Book Two in The Gift Saga: The continuation of Evanthia’s Gift…
In 1961, five little girls moved into a suburban neighborhood and became inseparable, lifelong friends. They called themselves the ‘Honey Hill Girls,’ named after the street on which they lived. As teenagers they shared one another’s ambitions and dreams, secrets and heartaches. Now, more than thirty years later, they remain devoted and loyal, supporting each other through triumphs and sorrows.
Evanthia’s Gift follows the life of Sophia Giannakos. In Waiting for Aegina the saga continues from the perspectives of Sophia and her friends as the story drifts back and forth in time, filling in the gaps as the women grow to adulthood.
Naive teenage ideals are later challenged by harsh realities, as each of their lives takes unexpected turns. Now nearing their fiftieth year, Sophia, Demi, Amy, Mindy and Donna stand together through life-altering obstacles while they try to regain the lighthearted optimism of their youth.
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Inspiration can come from any number of sources – a life experience, a fleeting yet compelling observation, or perhaps an unforgettable dream. For me it’s been all of the above and then some. I believe every writer draws from personal experience and any creative person tends to possess keen observation skills.
My younger daughter is a graphic designer and art director. I can see her eyes light up when inspiration strikes. I may not understand what it is that caught her attention, but when she’s done setting up her shot and I see the final product of what she’s created, then I understand.
The same is true for my eldest who choreographs dance routines. She’ll hear a piece of music that speaks to her and it’s as though a light switch was turned on and I can see her eyes dancing as her mind begins to create.
The smallest seemingly insignificant moments can be the most inspirational of all. Each year my family and I attend the EPCOT Food and Wine Festival. It’s a crowded park at that time of the year. Actually, it’s always pretty crowded, but during the festival there are lines of people waiting to sample food & alcoholic beverages from kiosks that represent dozens of countries. I was sitting on a bench waiting for my family and I noticed a young couple that was each sampling one of the offerings. It was apparent that the young man enjoyed what he’d tasted and he brought the wax paper clad pastry up to his girlfriend’s lips. He watched her eagerly, hoping she would enjoy it as much as he did and smiled when her reaction was the same as his. He then sweetly brushed off a flake of pastry from her bottom lip and gently kissed her. The whole exchange couldn’t have been more than fifteen seconds but it stuck with me. There was so much love in the young man’s gestures. I could see from that tiny slice of their life that he cared deeply for her and it moved me. I decided I would work that sweet moment into one of my stories. (Hint – It’s in Waiting For Aegina)
I began writing my first novel, Evanthia’s Gift, when my mother passed away. It had always been in the back of my mind to write, but I’d always dismissed the idea until this life-altering event and inspiration was born from grief. The story I had always played with in my mind grew from as simple love story to a family saga when I created a character that honored the essence of my mother’s heart and soul.
My mother like her mother before hernever wanted to leave this earth, and they especially didn’t want to leave their family. My grandmother, who we called Yiayiá, would say in heavily accented English, ‘Don’t forget me,’ years before she had to worry about dying. My mother promised to always be with us and watch over us. And I believe she has done just that. I’ve had several dreams since I’ve lost her. Ones that contained an important message. I’ve used those dreams as inspiration although I changed the details and used them in a different context.
In 2004 I reluctantly attended my thirtieth high school reunion. The committee chairperson, an old friend I hadn’t seen since those school days, contacted me repeatedly until I finally agreed to attend. I ended up having a wonderful time and reconnected with many old friends. We became a close-knit group, and twelve years later, we still get together. Because of this, the idea came to me to write a fictionalized story about a circle of friends who grew up together. I added these friends to Book One: Evanthia’s Gift as secondary characters, but in Book Two: Waiting For Aegina they are the focus of they story and each have their own subplot.
Although there may be bits and pieces of my friends in these women they are purely a figment of my imagination. I thought back to those days when we were young and idealistic and remembered what we all thought we would be doing with our lives years later. I expected to be a successful actor. There was a 1:1,000,000 chance of that! I was certain one of my friends would be a fashion designer and another a very important politician. Neither is the case in their real lives but my teenage ideals for them was inspiration enough for me to develop completely new characters with different histories, backgrounds and physical attributes from my friends.
I’m not sure where my next idea will come from—something I see in the newspaper or overhear at the dining table next to me when I’m out to lunch—who knows? There’s a world of possibilities out there.
About the Author:
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, cheffieskitchen.wordpress.com, 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
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Smokin’ Hot Reads Book Blog – Book Excerpt
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