More about Eruption, including News and Reviews, an Excerpt, and Bonus Materials!
I’m in the middle of the perfect college semester, hundreds of miles from Mom, with an awesome roomie and my freshman crush finally becoming a sophomore reality—Hotness! I’m figuring out calculus, I’ve got both hands on the handlebars and the wind of freedom in my hair. What on earth could slow my roll?
How about if the Yellowstone volcano erupts for the first time in 630,000 years, spewing a continuous load of ash (crap) all over North America? Think that’ll put a kink in my bicycle chain?
Make that kinks, plural, because here’s a scientific fact I’ll bet you didn’t know. Nothing ruins the perfect semester like a super caldera. Now that I’ve made you smarter today, maybe you can tell me how to keep my life cruising in the right direction—no to Mom, yes to roomie, double yes to Hotness!—during a global disaster?
My lame name is Violet and, in the interest of full disclosure, I’m not hanging from the side of a cinder cone on the last page of this trauma, but there’s definitely more to come. Unless, of course, humans become extinct and then there’s not. Duh.
Eruption is book one in the Yellowblown™ Series.
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“”Eruption” is the first book in the series. It is the type of story that is very believable and frightening, knowing a natural disaster like this could really happen. It is the type of book that will stick with the reader forever. J. Hughey did an amazing job researching facts for the story. While reading, one might actually forget that this is a work of fiction. Boone is incredibly sweet, and is such a gentleman – more characters should be like him. Violet is a smart and strong young lady. The way she learns to cope with all the changes is so refreshing for a young person! Unfortunately, the book ends in a cliff hanger. It’s not so bad that the reader will want to throw their device, but it does leave the reader wanting more closure.” – InDTale eMagazine, 4 Stars
“I loved the way the author clearly pulled from her knowledge of what effects an eruption would have across the land and her imagination in pulling together a romance during a catastrophic natural disaster such as this.
I enjoyed reading about Boone and Violet. Boone was detailed wonderfully and it was a pleasure to read about Violet’s feelings. The end was satisfying and while there were no OMG Cliffhanger moments, I would love to pick up the next book to see where the author takes this.” – BTS Book Reviews eMag, 4 Stars
“I loved Eruption…. I was so into Violet, Hotness, and the eruption that I came around the corner to the Quarterdeck (the entrance aboard ship or in a Navy facility) where there’s a large-screen TV that’s always set to CNN and saw a map of the US and was shocked when everything was green. I thought, Where’s the red bloom over Yellowstone? The brown smudge spreading across the US? Oh! That’s in the book! It’s FICTION! Thank goodness!” – Roses and Thorns, 4.5 roses
Now, a year later, I saw him holding Hoag Hall’s front door open for some girls who’d dressed for success the first day of class. My armpits got really sweaty, like they did every time I’d thought about him this summer, which had been pretty often.
Pathetic, since I’d intended to forget him after realizing his words in February had been kindness, not truth.
Six months of rejection didn’t stop me from smoothing my hands down the legs of my shorts when Boone, irresistible as always in a dark green T-shirt with a little V at the neck and faded plaid shorts, walked in the classroom carrying a stack of stapled papers. My first syllabus of the year, no doubt. Why geology, why, why, why, with him as TA and Mom’s college degree in it? And why did I sit in the second row like a geek? No one sat in the front row so I was a total, total geek.
With his papers delivered to the lecturer’s table up front, he walked directly to me, as if he’d known I was there. Like, maybe, he’d been watching for me like I’d been for him. My face felt hot as I sat up in my seat.
“Hi Violet,” he said with the awesome smile that showed off his blunt jaw.
“Hey,” I managed.
“How was your summer?”
“It sucked,” I blurted.
He laughed, and I thought I heard some chick behind me sigh at the throaty sound.
“Whoa,” he said. “There must be a story there.”
“Not much of one. My mom. Remind me to never spend another summer at home,” I said, quickly rediscovering the easy banter that always made me want to spend more time with him.
“Maybe I’ll do that.” His eyes flicked down the front of my sleeveless floral blouse, feminine and flowy over the form-fitting tank top beneath it. His glance wasn’t sex-predator freaky, but appreciative, like a guy checking out a girl he wants to know better.
Dr. Potter cleared his throat. “Duty calls,” Boone said, turning away.
“Doesn’t it always?”
He stopped mid-stride to look over his shoulder at me, mouth lifted in a half smile. I’d struck the mark with my little barb, and I lifted my eyebrows to acknowledge the hit.
When Boone handed out the syllabuses or syllabi—or whatever the plural form was—he made a point to give me the bottom one.
A Western Case Copperheads football sticky note fluttered on it. Blocky handwriting, from a pen about to run out of ink said, “Pregame party on Saturday? Text me.” And his cell number.
I tried to act like senior guys I’d been crushing on asked me out every day, while inside, July 4th fireworks zinged through me until my fingers went numb. With my best “whatever” expression, I fumbled to move the sticky from the first page to the fourth page of the syllabus (four pages!).
I hardly heard a word the prof said.
Here are some vignettes I originally included in the Eruption manuscript to try to share what was happening across the country. I ditched them (due to editorial advice) because they interrupted the flow of Violet’s life.
Kayla didn’t carry bear spray because she preferred to be in tune with nature, not at odds with it. She’d never seen a grizzly on the early morning hikes she took most Fridays, when she didn’t have to be at work until noon. Her job with a non-profit environmental group made her almost as proud of herself as these forays into the Wyoming wilderness. She was using her degree in communications for a great cause. She felt good about that.
The sun rose, hinting at warmth, though her breath still condensed in the chilly air. She’d been on the trail through the scrubby pine forest when a hint of purple tinged the eastern sky. She had to make good time today so she could get to the recycling drop-off — no curbside pickup in Cody — before work. She hoped the bald local-yokel clerk wasn’t there today. He liked to stutter through her name, calling her K-K-Kayla from C-C-California. He laughed when he said it, every time telling her it was from some movie about a fish. She thought he was c-c-creepy.
California was on her mind this morning. She’d dreamed about earthquakes last night, woken at four a.m. imagining she’d felt her bed shaking. She’d never really gotten back to sleep, which helped her start her hike extra-early today.
She scrambled up the Heart Mountain Trail, stunned anew by the view through the trees of the limestone layers of the mountain’s shoulder and its tower to the west. She’d been at this vista before. It was one of her favorite hikes, just a quick trip from Cody, easy access, and a manageable length of trail now that she was in better shape.
The tops of the Absaroka and Bear Mountain ranges rose farther to the west, their highest peaks already dusted with snow, though it was only September. She’d been told that the slab of limestone she now walked on had once been a piece of those, like a sibling upstart that had moved itself back east. In some bizarre event geologists couldn’t entirely explain, this sheet of rock had slid fifty or sixty miles, dropping bits like colossal bread crumbs along the way. Heart Mountain stopped here, in the middle of nowhere.
Past those sister ridges, less than seventy miles if a bald eagle flew from where Kayla now admired the view, Yellowstone steamed. To enter the park from here, one you had to drive north into Montana and over Beartooth Pass to the Northeastern Gate. She’d gotten an annual pass but, defeated by the tourist traffic, gave up on exploring during the summer. The outdoorsy-looking clerk at the sporting goods store told her September would be a good time to try again, since the roads would be almost empty. He’d also told her to buy some bear spray. “Be bear smart,” he said, quoting one of those stupid signs found at every trailhead within a thousand miles. He was cute in a ruddy-faced western way, and for a minute, she thought he might ask her out. He didn’t.
The locals didn’t like her much. At best they thought she was weird, and at worst, an interfering outsider. They didn’t want to hear simple facts, like the one where the fossil fuels being mined and pumped out of Wyoming were partly to blame for the hurricane that had pounded the Gulf.
She hiked uphill for a half hour, until the morning light made the face of the mountain look like a peaches and cream layer cake. She squatted by a tree for a swig of ice water so cold it made her teeth hurt. Hydrate or Die her stainless steel bottle advised in pink calligraphy.
She tucked the water bottle back into the netted outer pocket of her daypack, then pulled out her smart phone. No signal, of course. There was nothing around here except a Nature Conservancy ranch and the old World War II relocation center.
She didn’t mind being off the grid. She just wanted to know what time it was.
6:43 AM. Proof she’d been hauling this morning.
She was tightening the laces on her hiking boots for the scramble toward the peak when a distant rumble came from the air around her, vibrated through the ground and up her spine. She instinctively checked the area around her, then rose slowly, sensing but not seeing a threat. It was too early for a thunderstorm. The sky through the trees to the east was brilliantly clear.
Motion in the ground knocked her on her butt. She twisted to look west, going to her hands and knees on the rattling gravel. A plume of dust like cocoa powder blasted up behind the distant mountain ranges, widening and rising with alarming speed. It thrust toward her in billows the color of the underside of a portobello mushroom. Poofs of black-brown seethed through the air and obscured twelve thousand foot peaks as easily as cinnamon sugar covered the crags on a cake donut. The front edge of a roiling brown wall groped across the flats.
She froze, without time to flinch from the oncoming swirls that whooshed up the sides of Heart Mountain, swept her off her feet and pulverized her like a mosquito in a sandstorm.
* * *
That’s curtains for Kayla, but the Yellowblown series follows another young woman, Violet Perch, who experiences the devastating effects of the eruption from a safer distance. Subscribe to my newsletter so you don’t miss release news and more special bonuses like Kayla’s story.
September 13 – University of Utah Seismograph Station
Ken Hinks juggled his messenger bag, his lab key, and a thermal cup of tea. Still new to the grad school thing, he’d already gotten in the habit of checking the seismograph lab before his insanely early weekly meeting with Dr. Baker. Seismology — the study of earthquakes — fascinated him, and the data that poured into the station here, not to mention the analytical tools to study that data, were his big draws for coming to Utah. Not to mention the ski slopes to the east of Salt Lake City. (Dr. Baker liked to ski, too. Hence, his early schedule on Fridays.)
Ken’s curiosity had already been rewarded. Over the last few days, some interesting activity had happened deep beneath Yellowstone. He and Dr. Baker exchanged a few emails back and forth with other geologists interested in the area. Scientists in the park indicated nothing had changed in the thermal activity. None of the earthquakes were felt at the surface. The tiltmeters dipped infinitesimally to the southeast, but that wasn’t too unusual, since Yellowstone sort of expanded and retracted in decades-long breaths all the time.
Yellowstone had deep quakes all the time, too, up to a hundred per day at depths of three to twelve kilometers. The recent quakes were deeper, faint tremors starting in the “Moho,” a relatively solid top layer of the mantle .
All in all, the deep quakes were interesting to a first year graduate student, but not particularly alarming in an area seismically active as Yellowstone. The data were duly noted and tagged in the system for analysis later.
The screen on a lab computer flared to life when he tapped the space bar. He clicked the mouse button to flip through the records of some of the seismometers that had become his favorites. He laughed at himself. What a loser, he thought. Only a real geek would have favorite seismic recording stations. Brazil was always busy, similar to California, but nothing stood out in the most recent readings.
His smile faded. He slid into the stained beige office chair and squinted. YML was showing some weird rhythmic signal, maybe a malfunction. YDC, same thing. He scrolled through YMS, YLA, YPK, YLT.
This was not a malfunction of one unit. This was real data coming from every seismometer in the Yellowstone area.
The unusual waves on the screen jiggled his memory. Something about them was familiar. He tugged out his tablet to open a textbook from last year, quickly finding the chapter on the seismology of volcanoes. Harmonic tremors. Volcanic tremors. Seismic swarms. The terminology clicked into place. He looked at the illustration, a seismograph from Chaitén, Chile, 2008. Read the caption, which said magma rose at a rate of five kilometers in four hours.
“Jesus,” he said. He clicked to MCID, southwest of Yellowstone Park. Active. Hell yes, but a little different. He clicked farther out, hundreds of miles away. Something was happening. Something was definitely happening.
He clicked back to YML. The data feed had stopped. YDC, YMS, YLA, YPK, YLT. Zippo, nada, goose egg, zero, nothing.
He stared at the screen where YLT’s series of squiggly lines abruptly went flat. An error message in a tiny red font at the top of the screen said the data feed had been interrupted, like they all did. The hairs on his neck rose. He went back to MCID. He rose from his chair and backed away as if he’d witnessed a murder on the monitor. In the boondocks of Idaho, 250 miles north of where he stood, the earth was moving. He was sure of it. His thoughts were too jumbled and the data too raw for him to know if people’s cups and saucers were rattling or if their homes were collapsing on them while they drank their morning coffee.
But northwest of MCID, all his instincts and all the data, and now the absence of data, told him that some sort of hell had broken loose.
Then MCID went offline too.
Ken scrambled for his cell phone.
October – Truck stop near Gallup, NM
The truck driver held his phone away from his ear. The dispatcher screeched so loudly he couldn’t understand her any longer. It didn’t really matter what she said, what threats of docking his pay she laid down. He’d been a fool to pick up the load in Yakima as scheduled the day after Yellowstone had gone off like a Roman candle. He should have turned around the minute he heard about it, could have dropped the company trailer and skated into Canada to get north of all that mess and get home. But no, he’d backed up to the dock like the worker bee he was. (That was what his wife called him: Worker Bee.)
Since then he’d been more like a Boy Scout, trying to pick his way across a stream, driven farther and farther south until he made some progress east on Route 40. Now he was stuck, well and truly trapped in the middle of the creek. No reason to go back west, no sure path to continue east.
Word was there was no diesel between here and Oklahoma. He was saving what fuel he had to keep his reefer running to protect the load, though the temperature recorder had probably run out of paper by now. Even if he had fuel to drive with, the interstate was like one of those courses car testers used to check out maneuverability of new automobile models, except the cones were vehicles out of gas, just sitting in the middle of the lanes. Those obstacles caused accidents, huge pileups of jack-knifed rigs and crushed sedans.
“Hey, lady,” he said to the nameless, faceless woman employed by the same company that employed him. “I’d have this load delivered if I could. You’ll be home tonight with your family while I’m stuck in a truck stop in the middle of the damn desert. If you or my boss or the grocery store buyer think you can drive a truck through a national disaster better than me, then get your asses out here and do it.”
November – somewhere in Arkansas
Clive stared into the black lens of the camera. He’d never seen a news van before but there were plenty of things happening lately he’d never seen before. “These city slickers come out of Little Rock and think we should be feeding and sheltering them,” he said into the reporter’s microphone. “We’re good people out here, but we have to see about our own survival. I cain’t help every lawyer who lived in a condo who shows up here in his foreign car with his fancy wife and spoilt kids. I cain’t eat his gold card, and apparently he cain’t either.”