Thursday, September 24, 2015

Dancing in the Sand by Maria Imbalzano (VNBtM, guest post, excerpt and GIVEAWAY) GFT

It is my pleasure to share a guest post by one of the roses in the Wild Rose Press garden, author Maria Imbalzano, who gives insight into...

ELF:  What were the most difficult things to overcome on your path to becoming a published author and how did you conquer it?

MI:  Three things come to mind that I experienced in my journey to become published; learning how to write creatively, rejection, and finding time to write.
Learning how to write a novel

I started writing seventeen 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, which I do in my career as a lawyer, is a very different type of writing.  I knew nothing of point of view, conflict, characterization or dialogue. As fate would have it, a flier came across my desk for a seminar called “How to Write Your Book in 14 Days (A Lawyer’s Guide)”.  I quickly signed up, thinking no one else would be there. I was wrong.  The room was packed with would-be John Grishams hoping to write that blockbuster manuscript, sell it, make a fortune and retire from law.

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. It did, however, help me in plotting my stories and breaking them down from chapters to scenes to paragraphs. I wrote during whatever spare time I could find, attended writing seminars and conferences, and submitted my query letters and manuscripts to agents and editors.  I received dozens of rejections over the years and my first two manuscripts will probably never see the light of day.  But I learned so much about writing over these many years - point of view, character development, story arcs, conflict, the black moment, dialogue . . . the list goes on


Before I was published, I had written five manuscripts. I received dozens of rejections over the years, but I knew if I was persistent, I would get published someday. My third manuscript, entitled “Weekend Diaries” won a major writing contest and I finally signed with an agent. That was in 2003  and I believed I was on my way. I envisioned signing a contract with a major publishing company and seeing my book on the shelves at Barnes and Noble. My fairy tale came to a slow death, when three years later, I still hadn’t gotten any closer to becoming published. I terminated the relationship with my agent and felt like I was starting from scratch. Despite the sad ending to that chapter, I still continued on. Some may say I’m stubborn, but I’d prefer persistent.

In May of 2013, a mere ten years later, I signed my first publishing contract with The Wild Rose Press for the fifth manuscript I had written, “Unchained Memories.”

 Challenges with finding writing time

Finding time to write is always a challenge. My day job as a divorce lawyer requires a significant amount of time and I am on several non-profit boards. I write at nights and on weekends when I can.  After working all day, it’s easy to fall into a pattern of relaxing, watching tv, reading . But that won’t get my next book written. I usually go upstairs to my office (which I shamelessy stole from my husband) at about 8pm and either work on my newest manuscript or do marketing tasks for my published novels. Weekends are great  because I have much more time to dedicate to writing now that our daughters are grown.  Whatever time I have, whether it’s a half hour or several hours, I try to use that time wisely. While my career and all its tentacles leave too little time for writing, on the positive side, I do find that all of my experiences lead to interesting plots and richer characters.

I am thrilled to finally be published after years of working to get to this point. Even though it took me a long time, I can honestly say that the journey has been fun and rewarding.  From not knowing the first thing about writing a novel to learning the craft by going to conferences, seminars and reading dozens of books on the subject, I feel that I have learned something new – something that gives me great pleasure.  Along the way, I have met amazing authors (published and pre-published) who have given me support and motivation, especially when I went into a funk over rejections.    

by Maria Imbalzano



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.




“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.


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

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.

Visit Maria at her website or on Facebook



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The tour dates can be found here


  1. If you didn't like writing books, what would you do for a living?

    1. Interesting question, Mai. Hopefully Maria will come back and answer. Thanks for dropping in!

  2. Thank you for the chance to win :)

  3. Replies
    1. Thanks, Rita. Perhaps you'll get a chance to read the book. I know, we're all so busy and there are so many books in our to be read pile . :)

    2. Glad you liked it, Rita, thanks for visiting!

  4. I am glad you didn't give up after the rejections. I loved the excerpt and this sounds like a really great story.

    1. I'm also glad I didn't give up. Persistence is good. :)

    2. Thanks for popping in, Jane! Glad you loved the excerpt!

  5. A beautiful cover to match the title.

    1. Thanks, Mary. I love the cover as well. It reminds me of my daughter, who was a dancer.

  6. I really enjoyed learning more about you, Maria, and how you balance the demands of work and life with your desire to write! Stay with it and good luck!

    1. Thanks, Betty. The writing part is so fun for me.

    2. Great to see you, Betty! Thanks for taking the time to visit.

  7. Replies
    1. Thanks for stopping by Victoria. I'm sorry I'm not getting back to you until Sunday. It's been a crazy few days. I hope you had a great weekend.

    2. Glad you liked it, Victoria, thanks for dropping by! (And, I'm even worse, Maria, so no's appreciated that you have come by and interacted with the visitors!)

  8. I reallylike the premise of the book and wouldlike to read more! Thank you.

  9. I reallylike the premise of the book and wouldlike to read more! Thank you.