Denver Writing Event
Well, on Saturday (the 19th) my husband and I went to Denver, CO for a networking event at the Tattered Cover. The email said this event was for networking anyway, with local writers, editors, publisher and writing groups coming together to find out about each other, talk, etc. There were supposed to be information tables too. We were both expecting a true networking opportunity. Not what we got.
The first problem was the location. This branch of the Tattered Cover (there are 3 locations in Denver) happened to be part of the 16th Street Mall. In and of itself, not a bad place for a bookstore. However, when the streets surrounding the bookstore are all under construction, we ended up in a “you can’t get there from here” scenario. Once we did find a parking garage, nearly all the spots were for compact cars. Now we don’t have a big, gas-guzzling SUV or an oversize pickup. We have an Acura CL and a Toyota Corolla. We drove the Acura that day because it actually gets better gas mileage than the Toyota. The Acura is not a large car, but it’s not a compact either. So, in a nearly empty parking garage, I can’t find a parking space because the spots, as I said, are all for compact size cars. I did see a Toyota Corolla parked in one compact spot and it was almost too big. That should give you an idea as to the size of the spots. We finally found one, and hoped no one parked next to us on either side, because there would be no way to get the doors open.
So, now we have finally gotten the car parked and go to leave the parking garage. Normally, we would take the stairs, but after the battle just to get to the parking garage, both of us decide to take the elevator. Come to find out, the only way to get to the elevator is down a short flight of stairs. Not a problem, but I noticed two handicapped parking spots next to the sign pointing to the elevator. So, if you do need a handicapped spot, you can park right next to the access for the elevator. Makes sense, until you realize that a handicapped individual has a choice of either struggling down 6-8 concrete stairs, or walking along the rear of the parking spaces to the ramp that cars fly (and I do mean FLY) up and down to reach different levels of the parking garage, manuver down the ramp and make essentially a U-turn to go back to the elevator, again along the rear of parking places, all the while hoping they don’t become a new smear on the concrete. I’m sure there’s logic in this design, but it is escaping me.
Okay, so now we are down and out. Finally. We walk to the bookstore and go it.
The bookstore is gorgeous. Old wood plank flooring that creaks when you walk on it, tall wooden bookshelves that create both a maze and the expectation of finding a new treasure around every corner, the smell of book dust and coffee. Absolute heaven. My hope for the networking event went higher. We make it to the second floor and walk the hallway to the Event Center (read room too small to hold all the attendees). And met my disappointment full on.
One table in the room with two bowls of candy and two clipboards to sign up for something next to a raised podium. Not sure what the sign up was for as I couldn’t make it into the room. I was figuring writers, editors, publishers, and representatives from different writing groups all talking and forming relationships, as I said. What I found was a large group of people sitting in the room listening to people read as-of-yet unpublished poetry or excerpts from as-of-yet unpublished novels. Nearly everyone was dressed in business casual too. They did not look like writers. At least not to me. And the golf claps when people finished their readings. Have you ever noticed how annoyingly polite a golf clap is? I did. Who knew applause could get under my skin?
Believe it or not, I am not trying to complain about this event we went to. I think its great to have these kinds of gatherings. Writers need all the exposure we can get. What I am complaining about is the advertising. That was the second problem of the day.
What we expected from the email and what we got were two very different things. I saw and heard a lot of verbal back-patting and a lot of “Why haven’t you published yet?” type questions. Great ego boosts, which, again, authors need. However, I did not see or hear a lot of networking, which authors need as well. Basically, the email made this sound like a 6-hour writer’s conference where people in the industry and those trying to get into the industry can meet, greet and form connections. Not a 6-hour live reading.
The atmosphere in that area had a very hoity-toity feel to it. Anyone who knows me, knows I don’t do hoity-toity. I am not a skirt suit and high heels kinda gal. I am a nice shirt, torn jeans and flip-flop kinda gal. And it says something when I live in Colorado Springs and am too “hick” for Denver.
So we left the event, bought a few books to support authors and the local bookstore and left.
Now we come to the third problem. My husband and I were in the bookstore for about 30 to 45 minutes. The parking fee at the garage should have been reasonable (and yes, I knew it wasn’t going to be when we parked but we will get there). Denver does not have parking attendants in the garages most of the time. Everything is automated. You get your parking ticket from a machine on the way in, and you pay your parking fee to a machine on the way out. However, the machine to pay the fee is not in the parking garage. It is outside the lobby at the ground floor of the garage. So you stick your ticket in, the machine tells you how much to pay (cash only, by the way), you stick your money in, the machine prints on your ticket to say it’s been paid, spits it back at you and your on your way. Now, you have 15 minutes or less to get to the lobby, up the elevator, to your car, drive your car down the levels to the exit, and stick your ticket back in another machine so it will let you out. No, I don’t know what happens if you don’t make it due to elevator problems, car problems, machine problems or traffic back ups. And for all this, the parking fee was $10.00. Since we went on a weekend, the fee was the maximum charge regardless of how long we were actually parked. Like I said, yes I knew this going in, but it still aggravates me. Especially when parking on the street is $2 for every 15 minutes. Ridiculous. I thought a dollar an hour was outrageous in downtown Colorado Springs. Guess not.
So like I said, we left and went to find the Highlands Ranch location of the Tattered Cover because I am going back up to the Denver Metro area on Thursday for a book signing. I wanted to be prepared for parking issues, fees, etc. None of that should be a problem on Thursday as this Tattered Cover is not in the middle of under-construction downtown Denver and has its own dedicated FREE parking lot. And we found a great hot dog place called Bernie’s. If you have occasion to be in the Highlands Ranch area, stop in. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
After finding this little treasure in the suburbs of Denver, my husband and I went on a lovely drive through the mountains, worked out story ideas and plot issues, and came home. Overall, it was a really great day ending on a high note. My only gripe is improper advertising. Would I have still gone if I’d known the focus of the event was going to be live readings? Yes. (I’m always one to support local authors.) But, I would have gone up with different expectations and a different attitude. Same outfit though. Flip-flops cannot be beat.