here is a photo of the contract from HarperCollins Publishers signed and stamped by them and by me! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Along with that, I got an email from the William Morrow editor at HarperCollins, Rachel Kahan, with notes for me on how to revise the novel.

Here’s an embarrassing fact. Well, why not get it out in the open?

Rachel told me: The word “said” appears 1566 times in a 385 pp manuscript, which is far too many.


So, writers, here’s what Rachel says: “In a lot of cases, you don’t need “said” at all—it’s enough to show what the characters are doing or how they’re saying something. If the dialogue and action are clean and in context, you shouldn’t need to say “he said” all that often because it’s understood who is speaking and it’s not necessary to draw attention to the fact that they’re speaking. There are also plenty of instances where you can substitute a different verb for “said” that will give context and color to the way characters are behaving or speaking; those improve the scene and cut down on the repetition of “said.”

 She is totally right. Going through the book, I see that I am down to 836 “said’s” and I’m still deleting. Yikes!

Her viewpoint goes against Stephen King who, in his fabulotastic book, On Writing, said, (and I’m paraphrasing), do not say, exclaimed or shouted or chuckled but said. Go figure.

Here’s a totally wonderfully utterly terrific fact. Rachel also wrote, “I so enjoyed re-reading this and found it even more affecting the second time around—I never fail to tear up at the end, and I don’t tear up too often when I read! It’s that good!”

So, folks, get ready for A REMARKABLE KINDNESS, due out in July 2015!

What do you all think of the title? It went from THE DEAD CAN NEVER THANK YOU to THE WOMEN’S BURIAL CIRCLE to A REMARKABLE KINDNESS. The novel is about the intertwined lives of four American friends who are members of a traditional Jewish society and prepare dead women for burial in a small beach village in Israel. 

Final fact: Writing feels like walking down a long long road. But I kept walking and walking and working and writing and I didn’t give up. Refused to give up. So, if you’re writing something or creating something or dreaming of something, keep doing it. Do not give in to those voices that tell you what you’re writing is silly or bad. Just keep on. I told myself, if you give up, you will never forgive yourself.


The long road leading to my village, Shavei Zion, in Western Galilee, Israel. It's a peaceful sunny day, Hamas wasn't shooting at us. Hezbollah has, though. Katyusha rockets landed in the field on the left in 2006.

The long road leading to my village, Shavei Zion, in Western Galilee, Israel. It’s a peaceful sunny day, Hamas wasn’t shooting at us. Hezbollah has, though. Katyusha rockets landed in the field on the left in 2006.

About dianabletter

Diana Bletter is the author of several books, including The Invisible Thread: A Portrait of Jewish American Women (with photographs by Lori Grinker), shortlisted for a National Jewish Book Award. Her novel, A Remarkable Kindness, (HarperCollins) was published in 2015. She is the First Prize Winner of Moment Magazine's 2019 Fiction Contest. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, tabletmag, Glamour, The Forward, The North American Review, Times of Israel, and is a reporter for Israel21C, and many other publications. She is author of Big Up Yourself: It's About Time You Like Being You and The Mom Who Took off On Her Motorcycle, a memoir of her 10,000-mile motorcycle trip to Alaska and back to New York. She lives in a small beach village in Western Galilee, Israel, with her husband and family. She is a member of the local hevra kadisha, the burial circle, and a Muslim-Jewish-Christian-Druze women's group in the nearby town of Akko. And, she likes snowboarding and climbing trees.
This entry was posted in Being a Hero In Your Life, miracles, Writers, Writing. Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to Good News from Israel (For a Change): Got My HarperCollins Contract for My Novel, A Remarkable Kindness

  1. juliabarrett says:

    Congratulations! I’m glad things are quiet for the moment.

  2. This is GREAT, Diana! Brava! ClapClapClap.

    Still smiling at the reference to the “said” numbers. When I was teaching writing classes, as a general rule I had writers count the number of “saids” in their ms. and then eliminate one half of them, showing an action to indicate the speaker, or making it clear through the dialogue who was speaking. One student asked how many bonus points he’d earn if he removed every “said.”

    (He was kind of extreme like that, but he has gone on to have stories published in anthologies and men’s magazines…)

    Again, Diana, well done! 🙂

    • dianabletter says:

      Hey Marylin, I’m happy that you could relate to the “said” stuff. It shows that we’re still learning all the time. Thanks for the ClapClapClap. Heard them all the way from Kansas and Colorado!

  3. Mazal Tov, Diana. This is wonderful news.

  4. Sydney Morris says:

    SUCH GREAT NEWS!!! And NO ONE deserves it more. I can’t wait to read it, and still be your sister. Remember Git saying, “the only thing I did is smoke” that was from TMWTOOHM! I said…Hummm, I forgot what I said!

    • dianabletter says:

      HA! Well, we all know that Git was quite the athlete, dancer, singer, jogger, zumbaer, and surfer when she wasn’t a smoker…

  5. Pam Huggins says:

    Congratulations! I’m so happy for you!!!
    And I’m happy for me too cause I’ll get to read it in 2015!
    Thanks for the heads up about “said”. That’s great information.
    I really do like the title.

    Keeping you and your family in my thoughts and prayers.

    • dianabletter says:

      Thank you, Pam. Keep up your great comics. Everyone, check out her hysterical ‘toons at

      • Pam Huggins says:

        Thank you for the mention!
        Your memoir, “The Mom Who Took Off on Her Motorcycle” deeply inspired me. And then to get to know more of you and your work here on your website continues to be a positive influence.
        Thank you for giving your words and your heart. It matters.

  6. Rhonda Blender says:

    Congratulations!! I can hardly wait for it to be published. As the reader it seems so far from now but I suppose as the writer it doesn’t seem that way…

    • dianabletter says:

      Thank you, Rhonda! It’s like being pregnant for 12 months! It’s a mighty bigggg baby! Where do you live? I am starting to already plan a book tour…Let me know!

      • Rhonda Blender says:

        A book tour? Really?!! Come to Chicago! I wonder whether Spertus would welcome your doing a presentation? They also have a gift shop that sells books. I don’t have the web address at hand but they are the Jewish higher education org here but not limited to Jewish people. Their web address would either be or They offer Masters degrees and certificate programs. They often host writers to speak of their works. There are other places/organizations but that jumped into my head right away plus I know some people there…

      • dianabletter says:

        Thank you, Rhonda! It would be in the fall of 2015. If you know of someone the publisher can contact down the road, that would be wonderful. I appreciate it!

  7. haiatsuk says:

    דיאנה כל הכבוד. ככה זה כשמתמידים ולא מוותרים. יש תוצאות.

    שבת שלום


  8. Anonymous says:

    Congratulations Diana! I love the new title! I liked the other ones too, but I think this is good.

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