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Author: Jesse Kiefer

Episode 005: No Predictor of Fun

The Turning Cart Wheels Podcast:

Episode #5 No Predictor of Fun


Thank you to everyone who has left an iTunes review lately they are really helping! Just this morning I checked and found that we had risen to the #16 slot on itunes New and Noteworthy “Hobbies” Category! Thank you so much and keep those good vibes coming I really appreciate the feedback!


Also Thank you to Brandon Lipani who recently had myself and Randal Silvey on his show The Technology Geek it was a blast and I encourage you to check out that episode

In this Solo Format Show we discuss:

  • We touch on introversion and really look at how fun is individualized
  • How I went to a Toga Murder Mystery Party
  • We talk about how describing meditation to others (who don’t already meditate) can be tricky

Other stuff I mention:

Global Advertising in a Global Culture by Thomas H. P. Gould

Know Your Meme: “It will be fun,” they said

000 it will be fun

This episode is brought to you by created by the incredible Axton Kahler. If you like zombies but don’t always want them so much scary as hilarious then you NEED to read Zombie Oaks. 


Episode 004: The Evil Puppy

The Turning Cart Wheels Podcast:

Episode #4 The Evil Puppy


  • In this episode we return to the solo show format and Jesse talks about:
  • We review the mission of the show
  • I talk about my motivations for starting the show “the why”
  • I talk about some of the awesome creations that 2nd grade artists come up with
  • I detail one 2nd grade project in particular which features an “Evil Puppy”


Other stuff I mention:

Six Degrees of Separation

This episode is brought to you by Finding Serenity the internet hub of last episode’s guest Holly Kiefer. Contact Holly to help you uncover YOUR core desired feelings.



5 ways I deal with my Social Anxiety as a cartoonist

Social Anxiety is not so good for networking:

I’m an introvert. I’m not just sorta an introvert, I’m a holy crap introvert. In college I was required to take the Myer’s Briggs test and on the Introvert/Extrovert spectrum I’m about as far as you can get from being an extrovert. So you might be thinking  “Introvert? No problem I know lots of introverts, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re shy.” Hey guess what?! I’m a SHY introvert too. (aka social anxiety)

I’m functional. I’m not a hermit hiding away in a cave.  I go to work everyday (as an elementary art teacher) and interact with teachers, principals, and students in two schools and I even pass through two more buildings teaching classes in order to round out my scheduled week. That’s four buildings full of people in a week!

I interact with a ridiculous number of people, well for the kind of introvert that I am. I feel strongly about the work I do so that helps.  However at around 4pm every day I start needing a recharge. Teachers don’t always get to go home at 4pm though, sometimes teachers have staff meetings, department meetings, professional learning communities, professional organization meetings, social gatherings, after school programs, and PTA nights. There are all sorts of things that keep teachers after the scheduled day should end.

It wears on me, makes me twitchy, certainly makes me owly, and sometimes it shows up in weird ways.

One of the weird ways that it likes to crop up is when I’m driving.

introvert-blogA real life example: On a particularly bad day I thought “Today sucked! I’d like to treat myself to dinner out.”

I immediately think of my favorite restaurantSavannakhet AsianGrill. It’s a no brainer, I hop in the car and start heading there. As I approach I realize that it’s a “weird time” and I’ll likely be the only one there… I love the people that run Savannakhet but that’d be too weird. No, even though I’m almost there I’ve just talked myself out of it. My second choice for Chinese is a place across town so I start driving that direction. I’m fine until I realize they are running a buffet right now and it’s going to be packed. I won’t be comfortable if it’s super packed… so now that one is out too. Maybe my third choice (again across town) will work, at this point I’m pretty hungry so it’s likely going to win out, except when I get there it happens to be closed. Rather than go to any of the places that I actually wanted to go, I settle for “imperial palace express” at the mall. It’s fine, it’s not what I wanted but it’s okay, and I’m comfortable there. It’s at about this point that I start to realize how I toured the town talking myself out of the food I wanted without a good reason. I let social anxiety dictate crappy mall chinese food as my final answer.

That’s some pretty crazy self talk I get going on… so how do I make it work as a cartoonist where networking and conventions, where lots of people attend, happen to be the best way to get brand  and name recognition?

1)The  Buddy system. I love my friends. By now you can probably see that I am pretty awkward so I really cherish the friends I have. My friends are often more extroverted than I am and they can challenge me to get out and do the things I need to do. It’s so much harder for me to self-talk myself out of something if I have someone in my corner actively cheering me on, telling me I can full well do this, or just telling me to suck it up already.

2) Prepare in advance of a big gathering.  I can be social, outgoing even; but It doesn’t happen automatically. I practice things until I’m comfortable with them, I have imaginary conversations. I anticipate potential responses and how I might need to react. (I think Winston Churchill did something like this with his speeches and conference appearances to control his stuttering) This active planning really applies to long weekends where I’m going to sit behind a table and have to initiate the conversations and flat out pitch myself.

3) Give myself a break (figuratively and literally). I’m my own worst critic about this kind of behavior but getting down on myself doesn’t help me loosen up any it actually makes it worse. So first I gotta forgive myself, then I have to recognize when I need a break and then go take a quick walk, find a quiet corner, or even sit in my car and read for a few minutes. Giving myself even a quick moment can bring me back and help me feel more comfortable in an environment.

4) Social Media. It seems like an oxymoron but facebook and twitter offer me the chance to think out my responses I can have my opinion firmly established before I ever put myself out there. Cartooning seems to be a pretty solitary endeavor as it is so I find that when I’m commiserating with other creators, writers, artists, and cartoonists; they tend to get where I’m coming from.

5) Talk about my passions. This is probably the biggest thing because here’s the weirdest bit about my introversion… I actually really like to talk. My good friend Josh H. once said in High school something to the effect of… “We tried to get Kiefer to talk for 2 years… now we can’t get him to shut up.” That was no lie. I can talk at length, in fact if it’s something I’m passionate about you could have a hard time getting a word in edgewise. If I could skip talking about the weather, or how the last college football game came out, I’d always choose to skip it. But if we can dive into a conversation about popular X-men or Spider-man story arcs? Fuggetaboutit! I can talk till 2am!  If someone tells me they liked my book or they liked my art, I don’t handle compliments all that well (again it’s awkward)… “Thank you,” and  “I really appreciate it,” no matter how genuine start to feel like canned responses after a while… but if they say something like “I really love Tank-monkey” I can talk at length about who tank-monkey is and his origins and where those ideas came from. If they say these strips really remind me of_________. Awesome! because regardless of whether I know what “blank” is now we’ve got a conversation and likely it’s  one I’m going to be interested in. So how to MAKE that happen is a little trickier but I find if I can find a way to ask a question, someone eyes a sketch I’ve done of Adventure Time… “Do you like Adventure time? Awesome! What’s your favorite episode?!” Or… I love Tree Trunks!  who’s your favorite character?”

There’s so many great books out there about being awkward. I’m sure I’ve heavily referenced ideas from Susan Cain’s book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking and Devora Zack’s book Networking for People Who Hate Networking: A Field Guide for Introverts, the Overwhelmed, and the Underconnected. If you’re interested in this topic more I highly recommend both  of those books.

I’m working on getting ready for Free Comic Book Day at Krypton Comics in Omaha, NE so I’m going to be really putting some of these practices to the test in the weeks to come. If you’d like to get more inside info on events I might be at as they happen sign up for the Vorpal Arrows Newsletter in the quick form below! Hey if you have tips for cons or presentations please let me know about them in the comments! I’d love to hear em!

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Episode 003: Holly Kiefer and the Desire Map

The Turning Cart Wheels Podcast:

Episode #3 Holly Kiefer and the Desire Map


In this episode Jesse chats with Holly Kiefer (yes that’s his wife who is AWESOME!)

We talk about new year’s resolutions and goal setting specifically we speak at length about the Desire Map find out more by visiting Holly’s website or using her affiliate link

Stuff we mention:


Holly Dredd Lip 2011








Contact Holly:

This episode is brought to you by The Grawlix Podcast the awesome comic book podcast where the content is determined by audience polls!:



Episode 002: The ART of Fun

The Turning Cart Wheels Podcast:

Episode #2 The ART of Fun


In this episode Jesse chats with 5th-6th grade art teacher Geoff Semrad about how challenging, rewarding, and fun being an art teacher can be. Also…. PROBLEM SOLVING!

Couldn’t find the Kylie Scaring video but I DID find this video of Geoff impersonating Robert Goulet: 

This episode is brought to you by the Electronic Media Collective Podcast Network. Turning Cart Wheels is a proud member of the EMC network along side several incredible shows, check out all the great content they have to offer at: 



Episode 001: Off to a Wheel Good Start

The Turning Cart Wheels Podcast:

Episode #1 Off to a Wheel Good Start


In this first episode I introduce the basic premise of the show. Which is we spend most of our day at work, we should enjoy our jobs we should have a little fun while we’re at it. While Hobbies ARE fun a lot of hobbies take a good amount of work. How do we have fun at work and work hard at having fun? I’m bound and determined to figure it out.


00:00:00 – Opener and Theme Music

00:00:51 – Welcome and intro roll


This episode is brought to you by Vorpal Arrow Studios. Vorpal Arrow Studios is the production company that I use to make awesome things… like this podcast 🙂 visit me on the web at:


What’s Turning Cart Wheels?

00:02:05 – What IS The Turning Cart Wheels Podcast about?!

00:02:36 – It’s about fun but… what IS fun?

00:04:55 – Hey Kiefer! What do YOU do for a living?!

00:06:20 – The Mystery of the Podcast name is SOLVED!

00:07:22 – Hey Kiefer! What do you do for FUN?!




00:08:57 – The Grawlix Podcast:


Arriving in Airplane Mode


00:09:32 – Arriving in Airplane Mode

00:11:38 – How Jesse uses Airplane Mode (Meditation)

00:12:36 – A Story about Jesse’s Dogs… wait… WHAT?!



00:19:29 – What’s coming soon on Turning Cart Wheels?

00:19:55 – Find and subscribe to the podcast on

00:20:35 – How to contact the show!


00:21:50- Outro Theme Music


The Turning Cart Wheels Podcast

Welcome to the Turning Cart Wheels Podcast homepage!

I teach art off of a cart, I literally turn cart wheels. I also teach martial arts, I literally turn cartwheels. I have fun at my work, and my idea of fun comes with a fair share of work. The Turning Cart Wheels blog and podcast are about people, like myself, who have fun at work and work hard at fun.

We’ll be releasing our inaugural show in a few months and you’ll be able to find all of our episodes on Stitcher and iTunes!

Watch as this space grows and if you have any questions/comments/suggestions please feel free to include those in a comment below this post! Thanks for stopping by and please come back soon for updates, episodes and more!


Jesse Kiefer

Podcast Day: Why Podcasting

Podcast Day

IPD-Round-400I did this quick snippet for Podcast day on an Electronic Media Collective Podcast Day special.


International Podcast Day is on September 30th.  I encourage you to check out some podcasts and leave iTunes reviews or generally just communicate with the creators of your favorite podcasts. I unfortunately forget to let my favorite podcasters know that yes I’m listening and yes I really enjoy all the work that they put into getting a great piece of audio out there on the internet FOR FREE. Now that I’m a podcaster myself it strikes me just how important it is to hear:

1. someone is in fact listening and

2. they like what I do.

So please let your favorite shows know you are out there and that you care 🙂

After the jump I’ll post a few of my favorites. Enjoy!



I like a lot of podcasts so this is just a short list of some of my favorites. If you like some of the same I’d love to discuss the ones you like or if you have a recommendation of a podcast you think I’d like please let me know by leaving a comment below!

The Book List: 20 Books (or book series) That Impacted Me

The Book List:

512px-Printing3_Walk_of_Ideas_BerlinMan it’s been awhile since I did a What I’ve been Reading. Well I got tagged on Facebook. You know the kind of post I’m talking about: Your friend tags you  and then you have to share on a topic and you pass it on to others etc, etc. It’s not the kind of think I generally like to do… but Ice Bucket Challenge and a few other exceptions I sometimes relent my curmudgeon nature. And when it comes to looking back and making a book list full of my favorite and most influential books? I gotta say there’s no time like January 1st to make you take stock of things like that. I won’t just post though, if I’m gonna do this thing? I’m gonna do this old school blog style. YEAH I’m talking Livejournal in the early 2000’s style!  I love books… I love so many that I’d just keep listing them on and on forever and never stop but the person before me had a list of 20 so I’ll keep it to 20. (Below I list and link to these books via Amazon, but I’m not an affiliate so don’t feel obligated to buy any of these books there, they aren’t a sponsor and I won’t recieve a kickback by linking to them… although maybe I should think about signing up. Ah well enjoy my nerdy book love.) All right Stephie (my friend from Facebook) here goes nothing!

Here’s the gist: “These books all touched me in some way and shaped me into who I am today. I’m sure I forgot many but here’s what I came up with on the spot.” That doesn’t mean these are the BEST books ever, I’ll even go so far as to say I’ve got some turds on this list but they meant something to me either a long time ago or… yesterday.


  1. The Holy Bible I was raised Lutheran in a parochial school…. this book has had a profound effect on me. I don’t subscribe blindly to the teachings of this book nor do I claim to be particularly religious but I do value this book greatly.
  2. Illusions: Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah By Richard Bach This book came along at a time in my life when I needed it pretty badly and as is often the case people find you through the books they give you. This was definitely the case, it rekindled my spiritual side and marked a new understanding in me.
  3. Red Branch by Morgan Llywelyn This Book is kind of a fun novelization of the Irish Ulster cycle stories of Cuchulain (the Hound of Ulster). I loved this book and between this and “Druids” I found myself reading everything she wrote that I could get my hands on for the better part of 2 years.
  4. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline Okay press pause on that religious stuff for a minute cuz THIS book is kinda the Antithesis of the first 2 books on my list. Ernest Cline fires humanist shots across the bough in the first chapter of this book but once you get past that? It was the most delightful 80’s nostalgia romp I’ve ever read and reread! Set in the future it’s race against time meets treasure hunt meets sci fi coming of age story meets NOVEL LENGTH GEEK OUT SESSION.
  5. The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien This book was the one that drew me to Tolkien, not the Lord of the Rings which was of course his masterpiece, but the Hobbit. I always connected more with Bilbo than with Frodo. He was a hero in order to survive, he was flawed, he didn’t make all the right choices. I always found The Hobbit a delightful read.
  6. The Chronicles of Narnia (Prince Caspian was my fave) by C.S. Lewis This was for me the original series to read, we had the set so I read the set, but the books I read over and over were the books that had to do with the original 4 kids, those were always my favorites. Prince Caspian in particular because it showed exactly how displaced in time things happened in Narnia and I loved that. (Time Travel is a big deal with me.)
  7. Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu Eventually I went to college and had my good sheltered country boy Lutheran faith good and rattled when in World History the professor objectively and matter of factly defined each of the Christian religious. I’d never been given such a flat matter of fact definition before… it changed me. I needed something Lao Tzu became that something.
  8. Walt Disney Donald Duck and his Nephews This one feels like cheating because I could do a whole list of just comics that influenced me, this one is unique in that we (my brothers and I) read the cover right off of that book. I read about the exploits of Donald Duck, Uncle Scrooge, and The Nephews over and over and over and they never got old. Those ducks has wild adventures that still influence my story telling.
  9. Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling  I was reluctant. I was REAL reluctant to read these books. I did that thing that boys do where I in my brain said these books are for kids and girls. Boy I was wrong, and I’m so glad I got over myself and gave these books a try because Rowling created an incredible world that I never wanted to leave. Haters? Skip the movies and read these books.
  10. Tao of Jeet Kune Do by Bruce Lee Martial artists are required to read this book. Bruce Lee changed the very way we discuss martial arts in the modern world. He was a true Renaissance man who despite getting some marginal success never really got to see the insane devotion his thoughts have generated. He was an artist and a warrior in every sense of the words.
  11. Timeline by Michael Crichton TIME TRAVEL! Again forget that crappy movie they tried to make BASED on this book. This book annihilates that movie. If you like time travel stories you should try this book.
  12. Drinking Midnight Wine by Simon R. Green I like stories with Mythology and pop Culture references. I also like parallel dimensions and other worlds. If you like all this stuff? You’ll like this one.
  13. American Gods by Neil Gaiman Same as 13 except, wow! Gaiman! What a story teller. Pick up one of his books. Really any of em. Do it!
  14. Eyes of the Dragon (and the Dark Tower Series) by Stephen King This was my first Stephen King book. I’ve read it and re-read it. I love it. It ultimately brought me into The Gunslinger and the Dark Tower because they crossed over. I’ve read all sorts of Stephen King books since but this book started it off.
  15. Star Wars Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn This book opened me up to the possibility that the story can ALWAYS continue and still be INCREDIBLE. I thought Star Wars? I loved it but it’s over. No Zahn’s books just really open up the world. If it wasn’t for these books I wouldn’t believe that more films should be made.
  16. The War of Art by Steven Pressfield As an adult this has been one of those rare kicks in the pants that I’ve needed. If you are a creative person that hits those walls and needs a dose of tough love? Read this book… can’t read it? find an audio copy and listen to it. Hell I’ve done both! It’s exactly the kind of thing I’ve needed to hear from time to time.
  17. The Vampire Chronicles (The Vampire Lestat) by Anne Rice Anne Rice made vampires cool to me. Some will argue that they were always cool and surely they continued to be cool, but despite her penchant for superfluous language… I love her characters. She sold me on a ensemble cast in a novel and I never wanted to go to New Orleans but then fell in love with the city via long distance due to her writing.
  18. Dragon’s Gold by Piers Anthony and Robert E. Margroff This one? Just good old cheesy fun. Sci Fi meets Fantasy. Full of Fantasy Monsters and dimension hopping sci fi. I love these books far too much. You can find these books for literally pennies so they probably aren’t the high art I remembered them as but the Kelvin of Rudd series just greatly entertained me.
  19. The Dark Elf Trilogy by R.A. Salvatore I’m a DnD nerd. I’d start here but I kept going far beyond this trilogy. But this one just sucks you in and gives you an origin of a hero borne out of the most unlikely circumstances.
  20. The Kingkiller Chronicle (The Name of the Wind) by Patrick Rothfuss I may have saved the best for last, I recently found the books of Patrick Rothfuss and I gotta say it’s got a lot of familiar things but put together to form a world and characters that I am just entranced by. I recommend these books so highly. I couldn’t put them down but lamented every day that I got closer to being at the end of the books that were published. There’s more coming…. I. Can. Not. Wait. MOOOOARRR!

So there you go folks. The books I can think of off the top of my head that really impacted me. I purposely kept away from comics, with that one bizarre exception, because narrowing comics down to 20? That’s just about impossible but maybe a good exercise for another day.

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