My #PitchWars 2016 Bio

pitchwarsThis year, at the recommendation of some amazing author-friends, I’m submitting my manuscript to Pitch Wars. Pitch Wars is an annual contest held by Brenda Drake in which unagented, unpublished authors with finished manuscripts are mentored by agented and/or published authors. You can read more about Pitch Wars here on Brenda Drake’s website. 

In preparation for this year’s Pitch Wars competition, I’ve created a bio about myself and my writing. You can find more contestant bios here on Lana Pattinson’s website.

And so, without further ado…

About Me


My demonspawn daughter and I.

I’m a writer based in Southern California, though my heart truly belongs in the forest. I’ve been writing stories since elementary school, and in high school I went to Idyllwild Arts Academy where I studied creative writing. While I haven’t been published, my biggest writing achievement is making someone faint from a gruesome short story I read at my school’s annual creative writing reading. I’m currently a senior at California State University, Fullerton, where I study English. I also work as a library page at my local library.

I enjoy long walks at the renaissance fair, candlelight games of Settlers of Catan, and sipping hot mulled mead. Mostly the mead.

I enjoy long walks at the renaissance fair, candlelight games of Settlers of Catan, and sipping hot mulled mead. Mostly the mead.

I’m very active in my local writing community, O.C. Writers, where I host a weekly write-in, and every November I participate in National Novel Writing Month in the North Orange County region. I try to go to as many local author events as I can because I truly love the community of writers here, especially in the LA area. Festivals like YALLWEST and Ontario Teen Book Fest make my heart swell with joy. I love the writer community on Twitter, too, and you can find me at @atmorrell.

About My Book


When 12 year-old Gracia Boyd finds a dead man in her backyard, it’s up to her and Zoe, the dead man’s cyborg daughter, to find his killer before the killer finds them.

The duo find themselves stuck in the city of Splint, a strange mishmash of times and cultures that exists separate from the linear time stream. Everyone in the city of Splint has a Kytherian Device — a strange amulet that works as a sort of magical multi-tool, allowing the user to pick locks, light fires, freeze enemies, travel time, and more. But the Department of Temporal Transactions has a lockdown on time travel functionality, preventing anyone from traveling unless they have authorization. Gracia and Zoe have to find the Key that will let them time travel freely — a Key that will get Gracia home to her own time, and give Zoe the freedom from Splint she’s always wanted.

If they don’t find the Key before the killer does, time will be unlocked forever, an event that would wreak havoc on the time stream. But with a secret society out to stop them, an evil bureaucratic government agency out to kill them, and traitors among their friends, freedom seems a long way off.

SPLINT is a middle grade fantasy adventure complete at around 55,000 words. Think S.E. Grove’s THE GLASS SENTENCE meets Neil Gaiman’s INTERWORLD, with a little bit of DOCTOR WHO and FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST thrown in.

Diverse characters are very prominent in this novel. The main character, Gracia, is a biracial girl with vitiligo — a condition that affects the pigmentation of the skin on certain parts of the body. Gracia befriends Zoe, a girl whose arm and leg have been replaced by cybernetic pieces, and whose parents came from two different time periods. They bond over the parts of their bodies they’ve lost, and the parts of themselves they hold on to. While these aspects aren’t part of the main plot, they serve as a very important backdrop to the action.


  • 13339712_10208174283608054_2952190209367189207_n

    The line between magic and science is optional.

    My favorite authors are Neil Gaiman, V.E. Schwab, and Diana Wynne Jones.

  • I almost studied nanoengineering because I was obsessed with idea of one day creating a space elevator.
  • I minored in geography because I love to learn about the world, especially places and cultures we don’t see in fiction often.
  • On that note, I really want to travel to Madagascar. It’s my dream.
  • My clothes are black, my car is black, my coffee is black, and my soul is probably black, too.
  • I left my bones heart in Northern Idaho — one day I want to move to a farm and raise mini Pygmy goats. Because come on, have you SEEN those things?
  • I try not to watch too much TV — most of the TV I do watch is whatever my three-year-old watches. I’m basically a Daniel Tiger expert at this point. However, I do have a soft spot in my heart for Arrested Development, Parks & Rec, 30 Rock, and Archer. (If you wanted to know what my sense of humor is like, that pretty much defines it.)
  • Girls rule, boys drool.

UPDATE: Obligatory link to a gif. Promise me you’ll watch it. It’s funny.


Capitalism and Individualism in Magic Systems


Beginnings and Endings


  1. OH YES!!! You really know how to pick those jifs, er, I mean, gifs.

    Wishing you well in #pitchwars.

  2. Good luck in the contest!

  3. Jonathan Peto

    Hi Amber, I have a vague plan to write a MG with time travel but what I’ve come up with so far is very different than yours. Good luck with yours in #PWs! Interesting to read about how active you are in your local writing community too.

    • amber

      That’s what I love about time travel stories, really — there are ENDLESS possibilities. I mention the writing community because it seriously gives me life — without the support and encouragement of friends, both real and virtual, I wouldn’t have come nearly as far with my writing as I already have.

      And thank you! Good luck to you in PitchWars as well!

  4. Sharon M. Johnston

    I wish I was mentoring MG because that pitch sounds AWESOME!

  5. As fearful as I am of clicking things that say “click me” it really was worth the risk. Lol. Good luck in PW.

    • amber

      Haha, clicking unknown gifs can be a dangerous game sometimes! And thanks! 😀

  6. GOOD LUCK!! Goats, Parks and Rec AND Arrested Development–we really do have similar likes 🙂

    • amber

      Someone (**cough** us **cough**) needs to write a Parks and Rec / Arrested Development crossover fanfiction, with goats, of course.

  7. I’m a huge fan of FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST. V.E. Schwab is one of my favorite authors, too, and I like my coffee black as well. ^.^

    “Girls rule, boys drool.” Well said! 😀

    All the best for Pitch Wars, Amber!

    • amber

      Fullmetal Alchemist is the BEST. I try to rewatch it once a year (I prefer the first anime to Brotherhood, because it’s a lot more philosophical). Some of the best character-focused storytelling out there, in my opinion. Good luck to you as well!

  8. Good luck, fellow MG’er!

  9. I love the gif you attached! That was too great 😀 I also really love geography, Neil Gaiman, and Victoria Schwab. I don’t write middle-grade fiction, but I do review it on my middle-grade blog ( and SPLINT sounds fantastic! Anything Fullmental Alchemistesque grabs my attention. Best of luck with Pitch Wars!


  10. Oh, that is just hilarious! Thank you! Wait till your daughter is old enough for you to read her the books! I just did that this summer with my 7 & 8 yr olds. It’s was so fun. Good luck in Pitch Wars.

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