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Former inmate is Hawaii's newest published author

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A former Hawaii inmate has taken what she learned in prison to help others.

In the past, Island News has shared with you the Haku Mo'olelo, story writing program at the women's prison.

Lois Kim wrote a book, Mommy Loves You, for her children while behind bars.

She is now Hawaii's newest published author, hoping to use her story to help others.

"It feels surreal, like it's not happening. It's been a long process and a hard journey but it feels amazing," Kim said. "I came from immigrant parents. I'm first generation Korean. At a very young age, I learned the importance of a strong work ethic and education. But unfortunately, life took a stumbling block," Lois said.   

Several very close family members died.  Lois turned to alcohol to grieve, then drugs. She was arrested for shoplifting and drugs and ended up at the Women's Correctional Center.

While serving time, her mother died. She was at her lowest point. That's when the Haku Mo'olelo Program came along.

It's part of Read to Me International. Volunteers donate their in the women's prison, helping give inmates the voice they say is missing.

The volunteers help them plan, write, illustrate and publish a book for their children, their families.

"So these angels appeared and gave me a chance to speak what I needed to say. Which to my children that despite my departure, it had nothing to do with you and it doesn't mean that I don't love you," Lois said. 

This was the paperback book that was published by Read to Me International.

"I was excited because the book was about her making an apology to me and how she told me that she loved me," Ashley, Lois's daughter said. "I didn't really notice that she had such a hard past and I thought that she just left me cuz she didn't want me anymore. But now, I know that she wants me to be a part of her life and the past was just an accident." 

Once out of prison, Kim was encouraged to pursue a publisher, she approached several at the Hawaii Book and Music Festival.

"It's really nerve wrecking, you've got this felony charge. You don't know how to speak to people but you have a story you need to tell," Lois said. 

Watermark publishing knew she had a story to tell.

The finished product includes a cameo drawing by Ashley.

Ashley's favorite part of the book is the front cover where the girl is far away from the mom and the mom is waving at her because it has th cherry blossom tree and Lois used to draw cherry blossom trees for her all the time. 

Lois now works full time. She and Ashley are together everyday and both say this book helped them and they hope it will help others too.   

"It's a story that's extremely relevant despite social background. Despite what you've been through, it's a story where every mother wants to tell their child even if mom has to go away for five minutes, or in my cas, my mom had to leave indefinitely, that doesn't mean I don't love you. I love you," Lois said. 

Lois will be holding a book signing Sunday at Barnes and Noble Ala Moana at 1 p.m.

A portion of the proceeds of each of her books sold will go to Read to Me International, the program she says helped save her life.