Archive for the ‘writing’ Category

A guide: Writing Speculative Fiction

Posted: August 23, 2019 in writing
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My weird western tale “A Dusty Arrival” is cited in this excellent guide Writing Speculative Fiction: Creative and Critical Approaches by Eugen Bacon. Bacon, PhD, is a computer scientist and award-winning writer and editor.

From the publisher:

In this engaging and accessible guide, Eugen Bacon explores writing speculative fiction as a creative practice, drawing from her own work, and the work of other writers and theorists, to interrogate its various subgenres. Through analysis of writers such as Stephen King, J.R.R. Tolkien and J. K. Rowling, this book scrutinises the characteristics of speculative fiction, considers the potential of writing cross genre and covers the challenges of targeting young adults.  It connects critical and cultural theories to the practice of creative writing, examining how they might apply to the process of writing speculative fiction. Both practical and critical in its evaluative gaze, it also looks at e-publishing as a promising publishing medium for speculative fiction.

This is essential reading for undergraduate and postgraduate students of Creative Writing, looking to develop a critical awareness of, and practical skills for, the writing of speculative fiction. It is also a valuable resource for creators, commentators and consumers of contemporary speculative fiction.

Check out this helpful guide with tips for aspiring as well as veteran writers in genre fiction at the link.


I’m happy to announce that my nonfiction article “Legendary Women of Horror” appears in Aurealis Magazine‘s issue #119, alongside of two other essays, “Suffer the Little Children: An Analysis of Parental Horror in Stephen King’s Early Fiction” by Kris Ashton and “Worldbuilding: The Bad and the Just Plain Ugly” by Amy Laurens.

The issue of this esteemed Australian monthly SF/F magazine is rounded out with three fascinating stories by Gordon Grice, Michelle Birkette and Chris Walker, as well as reviews and excellent art.

Aurealis Magazine, founded in 1990, and, in 1995, instituted the Aurealis Awards for Excellence in Australian Speculative Fiction. This issue was edited by Michael Pryor, an award-winning writer and prolific novelist.

I begin “Legendary Women of Horror” with a nod to the master, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley:

Over 200 years ago, Frankenstein’s monster lumbered across the minds of readers around the globe. The tale of Victor Frankenstein and his monster’s anguish tapped into fears about science, nature, and both the power and helplessness of humanity.

After a brief historic overview and discussion on why diverse viewpoints are particularly important in the horror genre, I dive into some of the cutting-edge modern horror writing by women today, as well as highlight two key efforts to showcase women’s work: a social media movement that happens every February called Women In Horror (which just celebrated its 10th year) and a website and comprehensive directory called Ladies of Horror Fiction.

To read the full essay and other pieces in this issue, check out #119 here, for just $2.99.

2018 Year in Review

The road to writing and publishing is paved with a whole lot of self-doubt and countless rejections. Writers need to celebrate any accomplishment, big or small, to help fuel motivation and bade away the naysayers (internal and external). New Year’s Eve is a good opportunity to pause and take stock of accomplishments of the past year and reflect on upcoming goals.

Personally it’s been a year of firsts, with some accomplishments of note:

International: This year I broke into the Australian (Andromeda Spaceways Magazine, COLP, and Things in the Well series); Canadian (Renaissance Book Publisher); and British (Tales to Terrify podcast) marketplaces.

Cover feature: My Weird Western tale “Dusty Arrival” was the cover story for the award-winning Andromeda Spaceways Magazine (March 2018 issue). This was a particular thrill: it never gets old to see how talented illustrators interpret your work. 

Audio: Another big highlight was a foray into audio storytelling with the acceptance of my reprint story “The Peerlings” for the Tales to Terrify podcast. Much like when an artist visually manifests your story, it is surreal and gratifying to hear a talented voice actor interpret your tale.

In summary, I’ve had 6 publications and 1 author interview this year:

I am incredibly grateful for the writing and editing community, particularly in the areas of genre fiction, which often are misunderstood by the general public. I am also indebted to friends and family who provide support in this tough craft. I hope the coming year leads to new stories that provide respite, intrigue or food for thought. Happy 2019!


Trembling with Fear Year One is a collection of horror short stories and drabbles.

My short horror scifi story “Turning Tides” appears Trembling with Fear: Year 1, a print anthology collection of horror-themed flash and short fiction now available.

“Turning Tides” was first published at The Horror Tree’s January 29, 2017 online edition. The story is what’s known as a “drabble.” These are flash fiction pieces taken to an extreme, incorporating style, character and plot all within a paltry 100 words.

The new collection, which includes both dribbles and flash stories, is edited by Stephanie Ellis and Stuart Conover, who curate the immensely popular Horror Tree website.

From the publisher:

This Trembling With Fear anthology is a compilation of all the drabbles, flash fiction stories and dark poetry published during 2017 at In its pages you will find work from both the novice and the established writer, the newbie and the award-winner. Here, the dead walk and murders abound, demons and ghosts torment the living whilst vampires and wolves compete for space with internet and aliens. Within these pages you will find dark speculative fiction from contributors across the globe, for our world is a world without borders. Nowhere is safe from the dark.

We have had some amazing talent contribute to the first year of ‘Trembling With Fear’ and we hope that you enjoy reading these as much as we have!

Read more or buy the book (digital or print) here.

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This week, the excellent Legion of Leia website (which aims to “raise awareness of the fact that women love sci-fi”) asked me a few questions about the topic of horror and being a woman writer in genre literature. I highly recommend checking out this blog and podcast if you haven’t already–it covers a wide breadth of topics related to geekdom, some near and dear to my heart, such as the upcoming X-men movie and season of Stranger Things.

For this interview, fellow horror writer Dr. Billy San Juan interviewed me on the topic of horror, how I got into writing and my story in the upcoming anthology California Screamin’, (featuring 14 horror stories that take place in Southern California, the book is available for preorder now). Here’s a brief excerpt of the Q&A:

Legion of Leia: Fear is generally considered a negative emotion, and yet the horror genre is incredibly popular. Why are readers so drawn to the things that scare us?

K.C. Grifant: Horror is usually considered a catharsis. You get to experience something horrific and frightening but come out in one piece… even if the character doesn’t. It might tap into the same adrenaline that gives people a rush when they’re on a roller coaster or skydiving, an I survived sort of high. Interestingly, different types of horror don’t have the same effect on everyone. For example, some people revel in reading or watching real-life horror such as true crime, but can’t handle paranormal horror. I’m the reverse; the more creative and unusual the monster, the more satisfying it is for me to watch. But realistic hostage or serial killer stories freak me out. I think it comes down to everyone’s stress valves and what gives you a sense of escape and relief. The appeal of horror seems especially prominent right now, probably due to two factors: People needing a break from our current environment of unrelenting, distressing news and often negative hive-mind social media chatter, and a resurgence of high-quality shows and books to provide that release.

Read the full interview at Legion of Leia: Interview: K.C. Grifant on California Screamin’ and the Horror Genre



After a bit of a publishing drought, some good news came through the last few weeks. I have stories appearing in five publications this fall. Three are available for order this month, just in time for Halloween! Details below:

Horror Bites Magazine


The October 2017 issue of Horror Bites Magazine features a reprint of WHAT STORMS BRING, a tale of what happens when a superstorm brings more than just wind and rain to an East Boston apartment. From the editor:

Horror Bites Magazine is an online horror magazine. In each issue of Horror Bites Magazine, we cover the spread of horror found in the web’s darkest nooks and crannies, from creepypasta to creature features, to fiction almost too weird to be called horror.

Zen of Horror author and Horror Bites Magazine editor Kelby J. Barker


California Screamin’


I am thrilled to share that one of my stories will debut in an anthology showcasing 14 Southern California-based horror authors. California Screamin edited by Danielle Kaheaku with an introduction by New York Times Bestselling author Jonathan Maberry, debuts in late October 2017. Check out that amazing cover!

From the webpage:


Close your eyes and say it: California. Images of perpetual sunshine, swaying palm trees, and blue waters lapping at sandy beaches. That one word conjures visions of gold and fame, luring dreamers to its mythic shores. The original peoples lived in an abundant paradise. The Spanish found a familiarity to their homeland. The Gold Rush, Hollywood, and Silicon Valley promised instant wealth. But the beaches are only a sliver of this vast land. Beyond it lie expanses of deserts, mountains, and rugged coastline cutting it off from reality. Isolated, California reveals a dark side—wraithlike fog of the northern coast, dense shadows in ancient forests, and hellish heat of vast deserts. It is to these places you will journey. Within these pages, you will find stories of primeval specters, soured fantasies, transplanted vampires, bizarre geography.

This is the reality of nightmares…

This is California Screamin’.


Into Darkness Peering


Into Darkness Peering by Alban Lake Publishing, is a collection of dark tales inspired by Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven” and features a reprint of one of my ghost stories.

    Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
    But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
    And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, “Lenore?”
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, “Lenore!”—
            Merely this and nothing more.
–Edgar Allen Poe 



wihm8-logo-horiz-black-lDon’t do it alone
By KC Grifant

Whether a novice, intermediate or pro, there’s no denying that writing can be a very difficult—though incredibly rewarding—art form. It’s hard enough to deal with the mountains of rejections, the endless time required to write, the frustration of words that just aren’t coming. That’s why connecting with other writers is so important: it is much-needed fuel to keep us going and can help make us better at our craft.

But I like to be alone

One stereotype of writers, often with some truth to it, is that we tend to be introverted or at least very much in our heads, letting conversations pass us by as we think about the latest book we read or wonder how to capture someone’s peculiar mannerism in the written word. We require A LOT of alone time, not only to do the actual writing but also to tap into sources of inspiration.

Because writers tend to be more cerebral than average, and even occasionally socially awkward (raising my hand here), it can be hard for us to feel comfortable sharing our work with others. Writing is in many ways incredibly personal, even if you are writing fiction. The fear of being judged, especially when we’re just starting out, is intense.

Despite the powerful inclination to go it on our own, writing groups and associations are incredibly important, both for prompting personal growth and for providing solace against the overwhelming odds. Sometimes it’s easy to feel like a charlatan or failure or like you’re not a real writer. Maybe you haven’t been published yet or have but with little success. Maybe you can’t write full time or can’t even find the time to write every day. But as long as you are writing, slow or painful as it sometimes is, you are a writer. Having a group can help you remember this.

This is especially important when it comes to genre writing. I had tried for years and years to find a writer’s group but after the occasional writer workshop or conference, I often felt more frustrated and isolated than ever before. The problem, I later realized, is that many general writing classes and groups are very heavily focused on literary fiction. As a genre writer (I write horror, science fiction and fantasy), this can be incredibly isolating because, though there are many core best writing practices among all types of writing, genres have unique challenges and focuses that literary writers just won’t get.

Though you will absolutely learn to grow as a writer by studying the craft and putting in the hours of practice, nothing can substitute feedback from actual writers—and writers in your genre. Getting other perspectives is invaluable too (such as from family members and friends) but your fellow writers are more likely to articulate problem areas and provide constructive edits.

Finding your tribe

The Horror Writers Association (HWA) is where I found my current writing family so to speak. What I love about the HWA is that anyone can join one of the different tiers of memberships (called associate, affiliate and active), depending on their number of qualifying publications. This lets a wide range of members join: from beginning writers with no publications under their belts, to New York Times bestselling authors, and everything in between. I’ve also met publishers, screenwriters, publicists, agents and editors in HWA, which gives a wonderfully wide perspective to the field of horror.

HWA has regional chapters (I co-founded the San Diego HWA Chapter last year), which gives a lot of freedom for local members to choose what they want to do and how often to meet. Aside from the yearly national horror writing event, StokerCon, and the stellar mentorship program, one of my favorite things about HWA is how well women are represented. As just two examples, the current HWA President, Lisa Morton, is an award-winning fiction writer and one of the world’s leading experts on Halloween (read her WiHM blog recommendations on horror stories featuring female protagonists here), while California-native and HWA member Nancy Holder is a New York Times bestselling author whose latest work includes the novelization of the new Ghostbusters movie. Founded in 1985, HWA is the oldest running organization of its kind and boosts many other famous and luminary women in horror as well. Membership spans well over 1,000 participants in over a dozen countries.

There are plenty of other groups out there, depending on what you write. Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, Sisters in Crime and Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America are just a few. But maybe an official organization isn’t your thing. Many bookstores offer reading groups and author signings and that can be a great place to meet other writers (Mysterious Galaxy and Dark Delicacies are two examples of independent bookstores that support horror writers in Southern California). All it takes is a casual chat, a suggestion to read each other’s work and you’re good to go! I highly recommend in-person writing groups or exchanges: just like with education, there is a huge benefit to networking, meeting and interacting in person that cements relationships in a way that takes much longer online. A word of caution here: no organization or group is perfect and writers’ groups are what you make of it. For a successful dynamic in a group or writing-based relationship, the interactions should be positive, strive to uplift each other, and based on honesty.

Sharing your stuff

Whatever writers’ group you join or writer friend you connect with, eventually you will want to share your stories. It’s good to have ground rules and a shared expectation of what level of feedback all parties are looking for. In general, offering a “beta read”–reading each other’s near-final, polished works with feedback consisting of overall and general impressions–is a good place to start.

As for ways of sharing, I like Google Docs personally, because it’s free, works offline and online, and is incredibly easy to share, track changes and add comments–plus you can easily write, edit and comment through its corresponding phone apps.

Many novices are afraid of sharing their work for fear of someone stealing your idea. I was in the same mindset for a long time. However, this is more self-defeating than protective. Most cases of plagiarizing I’ve heard of happened after the stories were published. Regardless of pre or post-publishing, the law is on your side: you will inevitably have digital records and files to support your case and can always send “Cease and Desist” letters and take legal action if necessary. You could have the best ideas in the world but it’s not going to matter until you write it, and then share it, beyond yourself.

Talking with other writers and people in your genre can lead to all sorts of good stuff: formal collaborations, the right piece of feedback to make a plot fall into place, and simple inspiration to keep on going. The most valuable thing I learned from my writing groups so far is that, so long as you work hard and strive to improve, you’re not a failure as a writer, no matter how large that mountain of rejection letters grows.

Connecting with kindred spirits is soul food for writers of all levels. Right now is a great time to be a horror writer, for men and women alike, so find your writing buddies and get to work!

This post originally appeared on The Horror Tree and the San Diego Horror Writers Association for the 2017 Women in Horror month.