Ursula Pflug's Blog

July 14, 2016

Award Season is upon us!

I’m very pleased to announce that Playground of Lost Toys is on the Aurora shortlist for Best English Related Work, alongside anthologies published by Edge, CZP, and Bundoran. It’s a great list and Colleen and I are honoured to be on it.

Voting for this year’s awards began on June 15th. CSFFA (Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association) members have until Midnight, EDT on July 23rd to cast their ballots. Membership is open to all Canadians and Landed Immigrants.

The awards will be given out at Canvention 36, hosted by When Words Collide in Calgary, Alberta on the weekend of August 12-14th. I may be able to attend, and if so, hope to see you there.

If you plan to vote, please think of us!

As I mentioned, three stories from Playground made it to the 2016 Sunburst Longlist for Short Stories. Catherine MacLeod’s fascinating story, “Hide and Seek” made it to the short list. Congratulations, Catherine!

Winners will be announced on September 14, 2016 and will receive a cash prize of $1,000 for the Adult and Young Adult categories and $500 for the Short Story category, as well as hand-crafted sunburst medallions. The top-notch jurors for the 2016 award are Timothy Anderson, Sylvie Bérard, Virginia O’Dine, Dale Sproule, and Myna Wallin. For more information, see The Sunburst Award Society.

Last but not least, Selena Chambers’ “The Neurastheniac” from Joe Pulver Sr.’s Cassilda’s Song has made it to the WFA shortlist. I’m proud to be in this intriguing book with my story, “Stones, Maybe”, and wish Joe and Selena all the best.

The awards will be presented during the World Fantasy Convention, held October 27-30, 2016 at the Hyatt Regency in Columbus OH. The Lifetime Achievement Awards, presented annually to individuals who have demonstrated outstanding service to the fantasy field, will go to David G. Hartwell and Andrzej Sapkowski.

We miss you, David.

For more info check out my web site
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Published on July 14, 2016 06:55 • 2 views • Tags: aurora-award, canvention-36, sunburst-awards, when-words-collide, world-fantasy-award

January 6, 2016

Jan 2016 News--Ursula Pflug:

Book Launch: The Toronto launch for the anthology Playground of Lost Toys (edited by Ursula Pflug and Colleen Anderson for Exile) will take place at The Supermarket in Kensington Market, Toronto on Sunday the 17th of January from 4-6 pm. Readers will include Chris Kuriata, Nathan Adler, Lisa Carreiro, Geoff Cole, Joe Davies, Rati Mehrotra and Kate Story.

Creative Writing Classes: Ursula Pflug has two 8 wk creative writing courses starting in January, on Thursday the 14th at Trent University in Peterborough between 7-9 p.m. (with Derek Newman-Stille) and on Thursday the 21st at the Campellford Resource Centre, from 10-12 am. To register for the Campellford class please call Grace Grant at 705-653-5161

Info about the Trent course:

Short Story Sale: Ursula Pflug's short story, "Stones, Maybe", appears in the just-released anthology Cassilda's Song edited by Berlin-based writer and editor Joe Pulver Sr. (Chaosium, 2015). The book is comprised of stories, all by women, inspired by Robert W. Chambers' King in Yellow Mythos and has been receiving great reviews from Laird Barron and Des Lewis among others.

For more info: http://www.amazon.com/Cassildas-Song-...

Interview: Ursula Pflug was recently interviewed by Derek Newman-Stille for his award winning radio show Speculating Canada. That interview, about writing, editing and more, can be heard here:
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Published on January 06, 2016 07:34 • 24 views

September 22, 2015

It's been a nice year for short story sales, especially as I didn’t seek them out–two reprints and two new pieces. Joe Pulver asked me for a story for his all-women King in Yellow anthology Cassilda's Song, and I sent him a piece called “Stones, Maybe”. It’s part of my rural eastern Ontario oeuvre. Lucas Law and Susan Toy asked me for a story for their new anthology, Strangers Among Us. Strangers is a fundraiser for mental health, and as such is reminiscent of my 2014 Hidden Brook Press anthology, They Have To Take You In, which raised awareness and funds for The Dana Fund for women in transition, administered by Gordon Langill of the local (Kawartha Pine Ridge) CMHA. Strangers will launch next year at When Worlds Collide in Calgary.

It was great to be interviewed at Hugo-winning Lightspeed, and to see a reprint of Python, a short story much loved by editors. Joanne Merriam at Upper Rubber Boot Books took a reprint of “Airport Shoes” for her new anthology The Museum of All Things Awesome and That Go Boom, due out in 2016. “Airport Shoes” first appeared in Strange Horizons.

Here’s the TOC for Museum:

Table of Contents:

Khadija Anderson, “Observational Couplets upon returning to Los Angeles from Outer Space”
Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo, “Photograph of a Secret”
Kristin Bock, “I Wish I Could Write a Poem about Pole-Vaulting Robots”
Alicia Cole, “Asteroid Orphan”
Jim Comer, “Soldier’s Coat”
James Dorr, “Bubba Claus Conquers the Martians”
Aidan Doyle, “Mr. Nine and the Gentleman Ghost”
Tom Doyle, “Crossing Borders”
Estíbaliz Espinosa, “Dissidence” (translated by Neil Anderson)
Kendra Fortmeyer, “Squaline”
Miriam Bird Greenberg, “Brazilian Telephone”
Benjamin Grossberg, “The Space Traveler and Runaway Stars”
Julie Bloss Kelsey, two scifaiku
Nick Kocz, “The Last American Tiger”
David Kopaska-Merkel, “Captain Marshmallow”
Ken Liu, “Nova Verba, Mundus Novus”
Kelly Luce, “Ideal Head of a Woman”
Tim Major, “Read/Write Head”
Katie Manning, “Baba Yaga’s Answer”
Laurent McAllister, “Kapuzine and the Wolf: A Hortatory Tale”
Martha McCollough, “valley of the talking dolls” and “adventures of cartoon bee”
Marc McKee, “A Moment in Fill-In-The-Blank City”
Sequoia Nagamatsu, “Headwater LLC”
Jerry Oltion, “A Star Is Born”
Richard King Perkins II, “The Sleeper’s Requiem”
Ursula Pflug, “Airport Shoes”
Leonard Richardson, “Let Us Now Praise Awesome Dinosaurs”
Erica L. Satifka, “Thirty-Six Questions Propounded by the Human-Powered Plasma Bomb in the Moments Before Her Imminent Detonation”
G. A. Semones, “Never Forget Some Things”
Matthew Sanborn Smith, “The Empire State Building Strikes Back!”
Christina Sng, “Medusa in LA”
J. J. Steinfeld, “The Loudest Sound Imaginable”
Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam, “The Wanderers”
Lucy Sussex, “A Sentimental, Sordid Education”
Sonya Taaffe, “And Black Unfathomable Lakes”
Mary Turzillo, “Pride”
Deborah Walker, “Sea Monkey Mermaid”
Nick Wood, “The Girl Who Called the World”
K. Ceres Wright, “The Haunting of M117”
Ali Znaidi, “A Dolphin Scene” and “Australian Horoscope”
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Published on September 22, 2015 11:07 • 20 views

September 3, 2015

Not long ago Des Lewis wrote a review of my 2008 story collection After the Fires. I'll be at Word on the Street in Toronto on the 27th of September, first at the Inanna booth from 2-4 signing copies of my illustrated flash novel Motion Sickness and then at the Tightrope booth where I'll be signing copies of After the Fires. Des writes amazingly thoughtful and literate reviews on his British Fantasy Award nominated site.

Here is an excerpt describing the first story, filmed by Carol McBride as Waterfront, available for viewing elsewhere on this site.

"Before Mum died she used to forget things all the time. I can't remember what it was that killed her in the end."

Dear U, A series of letters from one to another, the same writer and the same recipient, with no intervening replies, giving a rhythm of meaning, a rhythm of life being collected together, about ‘rodents’ that came to check up on us, about the the clutter, about the surfaces upon which the letters are written, the other people named in that deadpan or oblique rhythm, and the tree or more than one tree with these letters about them … or on them. Love, Des.
ps: the last book of yours I read was fronted with a story with ‘water’ in the title unless my own memory has already lapsed at last.

Read the rest:
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Published on September 03, 2015 07:24 • 12 views • Tags: after-the-fires, des-lewis, inanna-publications, story-collection, tightrope-books, word-on-the-street
The Ulysses Man The Ulysses ManThe Ulysses Man by Shane Joseph

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Migrants are everywhere in the news these days—9,000 minors fled Honduras in 2015 so far. Daily we are confronted by stories of young Syrians escaping war by overcrowded boat across the Mediterranean, a journey that has cost the lives of thousands. As we in privileged nations in Europe and North America struggle to come to terms with the human rights issues involved we need to remember that people, if they are desperate enough, will find ways in spite of the risks. Shane Joseph’s novel The Ulysses Man describes the journey of one such migrant; Martin James is a young man in Sri Lanka of burgher ancestry who is turned down each time he applies to come to Canada due to systemic racism and in the end arrives via "the back door". Upon arrival he works under the table in a factory in Toronto, staying in a scruffy dorm he shares with many other illegals willing to work for less than minimum wage just to have a chance for a new start in Canada. After many trials the protagonist gains his license and maneuvers his way up the ladder in real estate. While this novel is not autobiographical the author Shane Joseph is a Sri Lankan immigrant and the first part of the book is dense with rich evocations of town and country, family and social relations. We feel in particular for James’s mother, a kindhearted and sacrificial woman whose struggles largely go unremarked upon by her family. When, in Toronto, the protagonist enters a relationship with a damaged young Rosedale woman from a wealthy family our happiness for him is bittersweet—we miss the more vivid friends and family he left behind and perhaps that is Joseph’s intention. James may be making more money than he had ever imagined possible and dating a girl from Rosedale but we are struck by what he may have lost along the way. This book joins many others in describing the struggles of legal and illegal immigrants, and opens our eyes to a Sri Lanka that is beautifully described. Joseph is part of the lively literary scene in Coburg, publisher at Blue Denim Press which released my 2013 novel The Alphabet Stones, long-listed for the ReLit Award.

View all my reviews
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Published on September 03, 2015 06:45 • 5 views

August 19, 2015

My short story Python is live on Lightspeed. This story had been reprinted more than any other piece of short fiction I've written, possibly excluding The Water Man. John Joseph Adams was lovely to work with, courteous and helpful. He altered the contract so the story could stay up on Keith Brooke's Infinity Plus. Assistant editor Jude Griffin interviewed me as well, and was a joy to work with. Thank you all. Also, Rei Murakami did the cover for the August issue. I really like her work, and she was one of the people we looked at for cover art for Playground of Lost Toys, forthcoming from Exile this fall..
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Published on August 19, 2015 04:57 • 7 views

July 16, 2015

Slamtario 2015, presents a sci-fi / fantasy workshop with Ursula Pflug. Saturday, July 18, 12pm at Market Hall Performing Arts Centre in Peterborough.
$5 or pwyc
Motion Sickness by Ursula Pflug
Robots and Unicorns: Speculative Poetry Workshop

What do robots have for breakfast? Where does the last surviving unicorn live? If you were going to travel to another dimension, which method would you use: a spaceship, a portal under a waterfall or an invocation found in an ancient book? Include science fiction, fantasy and horror elements in your poetry and prose. We will do exercises, have time to write, read and share our work.This fun, relaxed workshop will support you in exploring the outer reaches of your journey as a writer. We will also discuss paying markets for speculative poetry.

Ursula Pflug is the internationally published author and editor of three novels, two short story collections and two edited volumes of short fiction. Her award-winning speculative prose poems have been published in Canada, the US and the UK. She has taught creative writing at the Campellford Resource Centre, Loyalist College, Trinity Square Video, The Word is Wild Literary Festival, the San Miguel Writers Conference, Trent University and elsewhere.
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Published on July 16, 2015 08:46 • 10 views • Tags: robots-and-unicorns, slamtario, speculative-poetry, workshop

April 25, 2015

I been adding works to the Aurora Award Eligibility lists as I do most years if I can find the time. This year I have added stories and poems from They Have To Take You In. The Hidden Brook Press CMHA fundraiser anthology I edited last year includes original speculative stories and poems including Robert Runte’s "The Missing Elephant," Tapanga Koe’s "Orange and Amber," Michael Matheson’s "Zhezhi," Robert Priest’s "About the Creation of Life on Earth," Colleen Anderson’s "Family Tree" and Donna Langevin’s "Lethe." The last three are eligible in the poem/song category. Please consider nominating these worthy writers before the deadline at the end of April.

"Around the Gyre," my full length essay on Ruth Ozeki’s novel A Tale for the Time Being appeared in The New York Review of Science Fiction in September, 2014. It is eligible under Best Related Work (I think. Frankly, the categories are a little confusing.) The writing of this essay was funded by the Ontario Arts Council. and you can read it

Here’a an excerpt:

“In Japan there is a mythical being, the jishin namazu, or Earthquake Catfish. He punishes human transgressors to his realm by causing earthquakes and is only held in check by a large stone wielded by a minor deity, who pins the kanmae-ishi or stone to the catfish’s head. Following this thread of story, we might surmise that the earthquake which caused the March 2011 disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi plant happened because the caretaker deity of the shrine had taken a nap or left for a meeting. The meltdown occurred because the stone was understaffed.

The catfish has a relative or alter ego or some such, the way these things go in myth, called the yobaoshi namazu or World Rectifying Catfish. Ozeki tells us that
belief in the world rectifying catfish was especially prevalent during the early nineteenth century, a period characterized by a weak, ineffective government and a powerful business class, as well as extreme and anomalous weather patterns, crop failures, famine, hoarding, urban riots, and mass religious pilgrimages, which often ended in mob violence. The world rectifying catfish targeted the business class, the 1 percent, whose rampant practices of price-fixing, hoarding, and graft had led to economic stagnation and political corruption. The angry catfish would cause an earthquake, wreaking havoc and destruction, and in order to rebuild, the wealthy would have to let go their assets, which would create jobs in salvage, rubble clearing, and construction.

Which catfish caused the accident, the “jishin namazu” or the “yobaoshi namazu”? Is it true, as a December 2013 Reuters article tells us, that homeless men in Sendai are being “recruited” off the streets by yakuza gangsters and coerced to work for minimum wage, on the largest nuclear cleanup in history?

The World Rectifying Catfish, seemingly, would have something to say about that, as it can hardly be described as an improvement to an already dire situation.

In August 2012, I traveled to Japan with my older sister and my niece, 15 years old, close to Nao’s age. It was over a year after the Fukishima disaster, and we wouldn’t go north of Tokyo, we promised our nearest and dearest, not even to take a quick look around before we headed back south where, allegedly, the fruits and vegetables were still safe to eat. Unfortunately, the numbers depend, as is always the case in these matters, on whose readings you believe, and what their vested interests are.

My niece is one of the many Japanophiles of her generation, having grown up like my own kids watching Ultraman and Sailor Moon and, later on, Neon Genesis Evangelion. She read stacks of manga to the exclusion of much else and eventually pursued this interest into a study of the language. I learned that she knew more than she was giving away when, standing in Tokyo Station one afternoon trying to decipher the way to our bullet train, she removed her ear-buds and said “That way,” calmly pointing to one of the many tentacle-like corridors.

“But how do you know?” I asked. For all I could tell a little map-fairy had whispered the answer in her ear.

“Because it says so.”

“Where does it say so?”

She pointed to one of the countless signs encrusting the overhead beams.

“Right there.”

“You can read kanji?”

My niece nodded. “Some.”

Before we went to Kyoto, we visited the old capital of Kamakura, a town south of Tokyo boasting both a large, hollow Buddha (you can get inside its head) and the important Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gū shrine (鶴岡八幡). We visited a man, a friend of my aunt’s, who has been living in Japan for almost 20 years and has learned basic kanji, which encompasses over a thousand characters even though it is the short version taught to children prior to middle school. As with cursive in North America, the longer versions are not taught as much as previously, hence Ruth-in-the-book, Nao and her parents spend a fair bit of time researching the meaning of some of the rarer characters.

A Tale for the Time Being includes footnotes, (some of them in kanji) and as such resembles another of my favorite novels of recent years, Roberto Bolaño’s The Savage Detectives... the contemporary world is reflected by contemporary authors: that, arguably, is what novels are for and what they do best. They do it better than television or film. It’s the way they can get inside things: a character’s head, the time in the world which the characters are inhabiting (the time that the time beings are inhabiting, as Ozeki would have it).

The footnotes in Bolaño’s book tell us wonderful things, such as which characters in Los Detectives Salvajes are stand-ins for which real-life poets in the Mexican infra-realism literary movement, called Visceral Realism in the book. Another thing the novels share (aside from being immersively rich, dense, and layered) is that both boast a main character, also a writer, who is barely distinguishable from the author. In both cases the writer has the same name as the book’s author, although Bolaño’s poet protagonist has a different first name. Bolaño’s trick was also employed by Bret Easton Ellis in Lunar Park>, which was nominated for the World Fantasy Award in 2006. As writers we exist, of course, both within and without our work, and blurring and/or exploring this line can be delicious for the author and intriguing for the reader.”

The rest is available at the link above.

Additionally, my 2014 single author collection,Harvesting the Moon and Other Stories
, is eligible in the Best Related Work category. H the M was published by the rightly acclaimed British genre press PS and illustrated by award winning Quebec illustrator Francois Thisdale. Thisdale’s gorgeous cover art is eligible in the Artist category. It was a dream come true to have an illustrator of Thisdale’s calibre for my book; please support this incredible artist and vote for him. Below is a lovely image about writing from his website.

Thanks so much and happy voting!
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Published on April 25, 2015 04:06 • 22 views • Tags: aurora-awards, francois-thisdale, harvesting-the-moon, ruth-ozeki

March 16, 2015

Remember, award winning critic and blogger Derek Newman-Stille and I are teaching a creative writing class that begins this week. We are teaching it through Trent's Continuing Education department, which means it is open to all community members (not just current university students). So if you are interested in creative writing or even if you just want to try something new, make sure to sign up today.

While this class is called Writing Speculative Fiction, it leans heavily towards "mainstream." For example, in Thursday's inaugural class on character, it's wonderful if you want to write about a robot or an alien, but it isn't necessary. We expect most people will focus on humans!

As well, it's fine to sign up for one or two classes if that's what you can afford right now or if it's all you're interested in. Signing up for all eight classes is optional.

Looking forward to seeing you on Thursday night!

Call 705-748-1736 to register.
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Published on March 16, 2015 08:12 • 42 views • Tags: classes, continuing-education, creative-writing-workshop, derek-newman-stille, trent

February 21, 2015

I wrote a few words and posted some pics on my home page about my amazing trip to the San Miguel Writers' Conference in Mexico.

The link is here

Please enjoy and leave comments!
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Published on February 21, 2015 08:41 • 31 views • Tags: casa-azul, san-miguel-writers-conference