The Meraki Series Book 1
The only love Kally Andarakis is baking is in the form of the sweet treats she whips up in her café, The Coffee Klatch.
Kally never believed herself to be a person worthy of love, but when an intoxicating man she considered out of her league pursues her, she risks everything to be with him. Later, when tragedy strikes, truths are revealed that leave Kally brokenhearted and untrusting.
Eight years later, Kally is a successful pastry chef running the café she’d always dreamed of owning. With a home of her own, a profession she’s passionate about, and the support and love of friends and family, Kally is content with the life she has carved out for herself.
Until the day Max Vardaxis walks into her café…
With arguing parents, meddling relatives, an overly energetic grandmother, a man-crazy best friend, and the long ago, mysterious disappearance of a grandfather, this new man in town is just one more complication in Kally’s life, if not the main one.
Kally must now decide whether to keep her heart safe or to once again take a ‘whisk on love.’
1. Do you always take a book/e-reader wherever you go?
Most of the time, yes. My Kindle is conveniently in my bag at all times. It’s lightweight and great when I’m traveling. I keep paperbacks by the sofa where I snuggle up to watch TV or read, and let’s not leave out Audiobooks! I always have one loaded on my iPhone. I listen while I’m in the car or doing chores around the house.
2. Say someone asks if they can use your name in a book. Would you rather be the ‘good one’ or the ‘bad one’?
That’s tricky. I’ve always wondered about that. It’s one thing to mention a person in passing, but it’s altogether different to feature them as a character. As the author, I’d want to be careful to represent them in a manner that wouldn’t insult them. As for having my name used, I’d definitely want to have a positive light shed on me.
3. Where can I find you when you are reading?
Usually, in my family room, curling up on the sofa with a cup of tea. You might also spot me in a waiting room, getting a pedicure, or on a plane with my Kindle in hand.
4. Where can I find you when you are not writing/reading?
My husband jokes that I only occupy three spaces in the entire house—the computer room, where I write, the sofa, where I read or watch TV, or the kitchen, where I cook. I spend very little time sleeping, and I cook and bake quite a bit.
5. Can you walk past a bookstore without going inside?
I can resist, but, why should I? I remember when my girls were younger, I would take them to Borders Bookstore on a rainy afternoon. They had a wonderful children’s section. I’d spend time with them, choosing books to consider buying and then I’d go off and peruse the women’s fiction, romance, and cooking sections.
We also made good use of the library. Ours had an incredible interactive children’s section.
6. What are you most proud of?
First and foremost, I’m most proud of my daughters and the independent, successful adults they’ve grown into. My oldest is a dedicated 5th grade teacher, and the younger one is a digital art director for a skincare company.
For myself, I’d have to say that I felt such a feeling of accomplishment and pride when I published my first book. Now, having just released the fourth, I feel like I’m living my dream. This was something I’d had in the back of my head to do for years. Thinking it and sitting down to do it are two different things. It takes perseverance and discipline, traits I’ve only grown into as I’ve matured.
7. What goes through your mind when you hold your new book in your hands for the first time?
So many contradicting thoughts and emotions! First, I’m excited to have it in my hands and see the cover on paper rather than a digital image. But then, a moment of panic sets in. Will readers like it? Will it live up to their expectations after having read my other books?
8. What piece of advice would you give to aspiring writers?
I would tell them not to rush to publish their work. I had no idea what I was doing the first time around. I took a lot of advice from seasoned authors, worked with critique partners and beta readers, and revised my manuscript a dozen times before handing it over to a professional editor. I was so sure there would be nothing left to edit at that point. Was I ever wrong! I revised again based on the editor’s suggestions and corrections.
If you are self-publishing, you must handle everything as though it was traditionally published. That means using a professional editor, cover designer, formatter, and coming up with a marketing plan.
9. Who would you like/have liked to interview?
I just had author Sylvain Reynard takeover in my Facebook reading group for an author chat. It wasn’t a formal interview, but it gave the members of my group and me the opportunity to interact with him. He is not only my favorite contemporary writer, but he is also a fascinating man.
10. When and where do you prefer to write?
I always write in my home office/computer room. I do have a day job, so I usually write on my days off and late at night. I prefer to write when I’m alone and when no one is either home or awake.
Life has completely changed in the last couple of months, though. I am no longer working, as my place of business has closed due to the pandemic crisis. Under normal circumstances, I work part-time as an optical lab technician. My husband and younger daughter work in NYC. They have been working from home, so there is no alone time anymore. We are all so busy working in different rooms that we have not gotten in each other’s way. But my routine has changed. I write during the day, and by evening I take a much-needed break.
Thank you, Effie Kammenou and Love Books Group
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 hoped 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 while raising her two daughters.
In 2015, three years after the death of her mother from pancreatic cancer, she published her debut novel, Evanthia’s Gift, book one in a women’s fiction, multigenerational love story and family saga, inspired by her mother and her Greek heritage. Kammenou 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 the nationally circulated magazine Reminisce.
Evanthia’s Gift: Book One in The Gift Saga was a 2016 finalist in the Readers Favorite Book Awards. Waiting for Aegina: Book Two in The Gift Saga was awarded finalist status in the 2019 International Book Awards and Chasing Petalouthes, the last book in the trilogy, had also placed in the Readers Favorite Book Awards for the 2018 contest.
Her latest novel, the first book in a new contemporary romance series, is now complete. Love is What You Bake of It, follows Kally’s path to independence despite her sometimes stifling family and her tumultuous road to finding love. But it wouldn’t be a Kammenou novel without a delve into the past, or the references to mouth-watering foods.
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, aptly named cheffieskitchen, 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 for a little extra ‘flavor.’
She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theater Arts from Hofstra University.
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