An ambitious young woman. A yearlong community service program. And the  reality of navigating the real world, betrayal, and unlikely friendships.

Ashlyn Waters had the picture-perfect life. She was rich, popular and confident. Every detail of her life had been planned and curated—even her future career. When she gets a draft letter to report to the national community service program, U Serve America, Ashlyn is forced to leave her city penthouse for “nature jail” in the Redwood National Park. And just when she met “Blue Eyes.” How unfair. 

Without her safety net and way out of her comfort zone, Ashlyn’s world shatters. Working with complete strangers in the most remote forest, she is faced with unimaginable fears and colliding dreams. Can she survive the next year?


Emory Towns is the author of Waters Rise. She started her writing career in Sister Josie’s fifth grade English class in Baton Rouge, Louisiana when she was assigned to write and act-out a short story. She unexpectedly fell in love with writing and sharing her stories with others.

Once she launched into adulthood, Emory headed to New York City then to Los Angeles where she continued to learn, work, and write—mostly about building a better planet. Emory weaves her passion for writing and nature in her travels near and abroad. She currently lives in Santa Monica with her husband and son.

Let's Connect! 

My Mission

Simply said it’s to help bring people together to make our world a friendlier and happier place to live. That’s why I’m writing the fictional series, Volunteer Year, to start a conversation about what we could accomplish if we created a national community experience—mix young adults from all over the country in a community service program to help solve real problems while giving them real world experience, job skills, and money for college or trades.

Can we end homelessness? Can we create an education system that fosters smart and compassionate problems solvers? Can we quickly adapt to climate change? Can we rebuild our infrastructure?

I believe we can solve these problems when we create the opportunities to work together and serve one another. Now is the time. I want to be part of the solution. 

To start, I’m donating $1 for every Waters Rise book sold to the National Park Service. Will you be part of the solution?