Saturday, 19 April 2014


Title: Unchained Memories
Author: Maria Imbalzano

BLURB supplied by Author:
As a rising medical malpractice attorney, Charlotte Taylor believes in standing up for the injured, 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?


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.

Did you always want to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?
I’m a divorce lawyer and as a lawyer, I write motions, legal memoranda and briefs – a world away from creative writing. I was never much of a creative writer during my school years and frankly, had no idea where to start when I got it in my head that I wanted to write a romance novel.  About 15 years ago, a flier came across my desk for a seminar called “How to Write Your Book In 14 Days (A Lawyer’s Guide)”. The seminar was exactly what I needed to get started – although to this day, I have not been able to write a book in fourteen days.

When did you first consider yourself as 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.

Did it take a long time to get your first book published?
Yes. It took me fifteen years. However, the major part of my time was taken with practicing law and raising two daughters. It’s been a challenge to find time to write.

What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarise it in less than 20 words what would you say?
My novel, “Unchained Memories” is about the heroine’s journey to discover that love and trust can unchain her from her memories and free her from the past.

Who is your publisher? or do you self publish?
The Wild Rose Press.

What can we expect from you in the future?  ie More books of the same genre? Books of a different genre?
I write single title, contemporary romance. “Unchained Memories” is the fifth book I wrote but the first book to get published.  I just finished a manuscript called “Dancing in the Sand” which I intend to send out shortly with the hope of obtaining a contract. I am also re-working my third manuscript, “Weekend Diaries”, and intend to send that out again, in the not too distant future. My plan is go backwards and forwards.

What genre would you place your books into?What made you decide to write that genre of book? 
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.

How do you come up with the Title and Cover Designs for your book/books?Who designed the Cover of your books?
 “Unchained Memories” was initially titled “More Than A Memory.”  My publisher, The Wild Rose Press, informed me that they already had a book by that title and I needed to change it.  I wanted to keep the word “memory” in the title and I love the song, “Unchained Melody” so I put the two together and came up with my new title.  With regard to the cover, my publisher has each author complete a questionnaire that gives the cover artist a description of the hero, heroine and setting.  It also asks if we have any vision for our cover.  I just wanted the heroine on the cover (not the hero and heroine embracing) and I also wanted an iconic Princeton building in the background.  My cover artist is RJ Morris from The Wild Rose Press and she worked with me to create my vision.

Do you choose a title first, or write the book then choose the title?
 In the very beginning, when I start a new manuscript, I usually call it Book 5, Book 6 or whatever number I am on.  Once I begin writing and getting to know my story and characters better, I give it a title.

Do you decide on character traits (ie shy, quiet, tomboy girl) before writing the whole book or as you go along?
I develop the main characteristics of my characters before I start writing. I start with their physical description and then determine their strengths and flaws. Many times I will page through a magazine and pull out a photograph of what my hero and heroine look like.  That way, when I want to describe something other than their eye or hair color, I can study the photo, which is a great help.

Do you basic plot/plan for your book, before you actually begin writing it out? Or do you let the writing flow and see where it takes the story?
I am definitely a plotter to the nth degree. I end up with an in depth outline which I can pick up at any time and start writing, whether I have fifteen minutes or three hours. Before I prepare this outline, I come up with my heroine and hero and a very basic story line. Then I determine the conflicts. I love notebooks and begin a new notebook with every story. Once I have the basic story down in writing (a paragraph or two), I start with chapter one and outline the entire book, page by page.  

What do you think makes a book a really good/bestseller ?
I wish I knew the answer to that. I would love to write a best-seller. Then it would be turned into a movie. I could write the screenplay, meet famous, gorgeous actors and actresses and go to the Academy Awards in a to-die-for designer gown. My photo would be in People magazine and I’d be interviewed by Ellen. I think my fantasy is gaining a life of its own.

What do you do to unwind and relax? Do you have a hobby?
I don’t have time for a hobby. My career as a divorce attorney takes a tremendous amount of time and I am also on two Boards – Thomas Edison State College Foundation and Dress for Success Mercer County. I have a husband and two daughters, who were involved in a myriad of activities when they were in elementary and high school.  My daughters are now in college, so I have a little more time for writing at nights and on weekends. I needed to learn to give up watching TV in the evening to relax and instead, sit at my computer and write.  After a long day at work, you may not think that you have anything left in you to start working on what may be called a second career.  But I find that I enjoy writing so much, it doesn’t seem like work.  It’s fun, exciting, and gives me a chance to create wonderful characters and stories. 

Which format of book do you prefer, ebook, hardback, or paperback?
I love my Kindle Fire. I can throw it in my purse or suitcase if I am going on vacation without having to pack several books and I can read at night with the lights off so I don’t disturb my husband. That said, I also love a book you could hold. Paperbacks would be my next choice because they are lighter.

What piece of advice would you give to a new writer?
Be persistent and never give up.  I started writing fifteen years ago. At the time I didn’t know where to start.  I had never been a good creative writer in school, and writing legal briefs and memoranda of law is a very different type of writing.  I knew nothing of point of view, conflict, characterization or dialogue. I just started writing (after I made a lengthy outline.)   it wasn’t until I joined New Jersey Romance Writers and began attending seminars and conferences that I learned the art of creative writing. Needless to say, the first two manuscripts I wrote will never see the light of day. Since then I wrote four more manuscripts, one of them being “Unchained Memories.”   I received dozens of rejections over the years, but I knew if I was persistent, I would get published someday.  In May of 2013, I signed my first publishing contract with The Wild Rose Press. 

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