Janna McMahan crafted the words of her latest literary work at her kitchen table while helping herself to a piece of her mother's holiday fudge.
"It was fun, and then it was over," she said.
The Columbia resident and author should feel right at home when she celebrates the release of her third work of fiction, "Decorations," during a book reading and signing Saturday at Ed's Editions in West Columbia.
"Decorations" is one of four novellas (30,000 words or less) in the holiday collection "Snow Angels" from Kensington Books, which publishes an annual holiday collection. The combined work includes New York Times best-selling author Fern Michaels, McMahan and two other authors.
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"I enjoyed writing the novella and not feeling as if the success of the entire book depended on me." McMahan said.
"Decorations" is the story of an Asheville woman who finds her true calling and her soul mate at Christmas.
"She gets this gift of a great new life," said McMahan, adding this was the first time she had intentionally written a story with a happy ending.
"I knew going into the process that this would be the case," she said. "It made the creative process so much easier. My editor asked me to contribute to this collection right before the holidays last year. I just observed our traditions and wrote around the Christmas tree."
McMahan, grew up in Kentucky and moved to South Carolina in 1987 with her husband. She started writing fiction 13 years ago and has had two previous nationally distributed titles. The first book was a psychological thriller and the second a literary novel.
Her 2008 book, "Calling Home," was a featured selection in Target stores, and she was named the store's spotlight author for April 2008.
"People ask . . . if my characters are based on actual people," McMahan said. "The answer is no. Every writer takes bits and pieces of people they find useful to their story. Then they add, subtract and twist until out comes an entirely new person. One character may have my father's sense of humor, my uncle's job and the smile I saw on a guy at the mall."
McMahan earned her bachelor's degree in mass communications from the University of Kentucky and a master's in mass communications from the University of South Carolina. She has appeared at the Southern Literary Festival in Charleston, the Decatur Book Festival and the Southern Kentucky Book Festival.
Saturday's event will be her only public reading for "Decorations," and she said she gets a special satisfaction from connecting directly with readers.
"I appreciate every person who makes the effort to come see me," she said. "I also like the laughter. I love to get a responsive audience that laughs in all the right places. It feels so good to entertain people."
"Snow Angels," featuring "Decorations," is available at all major bookstores, online and retail stores.
IF YOU GO
WHO: Author Janna McMahan
WHAT: Reading and book signing for "Snow Angels"
WHEN: 1:30 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Ed's Editions, 406 Meeting St. West Columbia
PHONE: (803) 791-8002