Puzzling Professional Paths by J. Hughey

Please welcome J. Hughey aka Historical Romance author Jill Hughey. She's written a great guest post that many people can identify with.

About J. Hughey

J. Hughey knows what a girl wants. Independence. One or two no-matter-what-happens friends. A smokin’ hot romance. A basic understanding of geological concepts. Huh?

Okay, maybe not every girl is into geology, but J. Hughey is and, in the Yellowblown™ series, she combines her passion for a timeless love story with her interest in geeky stuff to help Violet Perch get a life, despite an ongoing global catastrophe.

(As mentioned above, J. Hughey is the popular Historical Romance author Jill Hughey so you'll find both the personnas hanging out online.)

Find J. Hughey/Jill Hughey Online

Website: www.jillhughey.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/jillhugheyromance
Twitter: @jillhughey

Okay, J. Hughey, take it away!

Puzzling Professional Paths
by J. Hughey

I have a degree in geology. I write romance. Some of you are scratching your heads. There are several possible reasons for your puzzlement, one of which might be the question of what geology is, exactly. Here is a humorous definition from American satirist Ambrose Bierce in 1911.

“GEOLOGY, n. The science of the earth's crust —to which, doubtless, will be added that of its interior whenever a man shall come up garrulous out of a well. The geological formations of the globe already noted are catalogued thus: The Primary, or lower one, consists of rocks, bones of mired mules, gas-pipes, miners' tools, antique statues minus the nose, Spanish doubloons and ancestors. The Secondary is largely made up of red worms and moles. The Tertiary comprises railway tracks, patent pavements, grass, snakes, mouldy boots, beer bottles, tomato cans, intoxicated citizens, garbage, anarchists, snap-dogs and fools.”


I include this partly because it made me laugh, and partly because it might accurately portray the murkiness of most folks’ understanding of geology. My comprehension is only slightly more sophisticated after four years of college way back when. However, one still has to wonder how I graduated with a science degree and ended up as an author—and writing romance of all things—a genre considered as intellectual as mouldy boots in ethereal literary circles where love and happy endings are viewed as pedestrian.

Well, in all honesty, it took me a while to suss out what I wanted to be when I grew up, besides sarcastic. I ignored some directional signs on the way, such as poems I’d penned since elementary school and the creative writing course I loved in college. Of course, I loved my mineralogy course too, and, coming from a family of lifetime-at-one-job type people, had no idea how to make a living at anything with the word “creative” in it, beside it, or even wafting nearby like incense from the writing professor’s office.


I don’t regret my choice. In fact, it makes me very slightly interesting to myself because I’m fascinated by the odd paths professional lives take. For example, once, when out to dinner with the board of a Fortune 500 company…okay, you caught me, it was the local youth soccer league board…anyway, I was sitting across from a soccer dad who lived on the dairy farm on which he’d been raised. Dairy farmer. Easy to peg. When not milking and cultivating, he built signs and framed pictures. Got it.

The real shocker came when he said he was also a gemologist.

For those of you who thought beer bottles were part of the geologic strata, a gemologist handles gems, and a gem is just a really fine mineral. For example, a transparent crystal of the mineral beryl with some chromium atoms cheating in for aluminum turns out green and is called emerald. Needless to say, this whole gemologist gig caught my attention much more than the framing. (See sentence where I said I loved mineralogy.)

Suddenly-most-fascinating-guy-at-the-table goes on to say he’d worked as an independent gem buyer before he got married and had kids and his wife made him quit. Why, one might ask, would his wife make him do that? Imagine the awesome jewelry a gem buyer might cough up on those landmark anniversaries!

Turns out, he wasn’t buying gems on 47th Street in Manhattan. He was traveling, Indiana Jones style, into the regions of the world where the really good stones are, like Kashmir and East Africa. Tucking pouches of precious minerals into a leather satchel slung over his camel, no doubt.

Appearances Are Deceiving

At this point, I found myself staring. This guy went to the same elementary school I did and coached six-year-old girls soccer. He’s a dairy farmer in rural Pennsylvania, for cryin’ out loud. Except he’s not. In his fascinating past, he’s a freaking gem-buyer. I could have picked his brain all night, but no one else found his stories nearly as intriguing as me. His gemless wife was especially bored.

The dairy farmer’s meandering career path makes mine not nearly so disjointed. Geology degree to apple grower (I skipped over that part) to full-time mom to part-time business administrator and self-published author isn’t nearly as bizarre. Or adventurous.

Complete 360

Funny, though, how our lives come full circle. My newest series of books, called Yellowblown™, tells the story of a college sophomore whose existence is upended by the eruption of the Yellowstone volcano. I’ve merged my love of geology with my creative side, and readers are loving that smattering of science as they enjoy the derailment of Violet Perch’s future.

Book 1: Eruption, Excerpt

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?

Parting Shot

If you forged a really bizarre professional path or have any questions about mine, leave a comment. It’s been a fun visit.

Thanks for having me on SlingWords.

Buy Eruption: Yellowblown™ Book One by J. Hughey

Eruption is available at Amazon at a discounted price of 99 cents for a short time. Grab it before it goes up to $2.99.

Kindle Edition of Eruption (YellowblownTM Book 1) by J. Hughey

But Wait! There's More

Any new subscribers to my newsletter will have a chance to win some swag decorated with Eruption cover art and Yellowblown series logo charms. You can choose from a necklace, bracelet or bookmark. Subscribe at www.jillhughey.com/contact before September 27.

Takeaway Truth

Jill, it's been a blast. Can't wait to read Eruption. Readers, grab a copy while it's priced low!


  1. Thank you, Joan, for letting me visit on SlingWords. It has definitely been a blast.

    1. Great having you, Jill. I see the viewer stats are ticking upward.