Interview with Jon J. Cardwell

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I was born in San Diego, California and grew up as a military dependent. I was the son of a career Navy man, who was the son of a career Navy man-- that's right, I'm the son of a son of a sailor. So it was no surprise to anyone that I also joined the Navy when I reached adulthood. Because we were a military family, we traveled a lot, about every two to three years on average. The various environments and cultures, not only in my upbringing, but also in my adult life as a Navy deep sea diver, provided a lot of material for life experience in non-fiction, as well as stories and anecdotes for my fiction works.
When did you first start writing?
I actually began writing at a very young age, as young as seven years old; and even through high school. It was really horrid, silly, stupid stuff. I stopped for many years when I left college and joined the Navy. I started up again as a missionary pastor in Alaska, desktop publishing Christian non-fiction material for the congregations I served. So my real start in writing began about 2002-2003.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I took the self-publishing route purely by accident because I never really intended on publishing any books at all. After my family and I left Alaska in January 2008 because it was suspected that I had Lou Gehrig’s disease, I wanted to get some Christian discipleship tools in the hands of the Alaskan natives we had ministered to for several years. Having discovered self-publishing venues in 2009, we made some resources available for our northern friends. I kept on going with it in order to supplement our income since we were ministering in a small church in central Alabama by early 2009. By late 2009, Vayahiy Press was born. The rest, as they say, is history.
What would you say to someone considering self-publishing as an indie author?
There’s nothing to be ashamed of if a writer decides to go the self-publishing route. Mark Twain began as a self-published author and sold his first book, Huckleberry Finn, door to door. Others who have self-published are Ernest Hemingway, Rudyard Kipling, Stephen King, Louis L’Amour, Alexander Dumas, Stephen Crane, Edgar Allen Poe, Upton Sinclair, and Nathaniel Hawthorne, just to name a few notables.

If ever you had thoughts of being a writer, if you can go the traditional route, hey, that’s great; but self-publishing has helped me to learn many things that I know I would still need in the world of traditional publishing if I decide to take that plunge later on down the line. Publishing a book is not just about writing. There’s a whole lot of marketing and maneuvering that works behind the sale of every book. Writers of traditional publishing houses have to work hard at that as well, but the indie route has given me an invaluable education into the world of publishing overall.
Who are your favorite authors?
My all-time favorite author is John Bunyan. I've read all of his works, many more than once; and THE PILGRIM'S PROGRESS more than twice per year on average for the past 25 years (my favorite book of all time).

Some other authors I really enjoy are Charles Spurgeon. I love reading his sermons and typically read one of his sermons every day.

I also have some favorite fiction writers. I like John Steinbeck a lot. I also like Herman Wouk.
What is your writing process?
The details in the process of writing vary depending upon my genre and subject; nevertheless, the basic method is pretty much the same, which is outlined in my book, MASTER MEGA WRITING. In this book, where I advise the new writer in an exercise that establishes the subject in which to write, what I actually do is prayerfully consider the many things that may be in the back of my mind. I begin my “brainstorming” session with prayer and end with prayer, and in between, I just jot down all the thoughts in my head. I also keep a notepad handy everywhere so I can jot something down as it comes to me.

When I do start writing, however, the details behind my writing are different. For non-fiction, especially Christian non-fiction, I have an outline clearly defined to get from point A to B to C, and so forth. With Christian non-fiction this is pretty standard because the outline is defined by the key scripture or scriptures.

With fiction, I’ve taken a different approach; and an inconsistent one at that. For example, in the first book of the Wilmer P. Cohen trilogy, it was outlined from beginning to end after I asked, “What if…?” The second book, I just wrote as it came to me, knowing where we’ve been and knowing somewhat where we were heading. The third book was loosely outlined from end to beginning, knowing where we needed to go, defining certain milestones and events that needed to happen before we got there, and then taking off from the beginning in order to reach each substantial event.

With graphic novels and children’s books it’s even much different than that. Typically, it will start with a doodle or even a drawing and then it grows from there.

For tools, I use whatever is available; and everything available if I have more than one resource. If I’m sitting at the computer, I may just start typing, but if an idea comes to mind, I may jot it down on my note pad sitting on my desk. I use post-it notes, audio recorders, 3 x 5 index cards, scrap pieces of paper, whatever is handy, and then file them at the end of the day. Some of the things I write down are never used but it keeps the creativity, at least for me, fresh and active.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I do. Although I don't remember the title of the book, I was 6 years old and I checked this book out of the school library. It was an early children's reader with big illustrations on every other page. The main character was a small detective-like man with big feet, who wore a black derby and black trench coat; and holding a magnifying glass, he went around looking for clues to a lost elephant or something.

My assignment was to read the book to my parents. I did, but my dad kept asking me what the story was about. I couldn't tell him. I merely read the words, but I had no idea how to comprehend a story I was reading. My dad kept on making me read small portions over and over again and asking me questions. At one point, I think he actually had me in tears because I didn't know how to answer his questions. Finally, it started sinking in and I was able to simply tell him about each scene. Looking back on that, I think that it was that episode that really helped me to understand that there was more to a book than just reading the words... and actually more than just recalling the facts; there was a whole world there that the author wanted me to understand.

My latest book for children, A CHILDREN'S BOOK, has a section in called "Tell Your Story," that allows a child to look at the pictures and tell what they see. With this book, I really wanted to pull out the stops for beginning readers so that children just starting out in reading can make what they read their very own, joyful experience.
What do you read for pleasure?
Yes, but that doesn't limit me to reading fiction. I actually enjoy reading Christian non-fiction in leisure reading as well. I read Christian non-fiction primarily for the benefit that it will bring to me and also those I minister to; nevertheless, I read and reread the treatises of John Bunyan and the sermons of Charles Spurgeon just because of the joy they express for their Lord and for the honor they bestow upon God in their writing. That is certainly a greater reading pleasure to me than the very best fiction has to offer.
Published 2013-08-24.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

The Power of Publishing to Promote More Business
Price: Free! Words: 12,630. Language: American English. Published: January 15, 2016. Categories: Nonfiction » Business & Economics » Marketing, Nonfiction » Publishing » Self-publishing
Unleash the power of publishing eBooks and trade paperbacks about your business and leveraging distribution to add revenue, increase ROI, raise profit margins and prospect new customers to enhance your company's bottom line overall. Discover how to create the ultimate business card in 30 days to build your brand with Increased authority and enhanced credibility with your clients and customers.
A Children's Book: Including a Fable for Kids-- The Tortoise and the Hare; also Games, Puzzles, Videos, Coloring Pages & More
You set the price! Words: 1,440. Language: English. Published: August 17, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Legends, Myths, Fables / General, Fiction » Children’s books » Fairy Tales & Folklore / Adaptations
A Children's Book is small in size, yet big in education, imagination, creativity, activity and fun. It includes the popular fable, "The Tortoise and the Hare," in metered rhyme, a storytelling activity, other downloadable games, activities, coloring pages and even videos.