A . M . R O O T

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Ashley Mathias Root (A. M. Root) is a Young Adult Fantasy author and high school teacher with degrees in English, Communications, and Educational Leadership—though her heart has always been rooted in creative writing. A midwest lady with a southern twist, she resides in the beautiful northeast along the New England coast in the United States with her family. Her brand is dark and colorful, with a dash of glitter.

A. M. R.

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When fifteen-year-old Astraea Windsor blacks out, she wakes to find herself in another world. The last thing she remembers is her grandmother died, she was being sent to an orphanage, there was a rippling violet ring in the air, and then—nothing.

Astraea quickly discovers this world, Voncord, is a striking place divided into states inhabited by ‘Signs’ who wield multiplex elemental energies—and her true home. Born to a family of high governing status, she was sent away as a child when a worldwide war broke out over her existence. Now that Astraea has returned to the Air State, she must get a grip on her signature power and find her place.

But Voncord is a world in turmoil. States are blaming each other for seismic tremors detected in the ocean deep, sparking bloody brawls. Guides, the beings who can open gateways in timespace, are calling for equal governing power to Signs. Girls from her school are vanishing, including newfound friends. And Astraea finds she alone has the key to solve all of it.

When she begins to have unexplainable dreams of a dark, ice fortress that leave her shaking and dazed, Astraea makes chilling connections between various crises. But with her warnings ignored by governing leadership, Astraea must dive into the madness herself by teaming up with an enemy and following the threads in her dreams if she is to save the missing students and keep her world from sinking.

She only has to hope she doesn’t drown in the process.

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"A kind of light then burst outward from Astraea’s body — an illuminating shade of white. It surrounded her like a shield and grew as her rage did. This explosion of blinding energy forced the rushing water away; the roaring flames retreated. The piercing wind slowed; no sharp bolts or falling rock could strike her anymore. The pain left her, as did the fear. And though she was still bound to the marble slab by the binds that would not break, she had never felt so free."

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The Vibe?

You might enjoy A. M. Root's dark YA fantasy if you like the idea of:

🔮 dark portal fantasy

❄️ elemental cultures / systems

🌈 diverse magic schools / cast

⚔️ warring state politics

⚡missing students

👣 twisted dreams

🔥 slow burn prohibited love

✨ magical girl gangs / found fam

☠️ rivalry / deadly revenge


Welcome to the Club

August 22, 2022

Now that A+TMD is complete, revised, and in the query trenches—I want to introduce you to the world a bit. It's a little sneak peek info about the world and some character introductions because I have way too much fun making graphics.

Voncord is a world divided into five nation states ruled by signs who wield magical energies of fire, water, air, earth, and lightning, and one province ruled by guides who control the gateways of timespace. At the only intersign school on Voncord, The University of Voncordia, students are overseen in 'clubs' that match their states/province. It's kind of like when students get divided into school 'houses.' There's six total.

Fire signs are ambitious and resilient, fueled by their passion for their faith.

Water signs are intelligent and brave, driven by a deep desire for wisdom.

Air signs are creative and daring, always soaring willfully toward honor.

Earth signs are courageous and loyal, determined to stay grounded in their strength.

Lightning signs are innovative and bold, pushed by a curiosity that powers their purpose.

Time guides are valiant and intuitive, propelled by a need to be just and fair.

Welcome to the club. Where do you belong?

🖤 A.M.R.

To Be a Flexible Plotter

April 22, 2022

When I first started writing my novel, I had no idea what to call the process I followed. I was just doing what felt most natural and logical to me. Since then, I’ve immersed myself in the #WritingCommunity on social media—learned a lot about the craft, the lingo, the process—and figured out a lot about myself as a writer along the way from actually completing my story. So now that I know the craft better, I feel I can actually speak on it—more specifically, on what to call my own writing process. Of course, there are many different ways to start and finish a novel as any simple internet search will tell you, but the following is how I have learned to successfully write a story as a *flexible plotter.*


It starts with a cast of characters. You know your protagonist, and likely your antagonist, and probably some other pivotal characters in the story. You can see them vaguely in your head and know a few things about them. Maybe you even have some favorite tropes in mind. In my story, I always knew there would be a variation of the “five man band” and “magical girl” tropes because I’ve always been really drawn to them. Sailor Moon. Glitter Force. Spice Girls. I knew a crossover between the two tropes would be central to the series plot, and in that crossover, I knew I wanted diverse representation. I want my readers to be able to see themselves in my story, either in appearance or in personality. Knowing this from the beginning, I almost immediately had a handful of characters in mind before I even started to write. I find it helpful to flesh out at least some pivotal characters before beginning to write—or at least as much as your imagination will allow you to before you actually start writing.

This is where creating profiles is clutch.

By creating profiles, I could make sure that I was giving each character enough of their own looks, personality traits, likes, and dislikes that were specific to them. I searched for different songs on Spotify and images on Pinterest that went with their vibe so I could properly visualize them. I completed character quizzes I found online for each character, asking them a variety of questions so I could get to know who they are. I explored things about the kind of culture(s) they came from, so I did a sort of profile for whole groups of people and setting(s) too (i.e. the Air State). I considered what their upbringing would have been like growing up in those culture(s) and setting(s). And I decided what kinds of things they might have experienced in their lives that would have helped shape their personalities. This really helped when it came to writing plot scenes later because I had a clearer sense of the characters and how they would likely react in certain situations.

This is how you control your characters and the story, instead of them controlling it for you.

Here are two simple lists of questions I asked to better understand my characters/cultures. They’re a pretty simple place to start. Interpret them how you will. Add to them. I think I compiled mine from various lists across the internet. Answer what you can before you start writing your story and return to it as you learn more about your characters. But definitely take the time to do it, especially if you're writing in the Fantasy genre like me where worldbuilding is absolutely paramount to the plot. You have to understand your world before you can teach others about it.

Individual Character Questions

- What is your idea of perfect happiness?

- What is your greatest fear?

- What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

- What is the trait you most deplore in others?

- Which living person do you most admire?

- What is your current state of mind?

- What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

- On what occasion do you lie?

- What do you most dislike about your appearance?

- Which living person do you most despise?

- What is the quality you most like in a person?

- Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

- What or who is the greatest love of your life?

- When and where were you happiest?

- Which talent would you most like to have?

- What one thing would you change about yourself?

- What do you consider your greatest achievement?

- Where would you most like to live?

- What is your most treasured possession?

- What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

- What is your desired occupation?

- What is your most marked characteristic?

- What do you most value in your friends?

- Who are your heroes?

- What is your greatest regret?

- How would you like to die?

- What is your motto?

- What is your weapon of choice?

Group Cultural Questions

- What is the most important ideal to this culture as a whole?

- What would other countries say is the stereotype? How is this ideal positive, and how is it negative?

- What is the setting of the culture? (Consider history, myth and geographical location are key in the formation of culture).

- How does the culture influence the protagonist? In what ways is the culture antagonistic? In what ways is it beautiful?

- What are three detailed, specific things about this culture that you love? What are three that you hate?

- What are exterior influences on the culture? Who’s living next door? What are relationships like between nations?

- What things are they passionate about in their culture? What do they hold most dear? What do they loathe?

- What do their political and religious systems look like? How do they structure and govern their society?

- What occupations are available and how do they function within the society?

- What is the magic system of this culture? How does it work? What are the rules? Rewards? Consequences?

Next, I imagined different characters together in various fantastical settings and situations that I crafted while worldbuilding. These scenes are of course inspired by the fantasy genre—a magical ball, a hidden passage in a castle, a bloody battle—but they’re also inspired by my real life experiences—a young friendship, a pivotal conversation, a heavy trauma. I take inspiration from both worlds and meld them together to create pieces of the story. Sometimes the scenes just fall into my lap and I allow myself to soak in those for a bit, with the goal of understanding why these scenes are seeming so important. And other times I have to put the characters in different settings and see what takes, with the goal of putting them in really wild, intriguing situations. And it’s okay to play around here. What’s important is that you take the time to imagine some really stellar scenes with your characters that serve the characters and will also keep readers engaged in the world. A forbidden romance? A rogue heist? An illegal party? A gross betrayal? You’re essentially creating the pivotal threads and story beats of your plot—building your story around these—so that you don’t get halfway through writing it and realize that nothing truly noteworthy has happened.

This is how you make sure you craft a story with beats that keep readers hooked.

Then, I outlined the goals for the story. By seeking to understand some characters and scenes in the plotting stage, I could better determine the goal threads for both my characters and the plot. They sort of come to light in the process of creating the characters and sorting out some scenes.

Just ask yourself:

- What conflicts are present?

- What does my protagonist want?

- What character relationships need to be developed?

- Where do I want the story to begin?

- How do I envision the story might end?

- What do the arcs of my main characters look like?

I generated answers for these as best as I could and used them to help me outline the relevant goal threads in a Mind Map (one of the most well known ones is the ‘Rowling Outline’) with an added overlay of The Four Act Novel Structure. The end product looks something like this below.

Mind Map w/ The Four Act Novel Structure

This Mind Map has twelve columns and twenty-three rows. The amount you need will depend on how many goal threads you plan to weave and how many chapters you think you’ll have.

Here are the column details:

Column 1: Chapter #

Column 2: Story Date. The month the events take place to keep the timeline straight.

Column 3: Chapter Title. Love them because they can be a clever foreshadowing tool.

Column 4: Summary. The gist of each chapter’s events.

Columns 5-12: Story Threads. Each column tracks a goal thread for a pivotal plot point that needs to be developed throughout the entire story.

After pinpointing the main goals I wanted to achieve in the story, I determined I had about eight goal threads running throughout the entire story plot. I listed each of them at the top of their own column and color coded them because it’s cute and it helps keep them easily identifiable when I'm referencing it.

- One thread is the arc of my protagonist.

- One thread is the main conflict.

- One thread is a set of sub conflicts.

- And five threads are for different character relationships that I focused on developing. These can include close friendships, mentors, love interests, rivalries, etc.

Here are the row details:

The rows are for chapters, and I estimated that I would need twenty-two (my lucky number!) because I tend to write longer chapters—so that’s twenty-two rows (plus a row for column titles at the top). I did the math and figured if I was going for a 100,000 word count overall, at 4,500 words average per chapter, then twenty-two chapters would work. I went ahead and created space for all of these even though I only had a few scenes in mind at this point, knowing I would adding more as I wrote.

So the idea behind this Mind Map is to make sure you’re achieving your story goals—that your plot threads are being developed all the way through. Each time something happens in a chapter in relation to a particular thread, you take note of it in the appropriate row/column. It helps to keep track of pivotal plot points and character relationships—and makes it much easier to visualize if things are lacking. If you’re reaching the end of your writing and you see a lot of consecutive blanks in a certain column, then you might need to revisit those rows and see how you can weave that thread into those particular chapters.

This is how you make sure that no thread gets left behind.

I also marked out the story acts on the Mind Map with an extra component—an overlay with The Four Act Novel Structure. Every story has a beginning, a middle, and an end—three acts, right? The Four Act Novel Structure is similar to this except that the middle is divided into two halves separated by climactic action. Essentially, you’re breaking up the middle part with something explosive and exciting to keep the action moving and the readers engaged before you get to the big finale. And essentially these four acts are all breaking up parts of The Hero’s Journey.

You might see some people list the structure out like Act I, Act IIA, Act IIB, Act III OR you might see Act I, Act II, Act III, Act IV. But the message is the same—you’re writing with four acts to spice up the murky middle. Based on the amount of chapters I projected to have, I figured that each act would consist of 5-6 chapters. So I color-coded these sections off to the left of the table. This helped me see in what chapters certain pivotal points or story beats needed to fall in to keep with the plot structure and keep the story alive. You can go ahead and take some of the pivotal scenes you’ve already cooked up and drop them into the Mind Map wherever they will fit best.

So, at this point you’ve got some great character and culture profiles, setting and scene ideas, threads for story goals, and a ready to go Mind Map.


Yes, you've been writing all along in a way. You've been building background, you've taken notes, you've jotted down random descriptions of scenes and bits of dialogue—but this is writing the actual story like your reader will read it. I turn to the beginning of the story and try to start there. It has to happen at some point after all! I write in consecutive order until I lose steam and then I allow myself to jump around the story to wherever the creativity is the strongest. Sometimes an idea hits you and you just can’t ignore it. I find that I have to get it down as soon as I can so that I can really tap into the raw energy of the moment. I won’t likely get the whole thing down perfectly or as it will look in the end—but I get the essence of it and that's most important. This means I jump around the story A LOT. I'll return to earlier scenes that I conjured in the pre-writing phase and tinker in those some more until they feel more realized. Then a new idea will strike, often a solution to a question for another part of the story, and I'll turn my attention there until I've seen it through as far as I can. I do this over and over, slowly carving out the different pieces of the whole puzzle, until I have at least some part of every chapter done and some idea of how everything is going to connect together.

Sounds chaotic, but it's not.

All of this is constantly being checked against the Mind Map. As I concrete new plot points or thread developments, I add them to the Mind Map. When I have written an entire chapter, I go back and clean up the summary. I scan over the whole map A LOT, thinking through the entire sequence of events to make sure new ideas aren't disrupting anything coming down the pipeline, and that all of the plot points and story beats I marked as pivotal are being connected. It takes a lot of reflection, but the pause can save you from making major mistakes down the road.

This is how you avoid having to nix entire sections of your story.


This part might be hard for plotters, but you just have to trust it. And it's a mindset that you want to try to have from the very beginning.

A flexible plotter plots and outlines, but they’re also able to change easily and adapt the story as new ideas come to light, new information about the characters and stories are unearthed, or when something just flat out doesn’t fit where it’s been placed—or at all anymore. I know the way I laid out the plotting made it sound like everything is a done deal once it's on the Mind Map, but the truth is that it doesn't have to be.

The hope is that by being thoughtful in the plotting of your draft, you’re less likely to have to scrap large sections of the story in the revision process because you’ve already weighed the worthiness of something in the sequence of events in the story. You know what’s pivotal, what beats are hitting, and where you’re going with your story goals.

But sometimes changing something is just better.

I've definitely changed things along the way. I was about halfway through my manuscript when I realized the second act would work better if I transposed a few chapters—and so I did. Did I want to cry? Yes. But was it worth it? Yes. I only had to go back in and smooth out the transitions between the chapter events and was able to leave everything else standing because it had all been so meticulously plotted.

So it's helpful to take your time, plot, tinker with the Mind Map, and allow yourself the ability to be flexible and shift things around, to add, or to take away as needed. It requires extra focus and reflection, and that can be hard, but you'll keep the creative control of the story in your hands.

Some people find deep satisfaction in not knowing where a story will go and allowing it to unfold as they write, but a flexible plotter finds that same level of gratification in watching all of the pivotal pieces of their puzzle come together cohesively. There is a true thrill in being able to pull together the creative threads of these seemingly separate plot points into one wildly woven tale.

To be able to twist and turn and adapt without losing control of the story.

To know the story is complexly crafted and curated in every way.

Just like it was planned.

🖤 A.M.R.

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Book 1 Draft Complete

March 22, 2022

It's done. The first draft of my first ever young adult / fantasy novel is complete at 107,282 words / 358 pages.


The idea for this story first came to me when I was just 14 years old—exactly 20 years ago. I can still remember jotting down its first notes on the back of a paper plate in a restaurant booth. It looks a lot different now, my life experiences reshaping it over the years. It's evolved, just as I have. But the core of it has always remained the same. It's a story of self-discovery—about the challenges of overcoming the cruel hardships of life—with powerful magic, found family, and love in many forms.

It's my story. And I'm so proud of it.

I always said I wanted to write it, but wasn't sure if I could for a VERY long time. Turns out, I just had to get out of my own way. Now, I revise and edit—and then the querying process for an agent begins! Ahhhh! I might also blog a bit about my writing process at some point now that I feel kind of legitimate having the experience of actually writing A WHOLE BOOK.

As a treat for finishing the draft, I commissioned this AMAZING artwork from @_spotlessmind_ on Instagram. I get genuinely emotional looking at my magical girl gang all together. I love them so much. Check it out below! And follow me on Twitter @amrootwrites for random writerly posts.

🖤 A.M.R.

Worldly Signs

March 22, 2021

The goal is to write a fantasy series. I have created a highly detailed framework for five books and am currently way deep in the first one. If you know anything about fantasy or anything about creating fictional worlds from scratch, you know it’s a massive undertaking and the growth of it never ends!

For the sake of remaining mysterious lest I ever get signed and published, I’ll just say my fantasy world is an elemental one. I’ve always been fascinated and wrapped up in the elements and what they represent, so my story is built around them (with a twist).

In my story, there is power in: air, water, fire, earth, and lightning.

Since the premise for this story first hit me sitting in a booth of my parents’ restaurant at the age of 14, I knew these would be five key aspects of my story. I even drew symbols at the time to represent the different people who could wield these powers.

Here is that adorable first attempt.

As I’ve recently delved back into the different groups of people, I revisited who they are and what they stand for, and was hit with so much new information—you know, new, really interesting ideas, completely aside from the current writing task at hand, that you just can’t get out of your mind. So I took the time to re-imagine the symbols that represent the different elements. I always knew I would have to one day, and I’m so proud and pleased with this new version.

You’re not supposed to reveal much about a book until you secure an agent and a publishing contract and they say it’s okay to release said information. So at this point in time, all I am sharing are images of the new symbols. Hopefully all can be revealed sooner than later once I get this thing off the ground.

🖤 A.M.R.

So, Am I a Writer?

January 22, 2021

I’m a Type-A kind of person. Always have been and probably always will be. This means I’m quite the perfectionist, and in turn, means my writing never feels quite good enough. Even as I write this simple, first blog post to kick-start my journey of writing self-accountability, I am doubting it. I love writing so much, I want it to be perfect. And what that often does is kills anything before it even starts.

So I start by asking myself the same question I ask myself often—am I a writer?

I want to be. It’s the only real thing I have ever actually wanted to be. I spent a lot of my childhood, when everyone was first getting desktops and dial-up, writing fantasy stories on the first version of Microsoft Word. And I’ve spent a large amount of my adulthood doing the same. From high school to college, my early teaching years to now, I’ve been hit with big ideas and bursts of creativity on a single, culminating fantasy series. The only problem is always myself—I get inside my own head and let that impostor syndrome set in.

Is my writing worthy? Would I ever find an agent? Could this ever be published? Would anyone even like it?

And then I retreat, paralyzed by fear of inadequacy and rejection. I pause my project of love until the next time the love of writing my story outweighs my fear of writing it.

So I’ve created this site as a way to hold myself accountable for completing my story. Posting here may give me a sense of progress and if I feel excited about making progress—then maybe I actually will! It also gives me a space to share the thing I love so much.

And I’m learning to look at this process as something for just me. I try not to think about if it would be successful or liked or even published at all. I try to write simply because I love spending time in the world I’m building. That’s what writing and being a writer should be about–just doing the thing. Literally, just writing. Margaret Atwood said, “A word after a word after a word is power.” And it is. You just have to do the thing, get the words down, and let the magic happen. When you do that, then you’re a writer.

So, am I a writer?

Yes, I finally think I might be.

🖤 A.M.R.


Please feel free to use the information found here in this kit for any press related news.

Shortish Biography

Longish Biography

Ashley Mathias Root (A. M. Root) is a Young Adult Fantasy author and high school teacher with degrees in English, Communications, and Educational Leadership—though her heart has always been rooted in creative writing. A midwest lady with a southern twist, she resides in the beautiful northeast along the New England coast in the United States with her family. Her brand is dark and colorful, with a dash of glitter.

Ashley Mathias Root (A. M. Root) is a Young Adult Fantasy author and high school teacher with degrees in English, Communications, and Educational Leadership—though her heart has always been rooted in creative writing. A midwest lady with a southern twist, she resides in the beautiful northeast along the New England coast in the United States with her family. A fangirl of all things 90s nostalgia, her brand is dark and colorful, with a dash of glitter. Her debut, The Drowning Daze of Astraea, is the first book in her series entitled The Voncord Volumes.

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Author Photo - B+W


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