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The story of a remarkable friendship between a death row inmate and a death penalty abolitionist

Image by Susan Q Yin

Women Writers, Women's Books features an excerpt from Lisa's latest book.

Lisa’s newest book, From Your Friend, Carey Dean: Letters from Nebraska’s Death Row (2022), is a memoir/biography. In 1995, when Lisa visited Nebraska’s death row with other death penalty abolitionists, she became acquainted with one of the inmates. For the next 23 years, through visits, phone calls, and letters, a remarkable, platonic friendship flourished between Lisa, an English professor, and Carey Dean Moore, who’d murdered two Omaha cab drivers in 1979 and for which he was executed by lethal injection in 2018. From Your Friend, Carey Dean, tells two other stories, as well. One is that of a broken correctional system (Nebraska’s prisons are overcrowded, understaffed, and underfunded, and excessive in their use of solitary confinement), and what it’s like to be incarcerated there, which Carey frequently spoke and wrote about. The other is the story of how a double murderer was transformed and nourished by his faith in God’s promises. Though Carey and Lisa were different types of
Christians (he was a Biblical literalist and an evangelical; she is a Biblical contextualist with progressive leanings), they shared an abiding faith in God’s love and grace.

Lisa was born and raised in Burlington, Iowa, a Mississippi River town. She was educated at Iowa Wesleyan College, Western Illinois University, and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Since 2005, she’s been a professor of English at the University of Nebraska-Omaha where she teaches courses in creative nonfiction, including food writing, travel writing, and a seminar in experimental forms. She’s a certified Reiki practitioner, and she enjoys mentoring children and adults at Heartland Big Brothers Big Sisters, Lincoln Literacy, and TeamMates Mentoring Program. Lisa lives in Lincoln, Nebraska with her two cats, Morwenna and Janko Noam Chomsky.

The Nature of Home shortlisted for 2021 One Book One Nebraska, Nebraska Center for the Book   

“Death Watch.” First prize in the 2020 Curt Johnson Prose Awards Contest, december magazine  

Finalist, “From Your Friend, Carey Dean: Letters from Nebraska’s Death Row” River Teeth 2020 Book Prize (one winner, five finalists)  

Finalist, “From Your Friend, Carey Dean,” 2018 Jeffrey E. Smith Editors’ Prize, Missouri Review    

“Leaving the Body.” First Prize, 2018 “Leaving” writing contest, Hospital Drive (University Virginia School of Medicine)   

Bread: A Memoir of Hunger. Winner of a 2018 CHOICE award (Journal of the American Library Association)  

Bread: A Memoir of Hunger. First Place, Nebraska Book Awards 2017, Nonfiction Essay category. Nebraska Center for the Book. Lincoln, Nebraska Three-week residency, Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts in Nebraska City, Nebraska, January 2015  

Distinguished Artist Fellowships Nebraska Arts Council, $2,500 award in 2015 and $2,000 in 2001.  

What the River Carries: Encounters with the Mississippi, Missouri, and the Platte, First Place, Nebraska Book Awards 2013, Nonfiction Essay. Nebraska Center for the Book. Lincoln, Nebraska  

What the River Carries: Encounters with the Mississippi, Missouri, and the Platte, Tied for Second Place, ASLE (Association for the Study of Literature and Environment) 2013 Environmental Creative Writing Book Award  


Notable Essay citations in Best American Essays series -

“Still Life with Peaches.” Georgia Review (Spring 2014) 

 “No Other River.” Iowa Review (Fall 2009) 

“Nine-mile Prairie.” Michigan Quarterly Review (Summer 2007) 

“Household Words.” Michigan Quarterly Review (Fall 2001) 

“My Place of Many Times.” Connecticut Review (Fall 2000) 

“Summer Reading.” Missouri Review (Fall 1993) 

“Pheasant Country.” Northwest Review (Summer 1990)  

Press + Announcements
Bookshelf Broadcast

Lisa is interviewed by NPR’s

Courtney Bierman on her latest book From Your Friend, Carey Dean: Letters from Nebraska’s Death Row

J. Kemper Campbell of The Lincoln Journal Star reviews Lisa's latest book

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