Podcast, Speech, and new Nelson DeMille novel

I will be speaking at a local library tonight [June 8th] in Fairfax about some of my adventures as an author. The informal program begins at 6 p.m. at the Patrick Henry Library, 101 Maple Avenue, Vienna, Virginia.  The libary also did a podcast interview with me that can be heard here.

My first literary agent also represented Nelson DeMille and for the past 24 years, Nelson and I have been friends. His newest book, The Lion, is being released today and   I read an advance copy weeks ago that he sent me and thoroughly enjoyed it. If you are looking for a summer read, get a copy.

My favorite DeMille book is Word of Honor but all of his novels are well-worth your time. Nelson’s writing is filled with wit, sarcasm, and lots of twists and turns. Here’s what his publisher says about his new book.
“John Corey, former NYPD homicide detective and now a special agent for the Anti-Terrorist Task Force is back. Unfortunately, so is Asad Khalil, the notorious Libyan terrorist otherwise known as “The Lion.” When last we heard from him, Khalil had claimed to be defecting to the U.S. only to unleash the most horrific reign of terror ever to occur on American soil. While Corey and his partner, FBI agent Kate Mayfield, pursued him across the country, Khalil methodically eliminated his victims one by one and then disappeared without a trace. Now, three years later, Khalil has returned to America to make good on his threats and take care of unfinished business. “The Lion” is a killing machine once again loose in America with a mission of revenge, and John Corey will stop at nothing to achieve his own goal – to find and kill Khalil.”

Sadly, no CIT Officer of the Year in Fairfax

I returned from speaking at the International Crisis Intervention Team conference in San Antonio, Texas, with mixed feelings. The conference was great and I was especially pleased to bump into Robert Cluck from my local NAMI chapter in Northern Virginia, as well as Major Tom Ryan from the Fairfax Police Department, who has been one of our county’s strongest CIT advocates. They were among the 1,300 attendees making the conference the largest to date. 
The focus of CIT has expanded from when it was first introduced.  Initially, it was seen as a training program for the police that taught officers how to respond when they encountered someone with a mental illness who was in the midst of a crisis. Now the emphasis is on using CIT to bring different community leaders together to improve mental health services.

Listening to a Peer

     When my sister-in-law Joanne was diagnosed with cancer, my wife, Patti, immediately began searching the Internet for information and one of the most useful websites that she found was a blog being written by a woman undergoing cancer treatment. Patti became a faithful reader and found this woman’s writings helpful and inspiring. Up until Joanne’s death last year, Patti felt that she, Joanne, and the blogger were in the same foxhole. 

     No one thinks it’s odd to ask for direction from someone who has gone through a life-altering illness  — except when it comes to mental disorders. Too often, persons with mental illnesses are ignored even after they have recovered from all symptoms of their illnesses. Part of the reason for this is stigma and the deeply held belief that persons who are “mentally ill” can’t be trusted to take charge of their own lives.  

 Let me be clear here because this is an emotional subject, especially among parents, of which, I am one. When Mike became psychotic, I did not listen to his ranting. I stepped-in and did what I believed any decent human being would do when someone they love becomes so obviously mentally unstable that they need an intervention.

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A Mid-Week Treat

This month, my son, Evan, graduated from Virginia Tech and is now pursuing a career in film. He already has worked on the camera side of six independent movies.

And my daughter, Kathy, earned her law  degree from the University of Maryland in Baltimore. The speaker at Kathy’s graduation read this poem.  I’d not heard it before and want to share it with you.

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Another Example of The Power of One

 If you are a regular reader of this blog or you know me personally, you realize that I believe one person can make a significant difference in our society and that all of us are obligated, in our own ways, to do something for the betterment of us all. This is one reason why I became a journalist and author. 
There is no better example of how much an individual can change our nation than Bryan Stevenson, the founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, and the Harvard-educated lawyer who is the real-life hero of my fourth nonfiction book, Circumstantial Evidence: Death, Life, and Justice In a Southern Town.
Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a historic ruling in (Graham v. Florida) that Bryan was instrumental in arguing. More on that later, but first, some background.

Common Sense, Huge Impact

One of the lessons  that I’ve learned visiting mental health programs in 46 states during the past four years is how often a small, common sense change in policy can have a huge impact on helping persons who are ill. 

I saw an example of this when I toured the Los Angeles City Jail, which many of you know has become the largest de facto public mental heath facility in our nation with an average population of 1,400 prisoners with mental disorders.

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