Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Maria draws on the law to shape her books

Hi Maria and welcome to Adventures in Authorland. Please get comfortable and tell us about your adventure.

Maria Imbalzano
What inspired you to write your first book?

I read a lot and my go to books are generally romance.  About fifteen years ago, I was reading a novel by a New York Times bestselling author and was annoyed with the fact that she told us something and then repeated the information three pages later.  I thought, ‘we are not stupid readers. We got it the first time.’ From there, I decided I could do this. Of course, I couldn’t. I learned very quickly that it’s not as easy as a reader may think. But I joined New Jersey Romance Writers and went to countless seminars and conferences, trying to incorporate what I learned into the manuscript I was writing. It has taken me a lot of time, effort and persistence to get to this point, but I have loved every minute of it and look forward to continuing the process for a long time to come. 

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Ten years ago, I won the New Jersey Romance Writers “Put Your Heart In A Book Contest” in the Long Contemporary category for my manuscript, “Weekend Diaries.”  That was a major contest and one of the judges was Kristen Hannah.  I met with her after the conference and she said some very nice things about my manuscript.  Soon thereafter, I signed with an agent and thought I was on my way. While several editors from different publishers were somewhat interested, it never turned into a contract. However, that ‘win’ gave me the confidence to keep at it and recognize that I would be published someday.

How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

I’ve written six manuscripts.  UNCHAINED MEMORIES is my fifth and the first one to be published.  The first two books will probably forever sit in my drawer.  However, my third, WEEKEND DIARIES, is my favorite and I plan to revisit it soon. It’s the story of a NYC divorce lawyer, Samantha, who learns of her husband’s infidelity. She is devastated and they separate.  Sam heads to the Jersey shore for a well-needed leave of absence from work and her life.  Four of her high school girlfriends each take a weekend to visit and help her deal with her problems while they shed some light on their own lives and issues. After coming to terms with her pending divorce, she meets a local attorney whose past had intersected with her and her friends ten years earlier. A shocking secret comes to light which threatens not only the hero’s and heroine’s relationship, but that of her friends.

In which genre do you prefer to write and why?

I love contemporary, single title romance. I am familiar with the present and as they say “write what you know.” It’s closer to real life and it’s easier to draw from real life experiences – whether my own or someone else’s.  While I will read historical, I know nothing about that era’s lifestyles and it would take an enormous amount of research and studying to learn it enough to write about it.  I suppose I don’t have enough creativity to write paranormal since I would have to build my own world.  Besides, I don’t like to read paranormal, so I know I wouldn’t want to write it.  Contemporary romance is the place for me. 

Do you belong to any non-writing organizations?

Since I am a lawyer, I belong to several bar associations as well as the Mid-Jersey Collaborative Law Alliance. I am also a member of the Matrimonial Lawyers Alliance.  In addition, I sit on two boards. I am the Chair of the Special Events Committee and board member for Thomas Edison State College Foundation and I am a board member of Dress for Success Mercer County.  With regard to the latter two organizations, I am very involved in their fundraisers including The Thomas Edison State College Foundation Grande Ball, their golf outing, Dress for Success’ Cocktails for a Cause and Power Walk.

Do you see writing as a career?

I work best – at anything – when I’m under pressure and don’t have enough time in the day to get it all done.  I fear that if I didn’t have my day job to contend with, and had all day, every day to write, I would not be as efficient as I am now.  Of course it takes me two years to write a book, but I definitely know myself, and while I might cut down on that two year time frame, I would not have enough pressure to keep me in my chair at the computer.  Then again, if I had a three book deal with a major publisher with due dates (and a really nice advance), I could definitely see writing as my only career.

Maria Imbalzano is a matrimonial lawyer in central New Jersey where she not only uses her law degree to navigate her clients through the court system, but her psychology degree to guide them through their personal struggles. While writing motions, legal memoranda, and briefs is fascinating, it pales in comparison to creating memorable characters and taking them on their emotional journeys.

In addition to practicing law and writing fiction, Maria enjoys spending time with her husband and two daughters either at home or at the Jersey Shore.

 giving them a voice, and advocating for their rights. She couldn't do it for her mother, so she does it for others, even if it means losing the love of her life.

Dr. Clayton Montgomery believes in working hard and playing even harder, until he reconnects with Charlotte. Barely noticing her crush when he tutored her ten years ago, Clay has a chance to make up for lost time when the beautiful lawyer comes back into town...until he discovers her chosen career path.

Now, philosophical differences soon become a reality and Charlotte is faced with the choice of representing a client against the hospital and against Clay. Will Charlotte give up her career and her tribute to her mother for a second chance with the man who got away?


He called on his memory, pulling up their very last encounter.
“I’m leaving for college today.” She stood tentatively in his office doorway, her crystal blue eyes so expressive in their sadness. “I wanted to thank you for all your help, especially with physics and calculus. I never would have done so well without...you.” She avoided his eyes as her voice trailed off, choked with tears.
His heart constricted, startling him. He hadn’t anticipated the day she would no longer be around; trailing him at the hospital, asking incessant questions, teasing him for being so serious. His life was on overload with his internship, not allowing him to realize the time he dedicated to her was not just tolerated, but treasured.
He walked around the desk, intending to give her a friendly hug, but when he took her in his arms something changed. Her familiar flowery scent awakened his senses as if he’d been in a deep sleep and he closed his eyes to heighten the aroma. Her body fit against his like a shadow. He fought the confusing stimuli. This was Charley, his former patient and pupil. But that wasn’t who he held close, who he breathed in. When had she become more than that?
Charley hugged him hard, laughing through tears. “I hate good-byes.” Before making her escape she added, “Dr. Collins has my information at school. Call me sometime. Let me know what you’re up to.”
Clipped, hasty words said with a matter-of-factness meant to cover up the emotions she plainly felt. The same emotions that had just blind-sided him.
Then she turned and walked away, her new life ahead of her.
Clay’s lips touched Charley’s forehead as they circled the dance floor. He closed his eyes, taking in the smoothness of her skin. Before he could stop himself he asked, “How’d you like to go out to dinner one night next week?”
She pulled back to look at him, as if to gauge his sincerity, or perhaps his motives.
“I...I don’t know. Maybe.”
Disappointment moved through him. Why was she being hesitant, cool? It wasn’t as if she didn’t know him. Christ, he’d spent countless hours tutoring her. Even more time talking to her, being her friend, so she wouldn’t feel so alone.
Could a decade erase all that and make them near strangers? He didn’t think so. The second he’d realized it was her tonight, the years had melted away. They’d fallen into easy conversation. Since she was back again, why couldn’t two old friends reconnect?
In no time, the song ended and Charlotte slipped out of his arms. “Thanks for the dance. I better get back to my table and say my good-byes.”
He held onto her hand. “Don’t go.” He didn’t know what else to say. It sounded so pathetic. But he didn’t want the night to end. Confusion pulled at his brain. Why did he want her to stay? Why was she so anxious to get away from him? They’d had a nice talk earlier. All he’d done now was ask her out to dinner. But if she wasn’t interested...
She gave an apologetic smile. “Even though it’s the weekend, I have to go into the office tomorrow. Prepare for trial on Monday.”
He had to work tomorrow, too. Yet, he wasn’t letting that interfere with spending more time with her tonight.
He released her hand. It wasn’t his style to push. “It was really nice to see you again, Charley.” More than nice.
“If you change your mind about dinner, give me a call. You know where to find me.” He raised her hand and kissed her fingers. “Good-bye, Charlotte.” Backing away, he headed for the door, an unfamiliar feeling of pure disappointment assaulting the pit of his stomach.
Maybe it was all for the best. He didn’t have time to rekindle an old friendship. Hah! Who was he kidding? He didn’t want to be friends with her. His forte was casual affairs with beautiful women. But that wouldn’t be right for Charley. She deserved more.
And unfortunately, he didn’t have more to give


For more information go to:



To purchase UNCHAINED MEMORIES go to:


The Wild Rose Press

Barnes & Noble.com


All Romance


  1. I very much enjoyed reading Unchained Memories! And I agree with you - when authors repeat themselves, I go a little crazy. Though I found myself doing the same thing in my last novel and now realize it's a simple error to make! Thank goodness for Wild Rose (and other) editors.

    1. Hi Ashantay: I agree. Nothing is as easy as we think its going to be.

  2. Very nice review! Unchained Memories is on my TBR list. I'm really looking forward to it.

    1. Thanks RoseAnn. I'll be reading your second novel, Second Hand Rose very soon.

  3. Enjoyed the interview...thanks. Best wishes with your book!!

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Angela. I see you are a real morning person :)

  4. Hi Maria! Great post. I enjoyed your interview and having lunch with you the last NJRW meeting. I'm looking forward to reading your book. Best of luck!

    1. Thanks, Tina. It was great to meet you the other day. Thanks so much for stopping by. See you at the next meeting.