Ursula Pflug: Author

Ursula Pflug photo and cyborg glasses by Doug Back, Typewriter photo by Brion Wagner. Collage by Steev Morgan“Ursula Pflug’s writing is the kind you want to carry around with you for those days when it feels like you’re living in a strange and incomprehensible world; her work will make you feel less alone. Her words desire nothing more than to play fetch with your weirdest dreams. She creates wild inventions built of sentences that dig into your psyche and send back reports about all you never knew of the world. They are sly and joyous, scary and entrancing, profound, unsettling, amusing, and utterly – perfectly! – unique.” – Mathew Cheney


playgroundMotion Sickness - a Flash Novel by Ursula PflugHarvesting the Moon - short stories by Ursula Pflug
They Have to Take You In - Short Stories Edited by Ursula PflugThe Alphabet Stones a novel by Ursula PflugAfter the Fires a collection of short fiction by Ursula PflugGreen Music a novel by Ursula Pflug

Coaching and Mentoring

I mentor fiction authors, helping with character, structure, setting, plot, dialogue and revision. I have worked as a substantive editor on novels and short stories and have helped both emerging and mid-career authors publish in Canadian and international literary and genre markets. I’m passionate about working with emerging voices and established authors exploring new territory. It’s work I’ve done all along, but the pandemic brought increased interest, and I’m taking on new clients for late fall and winter. Feel free to get in touch.

I have taught or co-taught creative writing for decades at Trent University, Loyalist College, and at community and artist-run centres and literary festivals including the San Miguel de Allende Writers Conference. My extensive experience as a workshop instructor, anthology editor, and internationally published short fiction author has deepened and expanded my coaching. I have never forgotten how much courage sharing can require; my commentary is gentle, enthusiastic, and focused. My clients have published in paying genre and literary venues in Canada and the US, have won awards, and have received Canada Council grants.

Giuseppi Arcimboldo The Librarian 1566

Bio:
Ursula Pflug is author of the novels Green Music, The Alphabet Stones, Motion Sickness (a flash novel illustrated by SK Dyment); the story collections After the Fires, Harvesting the Moon, and Seeds, and the novellas Mountain and Down From. She edited the anthologies They Have to Take You In, Playground of Lost Toys (with Colleen Anderson) and Food of My People (with Candas Jane Dorsey). Her short stories and nonfiction about books and art have appeared for decades in Canada, the US and the UK, in award-winning genre and literary venues including Strange Horizons, Postscripts, Lightspeed, Fantasy, Leviathan, LCRW, Now Magazine, Bamboo Ridge, The New York Review of Science Fiction and many more. Her books have been endorsed by luminaries including Matthew Cheney, Charles De Lint, Candas Jane Dorsey, Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, Heather Spears, Jan Thornhill, Jeff VanderMeer, and Tim Wynne-Jones.

Her short stories have been taught in universities in Canada and India, and she has collaborated extensively with filmmakers, playwrights, choreographers, and installation artists. Pflug has won small press awards in the US from Dark Regions and Rose Secrest and has been a finalist at home for the ReLit, Aurora, and KM Hunter Awards, as well as the Three-Day-Novel and Descant Novella Contests. She is a Pushcart nominee. Her work has been funded by The Ontario Arts Council, the Canada Council for the Arts and The Laidlaw Foundation. Visit her on social media @ursulapflug

Testimonials

Ursula Pflug’s insightful and intuitive teaching methods helped hone my work. Her feedback transformed me from an amateur explorer of creative writing into a published author and poet. My work has appeared in several paying pro and semi-pro markets in Canada and the US, including a speculative short story that received several glowing reviews.
– Tapanga Koe

Ursula Pflug agreed to take me on for coaching even when the first chapters I sent her were barely readable. With immense patience, thoughtful suggestions, and meaningful pointers she guided me from a nascent book idea to a complete first draft, then a fully realized second draft. Her skilled coaching brought out the best in my writing and gave me confidence. With that confidence, I successfully applied for a Canada Council grant which has led to a streamlined third draft. With Ursula’s help, my novel is richer, more streamlined and something I’ll be proud to share.
– Esther Vincent

Much appreciation to Ursula Pflug, who brought engaged and wonderfully balanced energy to work with me on story evaluation and editing. She is candid, clear, and encouraging. I cannot recommend her enough and will seek her skilled and thoughtful guidance in future projects.
– Lynn Hutchinson Lee

Feast on Fantasy @Wots Toronto June 12

So excited to be back moderating at Word On The Street!
You’ll find us chatting about food and fantasy on Sunday June 12
4:00 – 5:00 pm at Across the Universe

FEAST ON FANTASY
MODERATED BY URSULA PFLUG
With Sang Kim, Gord Grisenthwaite and Sifton Tracey Anipare

It’s great WOTS is back under the trees at Queen’s Park, walking distance to all my favourite Toronto people and places.

Learn More Here

Kobo and Kindle Ebooks

It’s mid-February and your sweetheart needs something to read! I have a few ebooks out, and they’re $4 – $10. Save your money for good food and nice wine! Understandably, some people don’t like reading ebooks, but I like the adjustable font size. Even with prescription readers, my eyes aren’t what they were. Yes, I love the feel of paper too. I’ve culled a lot, but I still keep a few hundred books around the house just so I can smell them.

When my first story collection After the Fires (Tightrope, 2008) went out of print, I re-released it on KDP. Aurora Finalist. $3.92

The Alphabet Stones, my Eastern Ontario supernatural novel. I began writing it before we became parents and left Toronto for the forests and fields. YA/Adult crossover. ReLit finalist.
KOBO $4.99
KINDLE $5.17

YA novella Mountain takes place in a temporary forest community on Mount Shasta in Northern Cali. A stone’s throw into the future. Mountain is also available on library apps. ReLit finalist.
KOBO $9.89

Seeds and Other Stories, my first pandemic release. Decades of short fiction reprints from acclaimed literary and genre publications in Canada, the US, and the UK. Includes “Judy,” one of my first published stories, about a pandemic.
KOBO $9.89

I co-edited Playground of Lost Toys with poet Colleen Anderson. A fantastical anthology of stories about childhood, toys, and games. Cat McLeod’s inclusion “Hide and Seek,” won the Sunburst for short fiction.
KOBO $8.69

Amazing local and local-adjacent authors showcase their books in Ptbo at Atelier Ludmila and Watson and Lou. Nathan Adler, David Bateman, Michelle Berry, Drew Hayden-Taylor, Derek Newman-Stille, Charlie Petch, Ursula Pflug, Ian Rogers, Elisha Rubacha, Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, Kate Story, P.J. Thomas, T.E. Wilson and more.

Seeds and Other Stories: Reviews and Interviews 2020-2021

Here are the compiled reviews for Seeds, my reprint anthology from Inanna, published in 2020. I’m grateful to the authors of these lovely reviews, and to the editors of the publications for including us. I particularly enjoyed the interviews this time around, at WOTS Toronto, Speculating Canada, All Lit Up, and Ryerson CJRU.

REVIEWS:

Publishers Weekly Starred Review:

Pflug’s excellent third story collection (after Harvesting the Moon) showcases her mature, rich, and immersive storytelling. The stories reflect Pflug’s characters’ resilience in the face of 27 disparate apocalypses, united by motifs of seeds and gardening and a striking juxtaposition of hyperrealism with delicate fantasy. Standouts include “Mother Down the Well,” in which a woman seeks to recover the mother she’s never met from the bottom of a mysterious well; the title story, about a lonely older woman who cares for younger people and plants in apocalyptic times; “Unsichtbarkeit,” about an invisibility spell and its impact on a love triangle; and “The Dark Lake,” a decadent examination of domesticity and magic…Readers are sure to be wowed.

Read more here.

Zachary Gillan in Strange Horizons:

As the world emerges, unequally and haltingly, from a pandemic, many of us feel a desperate sense of hope, that same eagerness to find or make something of worth after working through such trauma. Seeds is a fantastic distillation of that attitude, a remarkably consistent collection of authorial intention and human compassion set down over a period of almost four decades. If Pflug’s characters can embrace their own agency, informed by all their past traumas to choose to redefine reality and to focus on their art, their work, rather than the pain of the world, how can we do any less? As Phoebe notes in the close of “Big Ears,” “[s]he might never grow a creature, be able to call its strength and beauty to her, but she had to try. What else was there?”

Read more here.

Lisa Timpf in The Future Fire:

Reading Pflug’s stories, you get the sense that there is an alternate world somewhere very near to ours, where things are subtly different, and that someone has left a door or a window open to let you slip through. The juxtaposition of the mundane and the magical, the rational world we know and the altered reality of the stories, evoked a delighted sense of surprise and at the same time, gave me the feeling that my brain was being stretched—not in a torture-rack kind of way, but a pleasant one. All in all, Seeds and Other Stories contained interesting, insightful, and thought-provoking stories told with a generous dose of wit—which is, in itself, a kind of magic.

Read more here.

Matthew David Surridge in Black Gate:

Ursula Pflug’s fiction demands to be savoured. Her new collection, Seeds And Other Stories, holds 26 short fictions ranging in length from flash fiction to short novelettes, each marked out by precise language and fantastic happenings seen edge-on. They’re not linked by plot but by threads of imagery: portals to other places; hallucinatory new drugs named for colours; gardening, and plants sprouting from the earth or human bodies. Each individual piece on its own carries a powerful emotional weight. Together it becomes difficult to read more than a few in a sitting, and that is no bad thing.

Read more here.

James Fisher in The Miramichi Reader:

…a good example of Ms. Pflug’s pragmatic story-telling style as if things like portals and interdimensional travel are occurrences that are not unusual in themselves, they just transpose that way in the telling, like trying to explain the colour blue to a sightless person…Is Seeds and Other Stories unusual? Yes. Far-fetched? Maybe, but not unreasonably so, I don’t believe. But this is what I so enjoy about reading Ursula Pflug. “A little bit of escapism with your literature, James?” “Yes, I don’t mind if I do Ms. Pflug, thanks.

Read more here.

Victoria Silverwolf in Tangent Online:

Canadian writer Ursula Pflug creates works that test the boundaries between mainstream fiction and the literature of the fantastic. Although her stories are difficult to classify, terms such as magic realism, surrealism, and slipstream come to mind. Her subtle, mysterious, and dreamlike tales are as likely to appear in literary journals as in genre publications…This collection assembles works from as far back as 1983, at the beginning of the author’s career, as well as those published within the last few years. It also includes three stories appearing here for the first time.

Read more here.

Des Lewis in The Des Lewis Gestalt Real-Time Reviews:

THE MEANING OF YELLOW

“…captured and taken on a long ride through inexplicable weirdness—unmoored in space and time, coerced to explore…”

…as I Am by this wonderful story, a story that is probably to go in my hall of all time favourite stories by any author! It feels like a very personal story, as we follow Jessica and the yellow notebooks or commonplace books she keeps losing in public places, notebooks, whether permanently lost or refound, seeming to connect piecemeal towards a premonitional gestalt of Jessica’s future. But it was the concept of the yellow couch and her grappling with it Laurel and Hardy Style on an apartment-block fire escape that really got me! You will always remember that this is where you heard of this particular Pflug story for the first time.

Read more here.

Lisa de Nikolits in The Minerva Reader:

“An extraordinary collection of magical stories that will wrap you in a timeless embrace and carry you away. Pflug’s wonderfully gentle and ultimately wise insights will break your heart, bring you hope, and encourage you to seek out the enchanted portals of creativity and love that you might otherwise have missed.”

Read more here.

Photo by Andy Carroll

INTERVIEWS and BOOK CLUBS:

Inanna Publisher Luciana Ricciutelli at All Lit Up

All Lit Up Summer Book Club

All Lit Up Staff Discussion

All Lit Up: Books to Read Based on Your Horoscope

Ursula Pflug Author Blog

Derek Newman-Stille, Authors in Quarantine

CJRU The Scope at Ryerson: Kate Gill Interviews Ursula Pflug for All My Books

VIDEOS:

Author Reading

Author Reading