san francisco bookstores

Book Reading: David Levithan, Andrea Cremer, Margaret Stohl and Kami Garcia

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Last week, I headed to my first YA reading in SF to see a host of YA superstars, including David Levithan and Andrea Cremer, reading from their new book, Invisibility, and Margaret Stohl, reading from Icons. Margaret's co-writer, Kami Garcia, was also in attendance to speak to the process behind Beautiful Creatures.

The event was put on by Not Your Mother's Book Club through Books Inc. and was awesome--eclipsed only by the fact that I had the pleasure of meeting the very talented (and fellow Bay Area writer) Malinda Lo (Ash, Adaptation) for coffee beforehand, along with some of the other authors. Let's just say that sitting at coffee with Malinda, David and Andrea and telling them about The After Girls and them nodding and asking questions and saying congratulations on publishing my first book was a little surreal. And one of those pleasant little reminders that yes, I've published a book and in a weird way I'm one of those author people now.

But back to the reading. It was delightful. David and Andrea gave me chills as they   read as two characters from Invisibility, a story about a boy who's invisible, and a girl who is the only person in the world who can see him. What a great concept for a romance! Margaret also read from Icons, a dystopian story where every character has a different uncontrollable emotion that turns out to be their strength. In a way, it sounded a bit like The Giver.

All of the authors were hilarious, and please go see any of them if they read in a city near you. You will laugh at David referring to himself as a bit of a book slut (he does write with a lot of different people), and you will be absolutely enchanted by Andrea's bubbly personality and passionate defense of all her favorite magical creatures. And seeing Kami and Margaret riff off each other is just awesome. But what I found most interesting was when their description of their writing processes--especially when writing with a partner.

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David and Andrea took turns writing chapters and sending them to each other, with little editing along the way and discussion of where it was going, apart from when they had to work out some of the magic rules of the main character's invisibility.

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On the opposite end, Margaret and Kami planned out their whole world in advance and had epic battles over who could keep in what lines as they were writing. So it seems like writing with a partner is just like writing on your own--everyone does it differently.

All in all a delightful night and a wonderful welcome into the YA community here in SF!

The Ten Things I Love Most About San Francisco (So Far)

Meet Marilyn! I'm not going to lie--I do miss New York. It's the place where I got my first job, made all my post-college friends, fell in love, sold a novel. I've already expounded on the many reasons I love it here. But for everything I miss about New York, there is so much to love about San Francisco--especially the things that you just can't get anywhere else (and especially not in New York). Here are a few.

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The Drives: First off, I bought a car. Her name's Marilyn (that's her up at the top), and she's amazing. Second, driving here is so much fun. Ignore Bill Cosby (actually don't, because it's hilarious). The hills are really fun to drive (there's an excitement to reaching the crest and looking out on the whole city, then cruising down to the next valley), and there are all sorts of cool windy roads in the city and outside. Even my annoying commute down to work is right along the bay (I see ships and sunrises as I drive in the morning). And basically anything in Marin is completely magical (see above).

Riding to the beach

Riding my Bike: Sure, you can ride your bike in New York, but everyone I knew who did always seemed really stressed out (case in point, my boyfriend, while in the bike lane, almost got hit by a cop car). Here, there are way more bike lanes and just friendly, quiet streets where that you don't have to be a pro to navigate on two wheels. Not to mention the park (more on that later) and beach just ten minutes from my apartment. Then there's also the wiggle, which I've yet to try, but describes the curvy route commuters take to avoid the hills. Love the name.

The Bookstores: There's City Lights with all its history. Green Apple Books in Richmond. Alley Cat books in Mission. It is actually hard to find a Barnes & Noble or a Borders here. What you have, instead, are tons of independent booksellers. A dying breed, but very much alive in SF.

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The Weather: Before I moved here, everyone I spoke to who had lived here said, "You're moving to the land of perfect weather," while everyone who'd maybe visited or read about it said, "Good luck with the weather." The city (and especially my neighborhood) gets a reputation for foggy, cold, dreary, rainy days. I have yet to see it. The sun shines all the time, it does rain (but no more than any other place I've lived, and it usually doesn't last all day), and the fog clears by mid-morning. What you do have are days in January warm enough to go out in a t-shirt or a light jacket. It's pretty much like permanent spring and fall. Also, there are great rainbows.

There's a dog in my beer.

The Food and the Drinks: Nothing will replace NY pizza or bagels, but SF more than makes up for it with authentic, fresh Mexican, great options for sushi, Burmese, Indian, Vietnamese, and just general freshness. Thinking steaming pho, spicy tikka masala, pork tacos, and grass-fed burgers. Then there are tons of great breweries (like Lagunitas, above).

Composting/Recycling: I have never composted before, but it is so easy here. You just toss it in the bin and the city picks it up. Not to mention all the things you can recycle, which you don't have to sort, just toss in the bin. And it's like that everywhere you go (even the movie theaters have composting bins). All of that equals very little waste. Our trash can is about half the size of our recycling container, and we take it out far less frequently.

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Golden Gate Park: No offense to Central (they were designed by the same person, actually), but GG is so much more. The sheer number of different species of plants, trees, and flowers puts it in a different category altogether. Then there are waterfalls, lakes, and ponds. Serious fishing and miniature boat sailing. A bunch of futuristic-looking museums (walking through at night feels like you're heading towards the mother ship). Oh, and buffalo. There are actually American bison that live in the park.

Thomas and the fish

Dancing with Sea Creatures: Located in the park, California Academy of Sciences has a 21+ Thursday-night event where you basically drink and look at science. There is a biodome and planetarium that I have yet to see, but the whole bottom level is an aquarium. Nothing beats touching starfish with a drink in the other hand, or dancing to house music while surrounded by underwater creatures (there's my boyfriend making friends with the fish).

The Work/Life Balance: 9 to 5 actually exists here. Not 9 to 6, 9 to 7, 9 to 10:45. And no one judges you for actually keeping those hours. That may exist in New York, but in five years, I never found it. "What do you do?" is also not the first question people ask when they meet you.

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The Views: Every morning as soon as I open my eyes I see this. Enough said.

“A sensitive look at the wake of a friend’s suicide, infused with genuine emotion, hope, and just enough well-placed romance.”~Booklist

“The Writing King of Difficult Subjects has to be John Green. After reading The After Girls, I would definitely put Ms. Konen in his court.”~Ink and Page

“A striking debut and an eerily good book… THE AFTER GIRLS is a vivid portrayal of interrupted lives and enduring friendships. It is as much about the known as the unknown and as much about healing as loss.”~Michael Northrop, author of ROTTEN, TRAPPED and GENTLEMEN

Ella, Astrid, and Sydney were planning the perfect summer after high school graduation. But when Astrid commits suicide in a lonely cabin, the other girls' worlds are shattered. How could their best friend have done this--to herself and to them? They knew everything about Astrid. Shouldn't they have seen this coming? Couldn't they have saved her?

As Ella hunts for the truth, and Sydney tries to dull the pain, a chilling message from Astrid leaves them wondering whether their beloved friend is communicating from the after life. The girls embark on a journey to uncover Astrid's dark secrets. The answers to those questions--questions they never dreamed of asking--will change their lives forever.

Get a copy of my debut young adult novel, THE AFTER GIRLS, here.