When I was in third grade, I remember my mother taking me to the library on Saturdays and I would get lost in the stacks, piling book upon book. I was a parochial school child, and my books of choice back then were the lives of different saints. I also read every Nancy Drew book available and would disappear into my bedroom on a Sunday and not come out until I had finished the latest one. Even on nice days, when everyone in the neighborhood was outside playing, I would be inside with my nose in a book. One day my mom took the book out of my hands, shooed me out the door, and locked it so I couldn’t sneak back in to read.
In high school, when my girlfriends and I would go to the beach for the day, we would lay side by side, covered in baby oil, worshipping the sun, while one of us would read out loud, a chapter of an agreed upon book so the rest of us could keep our eyes closed. The book would get passed down the line and each of us would take a turn reading aloud to the others.
With as much as I loved to read, I was never a very good creative writer. In fact, I hated those homework assignments, especially in high school, and would sit on the phone for hours with one of my girlfriends who loved to write, as she helped me tap into my non-existent creative juices.
In my early twenties, I continued my love of reading and had hours available to do just that as I commuted on the train to and from New York City, or at night in bed until I couldn’t keep my eyes open. But it wasn’t until I went to law school that I began enjoying the process of writing — although writing legal briefs or memoranda of law are very different from creative writing. It’s more linear writing. You take a set of facts, add the law from statutes and cases, and apply it to those facts. My first published article is in Volume 5 of the Fordham International Law Journal entitled “In re Mackin: Is the Application of the Political Offense Exception an Extradition Issue for the Judicial or Executive Branch?” I would advise you against reading it, for you will surely fall asleep.
As a friend from law school so aptly put it, “The reason why we’re here is because we don’t have a creative bone in our bodies.” I agreed.
Fast forward twenty years. I was reading a best-seller and was annoyed with the author for saying the same thing three pages apart. I said to myself, “I could do this.” And that began my journey toward becoming an author. 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 manuscripts 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.
Maria Imbalzano is the author of Dancing in the Sand
An accomplished dance major in New York City, Ava Woodward is pursuing her dream of becoming a professional in a national dance company. But a celebratory weekend in Newport, where she meets the man of her fantasies, has devastating consequences that change her life forever.
Brian Stanhope, a Harvard graduate, poised to join his father’s company, suffers a brain injury in a horseback riding accident, which affects his memory. He has no recollection of his graduation party weekend or the beautiful dancer who turned his head and stole his heart.
When they reunite eight years later, the magic of their powerful attraction binds them together, but the past holds a secret that even love may not be able to overcome.
A sneak peek inside…
“Are you married?”
Not the question she was expecting. “No.”
He smiled. A very sexy, very familiar smile. Was he flirting?
Ava shook her head. “No. What about you?” The words fell out of her mouth before she had time to catch them, and she inwardly winced. “Never mind. That’s none of my business.”
“It can be. Especially since I’m not married or entangled either.”
There could be no mistaking it now. His easy banter. The way he drew a person in with a direct and open question. The mating game, according to Brian. It all came back. The way he had enticed her before. So simple for him—the master. But she knew better than to fall for him a second time.
“We should stick to our working relationship.” Ava hoped her regret in that decision didn’t shine through. She picked up the signed fee agreement. “I’ll have my secretary make a copy for you.” She rose and moved around the desk. “How would you like to pay the retainer? Check? Credit card?”
Brian raised an eyebrow. “All business, I see.” Yet, the hint of a smile tugged at his lips. “Check. Do I make it out to you?”
So playful. Like he’d been that weekend. If she didn’t keep her wits about her, she’d fall right down the same rabbit hole.
“No. The firm. I’ll be right back.”
Out in the hall, she stopped to fan herself. The heat he generated should be captured for raw energy. No need to frack. She wiped away the smile inching over her lips. Do not cave in. You’ll only get hurt. Again.
Reentering her tiny, airless office with his copy of the agreement in hand, she snapped into business mode. “Thank you so much for giving our firm the chance to represent you. You won’t be sorry.” She held out her hand to shake his.
He stood, following her lead. “I’m sure I won’t.”
She would have preferred to end their contact there, but she couldn’t let him meander through the halls trying to find the exit. “I’ll show you out.”
Avoiding further conversation, Ava led Brian to the reception area, just as Peter emerged from his office.
“Brian, I’ll get back to you shortly, after I have a chance to review your documents.” Peter clapped Brian on the back.
“Great,” said Brian. “By the way, I have tickets to the Knicks game Saturday night. Floor seats. Would you and Ava like to join me?”
Ava’s brain screamed no, as Peter accepted for both of them. Of course, he was a rabid Knicks fan and why would it cross his mind that a lowly associate would have better things to do on a weekend night than generate good will with a new client?
She gave a tight smile in assent, as she knew she had to, turned and strode straight to her office where she closed the door and bit her finger to keep her shriek from reaching the lobby.
Who is Maria Imbalzano?
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.
Visit Maria at www.mariaimbalzano.com