NaNoWriMo Totals to Date: 16 120 words, 25 cups of coffee, one cup of Earl Grey, one cup of tea (unknown), two glasses of Rum & Coke, one glass cabernet, and a half pint of Session IPA.
About the interviews:
When I published my first book, I looked for ways to reach new readers, and being a brand new author, participating in various book bloggers interviews was a good way to start. Some interviews were standard questions, while others had more individuality built into them.
I then did a twist on the author interview by interviewing myself (Leon Interviews Himself). I then thought it would be fun to get to know some of the authors I was cross-promoting with, and the Friday Conversations were born. Guess what? They are a lot of work. I look up the authors information, visit the website so I can craft a unique set of questions (OK, there are a few standard ones) to let my readership get to know these new authors. Worth the work? You bet. Here is today’s conversation:
In Conversation With Author Effie Kammenou
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 cheffies kitchen, you can find her entertaining family and friends or traveling for ‘research.’ 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.
She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theater Arts from Hofstra University.
Today I have the pleasure of sitting down with author Effie Kammenou. Thanks for stopping by.
It’s my pleasure, Leon. Thank you for having me.
Beverage of choice?
That depends on the time of say. Vanilla latte in the morning. Water or iced tea for the rest of the day. A cup of hot tea at night. But if we’re out for the night, a glass of rosé.
Let pretend it’s evening. I won’t pass up a chance for a glass of wine.
Sounds nice. Cheers or as we say in Greek, Yamas – to our health!
[sounds of clinking glasses]
Your books are highly rated on Goodreads. Ever get a bad review?
Yes, I’ve received a couple. Fortunately, only a couple. One even brought me a spike in sales. How did the reviewers phrase it? ‘It was a shame because the writing was pretty good, but between the cursing, sex, and vulgarity, this book should have come with a warning.’
How did you deal with it?
I laughed! My books are far from vulgar or sex-driven. Curse words are used by a few characters when appropriate. Sex scenes are tasteful and between people who love each other deeply. But sex sells, and I had a spike in sales that week. Bad reviews can be good, too!
That is a pretty good selling point for some. My 1-star review said, “Boring stories. Nothing interesting happens.” No spike in sales with that one!
You can’t make everyone happy. Let is roll off your back. I was told early on that some bad reviews are actually good. It gives validity to all the good reviews. That way, readers won’t think your book is only being reviewed by friends and family.
Your exactly right. It did hurt a bit at first, but I got over it.
Which book are you most proud of?
It will always be my first, Evanthia’s Gift, for several reasons. It was an accomplishment I never thought I’d reach. I had a story in the back of my head that kept growing in my imagination. It was always just a thought—a maybe someday idea. But then my mother died in 2012, and the impact was devastating on our whole family. I had expanded the story to make it a generational saga. My late mother was the inspiration for one of the main characters and my way of honoring her and our Greek heritage.
I like that gesture. It’s heartfelt. Who is your target audience, and how do you reach them?
My niche audience is the Greek reading community. I would be nowhere without them. They continue to be loyal and supportive to this day. But I don’t just market to Greeks. My books are women’s fiction and contemporary romance novels, and I target readers who prefer those genres. Since the books are generational and feature main characters from their teens to their elder years, women of all ages have reached out to me regarding how relatable the story was.
It takes me a while to finish a book because I usually fall asleep after a few pages at bedtime. Are you an avid reader?
I was more of an avid reader before I started writing. With a day job, family responsibilities, and writing my own books, it’s hard to find the time to read as much as I’d like. My solution to that has been audiobooks. I listen to them while I drive, cook, and do chores.
I can’t do audiobooks. Tried it. Didn’t care for them.
You are of Greek ancestry. Does it bother you when people mispronounce gyro?
Ah, the gyro. With the way it’s spelled, I don’t blame Americans. This is what it looks like in Greek: γύρο. That letter that looks like a y is gamma. But it’s not a hard g. It’s g and y together formed in the back of the throat. Perhaps, if the English spelling dropped the g, it wouldn’t be as mispronounced. And that’s your Greek lesson of the day!
I suppose its that same way with Vietnamese “Pho”.
Yes! That’s another understandable common mistake.
Mother’s and Grandmothers always make the best food. Who is the better cook—you don’t have to answer if it will get you in trouble…
OMG! I don’t dare say me over my mother. A lightning bolt will come and strike me down. LOL. The traditional recipes I make are hers, so …
I always ask my guests about music. Any favorites?
Classic rock and disco. During my high school years, I listened to rock and all those great singers/songwriters. But once I got to college, I discovered the nightclubs, and it was all over. I love good classic disco. I also like some of today’s music.
Let’s speed things up a bit and go to the lightning round, shall we?
What’s the difference between a spatula and a flipper?
You know I write a food blog, right?
Just checking. There’s a bit of debate with some acquaintances. I know the answer…
A spatula is a flat rubber or silicone tool used to lift food from bowls or mix ingredients. A flipper removes food from a pan or flips burgers, omelets, and such.
Paper or Plastic?
Poolside or beach?
Though I live on an island, I prefer my backyard pool. No sand, seaweed, or jellyfish.
Do I have to have a favorite? I’m a New Yorker, and I’ve always loved NYC. But each city has its own charm and draw. I adore Paris, Athens, and Rome.
Wheel of Fortune or Jeopardy?
Is Effie short for something?
Efthemia. It’s a commonly used Greek name. Our tradition is to name after the grandparents and both my grandmothers carried that name.
What is the Pythagorean formula (the triangle one)?
Are you kidding? It’s been 45 years since I took geometry.
No. I’m not kidding. Minus 10 points.
So harsh! Taking a stab at it, doesn’t it have something to do with the degree of each angle of a triangle equalling the total area? If not, I want at least 5 points back for trying.
Sure, take the 5.
This has been fun, but we must wrap it up. Any links you wish to add?
Thank you. It’s been fun chatting!
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The story behind Free Book Friday:
I’ve met many authors and readers during my time marketing, cross-promoting, and blogging. I think writers have a responsibility to inform readers about all the indie authors out there in the very crowded world of book publishing. You can’t do it alone, and why would you when you have a supportive group available?
Readers don’t just read one author – they stick with their favorite genres. There lies the power in cross-promotion. If one of my readers buys a book from an author I promote, then chances are there will be a reciprocal effect, or so is the hope. Do I want to boost sales? Of course I do. Do I want to boost other’s sales? Why not. It’s called karma.
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Leon Stevens is a blogger, composer, artist, and an author of three books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and Pictures, Journeys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar and The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories.
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