Book Signing at the 2012 Baltimore Book Festival

New in the Cecil Whig!

JoAnn Dawson, Member Screen Actors Guild

Press Release, Lady's Big Surprise

Author of Award Winning Series


The 17th Annual Baltimore Book Festival. September 28-20, 2012

This year JoAnn Dawson was "lucky" enough to be a part of the 17th Annual Baltimore Book Festival! Thank you for all who came out! We're already looking forward to next year September 27-29, 2013!

Interview with Katy Ciamaricone from the Cecil Whig! August 11, 2009

‘Lucky’ Break: Local author’s latest book winds prestigious prize
By Katy Ciamaricone

JoAnn Dawson recently achieved high acclaim for the newest book in her Lucky Foot Stable Series, “Mary & Jody in the Movies.”

The Series for pre-teen readers follows best friends Mary and Jody as they get into all sorts of adventures with their ponies, Gypsy and Lady. In the latest installment, the girls find work on a movie set, but a series of mishaps threatens to hamper the fun.

Dawson owns and operates Fairwinds Farm in North East, and spends her free time writing about what she knows: horses.
And it’s paid off: when she recently traveled to the Book Expo America show in New York City, she learned that “Mary and Jody in the Movies” had tied for first place in the Independent Publishers IPPY Juvenile Fiction category, earning a gold sticker to place on the cover of her most recent book.

We caught up with her as she basked in the warm glow of her recent win.

Congratulations on the recent awards you’ve received for your latest book, “Mary and Jody in the Movies.” Tell us about the book.
Thank you! It’s the fourth book in the Lucky Foot Stable series. The series is about two best friends and their adventures with their horses, Lady and Gypsy. In “Mary & Jody in the Movies,” the girls actually get to work on a movie set, riding the horses in a scene from a movie called “The Cream of the Crop.” For those who follow the series, some past secrets are reveled and there is a surprise ending! I used my own experiences on the movie sets to develop the story.

What is it about your heroines that resonates so well with young people?
I think that the characters of Mary and Jody are realistic portrayals of young girls, with all the dilemmas that come with that age group. Even though they are best friends, they are very different from each other. The character of Mary is very tomboyish and outspoken while Jody is more quiet and introspective. I think the girls who read the books can find a little of themselves in the characters. I get a lot of letters from girls who wish they were the characters!

How do kids react to you when you visit schools to talk about your work?
Kids are great in general. They ask some very good questions about what it’s like to be an author, what it’s like to have a farm and take of animals, and of course, they all want to know about the movie work that I am sometimes lucky enough to get. Sometimes, I have to streer their interest back to the books because they just want to talk about movie stars! But I think their favorite part is getting to visit with my pony, Butterscotch, after my presentation. He greets them out in the parking lot.

How many of Mary and Jody’s adventures are based on your own experiences?
In the first book, I’d say about 90 percent of the stories are true-to-life. In succeeding books, some stories are real but more and more are concocted from my brain. However, even then, there are elements which really happened.

Do you read a lot of juvenile fiction yourself?
Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of time to read much of anything these days, but the books I do read are generally not juvenile fiction.

Who are your literary influences?
In general, I’d have to say I like any book which is very well written, which are most often classics by authors like Harper Lee, John Steinbeck, or Henry James.
Modern books I’ve liked recently were by Sue Monk Kidd, Jane Hamilton and Sara Gruen.

When you were growing up, what were your favorite books?
My favorite book growing up was “Christy,” by Catherine Marshall. I also loved the Misty books by Marguerite Henry. I pretty much read anything I could get my hands on.

What’s on your current summer-reading list?
Right now I’m reading “Jennie” by Ralph G. Martin. It’s the biography of Winston Churchill’s mother. I also read “The Corrections” by Jonathan Franzen and “The Prince of Tides” by Pat Conroy this summer.

Any tips for locals who think they might have a book or two in them? What steps do you suggest they take to make it happen?
Have lots of patience and be willing to work hard and take rejection! It is very difficult to get anything published these days without an agent or some kind of connection. I started out self-publishing my books with help of Pneuma Books, right here in Cecil County. When they became popular, nationally known and won several awards, they attracted the attention of Sourcebooks, my current publisher, who bought the rights and began publishing and distributing them. But I would say the first thing to do is to make sure you have a good, marketable product. Get some unbiased opinions.

What’s next for Mary and Jody?
My next books will deal with the aftermath of the filming which took place in the fourth book. The girls travel to New York for the movie premiere and get a taste of big-city life. And there will be a resolution to the surprise ending in the fourth book. Stay tuned!

Back to top

JoAnn (Jodi) Dawson, Member Screen Actors Guild

FILM: Our Lady of Victory, The Happening, The Lovely Bones, Shooter, Step Up 2, Ladder 49, Jersey Girl, Whispers of Angels, The Sixth Sense, Beloved, For Richer or Poorer, Twelve Monkeys, Legends of the Stall; Industrial - W.L. Gore, Industrial - WAWA, plus stand-in and extra work on numerous industrials and films including Rocky V, Unbreakable, Fallen, Philadelphia, Age of Innocence, Weapons Master, The Verdict, Hack, Arrest & Trial, Top Cops, Unsolved Mysteries, Lincoln & the War Within, America's Most Wanted, MTV Joan Osborne Video, Dixon's Race for Life

THEATER: The Actor's Nightmare, Aftertaste, Inherit the Wind, The Foreigner, Two Rooms, South Pacific, Tartuffe, Oklahoma, Atari National Tour

COMMERCIALS: WJZ, Constellation Energy, Giant Food, Genuardi's, Yellow Book, Amtrak, NAACP, Temple University, PA Lottery, Tylenol, Showboat Casino

TRAINING: Acting: HB Studio-NYC, DE Theatre Co., Danny Peake Scene Study, Mary Lynn Henry Audition Technique, John Medieros Monologue and Musical Audition, Mike Lemon Scene Study, Commercial: Actors in Advertising-NYC, Bob Collier Advanced-NYC, Actor's Studio Advanced Voice - Mary Jo Kenney, University of Delaware Voice and voiceover.

JoAnn and Haley Joel Osment
The Sixth Sense

JoAnn and John Travolta
Ladder 49

JoAnn and Terry Gilliam
12 Monkeys

JoAnn as The Burnt Teacher
The Sixth Sense

JoAnn and Danny Gover

JoAnn and Jay O. Sander
For Richer or Poorer

Back to top

Press Release
It's Official: Girls Love Horses

Lady's Big Surprise, the start of a new series for horse lovers, weaves adventure with lessons on life and friendship.
We all know one. A young girl who is wildly, inexplicably, head-over-heels horse crazy. JoAnn S. Dawson has captured that innate love of horses and brought it to life in Lady's Big Surprise, a beautifully written and illustrated tale in the tradition of Frances Frost's classic Windy Foot series and Marguerite Henry's books. With plenty of excitement and mystery to enthrall readers ages 8-12, the story is compelling from the first sentence and leaves readers eagerly anticipating sequels.

Venturing from the little white barn they call Lucky Foot Stable and aided by Willie, the wise farmhand, "epic" friends Mary and Jody embark upon a series of adventures with their ponies, Gypsy and Lady, and grow a lasting friendship as they share hour after hour of imaginative exploits. From their very first horse show to their journey to the mysterious Secret Place, the Cow Funeral and an old fashioned sleigh ride, these two plucky heroines learn important life lessons which culminate in a magical night at the stable and the biggest surprise of their lives!

Dawson draws on her own extensive experience with horses to lend authenticity and detail to the events as they unfold. She also includes a glossary of horse terms for the reader's reference.

Lady's Big Surprise will keep readers glued to the page right up to the very satisfying end which begs for a sequel. That wish is granted in the next three books of the series... Star of Wonder, A Star Discovered, and Mary & Jody in the Movies.

Back to top

All four books in the Lucky Foot Stable Series Named as Finalists in Three National Book Awards

The Lucky Foot Stable series by JoAnn S. Dawson, has been named a finalist in three separate national book award programs rewarding excellence in writing and publishing. Dawson received the honors at ceremonies held in New York City each year of publication.  Judged by individual panels of book industry experts, PMA’s Benjamin Franklin Awards, the Independent Publishing Awards, and ForeWord Magazine’s Book of the Year Awards receive thousands of entries yearly in categories grouped by genre. The Lucky Foot Series, adventurous tales of friendship, horses, and youth aimed at ages 8-12 has been named as top three finalists in the category of Juvenile Fiction. Mary & Jody in the Movies, the fourth book in the series, recently received the IPPY Gold Award.  

JoAnn S. Dawson currently operates Fairwinds Farm in Cecil County, MD where she and husband Ted manage a 50-horse operation offering riding lessons, trail rides, horse-drawn carriages, pony rides, summer camp and a bed and breakfast. Dawson’s first book, Lady’s Big Surprise, was released in 2003, followed by Star of Wonder in March of 2005 and A Star Discovered, in March  2006. The fourth book, Mary & Jody in the Movies was released in Fall of 2008.

In addition to her work as an author, Dawson is an actress and wrangler for film and television, including roles in M.Night Shayamalan’s The Sixth Sense and Oprah Winfrey’s Beloved. She is available for book signings, school appearances, and special events along with her pony, Butterscotch. Lady’s Big Surprise, Star of Wonder, and A Star Discovered can be acquired from,, and major bookstores.

Back to top


Isn't it nice when an interview is almost effortless on your part? When the guest on your program keeps the conversation lively, interesting and topical, with plenty of appealing stories related with wit and wisdom? That's what you'll get with JoAnn S. Dawson, actress, wrangler, educator and author of Lady's Big Surprise, the first book in the Lucky Foot Stable series. JoAnn Dawson loves to talk about a variety of topics pertinent to today's news - and tales of her varied and fascinating life.

She brings a world of experience to the table as:

  • Owner of a renowned stable and bed & breakfast... featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, Baltimore Sun, and on Good Morning America.
  • Professional actor, wrangler and SAG member (The Sixth Sense, For Richer or Poorer, Twelve Monkeys, Beloved, America's Most Wanted...)
  • Educator... Masters Degree in Education, Director of the Cecil County Equine Institute, College Instructor of Equine Science and Dramatic Arts.

Please contact us at your earliest convenience to schedule an appearance. The author will be glad to bring Butterscotch the pony along upon request!

Note: The author is an interesting and lively interview and has opinions on many of the topics of the day, including the problems of loss of innocence and childhood obesity. Below are some sample interview questions:

1. How do you think the Lucky Foot Stable series differs from other current children's horse books?

2. Are these true stories from your childhood? What made you decide to write the book?

3. How do you feel your background, everything from SPCA agent to magician's assistant to foreign exchange student makes you qualified to write this type of book?

4. I see you're a professional actor and wrangler as well as being an author. What productions have you appeared in?  What exactly does a wrangler do? And what is is like being on a film set and working with the stars?

5. How do you fit this into your schedule being a wife and mom, running two horse stables and a bed & breakfast?

6. Do you think kids these days are growing up too fast?  What steps can parents take to help prevent this loss of innocence?  Can your books help?

7. How do you feel about the inactivity and escalating obesity of today's kids? In your books, the main characters are always outside riding, cleaning the barn, getting ready for a horse show, etc... what can we do to get our kids out from in front of the TV and video games?

8.  You have 50 horses at Fairwinds Farm. What do you do with them all?

9. Why did you include a glossary of horse terms?

10. Is riding good exercise? How dangerous is it? Do you think most kids could benefit from it?

11.  How can our audience get information on purchasing your books? 

Back to top