Bio in 15 words: Jane Kirkland is an award-winning, best-selling published and self-published author and speaker.
The long version:
Once upon a time I was an award-winning computer software book author with over 40 books translated into more than 10 languages around the world. I was living the dream. Then PCs came to colleges, high schools, and finally elementary schools. In a short amount of time they became a part of our daily lives and suddenly children were born with programming skills (well, it seemed like it, anyway). How-to books like mine just weren’t needed any more. And I became a writing empty-nester–no longer needed and no one to write for.
Technology took over our lives and smart phones became new human appendages. “Nature deficit disorder” was born. The only birds kids ever saw were the “Angry” ones on their phones. Texting while walking or driving created new threats in our lives. Then, one day, a Bald Eagle changed my life. Seeing him by chance, soaring over my grocery store parking lot caused an epiphany. I found a new purpose and a new direction. I would write books to help people see things in nature that they were stepping over, under, even on in their own backyards and neighborhoods. I would remind people to look up and, in doing so, reconnect with nature--to see, hear, smell and feel the joys of nature once again. I would call my books “Take a Walk Books”.
Once upon a more recent time, I was, once again, a prolific writer living the dream. My new series of how-to books gave me such purpose and direction that I worked like never before. I studied science, memorized field guides, learned about educational standards, followed social trends, and interviewed children, educators, authors, and celebrities. I knew that if I wanted to convince readers to discover nature, I had to discover nature myself. So, I walked: fields and streams, backyards and cities, parks and beaches, wetlands and arboretums, finding turtles, spotting owls, identifying trees and butterflies, helping frogs and toads to cross busy roads, and taking injured animals to wildlife rehabbers. I self-published the series and they soon earned awards from such organizations as the National Science Teachers Association, Parents Choice Awards, and the National Arbor Day Foundation, just to name a few.
But my biggest discovery was that others enjoyed hearing my experiences of missteps, mistakes, misunderstandings, and misadventures as much I enjoyed telling about them! Soon I found myself speaking at Disney’s Epcot Center, The National Gardening Association, teacher conferences and workshops, and colleges and schools throughout the country. I knew I’d found my true purpose--I was born to share. Then came the Great Recession of 2008.
Everything came to a screeching halt. Suddenly organizations had no money in their budgets for books, conferences or speakers. As I watched my dream slowly wither and die, I knew I’d been blessed for having lived it as long as I did; but, honestly, that didn’t make the experience any easier. Eventually I had to go back to working for The Man, grateful that I had skills to put food on the table.
Then came the Coronavirus. Once upon a current time, I find myself mostly confined to home, forced to stay six feet from others when I am not at home, and with no place to go and no social activities. Despite the fact that life is so curtailed or perhaps because of it, I feel a need to help others. To fulfill that need, I'm offering my books to you for free. I sincerely want to give you a reason to step purposefully outside, to enjoy some fresh air and create memories and adventures of your own. I’m not talking about bear-spotting or mountain climbing; rather, I am suggesting that finding and identifying wildflowers, taking photos of butterflies, and watching birds through binoculars can be awesome fun! You can continue to respect the social distancing rules and use this time to get closer to nature and to your family. In the words of Oprah, who has always inspired me and continues to do so, “you get a book – and you get a book - and you get a book”!
Please enjoy and stay safe.
Until I see you again in the outdoors,