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 summer and fall. 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 have deepened and expanded my coaching. I have never forgotten how much courage sharing can require; my commentary is gentle, enthusiastic and focused.

Giuseppi Arcimboldo The Librarian 1566


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


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 nascent book idea to complete first draft. Her skilled coaching brought out the best in my writing style and gave me confidence in what I was writing. With Ursula’s help, I have created a novel I am proud of. I’m eager to continue to work with her on my second draft.
– Esther Vincent

Much appreciation to Ursula Pflug, who brought an 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

I Read Canadian: Reviews of novels by Su Sokol, Nina Munteanu and Kate Kelly

Back in the aughts I reviewed (mainly) speculative fiction for print and online publications including the Peterborough Examiner, Strange Horizons, the Internet Review of Science Fiction and others. My feeling was that these publications provided higher quality exposure for authors than Amazon. Most of the reviews I wrote for The Examiner were reprinted in David Hartwell’s New York Review of Science Fiction and in this way I did my bit to raise the profile of Canadian speculative fiction south of the border. Authors I reviewed include Phyllis Gotlieb, Emily Pohl-Weary, Nalo Hopkinson, Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, Paula Johanson, Brett Savory, Mark Frutkin, Cory Doctorow, Karl Schroeder, Daniel A. Rabuzzi, Dave Nickle, Kate Story and others.

Below are links to more recent reviews of Canadian Fiction at The Ottawa Review of Books and Herizons Magazine. It’s nice to be back at Herizons. They published my short fiction decades ago, a literary story titled “The Secret Apartment” that I also illustrated, and a wonderful review of my first novel, Green Music, by Marguerite Andersen.

A Harsh and Private Beauty by Kate Kelly

This fascinating novel includes much in the way of insight into Capone’s Chicago and the ways in which young men may become involved in gangs when there is little else on the table. A fine book, hopping back and forth through time, showing us how even loving tightly knit families both coddle and thwart us, sometimes both at once.

Run J Run by Su Sokol

My review of Sokol’s literary sophomore novel appears in the print edition of Herizons Magazine. (Summer 2020, Vol. 34, No. 2)

So often in a profit-driven entertainment industry, whether film or literature, the impetus of the story is unravelment, but it’s clear Sokol wants to show us people who are doing their best, no matter what the odds.

A new review of Nina Munteanu’s latest science fiction novel, A Diary In The Age of Water will appear in Herizon’s summer issue. I’ll post more info about that soon.

CJRU Interview with Kate Gill

CJRU The Scope at Ryerson
All My Books: Interview with Ursula Pflug for Seeds (12-16-2020)

Here is the link to the edited version of my interview with Kate Gill at CJRU The Scope at Ryerson. Kate was a terrific interviewer, the time flew by. Thanks so much for having me, All My Books.

Inanna Fall Launch: Thursday November 19

Please join us at the Inanna Fall Launch on Thursday November 19th. I`ll be reading from Seeds, my third story collection. Seeds has received lovely reviews both at home and south of the border, including a starred review in PW.

I’ll be reading with Carol Rose GoldenEagle, Caro Soles, Laurie Ray Hill and Lisa de Nikolits. There will also be a live Q and A.

On Wednesday I was part of an event at WordUp Barrie, presenting with my colleague and dear friend Candas Jane Dorsey. Here is the YouTube VIDEO of our readings, the Q and A, and the wonderful Open Mic. What a delightful supportive community there is in Barrie. I read an excerpt from Judy, a pandemic story in Seeds. It`s one of my first published stories, appearing in the still-running This Magazine over thirty years ago.

And here is another recent Inanna video — I read from Judy here as well.

Enjoy the recordings!

Blog Post: Amchitka and the Birth of Greenpeace

My mom took a printmaking course at Three Schools of Art. The same night, my aunt M and I studied pottery with the brilliant Isolde who knew my grandmother and had a live/work studio in a basement in the Markham village. After class M and I would pick up Christiane at Three Schools and we’d go for tea and soup to one of the Hungarian restaurants on Bloor Street before heading home.

One of my mom’s prints hangs on the wall, here in Karen DuToit and Heinz Kornagel’s apartment on MacPherson. Everyone’s apartments and houses looked like this back then, although Karen and Heinz were better at making the sparseness beautiful than most. When did we stop living like this and start burying ourselves in stuff?

The ship in the print is named Greenpeace. It was the first Greenpeace expedition, to Amchitka, in the Aleutian Islands off the coast of Alaska. My mother was inspired by the story and created the image in one of her first prints.

“In 1969 the U.S. conducted nuclear tests on the tiny island of Amchitka. Fearing the blast would result in an earthquake, thousands of protesters gathered at the U.S.-Canada border in order to stop the test. Their protests failed as the U.S. detonated its bomb and then announced plans for another test in 1971. As a result, a group of concerned Vancouver environmentalists formed the Don’t Make A Wave committee whose goal was to stop the second test.

“Despite two separate attempts, Greenpeace never made it to the test zone and was unable to stop the U.S. from completing its testing at Amchitka. However, Greenpeace succeeded in causing a flurry of public outcry in the international community. Five months after its voyage to Amchitka, the United States announced it was halting all nuclear tests in the Aleutian Islands. Amchitka was later declared a bird sanctuary.”

Photo by Karen DuToit

More on the Birth of Greenpeace