Today, one of my Wild Rose Press sistahs, Maria Imbalzano, is joining me and we’re talking about the impetus behind her new series and the first book in it, SWORN TO FORGET, which released into the book-reading world in July 2018. Sit back and listen to how she came up with idea for her new series. It’s pretty cool!
Persistence or Stubbornness – Is there a difference?
Book 1 of my Sworn Sisters Series entitled Sworn to Forget was released in July, 2018. However, the idea for this story/series began in 2001, a mere 17 years ago.
During that year, I began a manuscript about four high school girlfriends who were now in their early 30s. The manuscript was titled “Weekend Diaries” and the main story was about Samantha Winslow, a divorce lawyer in NYC, who learned her husband was cheating on her. Forced to take a leave of absence from work due to her mental state, she retreated to the Jersey Shore town of Crescent Beach for the summer. Her best friends helped her through the devastation of her separation and divorce from her husband and also encouraged her to open her heart to a new possibility – the local prosecutor who had also been Sam’s high school crush.
“Weekend Diaries” was very ambitious in that it also delved into the lives of each of Sam’s girlfriends and their life issues. I thought this manuscript was going to be my entrée into the publishing world. I had won the New Jersey Romance Writers’ Put Your Heart In a Book Contest in October of 2003 and Kristin Hannah was one of the judges! Soon thereafter, I obtained an agent who was excited about the story. All was right with the world.
Until it wasn’t. Two years later, I parted with my agent who hadn’t done much in the way of sending my manuscript out and I felt like I was starting all over. I wrote another book and then another book, which was actually my first published novel – “Unchained Memories.” After my second book was published – “Dancing in the Sand”— I went back to “Weekend Diaries.” After all, it was the story of my heart and I couldn’t just stick in a drawer with my other unpublished manuscripts.
Revisiting Sam’s story in 2015, I decided to turn it into a series, giving each of the women their own story. I always thought Sam’s story would be the first of the series, but after writing Nicki’s story, that became the first (Sworn to Forget).
Unfortunately, I couldn’t send either of those books to my publisher until I had completed the first draft of the third and fourth books—just in case I changed something about one of the characters—which I did.
It wasn’t until November of 2017, that I finally submitted Book 1 of the Sworn Sisters Series to my editor and it was accepted. I can happily say that Sam’s story, Book 2 of the Sworn Sisters Series, entitled “Sworn to Remember” is currently under contract and with my editor.
These unfortunate women, Sam, Nicki, Alyssa and Denise, have waited 17 years to meet my readers – although they have not aged a day during that time.
My persistence, or some might say my stubbornness, has paid off. Readers are loving “Sworn to Forget” and I’m loving that these Sworn Sisters have made it out into the world.
Blurb for “Sworn to Forget”
By all appearances, Nicki Reading is a star. PR director at a major music label, Nicki is sharp, successful, independent and confidently calls the shots. She dates whom she wants, when she wants, with no strings attached. But beneath that shine, loneliness flickers. Events from her past prove love leads only to pain. Commitment is not an option.
Until Dex Hanover, a classy, principled, and prosperous CPA, enters the picture. Undeterred by his unhappy childhood, he has an amazing capacity to be both caring and generous; giving his free time as a mentor for a child from the projects. Dex wears his paternal yearnings on his sleeve and he is at a point in his life where commitment is the only option.
Despite their opposing views, Nicki and Dex ignite each other. But will events from their pasts ruin their challenging relationship and prevent them from experiencing everlasting love?
“How did the seminar go?”
“Slowly.” His libido kicked up a notch as he raked his eyes over Nicki’s attire— black leather pants and a red silky halter top. He arched his brow. “What is your plan for us today?”
“I have options.” She took his arm, drawing him into her living room. “There’s an art show at the Third Eye Gallery. Ed Kolsky’s work. He’s kind of edgy, vibrant. I thought it would be fun. Or we can go to The Philadelphia Museum of Art. There’s a Picasso exhibit.”
She eyed him, awaiting his choice.
“At this moment, only one option seems preferable, and it’s not on your list.” He didn’t want some paintings to get in the way of other, more carnal possibilities.
She seized his tie and tugged him closer, giving him a sensuous kiss, proving she was game for his plan.
“Nice,” he whispered.
He tenderly traced a line from her temple to her collarbone, then boldly dipped his hand beneath the fabric of her top, caressing her breast. Her breath hitched, causing pure desire to roll through him.
He covered her mouth with his, pulling her into him, embracing her curves. Nicki’s hands roamed up his chest and over his shoulders, sliding his suit jacket off, then tossing it onto the couch. Next, she worked the knot of his tie until it slipped from around his neck and onto the floor in a snake-like coil.
Amusement tinged by desire flashed through Dex. “This is much more fun than analyzing art work. Although you look pretty close to a masterpiece to me.” His palm skimmed her arm, sending a promise of much more.
Buy Links for SWORN TO FORGET
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I was born in Trenton, NJ , in the heart of Chambersburg, the Italian section of town. My father was a barber and my mother, a State employee, who also taught me to jitterbug at the tender age of four. We loved to dance in the living room while watching American Bandstand. Hardly star material, but I was driven nonetheless. The product of a Catholic School education, I learned the basics, and took for granted I would be successful doing something, even if it entailed cutting hair. I attended Rutgers University as a psychology major, but after three years decided I liked political science better. My first job led me to Manhattan where I worked as a paralegal for four years before attending Fordham University School of Law. There I learned to think like a lawyer, write like a lawyer, and speak like a lawyer, all while living like a pauper in the city of my dreams. Living in New York City, albeit on a tight budget, allowed me to indulge my love of ballet, art museums, and theater. Did you know you could walk into a theater after intermission and no one checks your ticket? I enjoyed the second half of many plays as well as ballets.
My love of reading dates back to my childhood when I would borrow at least four books from the library every week. During the summer, I would sit in the house and read, until my mother, totally frustrated, would send me outside to play and lock me out. I always found my way back in. However, I must confess, I hated to write. In every English and writing class throughout college, I dreaded trying to be creative. 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.
Despite my dislike of creative writing back then, I embraced legal writing, and was first published in Volume 5 of the Fordham International Law Journal. My article was 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.
Following law school, I returned to central New Jersey and took a job at a local law firm where I have been a partner for many years. My area of practice is divorce, and while emotions run high and clients are living through the worst time of their lives, I find the practice very satisfying. In addition to litigation, I have added mediation and collaborative divorce to my repertoire, which are much more civil ways of dealing with issues in family law cases.
In addition to practicing law and raising two daughters, I’ve been working towards my second career. Memoranda of Law and Legal Briefs, although fascinating, pale in comparison to writing romance/women’s fiction. So how does one transition from divorce lawyer by day to romance writer by night? That’s the beauty of having two distinct passions
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Peggy here: Maria, thanks for visiting today and for introducing us all to your new series!!! It was worth the 17 year wait, for sure!!!!