Legends of Wrimonia

Legends of Wrimonia, Part Twenty-Eight: Victory

Mia typed the final words of the legends, then stared at her laptop. Should she validate? Could she validate with both works adding up to fifty thousand? Wasn’t this cheating? And what day was it, anyway?

Mia passed the NaNo Rebels forum, remembering the people she knew who rebelled from the NaNo rules. She had never been a rebel herself, but after knowing them, maybe this was her year, writing a novel that was less than 50k in length.

“Can I do this?” she asked. “My novel ended at forty-six thousand so I wrote something else for the rest of the words, and now I don’t know whether or not to validate.”

A Wrimo by the name of Kataja approached Mia, and Mia noticed the moderator badge on Kataja’s nametag. “It’s up to you,” Kataja said. “If you think you’ve won NaNo, then by all means go ahead and validate and win. Lots of rebels validate every year. No one’s making you do anything, whether that means to validate or not to.”

Mia smiled. “I’ve won this,” she said. “I’ve earned this victory.”

“You have, but you haven’t done it officially yet,” kataja said. “You need to validate first. But hurry!”

Mia ran out of the NaNo Rebels forum toward the nearest unoccupied validation robot, who unleashed a USB cord and hooked it into her laptop. It hummed as it counted her words and announced, “Fifty-one thousand, four hundred seventy-two words.”

She did it. She really did it. The robot printed out a certificate and badges for her, which landed in Mia’s hands. Mia clutched them for a minute while she reveled in her victory.

Mia couldn’t believe having come back from a loss the year before. But there was one more thing she needed to do before leaving Wrimonia for another ten months. She ran across Wrimonia and down the path toward the archives.

Sushimustwrite was there, tapping away at her laptop. Mia watched Sushi’s fingers for a minute, almost hypnotized at how someone’s fingers could move so fast and still create words, how someone could still make words in their brain and type them out at the same time. “Good, you won,” Sushi said. “I was wondering. I can finish this now.” She continued typing.

“Look, I have the legends,” Mia said.

“Then print them out,” Sushi said. “I have a book to finish.” Sushi pointed to a printer in the back of the archive room, then took another gulp out of a red mug.

Mia ran toward the printer, hooked everything up, and waited. A few minutes later the printer spit out only the pages containing the legends. Mia handed these pages to Sushi, who pointed to the binders.

“Put it on the shelf.”

Mia punched some holes in the pages and slipped them into a binder, then grabbed a permanent marker. What was she supposed to title this? Sushi looked up.

“Might I suggest a title?” Sushi asked, not looking up from her typing but slowing down a little.

“Go on,” Mia said, open to any suggestion she could get.

“How about Legends?”

“No, too dull.” Mia paused. “How about Legends of Wrimonia?”

“But that’s my title!” Sushi exclaimed.

“So? I finished first. That deserves some kind of titling authority.”

“Okay, fine. But I’m the author so I get final say here.”

Mia penned “Legends of Wrimonia” on the cover in her best handwriting, then set it on the shelf next to The NaNoLand Chronicles. The latter looked much fancier, but this cover would have to do for now.

“Thanks for everything, Sushi,” Mia said as she turned to walk out the door.

“Thank you, Mia,” Sushi said. She felt around for something in the desk, then emerged with a pair of headphones. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a book to finish.”

Of course Sushi had a book to finish. Even high word counters wrote until the end of the month. Mia walked out of the archives and back into the forums with a purple bar and her third winner’s certificate. As she found herself walking out of Wrimonia, she thought back to all the memories of NaNoWriMo over the years. This year was no exception. And even though next November was so far away, it would still be jam packed with memories as well.

Sometimes being a character in someone’s book wasn’t so bad after all, Mia decided as she walked down the brick path and toward the rest of her non-noveling life.


The end!

I’ve been puzzling over what to title Mia’s legends for quite some time, finally deciding to leave it to when I posted this segment.

Will there be a threequel? Who knows? I have no ideas for one at the moment, but I’m not eliminating any possibilities.

As always, share, don’t be a jerk, donate to Nano if you’re so inclined.

Legends of Wrimonia

Legends of Wrimonia, Part Twenty-Seven: So Close, Yet So Far

Mia wasn’t sure why Chris Baty gave her his Viking helmet, but whatever the reason was, it had to be for something. She hopped on the pony and galloped back to Wrimonia.

Though now that she thought of it, writing here in the hills would be really peaceful…

She jumped off the pony and walked toward the top of a nearby hill, this one not as large as the one she and Chris Baty rolled down together and certainly not as large as the one Chris Baty rolled down himself.

But it was a hill, and this gave Mia a ridiculous idea. She looked down. The pony was still at the bottom of the hill, munching away at some grass. It wouldn’t notice, would it?

Mia laid down, Viking helmet still perched atop her head, and rolled down the hill. The helmet rolled off her head about halfway down the hill, but this didn’t matter. Mia bounced up, then forgot about how dizzy she was and stumbled around until running into the pony.

“Oh hi there,” she said. The pony neighed. Mia leaned against the pony for a minute before running back to fetch her Viking helmet. She placed it back on her head and mounted the pony again. Yes, it was time.

“CHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGE!” she yelled, even though there was no one else there to charge with her. The pony neighed as if it was also charging for words. It was time to get stuff done.

Back in the forum area of Wrimonia, Mia typed away at her novel, Molly and Luke by her side. But they weren’t the only three people around. Molly and Luke had dragged two other people in chains around with them.

“How have they not bitten you yet?” Mia asked.

“Beats me,” Molly replied. She and Luke continued to clutch the chains. “But we found them.”

“Where?” Mia asked again, trying to figure out how on earth they had crawled out of this plot hole. Weren’t they just trying to figure out how to capture Molly’s parents the day before? Or whenever the last time was that Mia wrote?

Mia checked her word count. Forty-six thousand words. So close, yet…

She couldn’t shake off the feeling that she was going to run out of story.

“Say, you two,” Mia said. “You don’t happen to have anything else exciting up your sleeve, do you?”

“Define exciting,” Molly said. “Escaping multiple zombie hordes redefines exciting.”

Mia sighed. She knew she’d mess with their minds at least a little bit during the novel month. This was what always happened, wasn’t it? Sushi did the same thing to her, making Mia discover that she was indeed a character in a book, but what else was to be done? She needed to make things happen to the characters in order for plot to happen. wasn’t that what FireFallon had said about creating moral crises and dilemmas?

“You know, plot!” Mia said. “You guys do know you’re my characters, right?” she added as an afterthought, and then she thought back to all her other past characters. Did they have any idea? Or was that part of their minds warped to the point where they didn’t know whether they were characters in books or something entirely different? Maybe they were all living in the Matrix, and this was a crazy (though admittedly quite sane in the grand scheme of things) where people wrote novels in very short periods of time.

“Oh yeah, we’re definitely characters,” Luke said. “You think we didn’t know that?”

“I was hoping so. But never mind that now,” Mia said. “Let’s get on to some other things. I need to know how much plot you two have left.”

“Honestly, not much,” Luke said. “This is pretty much it. Once we kill off patients zero and one we’re done. We’ve already defeated all the other zombies.”

“All the other zombies? Seriously?”

“We managed to find a few folks we trusted and got them on our side. It helps when the government decides to kill the zombies off eventually. Well, after half of them become zombiefied themselves. But then the rest of the world got into it as well and said screw American law, the rest of the world is at stake here.”

“Especially when the zombies got into Canada and Europe and Asia,” Molly added. “That’s when we really knew we were screwed as a society.”

Mia nodded and thought of the real implications of a zombified culture. It wouldn’t last, would it?”

“So why were you still so dead set on finding the first two patients anyway?” Mia asked.

“Dude, they’re my parents,” Molly said. “You’d be dead set on it too. I was going to put them out of their misery and now even the government is urging me to. So much for the “life ends at natural death” government.” Molly snorted. “They want these two dead, and heck, I think they consider these two undead even at this point. But I don’t know. I mean, they’re my parents! They raised me from a young lass.”

“That’s normal,” Luke said. “Or at least I’d assume that’s normal, never having had zombie parents…”

“Luke, your parents got shot during the last zombie insurgency, didn’t you hear?”


“The last pager call told me so. But at least you didn’t have to pull the trigger yourself. See, this is what I’m deciding now. Such big decisions!”

Molly looked at the creatures at the other end of the chains. They were now crawling toward Molly and Luke.

“See, normally I’d encourage you to go on about this at great length,” Mia said. “It’s good for my word count and I still need a few thousand more words to get to fifty thousand words. But given the circumstances…”

“Look, it’s shoot or lose the whole zombie battle, Molly. And no offense, but you make a better human friend than a zombie friend,” Luke said.

“I know, but they’re my parents!” Molly exclaimed, removing the pistol from her belt. “And I don’t know if there are any bullets left.” She checked. “Crap. One more bullet.” She looked toward her zombified parents. “I don’t know, Luke. It’s gonna be one or the other.”

“It doesn’t have to be that way.”

“We’ve lost. One of them get shot, the other turns us into zombies. We’ve come this far, Luke.”

“No, I know it doesn’t have to be this way. There has to be another way. Just choose which one you want to shoot–”

“CHOOSE WHICH ONE I WANT TO SHOOT? You realize what you’re asking me, right? You’re asking whether I want to kill my mom or my dad, Luke! That’s not a decision you make lightly!” She clutched the pistol more tightly.

“I know, but look, has one of them attacked more than the other?”

“I don’t know. How do you expect me to know this?”

“You seem to be the person who knows this sort of thing.”

Molly paused. “How am I supposed to know this? I can’t be everywhere.”

Luke turned to Mia. “I wasn’t talking to you. I was more talking to her.”

“Excuse me,” Mia said. “I am not just a Her. I am your author and if you don’t stop cooperating I WILL kill you off right now. Or worse, let the zombies eat you right now.”

“You won’t.” But the blood flowed away from Luke’s face.

“Oh I would,” Mia said as she typed out some words on her keyboard.

“No she wouldn’t,” Molly said. “You really wouldn’t. Don’t you need more words to finish this book?”

Mia looked at her word count. “Crap, I guess I need to keep on writing then, don’t I?”

Molly nodded and turned back to the zombies, who were now approaching her and Luke. Without thinking she aimed her pistol and shot it at the male zombie’s head. The male zombie fell over and moved no more.

“Well, now what?” Molly asked as the female zombie crawled slowly toward them. “We’re out of bullets.”

“No we’re not,” Luke said.

“What do you mean no we’re not? I just used the last one. Unless you have a stash of bullets you’ve been hiding on me.”

“That’s what improvising is for. And besides, who says you need to use bullets to kill a zombie?”

“We’ve been over this. There are other ways to kill a zombie, but let’s face it, not too many of them are effective. Unless you have a chainsaw or something. But we passed that abandoned hardware store days ago.”

“I knew I should have grabbed that sweet chainsaw when I saw it.”

“Well, there’s no time for that now. It’s now or never.”

“And he looks hungry,” Mia added, writing this as she said it out loud.

“Thank you, Captain Obvious,” Molly said. “But what now?”

“This.” Luke bent over and picked up a shovel that fell out of Mia’s bag.

“Hey, that’s my plot shovel! I don’t know how well that’ll work on a zombie…”

“It should work okay, at least,” Luke said as he sneaked up behind the female zombie. (Did zombies have a real gender? Mia found herself wondering. Zombies probably didn’t have enough sense of self to worry about gender issues, but certainly the zombie identified as female when it was human. That was enough to make it a female zombie, right?)

Molly continued holding onto to the chain, but she took an occasional step and chained the other end to the eraser bench.

“Whoa whoa there lady, what do you think you’re doing?”

“I’m not holding on to this,” Molly said. “Do I look stupid?”

“To be fair you’ve done your fair share of stupid things,” Mia said. “Luke’s done more, though,” she added, lowering her voice.

Molly chuckled. “Don’t worry, I won’t tell him.”

Molly returned to sneaking up behind the zombie with Luke. Neither one of them said a word. Luke thwacked the zombie on the head with the plot shovel. An instant later, there was no shovel but a chainsaw in Luke’s hand.

“Yes!” Luke exclaimed. He revved it up and ran it across the zombie’s head. The zombie and its head fell down without another moan and hit the ground with a thud.

“Is it dead? Like dead for real?” Molly asked. She turned to Luke, who was now holding a chainsaw. “And where’d that chainsaw come from?”

“I have no idea,” Luke said. “One minute I was holding a shovel, the next, a chainsaw.”

“That must be another superpower of the plot shovel,” Mia said. “But I better check the calendar. Last time i used the plot shovel it took two days away from me. Using it for something like that probably means it’s December right now.”

“Oh no, I don’t want to do that to you!” Molly said. “Surely the plot shovel can turn back time, right?”

“It’s not that fancy,” Mia replied. “But I can figure out something. First, we have a loose end or two to tie up.”

Mia sat there for a few more minutes typing up the end of her novel, and then she checked her word count.

Forty-six thousand. Forty-six thousand? But that was less than fifty thousand. Where did those words go? They were supposed to be in her document!

And most importantly, what was she going to do with the other four thousand words? She couldn’t be a winner at this rate.

Mia trudged her way to the Reaching 50,000 forum and browsed the forum. Surely someone else had already experienced the same thing she was right now. They had, but none of them addressed her immediate concern: wrapping the story up and coming up short. How do you come up with four thousand words of conclusion when the conclusion is already there?

So Mia started her own thread and sat in there for a minute. A small poster from Camp NaNoWriMo hung in this thread. A minute later a Wrimo by the name of Ceetee entered the thread.

“So your novel’s over, yes?” Ceetee asked.

Mia nodded. “And it’s over at forty-six thousand words too,” she said. “What am I supposed to do with that? I can’t go back and add an entire subplot like I could if it were over at twenty-six thousand.”

“Maybe write an epilogue?” Ceetee suggested.

“It’s a zombie novel,” Mia said. “Almost everyone’s dead.”

“Oh,” Ceetee said. “Have you thought about writing a prologue? What happened before that?”

“That could work,” Mia said. She thanked Ceetee and walked back outside the forum.

But when she returned to the nearest eraser bench, she cracked her laptop open and was about to open her novel when she heard a cry from above. All the other Wrimos in the vicinity also looked up as the voice burst into song.

“Ohhhhhh, we know you’re working hard to finish NaNo
But we have some things you might wanna know
Check your word count, make sure your novel’s nice and backed up
You don’t want any last-minute screams!”

Mia looked around. Who was singing this, anyway? She couldn’t spot the source of this voice, but suddenly it didn’t matter. The voice didn’t say anything else, and Mia returned to opening her novel.

But there was nothing else to add, she decided as she stared at it for a few more minutes. Sure, she could add a prologue, but why? It wouldn’t add anything to the story, and quite frankly, Mia was glad to see Molly and Luke and all those zombies go.

And then Mia remembered the unfinished legends.

And she hit enter a few times and started writing everything down. New documents could come later. Having everything in one document for validation needed to happen now.


Mia, you always cut it close.

Share, don’t be a jerk, donate to Nano if you’re so inclined.

Legends of Wrimonia

Legends of Wrimonia, Part Twenty-Six: Mia Meets Chris Baty

Mia continued galloping on her pony through Wrimonia as she cruised in search of Sushi. This turned out to be much more efficient than searching individual forums and through WrimoRails, even if Wrimos did stare at her pony as she galloped past. But where would Sushi be? Mia even checked Sushi’s word count progress bar in Wrimo Hall. Sure enough, Sushi hadn’t updated it since the day before yesterday.

Sushi turned out to be buried in the archives again, this time flipping through books and occasionally scribbling something down in one of them. “Too bad you can’t count that toward your word count,” Mia said when she entered the archives.

“Who says I’m not?” Sushi asked. “Remember, I am writing about you this month.”

“But those books don’t have anything to do with me.”

“They have everything to do with you,” Sushi replied. “Indirectly anyway. Everything here has something to do with NaNo and Wrimonia, and you’re part of it too. Even if you’re–”

“Just in your head?” Mia asked. “What will happen to me when you finish writing me, anyway?”

“That’s a heavy question,” Sushi said.

“You say that about everything I ask you.”

“That’s because you have a tendency to ask me heavy questions. I can’t help that part.” Sushi turned a page in the book she was reading and added a few words to it.

“I need to know. What’s going to happen to me in December?”

“I can’t tell you that!” Sushi blurted out, nearly dropping her fountain pen nib down on the page.

“Why not? Whatever happened to being honest with me? Not that authors are honest with their characters to start with, what with their tendency to make terrible things happen and all.”

“Because it’d spoil everything! I may as well not bother to write the ending if I just tell you what happens now!”

A look of terror appeared on Mia’s face. “Oh no, you have to write the ending. I saw what happened to characters who authors abandon them halfway through. They die, Sushi, they die.” Mia leaned on the desk, her face in front of Sushi’s. “And they get buried in the character cemetery behind the NaNoWriMo Ate My Soul forum, never to be seen again except as possible names for future characters. Supernatural just started. I can’t die yet!” Mia looked at Sushi pathetically.

“I’m going to finish you,” Sushi said. When she saw the look on Mia’s face she added, “And by finish you I mean finish writing you. Not kill you. I haven’t killed that many people off in recent years.”

“In recent years?”

“Well, there were those years where my novel was just a killing spree, but that’s not this year.”

“Please, Sushi, I really don’t want to die. The archives can wait until December, can’t they? I can’t wait until December.” Mia paused for dramatic effect. “Do you know what they do in the character cemetery?” she whispered.

“I’ve buried a few characters there myself. Though I hear they made some improvements this year…”

“Just finish writing me, okay? And tell me where Chris Baty is and everything else about the legends?”

“Now you’re pushing your luck.” Sushi closed the book and returned it to the stack, then grabbed another book and cracked it open. “Timed Artistic Challenges,” Mia noticed on the spine. Realizing she wasn’t going to get anything else out of Sushi, she walked out of the archives.

But she didn’t head back to the forums of Wrimonia. Instead, she mounted her pony and headed toward the hills in search of ideas. Mia had never been to these hills before, and based on the looks of the hills, neither had too many other Wrimos, with the grass that looked a little too green and the flowers that danced in the wind. If she hadn’t already visited the inspiration garden, she would have pegged this place as it. The pony leaned down to eat some of the grass.

Mia gazed out toward the hills and saw a single figure rolling down one of the hills. “Giddyup,” she told the pony, and they galloped toward the lone figure rolling down a hill.

As they rode up and down the hills together, Mia noticed that this person was rolling to the bottom of the hill, then walking back up to the top and rolling down again. They probably took a break every now and then to recover from any dizziness, but Mia never spotted that. Even closer, Mia spotted a bronze Viking helmet with fur on this person’s head and that this person was male. And even closer…

“Chris Baty!” Mia yelled out. “It’s you!”

Chris had just reached the bottom of the hill. He got up and dusted himself off.

And that was when the embarrassment hit. Mia remembered that this was the person she tried to meet by attaching herself to the chariot. That wasn’t the best way to introduce herself or to create a good first impression. But Chris Baty knew who she was now, and that was the important part, right?

“Hi Chris,” Mia said. “Sorry about last time.”

“No worries,” Chris replied. “That was a long time ago.”

“I saw you rolling down the hill from a distance back there,” she said. “Why were you doing that, anyway?”

“That’s one of the ways I get ideas to write,” Chris explained. “I’m not quite sure how it works, but I think it shakes my grey matter around so everything gets exposed to something new.”

Mia nodded. “But don’t the horns get in the way?” She nodded toward the horns on the Viking helmet.

“Not too often,” Chris replied. “Every now and then the helmet might roll off, but that’s part of shaking everything up, isn’t it? Everything gets shaken up and the helmet is no exception. I just have to look around a little for it after getting to the bottom of the hill.”

Mia looked up at Chris Baty’s word count meter, which was behind, but she remembered his way of catching up from behind every year. His halo also hovered above the Viking helmet, occasionally catching on to one of the horns.

“Does this really work?”

“Of course,” Chris said. “Why don’t you try it? Uh, you might want to do it without the horse.”

Mia jumped off the pony, who munched contentedly on the grass. She and Chris Baty walked to the top of the hill. “How’s your month been?” Chris asked.

“All kinds of confusing,” Mia replied. “I don’t know what to do or think anymore.”

“Sounds like what a lot of other Wrimos feel at times. But November’s almost over, and you can win with a good bit of catchup. Both of us can do with some catchup.” They reached the top of the hill. Mia looked down.

“You mean we’re really going to roll down the hill?” Mia asked. She gulped.

“Absolutely,” Chris said. “It sounds like you’re a little stuck in your plot right now. Do you find that changing your environment helps you write better?”

“All the time.”

“New experiences do the same thing. You might not believe it, but something as silly as rolling down a hill invigorates you in ways you don’t even think about until after it’s done. You probably don’t roll down a hill every day, so doing something completely new that’s outside your comfort zone will shake your brain in new ways and maybe even make you think about your novel in new ways.”

“But do I have to do it myself?”

“Not unless you don’t want to. The hill’s big enough for both of us.”

Chris was right about that part, so he laid down at the top of the hill. Mia laid down to form a long line with Chris.

“And now we roll,” he said. And they rolled in the direction of the downward hill, rolling faster and faster until reaching the bottom of the hill, grass and dirt and who knows what else collecting itself on Mia’s clothes. She laid on the ground and watched as the world revolved around her, surely just a trick of the brain.

“Well, how was it?” Chris asked.

“Not as bad as I thought. But how’s that supposed to help my novel?”

“It may not help your novel directly, but the new experience gets you out of whatever rut you might be in,” Chris explained. “It makes you see new things you haven’t seen or thought of before, and that makes you think of new ideas that you otherwise wouldn’t have thought of.”

“Even if I’m just a character in a book? My experiences are pretty limited this way, you know.”

Chris looked at Mia. “You’re not just a character in a book, and you know it. You’re a person, one with lots of experiences and a background for your author to write about. You have interests and fears and passions and quirks that your author is loving the heck out of exploring for their novel.”

“But Sushi won’t tell me anything about what’ll happen after she finishes the novel!” Mia exclaimed. “Erm, sushimustwrite. And if she finishes her novel. All she’s been doing lately is poring over the archives and adding stuff and I’m pretty sure she’s adding stuff about the legends without telling me about it.”

“Maybe she doesn’t need to tell you anything,” Chris said. “Maybe she’s confident you’ll figure it out on your own. We’ve been talking for just a few minutes, but you do seem like a smart capable character and person.”

“But the legends!” Mia said. “I need the last pieces for the legends, and she keeps saying she doesn’t know it and I’m just a character and therefore I’ll never get it even though you’re right in front of me and Wrimonia isn’t the same without you and–.”

“Mia Wonnor,” Chris interrupted. Mia stopped short at Chris calling her by her full name, even though it was right there on her nametag. The pony neighed. “Do you remember three years ago when one of Wrimonia’s marathon runners gave you a yellow metal pencil?” Mia nodded. “It did something special, didn’t it?”

“Wait a minute, how did YOU know about that?”

“We save those pencils for very special occasions, so I hear when one of them is given out. Anyway, do you remember what it did?”

“Not much for most of the month,” Mia said. “Then at some point I started playing with it, and it opened up, and it spelled out the letters of my name. MIA WONNOR, it said. And the letters rearranged themselves to spell NANOWRIMO.”

“Indeed they did,” Chris said. “And do you know why that is?”

“Because NaNo is inside me or in my fate or something,” Mia said. “That was a long time ago. I don’t remember that well now.”

“NaNoWriMo IS in your fate. You’ve been spending the past two months trying to find me, haven’t you?”

They were still standing at the bottom of the hill. Mia couldn’t hear anyone else except the pony chasing a plot bunny. “How’d you know?”

“Oh Mia, the pep talk incident kind of gave it away.”

Mia sighed. “But what else? I tried not to make it obvious that I was looking for you.”

“Word gets around Wrimonia when you talk about stuff like this. People start asking others where I am, and next thing you know everyone is asking around. I even heard about it way up in my writing cottage.”

“I only wanted to find you for the power of good,” Mia said. “Wrimonia’s different without you, Chris. And there are legends to be written and I need you for them because no one else knows everything. You’re my only hope.”

“I’m not the main figure of Wrimonia, Mia,” Chris said.

“Yes, you are. Don’t even try to deny it. You’re the one who created NaNo in the first place.”

“Well, I am, but I’m not the person who cultivates the community and how tight-knit it is. I’m not responsible for noveling nirvana or the inspiration garden or even the Pit of Procrastination.”

“Then who is?”

“You are, Mia.”

“But I didn’t dig the Pit of Procrastination. I have spent a lot of time in it, though,” she added as an afterthought.

“That doesn’t mean you didn’t help build it. And I don’t mean build as in literally dig.”

“Then what do you mean?”

“Come with me. You might want to bring the pony with you.”

Mia didn’t mount the pony, lest she leave Chris behind while going to an unknown destination. Instead, she led the pony as Chris led her to the highest hill in the meadow, possibly in all of Wrimonia. It wasn’t too far away, and the three of them climbed the hill, heading to the very top of the hill. Climbing the hill started to feel more like climbing a small mountain, Mia decided when they were about halfway up. How tall was this thing, anyway?

“Do we have to go all the way to the top?” Mia asked.

“This is where the good stuff happens,” Chris replied. “Do you want to be where the good stuff is?”


“Then come with me.”

They continued onward to the top of the hill. This was not a hill to roll down.

“This is what your month has felt like, yes?” Chris asked.

Mia gasped for breath before nodding, even though Chris couldn’t see her nod. “Yep,” she finally replied.

“Novel-writing has two things in common with climbing this hill. One, it gets easier with practice, something a Wrimo who has done NaNoWriMo for a very long time can tell you. And two, most of it is an uphill climb, but man, is the view from the top gorgeous. We’re almost there,” Chris said as Mia noticed the land starting to flatten a little.

Chris stopped short. “This is good,” he said. “Now look around, Mia.”

Mia looked in the same direction as Chris did and saw an expanse of hills, some of which she had just traversed. But further in the distance she saw what appeared to be Wrimonia: buildings and rails and even WrimoRails zooming around.

“That’s Wrimonia,” she said.

“Indeed it is. Kind of weird seeing it from a distance, isn’t it?”

Mia nodded. “I’ve never taken it all in at once before.”

“Most people never do. They go from forum to forum, or they work on their novels, but they never sit back and look at the big picture of the NaNoWriMo community and what it represents. You’ve done that now, Mia, with the legends and your own novel-writing. You’ve done something extraordinary and you should be proud of it.”

“But I haven’t done it yet. I still need you to tell me the rest of it.”

“You don’t need me for the rest of it,” Chris said. “You already know the last piece of the puzzle.”

“You’re going to have to explain like I’m five because I really don’t know.”

“You make NaNoWriMo what it is, Mia,” Chris said.

“But I’m just a character!”

“It’s not just you. I can’t put that much pressure on one Wrimo. But you and that Wrimo over there who will have twenty thousand words tomorrow and decide to make an epic comeback to win. And the group of Wrimos who put on a musical about NaNo. And everyone cheering each other on regardless of their November goal, no matter how far behind they are. That’s what make NaNoWriMo so magical. I couldn’t have built that myself. That was you, Mia.”

“Me and everyone else?”

“Yes!” Chris took off his Viking helmet and set it on Mia’s head. “You’ll probably want this. You have a book to finish.”

“Isn’t this yours?”

“I think you need it more than I do.” And he rolled down the big hill.

A wild Chris Baty appears!

Apparently I never wrote about how I met Chris Baty, so here goes. It was at NOWD weekend in 2011. There’s a tea for the MLs that weekend (both attending and local to the Bay Area) that Saturday, and since I was an ML that year I was invited. I walked the mile from my hostel to the place the tea was taking place, and there was no way I was doing that in my nice shoes. So I wore my sneakers and brought my nice shoes in my Nano messenger bag for changing into. I got there, ran into another ML (NickiIV) who didn’t want to go in herself, so we went in together. I asked where a bathroom was, dashed in, and changed shoes and generally prettied up before the tea.

When I got out the folks who had gathered outside the tea area were discussing Nano and word counts, and what did I hear but “Ask what Sushi’s word count is.”

“What about it?” I asked. And then I looked up and saw Chris Baty himself.

It’s kind of weird but also KIND OF AWESOME not having to introduce yourself to Chris Baty, by the way.

Oh, and he wound up sitting next to me for this tea. This was completely by accident.

And that’s the story.

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Legends of Wrimonia

Legends of Wrimonia, Part Twenty-Five: The Character Cemetery

After leaving the archives Mia set to work on the legends back in Wrimonia, scribbling what she knew about the legends in a notebook. The inspiration garden… noveling nirvana… the Pit of Procrastination…

It was all a big mess, but it had to get down somehow, and Mia spent the next several days concentrating on this instead of her novel. Mia looked down at what she had scribbled down, then looked around for inspiration. But instead of inspiration she saw a sign declaring where she needed to be for the day.

Forty thousand words. Was it really day twenty-four already? It couldn’t be day twenty-four; Mia’s word count was at…

Good question. What was her word count, anyway? She looked up at her word count bar but then remembered she hadn’t updated that in a few days. Time for a full word count update. Mia started up her laptop and opened her novel.

Thirty thousand, five hundred sixty-eight word, her word count read. Well, crap. Time to get back to writing.

But instead of working on her novel, Mia found herself turning back to the legends that she was busy penning. She already knew parts of what she was going to write down, but other parts still had holes in them. Mia sighed and kept poking the words, which seemed to wiggle away from the page. She couldn’t be getting this sleepy yet…

But the problem wasn’t the words for a change. It was exactly the problem Mia was trying to solve for the past two months.

All the little details of Wrimonia started to shine over the next two days as Mia devoted her time to finding Chris Baty. “Do you know where Chris Baty is?” Mia asked random Wrimos as they passed her in Wrimonia.

“He’s probably catching up on his own novel,” a Wrimo wearing a hat with ears said. Mia noticed her nametag read autohaptic. “He tends to fall behind and catch up.”

Another Wrimo said, “You know how some Wrimos go into NaNo hibernation to catch up? He’s probably doing the same thing right now. Good luck finding him.” This Wrimo’s name was aggy c., and her characters followed right behind her.

Mia walked past the forums. That next scene was there, but it wasn’t there. This was a writer problem and Mia knew it. But how on earth was she supposed to explain this in a forum post?

Mia walked past the NaNoWriMo Ate My Soul forum, walking around it and toward the back. She had never been to the back of this forum before.

Gravestones stuck out of the ground, each of them engraved with something like “RIP Protagonist” or “You served me well, unnamed minor character”. Mia passed a Wrimo named murphyslawyer, who was digging a plot for one of her characters and cackling evilly.

“They have no idea what’s coming…” murphyslawyer muttered.

“Who doesn’t?” Mia asked.

“My character. Character torture is a hobby of mine, you see.”

Mia gulped and stepped away. Once murphyslawyer found out…

Another Wrimo with a shovel was busy digging a couple more plots, while a few more gravestones lay next to the plots.

“What is this place?” Mia asked.

“This is the character cemetery,” the Wrimo replied. This Wrimo’s nametag read FireFallon. “This is where we bury our dead.”

“Our dead?” Mia asked. “I have plenty of those in my novel.” She paused. “Not that I planned it that way, I mean! I swear most of these characters were supposed to live. The people in my novel are having a huge ethical crisis over this right now.”

“Excellent!” FireFallon said. “Ethical crises create a lot of plot and conflict and therefore add to your novel. That’s something to be proud of.”

“But my characters would take up a good big plot in your cemetery,” Mia pointed out. “That always happens in zombie novels.”

“That’s okay,” FireFallon replied, giving the grave another good dig. “We have all kinds of space here. And it’s not just for characters who die, either. It’s for characters in novels unfinished or characters the authors didn’t take time to develop, so they died a fledgling death.”

“Is this supposed to motivate me to finish my novel?”

“You could say that. I’m just the caretaker around these parts.”

“You don’t understand. I’m a character too.”

“That’s nonsense. We’re all Wrimos here. Sure, it makes us a little mad, but yes, we’re all Wrimos, all going for that novel month.”

“No, you really don’t understand. I’m a character in a Wrimo’s novel around here. You know who sushimustwrite is, don’t you?”

FireFallon looked confused. “Can’t say that I do. What about this Sushi person? And is this Sushi person edible?”

“She’s my author, and no, she is not edible,” Mia said. “I’m a character in her novel, and if she doesn’t finish my novel I could end up here too.”

“Then that’s a problem between you and her, isn’t it?”

Indeed it was a problem between Mia and Sushi, but how was Mia going to find Sushi and beg her to finish the story? Mia had spotted Sushi in Wrimonia over the last few days looking rather demotivated about her progress. Sushi’s word count bar didn’t budge thanks to already being over fifty thousand words, but her word count progress meter available in Wrimo Hall showed limited progress. But where would Sushi usually hang out?

Mia already deduced the Atlanta forum as a typical hangout but never found Sushi there no matter how often she visited. Mia tried to think of other things Sushi might like. High word counts, the Knights, the Atlanta Wrimos, the Church of NaNo… who else? Mia dashed back to the Knights of NaNoWriMo, remembering that she had in fact been knighted.

“Ahoy, Knight Mia!” rosiedoodle said aboard her mount. Mia noticed that rosiedoodle’s word count was also quite low. “How has your NaNo been? Your mount has missed you.”

And Mia looked toward the end of the Knights’ area, where her mount stood, tied to the forum. He did look rather sad despite looking well-groomed. And then she remembered.

“Oh no! I completely forgot I had a mount here.” She ran up to her pony and hugged him, then untied it from the forum. “I’m so sorry. He has been taken care of, hasn’t he?”

“Don’t worry, we have a Mount Caretaker here,” Lady Pendragon said. “But in the end your mount is your responsibility. It’s a hard life being a Knight, you know.”

Mia hopped aboard her mount. “Listen, I’m on a couple of very important missions here. Have you seen Sushi?”

Lady Pendragon nodded. “All over Wrimonia, of course,” she replied. “Why?”

“No no,” Mia said. “I know she’s all over Wrimonia. But have you seen her charging with all of you?”

“I wish I had been charging more this year,” rosiedoodle lamented. “Maybe my word count would be higher this year. But no, Sushi hasn’t been charging with us much this year. There’s been something in the NaNo air. I don’t know what it is.”

“I think I know,” Mia said. “I just need to find the last ingredient. But before that I need to find Sushi.”

“Well, best of luck to you,” Lady Pendragon said. “Let’s do a CHARGE before you leave, shall we?”

All the Knights present mounted their mounts. “Mia, shall you do the honors?” rosiedoodle asked.

“What honors?”

“Of leading the charge, of course.”

“But how do I do that? And why now?”

“You yell the first CHARGE, of course. It’s straightforward enough. And we all need a good charge right now. Have you seen how far behind I am? And you?”

“Besides, we’ve gone over this,” Lady Pendragon said. “Charging is what we do as Knights.”

Mia couldn’t believe it. She, a character in someone else’s book, was being asked to lead a charge.

“I think I can do that. Everyone secure on their mounts?” No one objected, so Mia pumped her fist in the air and yelled “CHAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGE!” before saying “Giddyup” to her pony.

“CHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGE!” everyone else yelled.

And forward the Knights of NaNoWriMo went, charging in their novels, charging through Wrimonia to get those last words needed for fifty thousand.

One of the first scene ideas for this book was to have Mia freak out over landing in the character cemetery. Here it is.

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Legends of Wrimonia

Legends of Wrimonia, Part Twenty-Four: The Archive Hut

Noveling nirvana… Mia couldn’t believe she had finally experienced it, and now she had to decide whether to stay here a little longer and write, go back to the main part of Wrimonia, or continue her search for Chris Baty. She wound up staying in noveling nirvana for several more days, miraculously staying on track for that time, before making her way back to the forums of Wrimonia.

After she returned to the forums she found herself at a loss. She was back in the main forum area of Wrimonia, yes, but what now? She was now no closer to finding Chris Baty than she was before. In fact, she might be further than ever from finding him. He could be far from Wrimonia by now, safely ensconced in his novel with no one else around to bother him.

Instead of thinking about these things, Mia instead did what she discovered was the best thing to do in November: work on her novel. She sat down on an eraser bench near the square and watched as Molly and Luke came to life once again before her eyes. Mia tapped down a thousand words before spotting sushimustwrite running across the square, her long hair flapping in the wind.

“Sushimustwrite!” Mia yelled.

Sushimustwrite turned around. “Mia!” she yelled. “I’ve been looking for you.”

“Listen, sushimustwrite–”

“Call me Sushi,” sushimustwrite said.

Finally, Mia thought. “All right, Sushi. Listen, I need help. I think I’ve uncovered all the legends you’ve told me about. Now what?”

“Write them down,” sushimustwrite replied.

“Write them down?”

Sushi stared at Mia. “Seriously, Mia?” she asked. “You’re writing a novel in a month and you won’t write down a few legends?”

“But they’re the Legends of NaNo,” Mia replied. “THE Legends. I can’t write all the legends of NaNoWriMo! How am I supposed to start this?”

Sushi paused. “You know, you won’t be writing the first legends of NaNo.”

“I won’t? But what was the first set?”

“Follow me.” Sushi led Mia past several forums and past a halo vendor toward a path behind Wrimo Hall. Mia had never noticed this path before.

“How long has this path been here?” Mia asked, wondering how she had missed this path for so long.

“Since 2010,” Sushi replied. “So you’ve been around longer than it has.”

“Then why have I never noticed it?”

Sushi shrugged. “The path has never been this big,” she replied. “It was a teeny tiny path in 2010, then got a little more noticeable in 2011 when more people started traveling it to see what was there and wanting to see what was at the end of the path, and then even more people started traveling the path this year.”

They continued walking down the path. “Where are we going anyway?” Mia asked.

“We’re going to take a walk down NaNo memory lane,” Sushi said. “Pretty much everything you’d want to know about NaNo is stored here.”

They reached the end of the path, and Mia saw a small hut with a pentagon logo on the door. Despite its small size, the hut stood firmly on its own ground but didn’t match any of the Wrimonia forums in design.

“I built this,” Sushi said as if she could read Mia’s mind. She probably was. Being the author granted perks like that.

“I didn’t know you could build stuff like this,” Mia said stupidly.

“There are a lot of things you don’t know about me,” Sushi told Mia. “Did you know I considered quitting my first NaNo, then came back and wrote over half the novel in the last week to win?”

Mia shook her head. “You mean you used to come from behind too?”

“Story of my first year right there,” Sushi replied. “No 50k day for me in my early days. I didn’t even write over fifty thousand by now. Nope, it was just me and my words struggling to get that purple bar before the calendar turned to December and validation turned off.”

“You mean I wouldn’t exist if you had quit?” Mia asked.

“That’s a loaded question right there.” Sushi twirled her long hair around her index finger. “What do you think?”

Mia pondered this for a minute. “If I’m your character and you created me, that means I would have been created only if you kept writing like you have. If you had quit early on I would never have existed.” Mia looked down and kicked a pebble sideways. “Right?”

“Well, someone else might have created someone like you,” Sushi said. “Some people have written similar stories, those about someone writing a novel in a month like you are. But no one else has written the exact same story I have, and no one will write the exact story you’re writing.”

“Not even quixotic_hope?”

“Not even Quix,” Sushi said. Mia noted the shortened version of quixotic_hope’s name that Sushi used. “Her version of the story doesn’t have zombies for one.”

“So you mean my story’s original?” Mia asked.

Sushi nodded. “Now wasn’t there something I was going to show you in here?” She led Mia into the hut.

Mia held in a gasp when she entered the hut. What was this magical place? Bookshelves lined the walls, most of them filled with books titled like “The Traveling Shovel of Death” or “Canada :: Alberta :: Edmonton Region History” or “The Office of Letters and Light Staff History”. All the books had titles related to NaNo culture and history, and Mia spotted a bookshelf for Script Frenzy with titles ranging from “Script Frenzy History” to “Script Frenzy Plot Machine”. Next to the Script Frenzy bookshelf was a Camp NaNoWriMo bookshelf. Books lined the Camp NaNoWriMo bookshelf, the titles things like “Blobby’s Origins” and “The Blue Tent of Whoa”.

“What is this place?” Mia asked.

“This is where everything related to NaNo’s history gets stored,” Sushi explained.

“But why didn’t I know about it?”

“Not everyone does. You saw the path. It used to be just me walking up and down the path gathering info for the archives, and then a few other folks found the path and added info to the archives, and then the NaNo staff found out about this little thing I’ve built here. That’s part of how this path got so big.”

“Where’d all these books come from?” Mia reached up and grabbed a book. This one bore the title “To 50k and Beyond: How Overachievers Came To Be”.

“Wrimonia has a magical way of donating blank books,” Sushi said. “But it wasn’t always that way. I had to contribute a lot of these books myself in the beginning when the archives were new. Bootstrapping, you know.”

“I didn’t mean the physical books. I meant the content. How did you find out everything about NaNo?”

Mia had opened the book by now and was flipping through the history of people who wrote far beyond fifty thousand words. She spotted Sushi’s name a few times, along with other familiar names from her years doing NaNo. All of this was material she never would have known unless she was immersed in the community herself. Granted, Sushi was one of those overachievers, but how would she have gathered all that info?

“I kept going back into Wrimonia and investigating,” Sushi said. “Wrimonia keeps lots of yearly site archives, but there was nothing easily accessible if you wanted to know everything on a given topic, like the guilt monkey or Mr. Ian Woon. So I kept digging into Wrimonia’s archives, and when that didn’t work, I searched the greater Internet and its archives. Most of the time I could find what I was looking for.”

“And those other times?”

“That’s when you ask around and see if anyone remembers. And when they don’t, well, it’s okay if something’s unknown, even though hard and fast facts are obviously better.” Sushi realized she was getting even more off track and said, “Oh right, I was going to show you something, wasn’t I?” She led Mia to a NaNo bookshelf and pulled a small book from the bookshelf, a blue book embellished with blue jewels that stood out on an otherwise worn leather cover. The rest of that shelf was empty.

“Is that an original copy?” Mia asked, noting how worn the cover looked.

Sushi nodded. “This is the original copy. It got lost for several years, and several Wrimos recovered it a couple of years ago and gave it a home here.” She handed the book to Mia, who held the book in her hands for almost an entire minute before cracking it open. Someone had sketched a country meadow into the cover, which read “The NaNoLand Chronicles: Bedtime Stories for Wrimos”. Chris Baty himself wrote this book.

“This is just a bunch of bedtime stories,” Mia said. “How can these be legends?”

“How can these be legends?” Sushi repeated herself but louder. “How can these be legends?! Mia, you’ve read the Harry Potter books, right?”

“Yes, but…”

“You remember the tale that explains the Deathly Hallows, don’t you?”

“Yes, but…”

“Then surely you remember how the Deathly Hallows turned out to be real even though the tale itself is buried in a children’s book.”

“But that was fiction!” Mia protested. “It’s not real.”

“You can still learn from fiction. Now open the book.”

Mia finally cracked the book open. Here again was the same design that was on the cover, but on paper this time, and handwritten. She turned the page and saw the title of the first legend, then began to read.

“What does this have to do with NaNo?” Mia asked as she read the first few paragraphs. “It’s just a bunch of kids’ stories.”

“Keep reading.”

And Mia did keep reading the tales. She finished reading the first tale (“The Young Criminals of Wheatboggin”), then kept going all the way to the fourth tale (“The Impossible Invention”). Sushi watched and occasionally scribbled in books as Mia read. “Wait a minute, this is all about doing NaNo, isn’t it?” Mia asked as she finished and looked up from the book.

“Glad to see you figured it out. Chris Baty released these in 2004 as pep talks, but it’s rumored that the stories in the pep talks are real.”

“You mean they’re not just real from an allegorical perspective? I have an English degree. I’m pretty good at telling allegory through literature.” Then Mia remembered that she had an English degree because Sushi deemed it so. Did that mean she wasn’t good at that all of a sudden?

“They’re certainly real from an allegorical perspective,” Sushi said. “You can see the allegory as clearly as I can. But were the people real? No one knows. Some people think they are. No one has gone to great lengths to find out.”

“Not even you?”

“Not even me.”

“Are you going to find out?”

“Maybe. But there are more legends to pen now.” Sushi glided a finger across the empty part of the bookshelf the book came from. “And I can’t write all of them. I can’t even write the current set. You’re much more capable of writing these legends than I’ll ever be.”

“But you’ve done this eleven times! You’re… Sushi! You built this place! How can little old me do it?”

“Because you’re Mia Wonnor, and that’s how you roll. Now get to work.”

The hut represents–you guessed it–Wikiwrimo.

And you might have also guessed it–Mia gets to call me Sushi because I got tired of typing sushimustwrite all the time.

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