Tule Author Q&A: Paula Altenburg highlights lifelong value of teachers

Paula Altenburg took some time to sit down with us and discuss her new release The Rancher’s Secret Love, the second installment in the The Montana McGregor Brothers series.

Your heroine Mara is a dancer — did you take lessons as a kid or are you just a fan?

Thank you for having me here today. And yes, I did take dance lessons as a kid! Tapdancing. I loved the noisy shoes, but all I remember is the instructor saying, “Brush one, brush two.” I can brush like nobody’s business, but that’s about it. I think it would be more honest to say that Mara’s a dancer because I’m a fan. Plus, a free-spirited dancer really did seem like the kind of partner a nerdy professor, who’s a cowboy at heart, needed to balance his life.

What is Luke’s favorite movie?
Luke’s favorite movie… I’m not sure I can come up with just one, but he’s definitely all about CGI and special effects. He’s not watching them for the plotlines.

Luke and Mara are both teachers — did you have a favorite teacher?
I did have a favorite teacher. Terry Wadden, my high school English teacher. I contacted him after I wrote my first book and reminded him that he once told me he’d read anything I wrote. (Be careful what promises you make, teachers.) He made me feel even more important by thanking me because I was one of his first students, and my book came out as he was about to retire, making it part of his story. (Don’t bother doing the math on that one.) He tells new teachers to remember that they do make a difference, because they do.

On that note, my mother was also a teacher and she encouraged me to write from the start. I’m sorry to go on about this, but teachers are so important and she’s a great example. She loved her students as much as she loves her children. She has Alzheimer’s now and the fact that she has a daughter who writes is one thing she hasn’t forgotten, even though she struggles every day to remember what (and who!) is important to her. When we were going through her belongings, and trying to decide what she should keep, we found a box of her memorabilia. I can still see the look on her face as we went through each piece and she couldn’t remember why it once meant something to her. Then I found a letter from one of her former students who wrote to her on her retirement to tell her how much she meant to her, and what a difference my mother made in her life. My mother, who has faced this disease with amazing stoicism, started to cry because she remembered that particular student, and then proceeded to tell me all about her. She told me to throw everything else in the box away but that letter.

So if you had a favorite teacher, please take the time to thank them and tell them why. I promise you, they were your favorite teacher because you were important to them, even if they don’t remember your name, and they will welcome the gesture.

What actress would play Luke’s ex-girlfriend in a movie?
Another great question! Luke’s ex-girlfriend isn’t a terrible person, she’s simply very self-contained and focused. She comes across as cold because nothing has touched her yet, and that includes Luke. They meshed on an intellectual level, which was important to them both when they were students, but he always knew there was something deeper missing from their relationship. I’m trying to think of what actresses I’ve seen lately who would suit the role, but unless they were in a Marvel or X-men movie, I’m at a loss. Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique might work.

What are you currently reading?

Heartthrob by Robin Bielman. To shake things up a little, and because I love anything with a western theme, I’ve got a book by Harlan Coben on the go and I’m re-reading my Louis L’Amour collection. I just finished a Lee Child novel, too. I don’t read a whole lot of romance while I’m writing romance.



Paula Altenburg lives in rural Nova Scotia, Canada, with her husband and two sons. Once a manager in the aerospace industry, she now enjoys working from home and writing fulltime. Paula writes fantasy and paranormal romance, as well as short contemporary romance.

Sasha Summers shares something sweet from new release

What summer snack would Gwen Hobbs make? Author Sasha Summers answers that question with a recipe for peach nectar bars that her heroine would create in the Draeger Ranch kitchen in her new Last Stand release Sweet on the Cowboy.

Easy Peach Nectar Bars

Tule Author Q&A: Gerri Russell covers broadswords & ‘brogue-light’

Tule author Gerri Russell took the time to discuss her new release in the All the King’s Men series, Romancing the Laird.

What is your favorite thing about writing historical dialogue?
For me, writing historical dialogue is like playing a balancing game. It’s tricky trying to make a book historically accurate while making the words assessible to the modern reader. If I laboriously researched the historical context of every word used in the 16th century and added a thick brogue for all the characters in my story, I would finish one novel in about five years, and it would take readers almost as long to figure out what the character were saying!

There are two really important aspects to writing historical dialogue. First, use dialect lightly so that it sets the stage but doesn’t overwhelm the narrative of the book. I like to say I use “brogue-light” and usually only for my secondary characters. And I toss in a few Gaelic or Celtic phrases, more for setting than actual dialogue. Second, it’s important to use the right words by checking what date words came into use. For instance, my hero cannot be mesmerized by the heroine in 1591 because the word did not exist until 1820 as a result of Franz Mesmer, the illustrious 19th century magician, whose association with hypnosis was so great that “to be mesmerized” came to be synonymous with being in a trance or hypnotized. I’m a writer. I love words, and figuring out what words my characters can say to tell their story is one of my favorite parts of writing.

Lucy is an elite archer. Does she have natural skill or is she well-trained?
Lucy is highly atypical for a woman of her century. She is not one to stay in the shadows, to follow the dictates of the men in her life, or to trust that those men will protect what she loves most—a sister who is vulnerable due to illness. In order to accomplish her goal of protecting her sister, Lucy taught herself how to use a bow and arrow by watching the castle’s guardsmen and imitating what she saw until she was a better bowman than any of those in her father’s employ. She did not need a partner to battle against in order to train as an archer since her weapon of choice has more to do with skill and accuracy then power.

Who is more stubborn: Lucy or Reid?
That’s a tough question because both Lucy and Reid are both terribly stubborn! Reid is duty-bound to protect king and country, and will let no one and nothing stand in the way of that duty. Whereas, Lucy is bound by the bonds of love to her sister. She will do anything, even sacrifice herself, to keep her sister safe. But I do think Lucy has had more obstacles to overcome in order to achieve her goals, so her stubbornness is more of an asset than a detriment. Lucy and Reid are a perfect match for each other. Their life together will never be boring.

Reid Douglas is a warrior — what is his favorite weapon to yield?
Reid’s weapon of choice is the broadsword—which is considered the king of weapons. It was used by the Vikings, the Crusaders, and knights in armor. For a thousand years it was the classic weapon of the west and a symbol of power, religion, authority, and the subject of myth and legend. It was a weapon that was strong enough to defend against heavy blows, and yet light enough to deliver a fast and accurate attack. In the right hands, the broadsword could and did change history. Why would Reid use anything else?

Without giving too much away, what is next for the All the King’s Men series?
In the next book in the All the King’s Men series, we meet Lachlan, the youngest of the Douglas men and of the King’s warriors, and Elizabeth, the daughter of the Ruthven clan leader. The Ruthvens and the Douglases are bitter enemies. When the King and Queen of Scotland order Lachlan and Elizabeth to marry, hoping to end a feud that has spanned three generations, they do as they are commanded but do not go quietly into marital bliss. As tension builds between the couple, outside forces threaten not only their lives, but the very fabric of Scottish society.


Gerri Russell is the award-winning author of historical and contemporary novels including the Brotherhood of the Scottish Templars series and Flirting with Felicity. A two-time recipient of the Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart Award and winner of the American Title II competition sponsored by RT Book Reviews magazine, she is best known for her adventurous and emotionally intense novels set in the thirteenth- and fourteenth-century Scottish Highlands. Before Gerri followed her passion for writing romance novels, she worked as a broadcast journalist, a newspaper reporter, a magazine columnist, a technical writer and editor, and an instructional designer. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and four mischievous black cats.

Welcome to Last Stand, Texas!

Unique and distinctive places are scattered all over the great state of Texas, but there are none more unique than Last Stand! In the 1800s it was merely a wide spot in the road, a way station with only a trading post, a smithy, and a saloon—until the Texas Revolution spread out to engulf the tiny community. The few locals took shelter in the only solid building there was, the Last Stand Saloon, built of Hill Country limestone. And that tiny band of Texans held off a full contingent of Santa Anna’s troops with sheer courage and gallows humor. One of those jokes, about making their last stand in a saloon as opposed to a mission like the Alamo, led to the town’s name. And those who survived that battle dedicated themselves to turning that tiny outpost into a town any Texan would be proud of. Descendents from that battle live in Last Stand to this day. That saloon is still standing and operational, complete with bullet holes from the battle in its walls. And every year in January, Last Stand celebrates its past on Heritage Day, with a re-enactment of the famous battle.

Last Stand grew, its expansion accelerated by the addition of a train depot. Today it is a thriving community of ranchers, cattle and horse breeders, farmers who take advantage of the climate to raise glorious peaches, vintners working hard to make the Hill Country the primary wine country of Texas, and it hangs on to a touch of its more reckless past by being the home of Outlaw Tequila.

But Last Stand has more than history to interest you! Every spring on the second weekend of April, Last Stand holds one of the biggest Bluebonnet Festivals in the state, with a parade, vendors, and tons of activities to keep you and the kids entertained.

Summer marks the Last Stand 4th of July Rodeo, a fully sanctioned event that draws talent from around the country, along with our local stars. There are exhibitions, demonstrations, and events for the younger crowd whether they ride or not.


Fall brings us to an Oktoberfest, celebrating the German heritage of the Hill Country. With everything delicious and highly drinkable you would anticipate, it’s one of the highlights of the year.

The Christmas season in Last Stand is a wondrous experience, with a community tree lighting and Christmas parade the first weekend, a Christmas marketplace with everything you or the smaller ones in your family could wish for. The season culminates with the annual Christmas ball, a formal affair that raises money to support the summer rodeo.

So whatever the season, Last Stand has something to offer everyone. Come and be welcomed with some Hill Country hospitality!