Starting a Podcast: Process

Here’s a quick write-up of the stages I go through when working on an episode of my podcast.

1. Prep. This includes scheduling guests, watching the episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer that we’re going to talk about and taking notes, analyzing my notes for themes, listening to other BtVS podcasts to see if they bring up anything new that I want to be sure to talk about, and doing some basic research on things like who wrote and directed the episode. [Tools: email, calendar, TV, Hulu, pen and paper, podcast app]

2. Recording. This is when I sit down and actually record with my guests. I bring in my notes, but it’s pretty freewheeling. [Tools: Audacity, microphone, earbuds.]

3. Editing. I go back and listen to the recording. I cut out basic stuff like “ums” and “ahs,” but also big tangents that don’t really tie into the episode discussion much. [Tools: Audacity, earbuds]

4. Processing. I clean up the sound during this stage. [Tools: Audacity, earbuds]

5. Finalizing. I add the intro and outro music and compress the whole thing into a tidy little MP3. [Tools: Audacity, earbuds]

6. Writing up show notes. I listen one more time and make a note of anything I want to be sure to link to when the episode goes up. [Tools: Audacity, earbuds, notepad app]

Again, I’m not actually releasing the show yet, so I don’t have any information yet on that part of the process. When I do, I’ll try to document the process of releasing and marketing episodes.

Starting a podcast: Resources, part 1

Yesterday I mixed and mastered the first episode of my upcoming Buffy the Vampire Slayer podcast, Things of Bronze. This is a great example of a personal project that is helping me gain skills I can use professionally. Connected learning in action! Here are action steps and resources that have helped me along the way.

Finding podcasts

I’ve been listening to podcasts for… a while. I don’t know how long, but at least four or five years. Maybe more. I really got into them for a bit when they were experiencing their renaissance around the release of Serial‘s first season. Back then I heavily favored Gimlet productions. I also dipped into The Indoor Kids from time to time and listened to the first thirty or so episodes of Kumail Nanjiani’s X-Files Files, watching along before listening to each episode. That was the show that made me want to start my own podcast; as I listened, especially during the segments where Kumail would dig up old posts from Usenet, I started developing the idea for a Buffy the Vampire Slayer podcast that would, alongside rewatching, draw on my experience as a poster at the official BtVS posting board. So this podcast I’m just starting has actually been in development for four years. More on that later.

You can certainly listen to whatever podcast is trendy at the moment. (In the past year: Missing Richard Simmons, S-Town, Dirty John, The Daily.) Or venerable standbys (This American Life, Radiolab). You’ll definitely learn a lot. But I think you’ll do better with something that you’ll really love. That may be one of those podcasts I already mentioned. But it may be something else. People have written a lot about how there’s a discovery gap in podcasting, and I think that’s right. Until listener’s advisory in libraries expands beyond audibooks and music and starts to include podcasts, you’re going to have to do some legwork. Here’s how I’ve done that.

1. Get recommendations from friends and loved ones. My husband, Will, recommended Pop Culture Happy Hour to me forever before I finally listened to it and loved it. It was a lot like that Modern Family episode about wedge salad. (Sorry, Will.) It kind of seems like everyone I know adores Welcome to Night Vale. Podcasts have a viral-like spread through my community of comedy friends, which is how many folks I know got turned onto The Dollop and Hello from the Magic Tavern. And a recommendation from a friend is how I learned about Buffering the Vampire Slayer, which directly influences some of the topics I choose for Things of Bronze.

2. Let the internet tell you how to start. tl;dr: check out your favorite websites and other media sources to see if they have podcasts, ask your friends (see above), Google a topic plus the word “podcast,” use in-app lists of top or new or trending podcasts, find podcast directories. Or, what I’ve really enjoyed, check out this handy list of podcast newsletters from Bello Collective (more on that later, too). I used the in-app lists to find my current favorite podcast, The Hilarious World of Depression, as well as the super fun bomBARDed.

3. Pay attention to people you like – authors, comedians, actors, whomever – and check out podcasts that feature them as guests and podcasts they recommend. I’ve been dabbling in woo-woo as sort of an emotional antidote to the rigorous intellectual standards of empirical research, spending time especially in the Tarot end of the pool, and through following Bakara Wintner I found her guest appearance on Tarot for the Wild Soul, and via the website The Numinous I learned about Self-Service.

Keeping up with podcasting news and trends

Again, that Bello Collective piece is really handy. The top resources I’ve enjoyed for news are Hot Pod and podnews. They’ve kept me up to date on valuable projects like Preserve This Podcast and debates about recording loudness standards.

Advice on doing a good job

This piece from my podcast boyfriend Glen Weldon (look, the fact that he will never reciprocate my love is irrelevant as we’re both married and unlikely to ever spend much time together) is my favorite.

Developing, recording, editing, mixing, and mastering your podcast

This book, in spite of being ten years old, walked me through this every step of the way. I used Audacity for recording, editing, mixing, and mastering. I didn’t have a lot of money to spend on equipment, so I just used the same laptop I use for everything else and this cheapie mic – perfect because I wanted to be able to travel with it and record both solo stuff and group stuff.

In the future: hosting and marketing! Since I’m not ready to do those things, I don’t have a lot of advice on them, but I’ll be back when I do.

Preparing for comprehensive (qualifying) exams: My process so far

Conceptual Synthesis Spreadsheet
I have been chipping away at the comprehensive literature review my program requires that I write to prepare for my qualifying examination for more than six months now. My progress has been achingly slow. I am finally in a (slow-moving) groove, though, so I thought I’d share a little bit about my process.

I began by following Raul Pacheco-Vega’s advice. I read each piece, doing his Abstract-Introduction-Conclusion extraction process (a process similar to the advice offered in my doctoral seminar, but his is a bit more streamlined). [A note on tools: I do all of my reading digitally as I have limited printing availability, work in multiple offices, and sometimes need to read with a toddler napping on me. I use Zotero, store all my Zotero attachments in Google Drive, sync files to read on my tablet with ZotFile, make those files available offline using Google Drive on my tablet, then read and annotate them in Xodo.]

After this, at first I started writing a rhetorical precis for each piece but I found it didn’t help me that much. I wasn’t ready to write full synthetic notes, because I didn’t have enough of a grip on the literature landscape to determine what would qualify a study as something I would want to come back to and read later for more detail or expand into a complete memo. So I skipped ahead to the conceptual synthesis spreadsheet dump stage, leaving several of Raul Pacheco-Vega’s columns to return to later – I only used the concept, citation, and main idea columns to begin with. I added a column for which type of library setting the paper was addressing, because I thought that might be important later. I used the concept column not to tell me which concept in my lit review the paper was for, as I’ve created separate tabs in the spreadsheet for each of the five areas I’m exploring, but instead as sort of a tags column.

Conceptual Synthesis Spreadsheet

After filling out these columns for all the readings, I went back and re-read the main ideas column. Then I did some concept grouping (not really mapping yet) and a free-write of brief notes about all of the ideas I was synthesizing based on my reading.

Concept Map


Then, based on my concept groupings and freewrite, I created a preliminary outline.


I typed up this outline, filled in the introduction section based on earlier literature reviews I’d already written, and now I’m ready to come back and go through each study I have in my conceptual synthesis spreadsheet and write a full synthetic note with the ability to tell how helpful it would be to do a close reading and full memo of any given piece.

Imposter syndrome: a scene

Me: I don’t know why anyone would hire me to do anything. I’ve never done anything. My only skill is that I can tell you that somebody else wrote a thing about something.

W: That’s an actual job.

Me: Oh. That’s what a librarian does, isn’t it?

[Note: I know that is not the only thing a librarian does.]

Be Your Own Toddler, Part Two

This is an extension of this earlier note.

A common piece of advice for people with intrusive negative self-talk is to think about how you would respond if someone talked the way about a loved one that you do to yourself. Cognitively, this is helpful. But honestly, for me, it sort of just sits in the “thoughts” part of the cognitive behavioral therapy triangle. For whatever reason, it never seems to shift my thoughts or feelings.

But a couple of days ago, I did something that took that concept a step farther: I literally spoke, out loud, to myself in the same voice I use to soothe my toddler. Halfway between my car and the co-working space, I realized I’d left my phone in the car. Anxiety, she was waiting, and jumped on this: “God, Kimberly, why are you so stupid?” But Mom-Me instinctively said – again, out loud, “It’s okay,” in the sweetest way. In the same way I say to M. when he hurts himself, “That looked like it hurt! It probably doesn’t feel very good. I know it hurts right now, but you’re strong and you’re going to be okay.” And that out loud mom voice made all the difference. So what if I left my phone in the car? It wasn’t a high stakes situation. I turned around and went back to the car and got my phone, and didn’t berate myself for having left it there.

If you’re plagued by negative self-talk, imagine the creature you are most motivated to soothe, and try using the actual audible voice you use for that creature on yourself.

In the meantime, in case you need a mom to say it to you:

I know it hurts right now, but you’re strong and you’re going to be okay.

[Backstory: a friend recently expressed a wish to be able to take a moment out from busy, stressful life, as I had done long enough to share a slice of butter cake with my toddler. I replied that caring for someone else requires setting aside misery, for at least a moment. “Be your own toddler,” I urged my friend.]

It’s okay to not be okay.

In my earliest days as a mother, I often found myself perusing the diagnostic criteria for post-partum depression. “I’m not as bad as all that,” I would think, “but I’m also not okay.” It was a huge relief the day I read a blog post that acknowledged that there’s a spectrum of possibilities between diagnosable perinatal mood disorder and unadulterated new mom bliss.

I’ve seen more than one of my friends recently articulate that they aren’t okay but they don’t know how to talk about it. I would speculate that they’re worried people will jump from “That person isn’t okay” to “OH GOD THEY’RE SUICIDAL!” I struggle with this concern myself.

We need to make space for the in-between, and we need to find the people around whom we feel safe expressing when we feel down. I have a few people. If you find yourself feeling this way often, I encourage you to find someone willing to act as a release valve. In my experience, it makes a difference.

Featured Image: Flying or Falling II by John Park

My Word for 2018: LOVE

I found my word for 2018, and it is LOVE.

In 2018, I will love myself as much as I love anyone else, and I will love my body as much as I love my mind and my heart.

In 2018, I will work to be sure my love is apparent to everyone I love. I won’t hide it out of fear of overwhelming them. I won’t let exhaustion and busyness keep me from expressing it. The people I love are strong enough to receive my love undiluted and I am strong enough to give it.

In 2018, I will show up with love in the world every day. Love is my own personal brand of magic and it always has been.

This year, I’ve really come to embrace love as my core value, and I have simultaneously grown frustrated with people – myself included – not matching their actions to their stated values. In 2018, I will become a human incarnation of love, a glowing manifestation of love.

In 2018, I will let my love light up the world.


Coursework Complete: What Now?

Hi. I’m Kimberly, and I just submitted my last coursework assignment ever (unless I take more after I advance to candidacy, which, let’s face it, is a very real possibility).

I feel like I should rest, but I also feel antsy. So I’m going to make a few public commitments and share a few thoughts about what happens now.

In terms of official officially what’s up…

Now I write a comprehensive literature review on topics related to my area of research interest, which include theory, methodology, and a few different Connected Learning topics. More on that as it proceeds.

Also, I keep working on Project READY.

But also…

I’m planning to publish e-prints of a few annotated bibliographies based on literature reviews I’ve been sitting on. Those literature reviews are the foundation of lots of research ahead of me, and I don’t want to publish my synthesis and analysis, but these are tricky topics where you have to dig into weird places to find literature, and I think it could really help other scholars to get those bibliographies out there. I’m not going to reveal the topics yet because I don’t want to accidentally hint at any conference juries that particular papers are from me.

I’m working with the UNC SILS Coalition of Youth Librarians to start a Triangle area chapter of the Harry Potter Alliance. To that end, I’m going through their Wizard Activist School program.

I’m submitting a proposal to the Connected Learning Summit.

And personally…

I’m going to be packing and purging stuff from my house. We’ve lived in it for five years and there’s definitely stuff that hasn’t been touched in that time.

I’m going to a twentieth anniversary reunion party for The Bronze posting board, the thing that made fandom a social activity for me.

I’m waiting to really dig into cosplay beyond the casual until I can get a good craft studio space set up.

I want to cross-stitch everything from weelittlestitches, but that’s not new.

I want to crochet myself a whole wardrobe of lacy things out of black yarn.

But really, what’s next?

A nap. Christmas decorations. Leonie’s 2018 Shining Year workbook.

Oh yeah, 2018! So that’s going to happen.

Yep. For several years now – probably inspired by Leonie but I’m not sure – I have selected a word of the year. I often find out around March that I picked the wrong word. My 2016 word was FLOW and it turned out perfectly. This year my word was WORK and it was the right word, but it didn’t manifest quite like I expected.

I’ve been searching for 2018’s word. I want to encompass healing, self-care. I had a revelation in the shower yesterday, as I was agonizing over whether my blood sugar would be good when I went to the doctor today (it was; I’m pretty sure that’s thanks to drinking crazy diluted apple cider vinegar, on the advice of the PCOS Diva). Showering and driving, the best activities for having good ideas.

Anyway, this thought came to me:

I want 2018 to be the year when I treat my body with the same care that I treat my mind and my emotions.

Obvi, I’ve invested more energy in my mind than in anything else in my life. And I tend to look after my emotions, and listen to them.

But my poor body. We have been enemies, thanks to chronic illness. I don’t treat it well at all. There are a lot of reasons. I mean, I don’t drink much or do drugs besides those prescribed to me/readily available over the counter. But I also don’t eat nutritious food as much as I’d like or move on the regular or take good care of my skin and hair.

I’m so sorry, body.

So yeah, I’m still working on finding out what word captures that feeling. It’s not HEAL.

I’m leaning toward GLOW right now, but how much that’s influenced by the Netflix series is hard to say. (By the way, Netflix… I need more GLOW merch. kthx.)

It’s what we’ll go with for now.

So, that was really rambly. What’s next, again?

I’m going to glow.

And take a nap.

Free af: A meditation on finishing coursework

It’s a Friday night at 10 pm. My toddler is sleeping beside me. I just spent the past hour browsing conference programs, finding potential colleagues on Twitter, and dipping my toe into the waters of academic Patreon. It’s 10 pm on a Friday and I’m engaging in activities some might classify as work. But to me they feel like play.

I submitted the last of my parental leave work today. I will finish my last bit of coursework next week.

Today I wrote two research prospectuses, both related to game-based learning in libraries. Earlier this week, I planned a partnership to leverage fandom for making the world a better place.

I am done with the tyranny of other people’s syllabi and it feels amazing.

I have had excellent professors who taught excellent courses and I have been either fortunate or strategic about following my interests in fulfilling my assignments. And yet today, when the only work I have to do is the work I have designed (because even my assistantship is something I was part of designing), I feel lighter. Like after two and a half years of getting by, I can finally manage to do the work I started this degree program to do.

I told myself that I would take a true break from work over winter vacation, but now I know that’s not what I want. I want to get moving on this work – work that fills my cup rather than emptying it, work that feels like play, work that keeps me up past my bedtime because I want it to.

I am aware of how academia works. I know this feeling won’t last.

But today… Today I’m filled with excitement about what comes next.

Let’s Save the World A Lot: #AASL Fan Activism Workshop Recap

Prophecy Girl
Last Thursday night, I attended the workshop “From Stories to Action: Inspiring Heroes for Our Own World” at the American Association of School Librarians conference. The workshop was presented by Janae Phillips, Director of Leadership & Education for the Harry Potter Alliance. It was the highlight of the conference for me. I left energized and eager to get involved.

The event began with an introduction to HPA – who they are and what they do. Their tagline is “We turn fans into heroes.” Their focus is on fan activism, which they define as “engaging in activism through storytelling and fandom by drawing parallels between popular media and real world social issues.”

Fan ActivismJanae shared her background in leadership development, describing the social change model of leadership development as the model she used:

Social Change Model of Leadership Development

With a quick Google I discovered that this model is commonly used for student leadership development in higher education. If you want to read about it, there’s a lot of scholarly literature out there. From what I can tell, it was first introduced in this book.

Janae then pointed out that most of the stories that inspire modern fandoms hew pretty closely to Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey:

Hero's Journey

You can read more about this in so many places, but I hear people talk about The Hero with a Thousand Faces the most. I’m ashamed to say I’ve never read it. Maybe I’ll try and squeeze it into my dissertation literature review somehow. (Here’s the part where I admit that this Hero’s Journey aligns closely with Western literature, and naturally has some limitations with respect to its value for analyzing stories cross-culturally.)

Janae introduced the idea that literally overlaying the leadership model on the Hero’s Journey illustrated the promise of using the power of stories to create activist leaders. You can line up the Individual part of the model with the beginning of the journey, see how tests, allies, and enemies might align with group values, and then the Society/Community part aligns with the resurrection and return. (I couldn’t really see if this is how Janae’s version lined up, but I think it probably is.)

Now that we had a theoretical foundation for connecting stories and social change, Janae introduced the innovation adoption curve and discussed the fact that most activist efforts target innovators & early adopters, leaving middle and late adopters out. These individuals – who might be ready to be activists, if they are just introduced to it the right way – can be approached via their own fandoms.

Innovation Adoption Curve

Janae’s version had adorable Harry Potter theming with the Dark Mark over on the Laggards end. I got this version from Jurgen Appelo of

She likened middle and late adopters to Neville Longbottom, who at the beginning of the Harry Potter series is overwhelmed and not really sure how to help in the fight against Voldemort, but by the end of the series is protecting the world with as much strength as any of his peers.

Who is serving Neville Longbottom?

Janae explained that someone who feels they lack the expertise to have a grounded discussion of a social justice issue like racism might be more ready to have that conversation if it is grounded in their own area of expertise – their fandom. She offered here the example of using how Muggle-born and the children of Muggle/Wizard pairings are treated in Harry Potter to get at the idea of racism.

She also pointed out that stories can serve as inspiration for specific actions. For example, in the world of Harry Potter, eating chocolate is an antidote to a dementor attack. Harry Potter-themed chocolate is a real-world product. Janae shared the “Not in Harry’s Name” campaign, in which the HPA lobbied Warner Brothers to ensure all HP-branded chocolate is ethically sourced:

Next up was the workshop part. We divided into groups by fandom (Buffy, Hamilton, Star Wars, HP). First we discussed WHY we loved the texts from these fandoms. THEN we brainstormed possible activist projects that could come out of those. (I was the one who kept calling for a Buffy group, and I got my wish.)

We closed with a sharing, a recap, and information about how we can get involved in the HPA.

Janae finished with a couple of key points that really resonated with me and made me feel energized about my work as a scholar looking at connected learning and culturally sustaining pedagogy, finding ways librarians can leverage youth interests and culture to learn, grow, and make the world a better place.

First, JOY itself is an act of resistance. The bad guys, whomever they may be, want us to be down and defeated. Doing things that make us joyful is part of resisting them.

Second, connecting your activism with something you love gives you the energy to keep going. Social justice work is hard. It’s demanding and exhausting. It’s easy to feel like it’s too hard and we should quit. But if your activism is grounded in a work of art you enjoy and a community of other people who also love that art, that can give you what you need to stick with it.

Finally, I want to close with a question that came up in my group: how do you know which fandom to have motivate activities for the youth you’re serving? The answer, of course, is whichever fandom excites them. You don’t have to know about Dementors or Neville or Muggles or House Elves to find ways to connect Harry Potter to activism, because people who love it, when talking about it, will share with you things that will naturally fit. Let kids share with you what they’re into – find ways for them to bring it in – and as you learn about it, you will find ways to help them think through its connection to the real world and how they can use that to make the world better. To decrease worldsuck, if you will.