What would it look like to use your spiritual gifts for God? Today, we feature Katrina D Hamel from his debut novel Dividing Sword was published on March 28. Katrina shares a bit about her creative process and her personal life. As she shares about her gifts for God, I pray her story will motivate you to do the same.
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Q : You currently live in Alberta, Canada?
A: I do live in Alberta, but I’m right on the border of Saskatchewan, so I get to enjoy both provinces. My favorite thing about the Canadian prairies is the beautiful wide open spaces are broken up by lots of bush (forests to you non-Canadians) and lakes, and my family loves to go camping. My least favorite part is that we have loooooong winters, and they are cold!
Q: You got married at 18, what advice would you give to a young woman of that age who is today contemplating marriage?
A: Marriage is the hardest thing you will ever do! I am certainly no expert at it. What I do know, is that the choice to get married is about so much more than love and wanting to spend every moment with each other. Love at 18 or 19 is powerful and strong, but there are challenges to marrying before careers, travel or university. For the first few years, you will be broke, all the time! You may have to put mortgages and children on hold for longer than you’d like.
At any age, it is so important to do a faith-based premarital course so you can learn what each of you is bringing to the marriage, and what you’re hoping to get out of it! This is perhaps even more important for young couples because they have more life ahead of them!
Before you say “I do”, spend time together in all sorts of ways. Travel, build something, volunteer, worship, babysit . . . and see how you work together—or not.
When looking at your prospective husband, consider his attributes. Is his faith deep, and will he encourage you to grow deeper in yours? Is he kind and respectful to everyone? Is he a hard worker? Does he get along well with your friends and family, and do they like him? If you want children, does he have the qualities of a good father?
And consider your attributes too. Are you strong in your faith? Do you cultivate the fruits of the spirit? Are you ready to partner with him in everything? Are you the sort of woman a man would be proud to call his wife?
Marriage is hard, but the payoffs are great. Be prepared to keep working on yourself and your marriage for the rest of your life.
Q: What is the most important thing about being a full-time childcare provider?
A: The best part is a child's fascination with even the simplest joys, like watching a plane fly overhead or catching a leaf as it falls. Being around kids is just so much fun! I get to play in the backyard, read books, walk to the park, make cookies, and play with playdough, what's not to love?
Q: What is your favorite dessert? Why?
A: Hands down, my favorite dessert is cinnamon buns — fresh and warm if I can manage it! They are like a soul for your soul.
Q: Who is the biggest supporter of your work? How do they show their support?
A: The biggest supporter of my writing is my Dad. He helps me with research, and I can always count on him to be a sounding board. He is afraid to challenge my assumptions too, which I am grateful for! I know his prayers about my writing do not go unheard.
Q: What was your favorite thing about writing Dividing Sword?
A: My favorite part came during the second draft when I started to experience it all come together in a meaningful way. My Bible study and research was fueling my imagination, and I started to feel like I had walked with Jesus myself. There is nothing quite like Scripture coming alive!
What was your least favorite?
A: The finicky detail work was my favorite - checking for grammar and punctuation and formatting the book. The nuts and bolts are not nearly as fun as the creative process!
Q: Your website tells you that your child is writing, give us an example of a typical day. How do you get into the frame of mind to work after a full day as a childcare provider?
A: I'm a night owl, so writing in the evenings makes sense to me. I use the daytime to get my to-do list out of the way, so when I'm sitting down to write I don't have other projects niggling in my mind. I do reading and research during naptime when the house is quiet.
I daydream about what I want to write throughout the day, and so when I finally sit down to type, I already have an idea where I'm going. I like to be efficient with my writing time because it is a time I treasure.
Q: Why did you decide to self-publish instead of publishing traditionally?
A: Initially, I started out with a small publishing house. I have to start writing again. However, when they lost their managing editor, I started taking over more and more responsibilities, such as hiring an editor and cover designer. When it was time to publish and there was still no managing editor, I decided that if I had gone this far, I could make the final stretch!
My publisher and I parted ways with no hard feelings on either side. As a self-published author, I had to learn a lot, but I also enjoyed having creative control, and of course, a nice perk is that I make more income per book than the sole employee!
Q: If you could give three pieces of writing advice to someone who is thinking about writing a book for the first time what would they be?
A: Imagine your ideal reader — what do you want to say to them?
I liked writing an outline for the book. Mine wasn't strict, but that way when I sat down to that precious hour or two of writing time, I already knew what I would be writing about. Also, before you start fiction writing, know what your character's greatest desire is, and their greatest fear. Remember, the struggle is what makes us love a character.
Get that first draft typed out before you go back and make edits. If you get bogged down making things perfect, you will lose creative flow and become discouraged.
Q: How did you get the most out of engaging with the Bible?
A: The Old Testament books of laws were very overwhelming for me. For years I skipped over those books with their strange rules and long lists of names! However, learning more about how those laws played out in everyday life, and how they even point forward to Jesus, has made them more interesting and relevant to me! I still have a way to go before I can say I truly enjoy them, but maybe someday!
Q: What's your advice for someone who's struggling to engage with the Bible?
A: It really helps to study the Bible with other people! It's more fun to challenge you to Scripture with a friend. If you can't find a study at church, invite friends or family to join you via email, or find one online! My novel, Dividing Sword, was born out of an in-depth email Bible study.
Q: What about the book of Matthew that pulled you in so that you felt "I have to write a story about this"?
A: The idea of writing a novel about Matthew was actually suggested to me, which is backward from most writers. So then I had to take a few weeks to think and pray about this Gospel and decide what I felt was the important messages Matthew wanted to share with us. The kingdom of heaven is mentioned so often in Matthew's gospel, and I really wanted to dig into what it is.
The Pharisees are the "bad guys" in Matthew - more than in the other gospels - and I wanted to explore these scholars were historically, and delve into how they could witness Jesus' miracles and STILL not believe! This is so culturally relevant to us today because our generation is so much about anything that seems like a "miracle" and quick to doubt everything as a scam or a trick. So it was really engaging in the shoes of a first-century housewife, and a Pharisee, and imagine what it was like follow and challenge Jesus of Nazareth.
Read more from Katrina: Thankful for Those Who Helped Me Up
Q: If you could jump into any Bible story, what would it be? Why?
A: Oh, fun question! Right now, I think if I could jump into any story, it would be in the letter passage of time between Jesus' resurrection and ascension. I wish I could hear the words Jesus spoke to his disciples that filled them with such passion and wisdom as they moved forward to start the first churches.
The transition from Temple-worshiping Jews with their sacrifices and purity laws, to Christians' welcome in the Gentiles and accepting Jesus as the one-time-for-all sacrifice for their sins. . . it's an incredible moment in history that we only get a peek at!
Q: What’s next for Katrina?
A: I have a second book percolating, another Bible Fiction. I have already learned, and explore more of the first-century world in the early churches and the amazing men and women who planted them. In the meantime, I will continue with my website, writing a growing collection of Bible short stories for adults who might not have heard these stories in Sunday School, or for Bible enthusiasts looking for something different to shake things up!
Katrina's debut Christian historical novel Dividing Sword is now available on Amazon.