Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Writer Wednesday - Deborah Nam-Krane

Deborah Nam-Krane is a novelist, blogger and book reviewer who lives in Boston, and like any true city-dweller, she specifies that she lives in "Boston-Boston, not the Boston-area." Her first novel, The Smartest Girl in the Room, was published in 2013 and Her fourth full-length novel, Let's Move On, will be published in the fall of 2014. When not writing or talking about current events, she can be found trying to prevent her four homeschooled children from trying to take over the world. I hope you enjoy her interview!

Deborah Nam-Krane
Deborah Nam-Krane

Who are you? Deborah Nam-Krane, an indie novelist living in Boston-proper.

Where can you be found online? I'm sort of all over the place :-) I have a blog called Written By Deb where I post reviews, interviews, my thoughts on publishing and occasional features for other writers. Overall, I try to keep it reader-focused as opposed to writer-focused.

I'm also on Twitter and keep a Facebook page. Honestly, I'm not as active on Facebook professionally; the way we have to game the site in order to get people who have already "liked" our page to read our stuff is ridiculous. So Twitter is probably the best place to find me. Be warned though: I talk about current events A LOT!

What inspired you to start writing? When did it happen? I've been working on the kernel of this series since I was thirteen (no, seriously). But what got me to the computer in my mid-thirties was getting past the feeling that I needed my work to be "deep" or "important". Once I loosened up and decided I was going to write romance, the installments just came out. Ironically, I think I did work some themes in there that some might consider more...whatever than a stereotypical romance. (Then again, I've never read a stereotypical romance!)

Why do you write? I'm a story teller by nature, but I think a lot of people are. I write because there are ways in which I'd like to make the world a better place, and sometimes the best way to do that is to describe the world as you'd like to see it.

Who inspires you? I've been fortunate enough to speak with some fabulous writers over the last few years. Some of it is through my blog, and some of it is through Twitter. I've been blown away by Nasser Weddady, Sarah Kendzior, Mara Hvistendahl, Scott Anderson, Pankaj Ghemawat, Charles C. Mann, Diantha Jones and Mark Peterson. They all write about very different subjects, but there all masters at making difficult concepts not only understandable but also compelling.

In keeping with the admittedly loose travel theme of Not Intent On Arriving, if you could have an all-expenses paid trip anywhere in the world, where would you go? Hawaii- no contest!

What is your favorite place on earth? New York City. I've been in Massachusetts since I was two years old, but my heart is still in the city where I was born.

Anything else you'd like us to know? I have four books out right now in my series The New Pioneers: The Smartest Girl in the Room, The Family You Choose, An Engagement (a short story) and The China Doll. Let's Move On is coming out this fall and it concludes the Coming of Age stories of my heroines. I couldn't let them or my version of Boston go, and I've completed a fifth book using the same setting and some of the same characters in The Golden Boy Returns. There's a romantic element in it- I am what I am!- but it's primary focus is Boston politics. I've just started working on the sixth full-length book in the same series. I had so much fun crafting the mystery in The China Doll that this one is going to go deeper into that territory. The heroine in that story is very different from the kind of characters I've usually created, but I'm excited by the challenge of putting myself in that headspace.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Weekend Wanderings - New York Poetry Festival

Like all weekends lately, this one went by too quickly. On Friday afternoon, I took a nice walk through Madison Square Park to Trader Joe's, to pick up some wine for a NY staff meeting I was hosting for LNL.

The dinner went really well, I think. I work with some incredible people, both at LNL and at OUP.

On Saturday, I took a nice wander through Brooklyn and then boarded the ferry to Governor's Island for the NYC Poetry Festival. The festival was great, a lot bigger than the first year they had it (the last time I was there), and Governor's Island is much more beautiful than I remember it as well. I hope to head back there with some friends (and maybe some bikes) soon! I also bought a few friends' books, and I can't wait to read them.

Remember this great poet?

I love the contrast of this old-world ship and new-world skyscrapers.

On Sunday, I woke up a little late and immediately went on my long run. I tried to make it to yoga afterward, but ended up being really dehydrated, so I only made it about 5 minutes into the class before leaving. After a little cleaning and reading, I headed to Newark to meet Roger and his multiple bags of textiles. It was so great to see him after three weeks apart! I can't wait to share his photos from the Ivory Coast soon.

And in the meantime, I know at least two girls who are glad to have him back, me and this baby:

Friday, July 25, 2014

{This Moment}

Napatree Point
A Friday ritual inspired by Amanda Soule & many others.
Please feel free to share a link to your own moment in the comments.

Recap of this week on Not Intent On Arriving:
  • On Monday, I posted about my weekend trip to Mystic, CT with my best friend. It was a great time, and I wish I could be back there this weekend! Hopefully we'll be back some time in the fall for some wine tasting nearby!
  • On Tuesday, I tried out a new feature, Dispatch From, by posting a wordless entry of just photos from the trip. It was a lot of fun, and I hope to feature more (and better) photos soon. If you'd like to submit a trip, shoot me an email (Also, don't those waitresses have the cutest uniforms?)
  • Wednesday's Writer was Hillary Proctor, a fabulous food writer from Chicago! I love food writing, so I'm really excited to have been able to feature her.
  • And then yesterday, I did something I've been meaning to do for ages, and got a domain name!  I was accidentally lying when I said it didn't change my stats (it totally did - yesterday I got 1 visit, and unless all of you just abandoned ship randomly, that's not normal), but even so, I'm excited that everyone can finally access this blog at (Now, to see about this stats business...)
Writing Elsewhere:
  • Nada. This is getting embarrassing.
Hope you all have a wonderful weekend! On Saturday, I'll be at the NYC Poetry Festival on Governor's Island, so if you'll also be there, let me know. I'd love to meet up! And on Sunday, finally, finally, Roger gets home. I've missed him a lot the past three weeks, so I'm really excited to see him and hear all about the Ivory Coast!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

How to Get a Domain Name for Your Blogger Blog

Hey-oh! After literally years of blogging, I have finally purchased a domain name for this site. I know, I know. What took so long? Well, I was cheap for a long time. And then when I stopped being cheap, Blogger stopped selling domain names. And then I was lazy. But no longer! Behold the power of having a real URL!

Since my page on making my website using Blogger is one of the more popular pages here, I figured I should pass on some more knowledge (that's why I'm here, folks - passing on the knowledge).

My next blog tutorial will be "How to Use Photoshop Poorly"

How to Buy the Domain Name: (This is so easy that I actually just straight up did it myself. It was one of the more affordable ones, so I just went with it. If you google "Best Places to Buy a Domain Name," you will find lots of other likely equally good ones. If you use those, though, you'll have to find your own directions.)

How to Set It Up - Find your CNAMEs on Blogger: (Blogger was really helpful until Step 5. Then I had to bug Namecheap for support. Thank goodness for LiveChat.)

How to Set It Up - Put Your CNAMEs in Namecheap: (This was pretty straightforward, but I did need Namecheap to show me where it was.)

How to Set It Up - A Records: (You'll need the information in Step 9. Namecheap support makes it look like you can't do this unless you are also hosting with them also. But you can! You can add additional A records in Sub Domain settings section. Create four records like this: @ -> -> A (address). You should do this because it links your naked an actual If you skip this step, visitors who leave off the "www" will see an error page.)

How to Set It Up - Finish It Off: (Steps 10-11.)

Wait an hour or so, and voila! You have a domain name.

With all this information, it should hopefully take you less than a half hour of active time to set yours up, plus the hour of waiting for the DNS settings to activate. If you're me and searching for all this information, it will take about an hour, plus the hour of waiting time.

I was worried it would mess up my stats (which I just track through blogger), but so far they seem to still be intact. Likewise, I don't think you'll need to update your feed reader, but you can if you like. And, if you love visiting through the actual site itself, you can now do so by just typing in plain old!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Writer Wednesday - Hillary Proctor

When Kinzie Ferguson suggested I ask Hillary Proctor for an interview and I checked out her website, I knew that I'd be adding it to my reader right away. Hillary writes about the food scene in Chicago, and while I've wanted to visit the Windy City for a while now, all of her posts make me want to get there right away! If you're in the Midwest or just love food, you should definitely check out her blog!


Who are you? My name is Hillary, and I live in my favorite city in the world, Chicago.

Where can you be found online?  Do you have a blog or other online receptacle for your work?  If so, how would you describe it to a stranger you've just met while on vacation?  Remember, you're in a hot tub with them on a clear cold night, stars twinkling above you.  They want all the details.  If your work doesn't live online, tell the hot-tub-stranger about your writing in such a way that makes them urge you to get an online receptacle for it. My primary passion is food and drink, so I blog about my dining experiences at (creative name, I know, but I wanted the flexibility that comes with self-branding). I focus mainly on Chicago restaurants, but also cover wherever my travels take me, and even a little bit of home cooking. I'll also post recaps of special events like Restaurant Week and food festivals, as well as occasional topical pieces.

I've made a conscious decision to only celebrate great food and drink on my blog; if I'm disappointed by a dish or restaurant, I simply won't write about it. I'd much rather devote all my space to positive recommendations and outstanding experiences than add more negativity to the internet (let's be honest, this world already has enough Yelp reviewers who are just looking for something to complain about!) I do my best to describe food in a way that inspires my readers to feel the same kind of joy and wonder that I feel while eating it.

What inspired you to start writing/blogging?  When did it happen? I've loved to write ever since I was a little girl -- I had a particular penchant for starting stories, but never quite finishing them. I went on to study journalism in college, which was also when I realized I enjoyed the whole culture around food more than the average person. I went to culinary school after that, primarily to become a more credentialed food writer, but still wasn't actually writing in any kind of consistent way. Finally, after some prodding by close friends and colleagues, I started the blog in order to chronicle the best things I ate and drank in a more formal venue than just casual conversation. I also knew that the only way to improve as a writer, and specifically a food writer, was to keep writing.  

Why do you write? I write to capture some of my most memorable food moments in a concrete form that I can refer back to again and again. I write so that others can relive and share in my dining experiences, even if they weren't there with me originally. I write to express my own perspective on an ever-shifting culinary landscape. I write because words are important and powerful.

Your writing inspires me.  Who inspires you? I'm inspired by great food writers and critics (M.F.K. Fisher, Ruth Reichl, Francis Lam, Jeff Ruby, and Smitten Kitchen's Deb Perelman, to name a few). I also am fortunate enough to have incredibly talented, inspiring friends in all forms of media: journalists, photographers, bloggers, painters, and everything in between. I'm inspired by people who are pursuing their dreams and passions, whether artistic or otherwise, and whose enthusiasm for their craft is so contagious that you can't imagine them doing anything else.

In keeping with the admittedly loose travel theme of Not Intent On Arriving, if you could have an all-expenses paid trip anywhere in the world, where would you go? Australia. I've always wanted to scuba dive and snorkel the Great Barrier Reef, and the food scene -- in Sydney and Melbourne especially -- is really exciting there. I'd love to browse their markets and try all kinds of new ingredients that are indigenous to the area. In fact, if someone would pay for me to taste my way through farmers' markets and food stalls all the way around the world, I'd pick that instead!
What is your favorite place on earth? It's tough to pick just one, but in the summertime at least, I have to go with lying on a blanket in Millennium Park at dusk, full from a picnic of fancy snacks and wine, watching blazing pinks and oranges in the sky give way to darkness above the twinkling lights of the skyline, letting live music carry me away.

Anything else you'd like us to know? Don't be afraid to try something new, especially when it comes to eating and drinking! I would never have developed the culinary passion I have now without being exposed to all kinds of different things and being willing (or, in rare cases, forced) to taste anything at least once. I think that really applies to life in general: as cheesy as it sounds, you'll never know if you like something that seems foreign or scary unless you get a little adventurous and try it. In my experience, it's worth it.

Oh, and if you ever need a restaurant recommendation in Chicago, let me know! :)

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Dispatch from Mystic, CT and Watch Hill, RI

Here are a few of my favorite pictures from this past weekend in Mystic, CT and Watch Hill, RI, taken on my phone. Be sure to click the panoramas for a better view, and thanks for tuning in yesterday!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Weekend Wanderings - Mystic, CT and Watch Hill, RI

Prepare for a million photos! Shelby and I went up to Mystic, CT for the weekend and had a wonderful time. This will mostly be photos, but I'll include a few words, too.

Friday, July 18, 2014

We loaded into Shelby's car early in the morning to make the two-hour drive over to Mystic. Once there, we checked into the Econolodge (review: not as bad as I worried it could be, though it is across from a graveyard), and walked over to the Mystic Aquarium. We saw sharks, seals, and beluga whales, and we pet stingrays, and I took a photo of this really cool frog.

I wasn't totally in love with the aquarium (it features more mammals than fish, and I tend to feel guilty watching them, also it was a little pricey at $29 a pop), but there were a bunch of kids who seemed really excited to be there, and the animals were beautiful. Also, see above, that frog was awesome.

After the aquarium, we took a scenic walk to town to grab lunch. The little town of Mystic is about a mile and a half away from the hotel, which made for a great walk.

Along the way, we passed the Mystic Seaport: The Museum of America and the Sea. I remember visiting it as a kid, and it sounds right up my alley now, so I hope to come back and visit one day soon!

We also waited a bit outside S&P Oyster Co., which had really gorgeous landscaping, while waiting for the drawbridge across Mystic River to open up.

Boats were on hand to give tours of the harbor:

We enjoyed a big lunch at the Captain Daniel Packer Inne, which was really delicious. I had the crab panini, which was wonderful, and Shelby said she really enjoyed her burger. The restaurant is in a home that was built in 1756, and it was a great cozy spot for our first meal in Mystic.

We wandered around some of the adorable shops in town, and then made our way back to the hotel, stopping for a selfie:

And to admire the gorgeous architecture along the bay:

On the way, we also stopped for ice cream sundaes at Twisters. The ice cream was tasty, but what really made the experience was sitting outside staring over the lovely harbor. We spent some time reading and sunning by the pool before heading to Olde Mystic Village for a little more shopping and dinner at Ten Clams (where nothing costs more than ten clams!). It was empty, but I actually really enjoyed our meal. The New England Clam Chowder was really good, and they made a mean grilled cheese.

It was also fun to wander around the little shopping center, because I remembered it so vividly from our many trips there when I was a kid. We used to come to Rhode Island every summer when I was younger, so this visit felt familiar and comforting.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

On Saturday morning, we headed to Watch Hill to spend the day on the beach. Unfortunately, the weather was a little chilly for the beach, but that didn't stop us from setting up our chairs and relaxing for most of the morning!

We set up on Napatree Point, a public beach right next to Watch Hill Beach. It was a bit tucked away, and perhaps because the weather wasn't hot, there was plenty of space to spread out.

There were also some really beautiful birds nearby:

Unfortunately, while we wandered onto the jetty, and took this picture:

This little guy, and a bunch of his friends went through and stole a bunch of our food!

We packed it away more carefully before our next walk, and Shelby supervised for a few minutes to make sure they didn't come back and attack our totes.

The walk to the other jetty:

After our walk and some reading, we headed back into town. This is the view from the top of the dune path to get into and out of the beach:

We ate a quick lunch of clam chowder at St. Clair Annex, followed by homemade ice cream cones.

Then, we wandered around Watch Hill, pretending to be rich and stopping in at a different shops. Were I rich, I would definitely own one of these boats:

We retired to the Verandah at Ocean House for cocktails overlooking the croquet court. It was pretty glorious, and I can't think of a better way to have spent the afternoon.

I don't really mention this much here, but (possibly because we vacationed here every summer for most of my formative years) I sort of expected that I'd be wealthy by now. Clearly this was a bit of mild insanity on my part, given that I'd also always planned to be a writer, but I just thought I should say that once upon a time, I thought my afternoons would look like this most days. My delusional pre-teen self was very glad to have spent at least one afternoon this way.

Anyway, on the walk back to the car, I saw these people and thought, That life looks so grand! Rooftop life. It's a good one.

Back in Mystic, I continued my life as a rich person by buying not one, but two hats! The blue fascinator is from Peppergrass and Tulip, an adorable shop that was selling a bunch of different hats and fascinators at really good prices. I'm planning to wear it to a dear friend's wedding in a few weeks. (How do we feel about Americans wearing fascinators at weddings? Am I giving away my pre-teen pretensions about being rich?) The green is a vintage piece from Pennywise, a really great consignment shop with two locations (of course we went to both!). I'm planning to wear it this fall and winter with a red wool coat I love but haven't worn in years. Pennywise had its own section of secondhand Lilly Pulitzer, so it won my heart pretty much instantaneously based on that alone.

Can I move to a coastal town already? I know I'm meant to live on an island...

We had dinner that night at Mystic Pizza, which everyone said was terrible, but which I actually thought was fine. It's a fun little spot with hefty portions, movie memoribilia on the walls, and very friendly service. Shelby and I split the buffalo chicken pizza and I was pretty over the moon about it.

We headed back to the hotel after that, and then I proceeded to spend the next three hours finishing The Lowlands, which was so beautiful and so excellent and I think I'm in love with Jhumpa Lahiri.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

We stopped for a quick bite to eat at Kitchen Little, where we sat on the deck overlooking a Marina and ate delicious eggs Benedict over Portuguese sausage.

It was a perfect way to end a lovely trip. Shelby very kindly dropped me off at New Haven (a train station I love!) and we went our separate ways. I had such a fun trip, and it's inspired me to put together a possible New England road trip this fall or winter, up to visit friends in MA and VT. Can't wait!

Tune in tomorrow for Dispatch From, some of my favorite phone photos from this trip!