Author Effie Kammenou: The Eternal Optimist

Hello, BeaYOUtiful!

How are you? Having a good week? I'm so glad the weekend is around the corner. It's been such a busy week, but I really have to say ... I love when my guest authors take over my site! Their stories are inspiring and the perfect example of all the good things that can happen when we don't give up. Today, a dear friend came to tell her story. She's Greek, talented, and an inspiration to all of us.

Without further ado, let me introduce to you the lovely, Effie Kammenou!

If you want to know how others perceive you, ask your friends and acquaintances to describe you in one word or phrase. Many say I’m an eternal optimist, others joke that I’m small but mighty. My husband is the first to warn, ‘Don’t mess with the little Greek.’ And more than a few refer to me as the neighborhood vampire. This last description is more of a commentary on my habits than anything else. If you were to come by my home at 1AM, the lights would still be on. At 3AM? You guessed it. I’m still up. Perhaps shutting down the computer and contemplating sleep, but before that, I’m holed up in my home office tapping away on the computer keyboard.

For those of you who are not familiar with me or my work, let me introduce myself. My name is Effie Kammenou. Years ago, my dream was to be an actor and, by this point in life, have an Oscar-worthy body of work under my belt. Instead, I got married, had two children and, along with my husband, supported our household with a ‘real’ job. How I went from majoring in theater at university to working in the optical industry is beyond me.

Over the years, I’ve missed exercising my creative muscle. But I found ways to satisfy it through writing and directing a couple of children’s plays in my community, baking and decorating cookie favors for special occasions as a side business and, finally, writing a food blog. I love to cook, bake and entertain, and I’ve had so many requests to share my recipes that writing a blog seemed like the best way to do that.

But I wanted to do more than simply hand out recipes. To me food is not just about the ingredients. It’s the stories, traditions and the people behind the food that make a meal special. With each recipe, I shared a memory or a holiday. In case you couldn’t tell by my name, I’m Greek—Greek-American actually. My mother was from Athens and my father’s family was from the island of Lesvos. Many of my recipes were handed down to me from my mother, grandmother and other important women in my life. But I’ve also developed my own recipes as well, mostly influenced by Greek, French or Italian cuisine.

When I turned fifty years old, I vowed to do something that would define me beyond being the mother to two very accomplished and independent young women. My oldest had just graduated college and my youngest was about to enter it. I wasn’t driving them to dance class or tennis lessons anymore and I suddenly had more free time. I entertained the idea of taking acting lessons, honing the craft I had long abandoned and maybe working as an extra to get my feet wet. But something was holding me back. Probably fear! I Hadn’t been on stage or in front of a camera in years.

Then, my mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. She was one strong, Greek warrior woman, never giving up—fighting to stay on this earth with her family. She survived for two and a half years, but when the day finally came, it was a devastating loss for all of us.

This was when I began to write Evanthia’s Gift. I couldn’t let her legacy or her beautiful spirit die. This saga is not her biography, but the character of Anastacia is based on her elegance, grace and the immeasurable love she had for her family. Writing was my way of dealing with my grief and unbeknownst to her, my mother gave me a beautiful gift—she helped me discover my passion, my voice and that ‘thing’ I was looking for to define me.

Now, almost seven years later, the trilogy is complete and my only regret is that my mother isn’t physically here to share in this accomplishment. But her love of our heritage, family, faith and humanity are immortalized within the pages of each book. Those are the lessons that will live on from generation to generation.

So what am I working on now? I’ve begun a new series that will take place mostly on a Long Island port town, New York City, and various locations in Greece. That might sound somewhat like the The Gift Saga Trilogy, but the dynamics of this family will be quite different than the last.

I’ve also written a short story for Jennifer and Morgan Locklear’s Anthology, Paperback Writers. My contribution will be titled Don’t Want To Leave Her Now. I’m very honored to be included in this project along with this group of talented and charitable writers.

What do you think? Isn't she a Sweetheart? If you want to know more about Effie, follow her on her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, or visit her blog to find incredibly delicious recipes!

Our next guest ... The one and only, Nancee Cain! See you on March 28th!

Until next time.

Your biggest fan,

MJ xoxo

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