Friday, May 6, 2016

#MMBBR #Showcase Evanthia's Gift: Book One in The Gift Saga by Effie Kammenou @EffieKammenou

In the year 1956, Anastacia Fotopoulos finds herself pregnant and betrayed, fleeing from a bad marriage. With the love and support of her dear friends Stavros and Soula Papadakis, Ana is able to face the challenges of single motherhood. Left with emotional wounds, she resists her growing affection for Alexandros Giannakos, an old acquaintance. But his persistence and unconditional love for Ana and her child is eventually rewarded and his love is returned. In a misguided, but well-intentioned effort to protect the ones they love, both Ana and Alex keep secrets - ones that could threaten the delicate balance of their family. The story continues in the 1970’s as Dean and Demi Papadakis, and Sophia Giannakos attempt to negotiate between two cultures. Now Greek-American teenagers, Sophia and Dean, who have shared a special connection since childhood, become lovers. Sophia is shattered when Dean rebels against the pressure his father places on him to uphold his Greek heritage and hides his feelings for her. When he pulls away from his family, culture and ultimately his love for her, Sophia is left with no choice but to find a life different from the one she’d hoped for. EVANTHIA’S GIFT is a multigenerational love story spanning fifty years and crossing two continents, chronicling the lives that unify two families.

Effie Kammenou
Effie Kammenou is a believer that it is never too late to chase your dreams, follow your heart or change your career. She is proof of that. At one time, long ago, she'd thought that, by her age, she would have had an Oscar in her hand after a successful career as an actress. Instead, she's worked in the optical field for 40 years and has been the proud mother of two accomplished young women. 

Effie is a first generation Greek-American who lives on Long Island with her husband and two daughters. When she's not writing, or posting recipes on her food blog,, you can find her cooking for her family and friends.

Her debut novel, EVANTHIA'S GIFT, is a women's fiction multigenerational love story and family saga, influenced by her Greek heritage, and the many real life accounts that have been passed down. She continues to pick her father's brain for stories of his family's life in Lesvos, Greece, and their journey to America. Her recent interview with him was published in a nationally circulated magazine.

As an avid cook and baker, a skill she learned from watching her Athenian mother, she incorporated traditional Greek family recipes throughout the book. 

She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Theater Arts from Hofstra University.

Member of Women's Fiction Writer's Association & Romance Writers of America

Follow Effie on Twitter@EffieKammenou
Visit her Facebook author page
Contact Effie at

Q.  What inspires your writing?

A. About five years ago when I started to write my blog, I also occasionally contributed to a regional magazine, but it wasn’t until my mom died that I began to write Evanthia’s Gift. I started writing the novel as a way of working through my grief. My mother was an amazing woman of inner strength. She fought pancreatic cancer for two and a half years. Through her surgeries and chemo treatments, she spent time with everyone in the family, soaking up every last minute she had on earth. She was the inspiration for the character of Anastacia.

My mom talked of her childhood in Greece often, and I used what she told me to create a fictional story, but one that was based on true events. Her accounts of WWII, her journey to America, and the history of her family all came into play.

My dad had his own stories, and at ninety-three years old, he is still feeding me family history and memories from his childhood.

The story itself just developed as I wrote it, and the basic story I had in my mind, flourished into a story more detailed than I had expected.

Many things inspire me to write. Aside from what I just shared, observing people and situations is intriguing to me. The smallest gesture made from one person to another may spark an idea or a scenario.

Q.  What is your favorite thing about being a writer?

A. I like the self-expression and the creativity. I can’t begin to explain the satisfaction and sense of accomplishment I’ve felt by finishing the book. And the fact that people are responding in such a positive way to the story is even more rewarding.

Q.  What is the toughest part of being a writer?

A. The toughest part for me is trimming. When my critique partner or editor suggests that I take out certain sentences or paragraphs, it’s painful. But 95% of the time I do what they think will make the book tighter. Sometimes I have to step away and let go.

Q.  If you could not be writer, what would you do/be?
A. Without a doubt, I would be an actor. It was what I went to school for, and had always hoped to be. I think I needed a lot more nerve and a thicker skin at the time, and I never pursued this dream properly.

Q.  What would the story of your life be entitled?

A. That is a good question. I had to really think about this. It’s never too late. I went to college majoring in theatre arts. I’d never pursued acting as I should have. But I always needed a creative outlet, and it manifested in many ways over the years. My day job, working in the optical field, was not creative, and after 40 years in the business, I needed something more. At 55 years old, I began to write Evanthia’s Gift. It’s never too late to chase your dreams.

Q.  What is your favorite book of all time?

A. East of Eden. The writing is brilliant, the characters, rich, and the themes are timeless.

Q.  Which character from ANY book are you most like?

A. It’s very hard to be objective about myself. I can sometimes relate to certain situations of a character, however I never thought to compare myself to one. I’d like to think that I’m a nurturer like Mrs. March in Little Women, and optimistic and creative like Anne of Green Gables.

Q.  What character from your book are you most like?

A. I think there is a bit of me in each of the characters in my book. But Sophia lives in my timeline and grows up in the town where I grew up. She is like me in some ways, but in other ways, I am like her best friend, Demi

Q.  Which book would you love to take a weekend vacation inside of?

A. I read a book a long time ago by Jude Devereaux. It was called Summer House. In the story, three women were given the opportunity to change one week from their past. After, they could decide to go back to the old life or keep the new life. I think that would be fascinating to see how one alternate decision would change the circumstances in my life.

Q.  What is your favorite season?

A. Summer, summer summer! No contest.

Q.  What inspired your book cover?

A. The characters and their Greek heritage. I wanted a woman on the cover, but with her face left up to the imagination of the reader. She had to be somewhat timeless, so that she could be either Anastacia in the 1950’s or her daughter, Sophia, in the 1980’s. I also wanted the landscape to be understood that the woman was in Greece at that moment.

Q.  Tell me something funny that happened while on a book tour or while promoting your book.

A. I can’t think of anything ha-ha funny, but I was at a fundraiser where I was giving part of the proceeds of the books that sold that day to a charity. There were a lot of mothers and teenage daughters in attendance, and I wanted to make it known that the book had some amorous scenes that might not be appropriate for the younger teens. Nothing too graphic, but graphic enough that I wanted to leave it up to the discretion of the parents. I can’t tell you how many people asked me that day if the book was like Fifty Shades of Grey. I said, “Absolutely not!” Why has that book become the barometer for all love stories all of a sudden?

Q.  Are you working on something new?

A. Currently, I am working on Book Two in The Gift Saga. Sophia’s story will pick up where Evanthia’s Gift left off. Whereas Book One was rooted in Anastacia and Sophia’s families, Book Two will explore the relationships and lives of Sophia’s lifelong friends as they support each other through some unexpected struggles.

However, this does not mean readers will not be seeing the rest of the families they have come to love and care about. They will still be an integral part of the story. The comments I’ve received from readers state that they love the family history and the Greek heritage. In their opinion, it made this book a rich and unique read. It’s been made clear to me that they are hoping for more of this in Book Two.

Q.  Anything you want to say to followers of this blog or those that are just stopping by?

A.  It is my hope that you enjoy reading EVANTHIA’S GIFT as much as I enjoyed writing it. I want you to get swept away by the lives and loves of Anastacia and Sophia, and to feel as though you are part of their family, celebrating their joys and mourning their losses. It is my wish that you each find something that you can relate to, something that seems familiar to you – and a story you will be thinking of after you’ve finished reading the last pages.

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