Category Archives: shaftesbury

Pancakes and Possession

Our latest story prompt was a bit of a mixture, with a few stories based on the theme of pancakes and others focusing on the theme of possession. We even had a poem to add to the mix this time. Regardless of theme, all of the stories were a great success with the rest of the group and we hope that you enjoy reading them!

Yours, by Michael Bailey

Gwen walked along the woodland path here and somewhere else. It was cool in the leafy shade, a relief from the searing sun outside on the lake. The path wound up the hillside between birch trees. A strong breeze shook the branches and made the leaves shiver. The birdsong died away as the temperature seemed to drop and Gwen felt the skin on her arms rise in goose-bumps. She looked behind her, there was nothing to be seen and yet a shadow moved at the corner of her vision. She stopped and looked again, the shadow didn’t move but hung like a dark area out of focus close to the path. “Get away from me. You have no place here, go back to where you belong,”, Gwen commanded. The shadow dissolved but Gwen didn’t feel reassured. She hurried on, turning down the hill and back into the sunlight at the lakeside.

She was still agitated when she met up with her partner, Rob. She told him what had happened and he asked if she was sure. She nodded. They went back up the path she had taken but all was peaceful and untroubled. They returned to the lake and sat on a bench looking left across the lake to the cleared track through the woods underneath the descent of a winter ski lift.

Rob lifted his binoculars and studied the vertical trackway. The supports of the lift cast black shadows that lay parallel at intervals like railway sleepers. He had thought he might spot a deer but instead he saw nothing. He couldn’t be sure, he couldn’t see anything to focus on but he got the impression of something outside his field of view moving from shadow to shadow towards them. Finally it disappeared behind the brick building that housed the end of the ski lift fifty yards away from where they sat. Now it was Rob who felt the hairs on his neck rise. He could sense something there, hidden behind the wall he was staring at. Gwen suggested they go into the hotel.

They talked about what might or might not be out there and drank a beer each, encouraging one another to put the incidents aside as the products of overactive imagination in this slightly spooky out-of-season ski resort. The shadows softened and the colours intensified into the golden hour of evening as they stayed at their table by the window and ate supper.

Upstairs in their room Rob was relaxing when Gwen burst sobbing from the shower. She said she was frightened, her eyes were wide and the suntan on her face had blanched where her skin was drawn and pale. Rob tried to put his arms around her but she pushed him away clutching her towel tighter around her shoulders. No, she said, I’m frightened of you. “Who are you?” she asked, staring hard at him. “I’m Rob and you are Gwen and we are the same as ever”, he told her. He suggested they go back into the bathroom and look in the mirror.

As she stood in front of the mirror over the sink with Rob standing behind her Gwen couldn’t bring herself to look. Rob gently raised her chin with his hand.

Look, he said, there is nothing to be frightened of. He put his hands on her shoulders and massaged them and her neck which was stiff with tension. As she relaxed she let her towel slip to the floor and he looked over her shoulder to admire her nakedness. Come on into bed he said, it’s all over, nothing to be frightened any more. He took her hand and led her into the bedroom.

Gwen kissed Rob tentatively at first and then with a desperation that went beyond their usual passion. She clung to him as he kissed her. She moaned and wrapped her legs around him pushing herself against him, pulling his buttocks with her hands, digging her fingernails into his skin.

Rob’s face was above Gwen’s as he entered her. In that familiar moment when intense feelings of love and oneness usually overcame him he suddenly saw Gwen’s face transformed into the mask of a wild beast, lips drawn back in a snarl that bunched under the merciless eyes staring at him. The long sharp white teeth were daggers bared in a grimace of savagery that would surely rip his throat open in an instant. Rob’s eyes popped as he thrust harder and heard his own voice “I love you, I don’t care, do what you want, I’ll never stop loving you.”

He blinked and Gwen’s face had the look of sublime and far away calm it always had when they made love. The terrifying mask had gone. Rob had no doubt that he had seen it and that he had somehow passed a test by reacting as he had. Accepting his fate without bargaining, without relinquishing his love for Gwen whoever or whatever she was.

In the morning Gwen was her old self, chatting about the history of the resort and of the region they had travelled through to get there. She said nothing of the strange apparition they might have imagined in the afternoon or of the terror they felt in the night. Rob didn’t want to upset her so he kept quiet as well.

Weeks later Gwen started crying one evening. Words tumbled from her as she told Rob she was afraid of what she was inside. Rob let her talk until she ran dry then gradually tried to comfort and reassure her that he loved her.

She was not convinced. “How can you love me when you don’t know who or what I am inside?” she asked. Rob smiled sadly and shook his head. “Gwen my love, I have already seen what you are and I know one day you may bite my head off, quite literally. But loving you makes me what I am and I am yours.


The Embassy Ball, by Alex Chase

Our eyes met

Across a crowded room

Kindred spirits shared a spark

A single thought

Your eyes shone

Brighter than the diamonds round your neck

And then we’re off

Our twin circles

Never quite align

Mutually exclusive gatherings

At the Embassy Shrove Tuesday Ball

As lackeys and toadies

Each more demanding than the last

Beg for favours

“Not me, it’s for a friend”.

I found out who you were



A duchess, in another life

The endless social swirl

Spins us ever further.

Apart we drift.

I saw you later on that night

But you were occupied

In quartering a crepe

Lemon and sugar

Simple tastes for one so glamorous

The music plays

I hesitate

“Ask her to dance”

A voice behind me says

I turn but no one’s there

Perhaps an angel

I turn again

Too late

You and your partner


Twin dervishes

Never pausing for breath

Much less a chance for other men

To tear you from his grip.

And then the evening’s done

The serving staff

Return to tidy up

The debris of the night’s soiree

And back to work

Though sore of head and heart.

What’s this?

Another function to attend

Perhaps this time

We can communicate

In words

And not just looks.

But then I read


Society was not for you

And so the country girl went home

To her cows

And sheep.

And stable lads.

The life less gilded.

And I was left

Once more alone

Amid the spires and steeples

Of the urban wilderness

And so I go

Through endless parties


And balls

Until I reach the end of term

And finally

Recalled to home

I look

At that great sea of toil and strife

And shines out just this

One moment full of happiness and bliss.


I’m So Lucky to be Alive, by Cuca Vega

‘I’m not a pancake!’ I kept repeating again and again to Jimmy, Joey and Tommy.

They wouldn’t believe me.

‘Seriously, I’m just a kind of flat donut, that’s all.’

Jimmy has been a rye bread all his life and the wisdom that comes from such a nutritious way of being prompt him to reflect. ‘Rather a flat donut, then?’

I jumped at the opportunity. ‘Yes! yes! A very flat donut without any jam inside.’

Joey wasn’t convinced and nodded his disbelieve to Tommy.

‘Look.’ I said. ‘Have a try. Just take a little piece of me and tell me I’m not a donut but a pancake.’

Tommy liked the idea and being a mini chocolate roll it was easy to move my way and have a taste.

‘What do you say Tommy?’ the square, sliced white bread Joey shouted from his shelf.

‘Uhmmm… I think Fenny is right; he does taste more “donuty” than pancake-like.’

Jimmy was satisfied and with that he decided: ‘Right then, you can be spared during breakfast time but you are gone in the afternoon tea.’


That was all I wanted – a few more hours of glorious, vibrant life.

I was so happy I could have jiggled if I was not so flat. I did manage to ‘slop-slop’ my edges to show my delight.

It was already 5.30 in the morning. We were all freshly baked and ready for the day ahead. Jimmy and Joye would be eaten up first at breakfast time. Tommy and I, it was certain now, would be gobbled up during the afternoon tea.

Life is great!

I can sit here and savour another 12 hours or so of perfect joy.

I am so lucky to be alive.


Nothing Keeps, by Stephen Pellow

Every evening it’s the same. Home from work and it’s been a long day, I know, but there’s never a plan. No organisation. No structure. One by one each and every cupboard is opened and I peer inside to see if there is something – anything – that takes my fancy. Something different. We can’t keep having the same stuff week in, week out. Times are hard and the budget is tight, yes, but a bit of variety wouldn’t hurt.

Right, let’s start again from the beginning. I was looking but not seeing before perhaps. There has to be something more here. Could this be something promising? Store in a cool, dry place. That hasn’t really been an option. Cool is a phrase rarely attributed to this place. The expiry date has long passed. Nothing lasts forever no matter how many preservatives you inject into it. Never say forever. Nothing keeps.

And this? This has been here longer than I have and would probably kill me given half the opportunity. Can’t bin it really though, can I? It’s not part of the diet anymore… shouldn’t really need any physical reminder. In the bin it goes.

Something from somewhere I can’t even pronounce. There wasn’t any harm in experimenting, I suppose, but nothing good came of it either.

Well this is may be worth further investigation. A tin with no labels. Keeps things interesting. But after this long you need labels. Even if you ultimately aren’t going to enjoy what’s inside the can and especially if what’s inside has expired after leaving it so long. Without putting a label on it. Don’t even. Just sweep it off the shelf and straight into the bin. If it’s not good enough for me, I don’t want anyone else having it either.

Maybe check the fridge.

Ah, fruit. Strawberries no less. Their seeds are on the outside. They’re exposed to everything. I’d rather be the seeds of its neighbour in here, the tomato. Cushy and protected inside, shielded from the elements. From feeling.

I fear I may end up popcorn. It’s like I’ve been this little hard kernel. Small and insignificant, in a bag with hundreds of others just like me. Then I have my moment. I finally reach temperature. Maybe I even get there first and I pop and suddenly I’m twice or three times my size, and oh, so sweet. But then so is everyone else. They have their moments too and we are all the same again. The playing field levelled. Most likely I’m the one piece of popcorn that’s stuck to the bottom of the bag, going stale, or ends up on the floor and gets eaten by the dog. Worse still, I remain a kernel. I never had my moment. I never popped.

Or an egg yolk. It would be better to be one of those. A yolk rests within the membrane of the egg, that itself surrounded by a shell. But not a hard shell. It is fragile. It can be cracked all too easily, spilling the gold and the white out and mixing with milk and flour to make a perfect batter.

These cupboards depress me. Pancakes for tea again and then I really must go shopping. Never any bloody food in this house.


The Greatest Possession, by Becky Bye

He sat and stared fixedly at the woman talking in front of him, watching the red curves of her lips warp into different positions. He heard sounds, but the words wafted over him like a dream.

Sit still. DON’T panic.

He shifted his position slightly, feigning interest as best he could, crossing his left leg over his right knee, then swapping them over.

He felt his foot begin tapping uncontrollably and he focussed all of his energy onto it, willing it to stop. He linked his hands on his lap and squeezed until his knuckles bleached white. He bit his lip until he could taste metal.

Sit. Still.

The woman behind the desk was handing out a sheet of paper to him. He smiled, reaching out a trembling hand to take it from her and peered down at the paper. It fluttered in his grasp and he squinted, trying to stop the words from bleeding into one on the page.

Focus. You’re absolutely fine.

He realised that the woman had stopped talking and he looked up at her quickly, nodding his head and making noises in the affirmative, hoping that it was the right response. She stretched out her hands in front of her, the painted nails shiny on the pockmarked desk top.

He swallowed hard and placed the paper onto the desk as the woman resumed talking. He scratched his chin, though it didn’t itch.

Deep breaths.

He uncrossed his legs and shifted slightly on the chair, rubbing his palms down his thighs to remove some of the moisture that he could feel seeping through his pores.

Nothing is going to happen, just pay attention.

After a moment, the woman stood up, straightening out her pencil skirt over her thighs and extending her hand.

“Well, that will be all, thank you, we’ll be in touch.”

As their palms met, he felt the woman’s hand tense within his clammy fingers and she hastily withdrew her arm.  His lips trembled at the corners as he contorted them into something of a smile.

As he left the room his ears buzzed, his legs and feet clumsy as he tripped out of the woman’s office and into the hallway. The clinical smell of office equipment made him feel sick and he bustled outside.

The coolness of the air outside calmed him and he inhaled deeply. He sighed, knowing that they wouldn’t be in touch.

Messed that up didn’t you.

Panic attack 1, interview 0.




Children’s Publishing Evening with Skylark Agency

Storyslingers is honoured to have Skylark Literary Agency coming to talk about children’s publishing and answer questions. The event is open to all, with a suggested donation of £3 to cover costs. It will take place at Shaftesbury Museum’s garden room (top of Gold Hill) on Friday 17th July 6:30-8:30
Kate Kelly, writer of Red Rock will also be coming to join in on the q&a session following Skylark’s short talk.
There is a facebook events page here:
Come along!
concept 01 final

New Collaborative Geofiction website

Johannes Bouchain of Urban Geofiction and his colleague Thilo Stapff have set up a new geofiction community like no other. This is a collaborative geofiction experiment that welcomes cartographers to add to the map.


Using the tools of the Openstreetmap project – – Opengeofiction offers, for everyone who would like to participate, the possibility to contribute to mapping a fictional planet. Interested? Then:

1. Create your account – (You’ll get an e-mail when your account has been activated, it may take a little while.)

2. Choose a free (green) area from the overview map (Please send an e-mail to and mention the area you’ve chosen.)

3. Start mapping by using the tools available ( If you don’t have any experience yet, please tell the Opengeofiction team at and they’ll try to help you as much as possible.

Find more information about the project and about other ways to participate here:

Examples of what it can look like: (Roantra). (south of Kalm/north of Sathria, “under construction”).

You already have a fictional country and/or city that you would like to place on the Opengeofiction planet? That’s wonderful! The free (green) areas at the overview map can still be changed a little bit, so that your imaginary country hopefully will find its place in one of the continents. Maybe you find an area that already has almost the same form as your fictional country (and is also located in the right latitude, so that the climate is like you imagine it for your country).

Author Talk: Suzanne McLeod and Jaine Fenn

Room change alert: We’re in the Rutter Room now, not Proctor.

thanks to Dan Morison/ Darkmechanic for supplying the awesome image. and my design stuff can be viewed here
Authors Jaine Fenn and Suzanne McLeod are coming to Shaftesbury Arts Centre on July 16th 2013, at 6:30pm to talk about their books and writing in general.

Both Jaine and Suzanne are published by Gollancz, and have lots of experience of writing and publishing. Jaine is a British Science Fiction writer, author of a number of short stories and of the Hidden Empire series of novels. Suzanne is the author of the popular urban fantasy series of novels.

Tickets on the door of the Rutter Room SAC: £3 to SAC members, £4 to non-members.

No need to book a place, just come along on the night. See you there!

2nd Map Making Competition Results

We challenged writers, artists and cartographers to draw a map of their fictional world. We attracted entries from across the (real) world from cartographers who specialise in the art form known as geofiction: making maps of fictional places.

Cartography and writing are two disciplines that have much in common. Writers and cartographers explore themselves and their environment through fictional place. Both have an urge to explore, to discover new places and things, to learn something about their own limitations by pushing at the boundaries of their surroundings and imaginations. Some people go abroad to find themselves, writers and cartographers find themselves in their work. “You do not put yourself into what you write, but you find yourself there”- Alan Bennett. 

Many thanks to everyone who submitted maps – (32 maps submitted) – we loved them all and really struggled with compiling long and shortlists. Much respect.
1st Map of Western Refractoria
original: inks on watercolour paper
Jeffrey Beebe,
b. Indianapolis, IN
Lives and works in NYC, USA

This map ticks all our boxes. We could imagine the stories and people that might populate this world. The map is beautiful, with wonderful texture and depth and some really quirky details. The humour of the place names fits neatly with the Storyslingers sense of humour.
to see all the lovely details of the map, go here:

“Over the last nine years, I have created the world of Refractoria, a comprehensive imagino-ordinary world that is equal parts snotty, satirical autobiography and improvised fantasy. The Refractoria drawings–geopolitical maps, city maps, celestial charts, genealogical trees, etc.–are equal parts draughtsmanship and writing. They are a place in which I dump the visual sum of my experiences–the relationships I’ve had, the books I’ve read, the music I’ve consumed, the conversations I’ve had and overheard. It all exists in Refractoria.

I make these large drawings for the same reason we knowingly fall in love with the wrong person–it is a spectacle, an act of deliberate misbehavior bound to fail and disappoint . . . but the experience is abject, terrifying pleasure while it lasts. And I’m left undeniably altered–and humbled, wistful and a little sore–at the end of each experience.”

2nd The Map of the Eternal Itinerant
original: Digital
Kate McLean,
Whitstable, UK.

This map is highly conceptual, investigating the notion of a city as perceived by a newcomer. The map works on many levels, it’s intelligent and well designed, there is space for the onlooker to fill with their imaginations, and there is reference to an outer world beyond the scope of the map.
 “As a sensory researcher and designer my primary focus is on developing smell maps of different cities worldwide. As an initial stage in my exploration of linking place, human perception and emotion I investigated the notion of a city as perceived by a newcomer. Taking data from hand-drawn maps of a city seen after one month and six months I discovered that as newcomers to a city we create islands and links between them as a tool to understand where we are; we retain elements from our past such as friends, inner sanctuaries of self and simultaneously project into our future. In the map these elements of human perception are represented using the metaphors of geography, urban design and transport infrastructure. The Map of the Eternal Itinerant is a universally applicable personal visual reference.”

More maps available at
Joint 3rd The Old Empire of Lorn
original: Digital
Maxime Plasse,
Lives and works in Lyon, France.

We chose this map for its detail, the imaginative scope and artistic execution. We could all imagine stories playing out in the old empire of Lorn.

“Stories are an essential part of my job and life. The human mind is a powerful resource and imagination is probably one of its greatest jewels. Each one of us has a unique and deep inner world hidden within, where countless stories are taking place.
Writers use words to cast these worlds through our minds. I try modestly to put them into my maps. For me Cartography brings out parts of my inner world and lets them tell their own stories. If you let your imagination be your guide, you will probably hear some of these stories, while wandering the paths through the Old Empire of Lorn. May you enjoy your journey.”

Joint 3rd Kvraagetaan
original: coloured ink on 60 sheets of black paper
Juli Martí Casals
b. Barcelona, Spain.

This map is conceptually brilliant, pushing at the boundaries of cartography and art. The map is hand-drawn to perfection, and really must be seen at full size to be properly appreciated.
Juli was born in Barcelona but grew up in Paris; between two cities, two countries. He started his professional life as assistant for an architect in Barcelonaand then as a correspondent in Parisfor the catalan magazine “El Temps”. His geographical and political interests brought him to publish an essay titled “Els Estats contra Europa” (States against Europe), Angle Editorial, 2009. He first showed his mapping works a year ago in Paris, at Le Duplex, and then in Barcelona at the Casal del Barri delPoblenou, January 2013.

“As a necessary support to play with my cars on, drawing maps soon turned out to be my main game. Torn between two cities (Barcelona and Paris), its two cultures, and its three languages, maps were the territory where I explored my own comprehension of the world. As I grew up my interests were more focused on the cartography itself, with its scales, color codes and international icons.

Kvraagetaan belongs to a project about an ensemble of 3 cities. For the moment, it measures 207,9 x 273 cm, it occupies 60 black A4 sheets and it’s still growing… the work turns around the question of borders and the geographical and urban influences from one city to another. In a sort of recognition to all the AZ or Michelin guides we all use.”

Shortlisted maps (unranked)

original: watercolor and colored pencils on paper
Massimo Potì
b. Bari, Italy.
Lives and works in Turin, Italy.
The region of Solitaria is not a lucky one. If it weren’t for its vast inner sea of freshwater and the thin fertile strip of soil around it, it would be a deserted waste of space surrounded by a dark, venomous mist. Since without the body of freshwater there would be no means of survival, both cultures living on its shores developed a sacred respect towards the sea up to the point that no human is allowed to cross it from shore to shore. That’s how they ended up living as close and faraway as possible.

“I’ve always loved maps; I find they’re the easiest way to feed my imagination with vast playgrounds to build stories from. The veins on a piece of wood, the cracks on a concrete sidewalk, an abstract painting, everything can be turned into a map. Sometimes maps spark from what-if ideas popping into my mind, as is the case with Solitaria. Maps create worlds and viceversa. Maps to me are a way to find my way in the real world by getting in touch with an imaginary

original: Digital
Steff J. Worthington,
Lives and works in Chester, UK

Steff J. Worthington has been a map artist for 20 years on freelance projects for game companies but is a graphic designer by trade. Client-wise he’s been seen in print for Chaosium, Miskatonic River Press, Mongoose Publishing, Dark Skull Studios, Cubicle7, and Shaun Duke’s The World in the Satin Bag. He believes that maps tell more about the perception of the artist than any land they depict. If more maps today contained more mystery, more evocative wording, and more ‘Here Be Dragons’ notations then we’d see where we live with more wonder and respect. Our lands and cultures may garner the respect and reverence they deserve.

City of Clocks
Digital print (original: Digital)
Steff J. Worthington,
Lives and works in Chester, UK

Steff is a keen advocate of forward looking design and uses his current copy of ‘Creative Review’ as a knife vest in times of trouble. A student of the 22 string harp and Celtic and Scandinavian languages he is also a frequent contributor to articles and discussions on the Arthurian Cycle. He can often be seen on the streets of Chester, UKdodging cars and unhealthy snacks and dreaming of finding a home back in his beloved North West Wales.

Oh, and somehow finding Excalibur in his back garden.

Map 32P
original: felt tip pen on multiple sheets of notepaper, taped together
David Hyman
b. New Jersey, USA

better viewed here (zoom in!)

David currently works as a product designer. He created this map and many others in the early 1970s when he was 14 years old.

“From 1969 -1973 I drew maps on a daily basis, and that body of work grew to include several hundred cities. As a child I moved from the Suburbs of New Jersey to Manhattan. New York for me then was both fascinating and frightening. Everything outside of my neighborhood was just some “other” place, vaguely mysterious and intimidating. I was too young to explore the outer boroughs on my own, so I was left to look at maps and imagine life out there among the miles of monotonous blocks. The maps show a coming to terms with my new urban surroundings; they gave me a way to make some sense of it. My map making, for the most part, ended around 10th grade and was replaced by life drawing and painting.”

In 1980, some of David’s maps were shown at the Children’s Museum in NYC, and in 1981 a map was selected to be included in a show entitled “Mapped Art, Chart Routes and Regions” that toured the USA.

Yogo CBD
original: Digital
Potanin Andrey,
Lives in Samara, Russia.
Potanin is a map collector and designer, rail and metro fan, urbanlover.

“I started drawing maps when I was 6 and this passion hasn’t gone as my natives supposed. I don’t know why it’s happened. It’s a question of personal taste and individual preferences. I just can tell about some positive merits that the hobby of drawing this kind of maps brings into your life. It’s planning, aiming, strategy, tactics, details, creativity, integrity and much more. It’s absolutely helping in solving your tasks in ordinary life. The only thing for using it is to be fond of maps.”

Arden Maps: The Icathian Imperium and its neighbour states.
original: Archival-Ink on Fabriano-Paper, Digital Composing, Photoshop
Josephe T. Vandel
Lives and works in Leipzig, Germany.

Josephe T. Vandel works as a freelance Cartographer and Art director, creating maps and concept art for novels, board games, RPGs and digital media. He graduated with an M.A. in Communications Arts (Photography and Illustration), an M.A. in Fine Arts (New Media, Film and Installation Art) and finished his theoretical Thesis with the Topic: “The creation of fictional worlds within Western media, from the 15th century literature and art to contemporary media” at the University of East London (England) and Braunschweig University of Art (Germany).

“Home is a foreign word for me. My parents were refugees from the Vietnam war and met in a refugee camp in Germany, in the eighties. All the books we had were the Catholic Bible, Grimm’s Fairytales and a German Dictionary of Complex and Anachronistic Terminologies. My world consists of words, and from this books, it became a colourful, weird and twisted mixture. Since childhood, every cardboard or package box was implemented in a giant canvas, on which I painted an ever-growing map, my first map, my first love. I am no German, I am no Vietnamese. Where ever I go, I am foreign. Creating maps lets me create places that belong to me. I close my eyes, lines and symbols unfolding on my map inside and there I find a way home, a home that never was and will never be. I am mapping my life.”

original: graphite on paper
Samantha Martin (age 14)
Lives in San Jose, California, USA

Samantha is 14 years old, we thought her map was so accomplished that we shortlisted her map among the maps made by adults. What particularly delighted us about Samantha’s map was the imaginative scope and inventiveness of the locations. She won the children’s category. 

Samantha grew up with a love of literature and art. She has gone through seven years of private schooling and was homeschooled the past two years. Samantha started making maps as a way of helping her with her fictional writing, and it became more of a hobby than a tool. Now she finds herself drawing maps of new places in her spare time. She is very excited to explore where these fantasylands will take her in the future.
 Children’s competition.
1stGust, Samantha Martin (age 14)– see above
2nd Gran Angeles
original: coloured ink on paper
Lucas Ezequiel Breska (age 16)
Lives in Buenos Aires, Argentina

Lucas is 16 years old, from Buenos Aires, Argentina. He’s making maps of the fictional country: The Republic of the Trinity (population 15 million).

My name is Lucas Ezquiel Breska, I live in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I’m 16 years old. The maps are of a city, the capital of a fictional country. The name of the city is Official Capital of the Angels (or Los Angeles). The name of the country is the Republic of the Holy Trinity. The estimated population of the great Los Angeles is 15 million people .”
3rd Los Angeles
original: coloured ink on paper
Lucas Ezequiel Breska (age 16)
Lives in Buenos Aires, Argentina

This is a map of the capital of a fictitious country, The Republic of the Trinity, the population of which is 15 million.

“Tengo 16 años, soy de hincha de boca, no se que mas decir. Los mapas son de una ciudad, capital de un país ficticio. El nombre de la ciudad es Capital Oficial de Los Ángeles. El nombre del país es República de la Santísima Trinidad. La población estimada del Gran los ángeles es de 15 millones de personas.”

The maps are being informally exhibited in Shaftesbury Arts Centre throughout June & July, (not in the main gallery, but along the main corridor). We hope to raise funds to print them at or near full size and get them framed in order to exhibit them formally. All donations towards this project would be gratefully received, please email Jennifer on

Interested in geofiction? Hungry for more? Check out the cartographers guild, urbangeofiction, maproomblog, 1/10000, no sense of direction blog and the cartographers’ websites listed above. Cartographers from the above guild are available to commission, so if you’re an author who needs a map made of their fictional world, check out their forum. Award-winning cartographer Maxime Plasse (joint 3rd in this competition) is open to commissions.

We will continue to periodically post stuff about geofiction, map making and our shortlisted cartographers on this blog, so please subscribe and check back here frequently for more geofiction and cartography. 

Storyslingers Fictional Worlds Event & networking party 1st June

Storyslingers Fictional Worlds Event & networking party 1st June 3-5pm (with after party from about 5pm).

with thanks to Maxime Plasse, cartographer, for supplying the map/ image for this poster–albums-max%27s+maps.html

Storyslingers is putting on a series of mini events on June 1st, culminating in a networking party for creative people. We will be celebrating fictional place and the art of cartography. There will be an informal exhibition of fictional maps created by cartographers from across the world who specialise in the art form known as geofiction: making maps of fictional places. Don’t miss this chance to see some of the best fictional maps in the world, right here in Dorset.

There are three informal events that are open to the public to drop in on any time throughout the afternoon:

3-4pm Fictional Worlds writing workshop. Creating fictional worlds, thinking about their rules and limitations. Open to all levels. 

4-5pm Open Mic reading event. Share your work with other writers and whoever happens to drop by. All stories must be set in a fictional world/ some new spin on reality. Take us somewhere we’ve never been before. Stories should not exceed 7 minutes or 1000 words. Stories of 3-5 minutes are best (600-800 words). We have short attention spans. Extracts from longer works are welcome. In the case of extracts the focus should be on the fictional world – delight us with a new place we wish we could go to if only it really existed.

5-6pm:  Networking party and drop in session. Writers, artists, musicians, filmmakers, cartographers and readers are invited to come along and talk shop. Working on a piece of fiction? Just read the best book ever? Want to talk about it? Come along.  Let’s chat creativity over cakes and wine. 
Also, book swap and stall. If you’ve ever been handed a world book night book and it’s got stuck on your shelves, now is the time to pass it onto someone new. Same goes for any book you have idling that you’re happy to pass on. We’ll be displaying some of our handmade books too, which will be on sale.  Published writers/ artists are welcome to add their publications/ cards to the stall. 

The announcement of the results of the 2nd Map Making competition will happen sometime during the day – most likely at 5pm (Results will be published online later in the following week.) The maps will be on display throughout the event.

Tickets are on the door and it’ll work by a system of paying what you think it’s worth in relation to your bank balance, from £1 upwards. All profits will go towards funding a future Storyslingers event: specifically a (roving?) exhibition of the winning and shortlisted maps entered in the map making competition

Come to all or some of the events, pick and choose, drop in and out. Invite your mates along too.

Join the facebook event page:

1st June 2013 3pm-6ish
The Rutter Room
Bell Street

Fictional Worlds Map Making Competition UPDATE

Storyslingers second fictional map making competition is underway. With only one month left before the deadline, it’s time to get drafting! 

An exciting opportunity has arisen for the winners: depending on the quality of the submissions, the Slade Centre gallery in Dorset is keen to put on a short show, giving winning entrants the opportunity to exhibit their maps in one of North Dorset’s leading galleries. Winning entrants will be given the opportunity to publicly read their work in front of a live audience (this is totally optional!)*

The best maps will also be displayed at Shaftesbury Arts Centre in June and here on the blog. A public reading opportunity may arise in Shaftesbury as well (TBC).

Competition details: Every story is set somewhere and it’s the writer’s job to immerse their reader fully into that fictional world. How are we to write convincing worlds if we do not know our way around them? We challenge writers and/or artists to draw a map of their fictional world.

Please email your map as a jpeg to with Map Making Competition as the subject.  Previously we stipulated 72dpi: but if you have a nice detailed map, send it larger, send it so that you’re satisfied we can see all the detail. I think my inbox will cope! If your map appears elsewhere online in a large resolution you can always link us to the site.

If you’re interested in the public reading opportunity, please let us know so we have an idea of how many people are potentially interested.

Entry is FREE. This competition is open to all, young or old, artistically brilliant or dysfunctional. If you’re under the age of 16, let us know and we’ll enter you into the kids’ category too.

Have your maps sent to us by the 21st of May. (If you send a day or two late, we’ll probably still accept it, though no guarantees).

Facebook event.

* please note that this opportunity is dependent on the artistic quality of the submissions, so it may not happen. As writers, we’re more interested in the imaginative quality, so there might end up being a clash of interest between us and the Slade Centre. Maps will be exhibited at Shaftesbury Arts Centre for sure.

Some awesome maps I found on the internet:



by David Hyman


CT River

Oh, Milly Molly Mandy – how you inspired the child version of myself. This was the map that started my fascination with fictional maps.

Map Making Competition II


Last year we ran a map making competition. We tied it in with the Shaftesbury Arts Festival and so there wasn’t a lot of advance notice. Lots of people contacted us to say what a cool idea it was but they didn’t have enough time to do their map before the deadline.

Well good news, chaps! We’re running a second competition, this time with a nice long gap before the deadline (May 21st).  

So here’s the details: 

Every story is set somewhere and it’s the writer’s job to immerse their reader fully into that fictional world. How are we to write convincing worlds if we do not know our way around them? 

We challenge any budding writer*/ artist out there to draw a map of their fictional world. It doesn’t have to encompass the entire world, it can be a small part of it; a city/ borough/ street, an island, a country or county, a building-plan etc.

Please email your map to us at with Map Making Competition as the subject. Make sure the file isn’t massive, send it as a jpeg 72dpi. Keep a print-version at hand because we’d like to pin some of the best maps up at Shaftesbury Arts Centre (we’ll contact you about this). The winner will be featured on our blog and within Shaftesbury Arts Centre.

We will be publishing the winning map online, so if your world is top-secret then maybe keep it under wraps for now and submit it next time.

The world/ location must be your own. We don’t want to see lots of renditions of Hogwarts.

The closing date is May 21st, so get your colouring pencils out and start drafting!

Further info: We don’t take ourselves too seriously, so we don’t expect you to either. We’re not concerned about intricacies of scale or worried over the physics of your world. If it looks cool, we’ll be happy. Inspire us, excite us.

*Wait, you’re not even a writer? But you like to dream up worlds and make maps? – okay, that’s cool, go for it and submit. Maybe one of us writers will like your world and want to team up with you and write a story set in your world. Our writers are always on the lookout for things that will spark the next story, so we’d love to find a new world to write about.

Mind-Mapping for Fiction Writers

Today I’d like to talk about mind maps—what they are, how to use them, and where to get them—as a way of brainstorming, solving problems, keeping track of your events and timelines, and generating new ideas.
Sometimes stories are straightforward: you begin with your basic idea or outline, and then you sit down and write it from start to finish. But not all stories are that easy-going. Quite often you find they grow and become complex, unruly things, and before you know it you’re buried under a mountain of notes and plans, maps and research—and that’s before you’ve even tried to structure your plot or study your characters in depth.
This is where mind maps could come in handy.
I’m fairly new to mind maps, but so far I’ve found them helpful for keeping my novel timeline in order. They’re also an excellent “quick-reference” if you’re looking for a specific detail and you don’t have time to wade through page after page of notes.
What is a mind map? From Wikipedia – A diagram used to visually outline information.
How do I use a mind map?You start with a central theme or idea, usually placed at the centre of your map/page. This could be anything from a single word prompt to a phrase or topic, problem, character or concept. From there, you create sub-nodes and attach anything associated with the central theme. These sub-nodes grow outwards, generating more and more sub-themes and ideas, very much like a spider diagram. The best way to understand how a mind map works is to see one in action. Take a look at thishand-drawn mind map and thiscomputer generated map (both images from Wikipedia).
How to make a mind map:You can create easy, free mind maps using paper and coloured pens or pencils (see example map above). But if hand-drawing isn’t your preference, there are also a number of programs available for the computer—some free and some paid.
Free Mind – Free Mind is a Java-based software that is free to download and use. They have a helpful website that provides instructions on installing and running the program. Works on PC and Mac.
Simple Mind – A simple, easy to use program. This is also a Mac app, but I’m linking to the desktop version as you can use it on a PC as well. You can only download a trial for free; you’ll need to buy the full version if you want to keep using it after 30 days. – I’ve not tried this one, but it looks like it could be useful. You create your mind map directly in your browser. You can print it out, or download it to your computer when you’re done.
Mindomo – This is a paid program. The website states: Human thought is characterized by expansion in multiple directions.  As a mind map software, Mindomo is a perfect match to work the way your brain does reflecting your thoughts.
MindMeister – This mind-mapping tool allows you to share your mind maps with others and collaborate easily. There is a free trial, though it should be noted that you have to pay a monthly subscription for the full program.
There’s also a list of (rather pricey) paid mind map programs for Mac here, and a list of freeware programs for Mac here.
And there’s a list of free mind map programs for PC here.

Fiction, Poetry & Music night at Beggar’s Banquet

Storyslingers and music cafe Beggar’s Banquet teamed up last Thursday to put on a night of stories, poetry and groovy tunes. The gathering wasn’t widely pimped, though we ended up with around 17 people in attendance, most of whom were writers, artists or musicians (and those in between who do a bit of everything!).

The venue was cosy and mellow-lit, creating a warm and friendly atmosphere. It was gently buzzing as people started turning up—a lot of readers had only met briefly before, so it was nice to reconnect. We also got to meet a few spouses; now they finally know what we get up to when we’re all together. We hope they enjoyed themselves, too!

The universe must have been in balance that night, as we were able to set the playlist as writer-poet-writer-poet. Nine wonderful writers shared their work in the end, reading a varied and vibrant selection. As always with these events, we were excited by and extremely proud of the talent in our local area.

Tish Oakwood reading her superb collection of poems

Sue Ashby also sharing a selection of beautiful rural-themed poems

Me reading my short speculative piece “Ring-Ring” 

To close the event, our generous host Meru performed a nifty acoustic song about not having anything to sing about. His soft, gravelly tones went down a storm, and we hope he’ll sing for us again at future gatherings.

Our line-up:

Peter Jump – who read two short stories.
Tish Oakwood – who read a collection of poems.
James Broomfield – who read a short story.
Elaine Cadogan – who read a collection of poems.
Jennifer Bell – who read a short story.
Sue Ashby – who also read a collection of poems.
Jennifer K. Oliver – who read two short stories.
Juliet Austen – who read a selection of her poems.
John Maynard – who read a short story.
Meru – who sang and played acoustic guitar.

We’d like to thank everyone for coming, especially those who brought material to read. We hope you’ll join us again next time! 🙂