NEWPORT BEACH — All last summer, Cynthia Muchnick worked on the book of her dreams late into the night after her four children went to bed.
Nearly a year later, "The Everything Guide to Study Skills" is out. Her 13-year-old son Justin has been reading the fruits of her labor very carefully.
"He's reading it, looking for typos," said Muchnick, a Newport Beach resident. "He hasn't found one yet."
Muchnick didn't exactly write the book for her son, who she said is a lot like her in that he motivates himself to get good grades.
Muchnick, 41, said she wanted to help students in the middle — the ones who aren't struggling, but aren't sure how the straight-A students do it — achieve their personal best, whether that means straight As or a well-earned B.
"I wanted to put together a book about how to be a successful student," she said, later adding, "I feel like it's something that will really assist, advise and help a lot of families."
One of Muchnick's main beliefs is that high-school students don't look at school in the right light.
Students need to think of it as their job: Just like their parents, they need to arrive on time, prepared and ready to impress their boss, she said.
Those skills will take them far in the real world, Muchnick said.
The skills Muchnick writes about seemed easy to her when she was a student. Her hard work got her into Stanford University, where she earned a bachelor's in art history and political science before getting a master's in liberal arts from Nova Southeastern University.
After college, Muchnick worked as an assistant director of admissions at the University of Chicago and the Illinois Institute of Technology. For the last 10 years, she has worked from her home office as a private college counselor, where she helps students navigate high school and apply to college.
Guiding students is Muchnick's passion, and writing a book for a wider audience has been her dream. It was important for her to do it right, which is why she turned down offers by Princeton Review and Kaplan to write about the secrets to getting into college.
"I felt like that book had been written before," she said.
"The Everything Guide to Study Skills" teaches students how to effectively choose classes, take notes, interact successfully with teachers, prepare for exams and find their passion. The nearly 300-page book has whole chapters on information as well as short tips and answers to common questions.
"This was just a dream, this book," she said.
Want to meet Muchnick or check out her book?
What: Book-launch party and signing from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. July 14 at Barnes & Noble in Fashion Island, 401 Newport Center Drive
Price: $15.95 for the book