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“One of my favorite memories is lying on the grass on a knoll on a late summer day and telling my sister stories I was making up in my head,” says JoAnn Ferguson. It was an apt start to her success as a multi-faceted author also known as Joanna Hampton, JoAnn Brown, and Jocelyn Kelley.
JoAnn goes all out for her books and her readers. “There’s something magical about being able to spend time with people you enjoy in your imagination. As a writer, I get to go with my characters to their time and place so I can share their adventures and falling in love for the first time…all over again.”
Definitely a lady with a romantic, whimsical bent, JoAnn also challenges herself in every practical and/or adventuresome aspect of her life and life’s work. She started her journey by serving as an Army quartermaster lieutenant. Before leaving the military to become a wife and the mother of three, she says, “I was the first and only woman in my unit.”
Ghosts, calling cards, how to fire an antique gun—she’s mastered them all, to lend authenticity to her novels. She even went so far as to learn “a bit of Russian, Arabic, Welsh, and a lot of Regency slang.”
Her attention to detail paid off. Her work has been honored with award nominations from Pearl, ROMY, Romantic Times, Rom/Con, and Affaire de Coeur magazine. Amazon Books chose her novels to showcase. And Romance Writers of America bestowed the 1998 ARTemis Award on JoAnn’s May 1997 Zebra Regency, The Counterfeit Count.
Nonfiction also appeals to her, if it’s for the betterment of her peers. Garland Press tapped her to contribute to an encyclopedia of the English Regency period, and she is the editor of Now That You’ve Sold Your Book…What Next? Therein, she even explained publishing contracts, clause by tedious clause.
Diligent service to the writing community is also high on JoAnn’s agenda. Romance Writers of America—a national non-profit genre writers' association, the largest of its kind in the world with 9,000 members—benefited from her service as a director, a vice president, the Professional Relations chairperson, as a conference and workshops chairperson, and as chairperson for the annual autographing to benefit literacy. Those many thousand members of RWA elected her national president for 1998-2000, and the board of directors awarded her the highest honor for volunteerism, the Emma Merritt National Service Award.
On the regional level, Rhode Island Romance Writers named their service award in JoAnn’s honor, and New England Chapter/Romance Writers of America® presented their first Goldrick Service Award to her. The Massachusetts Art Grant to teach creative writing preceded JoAnn establishing the romance writing course at Brown University.
The Fergusons live in Massachusetts, where her favorite hero—her husband, Bill—and their children, Laura, Peter, and Marianne, have become “accustomed to ordering out on the nights when I just cannot resist spending a bit more time with my characters.”
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