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In the novel Cactus Christmas, Heather Renée May takes us on a journey of Kate Summers, an author looking to rekindle her craft and refocus her life through the inspiration of the Texas Hill Country. Kate had a rough couple of years including family loss and broken relationships. She needed some space to break from the past, focus on writing her next book, and figure out her next steps in life. Through the recommendation of a close friend and a bit of throwing caution to the wind, Kate headed to Texas where she would be living out of a rental Airstream trailer in Spicewood for a few months.
During Kate’s time in the Hill Country, she visited fourteen Texas wineries and met some wonderful people along the way. Soon after Kate began her time in the Hill Country she met a new friend, Zach. As Kate and Zach visited wineries together, their budding friendship started to grow into something more. The timing wasn’t right for them at that time, but I’ll let you read the book to discover how things worked out between them. May brings readers into a sense of introspection through Kate and Zach’s conversations, enough to provoke some thought while keeping with the book’s easy-going tone. During the pandemic, a lot of us have had some extra time to think about our lives, so I think there are aspects of Kate’s life that will resonate with a lot of folks.
I’m a computer engineer by trade, so I have to say Cactus Christmas landed outside of the sphere of my more typical dense non-fiction readings. It turned out to be a breath of fresh air that a lot of us can use right now. I do have to put on my engineer hat and say there is a bit of innovation here. There have been lots of guides written about Texas wineries, but this is the first work of fiction that I know of that has embraced them so dearly. When was the last time you read a novel with mentions of Roussanne and Mourvèdre? May did a great job of intertwining information about Texas wineries through Kate’s story. She paints a vivid picture of our wineries, Fredericksburg, and the Hill Country as a whole. It’s almost like having a guidebook sprinkled throughout a fun novel. I’m hopeful that folks that enjoy Texas wineries will enjoy Cactus Christmas, and Texas wineries will have some new fans through May’s writing. Maybe we’ll see more novels set in the Hill Country?
You may be wondering how May got her inspiration for this novel. She spent her pandemic quarantine time living in her 22-foot travel trailer in the Hill Country. She made the best of this time by going heads down in her writing and enjoying her surroundings. May is an interesting person, to say the least. She has a history as a dancer, choreographer, musician, EMT, software developer, public activist, and writer. She also hosts a podcast called Flipping Dreams where guests share the stories of their own pivots in life.
Cactus Christmas is set to be released on October 29th and will be available on Amazon and through May’s website. Interested in meeting Heather Renée May? She has a full calendar of events in the Hill Country through the end of the year, including lots of winery visits and festivals. Be sure to drop in and say, “Hi.”