astoria beaches

Begin Again: Fresh Website, New Series, and a Finished Novel

Sometimes you have to let your creative mind hibernate, so it can wake up when the sunshine returns. This may happen by choice, or not. For me, it just kinda happened. Time cascaded through my fingers like cold, incessant rain.

Life was as rambunctious as ever, courtesy of running Superneat Marketing with my husband Mr. H. Silly me thought leaving my full-time job for consulting full-time was going to free up time for writing and general creativity. You may all laugh now.

I have a whole new respect for small business owners, juggling these things: marketing, sales, business development, IT, accounting, etc.—on top of whatever work they do for their business.

conference fun

For me, spending time on non-billable anything is difficult to justify, unless it’s supporting the business in other ways. As tragic as it sounds, adding my damn expenses to QuickBooks easily beat writing blogs these past few months.

Naturally, doubts about the future of this blog came up during the extended break. In 2017 I published the least amount in this blog’s entire 6-year history. I struggled to keep up with reading other blogs, many who are run by lovely people I grew very close to over the years.

I felt frustrated that I couldn’t manage to write one blog when I had written hundreds before.

Yet again, I thought: Should I quit this blog?

I thought about it long and hard, believe me. But, I decided to keep going. All I needed to do was begin again.

A Fresh Website Refocused on My Creative Roots

Ah, revamping your entire website. What a royal pain in the ass. But sometimes the thing that is stifling your creativity is staring you right in the face. It was my website.

A couple of years ago, I had to make my Britt website dual purpose as I went into marketing consulting for a side hustle. I didn’t want to create a new website just for that, but I needed to represent my business side somewhere. I chose here.

The problem with that was this once artistic home of mine became cluttered. Being that I work for myself—and from home—I have enough trouble separating life from business without jumbling more of it together.

Now that Superneat Marketing exists, there is a separate place for all of that. I was overjoyed to stop mixing business with pleasure and refocus on my creative roots. No more content portfolio, no more cross-firing messages about the true purpose of this website.

writing with cats

Britt Skrabanek is back to being the way it should be. About being crazy enough to write fiction, and other life experience musings that I feel inspired to share with you all.

In the spirit of keeping this blog focused on creativity and inspirations, I recently started publishing on Medium to cover “writing about writing.” If you’re interested in checking that out, the first post is… Does Personal Blogging Still Matter in Our Distracting World?

A New Blog Series Covering Badass Women in History

While enduring my blog identity crisis, I eventually wised up and figured out how to resuscitate my love for writing again—beyond the much-needed website refresh. And, I landed on a new blog series.

Some of you are familiar with The Life Enthusiast Chronicles, a monthly blog series that featured different beautiful people talking about what made them enthusiastic about life. For two years I published these well-loved posts, but momentum slowed when I tried to keep pushing into the third year.

The unofficial ending happened with Laura’s post in December 2016, soon after we celebrated the second season with this wonderful, collaborative video with the Life Enthusiasts…

I wanted to start a new series related to my fiction, without it being too formulaic or predictable. Being that I love writing about strong female characters and historical fiction, I came up with a new series called “Badass Women in History.”

Each post will cover a woman from history—a mixture of obvious and not-so-obvious choices—and include informational gems, quotes, admirable strengths and weaknesses, and relevant books/movies.

As most of you know, I’m a huge history nerd. So I’m excited to dig into this series as a way to celebrate strong women throughout time. To get an idea of what to expect, this post about Frida and Martha Gellhorn will paint a decent picture.

A Finished Novel About Dystopian Portland

I wrote the first chapter of Virasana on April 4, 2015. Before that I obsessed and outlined for about six months. In 2017 I edited like a mad woman, and for the first time I let go of my writerly fears and enlisted beta readers. (Special shout-out to Jennifer, Sheila, and Julie for their support and early reviews).

I haven’t pursued a traditional publisher since Beneath the Satin Gloves, which I eventually self-published in 2012 after I couldn’t take anymore rejection emails. Since then, I self-published two other novels. This time I’m actively seeking a publisher to partner with…because, why the hell not?

By the time you’re writing your fourth book, the honeymoon phase of the first novel is long gone. However, as long as you continue to grow, you enter a new phase as a writer—a more open and (dare I say it?) mature phase. Still, there were many times I wanted to delete this book and give up, because life was being life. But, I didn’t.

Writing fiction is hard and the easier thing to do is give up. But stories are beautiful fragments of life…and that connection between writers and readers is one of the last true things I know in this world.

So, I’ll keep writing and reading. Because fiction still matters…art in all of its obscure forms still matters.

virasana book

Virasana is a dystopian novel set in a destructive time when love has been outlawed and one woman with a secret power to command nature must become the hero that saves Port City.

Here is an amazing review from Sheila, and you can check out the new page for more

Set in a time when love has been outlawed, Virasana is the ultimate love story. Fear and injustice rule the land. Heroes are desperately needed—but in a society like this, it’s much easier to blend in than to stand up. Reminiscent of The Hunger Games and The Handmaid’s Tale, Vi must rise up against oppression and fight for love.”

And a 2018 Sankalpa…To Root and Soar

As many of you know, I prefer to commit to a sankalpa instead of a resolution at the beginning of the year. Yoga Journal translates the Sanskrit word sankalpa as “resolve”. San means “born from the heart,” while kalpa means “unfolding over time.”

Basically, a sankalpa is a word or phrase that describes a positive intention, versus a resolution which tends to be more restrictive and negative. In 2017 my sankalpa was “to have less goals.”

That meant being laser-focused on only a couple of goals, and doing my best to avoid derailing that focus with activities and minutiae that kept me from achieving them.

railroad tracks in astoria

One goal was to leave my salaried position and run Superneat Marketing full-time with Mr. H. By September 1, that became a reality. The second goal was to finish my novel, Virasana. Reaching these two life goals in a year required tough choices and sacrifices, but I managed to stay true to that sankalpa.

In 2018 my sankalpa is “to root and soar.”

Or, to channel my inner Mr. Miyagi…I’m going to be the tree, rooted in the earth while stretching into the sky.

I don’t really know what all this sankalpa entails for me this year. It’s certainly more woo-woo than I’ve done in the past. It came to me, organic and sudden, just as it had in previous years. So, I’m going for it.

And if I turn into a tree one day, you’ll know I stayed committed to my sankalpa. 😉

The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul and a new nose; new feet, a new backbone, new ears, and new eyes. Unless a particular man-made New Year resolutions, he would make no resolutions. Unless a man starts afresh about things, he will certainly do nothing effective.” – G.K. Chesterton

What about you guys? Any exciting changes for 2018…a sankalpa you want to share?

33 thoughts on “Begin Again: Fresh Website, New Series, and a Finished Novel

  1. Britt, how lovely to have you bouncing back into blog writing. You have been doing some amazing things; a new book, a business. Wow. I am looking forward to your new blog series. My ‘plan’ is to continue with my YouTube series on New Zealand writers and poets…..many of the female writers I have chosen were very sassy and adventurous. https://youtu.be/wQ1EuPAMi6k

    1. Hey, Gallivanta! I’ve been a busy gal, probably too busy for my own good…but, oh well! 😉

      Excited to share the new series with you all soon. Love your YouTube series. What a wonderful way to celebrate New Zealand writers!

  2. As always, you are one busy person, Britt! I’m excited to see you’re writing again. I’m still hibernating. Think I need to move back to Thailand. You are a success at whatever you do, pretty lady!

    1. Hey, Dannie! Yeah, can’t seem to stop from doing everything all the time. Maybe that will change one of these days, but who knows?

      You always seemed so happy in Thailand. Sounds like it’s time!

  3. You are beautiful and blessed with insight, creativity, and an insane work ethic! Your blog renovation is spot on, and I can’t wait to read about the women who inspire you.

  4. I’m so impressed with what you and your husband put together. I bet you work longer hours now than you did before. Good for you for being able to finish your book in that time too. Very impressive. Best of luck to you with it!

    1. Thank you, Carrie! Yes, I definitely work more than before. But, it is so much more enjoyable when you are building your own business. It helps to have a handsome business partner that I get to see all the time now too. 🙂

  5. Wishing you the very best for the coming year, love all the exciting changes you’ve initiated. I’m also in the process of changing over my blog. It’s like home reno, but hopefully less problematic!

    xox
    eden

  6. Yay – Happy New Year! Your new website looks super neat. It’s true that it takes a crazy person to write fiction, and it’s great that you’re crazy in so many ways! I’ll look forward to hearing about all your upcoming adventures and the inspiring women out there.

    1. Happy New Year, Sheila! Nice way to work Superneat into that website compliment. 😉

      Haha, I’m glad you’re crazy enough to write fiction too. I’m excited to start the new series. Once I get through this non-fiction book on the subject, I’ll be ready to go!

  7. Great to hear from you Britt. No one would have complained if you’d decided to focus entirely on your business.

    The series about women in history ought to be fun. And it comes at a time where the contribution of women down the years is finally being realised and acknowledged. Gotta love the ‘herstory’ tagline.

    Best wishes for 2018. Hope the novel finds a publisher. I’m also thinking my present WIP ought to be more than a regular self-publish but there’s a long way to go first.

    1. Yeah…in many ways it’s easier to just focus on the business, with only so many hours in each day. But I have to keep my creative side alive and well, or I feel off.

      I hadn’t even heard “herstory!” How did I miss that?

      Excited to explore the new series. I have a feeling it will fuel plenty of book inspiration as well. I’m SO ready to get back to historical fiction after being in the future for a couple of years. That was hard for me, and after a while, I was pretty sick of the dystopian scene. 😉

      Thank you for your kind wishes! Same to you this year, Roy. Have fun with your WIP!

  8. So happy to see you blogging again. I’ve missed you. But I totally get the need to hunker down to preserve our creativity. Sometimes, I think it doesn’t like to be “on demand” so much, and these days, life seems to always be “on demand.” I’m changing things up too, retiring 4amWriter, and moving things over to a more robust platform so I can do more from one place. Kind of the opposite to what you had to do! 🙂 Looking forward to blogging better in 2018!

    1. Kate doll…I’ve missed you lots! Yeah, my creativity is already “on demand” for our business. It’s very easy for me to run out of steam these days. It’s all about making time and preserving some of that energy for our passions though.

      Sounds exciting, Kate! Can’t wait to read more from you this year. You always inspire me to keep going.

  9. I think there is some cultural zeitgeist going on. When I read your description of Virasana I nearly choked because it sounds so much like my work-in-progress! Of course there are no original ideas–only original characters and ways of expressing them. I can’t wait to see how the theme plays out in your book. But not until after I finish writing mine :-).

    Looking forward to following your writing in 2018.

    1. That’s too funny, Audrey! I do believe that the times we live in directly affect the creative community. Pretty interesting how that happens. Certainly a lot has transpired these past few years to get us going. Seems like there has been a surge in creativity across the board.

      It’s true that there are no original ideas. Mr. H and I always say that, and some people we mention that to strongly disagree. It’s rare when I watch a movie or read a book that is truly unique—and even then, the premise is familiar.

      Good luck on your WIP! Looking forward to reading it one day.

  10. Gotta love the new year and the new look! Everything looks fresh and shines with your beauty. Simple and yet charismatic.
    I’m also so happy to have been able to help you out on Virasana as much as you can inspire me on a daily basis. I believe in every single goal that you set your eyes on and know you’ll do awesomely!
    That sankalpa of yours is another gem. I know you’ll grow into it as magnificently as you do the rest, with pose, with beauty, with all your mind set to it. You’re a great example to follow.

    My sankalpa? Stop waiting; go back to making things happen; feel like I’m actually doing something meaningful somewhere somehow, if only just for myself. Is it too high a goal?

    Wishing you a paradise of a 2018!
    xoxoxo

    1. Thank you for the wonderful website compliments, love! Your new website looks fabulous as well. I know what a pain that is, so nice work!

      Your feedback was extremely helpful for Virasana. The book will be much stronger, thanks to my beta readers.

      I like your sankalpa. Though I don’t ever see you as the type that doesn’t make things happen. You seize everything! xo

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