Today I am partnering with Love Books Group for a guest post from author, Effie Kammenou. In her post, she talks about the characters in her series. Keep scrolling to read her post, an excerpt, and to find out more information about her latest book!
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Guest post written by the author
My stories are character driven. I’ve given each character a history that molds their personality, preferences, fears and dreams. The Gift Saga is mainly told from the point of view from the women in this multigenerational story, yet the men that love them, raise them and support them are just as interesting and often as complex as the women they love.
Evanthia’s Gift opens with Anastacia’s story, but in essence it’s the beginning of Sophia’s storyline. Everything that happens to Anastacia and all the decisions she makes directly affect Sophia throughout her life. The first third of the book, Part I, is Anastacia’s story and the backstory for Part II, which focuses on Sophia as she blossoms from an impressionable teenager to an independent woman.
Throughout the chapters, the reader is introduced to Sophia’s closest friends, both as teenagers and adults. The friendships between these women are strong and unbreakable.
This bond between these five women is what’s explored in Waiting
For Aegina. Each one leads separate lives and have all followed their dreams, but when trouble steps into their paths, the friends stand by each other.
Sophia is dealing with the repercussions that plagued her from the first book. She seemingly got her happily ever after, but there was so much she had yet to come to terms with—the death of her mother, a surprise revelation over her paternity, and her children’s resentment of her new husband.
Amy has a secret that only Sophia was privy to. She gave a child up for adoption shortly after her graduation from college. Her husband and son had no knowledge of this and neither did her other friends. When the truth unexpectedly comes out, it affects her family, her relationship with her husband and threatens her position as a United States congresswoman.
Donna married her high school sweetheart. She was the cheerleader who married the star football player, her first boyfriend. But her seemingly perfect marriage frays thread by thread as her husband becomes a man she can no longer respect. When tragedy strikes, Donna must find the strength to go on.
Demi and Sophia have grown up as though they were siblings. Demi is bold where Sophia is cautious and, Demi, outspoken in contrast to Sophia’s more diplomatic manner. But these two opposite personalities bring out the best in each other. Demi begrudgingly endures her intrusive mother-in-law, while also been letting her imagination run wild where her normally loving husband is concerned. Her mouth and insecurities get the best of her, landing her in a bit of marital disharmony.
Mindy has it all, or so it would seem. She has devoted her life to her craft, becoming a respected and well-known fashion designer. But to get there, sacrifices were made and she let the love of her life slip through her fingers. Her fear of being alone places her in the hands of the wrong man, but her friends come to her aid.
Each of these five women are very different with distinctly unique personalities, but the bond they had formed from childhood is cemented for life and they are loyal to the core, seeing each other through good times and bad.
Sophia was seated at the edge of a worn leather chair with her eyes fixed on Dean, tears streaming down her cheeks. Ignoring the sting from the cuts and bruises on her forehead and nose, the soreness on the left side of her body, and the sharp pains coming from her casted arm, she gently gripped her husband’s hand, hoping her touch would will him into consciousness.
Not twenty-four hours ago, they were having the time of their lives—reconnecting with old friends, dancing, and maybe drinking a little too much. Which is why Sophia took the keys from Dean and insisted she drive home.
Their joyful night came to a crashing end when a bright light reflecting from her side view mirror blinded Sophia. It was as though everything after that happened in slow motion—the sound of crunching metal and screeching tires, a surreal feeling that the car may have flipped over and over, and the shattering of breaking glass when a car struck theirs, slamming into the passenger door where Dean was seated.
When their vehicle came to a sudden halt, Sophia found that the car had not turned over as she thought, yet somewhere in her confused and disoriented mind, it had registered that they must have spun around.
Clouds of white surrounded Sophia and she screamed out to Dean, afraid he was unconscious or severely injured from the impact the car had taken.
Her door flung open. “Sophia, I have to get you out of the car. Help is on its way.”
“Dino! Help Dino!” Sophia desperately pleaded, not sure to whom she was speaking. It was so dark and she was blinded by fear.
Slapping away the airbags obstructing her view, she called out to her husband. “Dino! Talk to me. Say something.”
Struggling to open his eyes, Dean groaned, but his lids remained closed.
Michael, who had been following in the car behind, could see that metal from the car had compressed around the lower half of Dean’s body and, without help, he would not be able to pull him from the wreckage.
Sophia reached for Dean, but Michael stopped her.
“It’s better not to touch him until the EMTs get here.”
Panic-stricken after watching the erratic driver crash into her brother’s door, Demi helped Sophia out of the car and clung to her.
Within minutes, the dark road was polluted with flashing lights and the sound of blaring sirens. Rescuers came swiftly, assessing the situation quickly deciding to rely on the ‘Jaws of Life’ to cut Dean out of the car. Another medic came to Sophia’s aid, placing her arm in a splint and tending to the open gashes on her face and arm.
“Forget about me! Take care of my husband,” she demanded, her voice strained from fear.
“Your husband is in good hands.” The female medic looked up after she finished wrapping Sophia’s arm. “They’re about to load him into the ambulance now, ma’am.”
“Take me to him.”
The uniformed woman guided Sophia to where Dean was strapped on a stretcher and about to be lifted into the back end of an ambulance. Too many people surrounded him, making it impossible for Sophia to get close.
Movement, noise, lights, and voices shouting commands—it was all happening at lightening speed, yet at the same time the moment seemed to drag on forever. Sophia became agitated. There was too much fasaria around her. Her yiayiá would say that when there was too much noise and commotion. It was the first word that came to mind as witnesses dramatically recounted the accident, mangled cars were pulled onto flatbeds, and police officers gave the drunk driver, who had sped across three lanes before hitting them, a breathalyzer test. The son of a bitch didn’t look as though he had a scratch on him, and Sophia’s Dino was—she didn’t want to think about what his condition was. She just needed to get to him, but no one would let her.
“Ma’am, we have another ambulance for you if you’ll come with me.”
Sophia pushed away from the EMT. “I don’t need one. I want to go with my husband.”
“That’s not possible, ma’am.”
“You’re hurt,” Demi said. “You need to go with them.”
“I want to stay with you. Michael, drive me to the hospital. I want to be there when Dino arrives.”
“We’ll follow along behind the ambulance you’re in,” Michael said. “You’re in shock, Sophia, and you need to be examined. Let’s be on the safe side.”
Leaning over the hospital bed, Sophia prayed. “Please, God, don’t take him from me now,” Sophia begged in an inaudible whisper. “Dino, oh, my Dino.” She bent over him and caressed his cheek. “Don’t leave me. Not after all we’ve been through. Squeeze my hand. Move your eyes. Give me a sign that you’re still with me. Anything.”
Comforting arms wrapped around Sophia. “Sweetie, you need to take a break. Get some sleep. I’ll stay with my brother.”
She turned to look at Demi and, collapsing into sobs, she shook her head. “No. What if he wakes up and I’m not here?” Sophia’s face grew pale and her lower lip quivered. “Or what if—”
“Don’t say it,” Demi ordered. “Don’t even think it.” Demi wrapped her arms around Sophia. “The doctor said he’ll be unconscious for a while. If anything changes, I’ll call you.”
Sophia pulled away and shook her head adamantly. “I can’t.”
“If you don’t, I’ll get your doctor in here to order you to go home and rest. Your body took quite a beating also. You can’t help Dean if you don’t take care of yourself.” Turning Sophia by the shoulders to face the entrance to the room, Demi said, “Look. Everyone is here. Any one of them will be happy to take you home. I’ll stay with my brother until you get back.”
Sophia waved weakly, her heart melting at the sight of them. In the doorway stood Amy, Mindy, and Donna. They were there when she needed them—always at her side without question—her oldest and dearest friends. The Honey Hill Girls were loyal to the core.
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.
Can be read as a standalone. For the full emotional impact on the character’s live and histories, read Evanthia’s Gift.
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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 actor. Instead, she worked in the optical field for 40 years and is the proud mother of two accomplished young women.
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 interview with him was published in a nationally circulated magazine.
Evanthia’s Gift: Book One in The Gift Saga was a 2016 award finalist in the Readers Favorite Awards in the Women’s Fiction category. Waiting for Aegina is Book Two in The Gift Saga and Chasing Petalouthes is Kammenou’s latest release, completing the series.
Effie Kammenou 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 entertaining family and friends or traveling for ‘research.’
As an avid cook and baker, a skill she learned from watching her Athenian mother, she incorporated traditional Greek family recipes throughout the books.
She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theater Arts from Hofstra University.