Legends of Wrimonia

Legends of Wrimonia, Part Twenty-Three: Noveling Nirvana

“Sushi!” someone exclaimed. Mia turned to this person, someone with a nametag that read rswinehart3.

“Lillian!” sushimustwrite yelled back. “I brought a visiting Wrimo with me. Thank the plot shovel. Meet Mia Wonnor. Mia, this is Lillian, or rswinehart3.”

Lillian (or was it rswinehart3? Mia decided to just call her Lillian since that was easier) waved at Mia. Sushimustwrite and Mia found two empty places at the end of the table.

“Welcome to Atlanta,” another Wrimo said, walking up from behind them. Mia saw his nametag read quintopia.

“You’re quintopia!” Mia said. Quintopia was a good bit taller than she was, but since Mia was barely five feet tall, even sushimustwrite towered over her. “You brought me to the first writein?”

“I did?” quintopia asked, looking confused.

“Yes, with the plot shovel,” Mia replied. She explained what sushimustwrite told her.

“Oh right, Sushi and I were trying to figure out how it worked,” quintopia said. “And then you showed up, which proved the demo effective. And then I disappeared to an Amsterdam write-in.”

“Yeah, forgot to mention that part,” sushimustwrite said.

“And then I showed up,” another Wrimo said, this one taller than quintopia.

“That wouldn’t have been a plot hole,” sushimustwrite said, looking up at this Wrimo, whose nametag read Cannikin.

“Hi Cannikin,” sushimustwrite said. She introduced Mia and Cannikin, and everyone settled down to write.

“Where are we supposed to be anyway?” Mia asked as she booted her laptop.

“Let’s see,” sushimustwrite said. “Today’s day eighteen, so…”

“Thirty thousand,” quintopia chimed in.

“Wait, day eighteen? But it was day sixteen just a few minutes ago!” Mia said. She turned to sushimustwrite. “I know it was! Wasn’t it, sushimustwrite?”

Sushimustwrite nodded. “Unfortunately that’s a consequence of plot shovel travel. Sometimes the plot shovel loves to twist time along with plots. No one’s figured out how to deal with it yet, or even if that’s intentional. And we can’t just ask the maker of the plot shovel since he’s not exactly what you’d call a friendly fellow. Well, he’d be friendlier if people wouldn’t bring up the Traveling Shovel of Death around him, but can you count on Wrimos not to do that?”

“Believe me, I know,” Mia said. “I already met the maker once. I have no desire to meet him again.”

“You’re a lucky one,” sushimustwrite replied. But before they could continue this discussion Lillian’s voice interrupted them by yelling, “Matt!”

Mia looked up. Sure enough, it was MattKinsi, and Mia remembered that it wasn’t ML Appreciation Day anymore. But that didn’t mean she couldn’t appreciate her ML. She ran up to MattKinsi and hugged his neck.

“Whoa, hi, Mia,” MattKinsi said. “What’s this for?”

“ML Appreciation Day,” Mia replied. “The fog ate me up and I missed it. This is to make up for it.”

“Aww, thanks Mia,” MattKinsi said.

More Wrimos showed up, including the familiar Loki892 and quixotic_hope. They settled down, and quixotic_hope started to write.

“What are you writing about, Mia?” quintopia asked from across the table.

“A futuristic world where a bunch of social rights are taken away,” she replied. “With zombies.”

“That’s one of my novels!” quixotic_hope said, looking up from her computer. “Well, minus the zombies.”

“Really?” Mia asked. “But I didn’t steal it from you and I’m pretty sure you didn’t steal it from me…”

Mia turned to sushimustwrite, who looked back at Mia guiltily. Sushimustwrite didn’t say anything. And that was when Mia knew.

“That’s your plot, isn’t it?” Mia said to sushimustwrite, who nodded.

“I knew it!” Mia said. “You couldn’t even come up with an original plot for me so you took someone else’s.”

“But quixotic_hope said I could,” sushimustwrite said. “Didn’t you?” Quixotic_hope nodded. “And you needed a plot and I couldn’t think of anything else and I needed to plan that one anyway, so it just seemed natural to give you that plot.”

After this chatter died down sushimustwrite started a word war. Mia found herself staring at the screen for the first couple of minutes of the war, then down at the floor. This wasn’t what she wanted to hear. But somehow the plot shovel wound up in her hand. She stuck the plot shovel in the ground, and despite the tile floor, the plot shovel made a dent. Mia continued digging and fell through the plot hole.

Mia landed in a field that looked unfamiliar to her. A vast expanse of green grass spread past Mia as far as her eye could see, and Wrimos stretched out on the field, their laptops in front of them, or notebooks in front of them, working on their novels. Every now and then a small blue bird flew toward a Wrimo with a message, and the Wrimo accepted the message with gratitude. More often, Wrimos would get up and talk to each other about their plots.

It was much like the forums, Mia thought to herself. In fact, this should be going on in the bulk of Wrimonia, on the eraser benches, with the discussion going on in the forums. So why wasn’t it?

Mia sat down to write, observing what everyone else around her was doing. There were characters around her, the characters of other Wrimos, some of them bending to the author’s will, others, not so much. But Mia wasn’t too concerned about that.

The sun peeked out through what was probably the only cloud in the sky. Funny that it would have to peek out through the only cloud in the sky, Mia though to herself. It was like the sun wanted to hide.

But as Mia watched, the cloud faded away and the sun shone even more brightly.

Mia cracked open her laptop and typed out a few words. Her characters were nowhere to be seen, but that was okay. She was fine without them for now. Mia smiled as she watched everyone else write. There was something about watching everyone else write from afar as she wrote, knowing that almost everyone else was going for the same fifty thousand words, knowing that this was what united them, no matter where they came from in life, no matter what they did outside of November.

A common goal bonded them together.

Mia tapped out a few more sentences and dug into her bag for something. She pulled it out and remembered when she acquired it: the metal pencil from her first year, the one that saved her NaNo, the one with the letters that spelled her name and rearranged themselves to spell NANOWRIMO. Was this coincidence that Mia Wonnor was an anagram of NaNoWriMo? Or was this purely intentional? Mia wondered this ever since finding out, and ever since her discovery as a character in a book, the question burned even more brightly, but she couldn’t ask sushimustwrite this, could she?

A few Wrimos near Mia paused to think in their writing. Mia held the pencil in her hand, thinking back to her first NaNo.

So sushimustwrite had this planned the whole time, didn’t she? Sushimustwrite knew what Mia was going to do the whole time with her novel, her plot, everything.

But what about Mia’s life outside of NaNo? Mia did have a life outside of NaNo, yes?

“I have to have a life outside of November,” Mia said. “There’s no way I can’t. I didn’t lose NaNo because of getting too derpy to lose, did I?” No, of course she didn’t. Real life got in the way combined with a lack of motivation with her novel. But did sushimustwrite orchestrate that as well? She had to; she was, after all, Mia’s puppet master.

Mia turned back to all the Wrimos working on their novels. All of them seemed so happy, but maybe some of them weren’t so happy. There was a reason the NaNoWriMo Ate My Soul forum was so crowded. Everything possible could go wrong in November, something Mia was all too familiar with; to be honest with herself, Mia was surprised that she didn’t start any threads in this forum this year. The ones she did start in the past received nothing but encouraging replies, though, but was real life really beating her up? No, it was that part about being a character in someone’s book, and almost no one could relate to that.

But there was still something about this meadow that Mia was sitting in. Plot bunnies bounced around, and every now and then one of them bit a Wrimo. Participants still talked among themselves, but never in an annoying fashion. Mia kept working on her novel, ignoring the fact that Molly and Luke and even Alaina never showed up. She didn’t need them right now.

She kept writing. She was seven thousand words behind; she needed the words, and the words needed her. She could pull off a seven thousand word day, couldn’t she? That would be enough to make her catch up. Mia knew she wasn’t a fast typist, but she could type quickly when she put the effort into it and when she knew exactly what was going on. Luckily she knew what was going to happen for the next few thousand words thanks to having plenty of time to muse over it.

So Mia kept writing. And kept writing. And kept writing. Molly and Luke did show up at some point, but Mia ignored them in favor of her keyboard and screen, imaging what was going on in the novel in her own head instead of making them act out everything.

“Aren’t you going to pay attention to us?” Molly asked, her pistol dangling from her wrist.

“You’re in my head now,” Mia said, pointing to her temple.

“In your head?” Molly asked. “What are you, mental?”

“Probably,” Mia replied. “But aren’t all writers mental in some way?”

Molly shook her head. Mental Mia might be, but let’s face it: Molly and Luke still had a job to do. Mia continued to ignore them and kept typing. She didn’t need their representations anymore. They were, after all, just physical figments there to make her feel like she was being an author. As long as they existed where she wanted them to exist, she would be happy.

And when the word counter announced that Mia was back on track many hours later, everyone within Mia’s vicinity celebrated with her.

“I knew you could do it, Mia,” a Wrimo by the name of Chomsky-rabbit said, handing Mia a chocolate bar. Mia tore into it immediately. Mmm. Canadian chocolate.

“Thanks,” Mia said, admiring chomsky-rabbit’s high word count, which was much higher than sushimustwrite’s.

“You’re doing great,” another Wrimo said, this one by the name of lorata. “Keep writing and you’ll be at fifty thousand in no time.”

Mia smiled. She knew she would.

And then she remembered.

“Noveling nirvana,” she said aloud.

“Noveling nirvana?” chomsky-rabbit asked.

Mia nodded. “You’ve never heard of it?”

“It sounds familiar,” chomsky-rabbit replied. “I think I’ve heard legends of it, that feeling when you’re writing and just want to keep going. I know that feeling. Do you know anything more about it?”

“It’s not just that,” Mia explained. “Though that’s part of it. Noveling nirvana, NaNo nirvana, is this feeling right here. The feeling you get when you put a bunch of supportive writers in one place with a deadline. Everyone cheers each other one. From the rebels–” Mia pointed to the NaNo Rebels forum, visible in the distance with its skull and crossbones logo. “To the folks going for fifty thousand to the folks going for way more. Sure, there are some catfights, but what do you expect when you put a lot of folks in one place like this? It’s practically expected, and I’d be surprised if there weren’t. But you can’t stop the feeling, and I wouldn’t want to if you paid me.”

“That’s why you donate,” lorata said. She pointed at Mia’s halo.

“And that’s why I did,” Mia said. “This is what people have been talking about with noveling nirvana. I didn’t believe it really existed, but it’s real! And it’s still real despite…”

“Despite…” Chomsky-rabbit said.

“Despite Chris Baty not being here.”

Chomsky-rabbit patted Mia on the back. “Chris Baty may not be here anymore, but his spirit still lives on!” she replied. “He created NaNo and Wrimonia and in that he instilled a spirit that refuses to be broken.”

“But why are there so many questions that aren’t answered?” Mia asked. “The legends of NaNo… he’s the only one who must know about them.”

“No, you are,” Chomsky-rabbit said.

“I am?” Mia asked, dumbstruck.

Chomsky-rabbit nodded. “Everyone leaves their own little legacies behind, their own little pieces to be put together. And you’re putting yours together, along with the ones that have been left behind by others. Keep doing that.”

Mia nodded. Keep doing that. “But in order to do that I need Chris Baty,” she said. “I’m going after the real legends. The big legends.”

“Then by all means seek him out!” chomsky-rabbit said. “Keep going! But remember, you are leaving your own little legacy behind in NaNoWriMo.”

Well, this was an awkward section to reread. All I’m saying on that.

And noveling nirvana… Mia’s learning something! Legends!

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

Legends of Wrimonia

Legends of Wrimonia, Part Twenty-Two: The Wrimonia Lost and Found

Mia found herself in front of Wrimo Hall. Was everything here? Seriously? She should have known this by now. If she had a question, chances are someone at Wrimo Hall knew the answer or where to find it.

But they didn’t know everything about the legends of NaNo or where Chris Baty was.

Mia pushed the shield door open and entered Wrimo Hall. A young woman wearing a staff cape sat at the front desk, and the nametag as well as the plaque next to her read Shelby Gibbs, Customer Service Captain.

“Welcome to Wrimo Hall, Mia Wonnor,” Shelby said. “How may I help you?”

“I lost my bag,” Mia said, still clutching sushimustwrite’s notebook. “You know, my bag with my laptop and notebook and everything else. I need to keep writing my novel, and let’s face it, I’m way behind by now. Do you have a lost and found anywhere?”

Shelby pointed to the stairs. “Top floor, to the right,” she replied. “When do you think it came in? We clean out the lost and found every year with the relaunch, and the newest stuff is always toward the front.”

“Sometime in the last couple of days, I’m guessing,” Mia replied. “I got sucked into the fog on Donation Day and meant to donate then, and of course the fog left my stuff behind. Or maybe it sucked my stuff in but wouldn’t let me get it. I don’t know.”

“Oh, the fog,” Shelby said. “It’s a fickle creature. We’ve tried to ban it from Wrimonia, but banning something that’s part of human nature is so difficult, you see. And the fog attacks every Wrimo slightly differently, so we’d have to adjust our techniques accordingly. This turns out to be surprisingly difficult.”

“So you know more about the fog?” Mia asked.

“A little. I’ve been on staff only this season,” Shelby replied.

“Tell me everything you know.”

“Pull up a chair. This is gonna take a bit.”

Mia pulled up a tall stool that appeared. It was pale blue with the NaNo crest on the back, and she sat down across from Shelby.

“I have to be honest with you,” Shelby said when Mia was comfortable. “The only thing I know about the fog is from my own experience with it and not anything official from being a staff person.”

“That’ll do,” Mia said. “But the fog made me quit NaNo last year, so I need to know more about it. And about all the legends of NaNo.” She didn’t mean for the last part to slip out. It just did. She had mostly forgotten about her quest for the legends of NaNo and for Chris Baty thanks to her stay in the fog, but now that she was in front of someone who knew more about one of the legends, it was time to learn more.

“I heard a lot of people falling victim to the fog. It gets me too.”

Mia remembered this. She saw people dropping like flies all around her this, and she tried to stay tough, tried to stick with it. She couldn’t quit, after all. She had two NaNo victories behind her and wanted a third. But that fog was eating at her like she was a food last year.

“It nommed on me,” Shelby said. “I didn’t know what to make of it. It was my first long stay in the fog, and I tried fighting my way out of it. Oh, I tried my hardest. But every time I tried climbing my way out of the fog the same way I went in, more notebooks and pens fell on top of me. I tried to grab one of them so at least I could write something down, anything, even if it was a sentence of two to add to the word count or an idea for a future scene. But the notebooks kept falling and every time I grabbed one of them, my fingers burned so hot to the notebook that it made wanting to grab another notebook undesirable. Eventually I gave up and stopped reaching, choosing to go where the notebooks went: the chute.”

Mia remembered the chute. She tried grabbing a notebook there as well but wound up grabbing the notebook of her author. Come to think of it, sushimustwrite was probably missing that notebook if this was in fact her real notebook. But how awkward would it be to find her and return the notebook?

“And then what happened?” Mia asked.

“I entered the chute,” Shelby said. “It looked a lot like what I’d imagine the insides of intestines to look like, and all the notebooks and pens and other writing implements were there, getting absorbed through the chute into the body of the fog. But I kept tumbling down the chute in an attempt to find an exit, continuing to grab notebooks and pens. I never could grab anything, but at some point I saw a light at the end of the tunnel and slid out of the chute.”

“And that’s it?” Mia asked.

“Yep,” Shelby said. “Now you might want to head up to the lost and found. Top floor. The stuff likes to move around a lot.”

Mia thanked Shelby and scrambled up the stairs to the top floor. So this is what happened to the top floor…

This must be the Muggle version of that room in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Mia thought to herself. Messenger bags and laptops and notebooks and pens and even the occasional typewriter filled the room with no sense of order. Mia looked around the room in search of something that would resemble her bag, a plain black messenger bag with no insignia on it. The problem in finding this is that just about every other bag in here is also black, including some black messenger bags that Mia spotted with the NaNoWriMo shield on them. Where did they get those? Did they get regular old black messenger bags and sew on the NaNo crest? But that would lead to the question of where they got the crest, and Mia didn’t have an answer to this. Though to be fair she didn’t pay attention to most of the vendors selling things this year except for the halo vendors.

All Mia knew was that she wanted one of those. They were probably expensive though, and her payday wasn’t this week. Alas.

Mia stepped over a thick binder and a typewriter and kept looking for her bag. Shelby was right about everything moving around; Mia could have sworn that the things in this room had moved around since her arriving in this room. There had to be a way to keep everything straight in this room, and she didn’t know how to keep them straight. Did anyone who tried looking around this room know how to keep anything in this room straight? She was about to look on the other side of the room when she heard a noise.

Someone else was in here. Mia looked down and noticed that she was still clutching sushimustwrite’s notebook. Mia didn’t get that from this room, but she kept holding on to it. What were the odds that sushimustwrite would be coming in here in search of that right now, anyway? Granted, sushimustwrite did seem to be everywhere, judging by how everyone around Wrimonia seemed to know her.

A long-haired Wrimo who looked very familiar entered.

“Sushimustwrite!” Mia exclaimed.

“Mia!” sushimustwrite said. “And hey, that’s my notebook! What were you doing with it?”

“I found it,” Mia said. She didn’t hand it to sushimustwrite but instead studied sushimustwrite’s expression. What was going to happen, anyway? Was she going to make this more awkward?

“Where?” Sushimustwrite jumped toward Mia and hugged her neck. “and I’ve been looking for you for ages too. Where have you been?”

“Everywhere,” Mia replied. “I went to visit the shovel shop and the fog sucked me in and I found your notebook. I know, by the way.”

“Know what?”

“That I’m just a character. No more, no less.”

“OH, Mia,” sushimustwrite said. “I meant what I said before.”

“Why weren’t you… I don’t know… less gentle?”

“Because most people don’t deal well with being told that they’re just characters in books!” sushimustwrite said. “You saw your reactions. You’re a writer too. You know how mean we writers are to our characters. But you don’t exist just to do my bidding. No, you’re special.”

Mia took this moment after sushimustwrite stepped away from Mia to hand over the notebook. “I figured you’d want this but I didn’t want to track you down. What if you were still mad at me?”

“You’re just like me in that fashion,” sushimustwrite said. “Though I guess that’s expected. Some of my traits are ever present in you. Look, Mia, I know you were upset. I’m still a little upset, to be honest. but I meant everything I said. You’re the only person who can uncover the legends of NaNoWriMo, and you’ve already done that so well. You uncovered the real inspiration garden. If you read the notebook, you know that the inspiration garden is real and not just a figment of your imagination. You know about the pit of procrastination. You know about the fog. You know about the traveling shovel of death. And now you need to find out about noveling nirvana.”

“Noveling nirvana?”

Noveling nirvana,” sushimustwrite said. “It’s that feeling you get, that high when you write and want to keep going to keep that feeling alive. You don’t want November to end, but all good things do come to an end. There’s a story behind it, and you’re the one who needs to uncover it.”

“But why me?” Mia asked. “I’m just a character. You’ve done this how many times again?”


Mia looked at sushimustwrite’s halo and full word count bar. Despite sushimustwrite’s fifty thousand words on November second, her word count bar hadn’t budged that much despite being in the second half of the month. Was sushimustwrite done? Was she too struggling on the book about Mia?

“But you’re the best person to uncover all of the legends, Mia,” sushimustwrite said again. “You’re fresh, you’re newer to the land than I am. I’m an old Nano fart. I watched Wrimonia evolve from a small thing. My view is more historical while yours is a fresh and new one.”

“But–” Mia wasn’t sure what she was going to say here.

“No buts.”

“You’re still on for helping me out, right?” Mia asked. “I’m not sure I can do it myself?”

“Of course I am,” sushimustwrite said. “I’m your author, remember? Wherever I guide you, I’ll do my best not to guide you wrong.”

“Then where am I supposed to go now?” Mia asked.

“First things first,” sushimustwrite said. “You never did thank your ML for ML appreciation day, did you?” Mia shook her head. “Well, it’s time to do that.”

“Wait a minute, how are you going to help me do that? I mean, he might be around the forums, and you could sneak into my region’s forums, but–”

Sushimustwrite didn’t say anything, just grabbed Mia’s wrist and dragged her out of the lost and found.

“Hey!” Mia said. “My bag’s still in there!”

“No it isn’t,” sushimustwrite said.

“How do you know?” Mia asked, turning to sushimustwrite.

“It’s right here.” Sushimustwrite lifted a bag off her shoulder, and Mia noticed just then that sushimustwrite was in fact wearing two messenger bags. Sushimustwrite handed one of them to Mia. “I noticed it as soon as I entered. Funny that I’d notice my character’s bag before noticing my own missing notebook. Anyway, we’re going to thank your ML, and mine too–”

“Wait, you’re in my region?” Mia asked. “But–”

“No, I’m not in your region,” sushimustwrite said. “But MattKinsi, who is your ML if you remember right, is also the ML of the Atlanta region, making him my ML. He also watches over your region. I used to ML the Atlanta region, so I know what goes into MLing.”

Sushimustwrite reached into Mia’s bag.

“Hey, that’s my bag.”

“I’m your author. I can do whatever I want.”

Mia sighed. It was like sushimustwrite said she was Mia’s mother, but it was… a little worse? A little more invasive? She couldn’t decide which.

“Okay, fine,” Mia said. “But how did I meet him with a bunch of Wrimos I didn’t know that time a long time ago?”

“Oh, that was easy,” sushimustwrite explained. “That was thanks to the plot shovel.”

“The plot shovel?” Mia asked.

Sushimustwrite nodded. “One of my friends acquired one. Not sure how he did it, to be honest, but he grabbed the shovel and didn’t look back after using it.”

Shovel twins… “Who was this again?”

“Quintopia,” sushimustwrite replied. “Not that you know who he is yet; he wasn’t at that writein you showed up at. But he dug a plot hole so a random Wrimo would show up and lo and behold, you showed up. Now all we need to do is dig a plot hole with your plot shovel, and we’ll show up at the writein that everyone else is at, including MattKinsi.”

Sushimustwrite grabbed the Plot Shovel from Mia’s bag and struck it in the ground. “Okay, let’s get digging,” sushimustwrite said.

Sushimustwrite and Mia took turns digging a hole with the plot shovel. They dug deeper and deeper until they found themselves surrounded by people with laptops smiling back at them.

And now you know how Mia showed up at the Atlanta writein despite not being in that region!

We also know that I lied a little before. Come on, how’d you take it if you were JUST a character in someone’s book and your author had to break the news?

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

Legends of Wrimonia

Legends of Wrimonia, Part Twenty-One: The Fog

Unfortunately Week Two had not let up, and Mia was suffering. The fog from last year that Mia had managed to escape so far was now descending upon her just as it had last year, gripping her and her creative muse Alaina like the grippe. Mia turned back to her computer and continued writing.

But as Mia tried to summon her characters to create words… they wouldn’t come. It felt like last year all over again with the fog wrapping around her. This wasn’t Writer’s Block attacking, as it so loved doing. This was lack of motivation to write, hands down, and it had just shown up in Wrimonia.

Mia looked around and watched as the Fog consumed other characters and muses, grabbing them with its foggy hands and eating them. The Fog ate Mia’s characters and will to write last year, eating them until there was nothing left to consume. That was the thing about the Fog: it knew exactly where to reach in order to make a Wrimo not want to write. Sleepy? Oh, let’s get sleepier. Stuck? Recruit Writer’s block. Hungry? That’s okay. Maybe you need a snack or three.

But Mia was smarter than the fog. This year, anyway. She looked up at the fog and said, “I’m not going to fall prey to you this year, Fog.”

As soon as Mia said that she found herself scooped up by a large black hand and eye to eye with a black powderlike figure. Its yellow eyes stared back at Mia.

“Shoot,” Mia said as the fog swallowed her whole.

Mia tumbled down the fog’s throat, which was surprisingly solid, and landed on a fort in what she suspected was the fog’s stomach. Wait, a fort in the fog’s stomach? She tossed a pillow aside and–

Wait a minute. What was a pillow doing inside the fog? Mia looked around and noticed that the fort was not an ordinary fort but was made of blankets. This wasn’t getting any more reasonable at all. Mia crawled into the blanket fort and looked around.

This wasn’t any ordinary fort; in fact, Mia suspected that it was in fact bigger on the inside, as she had never seen a blanket fort of this size before. Mia crawled around the blanket fort in search of anything that would help her out, thinking all the while to herself that maybe this would be a great place to work on her novel. She looked around for her laptop bag or at the very least a notebook.

They were nowhere to be found. Mia peeked under all the pillows in search of a pen at the very least. Surely someone would have left one here, especially since this fort looked like a great place to write with its hidden nooks and crannies to hide a writer and its many pillows to seat a writer, not to mention it was safely hidden from Timmy the pillow-throwing bot.

But then Mia remembered that she was nestled (she hesitated to say safely nestled since there appeared to be no safety implied) within the digestive system of the fog. Were pencils and laptops considered to be useful digestive material to the fog?

Mia continued investigating, carefully stepping over the stomach of the fog and peering out of the blanket fort. She didn’t hear a sound except what sounded like something the fog was digesting. She crawled out of the blanket fort and walked in the direction of that grumbling noise.

Mia walked past the blanket fort and followed the pillow path away from the fort. The grumbling noise got louder, and Mia continued following them, finally arriving at a downward chute with pink wrinkly walls. Something smelled funny here…

She peeked down the chute and watched as the chute churned. But more interesting than the chute churning was the contents of the chute. She watched as pencils and notebooks and keyboards swirled around the chute, along with the occasional word. None of them swirled up toward Mia, though; all of them made their way down the chute in the opposite direction.

This left Mia with only one choice. She looked back at the pillow path and the blanket fort, then back toward the chute. Should she go for words or the safety of the blanket fort?

Before Mia had too much time to ponder this thought, a notebook fell from above and bopped her on the head. She reached up to catch it but just missed it, watching as the notebook flew past her and down into the chute below.

Well, that was a first. Mia grabbed a pillow, not because it would help protect her from the falling notebooks and who knows what else, but because it may just serve as a talisman from everything else that would fall from the abyss above. Not that there could be an abyss above, but you never know.

Mia kept watching out. This was the first time she had seen something fall from that wondrous space above. Well, ever since she had fall from above. She did fall from above, right? did that make her an angel?

But before she had too much time to ponder that, a word fell and smacked her on the forehead.

A word? What kind of word was this? Mia reached out to pick up the word, but the word scurried away from Mia and toward the wrinkly chute. She did catch a glimpse of the word, though: “scurry”.

As “scurry” scurried away, Mia headed back to the chute, still clutching the pillow and unsure of what to do next. All the words and notebooks and paper were still flying down the chute to places unknown, but Mia still tried to catch something, anything that would let her write something down, even though she had no idea of what to write. But surely being inside the fog would be somewhat inspiring, yes?

She continued looking down the abyss, pondering what to do. Surely a bot would be more useful in helping her make a decision than her own gut instinct, but there were no bots to be found in the fog, especially a fog that was fond of eating Wrimos.

Another notebook fell, and Mia caught this one, a blue spiral notebook with perforated pages. She turned to the first page. The first couple of paragraphs, all scrawled in cursive, read like a journal.

“I’m rereading Adventures in Wrimonia now. Time to take some notes.

“*Welcome to Wrimonia sign. This needs to show up in the first scene, which features Lindsey Grant and the megaphone a la the October first breaking news….

“Is that space between Plot Doctoring and Reaching 50k still there? Is there anything special about it? I guess it’s possible that this is just a representation of Mia’s imagination. But it could have gotten destroyed in the 2011 redesign, and this is what she’s looking for.”

Mia stopped right there. Reading Adventures in Wrimonia? What was this? Mia was in Wrimonia, and someone was writing a book, no, had already written a book on Wrimonia. But she wasn’t in this book, was she? Mia kept reading.

“Mia’s going to have a session with TSOD while finding herself.

“Mia got her laptop in 2008. She’ll probably lose her work at some point.

“Mia was an English major.

“Mia hunts for Chris Baty and the one place rumored to inspire all that she thinks she found a long time ago and that feeling of NaNo. I think I may need a title change…”

Wait a minute, Mia thought as she lowered the notebook. Mia? They couldn’t all be about her, could they? But they were all true statements if they were referring to her; Mia did in fact get her current computer in 2008, and she did major in English, and… wait a minute. Mia did have that session with the Traveling Shovel of Death.

But not all of these notes directly involved Mia’s adventures this year. And even if they did… Mia noticed that two of the pages were stuck together. She unstuck the pages and read the pages that she didn’t notice before.

“Mia’s dad was abducted by aliens when she was six.

“Mia discovered NaNo on 24 Oct 2009

“She likes to write and take photos.

“What if Mia wrote a novel about me? That would require much more silliness than she’s used to.

“Alaina: Mia’s muse, long red hair, bright blue eyes

“Inspiration Garden between Plot Doctoring and Reaching 50k: garden to her, everyone sees something different?”

In a flash of inspiration Mia turned back to the first page. 6 October 2012. She flipped through blank pages of the journal. There were no more entries.

So this was it, wasn’t it? Sushimustwrite was in fact the best person to ask about the inspiration garden, but asking a Wrimo writing a book about you for advice would be awkward after you disowned their authorship.

And then there was part where sushimustwrite knew all these little things about Mia. Who was sushimustwrite, a credit agency? She even knew all about Mia’s muse.

It was time to confront sushimustwrite, but in order to do that Mia had to leave the fog.

Clutching the notebook, Mia jumped down the chute. It was as wrinkly as Mia observed, but notebooks and pens and flash drives zoomed through the edges of the chute. Mia clutched tightly to the notebook. She would not lose this notebook. She would not.

Mia landed on a particularly wrinkly part of the chute. While the chute absorbed the notebooks and pens and flash drives, Mia slid right through, still clutching the notebook. She landed a minute later on the hard ground of Wrimonia and looked around.

Yes, this was exactly the place she had left. Same forums, Same location. But was it the same time?

Mia walked around Wrimonia in search of a clock. Surely not that much time had passed. When did she get sucked into the fog? That was what, day fourteen? Donation Day. Mia remembered seeing the signs requesting Wrimos to donate and all the fabulous prizes she could win if she did. Mia meant to donate on Donation Day to get that shiny halo on her head, but somehow getting sucked into the fog took precedence. It wasn’t too late to donate, was it?

Luckily there were more halo vendors than ever around Wrimonia, and Mia continued looking for a halo vendor who wasn’t occupied and for a sign that told her what day it was. The latter got resolved first when Mia saw a sign saying “Day 16. Target word count: 26672. Happy ML Appreciation Day! Thank your MLs today.”

Day Sixteen? What happened? Mia looked around. Her ML MattKinsi was nowhere in sight, but a halo vendor did stand a few feet from the sign, and this halo vendor was not affixing a halo to anyone. Mia approached this short vendor with halos of all kinds hanging from his stand.

“Welcome, welcome to the Donation Station,” the halo vendor said. He waved his right hand around the stand. “We sell halos of all sorts here in exchange for your support of Wrimonia.”

“I know,” Mia said, having heard the spiel multiple times before. “I just want the Extraordinary Helper halo, please.”

“Excellent!” the halo vendor said. “We’ve added a few new features to the Donation Station this year that you might not know about. You now have the option to support Wrimonia every month!”

“Every month?” Mia asked. “How does that work?”

“You choose an amount among our current donation amounts that you can donate every month for a year and file your information with us. Every month for twelve months we deduct that amount from your card. After twelve months you can choose to continue your monthly donation program with us.”

“That sounds neat,” Mia said. “I’m not sure I could commit to that for a year, though.”

“Like I said, you can donate as little as ten dollars a month,” the halo vendor pointed out. “And that still makes a world of difference to a small organization like us to create something as big as Wrimonia. Oh, I never told you about our other program.”

“What’s that?”

“It’s the extra noveling karma program. We could also call it the tip jar since that’s essentially what it is. That’ll let you donate any amount.” The halo vendor pointed to a jar sitting at the front of his stand, which contained spare change and bills.

“Any amount? Really?”

The halo vendor nodded. “People have been asking for this for years. We still take payments through PayPal for small amounts, but finally we set up a special donation jar for those small amounts. Spare change from coffee shop purchases. Change MLs get from donation jars. Change you find from behind the couch. All that adds up to keep Wrimonia going and make it even better next year.” He paused. “Oh right, you wanted an Extraordinary Helper halo. Hold on one second.” The halo vendor checked his stock of halos. “That’ll be $25.”

Mia handed the halo vendor some bills from her pocket, and the halo vendor stepped back from behind the stand with a halo and stepladder. “We have to tell you this every year,” he said. “But remember that removing the halo has to be done manually at Wrimo Hall, so speak now if you don’t want the halo attached.”

“I want the halo!” Mia said. “That’s half the reason I donate in the first place. All these other cool people have shiny halos attached to them, floating over their heads showing how angelic they are, and I don’t have mine yet.”

“All right, all right, I just have to tell everyone this.” The halo vendor scooted the ladder closer to Mia and stepped up on it, then adjusted the halo on Mia’s head. He made a couple more adjustments, then stepped down from the ladder. Mia glanced up at the halo and admired the halo vendor’s work.

“Aw, thanks,” she said.

“That halo will stay there until next October, guaranteed,” he said. “After that you’ll need to donate again to get a new halo.”

“I know,” Mia said, remembering her shock before her second NaNo when the halo from her first year disappeared. “This halo is for this season only.”

“That’s right. Any more questions?” Mia shook her head. “All right. Have a good day, and don’t forget to thank your ML today!”

Thank her ML… That was what Mia meant to do! She ran to the nearest WrimoRails stop and waited for WrimoRails to appear. The service was slow today, and Mia found herself tapping her feet and looking for something to write with while waiting. Which reminded Mia, where did her bag go? And did Wrimonia have a lost and found?

Mia looked up at the rails above. WrimoRails didn’t zoom on the rails like they usually did. What was going on?

But before Mia could ponder this too much, one set of WrimoRails appeared in front of her, and the door opened. Mia stepped aboard.

“Greetings,” the driver said. “Where would you like to go today?”

“United States, Georgia, Elsewhere,” Mia said. “But before we go there, does Wrimonia have a lost and found? I’ve lost my bag and that bag had my laptop and notebook and everything else I need for NaNo.”

“It certainly does,” the driver replied. “Would you like to go there? You can always catch another WrimoRails to go to the regional forum.”

Mia thought this through for a minute. She could thank her Municipal Liaison just about anytime and he’d probably appreciate it. But if she didn’t find her stuff soon… what if the fog ate it?

“Let’s go there,” Mia said.

“To the Lost and Found,” the driver said as she pushed a few buttons and directed WrimoRails.

“Do you know anything about the fog?” Mia asked as they zoomed past the Reference Desk.

“The fog?” the driver said. “It infects everyone, Mia. Some worse than others. You can get hurt really badly if you take the fog too seriously because it will eat you alive.”

“Has the fog ever eaten you?”

“Oh yes,” the driver replied. “Every year it grabs me, even if only for an evening. It tells me that my writing isn’t good enough, it thwacks me with everyone else’s notebooks and pens because their writing is so much better, and to make things worse, I can’t write with them because the pens won’t work.”

Mia didn’t know this last part; she could never grab a pen during her stay in the fog and therefore that last part remained untested.

“It’ll take your stuff too, that vicious fog. Anyway, here we are at the lost and found. Good luck finding your novel.” The WrimoRails door opened, and Mia stepped out of it. The driver waved. “Remember, we’ve all been there. You can find it.”\

And now we know about the fog that was mentioned earlier. Wrimonia has so many secrets! How can you document all of them?

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

Legends of Wrimonia

Legends of Wrimonia, Part Twenty: Mia’s Identity Crisis

With the shovel from the shop and the Son of the Traveling Shovel of Death’s endorsement of her plan, Mia had a new spring in her step over the next couple of days, but she still had no way to find Chris Baty, which reduced that spring significantly. She wandered around Wrimonia in search of an eraser bench, settled down on one in front of the This Is Going Far Better Than I’d Hoped forum, and tapped away at her novel.

Mia was keeping up with her word count far better than in past years, a relief thanks to last year’s disaster. Despite being at fifteen thousand words on day ten, which was slightly behind to reach fifty thousand words, Mia was still optimistic on this front. She was, however, less optimistic about her other quests.

But that didn’t matter at the moment, as there was writing to be done. Mia cracked open her laptop and got to work on her novel. Just as she was getting into the good part of today’s writing, another Wrimo sat down next to her and took out their laptop. Mia looked up and saw none other than sushimustwrite.


“Hi Mia,” sushimustwrite said as she settled in with her laptop. “How’s the noveling going?”

“Surprisingly well,” Mia replied. “I’m not far behind, but I can catch up. This novel’s going awfully well for being about zombies.”

“See, I knew you could do it,” sushimustwrite said. “I believed in you from the very beginning, from when I decided to write a book about you.”

Mia changed the topic. “Any luck on finding out where Chris Baty is?”

“I haven’t looked much,” sushimustwrite said. “But in the end it won’t be up to me to find him.”

“What do you mean?” Mia turned to face sushimustwrite, as they had been facing their laptops and writing the entire time before this.

“I mean it’s up to you to find him. I can help, though I’m not sure how helpful I’ll be. But in the end you’re the one who has to take the plunge and find him.”

“What do you mean me? How do you know I’m the one who has to do this?”

“Because you’re the main character in this story.”

Mia already knew this, of course; she remembered sushimustwrite telling her oh so long ago that her novel was about Mia’s NaNo adventures. But being the main character and hearing as much from sushimustwrite’s mouth was another matter entirely. And this led to another thought…

“Wait a minute,” Mia said. “Am I real? I mean, I can deal with being a character in your book. I’ve been around for awhile and maybe you find me interesting enough to write a NaNo novel about. Neat. But am I more than a character? I mean, I feel real. I have a job and an education and friends and a life. But did you create that or did I?”

“Mia, are you familiar with the line ‘I think, therefore I exist’?” sushimustwrite asked.

“Of course I am,” Mia replied. “Everyone knows it.”

“Well, you’re capable of thought, aren’t you?” sushimustwrite asked. Mia nodded. “Then why does it matter that I created you as a character?”

Mia stared at sushimustwrite. She tried to figure out what to say next but got distracted by a duck running past them, quacking happily. Well, if a duck’s quack could sound happy.

“I like having free will, okay?” Mia exclaimed after the sound of the duck’s quacks were out of earshot. “I like being able to do something and knowing that it was my choice, not the choice of some grand puppetmaster in the sky pulling the strings. Even if that puppetmaster is my author.”

“But I’m not pulling the puppet strings,” sushimustwrite said. “Much, anyway. I try to let you have free reign. Leaves me with less stuff to come up with on my own.”

“You’re still my author. And since you’re my author you’re still involved in creating stories surrounding me, which involves some puppet action.” Mia paused. “I thought you loved me!”

“I do love you,” sushimustwrite said. “Well, as a character anyway.”

“But only as a character.”

“You’re my favorite character, though!” sushimustwrite protested. “I’ve never had as much fun writing a character as I have writing you. Your story is also my favorite of all my NaNo novels, and I’ve written a lot of them. You can’t just go out and say I don’t like you because I do! Why do you think I wrote a sequel starring you when I never write sequels?”

“But you know what authors do?” Mia asked. “We’re known for being mean to our characters. We tie them up, we put them in the worst situations possible and make them worse, then laugh gleefully as we watch our characters wiggle our way out of them. We make them fall in love, we break their hearts, we kill the people they love, and if we’re feeling particularly sinister, we kill them too, all for the love of creating. And now I know you’ve done the same thing to me, and you’d keep doing it. Well, I won’t take it anymore. I quit. You can find some other main character for your book, but I’m not going to be in your book anymore.”

“Wait a minute,” sushimustwrite said. “You can’t do that.”

“Why not?” Mia asked as she scooped up her laptop and stuffed it in her bag. “You just said you aren’t pulling the puppet strings much. Maybe I don’t want to be a character anymore. I quit.”

“But this time I’m exercising my powers as author, Internet, and god to say you can’t quit. So there.”

“Watch me.”

Mia grabbed her bag and walked away from sushimustwrite. She may be a character in a book, but that didn’t mean she had to accept this fate. It was time for Mia to choose her own fate now.

Now that Mia had freed herself from associating with sushimustwrite’s novel, she found herself wandering around Wrimonia with mixed feelings. On one hand, she now had free will to do whatever she wanted without worrying about her author’s whims. On the other hand, sushimustwrite was probably one of the best people to help her on the quest for Chris Baty, and Mia may have lost any goodwill she previously had with sushimustwrite.

Mia didn’t want to think about this, so instead she made her way to another eraser bench to write. She had her own story to write, and even though the characters had personalities of their own, they were not, to the best of her knowledge, writing books about writing books. Mia was safe on that front, right?

This was another favorite to write, and it’s one I’ve always wondered about once she met me. Fun fact: the time of month this happened in coincides well with the the time of month things started to get pretty crazy for me outside of novel-writing, so this probably really happened.

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

Legends of Wrimonia

Legends of Wrimonia, Part Nineteen: The Traveling Shovel of Death’s Origins

The writing came slowly for Mia over the next few days, and she found herself struggling to get out of a plot hole she had written herself in. Plot corner would be as accurate, she decided as she struggled to get her characters to cooperate. After a couple of days of not exceeding quota Mia wandered around Wrimonia and ran into another place she had never experienced before.

It was a small farm, and on that farm was an odd variety of plants. Instead of flowers and fruits and vegetables and other oddities, she saw words and notebooks and pencils. Mia found herself wondering what would happen if she picked one of the notebooks. Would one grow back? She wasn’t in another inspiration garden, was she?

It was definitely worth the risk, she decided as she picked a notebook from the garden. It didn’t grow back; in fact, the plant yelled “Ouch!” as Mia snatched the notebook.

“I’m so sorry!” Mia said. “I didn’t mean to hurt you.”

A redheaded child ran out to the garden and petted the plant. She couldn’t have been older than fifteen, Mia decided. “Oh no,” the girl said. “Are you okay?”

“I’m fine,” Mia replied, but the girl said nothing. She continued to pet the plant and dump something on it. Mia watched and realized that the girl was dumping eraser shavings on the plant.

“Oh,” Mia said. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt the plant.”

“It happens all the time,” the girl said. “The plants aren’t there for picking. You have to be gentle with them.”

“Whatever happened to grabbing inspiration wherever you saw it?”

“Take it, yes, but nourish it until fully realized.”

“Then what’s the point of something like NaNo?”

The girl didn’t get to answer, for Mia heard a noise from behind them. “What’s going on?” Mia asked.

“Oh, that’s Edgar making another shovel,” the girl said. “He makes all kinds of shovels. Plot shovels, inner editor shovels, everything you can think of.”

Shovels… Mia found a familiar memory in her head turning. And then she saw the sign in front that she had missed before.

“We make shovels,” the sign said. “Shovels to order here.”

“Do you really make all kinds of shovels?” Mia asked. The girl nodded.

All kinds of shovels? Really? “Then what do you know about the traveling shovel of death?”

The girl’s expression turned downward. “I’m sorry, I’m not allowed to talk about that shovel.”

“Why not?” Mia asked. “You just said you make all kinds of shovels here, and the traveling shovel of death is a shovel. If you make all the shovels here, then surely that one should have been made here as well, yes?”

The girl shook her head, but not in disagreement. “I’m still not allowed to talk about it,” she said. “Edgar has forbidden me to discuss it. He says he’ll tell me when I’m older, but it’s not for young ears to hear.”

“But can you tell me what you know about this shovel?” Mia asked. “Please? I’m trying to find out a little more about this shovel. It’s intrigued me ever since my first NaNoWriMo–”

“You and every other Wrimo,” the girl said. “They go on killing people in their novels with that shovel, not realizing that they’re staining our name and our shovel shop by doing so. We make all kinds of fine shovels here, but all everyone knows of our shovel shop is that one shovel that goes around killing people. Won’t people think of us, the people behind all the other shovels?”

“Looks like I touched a nerve. So if you’re not allowed to tell me anymore about the shovel, can you guide me to someone who can?”

As if on cue the door to that building opened and a rickety old man approached Mia and the girl. He held a shovel in his hand.

“What are you doing here?” the man yelled. “I heard a plant scream earlier and sent Diana to tend to it. Don’t tell me you picked a notebook. That one always hurts the worst for the plants.”

I’m sorry,” Mia said. “I just needed another notebook for my novel planning and was curious, that’s all.”

“That’s what they all say and I’m not just talking about the plants,” the man said. “They all say they’re curious and they just want to check out the plants or see where the shovels started, but really they just want to find out how that nasty shovel got its origins. Well, I’ll tell you, girl, I know nothing about that traveling shovel of death, so you can go away if that’s what you’re wanting to hear.” He shook the shovel at Mia.

“I’m sorry, sir, I just stumbled across this place while putting off writing,” Mia said. “But I was genuinely curious, that’s all. If it really does hurt your feelings that badly I’ll leave. I just remembered seeing your son three years ago and–”

“Never talk to me about that boy.” The man’s face turned even growlier if that was possible. “He’s no longer part of this family. We don’t mention his name around these parts either.”

“Why not?” Mia asked, but as soon as she blurted it out she realized it was a dumb question.

“No more! Now get out unless you want to hear more about my other shovels.”

This gave Mia an idea. “Actually, I’d love to hear about your other shovels. What kinds do you make?”

The man’s expression brightened up. “Well, right this way, little lady,” he said. He led Mia up the cobblestone path past the house and into a black building in the back. He closed the door behind Mia. “You stay out of here,” the man yelled at the girl. “Or better yet, go back in the house.”

The girl pouted but stayed outside. She walked away and the man turned to Mia, then set the shovel he had been carrying on the table. “We make shovels here, as you might have guessed,” the man said. “All sorts of shovels.”

“That’s neat,” Mia said. “How’d you get in that business anyway?”

“Shovels turned out to be something I made of necessity, you see, young lady. When I was younger I needed something to bury a dead bird with but didn’t have anything to do that with. I did, however, have some blacksmithing skills, so I crafted a shovel and buried the bird. This turned out to be the only ordinary shovel that I made.”

“The only ordinary shovel?” Mia asked.

“Of course,” the man replied. “That was when I ran into the witch.” His voice changed tone then. Mia noticed that it was a little darker, a little slower in speed. He deliberated over every word, relishing over the story he was telling.

“She was a lovely woman,” the man said. “Quite lovely indeed. Long red hair, bright eyes, and a way of crafting words that would make anyone feel incompetent at the craft. She could wow you with her words, and boy was she good at it. She seduced me into bed one night and left me with a gift afterward. It was a small gift, but it was quite a fine gift nonetheless.”

“What was it?” Mia asked.

“It was her own magic,” the man said. “Some of those magical abilities that she had possessed were now inside me thanks to my gaining the ability to love. She told me to use them wisely and not to use them for evil or bad things would happen. We wound up marrying and settling in this little place on the edge of Wrimonia.

Now there’s something you need to know. I had already loved and lost before and have a son to show for it.”

The man shuddered.

“I hesitate to bring him up, but he’s important to the story. You’ll see why soon. I used the magic this woman had given me to make shovels of all kinds. Plot shovels, inspiration shovels, character shovels… My son asked for a shovel of his own, or at least to learn how to make his own, and I told him no, this equipment was too dangerous, and he was too young to learn to use it. Looking back, maybe he wasn’t too young but I was too naive, too devoted to my shovel crafting to teach him the craft that had made me famous.”

“And then what happened?” Mia asked, now suspecting what would happen next.

“We don’t talk about that!” the man said. “Now out! Out!”

Mia knew when she wasn’t wanted, but she wanted a memory of this place. She snatched the shovel on the table and ran out the door and into the yard.

“Hey, give that shovel back!” the man yelled behind her. But he couldn’t chase her, so Mia ran all the back to the main part of Wrimonia, or at least intended to. With her shovel in hand she figured she could at least dig a hole to the other side of somewhere if that guy caught her, but then she ran right into a familiar figure.


Mia looked up. Oh yes, this figure looked very familiar. She remembered from her very first year when she ran into this person and learned all about the tales of the traveling shovel of death.

Wait a minute.. the Traveling Shovel of Death. That was it. This figure, resembling the grim reaper except carrying a shovel, was the son of the traveling shovel of death. It all fit!

Mia turned to him, trying to remember what she did with that shovel. “Hello,” she said. “You’re the son of the traveling shovel of death, aren’t you?’

“That I am,” he said. His voice was as spooky as ever. “Have you used my shovel in your novel this year?”

Mia shook her head. “I’m afraid I haven’t,” she replied.

“Do you plan on it?”

“Can’t say that I have plans to. Though there will be deaths in my novel, what with writing a zombie novel and all.”

The son of the traveling shovel of death looked up at her. “Sounds like you could use a bit of my shovel to add some more death to your novel.”

“Maybe,” Mia said. “But I just ran into someone else who makes shovels and took this from him. How’d your shovel become the traveling shovel of death anyway?”

The son of the traveling shovel of death sat down on the eraser bench nearby and patted a seat next to him for Mia to sit down. Mia felt rather unsettled in sitting next to such a figure and did anyway. This was her chance to find out the real story.

“Was this man kind of elderly, obsessed with shovels?” the Son asked. Mia nodded. “And was there an annoying redhead kid lurking around?” Mia nodded again.

The son steepled his fingers together. “I should have known. That’s my father. There’s a reason I’m called the Son of the Traveling Shovel of Death, you know. You see, my father wouldn’t teach me how to make the shovels that I so wanted to make. I begged him to for years, wanting a shovel of my very own. He wouldn’t make me one for Christmas either, despite me putting one on my Christmas list every year.”

“So what’d you do?”

“I stole one,” the Son said. “I waited until my father was away from his shop and had several completed shovels in there before sneaking in there one day and taking one. That annoying redhead was a toddler at the time, so she wouldn’t know anything. Time has affected her in such weird ways, hasn’t it? One day she’s a toddler, the next she’s practically a woman. Oh yes. I stole the shovel, but instead of getting a plot shovel or any of the other nice and fluffy shovels that my father specialized in, I felt something more sinister from the shovel. I knew this wouldn’t be something that the stepmother put into the shovel. Well, not intentionally anyway. She married my father on the condition that he would make only positive shovels and if he didn’t, well, he would pay for it.

“But I took the shovel and something sinister came out of the shovel. I felt the need to try it out, and there was a little wasp nearby. I killed the wasp with the shovel.

“I’m not sure what took over me then. Suddenly the shovel wasn’t designed for any of the lovely writing inspired things that my father designed shovels for anymore. No. This shovel was for killing, and it was for killing characters in a bloody fashion. And I would be the master of this shovel.”

“So why’d your father get so upset about it?” Mia asked. “Surely this shovel would bring a lot of business to the shovel business. Lots of us need shovels of death to kill of character with.”

“There’s one thing you’re missing here,” the Son said. “You’re assuming a couple of things. One, that my father and I are still speaking. And two, that he’s willing to make such sinister shovels. You’d be incorrect there. He was never willing to make such shovels, and he stopped speaking to me after finding out that the shovel had become a shovel of death. When news got to him that the shovel had become a wildly popular Wrimonia tradition, the shovel industry had been ruined… well, according to him anyway. I’m sure people are convincing him that they need plot shovels to dig them out of plot holes and the like, but let’s face it.” The Son pointed at Mia’s shovel then. “The shovel of death will always be the most popular shovel and if he would recognize this, everything would be so much better for the shovels.”

“Wow,” Mia said. “So you’re saying that you got shunned for introducing such a popular thing to Wrimonia? That must really suck.”

“It does, but I’m living my own life now,” the Son said. “See, my shovel’s on a trading card now! Fame and fortune! Can my dad say that much about his life?”

“A trading card?”

The Son reached into a pocket and grabbed a card from the folds of his clothing, then showed it to Mia. Mia read the card.

“Traveling Shovel of Death,” Mia read the front of the card, which featured an anthropomorphic shovel. She turned the card over and read the description on the back aloud. “Killer for hire. Expert at moving plot forward. Doesn’t discriminate based on genre.”

“Darn right!” the Son said.

Mia continued. “The rules are simple. You kill a character. With a shovel. It’s called the Traveling Shovel of Death. –NaNoWriMo forums. +7 The Traveling Shovel of Death sings a musical number. Warning: May cause shovelphobia.”

But Mia had never seen these trading cards before. “Where did you get this anyway?” she asked.

“They were part of Wrimonia’s summer fundraising drive,” the Son explained. “If you donated fifty dollars, you received a pack of trading cards, and my shovel was featured on one of them. Little old me!” The Son jumped up, clutching his shovel.

“Who else became a trading card?”

“There was Mr. Ian Woon, and the plot bunny, and the guilt monkey, and good old Chris Baty himself. Wonder what happened to him?”

“He’s not here,” Mia said. “No one knows where he is except that he’s not here.”

“Not… here?” the Son asked. “But he’s Christ Baty, founder of Wrimonia and NaNoWriMo. He’s supposed to be here.”

“But he’s not,” Mia replied. “And I don’t know where he is either.”

The Son looked down. “I guess you’ll have to find him, won’t you?”

“I guess I will.”


And now we know how the Traveling Shovel of Death came to be. Man, Mia’s got a lot of pressure to find Chris Baty.

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