Enough is Enough!

The last several days have been odd. I had a discouraging telephone call with my long- time editor during which he told me that the only nonfiction books that have been selling lately are partisan political attacks on the opposition or memoirs. He rejected a fabulous true crime idea that I had proposed and said “no”  when I mentioned a possible book about a spy. He already had rejected a book that I wanted to write about homelessness and one that I had proposed about successful programs that are helping persons with mental illnesses.

As you can imagine, since all of my books have been about true crime, spies, or mental illness, it was a depressing conversation that left me wondering if I should have taken my mother’s advice and stuck around at the Washington Post .

And then —

Click to continue…

Where’s the community outrage?

I wrote a piece for the Washington Post on Sunday that turned out  much differently from what I had intended to write. A man with mental illness was fatally shot by a Fairfax County police officer. The police were looking for him because he was suspected of taking flowers from a planter outside an area shop.
I decided to use this horrific incident to explain how important it is for the police to get Crisis Intervention Training, which teaches officers how to handle persons with mental disorders with a minimum of force.
But as I began investigating the shooting, I had another thought  — and I also got upset.

Publishers and Money

A friend in publishing sent me an email saying he felt my blog entitled Do Publishers Owe Us More was unfair. You might recall that I suggested that publishers had an obligation to print books exposing social problems even if those books might not be profitable.
“70 % of all books published do not earn back their advances,” my friend wrote. “What other business operates with those losses? To incur more losses – regardless of the importance of the subject matter – would further weaken the industry.”
I’ve always been suspicious of that 70% figure.  Here’s why.Click to continue…

The Importance of Speaking Out!

A mother wrote to me four years ago about her adult son who had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder but had refused to take his medication.  The apartment where he lived was in shambles and he was in horrific shape. Despite everything that she did, he refused to get help. He sunk deeper and deeper into a mental abyss. 
Because he was not dangerous, there was nothing she could do.
 Many of us have been in this woman’s shoes. I get emails and phone calls weekly from frantic parents who have heard about my book and want help with their children. 
I remember writing the mother an encouraging note and occassionally wondering what had happened to her and her son.  Well, this week I heard back from her. Click to continue…

Is the Past — Prologue?

I gave two presentations last week in Saint Louis at what used to be called the Saint Louis Insane Asylum. It is a magnificent structure with an iron-domed cupola.

Thomas Silverstein, Hot House convict

Before I began writing about the need for mental health care reform, most visitors came to my webpage to read about Thomas Silverstein, a major character in my book, The Hot House. 
 He has been held in solitary confinement since 1983 — the longest any convict has been kept isolated by the federal Bureau of Prisons.
About once a year, I get a telephone call from a reporter from some national news organization asking about him. A couple of weeks ago it was CNN Writer/Producer Stephanie Chen seeking an interview.
I used to talk about Tommy, but not anymore.Click to continue…