Category Archives: Newsletter

The Last Last Word, December 2022

We at Free Range Writers are fortunate to have Chuck Schneebeck again sharing some of his favorite photos in a holiday greeting. Check out Chuck’s stunning work. https://www.freerangewriters.com/post/seasons-greetings-from-your-mom.

The Last Last Word—for discerning readers—by author Gregory Zeigler.

Something good to read. I was enjoying Apsley Cherry-Garrard’s The Worst Journey in the World when literature met reality. While reading about the ill-fated Scott party suffering minus thirty-degree temps and raging blizzards trying to reach the South Pole, I was staying at a friend’s rural home near Driggs, Idaho with the wind howling and snow blowing sideways. The next morning, we were snowed in and my friend got me out by snowmobile.

We saw the Emperors standing all together under the barrier cliff some hundreds of yards away…After incredible effort and hardship we were witnessing a marvel of the natural world, and we were the first and only men who had ever done so.

And this good news to be found at the Wall Street Journal.

Nuclear Fusion Breakthrough Accelerates Quest to Unlock Limitless Energy Source.

Something I wrote.  “I learned online that in Lincoln County where Beauford Oil and Gas spilled the acid, they also had methane gas in well water, and a gas well blowout, all in, like, fifteen months. Great for the climate, don’t you think? This (fracking) is like a gold rush in Pennsylvania.” Rare as Earth.

Something to consider. Ourbest days and deeds may still be ahead of us. (Chinese food not included.)

Something to do. Enjoy good health and great happiness in 2023.

Happy reading. Gregory Zeigler, author of the Jake Goddard and Susan Brand eco-thriller series.

Website: http://www.gzeiglerbooks.com  Book trailer:  https://youtu.be/je1zwN3g-W8   

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The Last Word, November 2022

Mount Rainier from near Gig Harbor, Washington.

The Last Word—for discerning readers—by author Gregory Zeigler.

Something good to read. I have read three more (six total) of the Mike Bowditch mystery series by Paul Doiron. Very unusual for me. The last one I read, titled The Precipice, involves two young women from a Pentecostal college in Georgia who were a closeted couple before walking to Maine on the Appalachian Trail. They are found murdered. Possibly because of their sexual orientation. Simultaneously, I was reading a memoir, To Shake the Sleeping Self by Jedidiah Jenkins who was a fundamentalist Christian gay man biking from Oregon to Patagonia. Jenkins worried constantly about his sexual identity and safety.

And this good news to be found on many news platforms.

Biden commits to honoring Native Americans by protecting public lands in Nevada.

Something I wrote.  Ah, yes. This evening’s activities. It had finally happened. And it was nice. No big deal, really. It had just been a few kisses and hands, after all. Like a massage. An intimate massage. Just hands, but expert hands. A woman’s hands.

Susan in Rare as Earth.

Something to consider. I believe, like seeing mixed race couples in ads, exposure in literature to same-sex couples is likely to lessen ignorance and prejudice and ultimately violence born of hate.

Something to do.  Honor and celebrate your gay friends.

Happy reading. Gregory Zeigler, author of the Jake Goddard and Susan Brand eco-thriller series.

Website: http://www.gzeiglerbooks.com  

Book trailer:  https://youtu.be/je1zwN3g-W8   

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The Last Word, October 2022

Pictured is the exciting moment summer of 2021 when Dimmie located an ancestor’s gravestone in the Indian Cemetery on Madeline Island, in La Point, WI. She left a coin in the Ojibway tradition.

Dimmie and I are both enjoying Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher, the Edward Curtis biography by Timothy Egan.*

The Last Word—for discerning readers—by author Gregory Zeigler.

Something good to read. I complained in my last, Last Word, about formulaic mystery/thriller writing and lo and behold, I have found a series that breaks many of the rules—and I’m hooked on it. The Mike Bowditch mystery series by Paul Doiron. I have read the first three. Doiron will always surprise you. I’ve learned it is possible to get hooked as much on a character in a series as on the stories. Mike Bowditch, Game Warden for the state of Maine, is such a real and believably flawed individual, albeit with generally good intentions, that I find myself compelled to find out what will happen to him next, or in the next in the series as it were.

And this.

 What Billie Jean King Told Me – Cross Country Skier

Something I did. Early in my teaching and coaching career, around the time of the implementation of Title IV, I approached “the powers that were” at the school where I was employed and asked—because female students did not have a comparable program—to add girls to my varsity boys’ soccer team. I was turned down and the reason given was, “the impact of the ball can cause breast cancer.” One of the joys of my lifetime has been to watch misconceptions like the one mentioned above be replaced by serious support of women’s sports.

Something to consider. Due in large part to the sway of the quintessential ugly American, ugliness is rampant in America. Perhaps we can all do our parts to restore beauty and harmony to this magnificent country.

Something to do. Vote

Happy reading. Gregory Zeigler, author of the Jake Goddard and Susan Brand eco-thriller series.

Website: http://www.gzeiglerbooks.com  Book trailer:  https://youtu.be/je1zwN3g-W8   

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*I would be remiss if I did not take a moment to thank my friends for their influence and contributions.

Dimmie introduced me to Egan’s book.

James sent me the Billie Jean King article.

Tom introduced me to Paul Doiron’s work.

I often feature photos by Paul and Chuck.

Thanks, friends!

The Last Word, September 2022

I chose this stunning photo shot in Yellowstone (courtesy of Paul Sihler) for its haunting beauty.

The Last Word—for discerning readers—by author Gregory Zeigler.

Something (not so) good to read. The unwritten formula for writing mysteries and thrillers is on my mind this monthI gave up on State of Terror by Louise Penny and Hillary Clinton three-quarters of the way through. I found State of Terror to be formulaic. There were too many coincidences and implausible circumstances. And some of the family (and friend) relationships to Ellen Adams, the heroic Secretary of State, were just a little too cozy (pun intended). I had to agree with one review I read, “More of a novelty for political nerds than a compelling thriller.”

Something good to watch.  Speaking of writing thrillers against formula I recommend the film, “You Were Never Really Here,” written and directed by Lynne Ramsay and starring Joaquin Phoenix. Here is just a taste of Ramsay’s craftsmanship (spoiler alert). If you are hooked on mystery/thrillers and/or crime drama you have probably seen a thousand actors “die.” Have you ever seen one die while singing a song with, and holding the hand of, the stranger who just intentionally shot him? Brilliant!

Something I wrote. I have dramatically broken with formula in a major way at least once in each of my three eco-thrillers, The Straw That Broke, Some Say Fire, and Rare as Earth. And I have been criticized (and praised) each time. As a writer one must be prepared to be chastised for breaking with expectation and tradition. Personally, I’d rather take that risk than be too predictable.

Something to do. Want to have some nerdy writer’s fun? Choose a scene from a film or novel—say for instance, when two unattached characters clash initially it is a sure sign they will end up together—and rewrite it in a fresh and surprising way.

Happy reading. Gregory Zeigler, author of the Jake Goddard and Susan Brand eco-thriller series.

Website: http://www.gzeiglerbooks.com  Book trailer:  https://youtu.be/je1zwN3g-W8   

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The Last Word, August 2022

 Saw this on a restroom door in Brattleboro, Vermont. Refreshingly broadminded.

The Last Word—for discerning readers—by author Gregory Zeigler.

Something good to read. 

Circling the Sun by Paula McClainThe Beryl Markham story.

We’re all afraid of many things. But if you make yourself smaller or let your fear confine you, then you really aren’t your own person at all—are you? The real question is whether or not you will risk what it takes to be happy.

Something I wrote. 

Excerpted from Channeling my inner Susan: creating strong female characters. FreeRangeWriters.com (post date: 9/4/2022)

As things progressed (The Straw That Broke) Susan was indeed strong and was doing some impressive things whereas Jake seemed to be spinning his wheels. Tried as I might, I couldn’t resolve this dichotomy. (But wait! Aren’t you the author I hear you insist? Truly, I say, characters take on a life of their own—but that is a subject for a separate post.)

So, as I often do, I consulted with my daughter, Jamie, a published poet. “Well, Dad,” she said. “Perhaps you are just channeling your inner Susan.” I have come to believe that is exactly what was happening. And as tiresome as it sounds, that is my advice to any male author asking for guidance. Get in touch with your feminine side. And read as many books as possible featuring strong women.

Something to consider.

My next memoir writing class will be offered through the Teton County Library System, November 2022.

Something to do.

Lately I have been exclusively reading novels and non-fiction books featuring strong female characters. It is interesting for a time to pursue a particular theme in your reading. Sort of a personal book club of one. Wine optional.

Happy reading. Gregory Zeigler, author of the Jake Goddard and Susan Brand eco-thriller series.

Website: http://www.gzeiglerbooks.com  Book trailer:  https://youtu.be/je1zwN3g-W8   

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The Last Word, July 2022

 Inquisitive badger cubs in Yellowstone’s Lamar Valley. Photo courtesy Paul Sihler.

The Last Word—for discerning readers—by author Gregory Zeigler.

Something good to read.  Deep South by Paul Theroux.

The tribal air of like-mindedness, which was also an air of grievance, was something I’d seen at other gun shows: the defiance of people who care less about shooting guns than owning them, and indignant that their rights are being threatened—more change in a region that hates change, and among people who have had to accept changes (such as integration), and now the federal government coming after them again.

Something I wrote.  Excerpted from Old Faithful: A hopeful look into the heart of Yellowstone 100 years from now. FreeRangeWriters.com

So how is it that the Great Awakening happened in the middle of the century? It was apparently the common experience of seeing huge forests burn, game animals suffering, fish die-offs, crops and livestock loss, lakes and rivers like the Colorado drying up, including the impact on heavily populated areas of toxic dust storms from depleted salt lakes, air you could barely breath and extreme weather events. Hard to ignore the evidence. This is thought to be what finally convinced people to collaborate on a solution.

Something to consider.

My next memoir writing class will be offered through the Teton County Library, November 2022.

Something to do.

Please do me the great honor of reading my hopeful original post referenced above about the future of Yellowstone (and the planet) on FreeRangeWriters.com. Comments welcome.

Happy reading. Gregory Zeigler, author of the Jake Goddard and Susan Brand eco-thriller series.

Website: http://www.gzeiglerbooks.com  Book trailer:  https://youtu.be/je1zwN3g-W8   

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The Last Word, June 2022

 We are camping in a green grove close to the Warm River (pictured).

The Last Word—for discerning readers—by author Gregory Zeigler.

Something good to read. The Great Bridge: The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge by David McCullough.

I am not an engineer and the technical side of the research has often been slow going for me. But though I have written the book for the general reader, I have not bypassed the technical side. If I could make it clear enough that I could understand it, if it was interesting to me, then my hope was that it would be both clear and interesting to the reader.

This quote from McCullough’s acknowledgements really caught my attention. The reasons will (hopefully) be made clear below. GZ

And this.  Any reputable news source’s coverage of the Hutchinson testimony to the January 6 committee. Or you could read a Shakespearean tragedy. 

Something I wrote (or rather say.) I tell my writing students* to ignore the old rule that insists that you “write what you know.” But rather to write what you would like to know. And be prepared to research the subject until you do know it. And I say, “If it is interesting to you, it will be interesting to the reader.” (See McCullough quote above.)

Something to consider.

Truth will out and the bad guys always lose. How can thousands of years of stories be wrong?

Something to do.

Take a walk in a forest. Breathe.

Happy reading. Gregory Zeigler, author of the Jake Goddard and Susan Brand eco-thriller series.

Website: http://www.gzeiglerbooks.com  Book trailer:  https://youtu.be/je1zwN3g-W8   

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*Next memoir writing class through the Teton County Library System, November 2022.

The Last Word, May 2022

Fox kit raised under our bully barn. Jackson, Wyoming

The Last Word—for discerning readers—by author Gregory Zeigler.

Well, discerning readers, it turns out I needed to be a bit more discerning about the hospital I chose. Not that the EMTs driving the bus (ambulance) give you much choice.

My first hospital stay in SoCal resulted in a win on the infection (left leg) but a loss on the right knee. I was told by several docs it would not need surgery. I walked on it for three weeks using a walker and a cane and then learned in Jackson, after returning home, I had a detached quadriceps.

That was operated on May 13 and on May 18th the infection in my left leg reared its ugly head again and I spent 4 more days in the hospital on IV antibiotics.

All that is to say, I’m on the mend now camping with Dimmie in a quiet aspen forest. But my typical newsletter will have to wait a month.

I HAVE been reading however. There is not a loser in this bunch:

The Zookeepers Wife
The Viking Heart
The Lions of Fifth Avenue
The Personal Librarian
Red Notice

I’m teaching a class for The Jackson Hole Writers Conference at the end of June comparing traditional and independent publishing. Come check it out if you are in the area. You can attend virtually also.

PT started Monday! Wish me luck.

Talk to you next month.

Gregory Zeigler, author of the Jake Goddard and Susan Brand eco- thriller series.

Website: http://www.gzeiglerbooks.com  Book trailer:  https://youtu.be/je1zwN3g-W8   

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The Last Word, April 2022

Sunset in Borrego Springs, CA.

The Last Word—for discerning readers—by author Gregory Zeigler.

Something to do.

We have recently reposted an exhaustive list of environmental mysteries on Free Range Writers. The list ranges from Edward Abbey to Gregory Zeigler (no, seriously) with my partners in crime, Beason and Butler in between. Check it out. (FreeRangeWriters.com).

Something I wrote.

Kind and discerning readers, forgive me for taking a different tack this month. Many of you know I was in Borrego Springs, CA on April 15 picking up our trailer for the winter and dealing with a serious infection in my left leg when I fell and injured my right knee. That resulted, as they say on the cop shows, in a ride in the back of the bus (ambulance) to the nearest hospital, in Brawley, CA, close to the Mexican border. Brawley often sees temperatures in the 90s in April and well over 100 in the summer.

For writers, all is material and I wanted to share this extraordinary experience in a hospital which I found to be right out of J.K. Rowling. Let me begin by saying, I feel I got good care for my infection at Pioneer Memorial Hospital, although my injured right knee was all but ignored, including one moment when a kindly doctor originally from Afghanistan, who looked a lot like Groucho Marx was examining the wrong knee.

I had a virtual kaleidoscope of doctors, including Dr. Digdigan, a caring woman originally from India. Dr. Whyte, a knowledgeable black doctor from Jamaica with an elegant accent, and Dr. Chu who appeared to be Chinese-American. I thanked Dr. Chu for seeing me on the weekend when he said he only worked on the weekends. All-in-all, including two doctors in the emergency room who convinced me I needed to be admitted (for which I will always be grateful) I was seen by at least seven doctors.

The hospital was a model of diversity. The staff was approximately 95% Hispanic. I have always wondered what it would feel like to be in the minority. This was my chance. Everybody was warm and caring.

I was hooked up to IVs delivering antibiotics with few breaks and had to always ask for help to get up and visit the bathroom. I hated that dependency. But I did score one minor victory. The hospital wanted to label me “non-ambulatory” and a “fall risk” and administer three shots a day in the belly to ward off blood clots. I politely refused, arguing that I was ambulatory and while off the IV was doing laps on my walker around my room (no more boring than a treadmill) for at least 50 minutes a day.

There were three earthquakes while I was there. One moved a piece of furniture in my room three feet. There happened to be a Hispanic woman mopping my floor during the largest, and I overheard her praying in Spanish. I just had to hope her prayer would cover everybody in the room. When I asked a nurse if there was a plan for earthquakes, she said, “not that I know of, but this is an old building.”

At one point there was a loud beeping noise in my room which I assumed was coming from one of my machines. I called the duty nurse and she said, “That noise is not from your room, it is the fire alarm.” I laid back down not feeling reassured.

Then an angel flew into Palm Springs. Dimmie, my hero, rescued my wounded and sorry ass, driving home over four days and acting as tow driver, nurse and cook.

Jackson is where I am now recuperating and seeing local doctors. Memories of my time in Pioneer Memorial Hospital in Brawley, California linger like a fever dream.

Happy reading.

Gregory Zeigler, author of the Jake Goddard and Susan Brand eco-thriller series.

Website: http://www.gzeiglerbooks.com  Book trailer:  https://youtu.be/je1zwN3g-W8   

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The Last Word, March 2022

The Tetons in March. Part of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Photo by James Mathieu.

The Last Word—for discerning readers—by author Gregory Zeigler.

Something good to read. The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles.

Every bit of evidence would suggest that the will to move is as old as mankind. Any child of ten can tell you that getting up and going is topic number one in the record of man’s endeavors.

If The Lincoln Highway is a road trip. (It’s not actually, I’m working up a metaphor here.) Then Towles’s A Gentleman in Moscow is a trip on the Orient Express. The former delivers delights separated by ho-hum stretches. The latter delivers a delight-a-minute, old World charm and a true escape from reality. I recommend both, but obviously if you only have room on your stack for one….

And this.  Yellowstone at 150: busier yet wilder than ever, says park’s ‘winterkeeper’

Todd Wilkinson for The Guardian, 2/28/2022

Something I wrote. Well, am writing. “Old Faithful” is the working title for a short story in progress.  (My protagonist, B. is a young woman college freshman in the year 2122 on a field trip to Yellowstone. She is writing her parents.) Before the wolves returned the park was suffering from overgrazing, after wolf populations became healthy again the benefits of them naturally culling elk herds “cascaded” (learned that term today) down to healthier streams and healthier mammals. The fish in those streams, and birds living by those streams also thrived. All thanks to the wolf doing what comes naturally! Even beaver and riparian (streamside) plants and trees returned stronger. Many ranchers hated wolves because they wrongly accused them of predation on food animals. (Yuck! Eat an animal? Can’t even imagine.) That lasted right up until the Great Awakening and the end of meat-based diets.

Something to consider.  I’m working on a piece about Yellowstone 100 years from now. My draft is excerpted briefly above. I would like you to consider thinking creatively about Yellowstone in its 250th year.

Something to do. Please visit Free Range Writers (FreeRangeWriters.com) and read my short piece that ponders Yellowstone 100 years from now. Then send me your creative thoughts about what the world’s first national park will be like on its 250th anniversary. Email your ideas to gzeigler@wyom.net.

Happy reading. Gregory Zeigler, author of the Jake Goddard and Susan Brand eco-thriller series.

Website: http://www.gzeiglerbooks.com  Book trailer:  https://youtu.be/je1zwN3g-W8   

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