Former Rancho Bernardo resident writes Christmas action-adventure book for kids
A former resident of Rancho Bernardo published his first book, a Christmas-themed children’s novel.
Kevin Ronchetto – who writes under the pseudonym Michael Holiday – said that “Mary Cairins and the Reindeer Games” is the first in a series planned on a 12-year-old girl competing in a perilous competition at the North Pole. The competition is organized to crown the next Santa Claus.
He described it as “a healthy, action-packed adventure that kids and parents alike will enjoy. Think of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” meeting “Santa Claus” and “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire”.
The target readership is middle-class children, he said, adding that his youngest daughter, Maile, falls into that category as a sixth-grader.
Ronchetto said he wanted to write something different and thought a female Santa Claus would suit the idea. In this case, Santa Claus is doing more than just handing out gifts to children. As the winner of the Reindeer Games, the new Santa Claus controls the North Pole and the Sands of Time. They are Santa’s secret and with the sands comes control of the world.
Other characters include Jackie Frost – one of Santa’s most trusted helpers – and Crystal Frost – his sister who has escaped from prison and is now ready for revenge by obtaining Santa’s magic. There is also Rudi Smartbottom, Rudolph’s daughter who has a pink nose.
Ronchetto, 48, now lives in Scripps Ranch. As a child his family lived in Poway, but he mostly grew up in Rancho Bernardo, graduated from Mt. Carmel High School in 1992 and the University of San Diego in 1997. His interest in writing began at a young age. , dating back to when he started his fourth grade class report card at Chaparral Elementary in Poway.
Although he ended up pursuing a career in graphic design – something he did for over two decades – the desire to write remained, he said.
After his father died of pancreatic cancer in 2001, Ronchetto wrote a novel, an experience he called therapeutic. But then he put it away. When the San Diego Reader held a writing contest 10 years ago, Ronchetto said he was considering entering the novel. But a friend he let read it told him it was “awful.”
In retrospect, Ronchetto said he agreed. Criticism prompted him to learn to write by revising the book about 20 times, including major rewrites based on feedback from the groups of writers he joined.
“I learned the trade on how to improve myself,” Ronchetto said. “Now I describe (first) to know the main points of the plot. “
With the knowledge he gained through this process, Ronchetto said he was ready to write his first children’s book.
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But he decided it would be under a pen name that made sense to him and would be “a bit more eye-catching.” Michael is her middle name and Holiday is based on a unique coincidence for her family’s birthdays. Ronchetto was born on Saint Patrick’s Day; his wife, Chantal, has a birthday that sometimes falls on Mother’s Day; their eldest daughter, Madison, was born on Memorial Day; their son, Matt, was born on Easter Sunday; and their youngest daughter, Maile, was born on Columbus Day.
With a novel focused on Christmas, Ronchetto said he realized his book’s sales window was narrow. Getting the attention of an agent and a publisher is a very competitive process, so he decided the self-publishing route with a publisher was the best. The cover was designed by Fay Lane, an artist in Canada to whom Ronchetto explained her vision and she made it happen.
As to why he chose the middle classes as his target audience, Ronchetto said there is a lot for teens and toddlers, but not for kids who are a bit young to read about first loves, vampires and werewolves. He wanted to write an action-adventure story for ages 9 to 12 or 13, as well as young children who are advanced readers.
“It’s a book that adults will also enjoy reading with children,” he said.
Ronchetto said he wrote the book in 2019 and worked on its sequel after everything was shut down in 2020 due to the pandemic and he was fired from his 19-year job.
“I had money saved which was a godsend, so I wrote the sequel in two months,” he said, adding that it was currently being edited. He also worked on a third unrelated novel, which has birds as the main character.
As to what he learned from this experience, Ronchetto said, “You have to have thick skin. To be a writer you get criticism. Some can be hard on you. He added that when several people give him a criticism. Similar comment, he sees this as an indication that he needs to rewrite a scene or a few chapters.
He also said that a writer needs patience and persistence as the process of writing and publishing can take several years. He said that through criticism you learn to write and if they stick to it they can master the craft.
“Mary Cairins and the Reindeer Games” can be purchased from Barnes & Noble for $ 12.99 (paperback) and $ 4.99 (ebook). It is also available from other online booksellers, such as Amazon.