Monday, December 23, 2013

Just In Time For Christmas: "The Santa Claus League" Review & Spotlight!

The Santa Claus League

~Author: Stephen Miller

~Genres: Fantasy

November 1st, 2013

~Pages: 266


Julia Martin is the most incredible girl in school, and Mason Howell is hopelessly smitten by her. Julia is in charge of the local Charity Christmas party and she’s pleased with how everything is going...until her Santa Claus calls in sick. In a panic, she begs Mason to help her by wearing his grandfather’s heirloom Santa Claus suit. Mason agrees, just to impress the beautiful girl, but things don’t go as soon as he puts on the suit, he gets all the powers of Santa Claus!

Together with John Patton, Mason’s best friend, they learn his grandfather was a member of an ancient league of men and women dedicated to helping St. Nicholas use Christmas magic to save the world. The three of them could become the newest members of the Santa Claus League...if they can learn the secrets of Christmas magic!

I’ve discovered a lot about Christmas lately, more than I ever thought possible. Learning about Christmas past was simple, ancient facts are as nailed down as the old lid on Jacob Marley’s casket. Understanding the events of Christmas present is a little tougher, but not too bad if you know what to look for. It’s predicting the fate of Christmas “yet to come” that is as much a mystery to me now as it was to Ebenezer Scrooge so many years ago. I’m too young to have a very long past, so my present is especially hard to predict, and as for my future? Well, let’s just say my potential “futures” are spinning out of control.

Mason Howell is my given name, but Santa Claus is the one I prefer. If you can believe in Christmas magic, haunting ghosts and flying sleighs then this story will be easier to believe. And to those less trusting I ask a question, what are miracles anyway? Couldn’t they be acts of charity wrought by fellow mortals working in parallel dimensions? In my experience such unseen dimensions exist, for I haunt with such a league of “ghosts” and this story is how my friends and I joined them, becoming part of the Santa Claus League.

5/5 Roses ~

Most people love Christmas, and the Holiday Season.  I'm one of those people, through and through.  I love everything about Christmas- I love celebrating the birth of Jesus, Winter is my favorite season, December is my favorite month, and living at the North Pole would make me incredibly happy.  Most of all, I love curling up in front of the fire, with a cup of hot chocolate and a good book.  I love books about Christmas, and now, I have a new favorite to add to the collection: The Santa Claus League.

I adore this book!  The story in these pages is fantastic- it's exciting, sweet, magical, and completely wonderful.  The twists Stephen Miller put on Christmas and Santa Claus are very creative, and sent my imagination whirling.  The true love story between Mason and Julia is touching, and I loved watching them grow together.  Along with their friend  John, the three of them go on a fantastic adventure, taking on evil and learning more about Christmas Magic than they'd ever dreamed. 

What I really love about this book though, is the overall message.  That Christmas is about sacrifice and love, being selfless and kind, in spite of everything the world throws at you.  It's a truly inspiring message, and I loved seeing that message put to action in this amazing adventure.  

Mr. Miller is a fantastic writer.  The story he's created is amazing, and I loved the details and descriptions he had for everything.  From Santa's pocket-watch, to The North Pole, this book is truly filled with magic.  I can't wait for the sequel to this story, so I can read more about Mason, Julia and John, and the incredible adventures they find, while living every day as if it were Christmas.  I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good Christmas story, because this is sure to become a fast favorite, and possibly a true classic.

*I was given an eCopy of this book, from the author's publisher (V&E Enterprises), to read in exchange for an honest review.

Stephen Miller was born in Provo, Utah in 1962. In high school he excelled at debate winning several statewide competitions. He also met his wife in high school and they were later married when they re-met attending college and have had seven wonderful children.

       Stephen has served in the Utah Air National Guard and an LDS Mission in Rio de Janeiro. He holds a BA from BYU and an MBA from the University of Phoenix.

       His first book, Captain Justo from the Planet Is was first told as a bedtime story to his children. They loved it so much they wanted him to write it down for his first foray into being an author. It has slowly grown into a fantasy adventure for all ages. The second is called Captain Justo The Valley of Bones and he is now creating the third installment.

       The Santa Claus League was inspired by the legend of his grandfather, Loran Wells Duke. Although he never met his grandfather, Stephen’s life has been shaped by his example, especially at Christmas time. His grandfather loved playing Santa Claus. This book is dedicated to his honor.

       Christmas is a magical holiday and Stephen’s children had many common questions about Christmas and Santa Claus. How does Santa Claus bring toys to the whole world in one night? Why do so many men pretend to be Santa Claus? If Santa knows who is naughty or nice then why doesn’t he do something about it? Stephen answers all these questions in his charming new novel, The Santa Claus League.

       Stephen now lives in Orem, Utah with his beautiful wife Edna and is surrounded in love not only by children but grandchildren as well.

       Stephen Miller has sold over 5,000 copies of Captain Justo from the Planet Is, with the sequel, Captain Justo the Valley of Bones, selling very well.

Connect with Stephen Online ~

With Stephen Miller
(Provided by the author)

Where’s home?
I live in Orem, Utah, surrounded by stunning mountains that feed a beautiful natural fresh water lake. 

What is something few people know about you? 
After getting an MBA I traveled to Mogadishu, Somalia, on the horn or Africa, to work as a construction manager on a UN Military project. I spent 6 months living and being protected by what we would consider a War Lord. I was shot at, nearly kidnapped and lived with death threats every day I was there. For a writer it was the most exciting time of my life. 

What’s the name of your most recent book? If you had to sum it up in 30 words or less, what would you say?
My most recent book is the Santa Claus League. To sum it up, Mason Howell put on his grandfather’s heirloom Santa Claus Suit to help Julia, the most beautiful girl in town. As soon as he puts on the suit he’s electrified with all the magic of Santa Claus. 

What has inspired you to write this book? 
The legend of Santa Claus needed more room to grow. Children are more analytical these days and need answers to questions such as why is there more than one Santa Claus at the mall? How can Santa Claus deliver toys to the whole world, and why do parents pretend to be Santa Claus? Kids are smart, when they hear “there is no such thing as Santa Claus, they start to believe it at a younger age than ever before. Santa Claus is real, and this book shows where he lives and how he works among us without our even knowing it. 

Do you gravitate to a particular genre? 
Middle grade readers. I like to write fantasy and science fiction. 

Did you picture any specific real-life people when you created your characters? 
I almost always have real life people in mind when I write. It helps me to know them so I can imagine in my mind what they would say and or do in any situation. 

When did you first consider yourself a writer? 
I became a writer in second grade. My creativity was far beyond my spelling and grammar abilities, but my teachers encouraged me to develop my talents even at that young age. I wrote short stories that made my teachers and family cry by the time I got into High School. In College I learned the form to writing and about 18 years ago started my first novel. I have been writing ever since. 

Is there something you’d like to tell your readers? 
Life is more exiting when you follow the rules of a moral society. Don’t get trapped in a selfish life of drugs, alcohol and tobacco. All that life will do is cause you and others pain and suffering, hiding the real problems of your life with the next high. Live a clean, moral life so that when problems come you will have the wits and good judgment to solve them. 

Do you prefer eBooks, paperbacks, or hardcovers? Why?
I prefer hardcover books because I tend to write all over them. I like the bigger book because it has more space for me to take notes in the margins. 

What was the most challenging part you have come across while writing? 
My biggest challenge is quitting. I get in the zone and I don’t want to stop. Ideas come at me so easily the book writes itself. To come out of that creative mindscape into the physical world is a real let down for me. I have to set time to write and pull my self away when it is over. 

What are you reading now? 
I just finished Knowledge and Power by George Gilder. I am studying how a character in my next book would help someone escape poverty. I base all of my characters in reality, even if they are fictional characters. 

What book will you read next? 
I will reread Knowledge and Power by George Gilder. I will digest it, mark the book up even more and learn about every concept I can grasp. I will search out the references he provides and probably spend 50 more hours studying the concepts from his book. I hope to do all of this by Christmas so I can start writing my next Santa Claus League book while I am still in the Christmas spirit. 

If you were shipwrecked on an island, what three books would you want with you? 
The Scriptures, Wealth and Poverty, and Knowledge and Power, both my George Gilder. That is this year. My selections will change when I am done studying these books out. All I can say is this Island better have a good internet connection or I’ll be doomed. 

Is there a book you know you will never read? 
I’ll never read Moby Dick again. The first time was enough for me. 

What do you think about book reviews? 
I love book reviews. A good review is an art form all by itself. Whether a book is being bashed and trashed or praised and raved, the review is always fun to read. 

Do you have a day job? A family? How do make time to write? 
I work for Comcast Corporation, selling TV, Internet, phone and home security. The family must be fed and being a writer doesn’t always make enough to keep the lights on. As I have more titles to sell and a bigger fan base, I will be able to devote more time to writing. As it is, my job is ideal because I get to spend quiet time in the mornings to write and study and work my regular job in the day and evening. 

If you could have any author as a mentor, who would it be and why? 
Charles Dickens would be my mentor. He understood writing as well as promotion and selling. The man was amazing and I would love to meet him and learn from him in any way I could. 

Do you believe that old saying, “Never lend books”? 
Only lend books you intend to never get back. Most people you lend books to don’t read them. If they really want the book they can buy it themselves. 

What tips do you have for aspiring writers? What have you learned along the way? 
Write about the most important thing in the world to you. Write about something so important that if it were the only thing about you that survived, your family and friends would want to read it to learn about you. Write what you care about, not what you think other people care about. People want to know what you think, not what you think they think you think. 

What’s next for you? Any current/future writing project? 
My next project is called “The Ghosts of the Santa Claus League,” after that I am writing “The Pirate Prince of Atlantis”, the next installment of the Captain Justo series. I have so many other books I want to write, working for a living is a bother. 

Mr. Miller, you sound absolutely fascinating!  Thank you for the opportunity to not only read and review your book, but have you on Desert Rose Reviews today!  I'm looking forward to reading The Ghosts of the Santa Claus League. Merry Christmas!! :D

~Materials and images provided by the author.  Review is owned by Desert Rose Reviews.