Dennis J. Petersen


Hey there! I’m Dennis J. Petersen, and I’ve been writing professionally for nearly 20 years, but Alpha Bravo Charlie is my first published book and my first work for children, and I’m super excited about this new project!

I spent the first decade of my career working as a staffer for a U.S. Congressman on Capitol Hill. It was thrilling work, providing advice on legislation and writing speeches, press releases, official correspondence, testimony, draft bills, and whatever else the Congressman needed on any given day. Thrilling and exhausting work. In truth, writing memos for Members of Congress is really not that different than writing for children. Keep it brief enough to hold their attention, and don’t overburden them with big words.

I currently work for the U.S. Department of Defense Office of Inspector General, writing reports on overseas operations in Afghanistan, the Philippines, and most recently Ukraine. My goal with these reports is to take complex operations and describe them in a way that a general audience can understand. It’s all about transparency for the American people. I also have the honor of serving as a public affairs officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve, where I get to help tell the Navy’s story.

If you hang out with military people, you learn very quickly that they have their own language, which is only loosely related to English. Part of that language is the absolute ubiquitousness of the NATO phonetic alphabet. It’s one of many things that gets drilled into people’s brains in boot camp and just becomes a reflex. If you’re spelling something and say “B as in Boy,” you’ll just get confused looks. Like you got a math problem wrong or something.

That’s what inspired this book. I figured there would be a natural audience among members of the military, first responders, aviators, and others who use the NATO alphabet on a regular basis. Having done a few book signings, I have confirmed this hypothesis. There are some people for whom I have to explain the concept, and then there are others – usually people with tattoos and guys with short hair – whose eyes immediately light up and start laughing when they see the cover.

This book is dedicated to their children – “all the brave boys and girls who support their military mommies and daddies” – and, of course, my own two kids, Annie and Joe, without whom it’s probably safe to say I never would have sat down and written a children’s book!

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