Lasers, Dragons, and Keyboards Podcast

Sci-fi, fantasy, and writing--who could ask for more?

Season 2, Episode 1: Dinosaurs, Soda Pop and Snot

Cover for Iggy and Oz, Plastic Dinos of Doom

In this episode, we interview JJ Johnson about his middle grade book, Iggy & Oz- The Plastic Dinos of Doom

We discussed the challenges of writing for middle grade, giant snot blobs, and insights into marketing from a marketing professional. Oh, and there was laughter. A. Lot. Of. Laughter. (But what else do you expect from us?)

Listen to the episode here:
On Twitch

J.J. Johnson
Iggy & Oz on Amazon

LDK 77 – Ed Greenwood

We were delighted to have with us NYT bestselling author, Ed Greenwood, on this week’s episode of the show! For those not in the know, Mr. Greenwood is the creator of The Forgotten Realms.

Note to listeners: we had not only our producer missing, but the guys had to jury-rig a setup to record. Mr. Greenwood joined us over the phone, which was not what we had planned—but we were delighted to have him despite our technical difficulties. (Liberty’s hair may or may not be more grey after editing…) Also, for our listeners with sensitive ears, there is some mild swearing in this episode.

The guys mostly let Mr. Greenwood talk, and as such, we think this is an episode best listened to rather than trying to sum it up. But we do get a history lesson on publishing and research. My word, do we have it easy nowadays.

Everything in a home exists to support bookshelves. ~ Ed Greenwood



LDK 76 – Intellectual Property Law with Steve Fairchild

We’ve got some great insight into intellectual property law with attorney Steve Fairchild. It may sound boring, but as authors, it’s important we understand at least a little bit about the law.

We start things out with an overview of what’s encompassed in intellectual property, and then it really gets fun!

In Episode 76:

  • How biology degrees relates to intellectual property
  • How Steve gets his clients
  • Can you use the term “lightsaber™” in your book?
  • Does I.P. law translate to other countries?
  • Finding an I.P. attorney…and do you need one?
  • What’s the difference between an I.P. attorney and an agent?
  • When does copyright exist?
  • Do you need to file your copyright with the copyright office?
  • What happens when your work has been pirated?
  • Can I.P. law be funny?
  • How Steven actually informed an episode of Suits–and how they got it wrong!
  • What Steven finds frustrating in fiction about the law
  • Bunny trails!
  • Do I need to copyright my idea formally with the copyright office?
  • Fair use law
  • Steve’s advice on courtroom scenes
  • Steve’s favorite movies about legal stuff


LDK 75 – CONTEST WINNER! Kayla (K.M.) Dailey

We sit down with physics teacher by day, thriller author by night, Kayla–K.M.–Dailey this episode. K.M. is the winner of our flash short story contest with Laura VanArendonk Baugh to write a short story featuring Samwise Gamgee (LOTR) and River Song (Doctor Who.) K.M.’s story had us in stitches, and we’re sure you’ll see why we picked the story as our winner.

We talk about our Harry Potter houses, Kayla’s inspiration for the short story, Christmas trees out of books, Liberty admits to having lower standards in her reading, the ever-present need for more bookcases, Harry Dresden, the new doctor on Doctor Who and Kayla’s and Liberty’s concerns about the direction, Doctor Who indoctrination (no pun intended!), Kayla’s goal of 100 rejections in 2018 (!!!), Captain America…or Captain Jack Sparrow?

Find out more about Kayla on her YouTube channel.

Kayla’s book recommendations:

Ender’s Game – Orson Scott Card
The Series of Unfortunate Events – Lemony Snicket
The Three Body Problem – Cixin Liu

And now, K.M.’s short story, Alien Artifact.


The alarm bells of the TARDIS chimed as the console room lurched.  River’s diary flew from her hands.  She jumped up.

“No, no, no!” the doctor shouted, fumbling with the controls.

“I told you, didn’t I?” River grabbed the blue levers to stablize the console room—still, it quaked violently.  “Always double check the navigation circuits before entering conceptual space!”

“It’s not the nagivation, we’re being diverted!”  The doctor flipped a few switches, and an explosion of smoke erupted from the console.


“Into a pocket universe—”  A jolt sent the doctor flying toward the metal rails.

“I’m going to land her!” River shouted.

The old familiar squealing of the TARDIS brakes sounded.  Finally, all was still.

The doctor pulled himself upright and straightened his bow tie.

“Scanners online.”  River swung the video screen to face herself.

He buzzed the console with his sonic screwdriver.  “The TARDIS was drawn to a powerful alien . . . thingy.  Where exactly are we?”

Black, rocky structures surrounded them on either side, stretching up to the dark, clouded sky.  Just ahead stood a crumbling stone tower, ominous spikes protruding from its ceilings and walls, and large armored men with gray, distorted features stood guard.  Orcs.

River’s heart pounded in her chest.  Why would the TARDIS have drawn her back to Middle Earth?

“Stay here, Doctor, I’ve got to handle this.”

She darted out of the TARDIS and nearly ran headlong into a scraggly-haired man half her height.  A hobbit.

He whipped out a glowing blue sword and pointed it at her chest.

“Who goes there?”  His voice trembled almost as much as his sword.

River took her screwdriver out of her pocket and scanned the sword.  It was alien, certainly, but not dangerous.  It wouldn’t have diverted the TARDIS.

“Who are you, lady?”  Sam raised the sword to her neck.

“Oh, put that away, you’re going to hurt yourself.  Name’s River Song.  What’s yours?”

“I—Sam Gamgee.”  He swallowed.  “You’re not an orc, are you?”

“Human.  Well, more or less.  Listen, Sam—”

Two of the orcs from the tower came running toward them.  River whipped the blaster out of her pocket and shot down both of them over Sam’s head.  Sam cowered, dropping his sword, then whirled around, gaping at the fallen bodies.

Breathing hard, he turned to face River.  “Can you help me?”

“I beg your pardon?”

“Mister Frodo’s been taken—he’s in that tower.”  He pointed behind himself.  “I’ve got to save him.  If I could just borrow your—whatever that is—”

His eyes were on River’s blaster.

She shoved it back into her pocket.  “What are orcs doing kidnapping Hobbits?”

“We were heading to Mount Doom to destroy this.”  He reached into his pocket and pulled out a chain.  A familiar dull golden ring hung from the end.

“Oh, I see.  This is my fault,” she said.

Your fault?”  Sam lowered the ring.

“Sauron and I.  We used to date.  He was planning to propose, even ordered the materials for the ring from another world.  He was quite cross when I broke things off.  Went a bit power crazy, to be honest.”

Sam stared at her for a long time, his brow quizzical.  Finally, he pointed to the TARDIS.  “Can your blue box get us to Mount Doom?”

“Ah.”  River’s face felt warm.  “I’d rather not run into Sauron.  But if you’re looking to destroy the ring, we’ve got a decaying star in the TARDIS.  It should do the trick.”

Sam glanced from the ring in his hands to the TARDIS.  “You have a star in that box?”


Convincing the Doctor to allow Sam into the TARDIS core was no easy matter, but it was nothing compared with dealing with Sam’s outburst at the dimensional folding.

“It’s bigger—bigger—”

“On the inside, yes, it’s very impressive.  Let’s get on with it, shall we?”

“But—but how—”  Sam cringed in the doorway, looking back and forth from the blue exterior to the console room.

“You still have to save your friend, don’t you?”

This seemed to harden Sam’s resolve.  His jaw set, he stepped into the console room.  “Lead the way, Mrs. River Song.”

She’d been Doctor Song for years, but decided against correcting him.  Every now and then, she checked to make sure he was still trailing behind her.  He always was, though his eyes darted in all directions and he kept his sword in his hand.

Finally, they arrived at the TARDIS power center—the Eye of Harmony.  The enormous glowing star hung suspended in midair.

Sam reached again into his pocket and took out the ring.  With a cry, he flung the ring into the dying star.

For just a moment, the star flashed a more brilliant shade of orange.

“That’s it?” Sam said.  “It’s over?”

“It’s over.”

His face broke out into a grin.  “Mrs. River Song, how can I ever repay you?”

“Repay me?  That ring was a great source of power.  It’ll save us a fuel stop.  Consider us even.”

“I’ve got to save Mister Frodo,” Sam said.  “But maybe we’ll meet again someday?”

“We’ll see,” River said.  “It’s one thing to be diverted by an alien artifact, but as a general rule, one does not simply land a TARDIS in Mordor.”


The orc snarled as he raised his sword.  Frodo struggled against his bonds, but to no avail.  This was it, this was the end—

The Orc stopped short, shouting, as the tip of a glowing blue sword jabbed through its chest.

“Sam!” Frodo cried.

The orc dropped.  Sam smiled down at Frodo.

Guilt weighed upon Frodo’s chest.  “Oh, Sam, I’m so sorry!”

“Let’s get you out of here.” Sam took hold of the ropes binding Frodo’s hands.

“It’s too late.”  Frodo sat up.  “It’s over.  They’ve taken it.  Sam—” he stared intently into Sam’s eyes— “they took the ring.”

Sam took a deep breath.  “We need to talk.”

The End

LDK 73/74: Don’t Ask Permission to Create Art (with H.L. Burke)

This week we have hopeless romantic, H.L. (Heidi) Burke on the show. She’s totally obsessed with dragons, but we know a few people who also are, so we won’t hold it against her.

In episode 73:

  • We discuss the Eros & Psyche myth again (see Laura VAB’s recent episode for more E&P!) as H.L.’s book, Coiled, is based on the myth.
  • Heidi’s desire to go “aww” while writing.
  • How we have to release our books to the world and they become a part of the world instead of ours.
  • Myths are out of copyright—we can plagiarize them!
  • Can snakes get sea sick?
  • Star Trek rants!
  • Re-reading on Goodreads
  • Myers Briggs analysis of characters


In episode 74:

  • The evolution of a pantser to a plotter
  • Guess which of Heidi’s offspring might be a future Bond villain!
  • Lyrics in music? Yes or no?
  • The adventures of being a military wife
  • Why Heidi doesn’t think she’s a very deep person.
  • Working with an editor when you’ve been self-published first
  • How Sarah picks her release dates
  • Aaron warns new authors about vanity presses
  • Who is Theodore??





LDK 72 – Andrew Winch

We have Andrew Winch on this week, who is the executive editor with Splickety Publishing group where he’s worked with a whole host of authors including Jerry B. Jenkins, Tosca Lee, and Robert Liparulo. He’s a full time physical therapist when he’s not running around with Ben Wolf.

In this episode:

  • Google is a wonderful thing. 😉
  • Who is Ben Wolflichman?
  • Wrangling flaming pigs
  • Gothic horror / steampunk
  • Weird stuff submitted to Splickety (hint: did you guess frog erotica?)
  • Andrew’s love of creepy stuff
  • Don’t edit your voice out of your story!!!
  • Is writing flash fiction a perfectionist’s game?
  • What 3 tips would Andrew give to improve your writing?
  • Why you should read women’s fiction.
  • You have to write a great story.
  • Supporting characters Andrew wants to know more about!


LDK 71 – The Magic of Lorehaven

In this episode, we sit down with E. Stephen Burnett, who, along with Ben Wolf (see episodes 10 & 11), is the co-founder of the forthcoming e-magazine, Lorehaven.

Stephen is a former print journalist who now helps run and other faith-based websites that focus on fiction–including Lorehaven. He hails from Texas.

In episode 71:

  • What Lorehaven is–and what it won’t be.
  • What is a flash review?
  • Stephen’s favorite version of Star Trek.
  • Lorehaven’s goal to create book clubs.
  • The broader content goals of Lorehaven.
  • Who should everyone be reading?
  • What is Stephen watching? Wonder Woman? Anime?



LDK 69/70 – Paul D. Smith

On this episode, we have Paul Smith, friend of previous guests, CW Briar and Jon Brhel. He’s author of Jason and the Draconauts!

Paul Smith lives in upstate New York with his wife and two sons, where he works with emotionally disturbed and mentally ill children. He earned a master’s degree in social sciences from Binghamton University in 1999. A lifelong love of science fiction, fantasy, and superhero stories influences Paul’s writing. His most recent work was a popular weekly online series that generated over 20,000 views. Jason and the Draconauts is his first novel.

In Episode 69:

  • Writing for your kids
  • Creating dragons! Who’s going to argue with a dragon?
  • D&D’s influence in Paul’s writing
  • How to NOT plagiarise
  • Aaron wants to read a story about Captain America riding a dragon
  • Does the TARDIS have a loading bay?
  • Black Ops Helicopters
  • Sean Connery

In Episode 70:

  • The pitfalls of pantsing
  • The guys give Liberty a hard time for ditching her outline
  • Liberty keeps bringing up Scrivener…
  • Bluetooth keyboards!
  • Why reading out loud is an important editing tool.
  • Paul’s techniques for battling writer’s block and why he hates frustration.
  • Paul’s thoughts on conventions and selling books on them.
  • Whether FB ads are worth the paper they’re printed on…
  • Including fandom quotes in our books!
  • What do your books teach you in the course of the writing?
  • Get words on paper



LDK 67/68 – Alara’s Call & Kristen Stieffel

This week, we have Kristen Stieffel, author of the debut novel, Alara’s Call.

Kristen Stieffel is a freelance writer and editor specializing in science fiction and fantasy. She’s the associate editor of Havok, a flash fiction magazine focused on the speculative genres. Kristen provides author mentoring and a full range of editorial services in multiple genres for both the general market and the Christian submarket. Kristen is a member of the Editorial Freelancers Association and Christian Editor Connection and is a Word Weavers International mentor.

In Episode 67:

  • Kristen’s impetus for writing Alara’s Call.
  • How President Dwight Eisenhower factors in to Kristen’s book.
  • Kristen admits how long it took to write the book.
  • How her setting was designed to fit the story.
  • Mentor characters yelling at the main character’s father!
  • How long does it take to cremate a horse? (Aaron isn’t telling PETA.)
  • We get into an argument about Kristen’s favorite spec fic quote.
  • Aaron refrains from going full über-nerd! (We’re all grateful.)

In Episode 68:

  • Plotting! Pantsing! Who knows?! Start with the end in mind.
  • He said WHAT?!
  • Writing out of order.
  • How do you K.O. a piece of paper?
  • All hail the wonders of Scrivener!
  • How MCs can change in the course of the book.
  • Hurricane brain
  • Write through the crap!
  • Snacking! Tea!
  • Bollywood!
  • Classical Crossover music
  • Kristen’s longest trip for a writer’s conference.
  • Why do people complain about book prices?
  • Gotta have the big parts in your novel first.

Kristen’s Facebook Party (9/21/2017)


LDK 65/66 – Sarah White

We sat down with the delightful Sarah White, author of Halayda, but Josh couldn’t join us. So it was up to Liberty to rein in Aaron! Or does he have to rein her in? Hmmm…

Sarah Delena White writes epic fantasy, steampunk, and reworkings of mythology with complex characters, rich world-building, and a fine balance of poetry and snark. When she’s not writing or editing, she can be found making jewelry, singing Irish ballads, drinking tea, and working a variety of odd jobs. She occasionally remembers to eat and sleep, because those things are apparently important. She can be bribed with dark chocolate. Halayda is her debut novel.

In Episode 65:

  • Sarah keeps very busy!
  • Halayda‘s unique blend of subgenres and unique beginnings
  • Yes, this is a kissing book!
  • Sarah’s research into Scottish & Irish faeries
  • More questionable search histories!
  • Aaron’s rabbit trail about the difference between the Russian space program and NASA
  • Liberty’s rabbit trail about Apollo 13
  • Short word counts vs. long word counts!

In Episode 66:

  • Normally, we have rabbit trails. But this week, we have rabbit AND chicken trails! (That sounds worse than it is…)
  • Plotting v pantsing … and having a point she’s working toward
  • Deleted/bonus scenes!
  • Sarah’s use of a certain social media platform in her research
  • The necessity of the right brand of Earl Grey tea.
  • Twitter Hashtag Games!
  • Irish folklore & ARROW



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