Anniversary Shenanigans: Author Visit + Giveaway - Eli Easton

Eli Easton is her today with an exclusive excerpt of her new holiday novel that's already caused some fangirl/boy squealing in the MM community. Be sure to enter to win last year's holiday novel too! 

Desperately Seeking Santa Exclusive Excerpt:  Gabe learns about the mystery Santa

By Eli Easton

Merry Christmas and Happy Anniversary to Boys Meets Boy Reviews!  I’m looking forward to a good six weeks of Christmas books and movies this year. How about you?  This is my fifth year releasing a Christmas novella. I love to write them almost as much as I love to read them.

The protagonists in this year’s book, “Desperately Seeking Santa”, are Gabe, a journalism student at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and Mack “the Mountain” McDonall, a 6’10”, 285-pound star college wrestler. Gabe first sees Mack (and drools over him) when he attends a wrestling match with his friend, Jordan. Jordan sets Gabe and Mack up, but it doesn’t go too well at first, thanks to Gabe’s callous-sounding remarks about how he intends to “out” a mystery Santa who performs at a local charity dinner. Of course, eventually Gabe convinces Mack that he’s not a Scrooge and deserves a chance.

I’m sharing an exclusive excerpt from the book here. In this scene, Gabe been assigned to write about a Christmas charity dinner for the local newspaper. He’s trying to find an interesting angle on what seems like a completely boring story. He’s about given up hope of the story until he learns one unusual fact….

EXCERPT – Mystery Santa

The Elks Lodge in Madison was a few blocks away from the capitol on Lake Monona. It was a two-story white building with huge windows, a beat-up parking lot, and a dock out back. Like a lot of Madison, Wisconsin, it was a mix of an awesome natural setting with a Midwest 70s plain-ass building. It was November 30th, the day was chilly and gray, and that made me all the more aware of how time was slipping away from me this semester, and how close the end of the year was.

Walter Stickle was the Elk in charge of the charity dinner, and he was about what I expected. He looked to be in his 80s with a bald head, fragile build, plaid shirt, old-man trousers, and too-white tennis shoes. But he was jovial as he shuffled ahead of me into a big hall. The room had rust-colored carpet, wood paneling on one wall, a small raised stage, an American flag on a stand, chairs stacked to the side, and big banquet tables. It was clean but drab and uninspired, a church meeting hall sort of space. The sole redeeming factor was that one whole wall was glass and overlooked the lake. The lapping water was beautiful even on a gray day like today.

“This is where we have the Christmas dinner every year,” Walter said. “Usually, we sell around three hundred tickets, but only about two hundred folks show up for the dinner and entertainment. Lots of people just like to contribute. It’s for a good cause.”

I typed that into my phone’s notepad app. “There’s entertainment?”

“Well, sure! We’re not heathens,” he teased with a smile. “Let’s see. This year we have a string quartet from over to the college. They’ll play before and during dinner. Then carolers come in while dessert is being served. They dressed up in Victorian-like costumes, you know. Once all the plates are cleared, the kids come in and sing a song. Then Santa Claus makes his big appearance.” He gestured broadly. “That’s always the highlight of the evening!”

Be still my heart. “What kids come in?” My thumbs flew over my phone.

“Why, the kids from St. Mark’s,” Walter had a killer duh look for an eighty-year-old.

“Oh. Right.”

I’d checked out the Elks’ website and downloaded the PDF flyer about the charity dinner. It was the thirtieth year they’d had it, and the dinner benefited St. Mark’s Children’s Home in Madison.

“Do all the kids from the children’s home come here for that?” I had no idea what difference it made, but I asked the question anyway.

“Oh, yes! They wouldn’t miss it. They get dinner too, but theirs is served over in the lounge. Turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, mac and cheese. Kid-friendly foods, you know. I can show you the lounge if you want.”

“Sure. In a minute.”

I looked over my notes with a sinking feeling. This interview and tour were as dreary as I’d imagined. I’d made a list of questions last night, and I scrolled through them now. Some of them were things that, standing there, I could not bring myself to ask Walter, like about the relevancy of the Elks today, why their membership was declining, and if they thought millennials were responsible for the death of fraternal organizations. I’d tried to think of something, anything, with a hint of real substance and controversy.

Desperate, I picked one of my favorites. “So… the tickets are a hundred dollars a person. Exactly how much of that goes to the kids?”

Walter put his hands in his pockets and nodded. “Good question. All of it. We get the food and drinks donated from local businesses. I have a list I can give you. It’d be nice to acknowledge them; everyone’s so generous. And of course we don’t charge anything for the use of the lodge. The cooks and servers are Elks and we donate our time. So, you see, every cent we raise in ticket sales goes to the kids.”

I noted it down. Not exactly an expose in the making there.

“What’s the history of the event? Why did the Elks start raising money for St. Mark’s specifically?” I asked. Maybe there was something interesting and gossipy in the backstory. An out-of-wedlock baby given up for adoption? A young Elk in love with a perky orphanage matron?

“Oh, the Elks have always raised funds for charity, especially when it comes to children. We raise money for over ten local organizations. I can’t say exactly why we started with St. Mark’s, ‘cept that it’s a children’s home here in Madison. It’d be odder if the Elks didn’t do something for ’em.”

“Oh.” Dead ends. Dead ends everywhere! I was sure Will Ripley never had to make something out of a story like this one.

“You don’t look too happy, son,” Walter said. “Maybe you can tell me what you’re looking for, and I can help you out.”

I was ashamed to have been caught pouting. I smiled. “Oh, no! It’s fine.”

He regarded me with sharp eyes. “Uh-huh. I suppose this is a pretty boring story, year after year. But we do appreciate the publicity. Helps us sell tickets, and usually St Mark’s sees an uptick in direct donations when the article comes out too. So I’ve heard.”

“Yeah, of course, I’m glad we can help.”

I scanned my list again. Over consumption of alcohol? Yeah, no doubt it was a wild and crazy night. No, there was nothing here. And I felt like a shit for wanting drama and scandal. Poor Walter. He was such a nice guy.

“I suppose you’re new to the paper?” he asked.

Resigned, I nodded and dropped my phone into a pocket. “Yeah. I’m a journalism student at UW.”

Walter nodded knowingly. “Believe it or not, I remember how it feels, trying to make your mark. I enlisted in the Navy at eighteen. They couldn’t make a hurdle high enough for me. Had to prove myself, you see.”

I smiled. It was hard to picture Walter as a young man, but for a brief second, I managed, seeing him scrambling over some boot camp wall. Bet he was cute.

Jesus, getting old sucked.

“So let’s see…” Walter pondered. “What would make this a more interesting article for you…?”

“Oh, that’s really not necessary.” Dios. I felt like a tool.

Walter waved me off. “No, no. There’s got to be something. Let’s see.” He tapped his chin. “There was the year a candidate for mayor came and introduced a pretty blonde around as his wife. Came to find out later, it wasn’t his wife at all.” Walter winked. “Though I don’t suppose that sort of scandal matters much these days, and this was years ago. Oh—I know! There is one mystery around the Christmas dinner.”

I was about to protest again, but his words hooked me. I blinked. “Oh yeah? What’s that?”
He smiled deviously and leaned in as if to impart a secret. “Our Santa Claus is a mystery man.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, no one knows who he is. He contacts us every year on the phone in early December to confirm that he’s coming. He shows up the night of the dinner in costume, hands out gifts, greets everyone, ho-ho-hos, takes pictures with the kids, and leaves, still in costume.” Walter shrugged. “He’s never told us his name.”

“But… don’t you have to write him a check or something?”

Walter waved his hand like he smelled something bad. “Oh, no, we don’t pay him! He does it for free.”

That seemed weird to me. I wasn’t grasping it. “So… your Santa is not an Elk?”

“Oh, definitely not an Elk.” Walter shook his head, chuckling as if it was a dumb question. “Believe me, there’s no one like him in our group!”

“Well… how did he start doing it then? He must have interviewed, talked to someone about the job at some point.” My voice sounded a little overeager. Something about this was sparking a flame deep in my little reporter’s heart.

“Now that’s an interesting story,” Walter said philosophically. “See, for about twenty years, we had the same Santa, a guy named George. Very nice man. But then poor George got cancer. And one year—guess it was about four years ago now—he called me up and said he didn’t think he was up to it. He insisted on sending someone around to replace him. That night, a new Santa showed up. And he was great. Really good with the kids, you know. Made a big impression.” Walter chuckled. “So I told him he was welcome to come back again, and he said he would, and he’s been coming ever since! But I’ve never seen his face without the white wig and beard. Why, he could be the real Santa Claus for all I know!”

Walter’s eyes sparkled with mischief. Was he pulling my leg? Well, duh, about the guy really being Santa, he definitely was.

“Curious,” I said slowly. “Yeah. That’s… sort of curious.”

“Told ya I’d think of something! Now come on, let me show you the lounge.”

The lounge where the kids got their dinner was a big room with a bar at one end and a mounted TV. Walter also showed me the dock out back.

When the tour was over, I sat out in the parking lot in my car. I was intrigued by the idea of a mystery Santa Claus. Could he be a celebrity? A secret philanthropist? A homeless person? Someone with buried secrets? The idea reminded me of the movie Miracle on 34th Street, my favorite Christmas movie of all time and one of my guilty pleasures.

Okay, so the Elks’ Santa wouldn’t turn out to be the real Kris Kringle. All my journalistic wishing in the world wouldn’t bring that story to my door. But I might be able to spin some of that wistful feeling into the Elks story? Maybe?

Yeah. Yeah, definitely. There was something there, a story that could get people engaged and talking. I could feel it.

Hell, I was engaged. That was a good sign, right?

Also, investigative journalism was digging out the hidden truth and reporting it. So if I could make enough out of this mystery-Santa angle, I could use it for my class project too.

Por favor, Santa, all I want for Christmas is a brilliant story. One that will knock their socks off. Sincerely, su pequeño Gabriel.
Have a very merry Christmas and enjoy “Desperately Seeking Santa”.

Eli Easton

Enter for your chance to win an ecopy of Merry Christmas, Mr. Miggles! Giveaway ends 12/2 @ Midnight EST. Good luck!

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We Unicorns thank Eli for helping us celebrate our 4th anniversary!

Don't miss entering in our month long unicorn giveaway HERE! It ends 12/1/17!


  1. bit difficult to enter this giveaway...there are no options to enter lol

  2. Yeah,I can't enter either. Too bad, b/c it sounds like a good one, and I've liked Eli's other works. So I'm sure this will get fixed. -
    TheWrote [at] aol [dot] com

  3. Thanks for the post but it doesn't seem like the rafflecopter was set up correctly.

  4. Apologies everyone! We fixed the rafflecopter! You can enter now!

  5. I am somewhat new to holiday books but I enjoyed Candi Kay's series.

  6. cute title.
    hope holiday read will give holiday spirit. !

  7. Yay, thanks for fixing the entry. I can't say I have a fave yet, still looking. But I like your stuff, Eli, and thanks for this nice excerpt and the giveaway. - Purple Reader,
    TheWrote [at] aol [dot] com

  8. thanks for fixing :)
    I don't have a favourite

  9. I have lots of favourites, one of them is Merry Gentlemen by Jo Myles

  10. I love Jamie Fessenden's THE CHRISTMAS WAGER and Madison Parker's SOCK IT TO ME, SANTA!