Thursday, August 26, 2021

Author Interview: Off Target - The Path You Choose

Tell me a little about your book.

Off Target—The Path You Choose # 1 is a young adult realistic fiction book written for grades 5 through 8.

Get the book at Amazon

What would you do if someone showed you a loaded gun?

“You are new in town and it’s your first day at a new school. Your neighbor, Trevor introduces you to a group of three boys and two girls. Right away you notice that Eric, one of the guys in the group, is being bullied at school. When you go to Eric’s house with your new friends, he shows the group a fully loaded handgun that is left in his mother’s nightstand. You are faced with some hard choices when someone suggests that Eric should take the gun to school.

What should you do? It’s time to choose a path:

If you’re worried that Eric will take the gun to school—continue on page 7.

f you decide to take the gun to prevent anyone from being hurt—continue on page 9.

If you leave the house with the others and plan to come back for target practice the next day -- continue on page 10."

Why did you write Off Target? Is there anything unique about it that differentiates it from other books out there?

I chose to write Off Target after hearing the student activists from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida speaking up to lawmakers against gun violence in schools, after 17 people were killed in their school.

I thought if students can make a difference, then why not a little grandmother from Idaho? We all have a voice and I wanted to let kids know the dangers of handling a firearm and the difference that parents can make by locking up their weapons.

The differences in my book are first: Off Target, The Path You Choose #1 is written in a Choose Your Own Adventure type of format, where the reader is asked to make choices throughout the book and the outcome is determined by the choices the reader makes. There are thirteen different endings in the book so the reader can go back, path and make different choices until they have read several different stories around the same theme.

Second: this book is fiction, written in a realistic way, using incidents, similar to those you might read about in the news headlines. And third: Off Target is written so that the reader is the main character and feels the emotions of the decisions they make while reading the book.

What is the most important takeaway from the book? What do you hope readers will remember?

I hope the reader will remember how it felt to make choices where someone could get hurt and that they can change their mind and back out of a bad decision before it’s too late. Also, that if they see someone doing something wrong, they can get help and stop a potentially bad incident.

Tell me about The Mom’s Choice Awards.

Off Target, The Path You Choose 31 is a Silver Winner of the Mom’s Choice Award of     Excellence.

The Mom’s Choice Awards® (MCA) evaluates products and services on a number of elements, including production quality, design, educational value, entertainment value, originality, appeal, and cost.  Each item is judged on its own merit—rather than being judged in a contest with other items or books.

Books and products are evaluated by a respected panel of evaluators including educators, media, and other experts as well as parents, children, librarians, performing artists, producers, medical and business professionals, authors, scientists, and others.

The Mom’s Choice Award is a mark of distinction and a trusted resource. Around the world, parents, educators, retailers, and members of the media look for the MCA mother-and-child Honoring Excellence seal of approval when selecting quality products and services for children and families.

    What advice would you give to a new writer, hoping to publish their book?

Many times, authors only write what they think a publisher is interested in publishing. I would advise a writer to write what is in their heart and not to worry about what is popular out there. Don’t even worry about how you will publish your book at all. Just write the book. Once your book is completed, I always recommend that you have your book edited, whether you are going to self-publish, going with a publishing company, or searching for an agent. You really don’t want to have an unedited book out there with your name on it. And it is best to have a polished book before sending it to a publisher or an agent for review.

I have published my books in a number of different ways. I really like the freedom of self-publishing. Off Target was published by Idea Creations Press. They do the work of publishing for you, but you retain the rights.


Jill Ammon Vanderwood is a mother and grandmother who wants to make a difference for the next generation. She spends much of her time visiting schools, Boys and Girls Clubs, drug rehabs, and church groups.

Jill has written about drugs, bullying and now her new book, Off Target tackles the issue of gun safety in realistic fiction. In many homes, minors have easy access to loaded handguns. This book shows scenarios where kids get hold of a gun and the consequences that follow. This is a book where the reader decides the outcome by their choices and there are thirteen possible endings. 

Jill teaches writing and marketing workshops and is available as a guest speaker for writers’ conferences, business groups, and college courses on writing or marketing. Jill is also available for school assemblies on bullying or gun safety.

You can visit the author on the web at

Jill Ammon Vanderwood on Facebook


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