Thank you for your prayers and encouragement. If life has taught me nothing else, I have learned that I am less than what I can be if I do not have others working with me. So I pray y'all will feel free to suggest how I can improve my story telling, too.
My friends here in the prison frequently ask, "How long did it take you to write a book?" You realize I am not able to use computers and modern technology. I wrote the first part of the first draft on a ’40's or ’50's era Smith-Corona portable. She was sweet but could be temperamental, and I did not realize how slow the machine was until I was blessed with an upgrade to a Swintec electronic machine. Anyhow, Olive U is not a long story. And my Boss made the writing a real pleasure. Still, what with prison being prison, I started working on the novel in 2009, had to take a long break when I was transferred to another prison, and finally picked it up and finished it in 2013/14. All together, I would estimate I worked on Olive U three months. Many of those days were 16 hours or more, but I loved every minute of it. Drove some roommates nuts and still get a death threat or two (not really), but I had a blast getting out of prison and hanging around with Pastor Best and Brother Eli and the boys.
Olive U was inspired by the testimonies of mighty men of God like Peter Fluer of the Newsboys and Dave Krumpe, a volunteer chaplain at the California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison at Corcoran, California (CSATF/SP). Both these men told of serving God before they really knew Him. We had a great praise and worship team in the chapel at A Facility back in 2008 and had included them in a couple of well-received dramas for the brothers. We were praying for inspiration on a fresh Christmas play in 2008 when God gave me Olive U, the play. After that performance, one old timer as he was wheeling out of the chapel in a chair looked up at me and said, "I've been going to church all my life, and that's the best Christmas service I've-ever been to!" Our praise team was phenomenal--they really were.
The next year, I had some time and asked God what I should write next. He told me to make a novel out of Olive U. And here we are.
I was a fairly new believer. --Well, maybe. I guess that depends on your doctrine. I had accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior as a child, joined the Navy at 17, then murdered two men in 1986. My first 20 years in prison, I was just waiting to die, really. I did not think I would ever get out. But then 1 came to my senses or He called me again or He simply called me in 2005. Anyhow, I had been inspired as a young-in-the-faith Christian by the likes of Sheldon's In His Steps. I loved the evangelistic message and the simplicity of his prose. In His Steps and other classic Christian novels are beautiful in their simplicity.