Continuing our “Meet the Author” series, let me introduce you to bestselling independent author Billi Tiner…
My love of the written word began at a very young age. I was a voracious reader. I read anything I could get my hands on from fiction novels to the encyclopedia. I enjoyed a wide range of fiction, everything from Louis L’Amour to Shel Silverstein. As a young reader, my favorite books always had an animal playing a big role. Charlotte’s Web, Black Beauty, and The Incredible Journey were among my favorites. Of course, I also loved all the Jack London books. My love of animals drove my career choice of becoming a veterinarian.
In addition to reading, I also enjoyed writing. I wrote my first short story around the age of eight. Not a big surprise, it was about a puppy. I also began writing humorous poems, trying to imitate Shel Silverstein. English courses were some of my favorite as I knew they were going to be “easy A’s”, not because the coursework was simple, but because I loved writing and found the work fun.
My first attempt at a novel came a year after I graduated from veterinary school. One of my first patients was a black lab mix who was brought into the veterinary clinic where I worked. He had been struck by a car and was suffering from temporary paralysis due to a spinal injury. His recovery and adoption by one of our clients inspired me to write Welcome Home. The story centers around a young lab mix who has always dreamed of finding the perfect home. It follows his search for his dream and the adventures he encounters along the way.
Like many independent authors, I spent years attempting to gain the interest of an agent or major publishing house. Finally, I gave up and the Welcome Home manuscript was left unpublished. About ten years after the book was written, my husband heard about Amazon’s KDP program. He talked me into giving it a try. I published Welcome Home with the knowledge that I’d be lucky to sell a single copy. I was thrilled when the first one sold. Then shocked as they continued to sell. In addition, I started to receive some very positive feedback, and my love of writing was once again rekindled.
For my second novel, I decided to write a fictionalized account of a story my mother had been telling me since I was a young girl about her childhood dog, Lady. Lady was an Irish Setter who had served as a messenger dog during WWII. My grandfather adopted her when my mother was a little girl. He intended to use her as a hunting dog, but after discovering that she was gun-shy, due to injuries she’d sustained during the war, he gave her to my mom. The two of them became best friends. My mom still talks about Lady, and she’s been dead almost sixty years. I wrote Heart of a Hero from Lady’s point of view. It follows her life from a small puppy through to her death as an older dog. Once again, I was thrilled with the high praise the book received.
After Heart of a Hero, I published two more children’s books. Then I decided to try my hand at one of my favorite genres, westerns. I wrote a young adult trilogy about a young bounty hunter who tracks outlaws across the old west. The “Bounty Hunter” books were also very well received, and I made another genre leap into contemporary romance. I have since published three contemporary romance novels and two western romance novels. Animals have continued to have a strong presence in each of my novels. Writing has now become my full-time profession. I keep thinking there will come a day when the ideas for new novels stop coming, but so far, that hasn’t happened! I have been truly blessed to be able to enter into two professions that I love.