Romance and handcuffs

    I spent this weekend hanging with famous romance novelists at the Renaissance Denver Hotel. Gennita Low was there, of course. So was RITA winner Linnea Sinclair. Both gave stirring talks about the life of a romance writer. Jenna (Gennitta) signed my copy of Virtually His, which I had just finished reading and which I enjoyed very much. (Full of baaaad boys — hot bad boys.)

    I also spent a lot of time with my agent, Natasha Kern, whom I hadn't seen in person since last year's RWA conference in Atlanta. In the intervening time, she had a terrible accident and broke her neck — an injury she's miraculously recovered from, though she still has some problems. Having had a broken neck myself as a pre-teen, I can sympathize. She and I might be the only agent/author duo both of whom have had broken necks...

    The food was delicious — probably the best food of any hotel I've stayed in for a romance conference. Of course, no conference would be complete without time at the bar, so I did that, too.

    Friday night, that adorable Badass Warrior Princess, Libby, came down to join me for drinks. Candice, a friend and aspiring writer, also came, as did Michael, a reporter friend of mine from my Glory Days of journalism, and his girlfriend, Cara. It was great seeing them all. I hadn't seen Michael since last year's state journalism awards. We drank and talked. I did too much of both.

    On Saturday, I had planned to write all day then meet up with my agent for lunch and then dinner. But I ran into a problem. I. Could. Not. Wake. Up. I slept until 10:30 and had to kick myself in the ass to get myself into the shower in time for lunch. I was so sleepy as we went through the buffet that I couldn't really eat. I guess stepping off the hamster wheel comes with consequences — namely that when you run on empty for so long it catches up with you.

    Anyway, the lunch was... lunch, I guess. But Colorado Romance Writers surprised me by giving me a little gold rose pin in honor of my being a RITA finalist. I thought that was cool — an award for maybe almost winning an award.

    I went upstairs after that and tried to write, but couldn't get my mind going. Did I mention there were no lattes at this hotel? None. It was either drink coffee (blech) or drink tea. I chose coffee and tea in a desperate bid for a caffeine buzz that never really materialized.

    Then my agent and I had dinner, and I pulled out the handcuffs.

    I learned last year how to break out of handcuffs as part of my research for Unlawful Contact. It seemed to me that if Marc Hunter, my hero, were going to do this, I should know how to do it, too. I got a pair of police-issue cuffs from a cop friend (one of the two who saved my life that night so long ago), and he gave me some basic instructions, including telling me that I needed a "shim."

    Well, as I learned, they don't really sell those in hardware stores. I did try. I walked in with my cuffs and explained that I needed a shim to jam in at a certain place to force the cuffs open. The sales guy stared at me, then showed me some drilling tools that didn't really work. I was forced to innovate and create this shim myself. Then, with the proper tool, I learned how to break out.

    I really enjoy doing it and most of the time I do it quickly. But this time I put the right side of the cuffs on upside down so that I couldn't really maneuver the shim properly. I got my left wrist out in about a second, and then struggled with the right. My friend Kally Surbeck, also an author, tried to help but broke my shim.

    So there I was in a fine restaurant, my agent watching, with cuffs around my right wrist, a broken shim, and the key somewhere in my hotel room. I had to go through the rest of the dinner with the cuffs dangling from my right wrist. Try picking up a wine glass with any amount of elegance with five pounds of steel dangling from your wrist. (Gennita has a photo of my predicament on her blog.)

    All's well that ends well, of course. I got the cuffs off when I went back to my hotel room. But now I am shimless. Alas!

    On Sunday, it was back home. I struggled all day with a scene in Unlawful Contact and go nowhere. Since then it's been back to the paper. No writing.

    God, I want to finish this book! Does anyone remember what it's about?

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