Category Archives: On Writing

My WorldCon 2015 Schedule

I’ll be appearing at Sasquan,” the 73rd World Science Fiction Convention in Spokane, Washington, August 19-23.

Anatomy of a Pandemic

Thursday 13:00 – 13:45, 300B (CC)

Pandemics make frequent appearances in SF. But are what we read in books or see on the screen anything like real pandemics? The world just experienced the Ebola pandemic. The panel will discuss how real pandemics are likely to play out, and how that compares with their depiction in fiction.

Sam Scheiner (M), Dominick D’Aunno, M.D., Gregory Gadow, Perrianne Lurie

Space Medicine

Thursday 21:00 – 21:45, Conference Theater 110 (CC)

Beyond low gravity (check “Adapting the Human Body for Low Gravity” on Friday afternoon), what are some of the other issues astronauts and future space colonists need to plan for to stay healthy in space?  Will we take special meds to just ride a stationary bike for millions of miles?  What about the impact of radiation?  Eating pre-packaged foods for years at a time?  What are some of the unique problems of practicing medicine in space?

Dominick D’Aunno, M.D., Nick Kanas, M.D.

Adapting the Human Body for Low Gravity

Friday 14:00 – 14:45, 300C (CC)

One of the big challenges facing human habitation of space is life in low gravity. Humans evolved in a 1-G field and can have serious health problems in prolonged low gravity. The panel will discuss what we know about life in low gravity, what can be done to make that life safe, and what we still need discover.

Nick Kanas, M.D. (M), Dominick D’Aunno, M.D., Madeleine Geraghty, Pat Cadigan

The Writer’s Blog Hop continues with Guest Author Elizabeth Bourne

The next authors to share their insights on the Writer’s Blog Hop is the very talented Elizabeth Bourne and Tim Susman.

Please check out Tim’s blog to read his answers to the four questions.

Elizabeth has the distinction of being my very first GUEST AUTHOR on my blog.

Elizabeth Bourne has published short fiction in several Fantasy & Science Fiction venues

Fantasy and Science Fiction  Magazine (A History of Cadmium, What the Red Oaks Knew)

Interzone (Beasts),

Clarkesworld (One Flesh)

(Evening, Echeconnee Creek) Black Lantern

Currently, Elizabeth is working on a trilogy of novels set in ancient Alexandria, a mystery set in 1920s San Francisco, and a second-world fantasy that wonders what it would be like if you could change your luck. Bourne grew up in Lovecraft country and assures you that his work wasn’t fiction. Elizabeth currently lives in Seattle where trolls do, in fact, live under bridges, and is advised on her writing by her dog, Kai, who eats the bad pages.

What am I working on?

My current work-in-progress is a second world fantasy (that means a place that may or may not be earth-like, but isn’t earth; for example, “Dune” is a second world fantasy).

My current book concerns itself with Titianmar, one city out of the seven cities that are all that remain from a long-ago empire. In Titianmar, luck is palpable—at least for some people. If you’re gifted, you can see luck, and it can be manipulated for both good and bad ends. But now, the luck is beginning to fade away, and thanks to the choices made by Mora, who rules Titianmar with an iron fist, it may be destroyed completely. Can the luck of Titianmar be saved, and is it worth saving? After all, everyone –wants- to have good luck. But is that really what we need?

How does my work differ from others in its genre?

This isn’t another medieval or steam punk fantasy world. There’s no magic; even the reason for Titianmar’s luck is science-based. I’m not interested, nor do I believe in, a world that’s incapable of developing technological advances beyond the wheel and the crossbow. So my world has technology, albeit not 21st century technology, which might as well be magic. Also, I care a lot about gender. My primary heroes and villains are women. They have adventures and they don’t need saving by anyone. Men take up the secondary roles – the supporting cast as it were – but they aren’t the main actors. If I could write a gender-switch “The Stars My Destination” I would.

Why do I write what I do?

For my own pleasure. No one (very few people) can make a living by writing fiction. Most writers are not paid well, if indeed they get anything resembling money at all. So if you must have a day job to pay the bills, the only reason to put in the hours it takes to compose a short story, never mind a novel, is because you love it. Because you need to know what happens next. Because a piece of you will die if you don’t. So I write the ideas and characters that are alive for me, that keep my interest, and give me joy.

How does my writing process work?

Process? There’s process? I thought you just wrote until you ran out of gin… I’m a pantser, which means I don’t develop much of an outline or a plot ahead of time. I try to get what I call tent posts in place – at least a few things I know must happen – and then write to those markers. Stop, and then figure out a few more tent posts. The hope is that eventually, all the tent posts will be covered by canvas, and the circus can come to town. That’s how I think of it. And also, the gin.

The Writer’s Blog Hop!!!!

I have been asked by author Antha Adkins to participate in a blog hop. Writers answer four questions then pass the baton onto two other writers. This is a fun exercise and gives insight into the work and process of the writers of today. Antha’s response to these questions can be found at

Antha Adkins

Here are my answers to the questions:

What am I working on?

I don’t think I’ve ever had just one project going by itself, actually. I always have a number of works in various stages of completion. But, I’ve found from experience, that one needs to be cautious. Every time there is a new idea (and there’s a constant barrage of them). The temptation to drop everything and start on that new idea right away is intoxicating.

Don’t ignore you’re existing work or works. Discipline is key.  If you don’t move forward and finish a project, then you will eventually end up with a box full of half-done manuscripts.

To quell the desire to jump on the next best idea, I write a short description and file it away. I go back to that file routinely and if the idea stills gets me fired up, I’ll work on it. A number of times, however, what I considered the most exciting and amazing idea ever… just wasn’t.

So to answer the first question, I would have to say I’m working on two projects heavily and two projects in different stages of preparation.

The project that is closest to completion is the first book in a fantasy trilogy called Enclave. This is an ensemble cast of characters and I’ve enjoyed getting to know each of them.

Enclave is a “quest” story, in the broadest sense. There are Young Adult themes and New Adult themes present in the work, with a nice adventure and discovery element that moves the plot forward. There is magic, of course, but in Enclave, two vastly different magical systems are in place. One is based on logic and the other has more of a quantum mechanics feel to it.

I started out this project trying an experiment. I wanted to experience being a “pantser.” This is a writer that just starts writing and sees where the story goes. It’s fun and exciting. You really become immersed in your world.

I had an idea, two characters and an opening line. Then I just started typing. Some call it discovery writing. This works well for many authors while others find it too nebulous and disorganized.

On the other spectrum are the “Plotters.” Plotters spend a great deal of time fine-tuning a plot. Then they begin writing their story.

I’m not sure, but I feel that a combination of the two extremes works best for me.


How does my work differ from others in the Genre?

Enclave might be considered Young Adult by some and New Adult by others, because there are young characters dealing with loss and growth and change, but I have an ensemble cast of characters, all working together that include characters on the verge of stepping out into the world as an adult. This, I feel is very different. The adults/mentors/protectors in Enclave are not background. They have growth, choices and consequences.

My work also tends to be very character driven and dialogue heavy. It feels very natural for me to write this way.

I also like to include some scientific structure to the magical systems. As a scientist, this is important to me. The concepts of dimensionality and String Theory/M Theory can also be seen in this trilogy, if one is open to them.

Why do I write what I do?

As with most writers, I write what I do because the story needs to come out. I’ve come into the writing world rather late in my career. But now that can engineer more consistent time to write, the stories won’t stop coming. An anxiety begins to set in as the stories pile up and intrude on your daily life. They must come out. I must write them. I hope people will enjoy reading them.

The stories I write now are science fiction and fantasy. I am most comfortable in these genres. As a physician-scientist in the Space Medicine and Physiology arena and doing Internal Medicine as a hospitalist, I strive to introduce medical concepts in all of my stories. I do not write medical thrillers. I believe that health and wellness and illness are all aspects of a normal existence. These concepts should be introduced to enhance the world we are creating.

How does my writing process work?

I set aside time everyday to write. Even after working an 18-hour day at the hospital. I must set aside time to write. Usually this is before bed. I don’t have a word limit, per say, or a time limit. In general I can get 1000-2000 words down in each session, if I don’t fall asleep.

I start off by reading the previous day’s writing and I make some edits to it. This helps me get into the flow of my work. Then I create another 1000 – 2000 words. I do this everyday.

I might not work on the same project from day to day, but I do work on something. I’m lucky enough to belong to two critique groups. Each group has a different focus and experience base. We have a strict submission policy for each group, so having that incentive does help me.

The next author on this blog hop, Tim Susman, is a friend of mine that I met during a novel writing workshop. He writes some amazing and creative novels. Tim will answer the same questions, on his blog, next Monday August 4th. Please take the time to check out his answers and also his work.

Tim Susman has published over a dozen novels and numerous short stories under various names, writing about fantastical creatures with human problems, most often anthropomorphic animal characters (think Disney’s Robin Hood in real life). He has researched both animal and human behavior (M.S. in Zoology and five years of experience in market research firms) and has worked as a database analyst, a project manager, and a product manager in the high tech world of Silicon Valley. Currently he lives with his husband in California and blogs at

The next author to share her insights is the very talented Elizabeth Bourne.

Elizabeth Bourne has published short fiction in several Fantasy & Science Fiction venues

Fantasy and Science Fiction  Magazine (A History of Cadmium, What the Red Oaks Knew) 

Interzone (Beasts),

Clarkesworld (One Flesh)

(Evening, Echeconnee Creek) Black Lantern

Currently, Elizabeth is working on a trilogy of novels set in ancient Alexandria, a mystery set in 1920s San Francisco, and a second-world fantasy that wonders what it would be like if you could change your luck. Bourne grew up in Lovecraft country and assures you that his work wasn’t fiction. Elizabeth currently lives in Seattle where trolls do, in fact, live under bridges, and is advised on her writing by her dog, Kai, who eats the bad pages.

I will be hosting her responses to the four questions above, next week on my blog. She will be the first ever Guest Author on my site. I’m a lucky fella!

That nagging sensation….

The rough draft of Enclave is done. That was a wonderful milestone. But I had little time to enjoy it. I’ve set a serious deadline for myself. I want to get a polished manuscript to my Editor by the end of July. It’s a shame I have to work…

It’s been frustrating, liberating, enjoyable and painful. Why do writers do this??? I’ve come to the conclusion, as so many other writers have, that we suffer from a disease. Some unheard of psychological aliment not listed in the DSMV. Someday, I’ll collaborate with one of my colleges and find a cure. But for now, the only cure is to write, then write some more, then keep writing.

I took a small break to make a cup of coffee. My brain hurt. I had to recharge. I wondered why I had this nagging feeling of claustrophobia. It’s not where I’m writing. I enjoy my little writing nook. No, the feeling crept up on me like a silent killer, a colorless gas with no smell filling up the room…

I finally put it into words as I twirled my spoon, clinking it inside my mug.

When you start out writing something, there are so many many possibilities. It’s the endless universe. As you continue putting words on the page, those possibilities are reduced. The more you write, the less the possibility. You’re honing in on a singularity. Eventually you have no more “wiggle room” you feel closed in. Your story has one and only one conclusion.

That was the feeling of claustrophobia I was experiencing as I worked through my rough draft. Recognizing it has made me feel better.

I’m actually excited. My story has a clear goal, a focus. It has a “singularity.”

I had to delete whole swashes of the rough draft. It didn’t feel uncomfortable at all. It felt good, actually. That stuff was fun to write and it was totally necessary for me to write it, but it really wasn’t important to the story.

I did have to rewrite the entire first section of Enclave. I wanted to roam a little in the story, take little detours, but I restrained myself. My only fear now is that I’ve taken some of the “life” out of it. Maybe that’s just a reaction to all of the deleting I’ve been doing.

My editor emailed to see how it was going. I expressed my concern to her and she emailed back. “Don’t worry. We can always add stuff if it is needed. Just get it done.”

That made me feel good. There will be time to “add stuff” if it’s needed.

Hopefully my beta readers will give me direction on that.

Well, I’m off to continue editing. Wish me luck.

Enclave…. The rough draft is done!

Hello All,

I’m excited to say that after 15 hours of writing, I have finally been able to type the greatest 2 words ever… The End!

I’ve completed the rough draft of my fantasy adventure, Enclave. It’s far from ready for general consumption, though. I have a whole lot of editing and rewrites a head of me. But I thought I needed help along the way. Trying to fit in writing and work, well, it’s tough.

Especially since I work with hospital patients and I get called all night long….

So I hired an editor and task master… I mean coach, to help me achieve my goals. Comfort Services, owned by Hilary Ritz, will be editing my work and making sure I’m on track.

You see, I have this crazy notion of finishing this book up and getting another one done by November 2014…. Crazy, right?

So I have to rewrite a bunch of the first half of Enclave. Then I need to polish the whole thing and get it ready for my editor, Hilary and get it ready to send off to a few beta readers. That’s not much time!!!!

Today, after work, I outlined the changes I want to make to the first half of the book. Now, I’ve told myself that I would write the first chapter. TONIGHT! I’ve gotten 514 words done so far, but I wanted to update you all on my progress.

Enclave is the working title of a new fantasy trilogy. I hope you enjoy it.

Wish me luck!


Getting Ready for ApolloCon, Houston TX 2014

It’s the day before ApolloCon and I’m getting ready for a very busy few days! I’m very excited to meet the Guest of Honor David Gerrold.

Here is my schedule of events, in case any of you are free to come by:

Medical Concepts in Science Fiction Our panel of medical professionals will discuss how to make your story’s references to medicine and public health more realistic, whether you’re writing modern day, ancient history, epic fantasy, or far-future science fiction. Dr. Dominick D’Aunno Fri  6 PM Tucson
How Science Fiction Changed my Life How did science fiction change your life? Did it help you find your career, or open up your circle of friends?  What about your personal trajectory seems to have been most influenced by your love of the genre? Professionals in several different fields speak up. Dr. Dominick D’Aunno (M) Fri  8 PM Seattle I
bad boys vs good guys Are bad boys and villains really more interesting and fun to write? Are good guys boring? Is it possible for a character to be too good to be believed? Too bad to be redeemed? Our panelists will take on this eternal debate. Dr. Dominick D’Aunno (M) Sat   10 AM Seattle II
The Craft of Writing Sit down with some writers and critiquers to discuss what makes good prose. How do you choose the words to tell your story? What are some tricks and tips for expressing emotions or translating action to the page? How does language influence the story you are telling, and how can we manipulate language to give us the outcome we desire? Dr. Dominick D’Aunno Sat  1 PM Seattle II
In Conversation with David Gerrold Author Guest of Honor David Gerrold discusses whatever comes to his mind or our moderator’s, in this hour highlighting his life and work. Dr. Dominick D’Aunno (M) Sat  2 PM Seattle I
Liar’s Panel Which ones are lying? Which ones are telling the truth? In the spirit of “two truths and a lie,” or “tall tales,” we challenge our Guests of Honor to come up with the most entertaining whoppers they can, and the audience to vote on who they think is most truthful!  We may never know for sure. Dr. Dominick D’Aunno (M) Sat  5 PM Seattle II
The New Star Wars Are you excited about the new upcoming Star Wars movie? How about the seemingly endless novels or the cartoons? Panelists try their hand at predicting new developments and speculate about stories to come as Disney expands the Star Wars film franchise. Dr. Dominick D’Aunno Sun   11 AM Seattle I

Novel Writing Workshop day 1-Arriving

Sunday, June 1st, was the official start to the Science Fiction and Novel Writing Workshop here at Kansas University in Lawrence.

Basically all of the students trickled in during the afternoon and we met over Chinese takeout and learned what we signed up for. I was very pleased that the legendary James Gunn stopped by to share some food and history about science fiction over the many decades he has been involved with it. Amazing man.

He gave us a few helpful tips on writing. The one that stuck out the most was that a character isn’t a character until they interact with another character in the story. Through interaction, characters are defined.

There were many other tidbits that were ingested along with the fortune cookies.

Kij Johnson then rounded up her 8 novelists and spoke for a few hours about how the workshop is structured. It’s not a critique group in the usual sense. Basically, the outline/synopsis for your novel will be taken apart and the group will offer suggestions on how to improve it from the ground up.

I’m fascinated and look forward to the experience.

Kij also shared some concerns she has with writing and one of the major issues she sees out there in the world is that characters have no AGENCY.

Characters seem to react to events. Action is not AGENCY. Reaction is not AGENCY.

Characters need to engage and DO things. Make decisions. Make mistakes.

This gave me a lot of things to think about in my current works in progress.

She also encouraged us to enrich our worlds through bits of description that hint to things.  It was a very interesting and productive evening. I had trouble going to sleep because I was so revved up.

I’ll keep you posted on how it all goes.

The Start of Something New…. and a little scary

It’s June 1st.

A big day for me. It’s a big day, well, for a few reasons.

I arrived in Lawrence Kansas to attend the Novel Writing Workshop at KU. ( ). The talented Kij Johnson is our instructor.

I found the Residence Hall and checked into my dorm room. Dorm rooms really haven’t changed much from when I was in college. These beds seem to be quite a bit higher off the ground though. I wonder if they have more injured students from falling out of bed, drunk….

The place is actually very nice. The campus is beautiful and the town is a verdant treasure. I was the first one here this morning and I hauled all of my stuff up to the second floor, unpacked, and wandered around the building. Most of the other students have not yet arrived. I did me two others, Barbara and Elizabeth…. I hope I remember their names… I’m not good with names.

I planned on writing. I had time, a beautiful afternoon and a wrap around porch! What a great setting. But something told me that June 1st is about more than just writing. I set this day to make other changes as well.

I would reward myself with the opportunity to write, only if I did something physical. I figure 60 minutes a day is reasonable. I could break this up into two, 30 minute sessions, or dive right in and take on the whole 60 minutes.

Since I really don’t have any idea what our day to day schedule will be like and I’m not sure when the others will be settled in, I decided to change into my jogging clothes and explore this town.

I encourage all of you writers out there to do something physical each day. EACH DAY. This could be walking, jogging, biking, swimming, rock climbing… anything that moves your muscles and pumps your blood.

Since it has been quite a while since I jogged daily, I didn’t want to cause myself a heart attack. It would spoil the whole workshop experience. I walked a brisk pace for 3 miles, then jogged for a quarter mile, walked a quarter mile, then jogged a quarter mile. It took me 61 minutes. I didn’t curl up and start thinking, plotting and writing. I went out and got some exercise. I feel very good about that.

NOW I can sit down and think and plot and write…. That’s my reward. Writing is a reward for me, when I do other things that I’ve been putting off. 

Writing was something I did, everyday, no matter what. I put off important things like scheduling and payroll and book keeping, just so I could write. I managed to get all of those work-related items completed on time, but it was rushed. I don’t like being rushed. Mistakes happen when you are rushed.

Making mistakes in my line of work can be lethal. I try to avoid that whenever possible.

That’s what June 1st is for me. Getting fit and using writing as a reward.  Start slow. Make small changes.

I have a goal of finishing two novels by November. By finished I mean edited and then professionally edited. I don’t have that much time considering one novel still needs about 10,000 words and the other about 60,000.

The novel I’m working on here in the Lawrence Workshop isn’t one of those two. This is a brand new novel.

I’ll have to finish something soon. I don’t want three uncompleted novels running around unsupervised. Two, I think I can manage, not three.

But my point of this event, this workshop, is to use it as a defining moment in my creative life. I’ll look back on this time and say to my self “This is when I finally felt like I was a writer.”

You don’t have to go to a workshop for two whole weeks to accomplish that. But it’s something I thought about during the 11 and a half hour drive here. I NEEDED something, a sign or event, to help mark my way on my creative road.

Pick anything. Make it special to you in some fashion. Use it to create that spark that allows you to make a change in your life.

Reward yourself with writing. Make your body healthy. This improves your mind. As writers, your mind is your only creative muscle. Treat it well.

I’m going to commit to 60 minutes of some physical activity a day. It might not be all at one time, but it WILL total 60 minutes. Only then, will I reward myself with writing.

Try it out and let me know how you feel after a month.

ComicPalooza 2014 Houston Texas

I’m very excited. We just received our schedules for programs at this year’s ComicPalooza in Houston Texas (

Take a look at the whole schedule. There are so many interesting programs to attend! I hope to see most of them. The list of actors and artists is also very impressive.

Here are the programs that I will be involved with this year.

The Habits of Good Writers:

Kevin J. Anderson, Pamela Fagan Hutchins, Dominick D’Aunno

Friday 4 PM-6 PM Panel Room 370 C


No Holds Barred Critique Workshop

Leo King, Shannon Winton, Dominick D’Aunno

Saturday 3 PM-6PM Panel Room 360 C


Genesis of Creation: Where We Get Our Ideas

Jason Kristopher, George Wright Padgett, Shannon Winton, Dominick D’Aunno

Sunday 10 AM-12 PM Panel Room 352

New Clinic Today!

I started working at Avondale House, a residential facility for people with autism/mental retardation, etc.

I’m the new primary care doc as of 5/1/14. My first clinic was today and it was fantastic!

The nurses  are incredible. Very organized and helpful. And of course, I really enjoyed meeting the patients.

This is going to be a great relationship. Thank you, Avondale, for making me a part of your family.

Here’s a link to the website.