Guest Post: The Drama of Writing YA

I’m taking a break from poetry today to bring you a special guest post by my good friend, Laura L. Zimmerman.

The Drama of Writing YA

Long after I left my “young adult” years, I continued to read the books out of sheer enjoyment for the genre. I’d slip through the doors of Barnes and Noble, duck my head, and sneak to the back of the store where all the newly released YA novels were displayed. I knew I wasn’t the only adult who enjoyed the genre, but somehow, standing between groups of thirteen-year-old girls felt a bit intimidating. Still that didn’t stop me from enjoying a good read.

Since then, there have been times when I’ve read a popular YA novel only to think, ‘Wait. That’s not realistic!’ or ‘Whoa. Serious mood swings!’ So it’s no surprise that as I began to seriously write YA, I’d aim to get ‘inside’ a teenagers head but would strive to think of a more mature response. Something I would like to read.

Except, I was completely wrong.

I know this first hand because an actual teenager who read my actual work called me out on it. Big ouch.

Months prior I’d given this fourteen-year-old family friend one of my YA manuscripts. She enjoys writing, too, so I felt confident she’d give me a balanced review of my work.

But when I asked for her response, it wasn’t what I expected. 

It was good, she said.


Okay, she hadn’t said it was boring, or confusing, or a plethora of other nightmarish things that a writer never wants to hear. But ‘It was good’ wasn’t hitting it out of the ballpark, either. I asked if she could sum up what stopped it from being great.

Her response? Not enough drama.

My YA novel didn’t have enough drama in it. Oops.

Of course, I had to defend myself. (Right?) I explained that I was tired of reading YA novels with love triangles, or where the main character is wish-washy with all of his/her decisions. I wanted to speak to a more mature audienceone who didn’t want to play high school games.

Yeah, but a teenager doesn’t want to read that,” she said. “High school has drama in it. We’re teenagers. It’s what we do. A teen wants to read what they see every day. Not how they should act.” 

Oh. Right. Because they’re…teenagers.

And then it hit me: There is a basic formula for what makes a YA novel because it works. It has worked in the past. It works now. It will likely continue to work for as long as teenagers read YA. 

So, I went back and added a bit more theatrics to the story. A love triangle, a couple of lies, a few misconceptions between characters. Did any of it have anything to do with the storyline? Not really. 

But a little bit of drama goes a long way. 

A few years have passed since then, but each time I read a YA novel with a dramatic twist, I smile. That’s just how a teenager would act, after all. And that’s a good thing. For YA novels, anyway.

You can find out more about Laura at her website:, on Twitter @lauralzimm and Facebook.


Laura L. Zimmerman resides in Phoenix, AZ and is a homeschooling mom to three beautiful daughters. She is thankful for a supportive husband, who is always quick to encourage her love of singing, reading, and drinking coffee. Laura enjoys writing young adult and middle grade fantasy fiction and hopes to encourage children toward a relationship in Christ through her work. Laura is represented by Cyle Young through Hartline Literary Agency.


Surprise! A Guest Post by Marsha Hubler

Drum roll, please!  Yes, today is the beginning of “Guest Post Wednesday” here at Kelly F Barr.  I hope I will be able to bring inspiring and informational posts from some great bloggers and hope to be able to do so each and every Wednesday.  I am thrilled that Marsha Hubler has agreed to be my first Guest Poster.  I met Marsha last Spring at a one-day Writer’s Conference.

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Marsha Hubler


 When Marsha left Ashland, PA in 1964, she was headed for Bloomsburg State College, Bloomsburg, PA, and a teaching career four years later in the central Pennsylvania area. Marsha says, “Little did I know that one of my childhood dreams of writing books would become a reality beyond my wildest imagination.”

After graduating from college, she married Richard Hubler, also a 1964 graduate of Ashland Area High School. Eventually, they made their home near Middleburg, PA. They have been active members of Bible Baptist Church in Kreamer, PA, since 1972, where Marsha plays the organ and sings in a mixed quartet.

In her 40+ years of involvement with education, Marsha has earned her master’s degree from Bloomsburg and has co-founded two private schools, Kreamer Christian Academy, Kreamer, PA, and the Bethesda Prep School, Milton, PA, where she served as administrator in each. Since 1990 she has evaluated and tested hundreds of homeschoolers in her home where she lives with her husband and two dogs. She is a certified evaluator with three different homeschooling organizations. She speaks at writers’ conferences, parents’ and children’s events and schools.

Marsha’s “professional” writing career started in 1991. She has had numerous articles, short stories, and poems published in magazines and for greeting cards. In 2003 her first book was published. DRAW ME CLOSER, LORD is a 128-page Bible study guide that helps ladies develop a stronger prayer relationship with the Lord.

Of her 19 published books, Marsha is most excited about the best-selling KEYSTONE STABLES SERIES published by Zonderkidz. These eight girl/horse fiction books delicately deal with issues that face today’s youth, issues such as light drug abuse, foster care, special needs, and the death of a close friend. Through her stories, Marsha conveys the truths that no problem is bigger than God and that He offers salvation as a gift through his Son, Jesus Christ. Girls ten years and older will connect to this series, identifying with the main protagonist, Skye Nicholson, who appears to be as tough as nails. However, on the inside she’s a scared, insecure teen, not quite sure of anything but her own fears until God changes her heart. “My main desire,” Marsha says, “is to see young people helped, most of all spiritually, through their difficult adolescent years as they read my books.”

Marsha and her husband were foster parents from 1975 to 1987, caring for a dozen children in need of a good home. Her hobbies and interests have included horses, softball, volleyball, painting, gardening, pocket billiards, and playing the organ.

In April of 2003, Marsha attended an American Christian Writers’ Conference in Richmond, Virginia, where she was presented the “Writer of the Year” Award. She presently does freelance editing for two publishing companies and has just assumed the directorship of the Montrose Christian Writers Conference, a five-day conference that draws faculty and conferees from all over the United States.

Marsha’s life verse is 1 Corinthians 15:10a: “But by the grace of God I am what I am.…” She stands amazed at what God can do with someone who is willing to serve him at whatever capacity he calls him or her.

Visit Marsha at her website, writers’ tips blog, Facebook, and other social media sites:

Keystone Stables Book 1