Ursula Pflug's Blog, page 2

November 26, 2013

The Oakel Rel Universe’s Lynda Williams and David Lott recently ran a wonderful interview with me in their Campfire Column, asking about my thoughts on Optimistic SF. Their Reality Skimming page promotes optimistic SF — stories that inspire us to fight the good fight for another day. Commitment to larger projects, the writer’s sense of mission, joy of reading, the creative campfire of the SF community and the love of deserving protagonists are celebrated. It is also a news hub for content related to the Okal Rel Saga written by Lynda Williams.

My sister and I, a year apart, were childhood reading buddies. Sometimes, we literally read the same books at the same time, over each other’s shoulders. We switched from British juvenile fantasy to juvenile and YA science fiction in grade six, discovering Heinlein and going on from there. We were nerdy science lovers and SF offered a community in which that didn’t mean social ostracism, as, I think, it still can. Science fiction has often been called a literature of ideas; it’s imaginative scope, often in terms of setting, appealed hugely to my curiosity and thirst for adventure. I love to travel off the beaten path and some of my thirst for the unfamiliar surely stemmed from my reading material. When I was a little older, I was impressed by how writers including Maureen McHugh and Ursula K. Leguin explored issues including gender and economic disparity. Such works can give us hope–what if, in other places and times, folks have found solutions, however provisional, to problems we are still struggling with, here on earth. It doesn’t matter if they’re invented–the important part is the hope. It’s difficult to act without hope.

Here is the entirety of my October 16 interview

They also decided to run Painting Dream, Chapter Nine from my first novel. Painting Dream will be broken up into eight installments, each one posted on a Tuesday. Here for example is the link to the November 26 excerpt from Green Music. It’s the third in the series.

Around the same time I was first corresponding with Lynda and David about participating, Rich Dana at Obsolete Press asked to run the same excerpt in issue # 7 of his wonderful Obsolete Magazine, a little while before it sadly folded. I first started corresponding with Rich because he had been running articles of my daughter’s, and back then I was helping out with Kelly’s correspondence.

Green Music is ten years old, but one of the nice things about working in the small press is that books can have a longer shelf life than they might if you have a Big Six publisher.

I saw Lynda in Calgary during the summer at When Words Collide and thanked her for running the excerpt. I told her that Rich had recently run an excerpt from Green Music as well, and that it was interesting to me that two different editors who were fond of the book wanted to shine a little light on it within a couple of months of each other, even though it’s a decade old.

“All moments exist contemporaneously now,” Lynda said. Or maybe she said, “All times and all dimensions are merging now.” Or maybe it was, “We can now read all books, no matter what dimension they were first published in.”

If I’d written it down, I’d know for sure. I’m being silly, a little, but whatever she actually said, I was completely charmed.

I also got to meet illustrator Richard Bartrop at WWC. He is responsible for the charming drawing of Green Turtle Ale, in hand blown bottles that look like they’re made of beach glass.Green Music
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Published on November 26, 2013 08:18 • 8 views • Tags: excerpt, green-music, interview, lynda-williams, oakel-rel-universe, reality-skimming

August 8, 2013

Here is my schedule at When Words Collide in Calgary on Saturday! It's going to be amazing.The books (hot off the press) will be available at the launch but also at Edge Publishing in the Dealers' Room.

Saturday 11 AM – Suite 1062
More Fantastic Readings
Dave Duncan, Amber Hayward, Ursula Pflug

Saturday 5 PM – Lincolnshire 1
The Alphabet Stones
Ursula Pflug

Saturday 7 PM – Surrey
Editor For Hire
Robert Runte, Jodi McIssac, Nina Munteanu, Brian Hades, Ursula Pflug

Saturday 8 PM – Clarence-Phaeton
Autograph Session (2 Hours)
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Published on August 08, 2013 10:51 • 33 views • Tags: author-reading, book-launch, panels, the-alphabet-stones, when-words-collide

July 18, 2013

The Alphabet Stones is now on Goodreads!
Also, Amazon advance orders are now available!

The Alphabet Stones is about three families, one of them supernatural, and how they intertwine—with each other and with the land, a moody eastern Ontario of communes, music festivals and cedar swamps; stony farms and muddy rivers. This is a story about enchantment—how the land enchants us, how we enchant one another—why it’s necessary that we do, and dangerous when we don’t. Like 14 year old Jody, we learn not just the names of trees and stars and birds, but also of “the gate between worlds,” a place she stumbles across in a forgotten back pasture, both ordinary and powerfully mysterious.

“Pflug sets out to do no small thing: worry the voice out of stones, the magic out of secret rooms; trace the shifting shape of a shadow childhood. This is an enchanting book, quietly spell-binding. A minor miracle.”-Tim Wynne-Jones

“The Alphabet Stones does what a good fantasy is supposed to do: take on difficult subjects without losing the story’s underlying sense of wonder. This is an absorbing, modern day fairy tale and I loved every moment of it.” – Charles de Lint

“The Alphabet Stones is an engaging story exploring love, loss, spiritual expansion, coming of (any) age, and the enduring landscapes of relationships. Set in rural, eastern Ontario, the story is rooted in the land. Its characters, whether Canadian, Anishinaabe or a family of fairies, are born out of intimate connections with place. This is Pflug’s storytelling at its finest – she quickly and completely draws the reader into her world, and then without us knowing, shifts our gaze back onto the most vulnerable parts of ourselves. I fell into the world of The Alphabet Stones so completely, I found myself not wanting to leave.” – Leanne Simpson

“A new Ursula Pflug book is a rare and welcome event, and The Alphabet Stones does not disappoint. Delivered in Pflug’s trademark edgy prose style, the novel is filled with a beautiful and terrible nostalgia for the magic that is seen and coveted, sought and never reclaimed…” – Candas Jane Dorsey
The Alphabet Stones by Ursula Pflug
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Published on July 18, 2013 05:46 • 28 views • Tags: advance-order, amazon, the-alphabet-stones

July 11, 2013

My new novel, The Alphabet Stones will be released in September by Coburg micropress Blue Denim. I’ve received really amazing cover blurbs from Tim Wynne-Jones, Mathew Cheney, Jan Thornhill, Leanne Simpson, Charles de Lint, Bruce Kauffman and Candas Jane Dorsey, among others. I’m grateful to my esteemed friends and acquaintances for their kindness and generosity. Thank you all so much! Herewith is Candas’s blurb, and I’ll share some of the others closer to the publication date.

"A new Ursula Pflug book is a rare and welcome event, and The Alphabet Stones does not disappoint. Delivered in Pflug’s trademark edgy prose style, the novel is filled with a beautiful and terrible nostalgia for the magic that is seen and coveted, sought and never reclaimed…"
–Candas Jane Dorsey

I will be reading in Coburg at Northumberland County’s Word On The Street, at Cat Sass in Norwood, and in Toronto at SFContario among other locations; I’ll post details on each launch later in the summer.

I’m super excited as this book has been part of me for almost half my life! I brought an early draft to a workshop facilitated by Judith Merril at Trent University’s Peter Robinson College in 1986. Based on some expansions and revisions I subsequently made, I submitted it to the inaugural (and only–as it turned out) Descant Novella Contest, where it was shortlisted.

When Kate Story and I shared a table at The Toronto Small Press Fair a few years ago, Descant editor Karen Mulhallen stopped by and described how I had brought hard copy of my entry to her house on Admiral Road, barefoot, with a baby on my hip. I must have been house-sitting for my father; I can’t imagine how I’d have gotten from our apartment on Queen West to her house with baby Edward on my hip. Maybe Karen was embroidering when she added the part about me being barefoot!

In 1987 we moved to the country near Peterborough and I applied for an Ontario Arts Council Works-In-Progress grant to turn the novella into a novel. I overwrote when I revised and it turned into the classic four hundred pounder unpublishable first novel, and eventually I got tired of the rejections and put it away. Our beautiful daughter was born. I grew vegetables and hung laundry; I wrote and published all kinds of short stories in Canada, the US and the UK, in wonderful venues including BBR, Leviathan, Tesseracts, On Spec, Transversions, The Nine Muses, LCRW and Strange Horizons; four plays I wrote or co-wrote were produced; I went back to writing reviews, this time of books instead of art; and I got a draft or two closer to the final of my novel Green Music.

The new millennium seemed like a good time to get The Alphabet Stones back out, or Drastic Travels, as it was by then called. When I did, I understood that the original kernel was just as wonderful as Karen and Candas and Judith had said it was, and that what I needed to do was get back to that. I needed to cut away everything I’d added, everything except the core story of the three families and the alphabet stones themselves.

The original inspiration had been a dream I’d had the year before my son was born, a dream so resonant it demanded to be written, in one form or another. The form it eventually took was this novel, but the dream itself is also in the book, only slightly revised. The novel takes place near Perth, where I spent a lot of time as a teenager. The stony fields and cedar swamps of Eastern Ontario are so much a part of me by now that it’s as if they seeped out of my pores onto the pages of this book, a book I don’t think I could have written had we not moved back to the land.

I remember how when I told Karen I was close to the end but it had taken me twenty-five years she said, “Everyone’s got a book like that.”
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Published on July 11, 2013 06:20 • 87 views • Tags: book-launch, candas-jane-dorsey, novel, the-alphabet-stones, the-merril-collection

July 5, 2013

They Have To Take You In, our Indiegogo campaign for the anthology fundraiser is now closed. The book's aim is to benefit women and families in transition. We are grateful to Richard Grove at Hidden Brook Press, who is donating all royalties from sales to our beneficiary. Thanks to Gord Langill, who suggested and wrote about CMHA’s The Dana Fund, a no overhead fund applicants may use to meet any pressing needs; Tapanga Koe, for helping me put together the Indiegogo website, and the amazing authors who have contributed signed books, as well as poetry and fiction to the campaign! Our heroes include Leanne Simpson, Linda Rogers, Tim Becket, Jan Thornhill, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, and many more! I'll be posting about more of our amazing authors when I get caught up on the selection process.

This book will go ahead; HBP will cover production costs, and royalties will go to the CMHA’s Dana Fund.

We were fundraising for authors. We netted over five hundred dollars, which may not seem like much, as it was just 10% of our goal, but as we were on the flexible funding model we received our monies regardless.

I wanted to be able to pay honorariums to new authors in particular, and there is an important reason for this. Please hear me out.

As Canadian writers we are competing not just with Canadian best sellers but with US best sellers, published in far greater numbers due to the US’s higher population. Many beautiful, original and fascinating books are published in Canada each year that receive little or no attention and aren’t stocked in Chapters for a variety of reasons—a sad fact which makes it hard to reach an audience. As authors we are struggling to play a numbers game in which we often make only a dollar or two per book sold. Hence the Canadian government has created funding programs designed to help level the playing field–programs administered by the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts, among others.

When we were living on an isolated bush farm with small children, the funding I received from the CC and the OAC helped us to pay our hyrdro bills (exorbitant in a drafty, under-insulated farm house) and enabled us to eat. Eat something other than what I grew, anyway.

But there’s more.

To access funding programs, emerging writers must have three paid publications under their belts. These can be difficult to acquire–particularly in fiction.

That’s one of my aims with this anthology. I dream that somewhere, a talented, hard working writer will have work appear in They Have To Take You In. He or she will acquire that all important final paid writing credit and be eligible, for the first time, to apply for a grant. Receiving the grant, she’ll be able to spend the time to finish her first book, one that may change people’s lives.

And hers for sure.

This writer was me; she could be you or someone you know. I may never meet him or her, but that’s one of my dreams with this anthology; I want to give the gift to someone else that was given to me. I’m not sure anymore what my first three paid fiction credits even were—I could probably sort it out if I went through my archives, but I won’t be doing that today.

The Indiegogo campaign is closed but we are still accepting donations at my Gmail address via PayPal.Silvia Moreno-Garcia
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Published on July 05, 2013 06:49 • 28 views • Tags: anthology, indiegogo, they-have-to-take-you-in

June 10, 2013

Cat Sass Literary Nights: Saturday June 15, 5-7 pm Leah Bobet, Shane Joseph, Wes Ryan

Please join us at Cat Sass on Saturday June 15th from 5-7 pm to hear three wonderful writers! We may have a surprise fourth guest so stay tuned! Cat Sass in Norwood is at 4255 Hwy. 7, 705 639-5494

Leah Bobet is the author of Above, a young adult urban fantasy novel. She is the editor and publisher of Ideomancer Speculative Fiction, a resident editor at the Online Writing Workshop for Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror, and a contributor to speculative web serial Shadow Unit. Her short fiction has been reprinted in several Year’s Best anthologies; Further short work appears in the anthologies Witches: Wicked, Wild and Wonderful; Chilling Tales; Clockwork Phoenix; The Mammoth Book of Extreme Fantasy; and TEL: Stories. She is a frequent contributor to On Spec, Realms of Fantasy, and Strange Horizons. Her poetry has been nominated for the Rhysling and Pushcart Prizes, and she is the recipient of the 2003 Lydia Langstaff Memorial Prize. Visit her at: http://leahbobet.com/

Shane Joseph is a graduate of the Humber School for Writers where he studied under Giller Prize and Canadian Governor General’s Award winning author David Adams Richards. Redemption in Paradise, his first novel, was published in 2004. Fringe Dwellers, his first collection of short stories, was released in 2008, and is now in its second edition. Shane’s third work of fiction, After the Flood, a dystopian novel of hope, was released in 2009 and won the Canadian Christian Writing Awards best novel in the futuristic/fantasy category in 2010. His short fiction has appeared in literary journals and anthologies internationally. His blog at is widely syndicated. His latest novel, The Ulysses Man, was released in 2011. Visit Shane at: www.shanejoseph.com

Wes Ryan is a multi-faceted artist with a penchant for combining spoken-word and dance into genre-mashing performances confronting mediocrity. The current Peterborough slam-poetry champ, he has represented Peterborough at the Canadian Individual Poetry Slam and a national team member for three years. Since suffering a brain injury in 2007, Wes has performed shows about living on social margins and facilitated workshops encouraging youth to find empowerment by sharing their narratives. Currently studying Social Service Work at Fleming College, he is also a member of the Centre for Gender and Social Justice and the Peterborough Poetry Collective.Leah Bobet
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Published on June 10, 2013 05:22 • 37 views • Tags: cat-sass-reading-series, leah-bobet, shane-joseph, wes-ryan

May 24, 2013

Three wonderful writers will appear at Cat Sass Literary Nights on Tuesday, May 28. This event is funded by The Canada Council for the Arts and will run at the Norwood coffeehouse from 7-9 pm.

Canadian writer and artist Heather Spears was educated at the University of British Columbia, The Vancouver School of Art and the University of Copenhagen. She has lived in Denmark since 1962. She has held over 75 solo exhibitions and published 11 collections of poetry and 4 novels, The Creative Eye (07), the first of a series on visual perception, and 3 books of drawings. She has won numerous awards in Canada including The Governor-General’s Award for Poetry. Her latest collection, I can still draw (08), was short-listed for the Lowther Memorial Award. She travels widely and has drawn at many international festivals, and in hospitals in the Middle East, Europe and America. Spears will also be at Sadleir House in Peterborough on the previous evening (May 27th at 7 pm), presenting a CD of her drawings from the Intifada. Donations will be accepted for Daughters for Life, a foundation that supports young women from Gaza to pursue their education.

Margaret Slavin Dyment has a collection of fiction, Drawing the Spaces (Orca) and two chapbooks of poetry: I Didn't Get Used To It (Ouroboros), and Tracing A Line (Ekstasis). Also published is a volume of journal essays from two years' bus travel (2004-2006) among Canadian Quakers. She founded the Victoria School of Writing, and in 2000-2001 was a writer-in-residence at Trent University, Peterborough, Ontario. She continues to write poetry and fiction and for Transition Town and Quaker publications. She is forever completing a second collection of fiction.

Kate Story is a writer and performer originally from Newfoundland; she now lives in Peterborough, Ontario. She has been twice nominated for the Ontario Arts Council's KM Hunter Artist Award, and her writing has been a finalist for the CBC Literary Award; her debut novel Blasted received honourable mention for the Sunburst Award for Canadian Literature of the Fantastic and was nominated for the ReLit Award. Always the bridesmaid. Wrecked Upon This Shore is her second novel. She is currently working on a young adult fantasy novel, and a silly novel for immature adults. She is also known as an actor, choreographer and dancer. Story appeared at Cat Sass Literary Nights in 2012 and is looking forward to a return engagement.

Date: Tuesday, May 28, 2013, 7-9 pm
Location: Cat Sass Coffeehouse, 4255 Hwy. 7, Norwood, On.
(705) 639-5494

I Can Still Draw
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Published on May 24, 2013 07:17 • 33 views • Tags: author-readings, cat-sass-reading-series, heather-spears

April 9, 2013


The CAT SASS LITERARY NIGHTS Reading Series will see renowned local authors Judy Fong Bates and Michelle Berry take to the stage on Saturday April 13, from 5-7 pm. They will be joined by Toronto author Natalee Caple, whose new novel about Calamity Jane has just been published and was recently reviewed in The Toronto Star.

MICHELLE BERRY is the author of three books of short stories, How to Get There from Here, Margaret Lives in the Basement, and I Still Don’t Even Know You (which won the 2011 Mary Scorer Award for Best Book Published by a Manitoba Publisher and was shortlisted for the ReLit Award, 2011), as well as four novels, What We All Want, Blur, Blind Crescent and This Book Will Not Save Your Life (which won the 2010 Colophon Award and was longlisted for the ReLit Award, 2011). She is also co-editor with Natalee Caple of The Notebooks: Interviews and New Fiction from Contemporary Writers, and has collaborated on an art book with Winnipeg artist, Andrew Valko, called, Postcard Fictions. Michelle taught creative writing at Ryerson University, Humber College and Trent University, was on the board of PEN Canada and the authors’ committee of the Writer’s Trust and served as Second Vice-Chair of The Writer’s Union. She presently teaches online for The University of Toronto/New York Times, and is a mentor at Humber College. She is a reviewer for The Globe and Mail.

JUDY FONG BATES came to Canada from China as a young child and grew up in several small Ontario towns. She is the author of the critically acclaimed short-story collection, China Dog and Other Stories, and the novel, Midnight at the Dragon Café, which has been the ONE BOOK for Portland Oregon, Orillia, Halton Hills and Toronto. Her most recent book, The Year of Finding Memory, a family memoir, was a Globe 100 Best Book.Judy lives with her husband on a farm outside of Toronto. They are both devoted gardeners and enthusiastic hikers.

NATALEE CAPLE is the author of six previous books of internationally acclaimed fiction and poetry. Her previous novel, Mackerel Sky, was called “breathlessly good” by The Washington Post. Her collection of poetry, A More Tender Ocean, was shortlisted for the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award, and The Heart is Its Own Reason (stories) was praised as “moving” and “arresting” by The New York Times. Natalee’s work has been nominated for a National Magazine Award, the Journey Prize, the Bronwen Wallace Award and the Eden Mills Fiction Award. She holds a PhD in English from the University of Calgary, and works as a professor of English literature and creative writing at Brock University. Set in the badlands of the North American west in the late 1800s, Caple’s new book, In Calamity’s Wake tells the story of orphaned Miette’s quest to find her mother, the notorious Calamity Jane.

The Cat Sass Literary Nights reading series is funded by The Canada Council for The Arts.

When and where:
Saturday April 13, 5-7 pm
Cat Sass Coffee House
4255 Hwy 7
Norwood, On.
email: catsassnorwood@gmail.com

In Calamity's Wake
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Published on April 09, 2013 07:18 • 80 views • Tags: cat-sass-literary-nights, judy-fonf-bates, michelle-berry, natalee-caple

April 3, 2013

Ad Astra 2013

I'll be at the Saturday mass autograph session:
4 pm to 6 pm

My Ad Astra schedule is:

Sunday 11 am Beaufort East - Creating Compelling Dialogue Suzanne Church (m), Ursula Pflug, Robert Boyczuk, Linda Poitevin, Rio Youers
Sunday 12 pm Arctic - Animals In Fiction
Douglas Smith (m), Sarah Water-raven, Fiona Patton, Sandra Kasturi, Ursula Pflug

Hope to see old and new friends!

I added the link to the Dagan Books anthology Bibliotheca Fantastica, edited by Claude Lalumiere, as the single author books I've got coming out aren't due out till summer and fall. The first is my long postponed story collection, Harvesting the Moon, from PS in England, and the second is a novel, The Alphabet Stones, due out in October from Coburg small press Blue Denim. Bibliotheca Fantastica
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Published on April 03, 2013 11:43 • 84 views • Tags: ad-astra, autograph-session, panelist

March 24, 2013

Cat Sass Literary Nights, a reading series in Norwood, Ontario, will be hosting Jan Thornhill on:

Sunday, March 24, 2013
from 2:00 until 3:30 pm.
4255 Hwy 7
Norwood, Ontario

This event is supported by The Canada Council for the Arts.

Please join my wonderful friend, children’s author and illustrator, Jan Thornhill, for a fun and interactive afternoon exploring her nature books and her “museum-in-a-bag”—Jan’s collection of animal skulls, desiccated insects, dinosaur bones, snake skins, mummified hummingbirds, and lots more.

Jan Thornhill is the internationally acclaimed author and illustrator of twelve books for children that are published around the world and have won numerous awards. Most recently, the Learning Partnership, a literacy charity, has chosen two of Jan’s books, The Wildlife ABC and Over in the Meadow, to be distributed free to almost 200,000 pre-schoolers across the country in the Welcome to Kindergarten program. Jan’s most recent book is Who Wants Pizza? The Kid’s Guide to the History, Science & Culture of Food. She has just completed a new picture book, Is This Panama? A Migration Story, which will be published later this year.

Jan lives near Havelock with her husband, artist Fred Gottschalk, and six goldfish. She spends her spare time hanging out in the woods looking for animal skulls and obsessively collecting and cataloguing wild mushrooms, weird fungi, and slime molds.
Jan’s books will be available for sale and she will be happy to sign these and any others your family already owns.

www.janthornhill.comWho Wants Pizza?: The Kids' Guide to the History, Science and Culture of Food
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Published on March 24, 2013 04:49 • 24 views • Tags: cat-sass, children-s-author, jan-thornhill, reading-series