Tuesday, September 10, 2019

New Website!

Hi all,

I have a fancy new website! Check it out HERE

This blog will remain available for perusing.

Thanks for visiting!


Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Three new war writing anthologies!

My mind is a little blown and my heart is a lot grateful to be part of three new anthologies. It's thrilling to be published, and even more so to be part of these important books covering new ground in war literature. Check 'em out!

Retire the Colors: Veterans & Civilians on Iraq & Afghanistan (Hudson Whitman/Excelsior College Press)

Available now!
Edited by Marine and Iraq veteran Dario DiBattista, this collection of essays was specifically curated to bridge the military-civilian divide by sharing new, unique, humanizing perspectives of war and its aftermath. These are not stories of Hollywood war heroes. They're stories of love and loss, parenting, going to school, growing up, meeting new people. Men and women living their lives—who also happen to be straddling two worlds, and sometimes those worlds collide. My veteran-writer husband and I have a bookshelf full of war literature, but we don't have anything else like this collection.

Join us for a reading/discussion in Seattle

The Road Ahead: Fiction from the Forever War (Pegasus Books, Jan 17, 2017) 

Preorder now!

A diverse collection of contemporary war fiction put together by veterans/prolific writers and thinkers Brian Castner and Adrian Bonenberger. These 24 unique voices address war from all angles (and when I say all I mean surrealism and metaphor and all sorts of other strange and wonderful things). It's a think piece of an anthology, but also shockingly accessible—and sometimes just plain shocking. The kind of intimate, brutal truths best revealed through fiction.

Stay tuned for events across the country!

It’s My Country Too: True Stories of Women Under Fire from the American Revolution to Afghanistan  (University of Nebraska Press/Potomac Books, July 1, 2017)

Preorder now!
Women have been involved in warfighting since warfighting began. Yet our perspectives are largely absent from historical accounts, and certainly from the war literature canon. Enter editors Jerri Bell and Tracy Crow, who scoured the archivesfrom published memoirs to personal diaries, letters, and service documentsto compile what I like to call an encyclopedia of women's war stories. But don't let the word "encyclopedia" scare you away. These stories are anything but dry historical accounts; they're riveting first-person narratives, framed by era-specific context that speaks not just to women or the military, but to life and the world. This book is brilliant, necessary, and long-overdue.


Friday, April 1, 2016

Recommended Reading: Nontraditional War Stories

I have the pleasure of participating in a panel discussion at the 2016 Association of Writers and Writing Programs Conference on the topic of Nontraditional War Stories. In the panel Qais Akbar Omar, Olivia Kate Cerrone, Mieke Eerkens, Mariette Katherine Kalinowski and I will explore military and war narratives that break from what has become the formula for mainstream war stories: those focused on western male combat soldiers. Our thought is that offering different perspectives—from men and women living in war zones, female veterans, aid workers, journalists, family members and others—will give voice to minority and disenfranchised (and often stereotyped) populations and expand public understanding of what it means to be affected by war.

Since we cannot hope to capture all perspectives in our panel of five, we've compiled a list of recommended reading, below. This list is not all-inclusive, but we hope to update it and add titles as we learn of them. At this point (with a couple exceptions), the books included only come from the last 10-15 years and focus on contemporary conflicts in the greater Middle East. Narratives about military spouses are not represented—that is an important and thriving sub-genre that would swell this list far beyond its current size. 

If you have a recommended read or resource on this topic, please share in the comments.

Abulhawa, Susan:  The Blue Between Sky and Water; Mornings in Jenin (fiction, Palestine, local voices)

Addario, Lynsey: It’s What I Do (memoir, war photographer)

Akbar Omar, Qais:  A Fort of Nine Towers (memoir, Afghanistan, local voices)

Alexander, Jessica:  Chasing Chaos: My Decade In and Out of Humanitarian Aid (memoir)

Alsanea, Rajaa:  Girls of Riyadh (reportage/biography, Saudi Arabia, local voices)

Ansary, Nina:  Jewels of Allah: The Untold Story of Women in Iran (reportage, local voices)

Antoon, Sinan:  The Corpse Washer (fiction, Iraq, local voices)

Aslam, Nadeem:  The Wasted Vigil (fiction, Afghanistan, local voices)

Bahari, Maziar:  Rosewater (memoir, Iran)

Baker, Kim:  The Taliban Shuffle (memoir, Afghanistan/Pakistan, journalist) *Basis for the movie 
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

Barghouti, Mourid:  I Saw Ramallah (memoir, Palestine, local voices)

Bell, Elana:  Eyes, Stones (poetry, Israel/Palistine)

Benedict, Helen:  The Lonely Soldier (reportage, female veterans)

Blair, Jane:  Hesitation Kills (memoir, Iraq, female veteran)

Blasim, Hassan:  The Corpse Exhibition and Other Stories of Iraq (fiction, local voices)

Bowden, Lisa and Shannon Cain (editors):  Powder: Writing by Women in the Ranks from Vietnam to Iraq

Chayes, Sarah:  The Punishment of Virtue (reportage/memoir, Afghanistan, aid worker)

Clark, Peter (editor):  Emerging Arab Voices (fiction/anthology, local voices)

Copaken Kogan, Deborah:  Shutterbabe (memoir, Afghanistan/Zimbabwe/Romania/Russia/Haiti, photojournalist)

Crow, Tracey:  Eyes Right (memoir, female veteran)

Darwish, Mahmoud:  If I Were Another; Why Did You Leave the Horse Alone? (poetry, Palistine, local voices)

Douaihy, Jabbour:  Autumn Equinox; June Rain (fiction, Lebanon, local voices)

Duy, Nguyen:  Distant Road (poetry, Vietnam, local voices)

Ebadi, Shirin:  Iran Awakening; Until We Are Free (memoir, Iran, local voices)

Fathi, Nazila:  The Lonely War (memoir/reportage, Iran, local voices)

Gidali, Orit:  Twenty Girls to Envy Me: (poetry, Israel, local voices) *to be released July 2016

Gopal, Anand:  No Good Men Among the Living (reportage, Afghanistan, local voices)

Hamid, Mohsin:  The Reluctant Fundamentalist (fiction, Pakistan, local voices)

Halloran, Colin D:  Icarian flux (poetry, homefront, PTSD explored through persona and metaphor)
*Halloran’s first collection, Shortly Thereafter, addresses war more explicitly; several poems feature nontraditional perspectives (Full disclosure: Colin is my husband)

Hoffman, Cara:  Be Safe, I Love You (fiction, Iraq, female veteran)

Hosseini, Khaled:  The Kite Runner; A Thousand Splendid Suns; And the Mountains Echoed (fiction, Afghanistan, local voices)

Housden, Roger:  Saved by Beauty (memoir/travel writing, Iran)

Johnson, Shoshanna and ML Doyle:  I'm Still Standing: From Captive U.S. Soldier to Free Citizen (memoir, Iraq, female veteran)

Jubber, Nicholas:  Drinking Arak Off An Ayatollah’s Beard (memoir/reportage, Iran/Afghanistan, local voices, travel writing)

Kachachi, Inaam:  American Granddaughter (fiction, Iraq, local voices)

Karimi-Hakkak, Ahmad and Nahid Mozaffari (editors): Strange Times, My Dear: The PEN Anthology of Contemporary Iranian Literature (anthology, Iran, local voices)

Khadra, Yasmina:  The Swallows of Kabul (fiction, Afghanistan, local voices)

King Feuerman, Ruchama:  In the Courtyard of the Kabbalist (fiction, Israel, local voices)

MacFarquhar, Neil:  The Media Relations Department of Hizbollah Wishes You a Happy Birthday (memoir/reportage)

Mahony, Phillip (editor):  From Both Sides Now: The Poetry of the Vietnam War and its Aftermath (Vietnam, local voices)

Majd, Hooman:  The Ministry of Guidance Invites You to Not Stay (memoir/travel writing, Iran)

Mikhail, Dunya:  Fifteen Iraqi Poets (anthology, local voices)

Moaveni, Azadeh:  Lipstick Jihad (memoir, Iran, local voices)

Navai, Ramita:  City of Lies (biography/reportage, Iran, local voices)

Papernick, John:  The Ascent of Eli Israel and Other Stories (fiction, Israel, local voices)

Pari and Ahmad Aria: Washing the Dust From Our Hearts: Poetry & Prose from Writers of the Afghan Women’s Writing Project

Percy, Jennifer:  Demon Camp (reportage/memoir, Afghanistan/homefront, PTSD/inherited trauma

*As a journalist, Percy has also written extensively about conflict in many regions, from many nontraditional perspectives

Radnoti, Miklos:  Clouded Sky (poetry, Hungary/WWII concentration camp, local voices)

Richey, Frances:  The Warrior: A Mother’s Story of a Son at War (poetry, homefront)

Roy-Bhattacharya, Joydeep:  The Watch (fiction, Afghanistan, local voices)

Sabar, Ariel:  My Father’s Paradise (memoir, Iraq, local voices)

Sasson, Jean:  Mayada, Daughter of Iraq (biography, Iraq, local voices); American Chick in Saudi Arabia (memoir)

Schultz, Katey:  Flashes of War (short fiction)

Seierstad, Asne:  The Bookseller of Kabul (reportage/biography, Afghanistan, local voices)

Seraji, Mahbod:  Rooftops of Tehran (fiction, Iran, local voices)

Shavit, Ari:  My Promised Land (memoir/reportage, Israel/Palestine, local voices)

Shehadeh, Raja:  Strangers in the House: Coming of Age in Occupied Palestine (memoir, Palestine, local voices)

Strick van Linschoten, Alex and Felix Kuehn (editors):  Poetry of the Taliban (Afghanistan, local voices)

Sultan, Masuda:  My War at Home (memoir, Afghanistan, local voices)

Tolan, Sandy:  The Lemon Tree (biography/memoir, Israel/Palistine, local voices)

Trussoni, Danielle:  Falling Through the Earth (memoir, Vietnam, PTSD/inherited trauma)

Tzemach Lemmon, Gayle:  Ashley’s War (reportage, Afghanistan, female veterans); The Dressmaker of Khair Khana (local voices)

Various:  My Sister, Guard Your Veil; My Brother, Guard Your Eyes: Uncensored Iranian Voices

Wahab, Saima:  In My Father’s Country (memoir, Afghanistan, local voices)

Williams, Kayla: Love My Rifle More than You (memoir, Iraq, female veteran); Plenty of Time When We Get Home (memoir, Iraq/homefront, PTSD, caretaer)

Wolpe, Sholeh (translator/editor):  Sin: Selected Poems of Forugh Farrokhzad; The Forbidden: Poems from Iran and its Exiles

Other Resources:

For a comprehensive list of writing by female veterans throughout history, Navy Veteran/writer/editor Jerri Bell is compiling an extensive Bibliography on her website

For links to writing by and about military spouses (and other military and book-related themes) check out the Military Spouse Book Review

The Time Now blog, curated by retired Army colonel and literature professor Peter Molin, offers reviews and commentary on "The Iraq and Afghanistan Wars in Art, Film, and Literature" 

Monday, November 23, 2015

$h!t the military taught me

I recently took a rite of passage to adulthood: I got a job in retail. Contrary to the warnings of many of my peers (who completed this rite years ago), I’m actually really enjoying the experience. Sure, customers can be picky, rude, and ungrateful. Sometimes it’s hard to keep smiling and stay cordial. But I appreciate being pulled from my solitary writerly cave and into daily social interaction. It’s refreshing to focus on something completely different. My coworkers are awesome, and meetings always involve pizza.

Not counting internships and work-from-home gigs, this is also my first job since leaving the service. Working in the “real world” has helped me realize many of the lessons I took from my time in the military. 

So, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’m compiling a list of gratitude. In the spirit of the military, I made it into an acronym: PAEAP, which you can remember with this Thanksgivingy phrase: People Always Eat Amazing Poultry.


I used to be perpetually late, regardless of what time I was supposed to arrive (but especially in the morning), where I was going or for what purpose. I didn’t mean to be late. I’d give myself ample time, I wouldn’t dawdle; I’d just hit a time warp and suddenly need to leave five minutes ago. In my college freshman English class, I was downgraded from an A to an A- because I had too many tardies. (The classroom was in the building next to my dorm, and the class started at a very reasonable 10am . . .)

The military beat lateness out of me.  Mornings were popular. Schedules were tight, and delaying a meeting or sneaking in late risked earning the commander’s wrath. Though a tad hyperbolic for my line of work, I took the saying to heart: “If you’re early you’re on time, if you’re on time you’re late, and if you’re late you’re dead.” Anyone who knows me knows I’m still not a morning person. But I can rally if I need to. (Incidentally, I also credit the military for indoctrinating me to black coffee.)  


Life in the military is often trial by fire. You’re expected to learn quickly, frequently with little or no instruction, sometimes in high-stakes situations. My deployed position was in many ways make-it-up-as-you-go; Information Operations for use in counterinsurgency/nation-building efforts was a new application. All doctrine was based on Vietnam-era kinetic warfare (direct enemy engagement). There were no standard operating procedures. Our guidance was vague—to the point of, to quote a colleague’s commander, “Sprinkle some IO dust on that.”

The expectation isn’t to instantaneously know the best way to accomplish the mission, but to figure out a good way. Initiative can mean asking for help, using the resources at your disposal to make an informed decision, making a “command decision” (a judgement call), or all of the above. It does NOT mean panicking, wallowing in self-doubt, or being paralyzed into inaction. I use these skills almost every day—particularly these last few weeks as I learn the ropes of a new service-oriented industry. If all else fails, I remember one of the unofficial tenants of public affairs: If you don’t have actual confidence, have pretend confidence.


The military expects its members to operate with what they call “a sense of urgency.” Everything you do, whether it’s cleaning your weapon or cleaning your plate, should be done as efficiently as possible. There are a bajillion checklists, fill-in-the-blank templates and step-by-step guides to make this easier. In some situations, though, circumstances call for time-saving procedural deviations (see Adaptability/Initiative).

Speediness often comes into conflict with my perfectionist inclinations—I’ve had to learn to balance my high personal standards with what is reasonable to accomplish effectively in a timely manner and with available resources. Each customer may not have flawlessly gift-wrapped purchases, but they’ll be satisfied, and I can move onto the next customer rather than keeping him/her waiting.


I’m a natural pushover and avoider of confrontation. Governed by emotions and drawn toward peacemaking, I'd prefer to get walked on than make waves. Public affairs is kind of a wave-making entity. I often found myself a lowly lieutenant in a meeting with high-ranking leaders who were focused (understandably) on the immediate tangibles of a situation. PA was an afterthought, when the shit hit the fan. In order to pre-empt mass confusion and/or media and community outrage, I had to proactively speak up and assert my position as the subject matter expert, even when I felt anything but. As a supervisor and ranking officer, I also needed to stand up for my Airmen. I was the buffer between their wellbeing and demanding customers.

Though the stakes are lower in small business retail, my actions still represent the company. I’m still the (actively learning) subject matter expert. Confrontation remains mildly nauseating for me, but I’ve learned that the anticipation is usually worse than the actual event. More often than not, long-term benefits are worth temporary discomfort.  


Most situations are preferable to living in a warzone. Being yelled at by a persnickety customer is a hell of a lot better than being yelled at by generals and/or Afghan government officials. Interactions carry very little risk of inciting an international incident. In all likelihood, no one will be injured or killed. As my husband is fond of saying, “At least they’re not shooting at you.”

As always, I’m thankful to be spending the holidays with loved ones and grateful for all who have worked and continue to work to make that possible.

If you're shopping this weekend, please be kind to your salespeople!