Introduction

When any new social platform comes along, authors ask themselves: should I join? With a day job in communications/marketing/PR, I’m always intrigued by the latest technologies and trends. So when “elder millennials” like myself started joining TikTok, I gave it a try. Like many, I was skeptical at first but since joining I have found myself laughing and learning more on TikTok than any other social media app. It is a dynamic platform and a great wat to connect with others, especially as BookTok—the community of book lovers on TikTok—continues to grow. 

Most marketers would agree with a resounding “yes” that TikTok is becoming a hot spot for promoting your business. But what about authors and writers? Given that there’s a huge community of like-minded individuals on TikTok, it’s absolutely worth an author’s time to test it out. If you’re ready to take the plunge, I’ve gathered my top 5 tips on how to use TikTok efficiently as an author, writer or reader, and the potential benefits. But first, a bit of background on TikTok and what to expect.

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My science fiction story, “Comfort Zone,” is featured in the spring 2021 issue of British scifi magazine, Mythaxis.

Editorial introduction:

There’s a certain theme in science fiction and fantasy that’s always been popular – hard to set this up without spoiling it! Hollywood movies have repeatedly run with it (usually for laughs), so too surely every TV show in either genre. It has clear horror potential too, but very rarely are such stories approached from the outsider’s point-of-view. KC Grifant does so here, and with a similarly atypical air of loss, rather than gain.

In “Comfort Zone,” a new technology designed to improve empathy has the unintended side effect of putting a mom and daughter at odds. This story was inspired by my time reporting on emerging technologies while a science journalist. Specifically, research in the areas of quantum computing, brain-machine interfaces and neural imaging came together in a tale about the speed of which technology advances, and what happens when it’s hard to accept how fast the world–and children–can change.

You can read the story online for free here or an excerpt below.

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I’m honored to appear alongside 30 other women horror writers in this spooky collection from Kandisha Press, out on February 1, 2021. THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY – Women of Horror Anthology Vol. 3 includes my reprint story, “Minor Malfunction,” about a prosthetic limb gone rogue.

Author interviews and readings

Publisher’s spotlight: You can watch me read an excerpt of the opening here. Kandisha Press’ spotlight author interview with me is available here.

Ghost Stories blog tour:
I chatted with the fabulous reviewer and writer Janine Pipe at her Ghost Stories blog about this anthology here.

Clubhouse Chat: I made a virtual visit to Clubhouse Chat run by author Paula RC Readman to talk about the writing journey and inspirations here.

Fright Girl Summer: The anthology authors also participated in a fun roundtable interview at Fright Girl Summer where we talked about horror, 2021, writing advice and more.

About the collection

In these pages you’ll find tales of unrequited love, blind dates gone wrong, stalkers and their prey, cursed guitars, alien symbiotes, sinister letters, and bitter acts of revenge. Dive into these murky depths and discover what hides inside the minds of women scorned.

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2020. I don’t think any more needs to be said about the year that will haunt many of us for a lifetime. Here’s hoping we can bring about a healthier, safer and kinder world in 2021.

This was a productive year of writing for me, even though it didn’t feel like it. Writing was an escape from the news and world events; writing was the only way I felt like I was able to survive this year’s chaos and uncertainty without completely losing my mind.

I wrote seven new short stories (down 50% from last year), mostly at the beginning of the year. Though I wasn’t able to attend workshops or conferences this year, and skipped NaNoWriMo, the time at home let me focus on some bigger projects I had on the back burner. Once the pandemic hit and I started working from home full-time and having a toddler home all day (read more about how having a kid helped me with writing in last year’s recap here). I switched to tackling two novels I’ve had in the works and finally finished them (!). I also made progress on a new one and had several acceptances of new stories and reprints.

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Six Guns Straight From Hell 3 cover.

Six Guns Straight From Hell 3: Horror & Dark Fantasy From the Weird Weird West is now available and debuts my zombie story, “Death’s Horse.” The collection is edited by David B. Riley and J.A. Campbell, with a cover illustration by M. Wayne Miller. The Weird West is one of my favorite subgenres for a variety of reasons (you can read why in an article I wrote for Aurealis Magazine, more details here). “Death’s Horse” features the plight of gunslinging, monster-hunting Melinda Putman, first introduced in “Dusty Arrival,” cover story for Andromeda Spaceways Magazine in 2018. Weird West stories in this collection include tales by David Boop, C.W. Blackwell, Kristal Stittle and many others.

Description from the publisher:

Saddle up for a wild ride through the weird, weird west. As you ride our trails you’ll want to keep one eye on the path ahead and one over your shoulder cause there’s a bushwhacking monster creeping up behind you. If your horse gets eaten by a monster, you might be able to get a ride on the midnight train, as long as you don’t mind sitting with ghosts. If you don’t catch the train, maybe the devil can give you a lift back to town. Just be careful which place you head for, because the folks in one town are about to die. Staying on ranches ain’t much safer, especially at one girl’s birthday party. Then again, even going to outhouses can be deadly. If you happen to visit the local brothel, be sure and treat the ladies right or you’ll pay dearly. And Tombstone is no place to get your picture taken if you want to keep your skin.

Excerpt from “Death’s Horse”

Death rode in on a horse made of wood and bones, its joints screeching with every pound of its hooves against the sand. Death, otherwise known as Elliot Red-Eye Carson, raised his rifle, the sun a smudged glow behind him like someone had burned the sky with the end of a rolled cigarette.

“Found you.” Carson leveled the rifle at Melinda’s forehead. He wore a hat the color of day-old puke, with rags to match. He and the horse smelled of sewage, rot and all manners of decay.

“You look a little different, El.” Melinda eased her finger off the trigger of her six shooter and set it gently down. Beneath the wide-brimmed hat and duster she wore year round, her skin dripped from the heat. Even at sundown, the desert was hotter than the hubs of hell this time of year.

“Quit stalling.” Carson yanked his monster closer and Melinda wondered, as she had plenty of times before, if this would be the day she died. “Give me what’s mine.” 

Read more in Six Guns Straight From Hell 3. The book is available from Mysterious Galaxy bookstore or other independent booksellers, as well as on Amazon.

 

Shadowy_Natures

The boundary line between instinct and reason is of a very shadowy nature.
-Edgar Allan Poe (1840) 

I’m thrilled to share that Shadowy Natures: Tales of Psychological Horror is out today. This disturbing collection edited by Rebecca Rowland features the debut of my story “Maternal Bond,” where postpartum paranoia and isolation chip at a new mom’s sanity as an outside threat pushes her over the edge.

I chat with Rebecca about the story’s background, as well as horror writing and inspirations, in my author interview here.

Update: Genre Junkies discussed Shadowy Natures with Rowland on their podcast, concluding: “cover to cover, excellent writing…a truly great collection: one of the strongest I’ve come across.” You can listen to the full podcast here: 87 – “Shadowy Natures” Anthology and Interview With the Editor, Rebecca Rowland! 

About Shadowy Natures

With its twenty-one stories of serial killers and sociopaths, fixations and fetishes, breakdowns and bad decisions crafted by authors as diverse as their writing styles, Shadowy Natures leads fans of psychological horror down dark and treacherous roads to destinations they will be too unsettled to leave.

From unique twists on traditional terror tropes to fresh frights found in the most innocuous of places, these tales will surprise and unnerve even the most veteran horror fans. Featuring brand new fiction from Jeremy Billingsley, C.W. Blackwell, Barrie Darke, Matthew R. Davis, Christina Delia, KC Grifant, Liam Hogan, K.N. Johnson, Thomas Kearnes, Rudy Kremberg, Scotty Milder, Bryan Miller, Hollee Nelson, Elin Olausson, James Edward O’Brien, Andrew Punzo, Lee Rozelle, Joseph Rubas, Paul Stansfield, Louis Stephenson, and Thomas Vaughn.

Shadowy Natures: Stories of Psychological Horror is now available at AMink‘s Dark Ink and at Amazon in print, audiobook and e-book. Alternatively, please check your local bookstores for order availability.

 

 

Early acclaim for Shadowy Natures and “Maternal Bond”

“The perfect anthology with 21 dark tales that will get in your head, squirming and pulsing until you have to look away. There is something in here for every fan of horror and/or dark fiction.”
Holly Rae Garcia, author of Come Join the Murder
“‘Maternal Bond’ by KC Grifant gets into the uncomfortable skin of post-pregnancy, and that’s only the beginning of the discomfort that this story brings. Grifant brilliantly channels the sleeplessness and disorientation of new motherhood, then moves in and shocks us awake.”
Goodreads reviewer
“Unnerving.”
-S.K. Gregory, Best-selling author of the Daemon Persuasion and Aurelia Graves series
“Dark prose and wildly unique stories…I suggest giving this book a looksie!”
-Mortality in Horror
“A terrific and terrifying selection of stories that will make you squirm in your seat and force you to get up to check the doors and windows before you go to sleep.”
-Bob Hastings, Goodreads
“These 21 dreadfully dark tales held me captive from first to last story…”Maternal Bond” by KC Grifant in which a new mom battles lack of sleep and postpartum depression really got under my skin as I recalled my own earliest days of coping with a baby who cried nonstop.”
 -Well Worth a Read

This story is submitted for 2020 Bram Stoker Award® consideration. Interested members of HWA you access a copy of the story until January 15, 2021 by going to this password protected page. The password is Bram Stoker’s famed character.

I’m pleased to share a fun print interview that Nico Bell, fellow horror author, conducted via email. In this Q&A, I reveal why the Weird West is one of my favorite subgenres, what I’m reading, and why my browser history would raise a few eyebrows. I also talk a bit about my current writing projects, including THE FINAL HOUR, a fantasy novella inspired by The Labyrinth; DARK TRAILS, a fun supernatural western; and two weird science stories.

Check out the other Spotlight Author feature for interviews with tons of horror writers, and my Q&A, here: http://nicobellfiction.com/featured-authors-meet-new-writers/2020/4/24/speculative-fiction-cosmic-horror-and-weird-western-author-kc-grifant-interview

2019roundup
Overview

The end of the year is always a good time to take stock of accomplishments of the past year and reflect on upcoming goals.

In general, 2019 was packed with exciting books, TV and movie releases in horror and other genre fiction. There are plenty of lists out there detailing some of the standouts (here and here, for example). Overall, the wealth of genre stories hitting mainstream audiences is encouraging for those of us who toil in realms of the fantastical and strange.

Personally, this was a productive year of writing for me. I wrote a number of short stories in 2019 as well as two novellas. With a demanding full-time job and wild two-year-old to take care of, I found it more important than ever to carve out writing time.

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My nonfiction essay titled “What’s Next for the Weird West” is available in Aurealis Magazine’s last issue of the year, along with excellent speculative stories, essays and reviews.

This essay explores one of my increasingly favorite areas of fiction. I cover some of the crossover aspects of weird west fiction along with new and must-read books, and why the time is ripe for a resurgence in this fun genre.

Editor Dirk Strasser writes about this issue of the award-winning Australia-based monthly SF/F magazine:

We always like to go out with a bang in the last issue for the year and Aurealis #126 is no exception. In this bumper issue we feature ‘Marked for Life’, J.R. Schuyler’s powerful tale of blood magic, snowbeasts and transformation, Stephen Higgin’s quirky and enigmatic ‘Cradle’, and the dark science fiction of Eric Del Carlo’s gender and identity exploration story ‘Flesh of the Other.’

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Excerpt from “What’s Next for the Weird West” is below:

“Howdy, partner.”

A figure silhouetted in a hat and dusty jacket bursts into a bar. Poker players and prostitutes scramble as the loner saunters in, steely eyes prepping for a showdown.

The scene is all too familiar in Wild West stories, which usually incorporate iconic characters ranging from outlaws, gunslingers and law-keepers. On the frontier, where one must keep their wits about them and where anything goes, the stoic cowboy hero archetype helped set the foundation for some of today’s superheroes and modern American fiction. But the Weird West genre offers a fresh take on the iconic—and often overused—imagery and caricatures of the Wild West.

The Weird West genre—where Wild West elements mash with other genres ranging from horror, scifi and fantasy—has been around as long as the Wild West itself though never fully in the limelight. Something about the unknown wilderness invites more speculative wanderings; infusions of werewolves, demons, ghosts, aliens, magic and otherworldly elements seem right at home amidst wild mountains, endless desert and a vast, unforgiving landscape.

Issue #126 also finishes with reviewers’ picks of the best speculative fiction in 2019. 

To read the full essay and other pieces in this issue, visit here.

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Looking for a holiday gift for the reader in your life?

Christmas Lites Volume IX  is a collection of holiday-themed tales with all proceeds going directly to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Stories run the gamut from horror to cozy, so there’s something for everyone.

My horror story, “Cup of Holiday Cheer,” about a seasonal coffee drink gone terribly wrong, is included.

Editor Amy Huntley describes the collection as follows: 

Thirty-six stories to give you your holiday fix. Thirty-six times to get a Christmas chill or a warm, fuzzy feeling. This group of authors have come together for the 9th year in a row to help support the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. In the coldest of times, the warmth of the heart can bring hope to many who are in need this time of year. Read shorts from your favorite authors and discover new to love. Spread some holiday cheer this season!

You can order your digital or print copy here.