Monday, October 19, 2020

Q&A and Giveaway with Susan Sands

Noel, Alabama
An Alabama Christmas Romance
by Susan Sands
Publisher: Tule Publishing
Release Date: October 19, 2020 

She’s finally come home, but will she choose to stay?

After twelve years spent building her career in Los Angeles, Bailey Boone returns home to Ministry, Alabama, weeks before Christmas with a large cast and crew. She’s desperate for a miracle to save her company’s big budget holiday film that just lost its winter wonderland location. Bailey may have bolted from Ministry before the ink on her diploma dried, but her hometown definitely knows how to throw an unforgettable southern Christmas. Except she forgot about the ghosts of Christmas past she left behind—especially her first love, Seth.

Sheriff Seth McKay never forgot the girl he let go so many years ago. They were soulmates, but he knew Bailey needed more than Ministry could offer. Now she’s back and more stunning and confident than ever. Despite the years, their connection and chemistry still burn bright. Can Seth find his own Christmas miracle and convince Bailey to write her story in Ministry...with him?

Welcome, Susan! Congratulations on the release of your newest Alabama novel. What should readers expect from Noel, Alabama?

Hi PJ! Thanks so much for having me on The Romance Dish today! First, readers can expect a clean read. This one is a little different from the others in that there is no kissing (until the end), no cussing, and no sexy time. This was by design. BUT, in some ways, it challenged me to compensate by upping my skills so you wouldn’t miss a thing! Bailey and Seth’s story is rich in setting, emotion, and all the fun of small town Alabama! Oh, and the movies!

This is such a feel-good, second-chance story. Second-chance romances are among my favorites to read. What draws you to this trope as an author?

I think we all have a whisper of fantasy in our bones. Not in reality, but fantasy. It’s so delicious to think, “what if…” Second chance romances are all about the way things might have been.

I really enjoyed the behind-the-scenes look at turning Ministry into a movie location. It felt very authentic. What kind of research did you do for those scenes? Have you visited a movie set?

I have a friend from college who works as a producer in Hollywood. He was invaluable with information about how all the things worked (who would be on set and how it all might look) on my “set” in this book. Remember the producer, Brad? Well, the real producer Brad read my book and sent corrections when I went rogue.  Also, Steel Magnolias was filmed in my college town when I was a senior. We got to watch all the glamour and fun of the sets and stars and how it all works.

This is your fifth book set in Ministry. Will there be more? Will Alexis find her happily ever after?

I don’t have the answer to this question yet! LOL!! But I loved Alexis and writing her story would be a pleasure!

The food in this book had my tummy begging to be fed. From the pizza to the chili to the fudge to the pot roast, I was on drool overload. Do you have a favorite comfort food or holiday treat recipe to share with us?

There is always a lot of food in my books. I love to cook. I’m happy to share an easy favorite:

This is a tried and true family favorite, and you can use lower fat cheese and ground beef to decrease the calorie and fat content should you desire.

Ma Ma Louis’s Casserole

(This is not a diet food)


1 pkg. Egg noodles or other pasta

1lb. to 1 1/2 lbs. lean ground beef

Small block Velveeta or Mexican Velveeta

1 can Ro*tel

1 Tbsp. flour

1-2 cubes chicken or beef bouillon (whatever kind of concentrate you prefer)

Tony Chachere's seasoning to taste (or use onion powder, garlic powder, salt, black pepper and dash red pepper.

1/2-1 tsp. Garlic (fresh, minced or powdered)

2 cups sharp cheddar

1 large yellow onion


Boil pasta according to package instructions, drain and set aside.

Brown the meat, add onion, bullion, seasonings, and garlic. Cook until onions are wilted.

Add Ro*tel and Velveeta in small cubes.

Cook on low heat until cheese is melted.

Spray a deep casserole dish with non-stick spray and layer noodles, meat mixture and shredded cheddar until gone. Top with any remaining cheddar.

Baked in 375 degree oven for 15-20 minutes.

Enjoy casserole season!



Where can readers interact with you online?






Let’s play a quick round of complete this sentence.

My favorite Christmas tradition is…Making and decorating cut-out Christmas cookies with my daughter…and whomever else will help!

A holiday sweet I’d eat a whole pan of is…fudge

The book I’m most eager to read is…Kimberly Belle’s Stranger in the Lake (loaded on my Kindle now)

The throwback movie I can’t resist watching again and again is…The Family Stone and The Grinch

The characteristic a hero must have to win my heart is…a great smile and an honest heart


Thank you for visiting with us today, Susan. Would you like to add anything else or ask our readers a question?

This was so much fun, PJ!

I love hearing about readers’ family holiday traditions or favorite holiday treats! I would love to give away a signed copy of my holiday novel, Christmas, Alabama to a commenter! (US)


  1. Hi PJ and Susan! My favorite holiday tradition is baking with the kids. The fact that they are busy adults makes the time together more precious! As for family favorite treat, I make a bourbon pecan fudge as well as a chocolate raspberry walnut fudge.

  2. Cookies for me too. My sisters and I plan a day to bake several different cookies and then are set for the season. My favorite was my grandma's brown sugar cookies, frosted and sprinkled with green or red sugar. So good!

  3. Favorite tradition is making cookies with our granddaughter and then decorating our tree.

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  5. I love so many of the authors in this giveaway. Love Christmas stories.

  6. I bake small fruitcakes which get sent to friends and family around the country. Baking the cakes just before Thanksgiving and tending them (with dark rum) until shipping time is one of my favorite holiday traditions. I've already been asked if the fruitcakes have been baked for this year. :)

  7. Hi. Susan. I need to get busy reading. You're a new-to-me author! I like the aspect that this book is clean, and a Christmas story.
    Hmmm, two Christmas traditions in my family come to mind. The first one just began last year. My sisters, nieces, daughter, and nephew find Christmas cookie recipes and we meet at our mothers house to bake, talk, and have a cookie exchange. Maybe some eggnog, too. ;)
    The second tradition has been a long-standing one since the mid-1970s. We choose a different country and prepare a typical Christmas meal for Christmas Day. Faves have been Russia, Scandinavia (we're Danish), Scotland, 1940s Americana, and, well, many others!
    A childhood memory is dancing and singing around the Christmas tree, and heart-shaped paper baskets hung on the tree that were filled with candy. (Danish tradition.)

    Your book sounds good. I look forward to adding it to my TBR pile.

  8. Fun Q&A!

    I love decorating at a local hospital on Black Friday. Even with Covid, it looks like we may be a go for this year! Fingers crossed. It brings joy to so many.


  9. Thanks for the interview and the information about the book. I am a sucker for Christmas stories, as well as second chances. Ms Sands is a new to me author, and it is pretty evident that I need to jump into these Southern stories.

    Christmas tradition....when I had family with me, we would have a picnic Christmas dinner of ham, potato salad, fruit salad, etc. and then some good ol' cake and/or pie with ice

    It made sense because after Thanksgiving, it was always a way to have a different kind of meal

    I hope everyone is taking care and staying well.

  10. We have Christmas Eve at my inlaws and Christmas Day at my parents'. I decorate our tree with my daughter.
    Natty's Mama (Karen T.)

  11. I love Christmas stories. It's my favorite holiday and everyone seems to be happier. We always make chocolate covered cherries. They need to rest for awhile, but we always eat some early. We also make cookies and breads to give away. Always fun. I have read this series and hope Alexis gets her book too. Thanks for sharing!

  12. I love this series. I've read the first 3 books and need to catch up. After we would pick out our tree, the kids and I would decorate it. Hubby would put the star at the top. As my son got older and he shot up, he would do that. Daughter would help bake cookies. Some for us and some to hand out. I agree with I could eat a whole pan of fudge. I usually have to make 2 batches. One for me and one for my brother.

  13. There are treats I tend to bake just at Christmas, primarily because I would eat too much of them if I made them more often. I make English Toffee Bars, Swiss Merengue Horns (melt in your mouth), and of course gingerbread cookies. I also make mincemeat pie. I use the commercial mix, either in the block or jar. I add diced tart apples, walnuts and brandy. A great pie served with home made whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. I also make a bourbon ball that packs a wallop. With us isolating this year, I am not sure how much baking I will do since our children and their families won't be home for Christmas. Luckily the bourbon balls keep for a long time if kept in an air tight container in the refrigerator.

    Hope you have a wonderful Fall and a good holiday season. Stay safe and healthy.

    1. I copied the recipe for the casserole and will be trying it as soon as I can get the ingredients. I just need the beef and Mexican Velveeta.

  14. Love your books!!!
    And ours is still riding around and looking at Christmas lights:)

  15. My favorite tradition is decorating the Christmas tree. Over the years I have collected ornaments from places we have traveled, ornaments that represent family milestones, and special ornaments gifted to me. When I hang them on the tree it is like a trip down memory lane.