My name is Summer Westin, but most people call me Sam. In college, I majored in wildlife biology and dreamed of becoming a park ranger. But there are only so many ranger positions across the U.S., and I never landed one of them.
So I patch together a living by doing contract work—mostly writing blog posts about outdoor adventures and environmental issues for e-zines and conservation websites. It’s not a great income, and I usually end up having to pack around computers and satellite phones and cameras and extra batteries for all these dang devices. But at least it gets me out into the wilderness I love, and I get to share my wonder and excitement about wildlife and amazing landscapes with an audience. When I’m home in Bellingham, Washington with my cat and my housemate Blake, my life is pretty tranquil, but when I’m in the field on an assignment, anything might happen. Most of the time, my work day goes something like this:
Dawn – Wake up in my tent, dress, crawl out, make coffee. I’m usually alone with the birds and other critters, which is a good thing, because I’m not particularly chatty before a good dose of caffeine.
After coffee – Eat whatever passes for breakfast, boot up notebook computer, check the ‘net for email chatter and instructions. Whatever I find in my Inbox determines whether I can proceed with the plan I made the night before or if I need to jog off on some crazy mission to satisfy my client. (That happens WAY too often.)
After internet – Pack for the day. If it’s just a day hike, I leave my camp equipment behind and take my satellite phone and camera in my knapsack. If I have to move camp or trek back to civilization, of course I’ve got to carry everything with me in a backpack that’s too heavy for a gal who is only five-foot-two. Thank heavens all this electronic equipment gets lighter each year!
Majority of work day – I hike for miles, taking photographs or videos of animals, birds, waterfalls, geologic formations, hikers, rock climbers—anything that I can use to craft an exciting post for the day.
Dusk – Return to camp, write and upload my post and photos and videos, answer emails. Then, assuming I have no emergency assignment I’ve got to fulfill, I get to (finally) eat dinner and maybe chat on the phone with my housemate Blake, my new lover FBI Agent Chase Perez, or my father, who is a minister back in the small Kansas town I grew up in. (Dad thinks I have a crazy dangerous life. He’s probably right.) Then I pretty much fall comatose into my sleeping bag and hope nothing wakes me up until morning.
Of course, I just described a tranquil work day. Things can go horribly wrong within seconds when you work in the internet world, especially now that the internet and the television news are so interconnected. On my last assignment to Heritage National Monument in Utah, I was working for Save the Wilderness Fund and writing about the recovering cougar population. Then two-year-old Zack Fischer vanished from a campground and because of a few well-placed ‘hints’ in the media, everyone decided the mountain lions took him. The TV news even used my blog post to prove that there were dangerous cougars in the area. There was no evidence to prove the cats took Zack and I had good reason to believe otherwise, but nobody would listen. Everything went to hell in a flash—the media and the public whipped each other into a frenzy, volunteers stopped looking for the poor boy and fixated instead on killing cougars. My conservationist client was devastated, my career was on the rocks, and worst of all—I knew that Zack was still out there somewhere, waiting to be rescued.
But enough whining about that insane period of my life. I have a new contract I’m really excited about. I’m doing a wildlife survey over on the Olympic Peninsula closer to home, where a big tract of land is being transferred from the U.S. Forest Service to Olympic National Park. This guarantees that the wilderness and animals in that area will be protected for the future. This is exactly what I hoped I’d be doing with my life. I’ll be paid to explore the woods, mountains, and lakes, and estimate the animal populations. No blog posts each day, no lugging around computers and satellite phones, no whacko internet controversies flaming up out of nowhere. I’ll wear a National Park uniform during my three month contract, drive a park service truck, and even sleep in a real bed every night. It will be like landing the ranger job I never got. Yes, this contract sounds perfect, and if I’m really lucky, maybe the park service will decide to hire me permanently. I’m a wilderness and wildlife expert; and I’ll do an expert job. What could possibly go wrong?
You can read more about Sam in Bear Bait, the second book in the “Summer Westin” mystery series. The first book in the series is Endangered.
** Thanks to the publisher, I have one (1) copy of BEAR BAIT to give away. Contest open to US residents only. Contest ends October 6. Leave a comment to be included in the giveaway. The book will be shipped directly from the publisher. **
Meet the Author
Pamela Beason lives in the Pacific Northwest, where she writes novels and screenplays and works as a private investigator. When she’s not on the job, she explores the natural world on foot, in cross-country skis, in her kayak, or underwater scuba diving.
Beason is the author of five full-length fiction works: The Only Witness, Shaken, Call of the Jaguar, Endangered (1st in Summer Westin eco-mystery series), and Bear Bait (2nd in Summer Westin series). She also wrote the nonfiction title, SAVE Your Money, Your Sanity, and Our Planet. Pamela’s writing has earned her multiple prizes. Bear Bait won the Daphne du Maurier Award, Endangered won First Place in the Mystery/Suspense category of the 2012 Chanticleer Book Reviews Contest, and The Only Witness won Grand Prize in the 2012 Chanticleer Book Reviews Contest.
Books are available at retail and online booksellers.