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Monday, August 10, 2015

The Weight of Guilt by Jon Ripslinger Blog Tour, Guest Post and Giveaway


The Weight of Guilt
by Jon Ripslinger
Genre: Young Adult Mystery/Romance
Publisher: Red Adept Publishing
Release Date: February 24, 2015



Highs and Lows

No doubt every writer has highs and lows in his career. I'd like to share mine with beginning authors so that they realize two keys to success are persistence and resiliency.

My first high came in 1992 when I found an agent to represent the second novel I'd written—the first one still remains in my file drawer. The second book was titled Triangle. My agent also found a publisher, Harcourt Brace, and in 1994 the book hit the marketplace with good reviews. The publisher quickly offered me a contract for a second book and paid me $1500, half of my $3000 advance. Man, I thought I was headed for a brilliant writing career as a young adult novelist.

Wrong!

The editor who worked with me on Triangle left Harcourt Brace, and though I'd signed a contact with HB, the company decided not to publish my second book, but I was allowed to keep my $1500. Not only that, my agent decided she no longer wanted to represent fiction, so she dropped me.

So there I was: 1996, no agent, no publisher. A total low!

What did I do? I kept writing and kept looking for a new agent.

Seven years later, 2003, after writing six more YA novels, I found an agent to represent one of them. Roaring Brook Press published How I Fell in Love & Learned to Shoot Free Throws and presented me with a $6000 advance. Talk about a high! Once again I thought I was on my way to a brilliant—and profitable—career as a YA novelist.

But the publisher went bankrupt in 2004—maybe they paid me too much money—and the book went immediately out of print. Another all-time low! I couldn't even by a few copies of the book for myself. They were unavailable. The low got lower.

But wait. Remember those books I'd written during the seven years I'd been looking for a new agent? Well, that new agent sold two of them: Derailed, Llewellyn World Wide, 2006; Last Kiss, Llewellyn World Wide, 2007. Another high.

Then the agent decided he wanted to become an Independent Publisher and asked if I'd like to climb aboard as an author. I thought and thought. Did I want to search for another seven years for an agent, or did I want to join forces with a new, independent publisher? I chose the later. The Indie Publisher released The Hustle, 2010; Missing Pieces, 2011; and Who is Lori Darling, 2013.

I owe that agent/publisher a great deal—can't thank him enough—but I slowly became disenchanted. The books were printed pretty much as I'd written them. I was responsible for nearly all my own content editing, copyediting, and proof reading. Thus the books turned up with many errors. I was disappointed and unhappy. Another low.

In 2013, I discovered Red Adept Publishing. The company signed me to a contract and in 2015 released The Weight of Guilt. During the publishing process I worked with a content editor, line editor and two proofreaders. I couldn't be happier with the product that followed. I feel all of us together have made TWOG the best it can be. But wait! There's more: I've just signed a second contract with RAP for my YA novel titled Tapped.

Another unbelievable high!

Like I said at the beginning: Persistence and resiliency are the keys.

Will there be another low?

Probably.

But you've got to hang tough!




Driving home from a bonfire party, eighteen-year-old John Hawk crashes, killing his girlfriend, Riley. Bullied and tormented at school, and crushed by his guilty conscience, John transfers to a school on the banks of the Mississippi River, where he attracts the eye of the principal’s daughter, Megan. Though he’s reluctant, she convinces him to be her prom date. The morning after prom, Principal Jones reports Megan missing. Four days later, her body is recovered from the river, and John becomes the prime suspect in her death.

Charley Cotton, Megan’s best friend, knows that Megan had a secret, but she doesn’t trust John because of his past. John is desperate to avoid adding to the shame he carries for Riley’s death, though—it’s destroying his life. With Charley’s help, he learns that others in Megan’s life had a motive to keep her quiet. But every effort they make to uncover the truth edges them closer to a desperate murderer with everything to lose.



THE WEIGHT OF GUILT
ONE
John Hawk

Riley's drunk, and it's all my fault. Swaying near the blazing bonfire with a dozen other kids, she's guzzling beer from a red Solo cup. They laugh, jostle, and slop beer over themselves.

Damn! I should have been paying more attention to her. I should have kept better track of time. You idiot, John! I need to get her home and tuck her into bed—now—or we'll both be in deep crap. I step up behind her in the brilliant firelight. The heat feels good on my face and arms, but the smoke curls into my nostrils, and I cough. Someone must have piled wet logs onto the blaze.

I touch Riley's shoulder. "We better go."

She whirls. "Where have you been?"

"Checking out Brian's weightlifting equipment. I forgot the time. Sorry."

Flames leap and crackle into the crisp night air, casting flickering shadows across Riley's face. Her eyes glitter like stars in the inferno. A few kids rotate, trying to keep all sides warm. Earlier, we roasted hot dogs, bratwurst, and marshmallows over the oak blaze.

"What time is it?" she asks, her words slurred a little.

"Midnight." I’d promised her folks I'd have her home already. I don't need them yelling at me again. Or breaking us up. That thought jars me. I'd rather lose an arm and a leg than lose Riley. She's the only thing good in my life, except wrestling.

"They never come home before two or three," she says and gulps her beer.

"Let's throw that away. You've had enough to drink."

She smiles, her mouth crooked. "Look who's talking."

"I haven't had a sip." True statement. I never drink the night before a wrestling tournament. I dump Riley's beer but hang on to the cup—I don't litter. I also help little old ladies cross the street. "I can do without your folks being pissed at me. They already don't trust me."

"Yes, they do." Riley grabs my free hand and squeezes.

After planting a kiss on her forehead, I say, "C'mon, pretty lady. Home we go." I guide her by the elbow away from the fire.

The party was a spring break bash at Brian Holdorf's parents' farm pond. Dense woods block out half the sky, and a breeze ripples the treetops. My arm around her waist, I guide Riley across the pasture to my car, which is parked by the farmhouse. A squatty barn and a tall silo loom close by. Brilliant stars and a huge moon light our way. Laughter drifts up from the pond, and the scent of pigs floats in the air.

Opening the car's passenger door, I toss Riley's cup in the back. Then I slip her into the seat and close the door. After I climb in, I close my door and poke the lock button to make sure we're secured. "Buckle up."

Rather than take Interstate 80, I drive a ribbon of country blacktop that twists through hilly farmland. I think I can drive the blacktop faster than the highway—hardly any traffic and less chance of the cops picking me up for speeding. I don't need another face-off with them.

"I'll bet my parents aren't home," Riley says after we've been on the road a minute or two. She leans over and kisses my cheek. "Let's park somewhere. This road's dark." Her hair smells of wood smoke, her breath of stale beer.

I smile. I wouldn't mind parking for an hour or so and making out. "We need to get you home and into bed."

Wisps of fog curl in my headlights. I'm zooming downhill toward the Des Moines River, and the curtain of fog thickens quickly. I cut my speed from seventy to fifty, then to thirty. I don't want to be going too fast if a deer darts into the road. Fifteen…

The fog turns dense—a gray, billowing wall that reflects the glow of my headlights back into my eyes. I squint and dim the car lights. I swallow and slow the vehicle to a crawl: ten miles per hour. I glue my eyes to the yellow center line and guide the car's left fender along the line.

"Why are you slowing down?" Riley asks.

"Can't you see how soupy it is out there?"

I'm not sure when I cross the bridge over the river. The fog is too thick to see even the side rails. But when I head uphill, my grip on the wheel eases. I fill my lungs and exhale slowly. I've escaped the danger. The moment I can see ahead of me though—still going ten miles an hour—I spot headlights racing toward me. They blind me. I barely have time to swear.

This can't be!

Even Riley sees the headlights. She screams, and the next sound is the wail of my horn and the hideous grinding shriek of brakes as I try to swerve and evade the headlights.




Guest Post









Highs and Lows



No doubt every writer has highs and lows in his career. I'd like to share mine with beginning authors so that they realize two keys to success are persistence and resiliency.



My first high came in 1992 when I found an agent to represent the second novel I'd written—the first one still remains in my file drawer. The second book was titled Triangle. My agent also found a publisher, Harcourt Brace, and in 1994 the book hit the marketplace with good reviews. The publisher quickly offered me a contract for a second book and paid me $1500, half of my $3000 advance. Man, I thought I was headed for a brilliant writing career as a young adult novelist.



Wrong!



The editor who worked with me on Triangle left Harcourt Brace, and though I'd signed a contact with HB, the company decided not to publish my second book, but I was allowed to keep my $1500. Not only that, my agent decided she no longer wanted to represent fiction, so she dropped me.



So there I was: 1996, no agent, no publisher. A total low!



What did I do? I kept writing and kept looking for a new agent.



Seven years later, 2003, after writing six more YA novels, I found an agent to represent one of them. Roaring Brook Press published How I Fell in Love & Learned to Shoot Free Throws and presented me with a $6000 advance. Talk about a high! Once again I thought I was on my way to a brilliant—and profitable—career as a YA novelist.



But the publisher went bankrupt in 2004—maybe they paid me too much money—and the book went immediately out of print. Another all-time low! I couldn't even by a few copies of the book for myself. They were unavailable. The low got lower.



But wait. Remember those books I'd written during the seven years I'd been looking for a new agent? Well, that new agent sold two of them: Derailed, Llewellyn World Wide, 2006; Last Kiss, Llewellyn World Wide, 2007. Another high.



Then the agent decided he wanted to become an Independent Publisher and asked if I'd like to climb aboard as an author. I thought and thought. Did I want to search for another seven years for an agent, or did I want to join forces with a new, independent publisher? I chose the later. The Indie Publisher released The Hustle, 2010; Missing Pieces, 2011; and Who is Lori Darling, 2013.



I owe that agent/publisher a great deal—can't thank him enough—but I slowly became disenchanted. The books were printed pretty much as I'd written them. I was responsible for nearly all my own content editing, copyediting, and proof reading. Thus the books turned up with many errors. I was disappointed and unhappy. Another low.



In 2013, I discovered Red Adept Publishing. The company signed me to a contract and in 2015 released The Weight of Guilt. During the publishing process I worked with a content editor, line editor and two proofreaders. I couldn't be happier with the product that followed. I feel all of us together have made TWOG the best it can be. But wait! There's more: I've just signed a second contract with RAP for my YA novel titled Tapped.



Another unbelievable high!



Like I said at the beginning: Persistence and resiliency are the keys.



Will there be another low?



Probably.



But you've got to hang tough!









After Jon retired as a public high school English teacher, he began a career as a young adult author. His credits include eight published YA novels, including Red Adept's The Weight of Guilt. His wife and he live in Davenport, IA, where their six children and their families also live. Jon and Colette are the proud grandparents of twelve granddaughters, a grandson, and three great grandchildren. When not working on the computer, crafting his next YA novel, Jon enjoys playing pool and spending time with his family.





2 comments:

  1. Thank you for being a stop on The Weight of Guilt Blog Tour!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you very much for hosting a guest post for The Weight of Guilt. Your work is greatly appreciated!

    ReplyDelete

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