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“Mad” author Stephanie McAfee at Mistletoe Market Saturday

stephanie-mcafee-webIn Stephanie McAfee’s first novel, “Diary of a Mad Fat Girl,” her outrageous protagonist Ace Jones takes on pinheaded school administrators, deals with hurtful gossip and endures heartbreak. In the follow up, “Happily Ever Madder,” Jones is ready for a new battle: with the ladies of the homeowners’ association.

“I try to make my characters highly relatable,” said McAfee. She appears at 11 a.m. Saturday to sign books and meet fans at the Junior League of Cobb-Marietta’s Mistletoe Market as part of an author event coordinated by the Book Exchange.

Market hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. today and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. The event is being held at the Cobb County Civic Center, 548 South Marietta Parkway. Admission is $8 at the door and parking is free.

Saturday’s author event lineup starts at 10 a.m. with Echo Garrett, author of “My Orange Duffle Bag: A Journey to Radical Change.” Mary Kay Andrews follows at 11 a.m., along with McAfee; followed by Susan Gregg Gilmore, author of “Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen,” and Lisa Patton, author of “Yankee Doodle Dixie” at noon; and Anne Hite, author of “Ghost On Black Mountain,” and Linda Sands, author of “Not Waving, Drowning,” at 1 p.m.

13543094McAfee said she does much of her writing in the library where there is no internet access, and always loves meeting fans.

“I still kind of can’t believe it when people come up and say, ‘I read your book,’” she said. “It’s been an adventure – a big, stressful adventure but it’s been fun.”

A Booneville, Miss., native who lives with her husband and son in the Florida Panhandle, McAfee began writing as an escape from her former job teaching math. (She liked her colleagues and loved the kids; the math, not so much). After a slew of rejection letters from agents, she posted the work online. After it became an e-book hit McAfee suddenly was fielding calls from the publishing industry. She’s just finished her third book in the “Mad” series. “Down and out in Bugtussle” comes out next year.

“It’s kind of therapeutic,” she said of writing. Friends often ask if her sometimes crazy, always hilarious characters are modeled after people she knows.

“People ask, ‘are you Ace Jones?’ No. I want to be,” she said. “We can’t be Ace Jones and live in a civilized society.”

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