Tag Archives: drugs

Why I Write About Immigration, Drugs, and Addiction

18 Jul

Announcements: 

Take Me Tomorrow released as an eBook, and I’ve already received two reviews from wonderful readers that I want to take a moment to thank today. If you post a review, please let me know at shannonathompson@aol.com, and I will be more than happy to share it right here on ShannonAThompson.com.

Chris Pavesic writes, “The story itself is fascinating. Thompson unravels the mystery slowly for her readers; I read it in one sitting.” But you can read the full review by clicking here. I’ll also be referencing a part of this review in today’s post.

Live. Laugh. Read. reviewed all of the characters individually (so beware of spoilers) but she wrote, “All in all, a great story with awesome characters who had each other’s backs in a unique dystopian world. I highly recommend Take Me Tomorrow to those seeking an interesting read with characters that you can love and a plot line that twists and turns.” Read the full review by clicking here.

But don’t worry! I also have news for fans of The Timely Death Trilogy. Camisado Mind interviewed me, and I discuss the latest developments of Death Before Daylight, book 3, which is slated for release at the end of the year. (Can you believe it?) The trilogy is coming to an end, but a new book is just beginning.

Thank you for reading!

Why I Write About Immigration, Drugs, and Addiction

Disclaimer: Just a fair warning – this post is controversial, but I will delete any comment that I consider to be bullying or purposely attacking certain people, specifically in regards to drug abuse and addiction. I encourage everyone to share their opinions, but please be respectful of others. That is my only rule.

As you can tell from my announcements, this week has been insanely rad. Take Me Tomorrow is officially available on Amazon and Smashwords as an eBook for $3.89, and the paperback will release soon – It’ll also be available at Barnes & Noble and other locations soon. But today, I wanted to discuss the content of my novel and mix it with comments from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and reviews. Before I go any further, I am going to be talking about controversial topics that I understand many won’t agree with. I am not attempting to have anyone agree with me nor change their views. I am only writing this piece to explain why I decided to write Take Me Tomorrow and why it is important to me as an individual in society. I have provided further links for more information, including my personal life, that reflects much of the research that went into creating my recent novel.

Take Me Tomorrow is a young-adult, dystopian novel set in a world where the existence of a clairvoyant drug has caused a massacre. In case you want the full synopsis, here is the link to Amazon.

So why drugs?

Understanding drug use is very important to me, although I will take this moment to clarify that I am not encouraging drug use in anyway. However, I think it’s very important to understand various aspects of drug use, including addiction, abuse, trafficking, and basic creation. Why do I think this important? Why did I include various topics about drugs in Take Me Tomorrow?

“About 570,000 people die annually due to drug use. That breaks down to about 440,000 from disease related to tobacco, 85,000 due to alcohol, 20,000 due to illicit (illegal) drugs, and 20,000 due to prescription drug abuse.” – National Institute on Drug Abuse

Photo from Colorado Mobile Drug Testing

Photo from Colorado Mobile Drug Testing

My mother is among those who have died from prescription drug abuse. She was college educated, worked at a law firm, lived in the suburbs, and she was 44 years old when she died in her sleep very suddenly. There was no warning, and – in fact – according to her autopsy report, she had not taken a ‘lethal amount.’ The amount that ended her short life was prescribed to her. That being said, she did abuse her prescriptions in the past, and I was very angry for a very long time. I had all of the stereotypical thoughts people who lose loved one to drug abuse have:

How could she choose her addiction over her family? Why didn’t she get more help? (Because she did get years of professional help) It’s her fault she’s an addict. She was weak. She loved her drugs more than us.

And a few years later, I got old enough to research and understand more about addiction and drugs, both legal and illegal. To be honest, I don’t see much of a difference between legal and illegal now. If you didn’t notice from my previous statistic, the same amount of people die from legal and illegal drug abuse a year, unless you include alcohol and tobacco into the legal statistic; then, more people die from legal drugs than from illegal drugs per year. (I told you this would be controversial.) Going beyond that, many illegal drugs were once legal, and many legal drugs today will become illegal in the future. In fact, did you know that cocaine and heroin were given out to children between 1890 and 1910? (Here’s a short article.) And that isn’t just the beginning of how drugs have affected our society. One of my favorite shows – America’s Secret Slang – has an ENTIRE episode dedicated to phrases we use that derive just from drug use, including “pipe dream” and “up to snuff.” They talk about both legal and illegal drugs, even mentioning how heroin was purposely named heroin to get buyers to believe they could be a “heroine” if they took this drug.

I don’t want to spoil my newly released novel, but Take Me Tomorrow discusses this as well as addiction.

My mother and I on Christmas, 1999

My mother and I on Christmas, 1999

My mother was an addict. She was dependent on her drugs. But her drugs were prescribed to her for various health problems, including Raynaud’s Disease, Rheumatoid arthritis, and nerve damage caused by a car wreck in which she broke her neck. Without her drugs, she was unable to move or function as a ‘normal’ adult, but there are many studies that go beyond this.

“It is often mistakenly assumed that drug abusers lack moral principles or willpower and that they could stop using drugs simply by choosing to change their behavior. In reality, drug addiction is a complex disease, and quitting takes more than good intentions or a strong will. In fact, because drugs change the brain in ways that foster compulsive drug abuse, quitting is difficult, even for those who are ready to do so.” – National Institute on Drug Abuse

Despite this, society often treats drug abusers like immoral and incapable individuals. Society portrays drug users as confused people on the streets, shooting up to get high, when in reality – many drug abusers begin with prescribed drugs. (Spoiler Alert) In Take Me Tomorrow, you will read about the fictional drug “tomo” that was originally created in pharmacies, but you will also read about addiction, abuse, and the consequences of it all. But I want to clarify one thing – I am not against medicine. I myself have two medications that I take on a regular basis – two I have to take just to eat food.

When I was seventeen, I went from 139 lbs. to 109 lbs. in three days. No one knew what was wrong, and I was in extensive testing for months before I found out that I have a tumor in my liver. It causes numerous problems, but – without getting into too much detail – my natural body rejects food now. So I am also dependent on a drug that helps me function like a regular human being who can…you know, eat food. Despite this, I am constantly trying to find natural remedies to help with my illness, and I am always trying to understand drugs, both positive and negative effects.

I could – quite literally – write books on this topic, but I decided to write Take Me Tomorrow to express the complicated world of drug use. I don’t want to spoil my novel, but you will see a character who is addicted for various reasons. You will also see violence associated with the drug, why the drug was made, who takes it, and how different types of people feel about it. I marketed it to the young-adult crowd, because of one simple fact:

“…education and outreach are key in helping youth and the general public understand the risks of drug abuse.” – National Institute on Drug Abuse

I hope that Take Me Tomorrow causes readers to understand everything they can about good and bad effects drugs can have, and I hope they research all that they can about drugs in order to understand how we can help more people. (Because – again – there are positive effects.)

But there are more topics that I cover in Take Me Tomorrow. I specifically wanted to focus on how youth is affected by drugs and crime related to drugs. I include immigration issues, as stated by Chris Pavesic’s review, “When reading Take Me Tomorrow, my thoughts drew comparisons between the current immigration crisis in the United States, where unaccompanied minors are illegally crossing the border in vast numbers fleeing faltering economies, rising crime, and gang activity in their Central American homelands, and the issued faced by Thompson’s characters as they flee similar situations.” My hope, when I included immigration issues, was to show that drug abuse is not only about drug abuse. It also affects other political issues that often pop up in the every day (and very real) world that we live in.

I understand how heated this issue can get. I – for one – followed Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death with a pounding heart. It hurt me to see people say his death didn’t matter because “he asked for it” – because I am a motherless daughter from a death that DOES matter for the same reasons. If you want to differentiate between her drugs and his drugs, I highly recommend you watch this full episode from Dr. Oz, because he talks about the LEGAL drug Zohydro that could spark another drug epidemic. I am sad to say that I am getting emotional just typing this article up because of how many people I know who have been affected by both legal and illegal drug use as well as the ignorance that has hurt them even more. In fact, when I learned about how my mother died from drugs, I started to lie about her death, and I told people my mother was murdered instead of from drugs because I was literally made fun of when people found out. (Disclaimer: Please, keep in mind that I was eleven years old at this time. I am ashamed that I lied like that, but it was my natural reaction to the severe bullying I endured after her death… And, yes, I was bullied because my mother died. In fact, I was told I was going to hell at one point.)

We need better programs, but we need more understanding first, and – if my novel can encourage one person to research both aspects – I can consider it successful. Until then, I understand how a reader might backlash against it. I understand how a dozen readers will become uncomfortable during various aspects of it. I did, too. I don’t want to see a young person addicted anymore than the next person, but that is why I included a young character who is addicted for various reasons, and that is why I wrote about this issue. That is why I chose to publish it.

Even though Take Me Tomorrow is dystopian fiction, I want readers to see the realities I’ve lived through – as well as the many thousands of people who have also become victims of drug abuse through many ways, whether it be personal or through the loss of a friend or through the struggles of a loved one.

On one last note, I could not include every aspect – every angle – that I wish I could have in this post nor could I include everything I wanted to include in my novel, but I hope that this is a fair explanation as to why this topic was so vital for me to cover in my writing career.

Thank you for reading,

~SAT

TMTready

Writing Tips: Character Profiles

12 Jul

Lots of announcements today before I share my thoughts on creating character profiles:

ShannonAThompson.com hit 17,000 followers! This is truly amazing, and I cannot believe that we’re continuing to grow. I started this little blog without any expectations, but if I had started it with expectations – I’m positive you have surpassed even my wildest dreams. Thank you for your continued support!

Other than that, I partook in an interview with Lit Chic. You can read what I think the hardest part about writing is, but I also have a shout out for all of my readers 😀 So click here to read the entire interview.

And if you are just now checking in and you’re curious about The Timely Death Trilogy, you’re in luck:

Hines and Bigham’s Literary Tryst reviewed Seconds Before Sunrise (book 2) – Mindy says, “If you are a Young Adult fan and love a book that can make you feel like you are part of the story and part of a different world you have to read this trilogy. I know I love it!” But I have to share her favorite part of book 2. This excerpt happens when Eric is talking to his guard about Jessica and deciding if he should tell her the truth.

“I don’t know how she’d take all of this at once, especially without proof.”

“So, transform in front of her.”

“And give her a heart attack?” I couldn’t imagine her reaction. “No, thank you.”

“At most, she’d faint.”

Read her favorite romantic moment as well as the entire review by clicking here.

If you haven’t read book 1, My Library in the Making reviewed Minutes Before Sunset this week, stating, “One of the top reasons why I enjoyed this book was all the conspiracies.” But you can read the full review, including her favorite quote and favorite scene by clicking here.

Hope you check out Minutes Before Sunset and Seconds Before Sunrise! Your growing support is the ink in my typewriter. Without you, my words would be invisible.

Now, onto today’s post (thank you for sticking with me!)

Writing Tips: Character Profiles 

A few weeks ago, I wrote The Beginning of my Writing Process, in which I revealed many details about how I first start off creating a novel. In the comments, I found a fantastic question about building character profiles, so today – this post is dedicated to Taking on a World of Words. I’ll be discussing three key elements I focus on when building a character profile – something I do BEFORE I write a novel – and I will be using Sophia Gray, the protagonist of my upcoming novel, Take Me Tomorrow, as an example. If you are interested in reading my dystopian book, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com for an ARC.

1. The Basics

I suggest covering these first when taking down notes because you don’t want to overwhelm yourself by trying to cover a vast amount of complicated information first. So – even though I know the complicated stuff first – I always begin taking my notes with the basics. This includes a small physical description, strong personality traits, and background. This is sort of like taking your driver’s license and adding your personality to it. If you like using pictures for inspiration, then grab some from Pinterest, and build from there. (And never be afraid to change things as long as you take note and edit it in your final draft.) Here’s an example of something you might come up with:

SEG

I don’t normally create photos such as that, but I wanted to show what can be done. Below you’ll find some information from my notes about Take Me Tomorrow. (I had to cut a lot of it to avoid spoilers, but this shows my organization process)

“Sophia (16) Sophia Elizabeth Gray

Physical: always wears her mother’s necklace, curly, brown hair, barely 5 foot, three small scars on her neck from Lily’s black cat, Saga. But she also has scars on her arms and legs from the forest.

Personality: loves running, close relationship with her father and Lyn, a stubborn heart. Prefers sweaters and jeans over dresses and heels.

Background: Born in Albany Region, moved to Topeka Region when she was seven, currently lives with her father, Lyn, and Falo.”

2. Timelines

Create a past, present, and future timelines. This is where things begin to get complicated, but don’t fret. Start simple – with everything you know – and make sure nothing contradicts anything else. From there, I would suggest figuring out things you don’t know (when did your protagonist meet their best friend?) Don’t forget: if you write it on your timeline that doesn’t mean you have to write it in the book, but it is safe to know everything and anything you can think of. I would even go as far as saying you should create separate timelines for each character while also creating one large timeline that shows overlaps between characters. Below is a VERY small example of Sophia’s past timeline. This includes the top five major events that happen before the novel ever takes place.

timeline3. Cover Everything 

I mean it. I know it sounds like a lot of work – and it is – but it will save you a lot of trouble in the end.  I create so many maps it’s ridiculous. I even have a “height’s map” which shows what characters would look like standing next to one another. Another example of a character map I had for Take Me Tomorrow is a map with every character’s home (past and present), and routes that they took from home to school to work (basically, anywhere they walked.)

Basically, you can never have too many notes. If you want to graph out the neighbor’s life who is never mentioned, then do it. In fact, you know the years that I picture Take Me Tomorrow to be in, but the actual years are never mentioned in the novel. Most of all, have fun! Never forget to have fun.

~SAT

goodr

Q&A about “Take Me Tomorrow”

9 May

In case you missed my interview with Whispers in the Dark radio, here it the link. You can still listen to the entire show, and I even gave away some extra information about Take Me Tomorrow. The host also recorded four of my latest poems, and he is a wonderful reader, so I highly recommend his show.

Two fantastic blogs reviewed Minutes Before Sunset this week, so please take the time to check them out by clicking the links provided:

Confessions of a Book Geek said, “If you’re into your paranormal/fantasy stories but want something fresh and different from the vampire/werewolves/witches tales we all love (but are in desperate need for a break from), then I highly recommend Minutes Before Sunset and The Timely Death Trilogy.”

Books for Thought agreed when they said, “I was pretty much hooked as soon as I started it, which is a huge accomplishment.”

Check out everything these two readers had to say because their book blogs are highly entertaining.

The day has come! I am revealing more information about Take Me Tomorrow, and I am answering YOUR questions, comments, and more. Everyone is linked to, and I hope you enjoy the answers. But first –

Take Me Tomorrow is on Goodreads, so please add it to your bookshelf today by clicking this link or the photo below:

goodr

The Guesses:

I was going to share all of the guesses, but there were so many and many of them were very long! (Thank you so much!) That being said, the post was way too long with everyone’s awesome guesses (practical stories) so I am only going to link to their websites. As marketing continues, I’ll be sure to repeat my favorite guesses, but here are excerpts from my top three favorite guesses:

1. Auntie Doris: “…I reckon that he only has tickets for that very afternoon, so he goes to New York or Liverpool, but probably New York, with his brother, and they make a fortune, but he never forgets her, and so he sends for her and her father and pays their passage over, and when they get their they get married and a top physician cures the fathers back. And the brother marries an American girl, or a Scouse girl but probably an American girl. Am I right? Do I win?”

You weren’t right, but your guess was a story all on its own, and you did win! Feel free to email me at shannonathompson.com, and we can discuss a guest spot on my blog 😀

2. Things Mattter: A History Blog: “I’m guessing it’s a time travel love story in which this girl knows she’s going to fall in love with this guy but it hasn’t happened yet and she decides to change the future.”

I thought this guess was the closest – mainly because it deals with trying to change the future.

3. Inkwell & Paper: “The angel of death comes along and she begs for one more day, saying “Take me tomorrow.” She is given medicine that will last only 24 hours”

I really loved how she both took the title and the cover “Rx” into account. Plus, her plot sounds wicked.

But thanks goes out to everyone that participated: Legends of Windemere, Tuan Ho, Taking on A World of Words, sociallydecrepit, Timothy Bateson, Sun Mountain Reviews, Amber Skye Forbes, Jonas Lee’s Imaginarium, Ron Estrada, Susannah Ailene Martin, and Ray’s Works.

I also wanted to thank THE RAMBOVA FILES. For sharing the news.

The Discussion: Questions, Statements, and Answers

Below I’ve included all of the websites of those who have asked about Take Me Tomorrow. SAT refers to me, but you will see other initials without links. That is because they asked questions on my personal Facebook, and they do not wish to be linked to. Everything bolded are the main points. Enjoy!

First and foremost,

The Animation Commendation: “What is this about if I may ask?”

SAT: Take Me Tomorrow is a YA, dystopian novel surrounding the existence of a clairvoyant drug. I’ve included the synopsis from Goodreads below, but this is not the final synopsis:

Two years after the massacre, the State enforces stricter rules and harsher punishments on anyone rumored to support tomo – the clairvoyant drug that caused a regional uprising. 

But sixteen-year-old Sophia Gray has other problems. 

Between her father’s illegal forgery and her friend’s troubling history, the last thing Sophia needs is an unexpected encounter with a boy. 

He’s wild, determined, and one step ahead of her. But when his involvement with tomo threatens her friends and family, Sophia has to make a decision: fight for a future she cannot see or sacrifice her loved ones to the world of tomorrow.

Elizabeth Jamison’s PhD Journey: “Shannon, is this a new series? The cover is absolutely fantastic! And how did you finish another book so quickly? It seems like the others just came out. You are amazing.”

SAT: It is the first novel of a series. Originally it was five novels, but I cut it down to only 3. I’m currently hoping to make it two novels. I wrote Take Me Tomorrow when I was 19, so it’s been finished for a few years now. I wasn’t planning on releasing it until November, but after speaking with AEC, I decided it wasn’t doing any good sitting on my laptop, so I’m publishing it now. Also, the story begins in August, so I thought it would be neat for readers to be able to read it during the season that it takes place in.

A Midget with a Huge Imagination: “I hope you’d give me the opportunity to read your work, Shannon! The cover looks amazing and surely this will be another page-turning novel from you!”

SAT: Definitely! I am taking interviewers and reviewers now, so please feel free to message me at shannonathompson.com.

Desirable Purity: “I really want to know this. What is the thought behind this title: Take Me Tomorrow?”

SAT: Explaining in complete detail would ruin one the biggest “shockers” of the novel, but I will try without spoiling it. The clairvoyant drug is called “tomo” – short for “tomorrow” – At least, that’s what the protagonist thinks. There are two scenes in particular to look out for in order to understand the title completely. The ending of chapter fifteen and the ending of chapter nineteen.

LW: “Thought it was you on the cover at first. Lol”

SAT: That is not me on the cover, but I’m glad someone said it, because I’ve actually had a few people say it (including my publisher) and I wanted a chance to clarify that the model is not me – although, the protagonist, Sophia Gray, does have brown hair.

JF: “Where was this pic [the cover] taken? Kansas City area?”

SAT: I can’t say where this picture was taken exactly, but JF is onto something. Take Me Tomorrow is dystopian, but the setting is the Topeka Region, one of seven regions in the State. That being said, “Topeka” isn’t in Kansas. The book technically takes place in the Kansas City, Missouri area. So look out for that explanation in the novel because it is stated.

ABB: “Glad you kept the Rx! Looks Awesome!”

SAT: What? Someone already knew what Take Me Tomorrow was about AND they knew about the Rx? That’s right. A few years ago, I had this novel posted on Wattpad. I gained a couple hundreds fans (Oh, how I wish I could reconnect with them!) and I received some fan art. (It was my first time receiving fan art ever!) I’ve actually shared this fan art before on my post – Writing Tips: Different Perspectives – but it’s been a while since then, so here’s the photo: (Notice a slight change in the title from “Take Me To Tomorrow” to “Take Me Tomorrow.”) You also might have more curiosity after seeing this drawing.

One of the coolest part of writing is when one of your fans creates something for you. This is fan art from a novel of mine on my previous Wattpad account. Sophia and Noah, my male and female protagonists.

One of the coolest part of writing is when one of your fans creates something for you. This is fan art from a novel of mine on my previous Wattpad account. Sophia and Noah, my male and female protagonists.

I hope this answered your questions and sparked even more curiosity! As the author, I am definitely looking forward to this release. It’ll be my first novel released that is told from one perspective, and I cannot wait to share more as the release gets closer. Feel free to ask more questions below, and I will answer them!

Don’t forget to add Take Me Tomorrow on Goodreads or to “like” the novel on Facebook.

~SAT

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