Humorous Fatherhood Book “Everything Ever After: Confessions of a Family Man” by Popular Columnist Launches Tour June 14

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Muse Harbor Publishing launches the book tour for “Everything Ever After: Confessions of a Family Man”, based on Michael Picarella’s Southern CA-based syndicated family columns at the Conejo Valley Botanic Garden’s Kids’ Adventure Garden, at 400 West Gainsborough in Thousand Oaks, CA on 6/14 from 3- 6 p.m. and on July 8, 2014 at Mrs. Figs’ Bookworm at 93 East Daily Drive in Camarillo from 5-7 p.m.

Los Angeles, CA (PRWEB) June 11, 2014

On Saturday, June 14, 2014, Muse Harbor Publishing will host a family fun event to launch their new illustrated humor book, Everything Ever After: Confessions of a Family Man by popular columnist Michael Picarella, at Conejo Valley Botanic Garden’s Kids’ Adventure Garden at 400 West Gainsborough Road, Thousand Oaks, CA, from 3-6 p.m. This is a special Saturday public opening of the Kids’ Adventure Garden, which is normally only open on Sundays.

Picarella offers witty and often laugh-aloud funny stories about marriage, fatherhood, family and suburban community life in his book. Recently coined a “User Manual for Dads” it is being promoted by Muse Harbor as “a great Father’s Day gift.”

Picarella will entertain attendees with hilarious and poignant fatherhood excerpts from his book at 4:00 p.m. The author will sign copies as his publisher provides food and refreshments to the public from 3-6 p.m.

The next stop on the author’s book tour is on Tuesday, July 8, 2014, where Picarella will be appearing at another fun book signing event at Mrs. Figs’ Bookworm at 93 East Daily Drive in Camarillo from 5-7 p.m. Visit mrsfigs.com.

Author Picarella (aka Suburb Man) is an award-winning writer and National Society of Newspaper Columnists member. Since 2006, he has written his column “Family Men Don’t Wear Name Brands,” for The Acorn Newspapers in Los Angeles and Ventura Counties. His other column, “Picarella Family Report” for The Signal Newspaper for over two years.

Picarella’s refreshingly clean humor stands out from other humorists in an age where families are often depicted as wisecracking and argumentative. Writer/Director Gregory Poppin (ESPY Show Awards, My Crazy Life) says, “Michael’s sharp wit collides with the stark reality of trying to be a Cosby husband and father in a ‘Pulp Fiction’ world. I read about his misadventures with pity, until I realized, oh… that’s my life, too.”

Everything Ever After is also available online on museharbor.com on June 10, 2014. Muse Harbor is offering a 15% discount on both print and e-book copies when purchased at MuseHarbor.com using this coupon code: ACORN. The book is also available on Amazon, BarnesAndNoble.com and iTunes.

To read stories by the author, visit MichaelPicarellaColumn.com and his website MichaelPicarella.com.

Everything Ever After  is illustrated with clever cartoons by famed illustrator F.M. Hansen, whose cartoons have been published in numerous anthologies worldwide.

Picarella can be reached for further Radio, TV, Print and Online interviews by contacting Margaux (at) museharbor (dot) com. Friend Michael Picarella on Facebook for his latest humor and news.

For more information on the Conejo Valley Botanic Garden, visit www.conejogarden.org/KidsGarden.

Muse Harbor Publishing was founded in Camarillo in 2011 as an organization of “writers helping writers, in service to our readers.”

 

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A Busy Weekend at The Harbor

postpicThe Harbor being, of course, wherever our authors or their books are.

Through a quirk of scheduling, we’ll be having two book signing events this Saturday, June 14. Everything Ever After: Confessions of A Family Man author Michael Picarella will be, appropriately enough, signing his stacks of books at the Kids’ Adventure Garden, while Shalanna Collins, author of the magical adventure April, Maybe June will be doing the same at Lucky Dog Books.

It’ll be difficult – but not impossible – to attend both. Michael’s signing is in Thousand Oaks, California, and Shalanna’s is in Dallas, Texas. Still, that’s only three hours flight time if you get a non-stop flight. If anyone shows up in each venue we’ll all be very impressed, and somewhat frightened.

Lucky Dog Books is a bibliophilic Dallas institution that’s marking its 40th anniversary this year. Anyone who’s been following the seismic upheaval in the book selling business over the past couple of decades should appreciate what an achievement that is, and we’re pleased to help John and the rest of the Lucky Dog crew celebrate their longevity with Shalanna. That’s magical all on its own.

The Conejo Valley Botanic Garden’s 33 acres are dedicated to environmental conservation, education, and recreation, and include a dozen unique garden areas and trails, bird and butterfly habitats, and – my personal favorite – a rare fruit garden. The Kids’ Adventure Garden is designed to sneakily teach science by disguising it among tree houses, hydroponic pods, and other kid-friendly things. On Father’s Day weekend, Michael – our teller of family tales – will be holding forth in a place built for the upcoming generations.

Muse Harbor Publishing is growing as well, and it’s taken a lot of work to get this far. We’re happy to help Michael and Shalanna present their stories to the world. That’s what we’re all about. We’re also about having other positive effects on the world around us, however small. So we’re also happy to help bring some attention to a long-lived bookstore, and to a non-profit environmental educational center. If you’re in Dallas or Thousand Oaks – or both – this weekend, stop by and say hello!

 

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Lucky Dog Books Dallas Launches YA Magical Mystery Novel Series “April, Maybe June” on 6/14

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Popular Author Shalanna Collins Debuts “April, Maybe June” Novel as Book One in the Bliss Sisters Magical Adventures Series from Muse Harbor Publishing

Dallas, Texas (PRWEB) June 09, 2014

On Saturday, June 14, 2014, Muse Harbor Publishing’s popular author of six published novels, Shalanna Collins, debuts her new Young Adult (YA) mystery novel with a magical twist, April, Maybe June, at the Lucky Dog Books launch event in Dallas, TX from 11:00 – 1:00 p.m. Lucky Dog Books is located at 10801 Garland Road (just south of 635, between Easton Road and Jupiter). Collins will sign books and discuss her path to being a professional YA author. Muse Harbor will provide food and soft drinks at no charge to the public.

Collins’ clever YA novel April, Maybe June finds homeschooled siblings April and June Bliss inadvertently sucked into their older cousin Arlene’s troubled life when the street-savvy 17-year-old disappears, then sends for their help via an inscrutable grimoire and a mesmerizing silver ring. When life turns supernaturally spooky, April and June must pull together to survive.

April, Maybe June is available on Amazon.com, BarnesAndNoble.com, iTunes and Museharbor.com in paperback and e-book versions. Muse Harbor Publishing will be offering a 15% discount. Click on museharbor.com and use coupon code: LUCKYDOG.

Collins, who also writes as Denise Weeks, has had her fiction published in several genres, including mystery, fantasy, chick lit, and romantic suspense. The author has a strong web and social media platform which can be seen on her blogs on writing for teens and other genres at shalanna.livejournal.com and shalannacollins.blogspot.com. Fans can friend her on facebook.com at Shalanna Collins Books and follow her on twitter at @shalannacollins.

Collins teaches how to be an author in today’s digital world. The author is available for radio, TV, online interviews and speaking engagements at writers conferences. If you’d like to book Shalanna Collins for your show, blog or event, please contact margaux (at) museharbor (dot) com.
For more information on the book signing at Lucky Dog Books, please visit luckydogbooks.com.

Based in Santa Barbara, CA, Muse Harbor Publishing was founded in 2011 as “writers helping writers, in service to our readers.”

 

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Perfection

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Rules-headerA blog for fiction writers and impending writers. An editor’s perspective.

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Perfection.

Ah, that elusive, manipulative, petulant little imp known as perfection. I mention the illusion of perfection in a previous post (See: Where to Start) but it bears repeating. Rule #25: Perfection in writing doesn’t exist. Stop trying to find it.

If you’re goading or flagellating or juicing yourself into writing a perfect novel, waiting for all those perfect ideas to fall—bump, bump, bump—into place, understand that you’ll discover no Holy Grail. No perfect chapter, nor page nor sentence occurs in a writer’s reality. Any word, any phrase, any idea, can be altered. Nudged. Tweaked. Deleted. As a writer, I can spend the remainder of my lonely days chasing a phantom that doesn’t exist—or I can sit down and write a story to the best of my ability. To the successful writer (or at least to a sane, successful writer), the glass is always half full. Knowing when to “leave it be” is key.

As scribes, we accept our limitations and strive for a single goal: Doing the best we can. So Rule #4: Do the best you can.

Don’t think of Rule #4 as settling for meh. Rule #4 isn’t about compromising your talents; it’s about stretching your genius—taking the time and making the effort—and trusting that your next book will be a tad better than your last. Only in a world unencumbered by perfection does room for improvement exist.

I bring up the notion of perfection again because I suspect a vast number of novice writers begin a manuscript with the expectation of reaching literary nirvana, the anticipation of soon seeing themselves at #1 on NYTBSL. Somewhere around page 3 or 30 or 300, those writers begin to realize instant fame isn’t going to happen. Some give up, leaving talent and a worthy, half-finished (and perhaps nearly awesome) effort behind. Pity.

Interesting mathematical statistic: 99.9% of all writers never make the New York Times Best Seller List. Many of them still find a way to live happy, fulfilling lives. Some even have cats.

I’m personally aware of several writers—and very good writers—who’ve been slowly chipping away at the same novel for years. Why? Some of us are seeking perfection, and not finding it, or maybe we’re simply seeking “good enough” and not finding that, either. (Occasionally we’re simply methodical writers—and that‘s a damn good excuse. A word of advice: Write at your own pace. Writing a novel isn’t a race, it’s an achievement.)

However…! Seeking perfection (and not finding it) is an entirely different dilemma. Occasionally, a story isn’t good enough. One’s writing isn’t fully developed or else bumps into impossible obstacles that we find ourselves unqualified or emotionally unable to handle. Most of us have a novel (or two) that has “gotten away”…that sits unfinished in our closets or in some obscure folder on our desktop. And that’s okay too. I consider those failed attempts to be a necessary learning curve. Those manuscripts are part of the process, part of our eventual success. Let them rest in peace.

So what are a few possibilities for a stalled manuscript?

  • Seeking perfection. Right. Doesn’t exist. Refer to the above.
  • Fear of failure. Understandable. Although… d’ju know what’s worse? Thinking you might have the gift, but not even trying. On your deathbed, trust me, that’ll be a big regret. You’ve been warned.
  • Fear of success. Although I’m not sure why. Talent deserves success.
  • Fear of the future (good or bad). As in…what if it doesn’t sell? What if it sells big, but my next book sucks? What if people begin to love me for all the wrong reasons? Or hate me for all the right reasons? What if I trip heading toward the stage to collect my Pulitzer. Please refer again to Rule #100: Get Over Yourself. (In it’s own humbling way, it really should be Rule #1.)
  • Writer’s block. Yeah…a bummer, but it happens: That mental or physical fatigue when words and their meaning become lost in a haze, or simply run away from your brain. You’re overtired or stressed or simply out of ideas. Don’t worry, because the empty vessel will eventually refill. But if the vacuum persists, it’s possibly something else. Eventually, it becomes an excuse. (Valid or otherwise.) One can insist to family and friends “I have writer’s block,” for a year or two…but then we just smile politely and realize the book’s not forthcoming. (It’s OK, we still love you.) But either the book’s wrong for you, or you’re wrong for the book. And, hey, it’s not your fault.
    ……I wanted to be an astronaut once. Never was. Moon block. By the way, my own personal solution for writer’s block? Stepping away from the computer and watching a Firefly marathon or else reading a book I absolutely love… for the 4th or 5th time. (Recently for me: The World According to Garp, The Forever War, The Sirens of Titan and Elmore Leonard’s Cat Chaser.) When my eyes blur, I clean the garage or drive up the coast. Give yourself permission to give yourself a break. It’s part of the process. If your mind’s still writhing with uncorked creativity, write a short story or work on the outline. Dream up another novel. Paint a picture. Take some photos. Often, alternate forms of creativity can replenish your writer’s drive. Give it time.
  • Fear of ridicule. (Rare, but it happens.) Your friends may find you pretentious for even trying. Seriously? Find new friends.
  • Fear of offending somebody. That somebody is usually a friend or family member, and a typically unsavory character prominently featured in your tale. Sorry, Aunt Lucy! The homicidal maniac in chapter 8 isn’t really you. Trust me, they won’t see themselves in your book. Just be sure that you change the names.
  • Fear of offending yourself. Ah, but here’s where the circle closes. We’re back to looking for perfection. Refer to Rule #25 again.

While I have no degree in shrinkology, most fiction writers are somewhat familiar with the above ambiguities. Most writers can relate. So… don’t worry, just write.
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Where to Start

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Rules-headerA blog for fiction writers and impending writers. An editor’s perspective.

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Where To Start.

New to novel writing? Or maybe you’ve tried it, and found writing… difficult. So why don’t we boil the process down to the bare bones—not of writing, but of starting. For the moment forget style, forget nuance, forget about winning that Pulitzer. Let’s talk about a before-we-even-sharpen-our-pencils kind of basic. Ask yourself this: What’s my story about?

If you don’t fully comprehend that tickle lurking inside your mind, it’s time to find out. It’s that eyeball-to-eyeball moment in the mirror. Answer that question—else your story may bump and thrash about like some gigantic, magnificent creature without a backbone. It might roar and scream and seem very impressive… but it ain’t going nowhere

Prove to yourself that you know your novel. Define your story in a page or two or three. Sit down and create a short synopsis or plot summery. Introduce yourself to this astounding—yet desperately needy!—lover who’ll soon capture your heart, but in return will demand a great deal of your attention and affection. (And kiss more than a few weekends goodbye!)

If that request seems overwhelming (and it may) take a deep breath and try this: What’s your favorite novel? Write a synopsis. For example:

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Amidst the rumble of an approaching Civil War, we find Scarlett O’Hara, the spoiled, teen-aged daughter of a wealthy Atlanta plantation owner, caught in her own giddy social bubble. Scarlett is clueless about the meaning of life, or the value of honor—although as the war rages, she discovers newfound courage and an inkling of character. Briefly married, she is quickly widowed by the calamity of war. Shortly thereafter, Scarlett’s beloved plantation, Tara, falls victim to the advancing Union army, and she must decide between her love of the land and her dedication to friends and family. She falls under the spell of a rebel blockade runner named Rhett Butler. The two are unsuited, but soon after the war’s end, she weds Rhett not for love but rather for his brash charisma and wealth—his ability to save Tara from the ravages of a lost war. However, their happiness quickly spirals into bitterness and remorse—and Scarlett ultimately decides that saving her home, Tara, is more important than saving her marriage. Still, she gathers the strength to hope for a brighter future.

It’s a sketchy synopsis, it’s incomplete (for instance, no mention of Ashley, of Melanie, or of Scarlett’s children), but it carries forth the deep core of the plot. Now, what about your story? What is its heart and soul? Discovering the essence of your unwritten novel is essential. So crucial that it’s Rule #11: Get acquainted with your story. Find your core elements. Because the more you know now, the fewer pages you’ll trash later.

A typical progression of a new idea—getting it out your head and onto the page and ultimately into a book shop—will look something like this:

A brief synopsis. (Short and sweet. See above.) Oh, and don’t delete it after you finish a draft or two. Agents and editors and publishers will ask for it. (At least I will.)

(Optional) An expanded synopsis. It’s okay to add a little padding, either before you begin to write or as you begin your first draft. Give yourself another 5 or 10 or 20 pages to explore your ideas. Make mistakes. Think new thoughts. Re-evaluate. Leave blanks. Every time I finish a synopsis, even a first draft, I find myself with a few dozen gaps where I’ve typed [IDEA TO COME]—and yes, in bright, bold red—before moving along to those ideas that are freely flowing. Trust that every idea you need will arrive—and in its own damn time. Writing a novel is funny that way. PS: If you’re one of those people loathe to leave a blank space, who must write every word precisely in chronological order, who must pen every thought with unwavering exactitude, striving for immediate perfection, my advice is this: Get over yourself. In fact, it’s even a rule. Rule #100: Get over yourself.* Because there’s no such animal as perfect writing. There’s no single solution—no perfect sentence or perfect page or perfect chapter in a perfect book. Perfection is an illusion—a Siren singing sweetly on the rocks of self-importance and ultimate disillusion. We do the best we can, and we also finish the book.

The outline. This process is little more than bullet-pointing the story, scene-by-scene. It’s the literary equivalent of story-boarding a movie. You’re puzzle-piecing a plot into place, with methodical, mechanical deliberation. No fluff, no poetic license. And it’s OK if the finished book bares little resemblance. The outline is strictly a tool to use, change, update and tweak as you so choose.

First Draft. Now you’re ready to fill in the outline with crucial basic information. You’re adding the essentials; setting scenes and introducing characters, keeping in mind how you foresee each character arc—that is, how you believe each character may grow during the tale. Now’s the time to point a direction for your plot—what’s necessary, what’s not—with an understanding that so many facets of your story may change over the duration of this journey. (Some writers have an iron-clad plot already in mind and, if you do, congrats! I usually have a hazy whisper of where my plot may go, although my characters are fairly well developed before I begin writing.) Dialog is important—but worry less about polished dialog and more about the basic necessity of keeping your characters and plot on a forward trajectory. (And much more about dialog as this blog develops.) You should see a basic writing style begin to emerge—but sometimes finding your voice takes a bit of “warming up”…so don’t panic if you find your first few pages raw or clunky. Relatively few writers manage to pretty much finish their book in a single pass. If you’re one of those skillful few… by all means, go for it. However, most of us need room to maneuver and an eraser (metaphorically speaking) the size of Philadelphia.

Second Draft. You’re adding additional depth and nuance to your characters and story line. Adding color and sounds and smells. Augment your dialog—revealing character traits and subtle innuendo. You’ve already built a creature of bare bones, now you’re adding frizzy blonde hair and freckles and one unlaced hi-topped Keds. You’re “putting the red on the apple” as they say. (By the way, the “Second Draft” phase encompasses all other—third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, etc.) drafts… until you feel the story you’re telling feels complete.

The Stick-it-in-a-Drawer Phase. Seriously. Put it away for a week or a month. Try to forget that you’ve ever written it.

Polishing. Read your story again with fresh brain cells. Tweak and polish and cut every uncertain or unnecessary word that doesn’t want to fit, un-garble every phrase that feels plodding or slow. Fill in the blanks. Trim threads from the tapestry. Be sure every aspect belongs. Speed up the action or, when it doubt, truncate or eliminate the morass. If you feel something reads slow, don’t assume it isn’t. If you think it is, your readers will think so too. Definitely find ways to truncate or tweak the slow spots. Oh, and kill your darlings.

And there’s your finished novel. Piece of cake, right?

 


* RE: Rule #100. Unless, of course, this particular procedure works for you. Some writers (I believe Arthur C. Clarke was one, although I may be mistaken) would write a single perfectly structured thought (whether it was a paragraph or a page) before moving on. A single draft, thoroughly polished, chronologically stable, even stunning, from beginning to end. If it works for you, awesome! Ignore this rule! However, if you find yourself hovering maniacally over an incomplete thought for a week, a month, or a year, unable to push forward even a line or two—yeah, learn to love the blank space. Jump ahead and return when the mind is ripe. (And pity the poor wordsmith who lived before cut&paste!) But trust yourself. Trust the future. All good thoughts will come in time.
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